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Dead Men Walking - 6

Given his dreams and the fact that his bed was covered in dried cum, Angel was not too pleased to be woken the next morning by the sense that Spike was in his room. He came to with his accustomed rapidity and found Spike standing in the doorway, looking at him.

'This is my room.'

'Duh,' was Spike's only comment.

Angel sat up and pulled the sheet modestly over him. He hoped it had been modestly over him all the while, but feared it had not.

'What do you want?'

'To shower. Your sheets were dirtier than I was, and that's saying something. You didn't show me which I could use.'

It there were any other showers working besides his and Fred's, Angel wasn't aware. He tried to work out which he would like Spike using the least and decided Fred's won marginally. He nodded to his adjoining bathroom. 'You can use mine, after me.'

Spike's eyebrows rose in surprise at this, but he went back up to fetch some clean clothes. He felt oddly subdued this morning and knew it was partially from his disturbed night. Not thinking about Angel was surprisingly hard when you had been talking with him for hours and had let him jerk you off in an urgent fantasy. Years of not thinking about Angel had been blown away in that unsatisfactory orgasm, and Angel's continually cool attitude towards him only intensified his depression.

When he returned to Angel's room, he heard the shower running, so sat obediently on the bed to wait. He noticed, with amusement, that the bed was stripped.

Other than the sound of the water, there was only silence from the bathroom. It was all in such contrast to the mornings they used to have as the destructive sun declined and set them free for the night. Angelus was loud in his ablutions, shouting to the family his instructions for the night, singing off-key Irish melodies, groaning in delight when his childe washed him, screaming out his pleasure as William brought him to delicious orgasms with his hands and mouth. This silence was eerie. It only made the estrangement between them more noticeable. Spike felt he was sharing a house with a complete stranger, but one who was trying really hard to be polite to him. He'd almost rather Angel hated him than this. At least hate was hot and alive... you could fight it and enjoy it. He had no defence against this cold neutrality.

Spike had something of a revelation, sitting there listening intently to the silence. He realised that Angel was never going to be Angelus. This seemed like such a simple thing to understand; he was surprised he had not seen it before. It really didn't matter what Spike did, what he said, who he was now; Angel was not going to dramatically turn into Angelus. Spike had opened the door for Angel to walk through last night. He had as good as said, "Come to bed with me now, and I'll make you come another way." He knew Angel had understood his offer. He had seen it in Angel's hesitation. So, Spike realised he had to accept Angel for what he was, and the most he seemed willing to offer was a cool tolerance of Spike's presence. It was better than nothing, and Spike felt that if he was really, really careful, and really, really good, then Angel might actually come to think of him as an acquaintance. There was only a narrow gap between acquaintance and a friend. Spike wanted Angel to be his friend... it seemed now to be the great prize, given he had lost all hope of anything more. So, as he sat quietly on the bed, Spike started to plan how he could try to be Angel's friend. It seemed a monumental task, and he might not have that long. Angel did not seem as permanent as he once had, and Spike was only too well aware that he was trying to befriend a dead man walking. All he wanted was for Angel to like him.

Angel came out of the bathroom to find Spike sitting with his head in his hands, deep in thought on the bed. He watched him for a moment as he dried his hair. Spike had not sensed him yet. There was nothing special about Spike; he was just sitting on the bed. He was dressed in the clothes he had slept in; they were rumpled and stale looking. He had not brushed his hair; it was sticking out with a just-got-out-of-bed look. He was just Spike.

So why was it this moment that made Angel plummet into a strange, unasked for obsession with his childe? He just looked at him and fell. He'd done it once before with another blond who was sitting quietly… almost thinking. One look at Buffy as her lips slid around that lollipop, and Angel had thought about nothing else until he closed his eyes one day and realised that years had passed in which he had been lost in the reflected brilliance that seemed to illuminate her every move.

So, why Spike, and why now? Spike wasn't illuminated by sunlight; he was just sitting there, face in his hands and looking depressed. Angel didn't know why, but he felt the fluttering sensation in his belly caused by any fall from a significant height. He had been so estranged from Spike, the distance between them so vast, that this fall was almost dizzying. When the spinning and disorientation ended, Angel was still there, but everything else had changed. Most significantly, Spike had now changed, for Spike had become the object of all his interest, and the focus for his deep, obsessive personality. The trouble was, Angel had no idea how to express any of what he felt. He became tongue-tied. His body suddenly seemed far too big and clumsy... he wanted to change his face and his hair and be someone else. He wanted to shed his skin, and was afraid he looked fat.

Spike looked up to find himself the subject of Angel's intense gaze.

'What? What's wrong now?'

All Spike saw was yet another deep, judgemental look from Angel. He pushed past him and turned the shower back on. He started to strip off the clothes he had slept in, flinging his shirt to the floor where it lay in the pools of water spilt from the shower. When he undid the top button on his jeans, he turned to face Angel. 'Do you mind? I'm trying to shower here.'

Angel wanted to reach out and take Spike. He wanted to enfold him in his strong arms and tell him that his sire had returned for him. He wanted more than that; he wanted to drain his body into Spike's, empty all his need and all his loneliness into that slim form.

He wanted Spike to want him.

He reached out and silently handed him a towel.

Their hands touched briefly.

Spike just wanted him to go - he didn't want to try and play with Angel's head any more. He wanted them to be friends. Given Angel's death, Spike could not afford to risk anything more… he could not lose love again.

He just wanted Angel to like him.

Spike turned away, and Angel went sadly back to his room.

Angel waited nervously for Spike in the lobby. He had taken longer than usual to dress and could not get his hair just how he liked it. He had even rehearsed some things to say to Spike when he saw him. He couldn't wait for that first glimpse, and kept his eyes fastened onto the stairs. He wanted to speak to Spike and hear his voice... but when Spike finally did appear, Angel could think of nothing to say. All his practiced speeches sounded stupid in his head, and he did not risk their utterance. He couldn't even look at Spike, could not hold his gaze. He couldn't believe he was being so awkward. This was just Spike. Spike was the same as he had been last night, so why was everything so different?

Spike noted with an inward sigh that Angel's mood had not improved. If anything, he seemed even more despondent. Spike just assumed he had done something to displease Angel, or that he'd done nothing at all and just displeased him anyway.

The walk through the tunnels was tense and full of awkward silence. They were both glad to reach the doctor and went in through the specially prepared sewer entrance.

Spike was surprised to discover that the doctor was human. He'd assumed he would be a demon, too, and that, if he didn't like the diagnosis, at least he could hit him. Angel left him in the examining room and sat in reception, glad that, being so early, there were no other patients waiting. After half an hour, the doctor came out.

'You're his sire.' This was clearly a rhetorical question, but Angel nodded, nonetheless.

'Not been taking very good care of him, have you?'

Angel was speechless… angry and speechless. He didn't feel it was his job to take care of Spike, but didn't tell that to the doctor. Instead, he said in a quiet, annoyed voice, 'Why?'

The doctor looked patronisingly at him over half-moon reading glasses. 'Well, besides the eye… which will heal in time given rest and food… and I can help you with both of those…. He's malnourished, exhausted, and clinically depressed. Oh, and alcohol dependent, I'd guess. He's in a bad way, even for a dead thing. I blame this chip he claims to have, mostly, but if I were someone who cared for him, I'd blame you, too. Vampires… you are all the same… worst parents in the demon community.'

Angel reply was hissed and venomous. 'When I want your opinion, I'll ask for it.'

The doctor looked at him in surprise and amusement. 'You did. I'm a doctor, and you came here for my opinion.'

Spike now appeared, buttoning his shirt. He saw Angel's stormy face with alarm. 'Hey! What's wrong with it then?'

Angel tried to relax his features a little. 'Nothing… he said you needed rest and food, that's all.'

Spike gave a small smile, remembering Angel's diagnosis on the roadside the previous evening. Angel's heart flipped over and almost gave out one weak pulse; he couldn't stop a small conspiratorial smile flickering over his face. Spike saw the smile, and his face broke into a wide grin. Friends… it was a start.

The doctor was rummaging around in the back of a large cool cabinet in his office and produced a small bag of blood. He handed it to Spike. 'It's extremely potent. It will speed your recovery.'

Spike took it. 'Cheers, mate.'

'It's not free. It's a hundred and fifty dollars a pint, and you will need one a day for at least a week. I'll review you then.' Spike handed it back reluctantly.

'Take it Spike… I'll send for a fresh one each day.'

'Hey, Angel… one hundred and fifty bucks.'

'I said, take it.'

Spike's face made Angel want to weep for pity.

Spike stretched out his hand and took the small bag. He looked at it in wonder. 'What the hell's in it?'

'I can't tell you that, suffice to say, it's exceptionally rare and difficult to find.'

Spike mumbled something under his breath about blood of an Essex virgin, but the joke was lost on his audience. The doctor handed Spike a number of brightly coloured pills in a small canister and told him to take them for sleeping. Spike grinned happily and raised one eyebrow at Angel. Angel frowned, but it was not especially judgemental.

They walked slowly back through the tunnels together, a lot less awkward with each other than they had felt on the way there.

Spike turned to Angel and said questioningly, 'Why does he do it?'

Angel was off-guard. He'd been thinking again about Spike's face when he'd agreed to buy the blood for him. He wanted to make Spike look at him like that again.

'Who and what?'

'The doctor, why does he treat demons? He's human.'

'Oh… he gets perks.' Angel answered vaguely, a small smirk beginning on his features.

'Perks? Like tips - you didn't tip him as well, did you?'

'No, other perks….' Spike saw Angel's grin now.

'What? Tell me, you git!'

'Did he get you to undress?'

''Course, said he needed to examine me.'

'And did he… examine you?'

'Well, yeah, thoroughly.'


'He moved stuff around… lifted… probed, yeah.'

Angel was openly laughing now. 'Did he use rubber gloves, too?'

Spike's eyes flew open in horror.

'Oh, Spike… you only went to get your eye looked at… didn't you think it was a bit odd?'

'You fucking tosser, Angel. You knew? I'm gonna kill him.'

'You can't; he's human.'

'You kill him!'

'Why? I don't blame him.' The words were out of his mouth before he could call them back. He'd not meant to say them out loud.

Spike looked sideward at him but didn't comment. Angel felt all his earlier awkwardness return and didn't say any more until they got back. When they arrived, the humans were there, so they were even more circumspect with each other.

Angel took the blood from Spike and went to heat it up. Unwilling to be the subject of anymore prurient interest that day, Spike followed him and hovered until it was ready, casting evil glances at Angel's back every so often.

He took the offered mug. He took a sip… his eyes flew open; he almost felt his pupils dilate with desire. He handed the mug to Angel.

'Try it.'

Angel twitched an eyebrow, but did. He sipped the warm liquid; his eyes widened, too, and Spike grinned.

'Worth the hundred and fifty bucks?'

Angel nodded enviously. 'What is it?'

'No idea, but it beats pig.'

'That beats o'neg.'

'Beats sire's blood, too, mate. Sorry.'

Angel smiled at him. 'You didn't get offered that.'

Spike pursed his lips thoughtfully. Angel was different somehow. He couldn't say exactly how, but he felt some barrier had been removed. That elusive holy grail of friendship was beginning to seem possible. He smiled, too. 'No, I didn't, did I? Git.' But there was no rancour in his tone.

Angel realised that for the first time in a long time he was sharing and enjoying his demon side with someone.

Perhaps invigorated by his exquisite medicine, Spike suddenly looked down at his boots and said quietly, 'Angel, I have something to tell you,' and could have cursed when Cordelia came into the kitchen to make coffee.

'Eww… demon coffee break? Hey… are you keeping those mugs separate? Angel… if any of that….' Neither vampire was listening to her after the first few words. Spike was inwardly cursing Cordelia's timing, and Angel was intrigued by Spike's serious look and tone as he had attempted to make his announcement.

Having no part in the daily routine of the agency, Spike made himself scarce for the rest of the day. He only made an appearance after the had humans left and asked Angel if he could make a call. Surprised, Angel assented, assuming it was to Sunnydale.

Spike made himself comfortable in Wesley's office and dialled the international code.


'It's me.'

'Ah. How's it going?'

'I'm here; it worked… good idea, luv.'

'I do have them occasionally. So, how did he take it?'

'Err, okay.'

'Ah, not told him yet then?'

'Git. No. There never seems to be a right time.'

'Well, I'm glad in a way Spike, because I've had a thought.'

'Oh, good, about me?'

'Your sense of humour does not travel well, Spike… the further away you are, the less I find you amusing.'

'So, you do find me amusing when I'm close then? I must have been hysterical sometimes, seeing as we got very, very close….'

'Oh, shut up, Spike. Do you want to hear what I have to say, or not?'

'Fire away….'

'Needless to say, it's about Angel's soul. Spike, I think we both assumed that Angel's transformation to human form was imminent… this year… next year… which makes what you have to tell him vital news.'

'Yeah, so what?'

'Well, what if it's not? What if he doesn't become human for many, many years; long after I am gone and everyone else who knows him.'

'I'd still be here.'

'Possibly, you do seem rather… endless.'

'I'll take that in the kind and caring way it was meant, shall I?'

'Hmm. But it would put a new perspective on things, wouldn't it? It would be a bit unfair to tell him if that were the case.'

'But you don't know; you're only guessing?'

'Well, that was my other thought…you are in the best place to find out one way or another. Wesley is translating the prophecy… he's the expert. If I were you, I'd do some investigation first, before I said anything to Angel.'

Spike was pleased by this suggestion; it enabled him to put off what he couldn't bear to think about doing anyway.

'Ferret around, and see what you can find out.'

'Okay… when they're all out.'

'So, how's the eye?'

'Still the bluest you'll ever be likely to see.'

'I could always buy a Siamese cat, Spike. In fact, now I come to think of it… noisy, demanding, rude, vain, touchy….'

'I am not vain.'

'How is Angel, or are you still in denial and not speaking his name.'


'Is that a reference to me, or him?'

'Both of you; can't bleedin' tell the difference half the time; both do of you do me head in....'

Spike stopped suddenly; he could hear Angel in the outer office. He said a quiet goodbye to Giles and put the receiver back softly. He couldn't be sure if Angel had heard any of his conversation and tried to think back over what he had said. Angel came in and sat on the edge of the desk. 'All well?'

Spike looked questioningly at him.

'In Sunnydale?'

'Oh, I was phoning Giles.'

Angel looked as if Spike had slapped him, and Spike said with a harsh laugh. 'I'll pay for the bleedin' call, don't worry.'

Angel started to shake his head to deny this charge, but what could he say in defence… he could not tell Spike why a quiet, intimate call to Giles upset him.

'I'm taking Fred to the theatre tonight, Spike. Will you be okay?'

Spike saw the perfect opportunity to rummage through Wesley's files undisturbed and nodded happily. Angel's face plummeted once again. He'd hoped Spike might want to come, too. He tried to drop a gentle hint.

'You used to like the theatre.'

'Yeah, that was before TV, mate.'

'I don't own a television.'

'I noticed. What do you do, Angel? How do you bleedin' cope with the confinement?'

Angel laughed, 'I brood.'

Spike smiled at him, and once again the tension slipped away. Angel looked down at a slight scratch on the desk. 'What did you have to tell me?'

Spike tipped his head on one side and looked at Angel. 'Not now.'

'Why not?'

'I… I'm not sure, Angel… tomorrow.'

Spike had never felt the loss of his sire, his confidant, so acutely. There had been a time when all he had to do was ask Angelus and everything had seemed so simple. He so desperately missed that time, that he actually felt tears prick his eyes.

With his vampire acuity, Angel smelt rather than saw the imminent tears. He was dumbfounded, bewildered by Spike's vulnerability. He put out a tentative hand and rested it on Spike's shoulder. The third time he had touched him. The shoulder felt thin, bony, and sharp. The doctor's words came back to him, and he felt the first twinges of guilt.

'The doctor seemed worried about you.' Spike wanted to tip his head further to the side to rest his cheek on Angel's hand, but he didn't have the courage. He gave a rueful smile.

'He was probably bricking it that I'd fucking report him. He's bleedin' unethical, that's what he is.'

'Worried about you… you are too thin, and he said you were depressed.' If Angel intended this conversation to cheer Spike up and stop the release of the threatened tears, he had picked an unfortunate topic. Spike's call to Giles had already brought back some of the feelings of self-doubt he had taken to England. This soft tone from Angel threatened to break through all his defences. He put his hand up and moved Angel's off, but he did it gently, and tried not to give the impression he was rejecting comfort.

'Go to the theatre, Angel. Enjoy it….' It was too much. Unbidden, the words "while you can" came into Spike's head, and he rushed from the office to the privacy of his own room.

Angel sat in the darkening office, heedless of the need to change for the theatre. He was only roused by Fred's quiet presence and realised that he would have to go as he was. He was so obsessed with thoughts of Spike, he did not even mind the omission.

Spike did not waste the opportunity of an empty hotel. He rummaged, delved, read, smoked, rummaged some more and, finally, with a curse of disgust, admitted that he had learnt nothing of any use whatsoever. He propped his feet up on Wesley's desk, smoking. There was only one thing for it... he would have to ask the watcher.

When Angel returned later that night, having driven Fred around for yet one more look at the electricity of the city she could never have enough of, he went up to Spike's room. He hesitated in the doorway. He'd thought of the perfect excuse to see Spike, having spent most of the play thinking of, and rejecting, alternatives. He decided to check that Spike had taken the pills. He needn't have bothered with his cover story. Spike had taken them and was now in a deep, healing sleep: such as he had not had for many years. He was face down on the mattress in his favourite starfish position. Angel smiled and sat on the edge of the bed. He put his hand to Spike's soft hair and smoothed down the arrogant spikes. He brushed the pad of his thumb over Spike's damaged cheekbone. He laid his hand over Spike's, brushed over the thin wrists and, finally, let his hand come to rest in the hollow of Spike's naked back. He bent his head, overwhelmed by his need for this creature.

Spike knew nothing of Angel's late night visit, waking with a sense that he had dreamt but not remembering the content of the dream.

Angel, having slept fitfully, was woken once again by the sense that Spike was in his room. How much could change in only twenty-four hours? His heart leapt; he wanted to smile and stretch out his arms, but he merely opened his eyes and said neutrally, 'What do you want again?'

Spike came hesitantly into the room and sat on the edge of Angel's bed. When he saw he was not going to be ejected, he grinned, and theatrically covered his good eye with one hand. 'Lift something up, Angel.'

Angel frowned. 'What?'

'Come on, hold something up.'

Angel gave him an English sign that he knew Spike would appreciate. Spike laughed. 'Fuck you, too.'

Angel's eyes widened in delight. 'You can see?'

Spike shrugged. 'Well, I'm not gonna be a sniper just yet, but I saw that… good hey?'

Angel sat up and took Spike's face in his hands once more. He couldn't really justify this playing doctor, as there was little he could usefully do, but it felt so good he didn't deny himself. He peered intently into Spike's eye, their faces only inches apart. Spike pictured Angel's lips closing the distance between them, cast a glance at the space in the bed next to him, and concentrated on the feel of Angel's hands on him. How simple their lives could be if only this was Angelus... but he was pleased that Angel was being friendlier to him.

Inspection completed, Angel leant back against the headboard. He, too, was thinking about the space in the bed next to him… but if he had been about to risk all and ask Spike to join him, it was too late… Spike got up and, with a smile, went back to his own room.

Angel went out with Gunn later that day, and Spike saw the perfect opportunity to tackle the watcher about Angel. He hovered in the kitchen getting in the way while Wesley made tea; he followed him back to his office, and leaned irritatingly in the doorway until, in an exasperated tone, Wesley said, 'Go away, and stop trying to ingratiate yourself with me.'

Spike gave a harsh laugh. 'Ingratiate?'

'I assume that's what you are attempting to do. You've….' Wesley broke off, gave Spike a penetrating look, but did not continue what he had been going to say.

Spike pushed himself off the doorframe and came over to perch on the edge of the desk. 'Answer me a question, watcher….'

'Don't call me that; I was sacked from the council; I see no reason to pretend otherwise.'

'Wesley then. If you tell me what I want to know, I'll sod off and leave you in peace.'

Wesley leant back in his chair and tented his hands in his lap. 'What?' His tone was cold, and his eyes gave nothing away.

'I want to know when this prophecy thingy of Angel's is gonna kick in. When is he supposed to become human?'

Wesley gave a strange half smile and nodded, as if this question of Spike's had confirmed something he was waiting for. He smiled openly now and, looking away as if he needed to straighten his desk blotter, said lightly, 'I can't really tell you Spike; I'd have to show you.'

'Show me?'

'Yes, we only have part of the scroll here; the rest is written on stone tablets in one of the tombs in the cemetery.'


'If we knew that, we'd have been able to translate it months ago. We're still working on it.'

'Where is this cemetery?'

'Here, in LA.'

'Tonight. You are taking me there tonight.'

Wesley finally looked up and nodded his agreement. 'Tomorrow morning, I can't get away until tomorrow morning; I'll meet you at the cemetery at five. Can you get there, if I show you on a map?'

'Err... 'duh' springs to mind.'

'Don't tell Angel. You'll have to get out without him knowing.'

'Sure. Five then.' Spike hopped off the desk and started to leave the office, but he couldn't resist one final parting shot at Wesley. 'Hey, watcher, bet this is your first date for ages, hey? Make it memorable for me?'

Wesley didn't dignify this with a response until Spike was back upstairs, then a slow, unattractive smile slid across his face. 'I intend to, Spike. I intend to.'

They met, as agreed, just after five o'clock. Wesley, waiting by the appointed gravestone, watched Spike come swaggering across the misty grass. He seemed totally spirit-of-place: at home in this dark, murky home of dead things. Wesley was never completely happy in cemeteries and, despite what he was about to do, was pleased to see Spike arrive.

'Hello darling… ready for me?'

'Shut up, Spike.'

'Come on, Wes, lighten up.'

Wesley glanced at his watch. 'We have to wait for someone.'


'Don't ask questions, Spike… if you want me to show you, you'll do it my way. He's our guide.'

Spike perched on the gravestone and glanced up at the lightening sky. 'Okay, but I can't wait too long.' He lit up a cigarette and smoked slowly, watching Wesley out of the corner of his eye. Wesley was pacing nervously and appeared to be having an internal struggle of some kind.

After half an hour, Spike glanced once more at the now salmon-pink sky and stood up, grinding his cigarette under his boot. 'I've gotta go, watcher; bloody waste of time this was. What the fuck did we wait all this time for?'

Wesley suddenly turned to him. 'Well, this really,' and snapped the other half of a pair of handcuffs around Spike's wrist. Now attached to Wesley, Spike could only stare bewildered.

'What the fucking hell….' He glanced with some concern at the sky. His vampire senses told him he had no more than five minutes to get underground. He felt naked, vulnerable, and utterly furious.

He gave an experimental tug on the cuff and saw Wesley's amused look. 'How dare you think you could come here and kill Angel.'

'Err… what?'

'Don't bother with the innocent look, Spike. I know you've been through my papers. I smelt the smoke in my office this morning. You weren't exactly subtle.'

'I wasn't trying to be.'

Wesley was surprised that Spike admitted it so readily.

'And then you actually had the nerve to ask me today… how stupid do you think I am? You want to find out how much longer you will have the opportunity to kill Angel… before he becomes human and invulnerable to you.'

'What? Don't be such a dozy pillock, Wesley.' Four minutes. Spike's skin began to crawl with the closeness of the sun. He tried to break free, twisting his wrist and pulling hard, but his chip fired off as Wesley winced at the pain, and Spike only ended up on his knees. On his knees to Wesley and joined by handcuffs was an image Spike did not need to picture right now.

Three minutes. He had no choice.

'Wesley, listen carefully.' He stood up and looked him in the eyes. Wes' face remained shut to him, no emotion leaking around the wire-frame glasses. 'Listen, I've been to the council headquarters in England with Giles.…'

'You are pathetic, Spike. You should have at least tried to make your lies believable. I'd have given you more credit….'

Two and a half minutes.

'Shut up, shut up, you fuckwit. Listen… I went there to read a paper that's been written on Angel and his soul… you must have heard of it? Giles said it was the talk of the bleedin' town.' Two minutes.

The first flicker of doubt crossed Wesley's face. 'Yes, I've heard of it.'

'Well, I wanted to read it. I wanted to find out about my soul, if I have one: find out why I'm such a pathetic vampire, I guess. I don't know… but Giles took me.…'

Wesley's face set resolutely against him once more. 'There is no way I'm going to believe that Giles took you into the headquarters of the watchers' council. That they let you in.…'

Spike lost it. He tugged at the handcuffs in desperation, falling to his knees in agony again. 'You're all the bleedin' same, you watchers, you anally retentive, fucked-over arse wipes, with your inner sanctums and your not-fucking-talking-at-breakfast stupid rules, I'm soddin'….'

'What did you just say?'

Spike got to his feet. One minute. 'Well, sod you, watcher.' He pulled Wes out from the slight shadow of the grave and stood to face the first soft rays of the sun that were streaking over the distant tree line.

'I guess this is as good a way to go as any, better than some. I'm sick of it all anyway. Sick of fighting, sick of loving, tired of being dead, tired of being lonely. I want to go.' He raised his voice until he was shouting. 'Sod off, all of you.' He looked at Wesley one last time and closed his eyes to the flames.

He was jerked unceremoniously by the handcuffs along the gravel path. 'Hey! What the fuck are you doing?'

'Shut up, Spike. I'm not so sure of your good intent yet that I won't change my mind again, but if you know enough to mention those old buggers at breakfast, then I suspect you are telling the truth about other things. I have enough doubt to give you a chance to explain.'

'No, leave me alone.' Spike, perversely, tried to dig his heels into the path. Having got so close, he saw no reason to stop now. He wanted the flames; he hadn't been acting; he was sick of it all. They made a ludicrous sight... Wesley dragging Spike... Spike trying to resist without hurting Wesley. Wesley had the advantage, and he got Spike back to the car before the sun's rays ended his current batch of self-loathing in a very permanent way.

He undid the cuffs and pushed Spike onto the floor of the back seat and threw a blanket over him. 'Stay there.'

Within half an hour they were parked safely in an underground garage. Spike climbed out from his temporary shelter and into the passenger seat.

Wesley turned to face him, his expression grim. 'Tell me the truth.'

'Jesus, what is it with you watchers and the truth all the time? What's wrong with a few harmless lies?'

'Spike! The door's unlocked; feel free to get out and walk home.'

Spike pouted a little, and then grinned. 'Nah, not so much fun if I can't take you with me.' He picked up the handcuffs and waved them in Wesley's face. 'Whoosh, up goes attached watcher, too.'

Wes' pale face indicated very clearly that he had not actually considered the fact he had been manacled to a human torch. Spike shook his head sadly and patted him patronisingly on the leg. 'Never mind, luv, our little secret, hey?'

'Shut up, Spike. Tell me about Angel now!'

'Oh yeah… well, seems the council have discovered Angel's soul's too strong for a human to cope with. He's gonna start to breathe then….' Wesley saw the genuine emotion in Spike's face as he tried once more to put into words what he found unthinkable. 'He's going to… he's… he will.…'

'Kill himself?'

Spike nodded gratefully. 'Yeah, exactly.'

'And you came here to do what, exactly?'

Spike turned away, but Wesley's keen observation saw a look of anguish flicker across his face. 'To tell him I guess… to warn him. I don't know… I just thought I should.…'

They were silent for a while. Wesley thought about Spike's news. It had not come as a huge shock to him. He knew Angel better than most people... far better than Spike, who had seen very little of his changed sire over the years. Wesley knew just how impossible Angel's deep, soulful nature was. He knew just how miserable and broody Angel could be. He had sometimes wondered how Angel expected to carry all that pain if he became human. Wesley also thought about Spike, about William the Bloody, who was sitting in the car biting his nails next to him. Spike was clearly distraught at the thought of losing Angel. Spike was a vampire, but he could feel emotion. Wesley felt humble and guilty about what he had attempted to do. The thought "murder" crossed his mind, but he pushed it away. He had not known… Spike was something new, and it challenged his most deeply held beliefs.

Finally, Wesley laid a gentle hand on Spike's thigh. 'Come on… let's go home. We've work to do.'

Spike turned his distraught face to Wesley. He blinked slowly. He felt exhausted again and wondered if it was the after effects of the drugs. He almost put his hand to the door handle to find the sun.

'What?' he said, with no effort to hide his exhaustion.

'We've got to find a way to save Angel.' Wesley smiled at Spike's astonishment. 'You didn't really think I'd let him die, did you? Come on, there's two of us now, and between my intelligent common sense and extensive knowledge of the occult, and your street-wise, cocky arrogance, I think we might be able to come up with something.'

A slow grin spread over Spike's face… two of them. He felt a considerable lessening of his burden. He had someone to share his fear for Angel.

He looked keenly at Wesley for a moment, studying his eyes. He held Wesley's gaze, refusing to let him look away. He tipped his head to one side with an almost reverential look. 'You love him?'

It was a startling thing to say, and Spike expected Wesley to deny it, or at least to blunder through a weak defence, but he was the one surprised. Wesley only gave Spike's thigh a gentle squeeze and said with amusement, 'I said there are two of us.'

Spike laughed; Wesley took his hand off Spike's leg and reached behind to pass Spike the blanket. Suddenly, Spike leant close to Wesley and took his face in his hands. Wesley, caught in the act of twisting into the back, could not pull away. Spike looked him briefly in the eyes, and then kissed him.

Shocked, Wesley spluttered and grimaced, wiping his hand violently across his mouth. Spike laughed once more. 'Come on, Wes, you're working with a proper vampire now. Better get used to those.'

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