Demon Chemistry - 6
Angel sat at his desk, slowly poking a pencil into one closed fist. His human colleagues watched him from the outer office, hypnotised. He made a fist, pushed the pencil in, wriggled it around for a while, appeared to be talking to it, withdrew it, swapped hands, and pushed it slowly into the other one. Sometimes he frowned; sometimes he smiled. It was freaking everyone out.
Gunn looked at Wesley. 'What the hell is he doing, man? Giving his hands a happy?'
Wesley gave a slow nod of agreement, equally perplexed.
'Hello? Not wanting to point out the obvious here, but Angel is… you know… just suffering groiny no-go.'
Wesley turned to Cordelia. 'Do you know he went to Sunnydale two days ago?'
'No! So that's where he went. Well, crystal-much then! He's seen Buffy. That's what the poking-the-meat is all about? Do you think he…? I mean… did they?'
Wesley shook his head knowingly 'He didn't go to see Buffy. I'm guessing he went to see another bleached blond.'
Cordelia looked at him with mock horror. 'Buffy's not a natural blond?'
'Cordelia! Focus here.'
'Oh… I get it… jees.' She turned back to watch Angel speculatively. 'Who'd'a thought he got off on demons? And she's such a stone-bitch!'
'Who? C-girl, I'm missing links here.' Gunn slid closer to follow Cordelia's line of vision.
'Please. Cordelia, Gunn! Spike… Angel went to see Spike.'
'It's true. Spike wants to take up the sire/childe relationship, apparently. And Angel is not adverse to the idea.'
Cordelia made a gagging motion with her fingers in her throat. 'Shall we have a shower? Blue cards would look so cute on the desk.'
Wesley's reply was cut off by Lorne's arrival. He noted everyone's look and leant over to follow their gaze. 'What's up, sugar… why's Angelpie giving his pencil the jollies?'
Cordelia beamed with the look of one about to impart excellent gossip. 'Angel wants Spike.'
Lorne flicked at a non-existent piece of fluff on his sleeve. 'I'm thinking, duh, here.'
'You knew?' Wesley sounded surprised.
'I read it, honey. Angel wants Spike; Spike wants Angel. It's a Greek tragedy. "Tragedy…".' He hit some of the high notes, but not with quite the aplomb of the Bee Gees. He stopped when everyone began humming to cover him up.
Wesley suddenly looked worried. 'I really don't think it's appropriate for you to tell us something you learnt in a confidential reading. It's rather unethical, isn't it?'
'Relax, hon; I'm not. That's just what I told Angelhair.'
Cordelia cleared her throat. 'Hello? You told Angel, Spike wanted him, and it's not true?'
Wesley suddenly looked like a man that was only now getting the punch line to some joke. 'We are talking about sire/childe relationships here, aren't we… filial obedience, fatherly care… albeit in a rather demonic way?'
Cordelia ignored him, staring at Lorne, and she and Gunn asked at the same time, 'Why?'
Lorne shrugged, totally unconcerned by the accusatory looks. 'Sometimes you gotta go with your instincts. Angel wants the pretty one… I saw that when he murdered poor Amanda… then whoa! Kaplooey! In walks pretty blond one - and what a hottie! All pain… all angst… all sexy, dark confusion. I just helped sweet Angelface out a tad - so sue me!'
Wesley was still puzzling things through at his own speed. 'So, Spike was confused because he wanted to be Angel's childe again?'
Cordelia suddenly leant over to his ear and said. 'Wesley. Angel is gay!'
Angel looked up at the sound of Wesley's chair tipping over backward. He saw Lorne, nodded, but returned to the slow penetrations with his pencil.
Lorne dusted Wesley down. 'Now, darlin', Angel's not batting for the other side… and believe me, I'd know. You'd hear a chorus of 'I'm On the Top of the World' from this player if he was. Let's just say he's… oh… what's the term… forgetful-much… Light dawns!' Lorne looked them in the eye, one at a time, and when he spoke, his voice had lost the previous, high, playful tones. 'He's a vampire. Grr. Fangs. Drinks blood. Sleeps with his offspring.'
Wesley sat down, still reeling. 'Angel… with Spike. Good grief.'
Cordelia looked almost wistful. 'He was so happy that morning the evil one was here, remember? He played his Bach and noticed I had new shoes.'
Gunn laughed. 'He'd just broken the jerk-off's arm: I thought that was the happy cause!'
'Angel and Spike - it doesn't bear thinking about.' Wesley suddenly looked up, horrified. 'I told Angel I thought Spike was a particularly nasty bugger!'
Angel looked up once more at the unusual sound of hysterical laugher from Gunn and Cordelia and frowned at the group outside his office. They were breaking his concentration, and he needed to concentrate. He needed to psyche himself into something…
Gunn recovered first and banged Wesley on the back. 'Way't'go, English. So, what we gonna do to help?'
Wesley blanched visibly. 'We? Help? They don't need us interfering, I wouldn't think.'
Lorne tutted. 'Piddle. Angel so woefully needs interfering with, it's like a neon sign on that great broody forehead of his: "love doofus - help me".'
Cordelia began to envision the complex playing out of a romance, with her as a principal character. 'We need to get Spike to LA.'
Wesley sounded doubtful and fidgeted with his desk-blotter; the whole subject still made him incredibly uncomfortable. 'Spike to the agency?'
Lorne shook his head. 'Don't tell me you're gonna come up with a spurious reason to get the little hottie to LA.'
'Yes, I agree with Lorne - for once - that sounds rather more in the realms of fiction than…'
Cordelia brightened. 'Brilliant-much? We'll lie!'
'No! Angel would know.'
'Angel would know what?'
Four heads turned so quickly that Spike actually heard some creaking.
'What happened to your face? No, I mean, why are you here… NO! I didn't ask that; I'm sorry. It's none of my business, goodness… it's entirely your affair… not an affair, of course; I realise that…'
'Shut the fuck up, watcher! Christ on a cross - I can come to LA, can't I?' He turned annoyed to Cordelia. 'What you giggling at, bint?' It got worse. 'Hey! Demon… don't you go tryin' to read me… what is wrong with everyone? Fuck you. Where's the poof? What? What? Oh, bloody hell.'
Angel looked up at the commotion and saw Spike. His first thought, 'Why didn't I sense him here?', was cut off abruptly when he saw Spike's bruised, bleeding face. He slammed down his chair and came out into the outer office. He barely noticed Gunn and Wesley attempting to drag a reluctant Cordelia away or a green demon with a large grin on his face.
He nodded to Spike, neutrally, glanced at the upper floors and went purposefully up the stairs. Spike found Angel in his bedroom, but before he could make a snarky comment on the poofy décor, he was seized in strong hands.
'What happened to your face?'
Spike shrugged him off and lit a cigarette, much to Angel's annoyance. He began to pace around examining Angel's things. 'I had to hitch. Fucking lorry drivers.'
Spike shrugged again, as if it really didn't matter to him. 'You should try hitching, mate, in California with an accent like mine and these fucking cheekbones. I only asked the wanker if he wanted a fag and look at me.'
Angel started to laugh, the high-strung laughter of someone who feared he was about to be called on a promise he couldn't fulfil. 'Did he…?'
Spike shrugged once more. 'Nah, I can still run like the fucking wind; he tripped over 'is beer belly.'
Angel frowned. 'You always could run fast. I gave you lots of practice, didn't I?'
Spike pursed his lips. 'Some of the time I weren't running all that fast, Angel.' He took off his coat and noted Angel's slight step back out of the corner of one eye.
'I'm guessing you've changed your mind then?'
Angel didn't reply but sat slowly on the edge of the bed, looking at Spike. 'You were right. It's too soon.'
Spike nodded as if he was pleased with this reply and sat next to him. He offered Angel his cigarette. 'I don't smoke.'
'Yes, you do.' Angel took it and drew in smoke as if his unlife depended upon it.
'What was the hilarity downstairs about?'
Angel squinted at him through the smoke. 'I'm guessing… us.'
Spike got up, furious. 'Oh, bloody hell! How's that gonna do me reputation? I'm the fucking Big Bad, Angel!'
'Spike. I was the one who gave you that nickname, and it wasn't because you were overly tall or particularly evil, if you remember.'
Spike grinned. 'We go back a long way, don't we, mate?'
Angel nodded and lay back on the bed, smoking thoughtfully. 'So why are you here, Spike…?
'Buffy blew me off.'
Angel sat up. Spike pursed his lips and sat down again. 'She didn't like the new and improved me, I guess. Scared her. Made her feel dirty. Being fucked by me was one thing, but love? She didn't want that… not with me, anyway.'
'I'm sorry, Spike.'
Spike turned. 'No, you're not, Angel. It's what you hoped would happen.'
'I'm sorry for you.'
Spike grinned. 'Again, no, you're not.'
Angel smiled, too. 'Sorry for me then?'
Spike shook his head, laughing. 'It's exactly what you planned, luv. Best for her, best for me, I guess, and maybe best for you… don't know that yet.'
'Angel.' Wesley's call was incredibly hesitant and spoke volumes about what he suspected he might be interrupting. Angel went quickly to the door.
Wesley seemed surprised to see him with clothes on. 'Err… Angel… sorry to disturb you. It's a rather nasty case, I'm afraid. All hands on deck so to speak. Gunn's fetching the car; Cordelia's getting weapons. You coming? God! I mean, are you joining us?'
Spike joined Angel in the doorway.
Angel managed to slam the door on Spike, reassure Wesley, hide his erection and fetch his coat in a seamless blur of activity. He reached the lobby only to find he was being followed. 'What are you doing, Spike?'
'No. You're still injured and… besides…'
Spike looked at him expressively. 'And what, Angel? Given I'm almost as good a fighter as you. Better, maybe, if it isn't you I'm fighting.'
Angel stilled. He thought back to the fight in the alley. 'You trying to tell me you let me win?'
Spike shook his head. 'Nah. You won. I'm just saying I wasn't givin' it me best, that's all.'
'Neither were you.'
Angel grinned. 'Screw you.'
Spike winced at the Americanism. Angel stood back to let Spike select some weapons.
To give Spike his due, he managed to totally ignore the waves of fear and suspicion he aroused in the three humans as he sat in the car with a large broadsword on his lap. The fact that he was running his finger along the edge, making it bleed, and then sucking the blood, did nothing to allay their fears. Angel kept glancing at him, looking annoyed, so, with a sigh, Spike stopped and watched the passing life of LA instead. He lit up. A chorus of complaints harangued him from the back, so he made sure he puffed all the smoke in their direction. Again Angel intervened, stopping to take the roof down. Spike stretched his arm across the back of Angel's seat, his hand just resting against Angel's coat. Angel could feel the slightest touch on the back of his neck and so could Spike. The humans chose not to comment.
It had finally gone quiet in the back.
Spike began to rub one finger over the short hair at the back of Angel's neck. There was a slight girlie squeak from the back seat and an immediate slap sound. Spike grinned and removed his arm.
"Put it back."
Spike turned to Angel, shocked. The voice had been as clear as if Angel had actually spoken. Angel turned to him, and Spike hissed slightly, as he saw Angel's dilated eyes.
Suddenly, there was a cry of surprise from the rear seat, and Wesley leant forward. 'Do that again, Angel.'
Angel turned back and glanced nervously over his shoulder. 'What?'
'Look at Spike again.'
'And that would be…?'
'Just do it, Angel, please.'
Trying to drive as well, Angel did as he was asked, and Wesley beckoned the others to look, too.
They all made soft noises of wonder.
Angel and Spike didn't comment: they knew what the humans had seen. Finally, annoyed at the close observation, Angel turned back to the road and said quietly, 'It's the only place we have a reflection. You won't see that very often.'
'You mean in another vampire's eyes? I'm a watcher… well, was a watcher, and I've never read about that. It's incredible!'
Spike replied this time, 'Don't let humans get that close usually, mate: not ones that live to tell the tale, anyway.'
'No, I suppose not. But still, lots of vampires about - I'm amazed I've not seen that before.'
Angel gripped the wheel a little tighter, unwilling to go too far down this road. 'It's not just any vampire, Wes; it's just sire and childe. We reflect in each other's eyes. It's the blood link manifest, I guess.'
Cordelia leant forward. 'Hey brood boy, you could stop the wearing of the black if the evil one comes to live with us! You could coordinate yourself… ya know. Hey, Blondie, turn to Angel; I wanna see what he looks like in those baby blues.'
Spike answered complacently, enjoying Angel's discomfort. 'Fuck off, bint.'
Cordelia laughed, and they continued sparring good-naturedly until they reached the scene of the demon murders.
Buffy's attempt to come up with a suitable collective name for vampires came back to Spike as he eyed the twenty or so miscreants that menaced them from the doorway of the abandoned factory. He was still going with 'fuck up' and grinned as he watched Angel striding towards them. He followed, trying to make his coat sway, too, and was not a little pleased when a hissed comment from the leader of the group reached them all. 'Angelus… and William the Bloody! Fuck!'
Angel turned back to Spike, and Spike's heart swelled at the slight smile of pleasure on Angel's face at this recognition. Wesley began to make the most of the moment by coming forward and telling the group to disperse… given the power and reputation of their new adversaries. He was the first to go down to a well-aimed chair thrown in his direction. That was the beginning. It was a vicious, bloody battle. Gunn was absorbed by the fighting, Cordelia barely holding her own, Wesley - after finding his lost glasses - an able help… but Angel and Spike were just… together. Angel waded into the brawl; Spike backed him up, and when Angel turned once to see how he was doing, their eyes met. Angel didn't need to see his reflection in Spike's eyes: he knew he was there, and that thought stunned him for the first time. Maybe it was the humans' interest earlier, maybe just the intensity of the moment, but Angel suddenly felt that he existed, that he was validated.
Spike paused, and a deep thrill coursed down his spine at Angel's look. He casually dusted a vamp that tried to attack him from the side, and the very casualness of the penetration, deep into the demon's chest, made him suck in his breath with pleasure. Angel nodded, understanding the power of the conquest, and they set to, together, back-to-back
The humans watched in amazement as the battle was taken from their hands. Spike was a blur of power and energy - Angel, a dark, intense killer alongside him. The fight was over in less time than it usually took them to assess the situation, and the three of them stood looking around, wondering where the threat had gone.
Angel glanced over at Spike once more, and they shared an intimate, quiet look of understanding before they had to join the others. Angel investigated Spike's arm as they walked over; Spike called him a poof, and tried to pull it away.
Wesley looked them both over, slowly. 'I'd call that game, set and match, wouldn't you?'
The humans sat in the outer office, patching up minor wounds and chatting about the fight. Occasionally, they sent inquisitive glances into the office towards Spike and Angel. Angel was in his chair, making calls, clearing his tray. Spike sat on the desk alongside him, slowly cleaning a weapon. Every so often, he swung his feet slightly, and they bumped into Angel's leg.
Eventually, Cordelia could stand it no longer. 'I think I speak for everyone here, but… what are they talking about? I mean, hello? Been in there for an hour and look… all yackity, yackity, yackity. I swear, Angel's said more to the evil one in there than he's said to us all day.'
'Jealous. You want Angel out here, talking to us.' Wesley recoiled at the astonished looks the other two gave him. 'What? I don't! Don't be bloody ridiculous.'
Cordelia turned back to her contemplation of the vampires. 'Do you think they've got groiny yet?'
'Oh man, quit with the graphics… is this a chick thing? Cus I really don't wanna know!'
'Thank you, Charles; I couldn't have said it better… possibly more grammatically, but not with more feeling. Cordelia, please keep your speculation to yourself. And no, they haven't had time, have they? They were both dressed when I went up to fetch them.'
'It wouldn't take long, doofus, given Angel's been no-groiny for so long. Wham, bam, thank you Spike, I'd say.'
Back in the office, Spike continued to concentrate on the weapon but said quietly, 'They're talking about us.'
'Hmm, I know.'
'That bother you?'
'Don't know, given I can't hear what they are saying.'
Spike grinned. 'Bet you I could give you the gist fairly easily.'
'Hmm, I kind of got that myself, given you are sitting there practically drooling over me.'
Spike's head jerked up. 'Fuck off, Angel. I'm doing no such thing.'
Angel laughed. 'You were trying to look like me back there, Spike. I'd call that the sincerest form of flattery.'
'No, that was sheer embarrassment, trying not to make you look like such a unique pillock. I mean, Angel, who the fuck goes out to fight vamps wearing cashmere and hair gel?'
Angel only shook his head sadly. 'Least this is my own colour, Spike… I mean… bleached… jewellery. Jees, I feel totally manly.'
'Fuck off. You love the look.'
'No, you only did it to piss me off.'
'Worked a treat, too - first time I tried it, remember? You were too embarrassed to own me for weeks; we had to hunt separately, and you didn't… ' He dried up, and the memories were vivid for both of them.
Angel tried to cover. 'I thought you said earlier that you didn't mind all that much. You said you weren't running very fast.'
Spike nodded. 'Maybe, but when I'd finally stopped running, I found you weren't after me anyway.'
It was Angel's turn to jerk his head back. 'What do you mean?'
Spike put the weapon down on the desk and looked directly at him. 'You know what I mean, Angel. I wanted you, and you destroyed me for it. You were so obsessed with your power; you lost interest the minute I wanted you.'
'No, that's not true.' Angel frowned; he wasn't too sure of this himself, and his memory often became confused by dreams that seemed almost as real sometimes.
'I told you I wanted to show you how good it felt… I wanted to fuck you Angel, and you just lost interest there and then. No little childe hating it? Strong childe wanting you? You couldn't care less.'
Angel tipped his chair back a bit to gain some more distance from Spike. 'That is so wrong, Spike. I saw myself loving you. Loving you too much and yes, I left, but that was from fear of wanting you, not fear of losing power.'
'You've always singled out weak people, Angel. It's what you do to retain your power over them.'
'Screw you, Spike. Wrong, much?'
Once more Spike winced, but continued 'Buffy?'
'Err… the Slayer, Spike. Supernatural strength; the chosen one… hardly weak.'
'Sixteen years old, Angel. Never been in love. A virgin. A schoolgirl? Fuck, if that's your idea of power, you are one sick puppy. You have no idea, Angel; she's powerful now; I'll give you that… but then? Nah. She was a kid.'
'Okay, maybe, but what about …'
'I don't care who you name… Drusilla? Mad as a Shilling. Cordelia? A bint. Wesley? Fuck, don't need to go there!'
'Gunn… he's strong. He's…'
'He's dangerous, Angel. He's a street punk with no finesse.'
'No, Spike, you see everything through your own warped perspective. That's not true. Cordelia, Wesley, Gunn… they have hidden depths. I know them better than you.'
'What about me then?'
Angel felt he was on far dodgier ground now and replied rather weakly, 'You?'
'Yeah, me. Snivelling in an alley, Angel. Hardly Master Vampire material, I'd have thought. I was so scared of you, I let you bugger me repeatedly and I … I …' He broke off, but then looked Angel directly in the eye. 'I couldn't even torture you myself, could I? I had some fucking pervert do it for me.'
Angel looked away. He picked up his letter opener and tapped it on the desk. 'That wasn't weakness, Spike; that was just sire and childe issues.'
'Issues? Issues? Fucking hell, Angel, I'm English - I don't have bleedin' issues.'
Angel smiled faintly. 'Maybe you don't call them that, but that's all it was. You'd have seen yourself in my eyes, and you couldn't do that and turn against me like that. Why do you think you attacked me from behind with the crowbar?'
'Cus if you'd seen it coming, you'd have stopped me?'
Angel laughed openly now. 'Nope, because you couldn't do it face to face, that's all. Not weakness, Spike, just blood.'
Spike took a deep, unnecessary breath. 'Fuck, I wish I'd never met you…' He saw Angel's face and swiftly added, 'I mean, I wish I was just meeting you now - for the first time. No bloody history, dragging us down all the time.'
Angel looked at him speculatively, and then tapped his knife some more, studying it with intense concentration. He looked up, and Spike's spine tingled with the slow, seductive appraisal that Angel gave him.