Angel would never admit to the fact that he liked shopping, but as someone who owned too many clothes of excellent taste and quality, he knew he could hardly deny it. He'd never shopped for someone else before, and the experience was extremely odd. He wondered - idly, waiting outside yet another changing room - whether he'd have found it odd shopping for Buffy or Darla and concluded that it would not only have been odd, but rather boring too. At least he got to browse at the same time, and as Spike seemed basically uninterested in what he got as long as it fitted, Angel could indulge his own shopping habit without a constant requirement from him to comment on what Spike was selecting. Only once or twice did he look at something and hand it to Spike with a short, 'Just get it. Trust me.' Spike took most of these semi-commands in good part, and by the time they returned to the hotel, he had far more packages and bags than he felt he could ever really need. He got everything out and laid it over his bed, looking at things with his head tipped thoughtfully on one side. Angel brought in a last few bags and looked at him silently.
'That's the most clothes I've ever owned in one place. You sure you can afford all this?'
Angel laughed. 'No. That's the best part of it.'
Spike smiled. 'You should just nick it, like I do.'
'Yes, but I don't want to wear Salvation Army rejects, Spike.'
'Cheers, Mate. I'll remember that.'
'So. Do you like it all?'
Spike looked down at the collection. 'It doesn't seem real.'
'That's not an answer.'
'No, I know. Only it's like this holiday. I'm enjoying it, but it's not real.'
'Was your life all that real in Sunnydale lately?'
Spike hesitated then shrugged slightly without replying. Suddenly, he reached up and pulled his T-shirt off over his head. 'Burn it.'
Spike looked pained. 'Tosser, I'm just sick of it, and I don't want to be able to go back.'
Angel felt Spike was not really talking about the T-shirt but, slightly distractedly, he picked it off the floor. Spike stood naked to the waist eyeing up the various new shirts.
Spike nodded. 'Yeah, I know. Chip's been hard.'
'Weren't your fault.'
'No, I'm sorry I've not spoken to you sooner about it. Come to see you. Taken an interest.'
'You had a good reason, I guess.'
'It wasn't just that. I knew Willow was probably mistaken.'
Spike turned in the process of unbuttoning a chocolate-brown linen shirt. 'Why then?'
'Because I feared just this, I think.'
'What? You feared me?'
'Yes. In a way. I feared me with you. You didn't see me with Darla. I lost it.'
'You always did with her. Hardly the same, Mate. You don't like me.'
'I didn't like what you did, Spike. There's a difference. Now you can't do it anymore.'
'Still want to though, and you're wrong, Angel. You didn't like me before you had that soul. Angelus hated me.'
'No, he, I, didn't.'
Spike looked closely at Angel's face, but for some reason, despite what he saw there, he decided not to debate the point. He merely gave his most irritating shrug, 'Whatever. Now, you gonna piss off and let me get dressed?'
Angel nodded. 'Be ready for seven?'
Spike shuddered. 'Too human. I'll be ready when I'm ready, and I'll just be there. More vampire-like.'
'Okay, but the movie's at eight so be in the lobby for seven.'
With a grin, Angel left.
Spike sat on the edge of the bed and let out the breath he hadn't known he was holding, berated himself for being too disgustingly human, but sighed as well. All afternoon during the shopping trip, his dream had hung around him, disturbing him. He wasn't stupid and could see quite well why he might dream that he was female - as unpleasant as that thought was. What disturbed him far more was that having established the dream was merely his rape-induced, subconscious, repressed fears escaping in sleep, why the hell should this include the fact that he had always loved and always wanted Angel, unless that too were true? There was the odd way the robot had expressed it in the dream, too. It exactly described the obsessive way that Spike knew he wanted to be loved. He'd wanted it with Drusilla; he'd wanted it with Buffy: to be the first with them, to have them obsessed with him, to be their centre, their anchor, their desire. Spike pouted again and fingered the shirt absentmindedly. It had not escaped his notice that he'd just thought about his obsession for the slayer in the past tense. Suddenly he flung the shirt from him in anger and fumbled for his cigarettes. He tried the pocket of his jeans then dug angrily into his duster when he couldn't find them. Slowly, he withdrew his hand and looked down at one of the small plastic boxes. He clenched his jaw and pushed his knuckles hard against his eyes.
It had never been about Buffy.
None of it.
Spike flung himself up and stuffed the chip into his pocket. 'Nothin'. Thought you'd gone.'
Angel held out some toiletries wordlessly. 'I thought you might want these. What's wrong, Spike?'
'I can't stay, Angel. I've been thinkin', and I need to get back. This ain't me, and it ain't you. We're too old for this. Too far gone down our own paths to turn around and do this.'
Angel sat down on the end of the bed and regarded Spike thoughtfully. 'I'm finding it difficult having you here too, Spike. You disturb me, and I can't say why.'
Relieved, Spike sat down too. 'Yeah. It's never been like this for us. Last time I saw you, I tried to kill you.'
'Time before that too.'
'Oh yeah.' He paused. 'Time 'fore that as well.'
Angel laughed. 'You must be really shit at killing me.'
'Maybe you're just too good for me.'
'Maybe you never really tried all that hard.'
Spike looked at him, echoes of his dream and his fear about Angel bouncing around his reply as he spoke, 'I think you may be right.'
Angel spoke slowly and carefully, and as he did so, he placed his hand equally slowly on Spike's arm. 'Seeing as we've just established we've never really been effective enemies, then I'd like you to stay to see if we can discover what it's been that's kept us circling around each other for… nearly two hundred years.'
Spike looked down at the hand on his arm. 'What is this?'
Angel smiled. 'You know what this is, Spike; you've always known, I think. I chose you, remember? You felt it then: my passion for you.' Angel leaned over and slowly and very precisely licked up Spike's chest, swirling his tongue around the soft brown nipple.
Spike arched back as if Angel's touch burned him. 'Stop it.'
Angel pushed him onto his back and rose over him, a dark desperation in his eyes.
'How do you think I stand it, having you so close to me like this all the time? Jesus, Spike, Darla drove me insane with lust for her… but you, you….' He leant into Spike's neck and bit lightly at his most sensitive of skin. Spike arched his whole body up at the touch. Angel moaned and began to tear at their jeans. Spike started to fight in earnest, shouting at Angel for him to get off - that this was not love in any definition, and that he didn't want it. Angel's lips silenced him. They were soft and warm. He felt something pressing into him and wrenched his face away to look down. It was close to fifteen inches long and the thickness of a baseball bat at the hitting end. Spike cried out. Angel laughed and began to stroke himself, 'Come on, Slugger, feel my big bat.'
'Get that away from me.'
'Why, baby? Look, you've had me already….' Spike couldn't help it; he didn't want to look down, but Angel's words seemed to force an inevitable compliance. He let his eyes travel down his own body, and once more his penis was missing. Once more there were only folds, but now they lay torn and parted, exposing a hole that bled and bled and pumped its human lifeblood out into the sheets. The blood was deep red and devoid of the obscene life it had carried before. It was rich with human music; it sang to him. He felt a deep shuddering in his body and heard Angel's whispered encouragement to his orgasm. He came, but he ejaculated blood from his mouth, and he wanted to put his hands to his lips to tear and rip at the flesh, but Angel held him down once more. Suddenly, he felt a sharp blow on the side of his face and with one hand released, put it immediately to his mouth. It came away with a faint trace of blood, but nothing like the shooting release he'd felt there.
Angel put a hand back on Spike's cheek, this time gentle and caressing. 'Sorry. I couldn't wake you.' He climbed off and sat next to the shaking body. Spike sat up and looked down. He was still dressed in his pants, a brown shirt crumpled in his hand. He couldn't see the bottle of shampoo and the soap that Angel had brought him. He grabbed Angel's shoulders. 'Did you bring me some shit for a shower?'
Angel looked puzzled, but shook his head. Spike didn't know whether to be glad or not; he could not remember what he had said to Angel in the dream and what before it, for he could not be too sure exactly when the dream had begun.
'You gonna tell me what's going on?'
Spike scrunched his legs up slightly and lit the cigarette he'd possibly been looking for in a dream. He looked at Angel. 'I'm having bad dreams.'
Angel nodded and looked wise. 'Ah, that hadn't occurred to me.'
Spike gave a small self-deprecating smile. 'Sorry. Only they're more real than real, ya know?' He did a small re-think. 'Course, 'til they ain't so real… like when I'm a….' He gritted his teeth, saw nothing but friendship in Angel's expression, so added, 'When I'm a bint, for instance.'
Angel raised his eyebrows fractionally. 'That would be… disturbing.'
'And then there's you, course.'
'Me? In these dreams? Not a woman though.'
Spike grinned at Angel's expression and leant back against the headboard. 'No. The opposite. You were fifteen inches in that one.' He waited for the expression to change, and was not disappointed with the result.
'You dream about me erect? Spike, is there something you want to tell me?' Said only as a small joke to ease the unfamiliarity of this intimacy, Angel sat back sharply at Spike's laconic reply.
'I don't know. That's why I'm scared.'
Angel leant his elbows on his legs and looked thoughtfully at his childe. 'And this is connected to what happened in Sunnydale with your pretend me?'
'Something happened between you and this… phantom me?'
'Jeez.' Angel ran his hands distractedly thought his hair. 'I'm sinking here, Spike; this is way beyond my ken.'
Spike swallowed deeply. 'Let's go out.'
Angel shook his head at the rapid change of subject. 'What?'
'I don't want to tell you, so let's just go out. I want that instead.'
'Okay, Spike. I'm sorry.'
Spike frowned. 'I've told you, Angel, it's not your fault.'
Angel got up to leave and paused in the doorway. 'I can't help but wonder why you felt you had to conjure up a spirit me in the first place. It does not speak well for my… connection with you.' He banged his hand just once on the doorframe and left.
Spike felt the loss of his presence acutely and shuddered in the now empty room.
They were both unnaturally silent while they walked to the bar that Angel recommended. Spike stood it for about ten minutes then suddenly grabbed Angel's arm, stopping him in his tracks. 'I'm glad I'm here, Angel. Thank you.'
Angel looked surprised but pleased, and smiled. 'I'm glad too. I have a sense that I need to… make things up to you somehow. That you're doing me good being here.'
Spike smiled and placed a hand over Angel's coat, patting to find his wallet. 'Come on then, you can start with buying me copious amounts of alcohol. I'm in shock. Fifteen inches….' He sauntered off, and Angel jogged to catch up.
'Darla cast a spell on me and used to come to me in the night.'
Spike raised an eyebrow. 'Thank you for sharing that.'
Angel grimaced. 'What I mean is, you may still be under some magical influence from that spook you conjured.'
Spike shrugged. 'Yeah, maybe.'
'But you don't think so.'
'No. I don't. It's just dreams, Angel. I've had bad dreams before after… bad things happened.' He hesitated then added, 'Remember?'
Angel was silent for a moment. 'I thought you'd forgotten that; I didn't want to remind you.'
'I still have that dream sometimes. One hundred and sixty three years after finding myself in that bloody coffin, and I still dream about it.'
Spike almost said, 'Not your fault' automatically but bit it back just in time.
Angel laughed but there was no humour in the sound. 'Yeah.' He was silent for a while as they crossed some dark streets then said, 'So, it was bad?'
'Don't probe, Angel, please.'
'Okay, but I still think it might be magic. I could get Wesley to….'
'No!' Spike turned to him. 'Please don't discuss this with your humans, Angel. Please.'
'Can I just mention the fifteen inches?'
Spike stepped back then laughed and suddenly hit Angel with a friendly punch. Angel caught the punch and, off balance, Spike was pulled against him. Spike could not miss how good Angel smelled, it was such a contrast to the metallic nighttime visitations. He didn't pull away but instead, raised his face slightly to smell at Angel's neck. It made him moan very quietly. Suddenly, two strong hands came up and into his hair, and he was held tightly, pressed into Angel's neck for some minutes while they just stood in the dark. Finally, Angel released him and stepped back. He stared at Spike to see his reaction then pulled him gently forward once more and placed a slow, lingering kiss into his hair. 'Blood and family, Spike. Thanks for being here.'
Spike nodded, but just as Angel began to turn to continue their walk, he snatched at his face and placed a swift, but hard kiss on Angel's lips. 'Blood and family, Angel. Thank you.'
Angel opened his mouth but seemed to forget what he was going to say, he only frowned and turned to walk on. Spike swung into step beside him and within a few minutes they were at the bar. It was heaving with people enjoying themselves, and Spike ploughed his way to a quiet corner while Angel went to get drinks. When he returned, he once more had bought bottles, and Spike grinned and helped himself quickly. With a few whiskies inside him, he felt distinctly better. He lit up, leant back and amused himself watching the humans.
Angel repeated it. 'Power. I think it's all about power. You miss it, so you dream about it. Or me, representing power.'
Spike took a sip. 'Oh, go on; this is fascinating.'
'That military group neutered you - so to speak, sorry - they were powerful, and they took your power from you. So, when you dream, you dream of a power you once knew.'
'Good, Angel, that's good. Crap, but well thought out crap.' He wanted to add, "I'm dreaming about you cus a robotic you shafted me in the arse for three days", but as he would have to admit to the existence of the robot to confess this, he had to refrain. He so desperately wanted to tell Angel - as if in that telling some of the pain would lessen. How could he make Angel see just how bad it had been, if he did not admit to the existence of the robot? Being raped by a ghost hardly compared to that eleven-inch, electro-slag, depleted uranium cock up his arse. He looked at Angel's offended expression and felt a stab of affection that confused him. He patted Angel's hand. 'Good try, Luv. Thanks. Let's get plastered 'fore the movie, yeah?'
Angel chuckled. 'Okay.'
It was the perfect choice: mindless, violent, full of special effects and gratuitous sex, and very little plot at all. They both thoroughly enjoyed it; Angel mainly because he sensed Spike was and felt that he needed this mindless release.
The meal was excellent too. Angel knew Spike ate human food quite happily, but had forgotten just how much he could eat and at what speed. He watched, bemused as Spike downed course after course without pause, and chewed slowly on what to him was tasteless filler. 'I think you must taste this differently to me.'
Spike looked up, his mouth full, and swallowed. 'Course. Taste blood different too.'
Angel looked puzzled. Spike rolled his eyes. 'What do you like best? Young virgins?'
Angel blanched. 'I don't discuss this kind of….'
'Bollocks, Angel. If you think about it, you can talk about it.'
'But if you dream about it you can't?'
'Touché. Okay. We'll drop the young-blond-virgins-blood-lust conversation.'
Angel toyed slowly with the food on his plate. 'That was you once.'
Spike nearly choked on his next mouthful and took a long drink of beer. 'I was NOT a virgin when you ate me.'
'Yes, you were.'
'Not in my head.'
Angel chuckled. 'In my mouth you were.'
There was something vaguely disturbing about that comment beyond the demonic implication, and Spike frowned a little. 'I wish I had some sort of code - like you tap something - to know when I'm dreaming.'
'Are they this real?'
'Yeah, until the conversation gets even more weird.'
Spike tried to look nonchalant. 'As in you tell me you've always loved me and wanted me. Or telling me that I've made you my obsession my whole unlife. Just weird shit like that.'
'Shit. Consider me tapping madly here, Spike.'
They finished the meal, and Angel led the way to another bar. Once more, he bought in considerable supplies, and they found a table and began some serious drinking.
Angel watched Spike for a while then said carefully, 'Maybe it's like my power theory.'
Spike paused, but did not look up from his glass. 'Go on….'
'Well, maybe I was wrong. It's not absence of power making you dream of power - of me - but absence of… connection, love.'
Spike lit a cigarette and squinted at Angel through the early, rich smoke. 'With all due respect, Sire, I don't see why absence of love would make me think about you. Even you can't claim that love was ever feature of our relationship.'
'Not in any human sense, no. But we were bound together by blood, and we were family. Perhaps you're missing that.'
'If I am, why now?'
'Why did Darla get such power over me so easily? I don't know, Spike. Perhaps you're just lonely. There must have been a reason why you cast a spell and made a fake me.'
'I told myself I was doing it to piss Buffy off.'
Spike looked up. 'Now I'm not so sure, but….'
'If it's true… like you say, lonely, having these shit dreams about you… then I'm pretty shafted whether I'm asleep or awake, aren't I? Cus it ain't true.'
'Do you want it to be true?'
Before Angel got a reply to his question - asked while pretending he didn't really care one way or the other - they were both startled when two girls slipped into the spaces next to them: a dark haired girl next to Spike and a blond next to Angel. They chorused together, 'Hi!' then, grinning, the blond said, 'I'm Honey, and this is Tasha. We thought you'd like to buy us a drink.'
Angel's gentlemanly nature warred with a strange anger that he could not explain. It was quite natural that the girls should come over; he should applaud their boldness. Any other man in the bar would have been bowled over by these two stunners appearing at his side - so why did he feel like telling them to piss off? He didn't say it. He waved over two more glasses and poured them both a drink. 'Hello, Honey. Tasha. I'm Angel, and that's Spike.' He did not look up and catch Spike's eye.
Honey came closer and pressed her bare thigh against Angel's jeans as she chatted to him. She was already drunk, which may have explained her boldness in the first place, but not unpleasantly so, and Angel had to admit she was good company. He could not help his eyes straying down to the soft glow of the surprisingly pale skin over her taut thigh. He could hear her heart beat and smell her arousal. It made him hard, and the sensation was disturbing. He began to wonder whether the rest of her body was as pale. He wanted to run his hands over pale skin. He wanted her to be hard and muscular and began to press back with his thigh against hers. She immediately sensed the change in his reaction to her and grabbed her friend's arm. 'We've got to make a visit. Buy us another drink?'
Angel nodded distractedly and watched her backside sway away from him.
A groan brought him back. Spike put his forehead to the table for a moment, chuckling slightly. 'What the hell happened to glimpse of stocking being something shocking? She's just outlined what she wants to do to me and with what!'
Angel let out a sigh of relief. 'I thought it was just me. Are they real?'
Spike lifted his head. 'Jeez, are we sad or what? When's the last time you got shagged - and not by that crazy, dead bint of yours?'
'What? Oh, Christ. That was years ago!'
'No hope then for Honey's chastity tonight?'
'I'm surprised she's still dry now.'
Spike's eyes widened, but he laughed. 'And you own a hotel....'
Angel frowned. 'We can't.'
'And that would be why?'
'I don't know.'
'There ya go. Shh. They're coming.'
Angel suddenly had a bizarre desire to giggle, so swallowed the entire glass of whisky in one go. Honey and Tasha appeared to have mutually agreed on their strategy for the evening, and the atmosphere suddenly seemed extremely charged. No one was quite sure who mentioned that Angel owned an empty hotel, but it seemed no time at all before they were all walking as fast as the girls would allow toward the Hyperion. Spike and Tasha were in the lead, and Angel watched as Spike's hand slid slowly but surely up one slim leg, then out of view under her very short skirt. He followed the progress of the hand minutely, expecting to vicariously enjoy what Spike was feeling, but frowned in surprise when all he could concentrate on was the sensation of being touched by Spike. He actually jumped when a small warm hand slipped into his. He didn't want to hold the girl's hand but felt he had little choice. He walked quicker, not wanting to miss what was happening up front.
Suddenly, Spike and the other girl veered off into an alley. She pressed Spike against the wall and began to kiss him deeply. Honey giggled and urged Angel in after them and copied her friend. Angel felt as if he were drugged. He could not seem to participate, only observe the girl and what she did. He was hard, achingly so, but his erection was detached from his rational mind. He waited until her kisses descended to his neck and collarbone and then risked a quick glance across the small space between them to Spike. To his utter shock, Spike had his head turned too and was watching him. The girl, Tasha, had fallen to her knees and was rubbing Spike enthusiastically through his pants. Angel blinked and caught Spike's gaze. He looked more carefully. He saw nothing but a kind of sad desperation in Spike's eyes.
With a huge leap of faith, Angel held the girl off him. 'Stop it.'
Spike seemed to come back from a place a very long way away, but he blinked too, and then took hold of the girl's arms and eased her to her feet. 'Don't.'
Both girls looked at each other and shrugged, then linked arms, and the blond one said, 'Come on then; hotel'll be more comfortable anyway.'
Angel pursed his lips. 'No. Sorry. I've changed my mind.'
Honey reared back a little. 'This is a joke, right?'
Neither Angel nor Spike commented on this, but Spike chose this moment to wrinkle his nose slightly as he wiped at something on his neck. Suddenly, Honey slapped Angel and angrily pulled Tasha with her out of the alley. Just before they were out of sight, she turned and said distinctly, 'Should have known you two were fucking gay when I saw you.'