Angel came down at lunchtime the next day to a sense of expectancy from the humans. He looked around at their eager faces and halted. Wesley came forward. 'You're just in time for the first test. We've just taken the handcuffs off.'
'You've integrated it?'
'Fred has, yes; I think so.' Angel was staring at the robot and missed the small, sharp glance that Wesley gave him.
Fred began to babble. 'I wiped all memory of before this - clean slate, ya know? Oh and I added the belief that….'
'Just switch it on.'
'Are you sure?'
Angel did not reply, but stood slightly to one side in the shadows with clenched jaw.
Gunn turned it on. The robot looked around thoughtfully, its eyes roaming over the humans, the lobby, and then focusing on the stairs. Everyone turned to follow its gaze to find Spike, sitting quietly, watching the proceedings. The robot frowned and went over to him. 'Hello, Spike.'
Spike did not reply or look directly at it, but studied his nails nonchalantly. After a moment, he said softly, 'Go fuck yourself.'
The robot chuckled. 'You never change. I've missed that - I've missed you.'
At that, Spike looked up sharply, barely registering that Angel had taken a step forward as well. 'What did you just say?'
The robot ran a hand through its hair. 'I've missed you. Everyone's afraid to piss me off these days, and I miss it.'
Spike shrunk back, confusion evident in his hesitant look. 'Shut up.'
The robot shrugged and turned to the humans. 'It looks like Spike's staying for a few days, make him welcome….' It trailed off when it saw Angel lurking in the shadows. It turned to Wesley with a raised eyebrow. 'That's it?'
Wesley didn't look at Angel directly but, nevertheless, spoke quietly to him under his breath. 'We need him to believe in himself enough to sacrifice his existence. But we had to explain you away. Fred's given him the belief that you're a… the… robot.'
Before Angel could respond to this, the robot came over to him, eyeing him up and down. 'Incredible. It's absolutely incredible. In the dark, from a distance, it might almost pass for real.'
'Hey!' Angel sensed rather than saw everyone's smiles so amended this to, 'Turn it off. We need to plan.'
The robot turned to Wesley and laid a hand on the back of his neck, cupping it gently in an affectionate way. 'Well done. You've surprised me, Wes. Thank you. I'm actually believing that this will work now.' Wesley beamed for a moment, then looked incredibly guilty and turned it off.
The sound of slow clapping drew all their eyes to the stairs. Spike climbed painfully to his feet and took his time lighting a cigarette. With one very intense look at Angel, he went back to his room and did not emerge again.
It was absolutely perfect. Angel questioned Fred about her work, trying to ascertain whether it was her added maturity, her knowledge of human motivations, or her feeling for him that had led to this transformation. She demurred all praise and looked confused when he persisted. All she'd done was to integrate the chips. It was the separation of the personality that had been the problem. As this didn't fit in with what Angel wanted to believe he ignored it and watched the robot as if Fred had created it from scratch. It was easier that way to accept its perfection.
It was Angel, only… better than him. All the faults of the previous fragmentation now came together in a seamless personality: Angelus tempered by the nobility of the superhero; West Hollywood a subtle undercurrent that drew the humans to him and made them relax naturally in his presence. It seemed to study the humans that surrounded it carefully, picking up on the subtle undercurrents of their thoughts, making each one feel special and needed. It was gentle with Fred, quietly bowing to her superior intelligence. It was tough and cool with Gunn, making the man relax more than he had ever done in Angel's presence. But it was with Wesley that the robot seemed to find its perfection. It treated Wesley as something very rare and very precious and Wesley swelled to the continual praise and encouragement. This new robot was brave, kind, determined, amusing, wistful, furious - it was perfect, and it held the humans in its spell.
Constantly being claimed as a robot undermined Angel's already fragile ego, and he avoided the robot as much as possible while it was put through its paces. Saturday drew inevitably closer, however, and he could not but be impressed by the robot's flawless impersonation of him.
He was curious to see how Spike would react to all this, but as he didn't admit to himself that he ever thought about his childe, and Spike had not made an appearance downstairs for two days, he did not have an opportunity. Therefore, toward the end of the week, when he saw the robot climb the stairs and begin to look in bedrooms, he followed it - not admitting to himself that he was desperately curious, but that he was merely ensuring that the valuable asset did not now get damaged in any way.
Angel leant on the wall just outside Spike's bedroom and listened. This wasn't easy, as there was no sound at first, but he persisted and folded his arms, as if armouring himself against something he might hear.
Angel heard a rustle from the bed as if Spike were turning over. He wanted to hear Spike mistake the robot for him - this would vindicate his fury somehow. He also wanted Spike to recognise it immediately and kick it out, and these two warring needs lowered his brow even further.
As this could have equally applied to him or the robot, Angel wasn't sure whether to be pleased or not.
'I understand why you made it. Truly, I do. And it's good, Spike. A bit wooden and way too fat, but good enough to pass for me for what we need. I'm grateful… really.'
Angel gritted his teeth and wanted to kill something.
'I said get out. I have to put up with him ordering me about - he has the right. You don't. You are a saucepan with grand illusions. Now, get out.'
Angel grinned to himself, pleased on several levels. His grin faded when he heard the mattress depress.
'I meant what I said - I have missed you. Why are we so estranged from each other, Spike? I don't remember when that happened. I remember hunting and drinking and making love to our women, and then talking long into the night. When did we go so wrong?'
Angel wanted to join in the conversation and point out that the robot was merely repeating crap that Spike had placed in his thoughts, but he was slightly confused by memories of laughter and friendship, and missed the chance to contribute when Spike replied, 'The only thing I see when I look at you is a conflagration melting you in the middle of it. You are obscene. He was right. As usual. The prick. You are flawless, and I don't want you.'
'Spike, I'm just me. I can't be any more or any less. I struggle; I try to do good. I know you created the robot to take my place in your life, and I blame myself for that. But, shit, Spike, look at it properly next time. Do you really think that flawed, robotic creature could take my place in your affections?'
Angel wiped away a small trail of blood from his bitten lip and began to grind his teeth instead. It didn't help, because he couldn't decide exactly what it was that was pissing him off. Except for being called flawed and robotic by a robot that was.
'Sod off, Robot. I'm hungry; I'm pissed off, and I'm fucking feeling like staking myself, so just go… or I'll turn you off and toss you over the balcony. The last thing I wanted in my fuckingly awful life was your perfection. Now, sod OFF!'
Angel heard the robot rise and faded silently into the shadows. He watched it go thoughtfully and sadly down the stairs with glee. He was about to follow it when Spike limped slowly out of the bedroom and leant on the rail, watching its progress, equally thoughtfully and equally sadly. He peeled silently off the wall and came up behind the still figure. He grasped him painfully by the scruff of the neck and forced his head around to look down at the humans. Gripping Spike's good hand and forcing it onto the rail, he hissed in Spike's ear, 'Look at his adoring fans, Spike. You're stupid. You could have him. I never took you for really stupid before.'
Spike twisted his neck, trying to break free, but then spat back, 'Just taking after my fucking sire.'
Angel tightened his hold, digging Spike's hand into the rail. Spike winced and looked down. He frowned when he saw Angel's habitually manicured nails bitten and torn as his. Distractedly, he listened as Angel whispered, 'How'd you like me to make a robot of you, Spike?'
Despite the growing pain in his neck, Spike gritted his teeth and replied, 'You couldn't, you fat Irish peasant. I'm unique.'
'Yeah….' Angel crooned slightly as he increased the pressure on the slim neck. 'I'm liking the idea more and more. Couldn't capture the essential stupid fuck-up though, could I?'
'Dunno. Mirrored myself on you me whole unlife, you fat git. You know? Warren said he'd never seen a fat vampire before and didn't 'ave enough plastic to go 'round ya like, so 'e had to make 'im slimmer.'
'I'd want my robot to walk and chew gum at the same time - so guess no one would mistake it for you after all.'
'He asked what you were like, an' I told 'im to use Hannibal only take away the nice bits.'
'Least my robot would be easier to fuck. Might know what goes where and actually turn me on.'
They continued to spit out childish, bitter accusations and long remembered recriminations, but the impact of their words was considerably mitigated by the fact that Spike had twisted his hand in Angel's hold and was rubbing his finger softly over the reddened cuticles. It was pretty much destroyed completely when Angel's savage hold on Spike's neck turned into a gentle running of his thumb over the short hairs at the nape.
Suddenly, Spike blinked slowly and put his forehead down onto the rail. Angel slid in behind him and rocked into his hard backside. He grabbed Spike around the waist and pulled him back to the other side of the hallway, out of sight from below. He slid his arms up from Spike's waist, stroking them up his sides and the insides of his arms, lifting them, stretching them high, grasping the wrists then pressing his face into the soft skin of Spike's neck.
Wordlessly, Spike pulled away, grabbed Angel's hand and pulled him back into his bedroom, kicking the door shut behind him with one foot.
They were all teeth and hands and desperate need. Angel slammed Spike into a wall and ripped him around, grinding the pale face into the fading wallpaper. He tore at the back of Spike's jeans. 'I fucking hate you.'
Spike groaned. 'I've always loathed you.'
Frustrated by clothes and boots, Angel just gave one almighty heave and tore Spike's jeans off his legs, letting the tattered pieces fall to the ground. He pressed a hand on Spike's shoulders to keep him fixed to the wall then put his other hand between Spike's cheeks. 'Fuck.' Angel then used both hands and almost cranked Spike's buttocks apart, exposing the pink hole. 'Oh, fuck.'
Spike heard a slight rustle and a zip, and then he felt Angel's erection against him. 'Sod, off, I detest you, Angel.'
'Yeah. I fucking abhor you, Spike. Spread wider.'
Spike spread his legs. 'I'll bloody kill you for this.'
'You can try.' Angel began to push.
Spike gasped and flung his head back, connecting painfully with Angel's nose.
Angel hit him hard on the side of the head and wiped at the blood that poured over his mouth and chin. Spike tore at Angel's arm and brought the bloodied hand to his lips, sucking and licking at it.
Angel began to wipe his bleeding nose into the back of Spike's hair then, on the smell of his own blood and the sense of familiarity at this marking of his childe, he pushed hard enough to slide through the tight anus. He let out a soft expletive and pulled his hand away from Spike's mouth, holding onto the bony shoulders.
He flattened Spike against the wall. He pounded into him. He barely heard the howl of pain or the felt the writhing figure against him. All his thoughts focused on his penis. It had never been held so tightly. The foreskin had never been driven so hard and fast over his acting tip. His balls had never been as tight, and the smell of blood was so rich… blood from his nose… from Spike's wounds… and then the wriggling and fighting and cursing and tears… and then he was about to come.
Angel cried out and released into Spike's body.
He felt his hand captured once more and fangs tore into his wrist. He rolled the savaged artery around his childe's face, coating him with blood. With his other hand, he found Spike: urgent, tight, hard and quivering. A few swift, skilful strokes, and sperm jetted out over his hand, hitting the wall and staining the old paper. He felt Spike's body slump slightly and hefted him up. Spike spun around as if at the indignity of needing to be held and slammed into him. They fell together over the old armchair and crashed to the ground, Spike crying out as wounds were reopened. The increased smell of blood only made Angel frantic with the need to release again. He pushed Spike over onto his back and lifted both thighs. Blood and cum still leaked out of Spike's anus, and Angel made a high-pitched sound of delight, bending to the mixture and licking eagerly at its source. Spike began to tear at his hair, so he hit him once more then rose and pushed his still hard erection back into the welcoming hole. This time was even better. The position allowed him to go deeper. He took Spike with renewed ferocity, eyes screwed tightly shut, just heaving his considerable power and weight into the endlessly deep, endlessly welcoming channel. Once more, Angel stilled just before release. His whole body shuddered as the powerful forces overwhelmed him. He shot cold slugs of sperm into Spike until his ears began to hum faintly, and he discovered he was panting deeply.
He looked down and saw that Spike was lost to the power of his own orgasm, his hands working his cock as milky fluid joined the blood seeping out from the once-white bandage.
Swallowing hard, Angel lowered himself onto Spike. His penis was still semi-hard and stayed embedded in the fluid filled rectum. It felt good, so Angel left it there and just lay heavily on the damp body. His ears still buzzed slightly, and he had not felt such emptiness in his balls for a very long time. He had not realised how obsessed with relief he'd been until this sense of completion and emptiness.
A very long time passed as they lay in a heap of blood, sweat, cum and torn clothes on the floor. At last, Spike pushed Angel off with an angry shove and, once released from the joining, he crawled up onto the bed and began to rummage in the sheets for his packet of cigarettes and lighter. He felt an iron-strong hand on his ankle and turned angrily. 'What do you want, Fucker?'
Angel, crawling up onto the bed after him, made a small feral grin. 'I want to hate you some more.'
He yanked on the ankle and jerked Spike back toward him. At the gasp of pain, he flung Spike over onto his back and looked at the darkly wet bandage on the tight belly. With a groan of need, Angel tore the bandages off and pressed his face into the gash. He licked at it and ate the skin around the edges, slipping into game face as he fed. He knelt over the wound, snarling and snuffing into it, and Spike arched up to the feeding, pressing his offering harder against Angel's fangs. With a shaky hand, Angel brought his erection to the wound. He knelt up and pressed the tip into the blood, swirling it around and mixing his cool precum into the rich red stickiness. Spike arched some more, and the wound opened slightly. Angel pressed the head of his cock into the small red maw and worked frantically with his fist to bring himself off. Spike thrashed his head to one side and emerged with his amber eyes fastened on those of his sire.
Totally demon, they watched as one fucked the other in blood and pain. With another shudder of intense pleasure, Angel's cock jerked and twitched in the wound, and Spike felt a cool fluid bathing the hot, welling pain.
Coated in blood, Angel's cock still dripped sperm as he withdrew. Spike caught hold of Angel's wrist and pulled savagely until allowed to take the sticky mess into his mouth. Angel watched as his childe slipped back into human form, putting away his fangs to be able to suckle and draw on the sweet-tasting shaft. Spike moaned at the blood, hissed at the sperm and worked the cock until it was clean once more.
Angel sank down alongside Spike when he'd finished. They lay in the filthy bed as the day moved inexorably on. They did not move or speak. At last, Spike smelt a new smell - something fresh on top of the blood, the cum and the hatred. He looked over at Angel and watched a glistening bead of crystal trickle down his cheek and fall, after a tiny suspended moment, to the rumpled sheet.
He propped himself up on one hand, but Angel said, 'Fuck off, Spike' very distinctly.
Spike pouted. He patted around for his cigarettes and lighter, and smoked for a while. Tears still rolled down Angel's cheeks. Eventually, Spike said as uncaringly as he could, 'What's wrong?'
Angel repeated his earlier comment then added, 'I hate you.'
Spike sighed and stubbed his cigarette out on Angel's belly. Angel looked down, puzzled. 'What are you doing?'
Spike looked up at him. 'Hate me again, Angel.'
Angel stretched his neck back in pleasure and let out a long, low sound of desire. He snatched at Spike and pulled him onto his body, squeezing him hard around the waist. Spike surrendered to the hold then bent his head and whispered, 'I'll ride you.'
An incoherent grunt of animalistic pleasure escaped from Angel, and he urgently took hold of his cock, making it the right angle for Spike so he could lower himself onto the hard impalement. Spike braced himself on Angel's belly and began to raise and lower, pleasure evident in every line of his face and in the long slow blinks of need that spread his long, dark lashes over his cheeks. He looked down at Angel and hissed, 'I fucking hate you. Hold me. Make me cum too.'
Angel nodded and took Spike's bouncing cock, pulling on it and rubbing the tip around on the palm of his hand. It didn't take long. Spike spilled first, and the sight and feel and smell of the sperm brought on Angel's swift ejaculation. Spike rose up with an expression of unanticipated pleasure as the cold waves filled him once more.
When he felt the penis inside him soften, Spike slipped off to one side and lay dead alongside Angel. Finally, he turned to look at the dark face. 'I think I've just proved I'm well enough to leave now.'
Angel nodded then reached down and pulled the blanket right up and over their heads, cocooning them in its warm darkness. In the dark, he turned to Spike and looked at the shaded face. Spike repeated his observation. Angel repeated his nod of agreement, but then unfurled one arm, and with an infinitesimally small blink of relief, Spike came to him, and they tangled their bodies together in the fluids they had shared between them, falling into the deep, dark sleep of demonic satisfaction.