He knew he would heal. Eventually. He always healed, but face down on the bed, still cuffed a day later, and Spike could hardly detect any lessening in the pain. It did not help that the robot had discovered a whole new obsession: trying to find the pleasure in releasing into Spike that its programming promised it would.
These subsequent penetrations were not so painful, but Spike's humiliation and sense of loss only grew with each ejaculation into his body. By the third day, Spike was so well healed physically that the robot seemed to be able to get off quickly each time - the tightness bringing it to swift and seemingly pleasurable relief. Spike had not spoken one word since that first request to be released. It gave him a small shred of his dignity to deny the robot this concession, but on the third day, just after the creature rolled off him, just as the dribbling out began - which he hated almost more than the entry or the pounding - he said quietly, 'I need to feed.'
The robot sat up. 'So do I then.'
'You are a robot.'
That only got him a punch in the ribs for his trouble, but he gritted his teeth and said neutrally, 'We both need food then. You know where I get it from.'
The robot nodded and looked at Spike's position on the bed. Suddenly, it hauled him up and turned him over, releasing the cuffs and refastening them around the bed rail as well. Spike only stretched his arms in relief and lay silent. The robot dressed in the leather pants and shirt it had discarded in that other lifetime when Spike was still Spike and taking one last look at its prisoner, ascended the ladder.
Spike scrambled to his knees and inspected the cuffs. He tore at them, pulling until the flesh on his wrists shredded. He twisted them and smashed them on the rail, but he could not break them. Despairingly, he looked around for anything that he could use, contemplating cutting his own hands off just to be free. Then he saw them. Lying on the blood soaked sheet along side him. The keys. Two small keys that the robot had just used. It had just left them there.
Spike felt tears come to his eyes as he bent and picked them up in his mouth. He was still crying as he dressed. By the time he got to the door of the crypt, his bloodied face was streaked with tear tracks, but by the time the robot returned, Spike had recovered enough to silently move behind it and turn it off.
The robot stood where it had been deactivated, blood bags clutched in immobile hands. Spike didn't have enough left inside to hate it. He didn't look at it though as he removed the bags and tore into them. He waited until it was the dead of night, drove his car as close as he could then dragged the inert form to it and stuffed it in the boot. He didn't even risk the simple walk-talk-chip, but collected them all up and filled his pockets with them. He would burn the lot. While he was at it, he stripped the bed and put the evidence of his loss in the boot with the machine. He would never sleep on those sheets again.
Ready, he cast one last look around the crypt for any remembrance, and then made his way up the ladder.
He almost screamed when the robot came through the door, but he bit it back immediately when the figure frowned and jerked back a little. 'Spike?'
Spike put a hand to his heart in a human gesture that he did not even know he was making. 'Angel?'
'What's wrong? What's with the reception?'
Spike felt so hollow, he could not remember how to talk to this person, but he summoned up some pretence at still existing and said coolly, 'Nothing. You just startled me. You've never come here before.'
Angel chuckled. 'Yeah. I wonder why?' He looked around with an amused expression.
With a start, Spike realised that Angel's life had gone seamlessly from when they had met a few days ago in LA to now. He'd probably fed on some blood; he'd had some cases; he'd talked and slept and wanked just as usual. Angel's life had gone on. Spike's life had effectively stopped, and yet here Angel was, unaware that there was now this gulf between them.
'What do you want?'
Angel smiled. 'My clothes and an explanation. In that order.'
'Dunno what you're….'
'Buffy called me.'
'Hmm. Interesting conversation.'
'That'll be the first between you then.'
'Seems I wasn't well.'
'So, I'm thinking… mystery me in Sunnydale, Spike stealing my clothes…. Jeez, it's a hard one for a detective.'
'Look, I've got things to do, 'k? What do you want to do? Fight? Give me detention? Yeah, I did a stupid spell, got a spook of you for a few hours and pissed everyone around with it. Now, do you mind?'
Angel came closer. 'What happened to your face?'
'Nothing. I'm always beaten up.'
'Why do you keep saying that? Nothing. I'm exactly what I've always been. Now… I've….'
'Got things to do - so you keep saying. So, where are they?'
Angel sighed. 'You are not the only one with more important things to do, Spike. Where are my eight hundred dollar pants and my favourite shirt? You can keep the boxers - consider them a souvenir.' Angel did not miss the shudder that ran through Spike's body, but he didn't comment further on anything that Spike did. What was standing in front of him was so entirely different from the childe that had stood so familiarly in his rooms in LA that Angel was too thrown to immediately decide how to precede. The Spike he knew, however, would not tolerate too much interrogation, so he decided to tread warily and keep the conversation on neutral ground.
Spike cursed inwardly and wished he'd stripped the robot before dumping it in the boot. 'They're gone. Sorry. Got trashed.'
'You're not serious.'
Angel was rather at a loss now, but one thing was for sure, he was not letting Spike out of his sight until he knew what had happened. He had the nagging thought that far from a spook of him being summoned, this thing before him was not real - merely a phantasmal representation of his childe. It seemed to have had all the stuffing kicked out of it somehow.
Spike congratulated himself on his flawless performance and thought from Angel's lowered brow that he suspected nothing. He shouldered his way past and made for the door. Being this close to the same physical body made him almost nauseous again, but he swallowed the bile down and continued.
'Do you want to go for a drink?' Angel put a hand on Spike's arm. Spike gasped and wrenched his arm away. Angel held onto it and looked at the torn wrists. 'Who did this?'
Spike gritted his teeth to stop his jaw wobbling but nothing could prevent his eyes glistening as he replied bitterly, 'No one you know. Now get out, and leave me be.'
Angel frowned even harder. 'Have one drink with me, and we'll call it quits. Eight hundred dollars is a lot of money, Spike, and I liked those jeans.'
'Then you'll piss back off to LA?'
''K.' Spike stomped out into the night, cast a brief look in the direction of his car, shrugged and made his way to the Bronze. He went up to the top deck and chose a couch in the shadows. It almost didn't hurt when he sat down, but it hurt enough to remind him that he was now no better than one of the many bints he'd forced in his long unlife. He chewed the side of his mouth as he waited for Angel to arrive with the alcohol, and when he took too long, began to destroy the skin around his already bitten nails. Finally, Angel arrived with two bottles of whisky and two glasses. He sat down opposite Spike. Spike eyed the bottles.
Angel raised his eyebrow. 'Complaining?'
Spike pouted then shook his head, and they began drinking steadily. The music was perfect. The dark intimacy was perfect. Angel was perfect company: silent and drinking steadily. Spike wondered if he could add to the perfection of his life and more successfully fall on a stake that night.
After the first bottle, Angel finally lifted his head and, as if they'd been having a pleasant conversation, said, 'So, how's the.…' He winced and waved a hand vaguely at Spike's groin.
Throbbing and stinging, Spike jerked his head back with a small cry. 'How did you know?'
Angel frowned. 'Well, Willow told me, I think.'
Spike paused. 'Told you what, Angel?'
Again, Angel looked shifty and embarrassed. 'About the… jeez… impotence.'
'What!' Spike's hand shot out, and he grasped Angel's wrist in a tight hold. 'What the bleeding fuck do you mean, Angel?'
Angel shook his hand off angrily. 'I'm trying to be tactful here, Spike. It's why I've never spoken to you about it before. I'm sorry. That's all I wanted to say. No fucking. Must be hard for you, that's all.'
'No fucking? Angel, I'm not fucking impotent. What the fuck did the bitch tell you?'
'I'll fucking lower you in a minute. What did she say?'
'She told me you'd had some sort of behaviour modification implant in your head, and that you couldn't… do it.'
'Feed, Angel! Feed! I can't feed!'
Angel's patent relief made him actually let out a breath he had not known he was holding. The gesture was so human that it surprised him, and he frowned, breathing regularly for a moment. Spike watched him closely. 'You thought I couldn't fuck as well?'
'Jeez. No wonder you never asked.' He shrugged. He couldn't be bothered with all this now.
Angel opened the second bottle and poured them both a drink. 'So, now we've done the preliminaries, how about you tell me who did that to your wrists and why you smell of… pain?'
'Fuck off. I'm a vampire; I'm supposed to smell like that.'
'Not this sort of pain.'
Spike toyed with his glass. 'I'm not telling you, Angel. I'm having this drink so you'll piss off and leave me alone.'
'I'm thinking I'm not going to do that.'
'I'm thinking I'm going to leave then.' He stood up and made to do just that, but Angel put a hand on his arm.
Spike's eyes flew wide, and he looked down at the hand restraining him. 'Let me go.' His voice had risen unnaturally, but he couldn't control the rising panic. 'Get off me!'
Angel rose uncertainly. He'd not expected this reaction to a thoughtless holding of Spike's arm. 'Spike….'
Spike hit him, the punch landing squarely on Angel's jaw, knocking him back. Angel came back with a swinging punch of his own, and Spike slammed into the railing. He cried out as recent injuries were jarred, but then he gritted his teeth and ploughed back into Angel. They tumbled over the couch and landed together in a heap on the floor. Angel rolled on top of Spike and pinned him by his wrists. 'What's wrong?'
The position freaked Spike out completely. He shot into game face and began to thrash to get free. Alarmed, Angel climbed off him and made placating gestures with his hands.
Aware they were beginning to attract attention, Spike slipped back to human form and tried to calm himself internally at the same time. He stood up and shook his shoulders like a dog sloughing off dirty water. Angel watched neutrally, but Spike noticed he stood squarely blocking the passageway to the stairs.
'Come back to LA with me for a few days.'
The offer was as unexpected as it was unwelcome, but its very unexpectedness shook Spike out of some of the panic he'd been in at Angel's touch. He rolled his eyes. 'Yeah. Like I'm gonna do that.'
'No. Please. I'm serious. Why not? You could rest up, heal. Think of it as a holiday. Even vampires can have holidays, Spike.'
As if to emphasize his calmness and sincerity, Angel sat back down and resumed pouring from the second bottle - the way to escape now noticeably clear. Spike glanced toward the stairs and actually saw himself go down them. He followed his progress back to the cemetery, to the crematorium - he was a bit hazy when he got there having not really thought through how he was actually going to burn the robot - then he saw himself return to his crypt and sit alone on the bed. He pouted for a moment at the extremely unattractive preview of his life for the next few hours. He sat. He picked up his glass and drank mechanically. 'Why are you doing this?'
'Because I can, I guess.'
'Oh, yeah, sorry, I forgot. We're not all bloody blessed with a huge fucking hotel, are we?'
Angel hesitated. 'No, but some of us have friends that are.'
Spike looked up sharply. For a fraction of a second - not long, but long enough - he didn't see them as Spike and Angel, childe and sire, vampires with a long history of hatred behind them, but as men who could be friends. It was an odd shift in his sensibilities. He tipped his head on one side and looked at Angel carefully. 'Friends?'
'Well… I don't see us as enemies anymore. There's no basis for that, given you can't… feed.' A slight smile played over Angel's lips, and Spike knew he was thinking about the impotence mistake once more. He couldn't help but smile a little himself, and for the first time that night, Angel relaxed a little. 'That's better. Hello, Spike.'
'Yeah, fuck you too, Angel. So, you're serious? I come to LA and stay with you for a few days.'
'What would I do?'
Angel shrugged. 'What you do here. Whatever you want. It's LA, Spike; you used to like it there.'
'Yeah. I did. Sort of outgrew it though.'
'It's changed. Come and see.'
'What would your little groupies say?'
Angel pursed his lips. 'Do you care?'
'Do you is rather more to the point.'
'If Buffy and Co. can accept you, I think my friends can.'
Spike suddenly shook himself as if he'd begun to fall into a seductive dream. 'Jeez. What a crock. I can't come; I told you, got things to do.'
Angel looked annoyed for a minute. 'Like your life is so important, Spike.' He immediately looked contrite. 'You know that didn't come out like I meant.'
To Spike's own amazement, he didn't rise to the first insult, but heard the sincerity in the apology. ''S okay. And you're right… normally it's all filled with time-wasting crap… but….' He thought once more of the robot stuffed in his boot. It was locked. The car was relatively secure… why not? 'Okay.'
'Okay, I'll come to LA. For a few days. Little 'oliday like.'
Angel looked down and resumed sipping his whisky, but a genuine smile of pleasure twitched at his lips. Spike watched him and chuckled. The sound startled him, and he rubbed tiredly at his eyes. 'You must lead one incredibly sad life, Angel, if you're pleased at getting me as a houseguest.'
Angel stood up and offered Spike his hand. It was just a casual gesture - or would have been, if they weren't both aware that every touch of Angel's that night had sent shivers of revulsion through Spike. Spike took a deep breath and allowed Angel to pull him to his feet. 'Fetch what you need. I'll get the car and meet you at the west gate to the cemetery.'
'No!' Spike avoided looking at Angel. 'I don't need anything. Let's just go now.'
Angel thought about the small bag he'd packed just to come to Sunnydale for one night. 'You must need….' Spare clothes, an alarm clock, moisturiser, hair gel, his own favourite brand of soap, toothbrush and toothpaste (sugar free), floss - mint and waxed - a book, a flashlight. All these crucial items flashed through Angel's mind, and he frowned, genuinely worried. Spike watched the expression flit across the dark features.
'Is this going to really worry you now?'
'Okay, then I'll fetch some stuff.'
Angel nodded, relieved. Spike shook his head patronisingly. 'Come on, Tosser; come with me; it won't take long to throw in what I'm gonna bring.'
Angel nodded, and they went out through the throng together. They both sighed with relief when they got outside and began to walk companionably side-by-side. Spike paused to light a cigarette, and for a brief moment, relived the moment in the old mansion when he'd shared one with the robot. He shivered as bile rose once again in his throat. Without waiting for Angel, he stomped off in a bad mood toward his crypt. Angel - very aware of the sudden mood change but mystified as to its cause - followed thoughtfully behind. When he climbed slowly down the ladder behind his childe, Angel nearly reeled from shock.
Even Spike stood still, as if slightly bewildered by the state of the place. He remembered tidying up. He'd stripped the bed. In his shock and haste, he'd clearly not seen the bloodstained mattress, the blood-smeared walls, the broken glass everywhere, the smashed bar, and the handcuffs still attached to the bedrail. The whole place stank of blood and something else. Something Angel could not quite place. It smelt like the tide at night on the beaches of LA: damp, musky, with a hint of human pollution.
Spike gave a small glance over his shoulder to see how Angel was taking the wreckage, then bent and pulled an old, scuffed leather holdall from under the bed. He stuffed in some clothes then added a book that lay on an old box in one corner. 'Let's go.'
Angel didn't argue and hastily went back up the ladder. Just before they got outside into the clean air, he put his arm across the door, careful, this time, not to touch Spike. He thought about the evidence of torture he'd just witnessed, not sure what else he'd been seeing. 'Just tell me if it was voluntary, Spike. Did she ask for it?'
Spike stepped back. Angel repeated his question then added softly, 'I don't care that you play your games still; I don't understand how that chip thing of yours works, but just tell me, was she a demon and was it voluntary?'
So wrong, on so many counts…. Spike's stomach began to churn, and the whisky he'd consumed earlier rose hot in his throat. He pushed Angel aside and staggered out into the night, vomiting nosily to one side of the crypt. Angel followed him out, surprised at this reaction and playing back the scene that had greeted them below. He was missing something but had a feeling he was not going to be enlightened by Spike. He waited until Spike was lighting a cigarette with a shaky hand then said, 'Let's just go. I dislike this place more every time I come here.'
Spike looked up, surprised. It wasn't like the Angel he remembered to let something go so easily. He nodded gratefully, and as Angel was about to move away, said under his breath, 'I didn't hurt anyone, Angel, 'k? No one got… hurt.'
Angel turned and looked carefully at Spike's expression. He blinked slowly. 'I think you're lying, Spike. I think someone got very badly hurt, but for some reason he can't tell me why.' With that, he hefted Spike's small bag onto his shoulder and strode off toward his car.
Spike watched the slow motion flowing and swirling of the coat that he had always found so amusing and wondered what Angel would say or do if he actually told him the truth.