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Dead Men Walking - 7

When they stopped, Spike was surprised to find that they were not at the hotel, but at an elegant-looking apartment block. He peered at Wesley from under the blanket.

Wesley was looking at the distance between the car and the door. 'I thought we needed a headquarters - to plan. I don't fancy Angel getting involved in our discussions, do you? Can you make it, if I get the door ready for you?'

Wesley's apartment reminded Spike of Giles' in that it was full of books and very masculine. That's where the similarity ended. Wesley had a large television, a modern sound system, and a wide range of music, DVDs, videos, and other typical boys' toys. Spike was impressed and envious. He wandered around looking at everything, exclaiming every now and again when he found something he particularly liked. Wesley watched him from the small kitchen off to one side of the open-plan living room. He could not reconcile what he was looking at with the idea that it was a demon. Angel, he was used to. He never even thought of Angel as anything other than a man, until Angel vamped out and rather ruined his illusions. This, though… this was William the Bloody. Hell, he'd even done a paper on this demon, and now, here it was putting Sting onto his CD player. Spike wandered over and accepted the offered tea. Now it was drinking his tea! Spike hopped up onto the counter and read the cover of the CD box. 'Can't beat the English for bloody music, can you?' Wesley could not believe it had preferences in music.

'Err… Spike….'

'What, mate?'

He was about to apologise to a demon… it was incredible. 'I'm sorry.'

'So you bleedin' should be.' Spike spoke casually, but his shoulders tensed. Wesley was not fooled by his nonchalant attitude.

'I couldn't let anyone hurt Angel. Do you understand?'

'Hey, mate. I've been there a hundred and thirty years longer than you; I think I do.'

'A hundred and thirty years. My God.'

Spike gave a small smile, but didn't look up. 'You'll get used to me soon, watcher. By the end of the day, you'll stop thinking about me as an 'it'.'

'Good God, can you read minds?'

'I might be able to… what do you think?' Spike suddenly looked up and stared at Wesley. Wesley felt a deep blush spread over his cheeks. Put on the spot and trying not to think of anything, he found chaotic thoughts crashing through his mind. "Blue eyes… don't think about those… just did, fuck… shit, you fool, don't swear… he'll know you secretly do and never let it drop… stop thinking, just stop thinking at all."

Spike grinned. 'Nah, can't hear anything at all.' He looked down at his tea with a small smile.

Wesley swiftly regrouped. 'I meant what I said, Spike. I may not have quite come to terms with you as a….'

'Vampire? You can still call me a vampire, luv. PC lobby ain't got to vamps; you don't have to say Undead American, just yet.'

'Yes, a vampire… but I meant it… I am very sorry. I meant it for the best, but I see now I was very hasty.'

Spike nodded. 'I'd have done the same… if I could.'

Wesley nodded, too, not sure if this was entirely reassuring. He took his tea into the living room and indicated for Spike to join him.

'So, tell me everything you can remember from the papers.'

Spike's thorough recitation of the key details from his reading took precisely fifteen seconds. Wesley was rather at a loss how to proceed. He would be floundering in the dark if he had no more information than that.

They spent the rest of the day at Wesley's apartment. Spike didn't want to bother with another trip under a blanket and was quite happy watching Wes' TV, listening to his music, reading his books, and eating his way through the fridge. Wesley, strangely, began to find his unexpected houseguest entertaining. He rather liked Spike's odd views on the ludicrous American daytime shows. They were obviously both something of experts. He enjoyed Spike's constant stream of meaningless, but amusing, chatter. This vampire could not be more different to Angel, who would have sat in one dark corner of the apartment and wished himself elsewhere. Spike just made himself at home and, by the end of the day, Wes was so far from thinking of Spike as an 'it' that he had actually had a rather bold idea.

He minced tentatively around it, testing Spike's reaction to his plan. 'Err… you don't really know much at all, do you… about the paper?'

'Nah, I only read the bits in bold. Good beer this.'

'I think I need to see it myself.'

'Yeah, would help… any more crisps, mate?'

'I'm going to fly to England, Spike, and visit the headquarters myself. I'll get Giles to accompany me.'

'Good plan… fuck, look what that bloke's doing on national TV!' Finally, Wes' words hit home. Spike looked up at him in the act of taking a long swallow of beer. 'Go to England? When?'

'Tonight. I could get a flight tonight, be there and back by Wednesday.'

'Well, what the fuck am I supposed to do? Sorry, I know you don't swear, Wesley.' He cast a sly sideward glance at him but, lost in his calculations, Wesley did not see it.

Finally, he looked up at Spike. 'Well, I was rather wondering if you wanted to stay here until I got back. I don't like the idea of you being so near Angel… he's very persuasive, and you must not tell him any of this until we have a plan.'

Spike looked around in wonder. He took in the huge TV, thought about all the music, glanced at the paperbacks - most of them surprisingly violent and bloodthirsty - thought about the videos, including the one or two porn ones he'd spotted amongst the innocents, and turned slowly to Wesley. 'Err, yeah, okay, I think I could do that… hey….'


'I get to sleep in your bed, too?'

'Well, I suppose so. I'll change the sheets for you, of course.' Spike leant back on the couch and peered at Wesley over the top of his bottle of beer as he raised it slowly to his lips. He took a large swallow and rolled the cold fluid around his mouth, savouring the taste. He saw Wesley's tongue flick out and moisten his lips fractionally as he watched. Spike gave him a lazy, seductive smile and twitched up his eyebrow a little.

'Fancy a quick practice?'

'Good grief, Spike, what do you mean?'

'Me… in your bed… do you want to practice with me now?' Spike thought Wesley was playing it a bit too innocent so was not surprised when he got up and backed away. 'Oh, come on Wes… you've as good as admitted you want to shag Angel. Well, here's your chance to practice on another vampire.'

'Oh my God… is that what you thought I meant? Is that what you meant? Spike! Have you never heard of platonic love?'

'Dunno, is that when you do it lying flat or something?'

'Shut up! Not plateau, platonic! I love Angel… I said I love Angel, and I meant love as in… brother! Father! Son… anything but 'that'. I don't LOVE him. I don't want to sleep with him… I'm a man!'

'Yeah, but he's not.' Spike was genuinely puzzled. He stood up and came slowly towards him. 'I'm not either. So what's your point?'

'Yes, you are… you are a man… you are in a man's body anyway… not female. I like female bits… soft squidgy bits, and bits that go in. Yours are hard… and stick out….'

'Well… apologising for that, must be the beer… didn't realise you'd noticed. Yours are as well, Wesley, that's kinda why I mentioned it in the first place.'

Wesley backed behind the breakfast bar to hide his erection. He couldn't explain or excuse it, and was so embarrassed, he was surprised it was hard at all.

'So….' Spike continued his slow, puzzled advance. 'If you don't like hard, sticking out bits and pieces, how come your video collection is rather lacking on the squidgy front?'

'Get thee behind me, Spike. You are a demon. I was right the first time.'

Spike only laughed and turned away towards the bedroom. 'You're right, I am. Can't help it. So, shall I just test the bed by bouncing for a bit?'

Wesley took a deep sigh of relief. He glanced towards the telephone and thought about booking his ticket. Suddenly, England seemed a very attractive alternative to the presence of this confusing, seductive 'it'.

Spike sent the rest of the evening on Wesley's bed. He took lots of beer and a good book and made himself comfortable while Wesley packed and sorted out his life before the trip. He knew Spike was watching him every time he came into the bedroom. Spike lay on his stomach, chin propped up in his hand, his eyes following Wes' every move. Wesley's erection did not subside; it just became painful. He longed to go into the bathroom and relieve it, but had the feeling Spike might be able to hear or smell him and was not even sure that Spike was not reading his mind. All in all, he was extremely uncomfortable when he finally stood up, ready to go.

'I shall hold you personally responsible if anything happens to my flat, Spike.'

Spike sat up. 'Are you going over to the hotel before you leave?'

'Yes, why?'

'Give us a lift, then… I need to tell Angel where I'm going to be.'

Angel was not in the best of moods when they arrived. His obsession with Spike meant Spike's total absence all day did not sit easily with him. He had gotten used to the idea of Spike being just upstairs; Spike coming down the stairs, and Spike's mess and noise and general presence. Absence of Spike was not good now.

Wesley made an excuse about his visit to England, claiming a vague Aunt's death, and started to leave, casting Spike meaningful looks that left no doubt what would happen if Spike threw wild parties and trashed his place. Spike pouted for a bit then blew him a kiss. Wesley frowned and left.

Spike wandered into the kitchen where Angel was heating up the expensive blood. Angel's shoulders were tense, and he radiated anger.

Spike was annoyed with himself for not thinking to telephone earlier, but he wasn't on Angel's leash. His voice was a little harsher than he intended when he spoke. 'What's up with you?'

Angel whirled on him. 'Where have you been all day?'

'With Wesley.'

'With Wesley? Where with Wesley? And why with Wesley?'

'At his place; we're working on something… he's just showing me the ropes.'

'The ropes?'

'Angel, stop fucking repeating everything I say! I'm gonna be staying at his place while he's away.'

'At his place?'

Spike glared at Angel in annoyance and took his blood, downing the whole pint in one. He was starving and realised he'd have to stock Wes' fridge a bit.

'Why aren't you going to stay here?'

'Well, you've no TV, no music; I'm in an 'orrible room, and cus I don't want to.'

Angel's face was a picture of misery, and it was not lost on Spike. 'Hey, you could come over, too… if you wanted… Wesley didn't say I couldn't have friends.'


Instead of completely losing it with Angel for this irritating new habit, Spike only said quietly, 'Yeah, are we friends, Angel?'

Angel heard the tentative tone of Spike's question. He shook himself slightly, trying to get over the angst he had felt all day at Spike's absence. 'Yes, I think we are.' He smiled softly, and Spike had to turn away to compose himself.

'Well, come on then… let's go party… video, some beer, and lots of crisps sound good to you?'

'Crisps?' but Angel was laughing now. He had not had such a tempting offer for a very long time.

It was like a holiday. They both felt the change in their mood when they got away from the hotel. 'Are you sure that fucking place ain't still haunted, Angel?' Spike was bending over, busy putting a film into the video machine. Angel was busy watching him do it.

'I never thought so before, but maybe it is. This does seem good.' Angel looked appreciatively around the comfortable apartment. 'I've never been here before without Wesley, this seems… relaxed.'

Spike smiled with his back to Angel. He was feeling pretty good. Angel had said they were friends. What more did he need? Spike pushed the answer to that to the back of his mind, fetched a good supply of beer from the fridge, opened the promised snacks, and flung himself next to Angel on the couch. Angel felt the closeness and closed his eyes briefly to try and gain some control. He pretended to be watching the film, but he watched Spike's hands as they moved the snacks and drinks to his mouth. He watched his profile; he looked at his relaxed body, and listened to his laugh. He wallowed in his obsession, but he only got quieter and more morose with each passing moment. The more he wanted Spike, the more he gave the impression he didn't. It was perverse, and he knew it. He began to drink. He was not much for alcohol; he didn't like the implicit lack of control, but now he was careless to the amount he drank. Spike noticed his beers disappearing in an alarming manner but didn't mention it. Drunk Angel might be quite fun, and Spike was intrigued to see what he would be like. When the beers were finished, Angel hit Wesley's surprisingly large quantity of hard stuff… hard.

Spike was pleased with the result… at first. Drunken Angel became amusing Angel. Drunken Angel became loud, animated Angel… but drunken Angel continued to drink until drunken Angel became almost paralytic Angel. That was not so much fun. Paralytic Angel decided it was time to go home and staggered towards the door with his keys. Paralytic Angel was not happy at all to have keys confiscated and to be pushed in the direction of the bedroom. Paralytic Angel did not like being undressed and taken to the shower. The shower turned paralytic Angel back into just drunken Angel, and drunken Angel began to be amusing again. So, Spike found himself in the shower with an amusing, drunken Angel who was happy to prove their newfound friendship in fun and interesting ways.

Angel tried to take some soap off the dish, but couldn't keep hold of it. He giggled as he fumbled around on the floor, then gave up and started to wash Spike with just his hands. He pushed Spike against the wall and kicked his legs apart. He ran his hands drunkenly and inexpertly down Spike's body, laughing as he cupped Spike's balls. His hand slid through Spike's legs, and he pulled one finger through Spike's crack, dragging it hard across his entrance and over his sensitive perineum. He pushed Spike's legs wider and did it again, this time pausing over the hole and rubbing it hard. As he rubbed, Angel leant into Spike's face and sucked his lower lip into his mouth. He moved his finger away from the enticing, puckered indentation and dragged the heel of his hand up Spike's erection, up his belly, and fanned his fingers out over Spike's nipples. Letting the lip go, Angel pushed his face into Spike's neck, biting at him with teasing, human teeth. His hand returned to the familiar erection, and he tried to look down at the deep red cockhead as he pulled it free of the constricting foreskin, but he slipped on Spike's neck, and his nails scratched Spike's sensitive tip, painfully. He didn't seem to notice. He appeared to be trying to focus. He wanted to touch the tiny slit, but couldn't coordinate his movements enough and swore loudly. He pushed off Spike and swayed alarmingly.

Spike just stood there and looked at him. He felt almost guilty. At the back of his mind, he knew Angel would regret this - if he could remember it at all in the morning. So, amusing Angel began to be less amusing… not through any change in Angel, but because Spike felt almost sick at what Angel was doing. Spike watched the familiar, loved hands as they ran over him. He looked at Angel's body: the body he knew best in the world and wanted more than his own unlife sometimes. He had it all at this moment… and he had precisely nothing. This was not really Angel… he may as well have had a spell cast on him. He could make Angel fall to his knees and take his aching cock into his mouth. He would feel Angel's tongue run over the prominent ridge, find his slit, and explore under his foreskin. Angel's powerful throat would work him; Angel's strong lips would run up and down, sharing him with his tongue. He could have all this.

Spike suddenly pushed Angel away and that push was familiar ground. He'd pushed another lover away recently.

Why couldn't he find someone who wanted to be with him when they were visible or sober?

He climbed out of the shower and pulled Angel with him. Angel was rapidly turning into morose, singing-Irish-laments Angel, and Spike didn't find that Angel amusing at all. He pushed him onto the bed and climbed in after him. Angel sang quietly to himself for a while, running through his whole repertoire of sad love songs. Spike had no idea Angel knew so many. After an hour, Spike turned over and hit him with a pillow. Angel shut up for a while, but then started on the 'no one loves me' pitiful, drunk-feeling-sorry-for-himself stage. Spike hit him again, and Angel burst into tears.

He turned and buried his face into Spike's chest, wailing and lamenting his sad life. 'I'm all alone, my boy… all alone.' Spike patted his back in an irritated fashion. His erection had not subsided, but he felt too depressed to do anything about it. Crying, blubbering, drooling Angel was losing his appeal even for a blowjob. Angel continued to mumble and leak. 'And I love you so much, Spike. I want you so much, and you don't like me any more.' Spike's hand stilled. He pushed Angel away, so he could see his face. He looked at the out-of-focus eyes, saw the tiny bit of drool escaping the lips, smelt the overwhelming fumes wafting off him, and closed his eyes to the agony of knowing that he was merely hearing the drink talk, not Angel.

He wrapped Angel in the watcher's comfortable, warm blankets, gave him a soft kiss on his forehead, and told him to go to sleep. Angel had already passed out and did not feel the kiss or hear the quiet, reassuring words.

Spike did not sleep at all that night. He was back in his sire's arms. In Spike's imagination, sleeping, drunken Angel had very quickly become Angelus. He was lying in Angelus' arms. They were Angelus' legs he lifted on top of his. It was Angelus' chest he put his head on. It was Angelus penis he could watch, lying soft and useless in its bed of dark curls.

Spike felt unwanted tears flow and pool onto Angel's chest.

Angel woke slightly less quickly and sharply than he was used to. He wondered who had poisoned him, and why he was in hell. He did not remember the first but knew he deserved the second. He had not been in this hell before, though. This hell was new. This hell appeared to be at sea: it lurched and swayed. It was puzzling, though, because this hell had very strong arms around him. He tried to open one eye, gave up on the attempt when the light in the room activated the poison more - clever witch this one must have been - and tried to concentrate on the arms. He knew they were Spike's. Spike's arms were unmistakable. He'd slept with them around him for nearly thirty years; he ought to remember them. Spike's arms seemed to be attached to his body, which quite surprised Angel for a while. He tried to work it out and could only conclude that Spike was in hell with him.

He shifted in the bed and felt Spike stir, too. He made a real effort to open his eyes, and the groan woke Spike. Spike hopped off the bed very quickly, went to the kitchen to fetch something, and just made it back in time to catch Angel's copious vomit in the bowl. He held Angel's head as he brought up pint after pint of the alcohol he'd drunk. Angel fell back onto the bed and curled up into a tiny ball. Spike emptied the bowl, brought it back for emergencies and climbed in with him again.

They lay most of the morning, Angel curled in misery, Spike quietly reading his book, and waiting for consciousness of what had happened last night to return. Gradually, Angel started to come back to 'life'. He asked in a tiny voice for some water. Spike fetched it for him. Another hour, and he asked for some blood. Spike didn't get it for him but brought more water. If there was one thing he did know, it was hangovers. Hangovers… blood… not a good mix.

Another hour, and Angel uncurled and, within a few minutes of that, sat up. He eyed Spike balefully. 'Why did you let me do it?' Spike assumed he was referring to the drinking… or he hoped he was.

He smiled. 'Cus I wanted to see what you'd do.'

Angel groaned and lay back down; nothing more was heard from him for quite a few hours. Spike finished his book and started on the sequel. Towards evening, Angel sat up again, and said in surprise. 'Why am I naked… why are you naked?'

Spike thought it best not to mention the shower. 'Cus we're in bed, luv?'

Angel nodded, but winced as pain shot though his head again. Spike put his book down and put a tentative hand out to Angel. Angel leaned into the offered comfort and, with a look of pure misery, allowed Spike to pull him into his arms.

Spike was surprised Angel acquiesced. He was not so drunk now as to be insensible of where he was or what he did. Why did Angel want to be held by him?

It was a puzzle.

Spike tucked the blankets around Angel once more. He had a feeling the post-alcohol shivers would begin soon - always worse for a vampire with no body heat of its own. He picked up his book and resumed reading as best he could, given Angel had snuggled in tightly. Every so often, he glanced at Angel's blank, staring expression. Spike knew he was trying to remember what had happened while he was drunk. He wished him luck and returned to Hannibal Lecter.

Angel remembered odd things. He remembered falling over once and how beautiful the wooden floor had looked. He remembered standing on something that had broken beneath him. But, mostly, he remembered singing and crying. Mostly, he remembered making a complete and utter fool of himself. So, to add to his physical misery, he now felt overwhelming embarrassment at how he must have appeared to Spike.

He had not forgotten his angry reaction to Spike's drunkenness: his total lack of sympathy as he'd watched Spike vomiting... whereas Spike had stayed with him, brought him water, wrapped him up and… held him. Spike was holding him. He was naked. He was in bed with naked Spike, and he was a fool… a drunken oaf… a fat, drunken oaf who now - he sniffed his breath surreptitiously - smelt of vomit, and - he put a hand to his head - had flat hair. He couldn't bear it.

Spike watched these furtive movements with amusement. If Angel was concerned about laser breath and flat hair, he obviously hadn't got around to remembering his ardent fondling in the shower. Spike knew to the second when Angel did remember. Angel's head snapped back, his body went rigid, and a groan escaped his lips. Spike only tightened his grip and turned the page.

Angel began to remember the feel of Spike's body under his hands. He saw the glistening cockhead as the water cascaded over it. He felt Spike's entrance giving to the pressure of his finger. He even remembered the feel of Spike's taut nipple grazing his palm. His own body began to respond. He felt warmth spreading out from his groin; his penis twitched slightly. He wanted to touch it, shift its position, but didn't dare.

When the memory of the weight and softness of Spike's sac reached his mind, he opened his eyes in horror… but he couldn't decide whether it was horror from having Spike see him so base and disgusting, or horror at the wasted opportunity. He groaned once more.

He sensed Spike put the book down and soft lips came to his ear. 'Do you feel like feeding now?'

Angel shook his head vehemently, and Spike's lips hovered for a moment as if he wanted to stay that close. Spike turned his head and laid his cheek onto Angel's. He rubbed his hands softly over Angel's belly and asked, 'Still friends?'

Angel closed his eyes in misery, but nodded. He was surprised Spike wanted even that.

Spike pulled away and stretched. He needed to feed, even if Angel didn't. He climbed out of bed, dressed, and went into the living room, eyeing the empty bottles and tins with a resigned sigh. Looked like he was clearing up that mess, too.

After a while Angel came out of the bedroom and headed for the shower. He was in the bathroom for a long time.

Spike felt drawn to the sound of the water, and all lying stopped. He thought about Angel, and he finally named Angel in his mind. He wanted to be that water running over Angel's sleek, heavy body. He wanted Angel not to die, and to be his.

How he had come to this blinding self-realisation with only a night of vomit and Angel's self-induced misery, he could not have said. He tipped his head back onto the couch and laughed at his 'we can just be friends' scenario. It had worked for all of two days, but Spike knew the truth now. Holding that solid, formidable, male body in his arms had been like coming home, and it had felt familiar and safe.

Angel came out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped tightly around his waist. He sat next to Spike on the couch. 'I'm sorry.'

Spike smiled. 'Nothing to apologise to me for, pet; it was funny.'

Angel groaned and shook his head in embarrassment. Spike laid a friendly hand on his arm, but immediately regretted it. The desire to rub it over the still wet skin almost took away his power to speak. He concentrated hard and said, 'Lighten up on yourself, Angel. This is me, remember? I've seen you do stuff a lot more amusing that that. Amusing and illegal.'

Angel looked at him and said with no real conviction. 'Angelus, not me.'

Spike twitched an eyebrow. He heard Angel's confusion. 'Yeah, all right, Angelus. Same body though.'

Angel could not deny this, and they looked at each other for a long, intense moment. Same body… it seemed almost a justification for something they hadn't done, but both wanted to.

Spike had not removed his hand, and it slid up Angel's forearm towards his face. Angel leant down towards the movement, and Spike caressed Angel's cheek. He wanted to pull Angel towards him; he wanted to kiss those soft, seductive lips, but he stopped. He took his hand off and stood up.

He knew he wasn't strong enough to love and then lose that love again. The thought 'dead man walking' came into his head once more, and he was not sure whether it applied more to Angel or to him.

He heated up some blood, well aware that he was being watched from the couch. He knew Angel wanted to take him to bed, and this knowledge bewildered him. Angel didn't even particularly like him, why had he felt desire radiating from that strong body? It seemed fickle of Angel, and he didn't trust the emotion.

Why should he let Angel shag him, only to have him later complain of being degraded?

Angel only knew that Spike had pulled away. He had finally let Spike have a glimpse of his obsession, his love, his need, but it seemed to have disgusted him. Images of drunken fondling in the shower the night before assailed Angel, and he could not blame his childe for the disgust. He disgusted himself.

Angel rubbed his hands through his still wet hair and said quietly to Spike's back, 'I guess I'd better go.'

Spike didn't turn around. He was trying not to think "you are gone already" but managed to say in response, 'Okay.' It took some effort just to say that.

'Err… will you still come over… during the day?'

Spike was surprised and pleased. 'If you want, Angel.'

Angel smiled faintly and stood up. 'I do. Still friends, remember?'

Spike beamed, immediately tried to readjust his face to mature calm, but failed miserably. Angel smiled openly now. Perhaps that was best… friends… keep his obsession to himself. Spike would go soon. When his eye was healed, he'd want to return to Sunnydale… so, just friends. He'd lost his childe once; he didn't want to love him now and have to lose him again.

The vampires parted, avoiding each other's eyes. They did not talk further… not saying what they so wanted to say. Both reticent and silent for the same reason… better to never love, than love and lose once more.

Wesley's place seemed incredibly empty when Angel left. Spike stood for a long time in the middle of the room, just thinking. He wanted Wesley to come back with answers. He needed closure one way or the other. He was being burnt again, and he knew he did not have the strength this time to fly free from the flame that trapped him. He was descending in increasingly small, concentric circles towards this intense heat and, whether Angel lived or died, Spike knew that he was lost.

Ever the pragmatist, though, Spike decided to use the luxurious few days he'd been offered. He made a huge pile of snacks, laid out drinks and books, and put some music on. He selected an interesting film that guaranteed no plot and lots of mindless sex, got undressed to better enjoy the porn, and settled down to have every sense overwhelmed, so he could not think or feel anything.

It worked in a fashion. His pills worked better. He took one, a second, a third, thought "fuck it" and took another. He slept deeply through the night, the whole of the next day, and on into the following night. Angel waited for him to arrive all day. Every door that opened, every voice that rose, every silence that ensued made him want Spike more. When the evening came, and Spike did not, his self-loathing knew no bounds.

Spike woke on the second morning utterly disoriented. He couldn't work out what day it was, and felt sick and hung over from the powerful drugs. He could summon up no enthusiasm to do much more than slump in front of daytime chat shows. He remembered his promise to Angel, but groaned at the thought of getting dressed. He pulled a blanket over himself and lay face down on the sofa, feeling more dead than he had ever felt.

Wesley found him like that the next day. He arrived back after his whistle-stop trip to find a naked vampire asleep on his couch and more mess in the room than he could have made in a month…but he didn't really care. Seeing Angel's fate written down had made it all so real, he felt a depression of spirits that almost overwhelmed him. Spike stirred when he sensed the human presence. He turned his head and looked at Wesley, puzzled. 'Uh… why are you here?'

'I live here, Spike.'

'Oh, yeah.' He closed his eyes and tried to go back to sleep, but suddenly remembered where Wesley had been. He sat up, oblivious to his nakedness. 'Hey! Did you see it?'

Wesley nodded and turned his back modestly, thinking "I can see it now!" 'Could you get dressed, Spike? If you get dressed, I'll tell you.'

Spike nodded and stood up, stretching. He walked past Wesley with a slight grin. 'I need a shower… it'll give you a chance to tidy up a bit.' He took his time showering and dressing, but was still surprised when he came out to find a sea of human faces looking at him expectantly.

'Bloody hell!' He ran his hands through his still damp hair and looked slowly from Wesley to Gunn and from Cordelia to Fred.

'There are five of us now, Spike, and we will find an answer.'

Spike gave a shy smile and sat quietly in one corner. Five of them… he felt accepted, and it was an incredibly good feeling.

Wesley outlined the results of his trip. He confirmed the existence of the second prophecy and asked for comment. Cordelia was the first to speak. 'We still don't know when Angel will become human, do we?'

'No, we don't, but I'm guessing it'll be sooner rather than later. He's earned it.'

They ignored a slight huff from the direction of the otherwise silent vampire.

'Ideas please?' Wesley looked around his team.

Fred attempted a suggestion. 'Can we stop the prophecy… stop him being human?'

'He'd never go for it.' Cordelia thought she knew Angel better than anyone and thought being human was the most important thing in his life.

Again, this elicited another huff from Spike.

Everyone ignored him.

They talked on for hours, going round and round the same points, hoping that if they asked the same question enough times, an answer would just appear. By the end of the evening, they had almost talked themselves into acceptance of the idea that Angel was going to kill himself. They dwelt on his guilt and his deep, sorrowful nature. Wesley even outlined some of the lesser known, but horrifying things Angelus had done, and they wondered how even Angel's powerful vampire body could withstand the constant pain he must be in.

Finally, Spike, who had not contributed at all except for his occasional huffs of disbelief, stood up angrily.

He looked each one individually in the eye, and then said slowly and deliberately, 'Angel is NOT Angelus. You can't see it. He can't see it. You're all the bleedin' same. Am I the only fuckin' one who is sane here? Angel is not Angelus. That's all he needs to do… he needs to see that, and he needs to forgive himself. I'm just a simple demon. I'm thick as pig shit according to you all, but even I can see it now. He did not do any of those things… Angelus did.' With that, he stormed out of the apartment. He did not see the thoughtful look Wesley gave him as he left.

He only went for a few beers. They relaxed him enough to feel stupid about his outburst earlier, so he returned, willing to go through one of his practiced litanies of insincere apology.

He was surprised to find only Wesley there. He had his demonology, incantations, and spell books scattered around him on the floor. He looked up as Spike entered.

'You're back.'

'Yeah, sorry….'

'Don't apologise, Spike. It was a perceptive and thoughtful comment. It's given me the solution.'

'Oh. Fuck. What?' Spike's heart gave a small beat. Hope was a powerful stimulant, even for the dead.

'I think you were right; Angel needs to realise he's not Angelus… not responsible for Angelus' actions, anyway. He does need to forgive himself.'


'So… I'm going to bring Angelus back. Angel's going to confront his nemesis.'

Spike gave Wesley an incredulous look. He choked out a short, harsh laugh. 'Is this your pathetic excuse to shag Angel at last and give him his moment of human true whatsit shit?'

Wesley blushed, but held Spike's gaze. 'So, perceptive and thoughtful only once a day then, Spike… or have we had your entire contribution for the year?'

'Well, bloody hell, watcher. What do you bleedin' expect… how is reverting Angel to Angelus gonna help him forgive himself? Duh!'

'He's not going to revert. Angel's still going to be here. He's going to meet Angelus in person.'

Spike was speechless. He perched shakily on the arm of the couch and glanced around at the books. 'You can do that? You can summon Angelus? He can exist in the same time and space as Angel? What about anti-matter explosions… what would bleedin' Data say 'bout this?'

'Err… what?'

Spike was tempted to tell him, but didn't want to admit to being an anorak. 'Nothing, pet… nothing. But how can it be? Them together?'

Wesley sat down next to him. 'I'm not going to explain the exact details to you, Spike. It may alter your reactions if you know how it is done… and your reactions need to be credible; that's vital. I'll know; I'll be there to….'

Spike's eyes widened. 'You can't confront Angelus. He'd slaughter you… slowly.'

'He's already tried, Spike. I've already had the pleasure of his acquaintance.'

Spike looked thoughtfully at him. Wesley's confession surprised him, and he reassessed the man's strength and determination. 'What did the others think of this plan of yours? Do I take their noticeable absence as an overwhelming 'no' vote?'

'They were sceptical. I can't deny that… but more that that, they were desperate. Desperation won out. Fred is staying with Cordelia, and they are all going to keep out of the way.'

'Good, I'll stay with them then.'

Wesley smiled wickedly. 'I thought you'd be pleased to see Angelus, Spike.'

'Yeah… well….' It had occurred to Spike that, although he wanted Angelus, missed Angelus, and wished Angel to be Angelus; he realised he might have made a major miscalculation. For he was not William…. He was not even the Spike that Angelus remembered. If Angelus was coming back, he wanted to 'come back' as well. He could not imagine what, neutered, he would now do with Angelus or, more to the point, Angelus would do with him.

Spike bent his head and put it between his knees. 'Bloody, fucking, sodding, shitty, cunting, bleeding hell. This is too much, watcher. I'm just a bloody vampire…. Hey, I'm only a demon using a dead human body… honest, I am. I'm not complex. I don't think about souls and shit. I just want to live in a coffin and eat people. Is that too much to soddin' ask? No more… I can't take anymore.…'

There was a soft knock at the door. Wesley got up to answer it, casting amused glances at the groaning vampire. 'I forgot to tell you, Spike… err, there is one more thing actually.…' He opened the door.

'Hello, Spike.'

'I forget to say that Giles came back with me… to help.'

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