It was the biggest, ugliest demon Spike had seen
for a long while. He took a step back and instantly regretted offering to help
Buffy search rental homes. He started to turn, deciding that discretion was
the better part of getting his ass kicked, but it was too late. The demon flung
him over a low wall and landed on top of him with a grunt. The weight alone
was bad; the smell nearly overpowered him. He wiggled out from under the still
grunting demon and skittered away across the drive. Too late… the demon caught
him in a flying tackle. Spike's anxiety over the strength and speed of the creature
was nothing to his terror when he saw a sharp, bony protuberance eject from
its arm. The terror was nothing to the pain he felt when the demon impaled him,
and a cool detachment seeped over him from the site of the wound.
Buffy was leaning over him when he woke. This was good. She was frowning in annoyance. That was bad.
'What happened to you?'
'I… err… it was big, an' it hit me!'
Buffy tutted in disgust and stomped off.
'Hey! How about helping a wounded man here?'
'You're not a man, and you can manage by yourself.'
Spike's reply, which expanded upon just how often he did manage (quite nicely) by himself, was totally ignored by the retreating figure. Spike groaned and climbed slowly to his feet. Feeling sorry for himself, he pouted a little and rubbed his arm. He debated following Buffy and persuading her to indulge in some extracurricular activities of the horizontal kind, but felt strangely nauseous. Instead, he turned on his heel and went home. He felt the Big Bad was slipping badly but couldn't summon up the energy to care.
The quietness and gloom of his crypt pleased him for once. Flinging himself into his armchair, he peeled his torn shirt off. The wound was barely visible, but painful. He pressed a finger to it.
A shaft of incredibly bright light hit his eyes. He thought for one brief moment that someone was shining a torch in his face then realised, with a stab of fear, that the light was all around him. He was blinded by the intensity of it after the gloom of his crypt.
There was talking, too. Voices droned around him, but he could make no sense of what they said. He groaned. The voices stopped, resumed, and then became distinct.
'Is he lucid?'
'Unlikely. It's far too soon.'
Before he could recognise either speaker, he was in the dark of his crypt again. 'Bloody hell.' There was no one to hear this, but it felt good saying it.
He slept, fed well, and decided the strange, bright, interlude was just that… an interlude. Temporal shifts… astral projections… this was Sunnydale, after all. No explanation could be dismissed.
The following night he patrolled with Buffy as usual. It all seemed routine. He wound her up. She put him down.
He stopped for a smoke break. She stood by, disapproving.
This time the brightness did not throw him as much. He opened his eyes cautiously. Bright sunlight flooded into the room. He lay on a bed bathed in the warm light of the sun. He writhed, screamed, and then scrambled into a corner of the room, huddling tightly.
'William! William, it's all right.'
'Does he hear you, doctor?'
'It's hard to tell. Why don't you try? Your voice is more familiar.'
'Will? It's me. Will?'
Spike opened his eyes and saw a figure crouched in front of him. He could not make out the features. Back to the window, the face was deep in shadow, but he recognised it nonetheless. He tried to speak, but his throat was dry, and he could barely part his lips. 'Angel?'
The figure shifted slightly. He turned to someone standing by the window. 'He's still delusional… still calling me 'Angel'.'
Spike put a hand out and tried again. 'Angel?' His voice was bolder this time.
The figure turned back to him and smiled sadly. 'No, Will. It's Liam. I'm Liam. Remember? You've been sick. This is a clinic, Will, but you are getting better. This is the doctor. He's been looking after you. Do you remember anything at all?'
Spike licked his lips nervously. 'I'm not….'
'Hush. Don't, Will.' The Angel-like figure turned to the doctor. 'This is good, right? He's responding?'
'Yes, it's a very good sign. But he needs to rest. Will, you need to rest now….'
'… you need to rest, you lazy, dead thing; I'm not resting. Get up!' Spike shook his head as Buffy continued to berate him. His cigarette had burnt out in his hand; the ash hung off it in a long column. He groaned and put his head down between his legs.
'Hey! What's up?'
'Have you been drinking?'
'I dunno, slayer. I got poked by that ugly yesterday, and I've been a bit queasy since.'
'Poked? Err… no, I mean, queasy?'
'Yeah… I'm having… like… hallucinations or summit. Keep going off somewhere.'
'Oh! Somewhere nice?'
'Fuck off if you can't be more 'elpful than that!'
'I guess we could ask Willow.'
'Oh, yeah. Brilliant. Ask the expert on poking.'
'Suit yourself, Spike.'
'No! Hey! Sorry. Okay, ask the witch. It's not a nice place, and I don't wanna go back….' Spike stood up a little shakily and started to follow Buffy, mumbling to himself '….and no fucking spell's gonna make me.'
'It's not a spell, Will… drink it, please. It's good for you.'
'Liam, Will. It's still just Liam. Always Liam.'
'Where am I?'
'Hey! Have you just asked a rational question? Are you with us?'
'As much as I'm ever gonna be. Where is this?' Spike sat up in the bed he had woken in before. He noted with relief that it was now dark outside and the room pleasantly gloomy. 'What is this shit? Is this a hell dimension?'
'Well, in a way… it's a rehab clinic, Will. You came here last month; don't you remember?'
'Why do you keep fucking calling me Will? I've not been William for over a century. It's Spike now.'
Spike saw a look of anguish cross the other's face, but they both turned when the doctor came into the room.
'Ahh… how are we?'
'He's still confused. He still thinks he's Spike, and he doesn't really seem to know me.'
'I know you; I'm just wishing I didn't.' Spike started to swing his legs off the bed.
'Hey! Will, don't. It's too soon.'
The doctor interjected. 'Let him. If he feels like getting up… it'll do him good. You can go to the day room for a change of scene.'
'I'm not going to any bleedin' day room. I'm going back to me crypt for some peace and quiet.' He walked out of the room, just catching the doctor's quiet words behind him.
'Just stay with him; he can't get out. Keep talking to him. He's making progress… it just may not seem like it to you.'
Spike walked slowly down the corridor. His legs felt weak… and something else. Something…. As he used his muscles…. He felt.… Heard.… He collapsed onto his knees and buried his head into his arms, howling. He felt strong arms wrapping around him. 'What! For Christ's sake, Will! What!'
'I'm human! I can feel my heart beating. I'm alive again, aren't I?'
'Will… careful, he's coming round.' Willow's face was inches from his when he woke - Buffy's voice quiet behind her.
'Bleedin' hell, bint. You turning back again?'
'Shut up, Spike. You've been out for hours. We carried you back to your crypt. Was it the same dream?'
'Yeah.' Disturbed by the very real events of the dream, Spike sat up angrily. 'What're you bloody gonna do about it?'
'We think you've been poisoned. Can you describe the demon? We need to identify it.'
Spike nodded. 'Give us some paper, an' I'll draw it. Won't forget that ugly mug for a while.'
Buffy came and sat on the edge of the bed. Spike made a few lewd gestures at her behind Willow's back. She ignored them, as usual, but probed about the dream.
Spike was reluctant to discuss the details, afraid that in some embarrassing way it represented long-repressed desires. Sunlight… Angel… Human… Three things he often dreamt of but did not want corroding his conscious mind.
He got up for some blood and discovered, to his amusement, that he was naked. He raised one eyebrow at Buffy. She looked as surprised as he was and shook her head defensively. Spike's eyes turned in wonder to Willow; she saw the look. 'Hey! NO interest from here! No dangly bits! Bits no dangle! Xander carried you… Xander put you to bed. And, hey! Not Xander and dangly bits either!'
'It's okay, witch. I suspected it when he let the demon down at 'er own bleedin' wedding.' Having caused a satisfying amount of mischief, Spike sauntered over to his fridge, still naked, and helped himself to a much-needed drink.
He hadn't expected it to be orange juice, and he spat it back into the small cup.
'What the fuck?'
'You'll get used to it, Will. No alcohol, remember? You pledged.'
He was standing in front of huge plate-glass windows, looking over manicured lawns. The sun picked out individual colours, and he looked at the scene as a blind man might upon regaining his sight. The sun bathed his skin; he closed his eyes to the brilliance. He could still see its glow behind his closed lids. This entranced him, and he turned his head slowly, watching how the glow shifted as he changed direction. He felt a hand on his arm and opened his eyes. 'Angel?'
'Liam, Will. Please.' The voice was sad, almost desperate.
'Okay. Liam. Don't matter much.'
Liam smiled and put a finger to Spike's cheek in an intimate gesture. 'You really are better today.'
'Hmm.' Spike turned back to his contemplation of the sun.
'Two days ago you'd have hidden from that.'
'Two days ago I was dead.'
'And you're not now?' This was said with fond tolerance and a distinctly hopeful tone.
'Oh… I'm still dead. The dream's just getting better.'
'Oh, Will… this isn't a dream. This is.…'
'What? What is this Ang… Liam? What is this? Explain it to me.'
'You got sick, Will….'
Liam took a deep breath and nodded. 'You OD'd, Will. I found you unconscious. You've been deeply delusional, but, hey! Better now, yes?'
'Peachy, pet.' Spike turned slowly, looking around the room thoughtfully. 'And I'm human. You're human here?'
Liam smiled. 'Everyone's human, love.'
'No vampires then?'
Liam's reply was not as forceful as it might have been from someone who had no familiarity with this concept. 'No, Will. No vampires here.'
'Can I go out?' The abrupt change of subject confused Liam, and he hesitated. Spike indicated the lawns. 'Out… there. Can I go outside?'
'Of course, if you'd like to. We could walk some.'
Spike nodded and, as if it was something he did every day, stepped out through the open door. Even with limited human senses he was flooded… overwhelmed....
He could smell the sweet scent of newly cut grass. The sun pricked his skin. His eyes watered. The air was hot. He raised his face to the light, closed his eyes, and just stood there, enraptured.
'Yeah, mate. I'm here.'
'Take my arm.…'
He opened his eyes to the deep gloom and, for a moment, could see nothing. He felt a hand on his arm and instinctively lashed out.
'Spike… it's me! Buffy!'
'Oh… bloody fuck. How long this time?'
'Two days.' She sounded worried. He was worried.
'What's bleedin' happening with the research an' all?'
'We can't find the demon. We don't know why it was summoned, and it seems to have gone back to where it came from.'
'Oh… bloody hell. Get the big guns in, or summit.'
'The watcher! Call bloody Giles, an' ask him… do something.'
'We will do something; you just have to be patient….'
'… then we can have some fun. Patience, Will. Will? Will… what's wrong?'
Spike groaned and sank to his knees on the sweet grass. 'Dunno. Bit tired's all, pet.'
'Come on, back to bed.'
'Nah. I'm okay. Let's sit over there.' He indicated a bench under a tree, and Liam helped him across.
Spike turned sideward, patting his pockets for a cigarette. He looked aghast when he couldn't find any. 'Fuck.'
Liam looked amused. 'Sorry. It's a rehab clinic, Will. No fun at all allowed.'
Spike nodded. 'Look, mate. I'm still a bit… dopey an' all. So… explain it all again to me, hey?'
'Well, everything. Who I am… who you are… everything.'
Liam looked sad. 'You really don't remember?'
Spike shook his head.
'Well, you're Will. William Blood.'
'You're fucking joking.'
Liam frowned. 'No. What's wrong with that?'
'Okay, go on.'
'My name's Liam Galway. I'm your manager… manager and friend.'
'Manager? Huh… what's one of those then? I suppose you're gonna try an' tell me I'm a bleedin' rock star or something.'
'Well, yes. You are. Don't you remember anything…?'
'…you must remember something. Anything! Spike?'
Spike groaned and turned over on the bed.
'Spike… we've made some progress. Wesley said.…'
'Wesley?' Spike groaned again. 'Giles… I said contact Giles.'
'We couldn't. He's not at home. We called Wesley. He said.…'
'Why the fuck did you do that? Now he'll know.…'
'No one. Look. It's getting worse. 'There' seems more real… and longer….'
'We're trying… we're really trying….'
'…really trying sometimes. I don't know why I put up with you. All right… I do; but why, Will? You were doing so well!'
Spike tried to sit up but was restrained on the bed. 'Fuck! Let me up!'
'Will, you had a relapse… got hold of something. We've pumped you out, but you're to stay still.'
'Let me go, fucker! I'm not Will. I'm Spike… I don't want to be here. Let me bleedin' go!'
'I can't… you'll hurt yourself… stop struggling. Spike… stop it.' Spike pushed away from the strong arms holding him. He was huddled in a far corner of his crypt. Angel was crouched in front of him.
'Oh, God! Just as I thought things couldn't get any fucking worse. What'd'ya want, ponce?'
'Not your bad attitude or your ingratitude, Spike. I'm only here because Buffy begged me.'
'Yeah, she begs me real pretty, too… ow!'
'Stop struggling, Will. You need it.'
Spike watched a large needle being withdrawn from his arm. He looked up at the doctor's face and smiled. 'Hey! I'm feelin' better all of a sudden. Think I wanna get real good… stay here, like. I'm Will… you're my doctor… he's Liam. Hi, Liam. I'm William Blood. I have absolutely no confusion about that now. So, what else do I have to do to stay here?' He gave a grin and thought delightedly, "This'll show the fucker."
He stayed three days this time. He ate real food. He slept. He did other human things that weren't so much fun… interesting, but not fun. Indoor plumbing was an improvement on what he had been used to before though, so he didn't complain too much.
Liam was there every day, and now Spike had decided to stay, he could afford to take him seriously.
Spike studied him closely. He was Angel… Angel's body in human form. He was warm and tanned. He laughed and… was normal. He was Liam. It took Spike two days before he had the courage to give himself the same examination. He went to the bathroom and leant over the sink, working himself up to it.
He looked up, and there he was. He turned his head from side-to-side, admiring himself in profile. He turned back to the front. He stuck his tongue out. He wrinkled his forehead. He smiled, pouted, grimaced, and frowned. He seduced himself then berated himself. He tried out all his expressions on this unfamiliar face and was pleased with the effect. He laughed, and laughed again at the laugh. He could see he was good looking, and it pleased him.
Something puzzled him, though. When Liam arrived later that day, he called him into the bathroom and pulled him in front of the mirror, too.
'Where's my bleedin' tan?'
'Look! You're a fucking… you're all tanned and Hollywood-ponce-like, and I look like I still live in a bleeding crypt.'
Liam sucked his breath in slightly and turned to him. 'I was kind of saving that, Will. Until you got stronger….'
'What? Bleedin' hell, what? Am I sick?'
'No! Hey! Calm down… it's your persona.'
'On stage… your alter ego… Spike.…'
'…ego Spike is half your problem….'
Spike came to slumped in the corner of Angel's passenger seat. Angel looked embarrassed at being caught out talking to an unconscious vampire.
'What the fuck! No! I don't want to be here. Let me go back.'
'Shut up, Spike. It's not funny anymore.' Angel actually sounded concerned, and Spike looked suspiciously at him.
'Where are we going?'
'To my place. To Wesley. He's working on an antidote.'
'What do you mean, no?' Angel's eyes betrayed nothing of his emotion, but his hands tightened noticeably on the steering wheel.
'Stop the car. I want to go back.'
'No, to Liam.' It was said, and he could not call it back.
Angel looked sideward at him strangely but didn't comment further.
Spike closed his eyes and tried to will himself back. His body had never felt so dead. He'd gotten used to the steady thump thump of his heart. He had enjoyed the feeling of food in his stomach. Most of all, he missed the sunlight. He could never have enough of that.
'Liam?' Angel's voice was quiet and unusually hesitant.
'Spike, will you tell me about this place. It may help us work out a cure.'
Spike lit a cigarette. 'Why do you care? I've not heard from you since you stole my ring and destroyed it.'
'It wasn't yours; I didn't steal it, and I destroyed it for a good reason. Get over it, Spike.'
'I have, a long time ago. So, you didn't answer my question. Why are you helping me?'
'I'm helping Buffy, Spike, not you….'
'…not you. Spike's just the character you use.' The air was warm, and the sun streamed in through the open top car. Liam drove casually with one arm on the door.
Spike turned to him cheerfully. 'What did you say, mate? Sorry… drifted off there for a bit.' He stretched out in the Mercedes, tipping his head to the sun once more.
Liam smiled at him. 'I was telling you about Spike.'
'Oh, yeah.' Spike sobered up instantly. He had a feeling he wasn't going to like this. There was only so much confusion between realities one simple demon could take.
'Spike… he's the character you've adopted on stage. He's a vampire. You drink fake blood; the stage is like a crypt. It's cool… drives the fans wild. You got it from 'Queen of the Damned'. Don't you remember? You were obsessed with that book for weeks… the whole series… then you announced you were a vampire called Spike, and you've been living like a vampire ever since.'
'Living like a vampire?'
'Well, you don't eat people or sleep in a coffin.…'
'Too true, pet, too true.'
'But you stay out of the sun. That's the main thing, I guess.'
Spike laughed and thought, "Not now I don't."
'So, tell me how I got in that clinic place. OD'd, hey?'
Liam looked sadly at him. 'It's all so weird sometimes with you, Will. The fans… the money… the lifestyle… drugs, drink. I guess it just got too much, and I wasn't there….'
'But six weeks… seems a long time?'
'You became delusional. Thought you actually were Spike. You created this whole fantasy world around him. You even had me in it as your father… sire or something. It was all so real to you.'
Spike felt his heart miss a beat from fear. Realisation flooded in. He hadn't got it before. 'You trying to tell me I was living as 'Spike' in my head, while I was in that place?'
'Yeah. It seemed more real to you than here. You actually hid from the sun when you came to occasionally. It was so scary, Will.'
'Err… what else did I say? Other than you being my sire…'
'Well, you lived somewhere called Sunnydale - ironic or what? - you had an enemy called a slayer. There were fights all the time; you fought us all when we tried to help you. You seemed to think we were demons. You thought you could bite people, too - did bite a nurse once. We tired to repress that with drugs, but then you only screamed about us putting a chip in your head.'
'Uh huh.' For the first time a frisson of doubt crept into Spike's mind. What was more likely: that he was a vampire, living in a crypt, fucking a slayer, and with a government chip in his head; or that he was human, living in LA, and driving along in a Mercedes?
Not only which was more realistic, which was more attractive?
He raised a seductive eyebrow to fate and said cheerfully, 'So, where we going?'
Liam smiled. 'Sometimes I think I might as well have a girlfriend, Will. It's like fucking a Pamela sometimes. Don't you ever concentrate?'
Spike let this go for a moment but eventually had to ask. 'I'm hearing an undertone there, luv. There something 'bout us you're not tellin' me?'
Liam turned to him but didn't reply. They had just rounded a bend. He gestured to one side of the car and smiled. 'Home.'
'Home. Spike, are you with me?' Angel turned to Spike and looked pleased when he saw that consciousness had returned. 'We're home… well, it's a hotel really, but it's where we've based the agency, and I live here.'
Spike cried out. He had looked upon paradise, and it had been torn from him. The sun had been shimmering on an azure, flat sea. A house on a high bluff had dazzled his eyes with its flawless white brilliance… and Liam had said home. Spike had had the distinct impression that he had meant… their home.
Now he was pulling into a side street in the dark alongside a dingy hotel with… him.
Spike groaned again, flung himself out of the car, and stomped through the door.
"Find the demon for an antidote? Yeah… find the fucker, drain him dry, and stay away permanently." Spike's thoughts darkened his brow, and he was met with equally frosty looks from the Los Angeles team. He was greeted with the joyous warmth he'd come to expect from Cordelia, and he got the same reception from those who had merely believed his publicity.
'Found this demon yet, watcher?'
'No, Spike. Nice to see you again. Don't make it such a short time next time.'
'Yeah, fuck you, too. I don't wanna be here any more than you want me to be. You have no idea how much I don't wanna be here!'
Angel curtailed the simmering argument and took Spike up to his room.
The room was flooded by sunlight reflected off the ocean. Rippling patterns of light danced over the walls. Everything was white… white walls, bleached whitewashed wood floors, and just a tiny smattering of deep navy or lilac scattered here and there on the bed covers and throws. Two sides of his room were glass, leading out onto a deck. A small swimming pool glittered in the sunlight. Steps from this led down to an empty, shimmering beach.
'I don't take this vampire shit too seriously then?' Spike looked around with amusement.
'Well, no. But this is California, Will. Shit place to be dead.'
'Yeah… it is.' He stepped out onto the deck and walked towards the pool. He'd never swum in the daylight and wanted more that anything to see what the sun looked like from underneath that intense blue water. He started to unbutton his shirt.
'Hey! Will! Come in. You'll catch the sun!'
'Wish I could, pet. I'd never let it go again.'
He unbuttoned his jeans and peeled them off. He turned to Liam and did not miss the look of intense desire that flickered across his face.
Smiling, he held out his hand. 'Join me?'
'I don't usually share baths, Spike. And if I did, it wouldn't be with you. Clean up, and come downstairs. We'll feed.'
Spike retracted his hand, embarrassed.
Angel turned neutrally. 'What now?'
'I'm slipping away. I'm more there, than here. Leave me be, hey? Let me go.'
Angel came back into the room. He sat on the edge of the bed. Spike moved away fractionally but repeated his plea. 'Let me go.'
'You have a role here, Spike. You're needed. We can't just run away from commitment, however seductive that escape might be.'
That took Angel by surprise, and he had no ready answer. He changed tack. 'You were about to tell me what it's like, Spike. Lots of violence and feeding? Even more torture and death? And no chip, I suppose? A real hell, hey?'
Spike laughed a harsh, unforgiving laugh. 'You would think that, Angelus. No… it's sunshine all the time. I'm rich. I'm human, and so are you.'
'Yeah… you and me.'
'Huh! Hell of one kind then.' He smiled, softening his words.
Spike smiled, too. 'Well, I'm guessing you're even more of a poof there than you are here… so it ain't gonna be a totally smooth ride, no.'
'I had a day like that once.' Angel's words hung in the air, surprising them both.
Spike kept silent and only looked at Angel inquisitively. 'Buffy came here. I was human for a day. I… I kissed her in sunlight, and it was… I guess it was what heaven must be like. So I do know what you mean.'
'I've never told anyone that before. She doesn't know. It all got reversed: I got it all reversed. I have a job to do here.'
'Bigger fool you, then.'
Angel looked down sadly as if Spike's words only confirmed something he'd been thinking himself.
Spike regretted his words, and then cursed himself for being such a pathetic demon.
'Think I'll skip the bath, luv. Food?'
Angel nodded and, without looking at him again, led the way to the kitchen.
They drank in silence. The atmosphere seemed cold. Spike felt detached from Angel; he wanted to say something but was intimidated by his sire's brooding presence. Eventually, he risked initiating another conversation. He wanted Angel's reassurance. 'Hey… Angel…?'
'What?' Angel did not look up and continued to play with his cooling blood.
'In this other place… here… us… all this… me… I mean.... In that place I'm just dreaming this. There, everything is normal. Here, it's… not.'
Angel laughed. 'What's your definition of normal, Spike?'
'Well, not all this, maybe? Vampires? Chips? Slayers? Sires? Hell, Angel, it's all a bit weird, isn't it?'
'And what are you there?'
Spike heard the irony of what he was about to say but said it anyway. 'I'm a rock star who pretends to be a vampire.'
Angel spluttered, then looked up at Spike and laughed. Spike wanted to be outraged but laughed, too. They had not shared laughter for over a hundred years, and it felt intensely familiar and reassuring.
Angel sobered up and looked at him shyly. 'Feel more normal now?'
Spike nodded, confused. 'Yeah, I do, but…you're Angel, not Angelus. You shouldn't feel familiar at all.'
'You're not the William I know….'
'Why can't you let the act drop, William? I don't know you like this. Stop playing the rock fuck-up for once!'
Spike lay on the floor. Something wet and disgusting pooled under his face. For one moment he thought 'demon blood' but realised with a lurch of disgust that it was vomit. He only hoped it was his.
He sat up cautiously and promptly vomited again. He heard a curse of disgust from Liam and lay back down, closing his eyes.
'You got fucking drunk, that's what happened.'
'Get up. Shower off, for Christ's sake.'
For one brief flicker of a second, Spike wished he were back in LA with Angel, but that thought disgusted him more than the vomit dripping out of his nose.
It took him over twenty-four hours to recover fully. He'd never realised that a human body could be abused so easily.
When he felt well enough to leave his bed, he sought Liam out and found him sunning himself on the deck.
'What happened? Why did I do it?'
'You don't need a reason, Will. You just do it.'
Spike lay hesitantly on a lounger. It was the first time in this life or unlife he'd lain in the sun. It was intensely scary.
'Don't get brown, Will. You're touring in a few weeks. Can't have a brown vampire, hey?'
'I'm not a vampire. I'm giving all that shit up. Spike is dead. Truly dead, as opposed to undead. I'm having a change of persona.'
Liam sat up aghast. 'You can't! All the publicity's done… advanced ticket sales… they aren't coming to see William Blood! They want to see Spike.'
'Sorry, mate. I don't intend to tour anymore. I'm not a singer, and I don't perform. And, hey... what do I sing anyway? Am I any good?'
Liam obviously thought this would be a good way to convince him of the importance of the tour. He pulled him back into the bedroom. A stack of CDs lay alongside a sound system. 'There you are. That's all you.'
Spike picked up the boxes, staring in wonder at the pictures on the covers. Liam put a CD into the machine and stood back with his arms folded, looking intently at Spike.
The slightly raspy rock voice drifted out of the player:
I died many years ago
You can make me feel like it isn't so
And why you come to be with me
I think I finally know…
'No!' Spike snapped the music off. 'This isn't happening. That's what I.…'
'That's what you kept singing in the clinic, Will. It was your first song to go platinum. It's "Spike's Song".'
Again, Spike had the feeling that this was a more likely reality than the one that involved demons, musical interludes, and coffins.
'Written and performed, yeah.'
'See? You're a singer, Will, and you have to tour… all this,' he waved his hand around the luxurious house 'depends upon it.'
'And you do, too.' Spike gave him a penetrating look. Liam turned and walked stiffly away.
Spike only just caught his soft, angry reply. 'Will and Spike are the same person, and I need them both.'
'Hush, Angel, he'll hear you. He's coming around.'
Spike saw Angel and Wesley standing at the end of the bed. He couldn't work out who had spoken. Had that been Angel, or Liam? The answer seemed critical.
Angel moved to the side of the bed. 'Keep up the research, Wes. I'll stay with him for a while.' When Wesley left, Angel started to pace, but at an anguished cry from Spike came hesitantly back to the bed.
'I can't do this, Angel. I have to go, or stay. Please, just let me go.'
'Wesley's searching for the antidote, Spike. I have no intention of letting you go anywhere. Lie down, and try to sleep.'
Spike sat up, wrapped his arms around his knees, and buried his face.
Angel saw his shoulders shaking and frowned. He put out a tentative hand and touched Spike's hair. 'Hey, don't….'
Spike raised his face, anguish written in every line. 'It's so beautiful, Angel. Being alive now. When I was alive, it was shit… it was always dark, and I was always poor and anxious. It was all dirt and… but, Angel, you should see the way the sun lights up the ocean. You should feel it on you skin and close your eyes and see the patterns dance. Being alive, Angel! Pissing, shitting… it's all so vital and.…' He couldn't continue.
'Spike, when you are there, you are catatonic here. You'll become a skeleton but still undead. I've seen it once before… a vampire kept in a box in Haiti. I don't ever want to see that again.'
Spike shivered, despite the warmth of Angel's bed.
When he saw the slight shiver, Angel snaked a hand around the back of Spike's head and pulled him into a comforting embrace. He started to rub his thumb against the short hairs at the back of Spike's neck. Spike began to turn his head slightly and press back against the sensual touch.
The comforting embrace began to turn into something more.
Angel brought his other hand up and turned Spike's face slightly. He nuzzled into Spike's neck, then his cheek, finally kissing into his ear. Spike groaned and moved slightly. Angel moved, too, and their mouths found each other. The kiss was frantic. Angel half dragged Spike onto his lap, savagely ripping and tearing at the soft lips. Spike clawed desperately at Angel's hair, trying to pull him closer. Spike could feel the raw, unadulterated lust pouring off Angel. No rational thought, just desire for physical release. Spike pulled away slightly and tried to speak against Angel's hard kisses.
'Angel… don't… I'm not… her. I'm not Buffy!'
Angel pulled back sharply. His eyes were dilated and his lips slightly flushed and swollen from the kiss.
Spike pushed Angel away forcibly. 'I'm not Buffy. I can't be Buffy for you!' Not at his most perceptive, Spike only saw shocked agreement cross Angel's face.
Angel backed away from the bed and staggered towards the door. 'I'm sorry, Spike. I'm so sorry.'
'… and sorry seems to be the hardest word.' Spike staggered slightly, holding the microphone. Liam stared at him from the other side of the recording studio. The music continued to play, and he heard his own voice playing back from the phones.
What have I got to do to make you love me
What have I got to do to make you care
What do I do when lightning strikes me
And I wake to find that you're not there
What do I do to make you want me
What have I got to do to be heard
What do I say when it's all over
And sorry seems to be the hardest word.
He ripped the equipment away and stumbled towards the door. Liam caught his arm. 'It's fucking perfect, Will. Congratulations.' His voice was full of bitter irony, and Spike stopped, surprised.
'What's up with you?'
Liam cast a look towards the studio engineers behind the panel of glass and shook his head slightly. 'Not here.'
Spike followed him out into the car park, noting with annoyance that he still hesitated before stepping out into the blinding light. 'So, what's with the tone, mate?'
Liam whirled on him and pushed him against the wall.
'You wrote it for him, didn't you Will? Not me… him.'
Spike had an idea he wasn't going to like the answer to his next question. 'Err… who's that then, pet?'
Liam pressed his face almost intimately to Spike and spat out the name. 'Angel.'
Spike actually felt his voice shaking as he spoke. 'You told me Angel was all a figment of me bleedin' imagination.'
'Hah! Exactly! But he obviously still gives you more of a happy than I do.'
'That's kind of a sad song, pet. Don't sound as if Angel's making me too happy at all.'
Liam looked intently at him then shook his head slowly. 'You fucking suck at relationships, Will. Anyone ever tell you that? You honestly think it's going to make me feel better to know that you think about Angel so much you actually write music like that? Sad… happy… it doesn't fucking matter. It's from your heart, Will, and that heart isn't mine, is it?'
Spike broke away from his gaze and started to light a cigarette. Liam put a hand on his arm, as if to prevent him and continue the argument, but they were interrupted by a slight gasp. Spike looked up to see a small gaggle of teenage girls hovering a few feet away. He squinted at them and was about to tell them to 'f-off', when Liam's grip tightened on his arm. Spike watched bemused as Liam turned to the girls and smiled a sweet, affectionate smile.
'Come on then, girls, quick one; he's got to get back. New album; you know how it is.' They rushed over, embarrassed, delighted, and nervous. Spike just stood there. They looked at him; he looked back at them. One of them thrust a tee shirt and pen into his hand.
Liam interjected, clearly annoyed at the hesitation. 'Will… sign the shirt.'
Spike looked down at the pen in his hand and finally grinned a small embarrassed grin. With a flourish, he signed 'Spike' in bold letters, then added 'Tina' and drew a huge heart around them both. The girl could not have looked more pleased if he had actually kissed her… so he did that as well, enjoying himself. Their demands became more outlandish after that and 'Spike' ended up being written in bold letters in lots of interesting places.
Spike glanced every so often at Liam to see his reaction to all this. When the girls were persuaded to leave, Spike ground out his cigarette and turned to him. 'So, I'm guessing, you and me… we still have a fucking big closet somewhere, hey?'
Liam turned away but flung a bitter retort at him. 'Think I'd ruin your sales a little, wouldn't I?'
'Well, I'm not gay… so not bricking it here, mate.'
Liam turned back at this, outrage written over every inch of his face. 'Not gay? Are you trying to kill me, Will?' Tears glittered in his eyes.
Spike was bemused at the difference between this human and Angel. Although he could sense the anguish, he still needed to make his point. 'I'm a vampire, pet. I swing both ways… well, all ways actually… there was one time….'
Liam didn't wait to hear the interesting story; he shoved past Spike and went back into the studio.
Spike lit another cigarette and squatted down against the wall. He didn't know why he'd done that. He wanted to deny Spike, not encourage him. He wanted to be Will, didn't he? He wanted the sunlight and the lifestyle and, yes, the signing of girls' breasts. So, why did he re-assert that he was Spike?
He didn't want to consider the scary notion that Angel's kiss had tipped the scales of reality back the other way a little. He did not want to think of those lips, if they drew him back. He did not want to remember that intense need, if it made all this… insubstantial.
Spike sucked in a deep breath and blew it out again. He pinched himself and watched his skin flush red. The thumping of this heart was delicious under his chest. He closed his eyes, turning his face to the sun.
Standing up, he cast all thoughts of Angel aside. This was his reality, and he wanted it desperately.
He rubbed the back of his hand over his mouth, as if to wipe off traces of the kiss. 'Fuck off, Angel; you're just a delusion.'