Angel lay in bed and knew that he would have another sleepless night. He had helped the girls to bed. He had locked up the hotel, and he had gone in search of Spike. He could still feel the hardness pressing into him. So repressed, so needing release in hard, physical contact, he desperately wanted to find Spike, to speak to him, to…. Angel didn't know exactly what he wanted to do with Spike, but his blood surged in his veins and whispered suggestions that confused him.
When he got to Spike's room, he hesitated in the doorway then leant on the doorjamb smiling. Face down, one boot off, Spike lay as if comatose, the excursions of the night seemingly having undone him. Angel frowned briefly; he had forgotten how fragile Spike still was and cursed himself that he had allowed him to drink so much. He slipped silently into the room and covered the sleeping vampire with a couple of blankets then returned frustrated to his own room.
He lay in bed thinking about release, remembering the feel of Darla's body under his, imagining Buffy's on him, but when he ran a hand over his chest, it was Spike's hard flatness that met him. When he took his penis in his hand, it was Spike's penis in his mind. He brought Spike into his bed, and his male presence banished the two women who had been Angel's obsession hitherto.
When he came, shuddering into his own hand, it was Spike's slim body riding him that had brought that delicious release.
Angel felt ill the next morning and enjoyed every stab of the human pain in his head, every grumble of the human sickness in his belly. He had not had a hangover for a very long time, and it amused him to think how much they had all enjoyed themselves the night before. He heard Cordy and Fred come down, moaning and complaining, but he only had half an ear for them. He was listening for…. He came in. Angel lowered his face. Spike handed him a mug of blood and perched on the desk next to him. 'I'm ill.'
Angel looked up at Spike's amused tone and laughed. 'Think the girls are worse.'
Spike pouted and ran his finger over a small scratch on the desk. 'Angel… did I… proposition you…? Only I don't remember much, but I remember….'
'We danced together.'
Spike's eyes widened. 'No!'
'You felt me up.'
'In front of the girls - for a long time.'
Angel smiled shyly. 'You passed out, and I went to bed.'
'Oh. No.' Angel laughed at the same word being repeated in such a different tone.
Spike pursed his lips. 'I thought about you when I woke up this morning.'
Angel sat back, not seeing the significance of this. Spike looked him in the eye. 'Angel. I… thought about you… this morning. Do you get what I'm saying here?'
'Oh. OH!' Angel smirked a little and looked down, pleased. 'I thought about you last night.'
Spike raised an eyebrow. 'Jeez.'
Angel put a hand on Spike's thigh and began to run his thumb up and down softly on the hard muscle. Spike looked down.
'That feels… nice. Strangely, that feels nice.'
'Hmm.' Angel slid his hand higher.
'That feels even better.'
'Hmm.' Angel's thumb brushed over the seam just below Spike's zip, and he hissed slightly, a sound almost masked by the slight, but meaningful cough from the doorway.
Angel pulled his hand away; Spike turned sharply.
Angel shot out a harsh, surprised sound. 'Wesley?'
Wesley stood his ground in the doorway for a moment, just establishing that he was not afraid of Angel then turned purposefully and went back out into the lobby to stand by a small holdall at his feet. Fred, Gunn and Cordelia were standing together behind the counter, their loyalties strained by this unexpected visitor.
Angel and Spike came out of the office together. Angel went menacingly up to the human. 'You had better have....'
'I came to see Spike.'
Spike came forward slightly, eyeing him cautiously. 'What?'
'I've been thinking a lot about our conversation.'
Angel turned slowly to Spike. 'What conversation?'
'I went to ask him about the chip, if he knew why it still works....'
Wesley listened to the slick lie and saw Angel nod. Whatever he said now, he knew Angel would not believe him. He had not missed the intimate moment. He sensed Angel's need for this childe of his. He smiled inwardly, glad now that he had come, and that he had made the decision he had. He faced Spike and spoke directly to him, trying to ignore Angel's presence. 'Yes, that's right, Spike. I see that what I told you has been of some help already.' Spike pursed his lips, looked thoughtful but, otherwise, made no comment. 'However, you must know that I cannot allow that to happen.'
Angel started to interrupt, but Wesley quickly continued, still addressing Spike. 'So, as I am utterly helpless to stop you, as it were, I have brought you something instead.'
Spike's eyebrow lifted, and he looked at Wesley speculatively. Wesley bent to the holdall, rummaged for a moment, noted, with an amused inward smile, Spike's step back and Angel's step forward, and deposited a very small, slightly fluffy puppy at Spike's feet.
Spike squeaked and jumped back as if it were the stake he had half been expecting. 'Bloody hell! What the friggin' fuck is that?'
Wesley's reply was somewhat lost in the inordinate amount of oohing and ahhing from Fred and Cordelia as they rushed around to embrace and pet the bewildered animal.
Wesley spun on his heel and left. Angel and Spike looked at each other, amazed. Angel cast an eye down to the puppy and said slowly, 'Get rid of it, someone.... OW!' Cordelia hit him again and glared for good measure. Spike turned, as if to go back to his blood, but the puppy wriggled out of Fred's arms and began to follow him. He did a neat sidestep, seemed about to give it a small kick but saw Cordelia's expression. 'I don't want it.'
He carried on into the kitchen, the puppy stumbling in his wake.
It was unfortunate for Spike that he didn't like or want the dog, for the dog picked on him from the small cast of likely masters to be his. He followed him everywhere he went downstairs that day and, as he was too small to climb, whined pitifully until, with a huff, one of the humans got up to carry him up the stairs to wherever Spike had gone.
Angel was bewildered by the gift and could not fathom Wesley's motives. That he had come to his house, that he had come in uninvited, offended Angel. That he had also thought how good it looked to have Wesley standing in the lobby again and how he had wanted him to stay, was swiftly repressed.
He watched Spike avoiding the puppy with amusement. When Spike saw his amusement, he rolled his eyes, but they shared another small, intimate moment at that tiny glance across the room.
The girls took on the job of feeding the dog. After an hour or two, leads, bowls and toys began to take over the lobby. They could not decide if they had a valuable pedigree in their midst or a mutt. Angel, who was now quite blasé about the dog's presence, said that, knowing Wesley, it was a mutt. Spike said he didn't care one way or the other, but that it was a border collie. He would stare at it sometimes then turn away, complaining that it looked at him too deeply.
Later that evening, after one of these mutual staring sessions, he came into Angel's office and sat on his desk. 'Angel...?'
'Hmm.' Angel glanced up at Spike then sat back and tented his hands. 'What?'
'Do you think it's a robot?'
Angel summoned all his considerable reserves of strength not to laugh. 'The dog?'
'Yeah. I mean… why did he bring it? I don't get it… and those bloody eyes looking at me all the time. Maybe they're cameras like, and he's watching.... Oh, fuck off....'
Spike stomped out on Angel's laughter. The next time he came into the lobby, Angel toed the puppy thoughtfully, then bent and said menacingly low, 'Hello, Wesley.'
Spike merely breezed past with a cheery, 'Fuck off,' the puppy desperately trying to follow him as if his life depended on it.
The next day, Spike's things started to go missing. He didn't have a lot, so a T-shirt and some socks were inconvenient to lose. He accused Angel; he accused Gunn; he eyed Fred, but she gave him a withering look. She was the one who found it all - in a small nest-shaped bundle in one of the empty rooms next to Spike's. Spike looked down at the pile of urinated-on clothing and whirled in fury. 'Where the fuck is it?'
Fred caught at his arm. 'Don't, Spike. It's an expression of love really.'
'Yeah? Right, I'll show him an expression of demon love then. Where is the little fucker?'
He evaded her tailing after him and went in search of the guilty dog. Effectively as they had hidden him, the girls could not believe it when the puppy whimpered at Spike's call. He grinned at them evilly and extracted the helpless bundle from the drawer. They were powerless to prevent him carrying his prize upstairs. He heard them rush into Angel for support but ignored them, and took his prisoner into the room where he'd discovered the stolen items.
He held the dog up to his eyes and stared at him. The dog stared back. Spike faltered slightly and whispered, 'Stop fucking looking at me and judging me. You don't know shit about what's going on here.'
He held the puppy up by his front legs until he whimpered then swung him around to see the pile of ruined clothes. 'You're gonna die for that. I need to kill something, and you were first in line today.'
He held the puppy once more to his eye line. 'Do you want to die? Do you?'
The puppy cried slightly. Spike frowned at the look in its eyes. 'Did you think that was love?'
The puppy began to wriggle, fear beginning to set in at Spike's intense tone. Spike frowned and tipped his head on one side. 'Do you love me more than your own life?'
Suddenly, Spike's legs began to buckle. He put a hand out and leant on the wall, and then slid down it and put head in his hands. 'Will you die for me? If I take my life from you, will you say no? Will you come on the journey with me?'
Not realising that Spike was no longer talking to him, the puppy nuzzled into his hand as if a willing sacrifice. 'Don't. You shouldn't have surrendered yourself so easily.' When the puppy only nuzzled in more, with a distressed whine at Spike's sobs, he eased it onto his lap and continued to whisper, 'Don't, please, don't.'
Angel, weakened by the assault from the two furious females, went upstairs to intervene in the puppy slaughter. By the time he found them, Spike was sitting smoking on the windowsill with no outward sign of any emotion, just one hand trailing down toward the floor, gently tugging and twisting around a pair of soft, willing ears.
Angel looked at the quiet, contented picture, slightly puzzled. 'What are you doing?'
Spike didn't look at him but continued to stare at the boarded-up window. 'I'm trying really, really hard to forgive him.'
Angel was pleased. 'That's good, Spike; I'm sure he didn't mean it.'
Spike turned at that and looked at him speculatively. 'I think he meant it all, but I'm still trying to forgive him, cus if I don't, I'll end up destroying us both.'
'Oh. Okay.' Angel raised an inward eyebrow at the Spike-esque hyperbole and said forcibly to the puppy. 'Bad dog.'
The dog ignored Angel, intent only on the strange, disturbing emotions he felt pouring off his beloved master.
No one ever saw Spike and the dog separate after that. Although in public, Spike never acknowledged the dog's presence, he would pause in passing, taking a long time to light a cigarette, as if waiting for something slower to catch up. The only time he permitted anyone to see him admitting the dog's existence was when he carried it up the stairs at night, but this carrying was done so causally that he might as well have been taking a book to bed.
Angel was puzzled by this change in Spike but more puzzled that there seemed to be a distance between them. Spike seemed to want to avoid him. He wasn't unfriendly; he just wasn't encouraging anything more with Angel than he seemed to want from the others: peaceful co-existence.
In some ways, this pleased Angel, for he did not like being… disturbed - his balance too fragile to be put too much to the test. In other ways, it saddened him immensely, for his body had begun to ache for Spike's.
He had little need to worry, however, for all this changed only a few days after the peaceful time began. Cordelia, crossing the lobby one morning, suddenly stopped and looked suspiciously at her heel.
'Spike! Spike! Where are you?'
'What?' Spike came out of the kitchen holding a book.
'Yours to clear up, I'm thinking?'
Spike looked down at the small pile. Cordelia continued icily, 'Dog shit in the house, Spike…. Sort it, yeah?'
'What did you just say?'
'Hello? Anyone in there? It's your dog; ergo, it's your shit.'
'Jeez. Just clear it up.'
She stomped off, limping theatrically, one shoe held limply in her hand. Spike stayed staring at the small mess for longer than it warranted then he turned, picked the puppy up and began to go up the stairs. He caught the puppy's look and said mutinously, 'Shut the fuck up.'
That evening, Spike emerged from his room and came shyly into the kitchen. Angel looked up from the newspaper, slightly surprised by his arrival. He jerked his head back. 'Okay, that's a vampire I used to know.'
Spike pouted and ran a hand through his blond, short hair. 'Good or bad?'
'You or the hair?'
Spike laughed. 'Sorry 'bout the last few days. The thing with the dog shook me a bit, yeah? I was gonna kill 'im, and then I wasn't, and it was a soul thing, and it freaked me out cus killing dogs was our favourite hobby, remember? Well, yours, anyway - after babies.'
Angel lowered his eyes. 'I have discovered, Spike, that it is sometimes best not to speak such things aloud. Keep them in your heart, but don't give them air to breathe.'
'Oh. 'K. Didn't get that. Thought it was best to verbalise or some shit, or have I been watching too much daytime TV? Anyway, wanted to say sorry. And that's another fucking soul thing, ain't it? Jeez, it's a pisser.'
Angel smiled at Spike's back. 'I like the hair, anyway. It's still very you.'
Spike turned and grinned over his shoulder. Angel once more had the odd thought that this man could not be more different from the soft poet he had hunted to his death. He did not remember William having cheekbones. He did not remember William's eyes to be that penetrating. He shook himself slightly and went back to his perusal of the paper.
'Can we do something tonight?'
'I dunno. What's there to do?'
'Uh huh. This is LA, Spike. I think you name it, it's here to do.'
'Okay then. What do you want to do?'
Spike sat down and looked theatrically at a non-existent watch and raised an eyebrow. 'Are you usually this hard to take out?'
'You're taking me out?'
Spike reared back a little. 'Not on a bleedin' date, Angel. I just wanna say thank you for… everything. So… you decide.'
Angel looked down shyly. 'Is this going to be just… us?'
Spike nodded with a small smile of apology.
'Okay then. The ballet?'
Spike narrowed his eyes. 'I'm not that grateful.'
Angel suppressed a chuckle. 'A movie.'
'Cool. What's on?'
They agreed to a mutually interesting one: explosions, death, violence, but in Japanese and supposedly cultural. Angel bought some popcorn, Spike bought a coke, and they sat together not thinking about much while the place filled.
Angel was just looking around, hoping someone who knew him might see him with Spike, when a soft voice said, 'Do we look gay?'
Angel answered with his body, bending away from Spike. 'What the…?'
'Seriously, Mate, if you were looking at us - an' didn't know us - would you think we were gay?'
'No! Of course not. Do I look…. I mean, do you think you look gay?'
'No. But I used to sit next to Buffy and wish people would think we were together.'
Angel was saved from commenting on this thought, which had so closely mirrored his own, as a couple pushed past them. When they were seated again, he said with a slightly puzzled tone, 'Even if we were… we're not human. It would be like calling Darla and Dru lesbians.'
Spike chuckled. 'But not to their faces.'
'There ya go. Different rules.'
'Huh. Shh, movie's starting.'
Angel found it hard to concentrate after this and wished he'd not picked a Japanese film. He watched the moving images without thought of them, for his thoughts were all on Spike. Spike seemed to unconsciously bring him back to Darla at every turn: her slim body, her startling blond hair on the pillow next to his dark locks, her sexual energy, her spark of life. A hand sneaked into his popcorn and took a sizable amount. He let it go, but when it returned, he stabbed at it with his thumb. Spike retaliated by pressing Angel's foot with his. Spike was the first to surrender and withdrew his hand, cursing softly under his breath.
Angel wanted him to return his foot and his hand but did not have the words to ask.
After the movie, they went to a bar, and Spike cheered up when Angel brought him a large drink. 'Ain't this where we discuss the film?'
'Hmm. But as I didn't hear it, and you didn't understand it, that would be a pretty dumb conversation.'
'Why didn't you hear it?'
'The movie. What were you thinking about so deeply?'
'I was thinking about guarding my popcorn.'
'Uh huh.' Spike gave a small, seductive smile. 'Do you think someone is trying to relieve you of it, Angel?'
Angel leant back and blinked slowly at the smile. 'I think they are.'
'I think you'd be right.'
'What are you saying, Spike?'
Spike caught his gaze. 'I'm saying that I'm getting better every day, Angel. I know what I want.'
Spike spoke so softly, even Angel had to strain to hear him. 'Let's go home.'
Angel rose urgently. They walked through the LA night swiftly, both deep in their own thoughts. Suddenly, Angel felt his arm seized; he was dragged into an alley and pushed roughly into a doorway. Spike held him by the shoulders, looking him intently in the eyes, then with no more hesitation, kissed him.
Before Angel could separate the sensations: arousal in his loins, nicotine on his tongue, soft moaning; Spike stretched his neck back and pleaded, 'Take of me, Sire.'
Angel made a small animalistic growl and bent feverishly to the offered neck. He had not done this for so long: feeding under the dark skies, a creature of the night, powerful, deadly, all-encompassing. Spike's hands started on Angel's neck, but he slid down to hold onto his strong arms. When he felt himself held completely upright, he slid them lower to Angel's waist. As Angel enfolded him totally in his dark embrace, Spike put his hands to Angel's erection, and in an almost natural extension to this intimacy, he fondled and worked Angel's shaft through the barrier of his clothes.
Angel drank deeper this time. He wanted the touch to continue; he wanted to come to Spike's hands - here, in the dark, where they were both welcome, but gradually, Spike's movements became less urgent. Gradually, Angel sensed Spike's body sagging against his. He reined his demon in and pulled away. Spike was limp and lifeless in his arms. Angel frowned and slapped at him lightly. 'Spike. Hey….'
He cursed. He had not realised that Spike was still so weak. With little choice other than to force feed him in the alley, Angel hefted Spike over his shoulder and found an entrance to the sewer system.
It didn't take him long to get back. He deposited Spike on his bed and went to run a bath. Stripping Spike was hard. Angel felt a sense of prurience at doing it, because he did get aroused when he looked at the unconscious form; he did part the jeans slowly and pause at the sight of Spike's penis. He knew it was wrong, but he bent his face to the dark patch of hair and inhaled. He had not smelt male arousal for nearly two hundred years, and once more he was struck by how different Spike smelt to William. Angel held Spike in his arms and began to lift him off the bed, but the feel of the body against his was too much. So close to orgasm in the alley, so aroused by the touch of skin lying supine against him, he reached into his own pants and slipped the tip of his erection out. He rubbed it against Spike's belly, and within a few urgent strokes, he spilt onto the pale skin he had created with his blood. The sperm shot out and pooled in the muscular indentations across the toned belly. Angel placed his palm over it and trailed some of it up and around the scars still visible on Spike's chest. He bent his head onto the unconscious form and wanted to take those scars from around his childe's heart.
Angel finally carried Spike to the bath, placed him in it and knelt alongside him. He tipped Spike's neck back, opened up his own wrist and pressed it to Spike's mouth.
As his blood flowed into his childe, Angel's love began to flow, too. As if blocked, this outpouring loosed it. The vacuum left by Darla's explosion on him sucked this new love violently through his dead body, animating it. Like tributaries to the main stream, Angel's love flowed from the many parts of his complex psyche: from the demonic hot love he had felt for Darla; from the sweet, passionate love he had felt for Buffy; from the intense, loyal love he felt for his friends - and all these intricate flavours of love mixed together to form a new love for Spike. This love was strong. This love felt pure. This love felt as if Angel had found a reason for his path. He had never felt love like it. He remembered Wesley's words.
He would fight the good fight until its inevitable conclusion to keep Spike safe.
He would lay down his life for him, if he were called upon to do that.