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Chapter 8

Spike waited until he heard the water go off, and then went back out into the hallway to wait for Angel to emerge. He did so, rubbing his freshly washed hair and holding a towel around his waist. He paused and looked at Spike, slowly lowering his hand. He offered Spike the towel he had been using for his hair. 'We're short.'

Spike shrugged and put out his hand. They touched, and Spike did not pull away. Angel snagged him closer, entwining their fingers. He began to play with them, rubbing his thumb against Spike's rings. He stared intently at their hands, not raising his eyes to Spike's face, his expression clouded and heavy. Spike tipped his head on one side and watched the expression for a while then said, 'I'll stay up here for a bit, yeah? You go down alone.'

Angel did not seem to reply, but watching him intently as he was, Spike saw an infinitesimal nod of gratitude and relief. Spike disengaged his fingers and gave Angel a small condescending pat on his arm. Angel pouted and still kept his face lowered, but he said very quietly, 'I don't want them to make me make you leave.'

Spike frowned. 'Could they?'

'If they thought you were going to affect me as Darla did, yes. They'd have the right.'

'Am I?'

At that, Angel gave a small, dark chuckle and looked up, and the expression in his eyes drilled into Spike with repressed desire. This was not just Angel; this was Angelus, and he saw from that look that they both wanted him. Spike raised an eyebrow provocatively, and Angel groaned. He snatched once more at the fingers and began to play with them as if that was all the touch he would allow himself. 'They can't know about this.'

'Know what?'

Angel smiled at the disingenuous expression, and Spike was tempted to say, 'No, I'm serious. What?' for he felt confusion about what was actually happening between them and the doubt swirled around, muddying the waters of his need for this man.

Angel just gave a small, rueful laugh. 'I don't know either, Spike.' Spike smiled in gratitude for the shared confusion and in pleasure that Angel could still read him so well when he wanted to.

He pulled his hand away, straightened the towel around Angel's waist with a mock solemnity and said, 'I'm just here on holiday, Pet. I'll lounge around and not get in your way.'

Angel nodded. 'Okay.'

'Go. They'll think you're dead or something.'

Angel smiled at the weak joke and moved away. 'Can't be that hard to fool them, can it?'

Good as his word, Spike did not appear for some hours, and when he finally emerged into the lobby, no one took much notice of his presence. He smiled at their lowered heads and feeling pleased with life, wandered into the kitchen to get some food. He froze in the doorway. Angel was inside, perched on the table, talking on his cell phone. Spike suddenly felt a knot of tension harden in his belly. His hands suddenly felt clammy, and he rubbed them distractedly on his jeans. He felt himself flush and wondered if the effect reddened his pale skin. Angel seemed to sense him just as Spike's blood was at its height, for he slowly stopped talking and lifted his face. He blinked once and seemed to want to carry on the conversation, but he was frowning as if he had lost its thread. Spike began to back out, but he collided with one of the humans coming in, and he heard a quiet English voice ask him if he wanted some tea. He had to come further into the kitchen. He stood as far away from Angel as he could, but he got in the way of the kettle, so he got moved. Angel finished his call, and Wesley spoke to him, but he found it hard to form a reply. He sat down on a chair, and with nowhere else much to go, Spike sat on the other one. They both stared resolutely at Wesley and responded with great concentration to what he was saying.

Spike couldn't work out how the Englishman's face had changed into Angel's hands, but it had, for he found himself staring at them. He sensed a mug being put in front of him and mechanically said his thanks. Then the hands began to rise, taking tea to Angel's lips. He could not look away, and his gaze rose inch by inch to Angel's face. He nearly fell into the dark brown eyes that seemed to be swallowing him whole. The faintest remains of the Englishman's voice drifted away altogether, and then Spike was in a very quiet place where he could hear his long dead heartbeat fading, where he could see only those eyes waiting for him, and he had the sense that they had been waiting a very long time.

Angel blinked, and the moment was lost, but Spike rose and backed clumsily into the counter, and then bent over the sink as if getting himself some water. He heard the watcher leave, and then there was just the sound of a receding heartbeat.

He felt strong hands on his waist and an urgent mouth against his bared neck. He pushed into the nuzzling with desperation and whispered, 'I want you.'

He felt Angel nod and felt sharp teeth biting into him. The hands slid around to his front and began to unzip him, and once more, he felt Angel rocking into him. He arched his neck back and put his hands around behind Angel, holding him on.

They both sensed a heartbeat returning, and with supreme effort, Angel pulled away and made as if examining the contents of the fridge. Spike stayed bent over the sink as Cordelia came in. She went to the cupboard and took out a clean mug. She looked from one to the other with slightly squinted eyes and said, pleased with her sagacity, 'Make it up, yeah. Don't want two broody vamps fighting all day.'

Spike felt a small hysterical laugh rise in his throat but just nodded. Angel swung away from his support and said to no one in particular, 'I need to kill something.'

'Nice, Angel, nice.'

He went out, and Spike stayed at the sink until Cordy left. He straightened himself up and fastened what needed fastening then walked with an almost beating heart back into the lobby. He sat on one of the couches and watched Angel. He knew Angel knew he was being watched. It was harmless. What harm could come of just watching?

Angel broke the fax machine. He spilt the coffee over some papers. He answered the phone too aggressively and got hung up on. He annoyed everyone to the extent that he was told to go and find something to do. He turned despairingly to the weapons' cabinet and began to take the swords and axes out and lay them on the floor for cleaning. Gunn glanced over at the silent figure on the couch and said, 'Boss could use your help.'

Spike's eyes swivelled over to him then back to Angel. He rose mechanically and went over to the kneeling figure. He crouched alongside Angel. 'Do you want a hand?'

Angel looked up, and there was something in Spike's tone and choice of words that suddenly made him laugh. Spike lowered his head and chuckled, and the tension that threatened to tear them apart dissipated and left just an intimate ease. Angel passed over a sword with a murmured, 'You okay?'

Spike raised an eyebrow and replied equally quietly, 'If I had a pulse, I'd be dead.' The logic of this made Angel chuckle again.

Without looking up he said, 'We're being watched closely.'

'Why did he suggest I help you then?'

'It's what they do: test me.'


Angel didn't look directly at him, but Spike felt the dark eyes on him, nevertheless. 'No. You are wrong, Spike. Totally wrong. They protect me.'

'They protect themselves.'

'In the long run, I think it's one and the same thing.'

'I don't get it. Seems to me you'd be better off without them like bleeding nannies around you all the time. Least we'd get to….' He trailed off and busiest himself with the cleaning.

Angel coughed uncomfortably and rubbed particularly viciously along a blade.

'When do they leave for the day?'

Angel risked a glance at his face. 'I work at night, Spike.'

'Oh, course. I knew that.'

Angel glanced surreptitiously toward the humans and put his hand to the oil at the same time as Spike. At the small touch, his words came at a rush. 'You tensed, Spike. I felt it. Why? Tell me. I want to… go further. Hell, I want to now. You have to tell me.'

Spike gritted his teeth and snatched the oil away to his side of the pile of weapons. 'I can't….'

'Yes, you can. I've been there, remember? Darla used a spell on me, and she would come to me at night. Make me do things, feel things….'

'It's not the same, Angel. Not the same at all….'

'Why? Tell me.'

'Because it wasn't a….' Spike thought he'd said the word 'spell', but he couldn't be sure, for suddenly, all hell broke loose in the quiet lobby. A loud crashing sound preceded something flying through the window. Wesley shouted a warning; something exploded, and then there was a brilliant light. Spike heard Angel shouting; he felt himself being flattened under something, and then a deep burning began on his skin. There was noise everywhere, and he was being dragged and then thrown down some stairs. He disentangled himself from whatever was covering him and found himself in the basement with Angel. 'What the FUCK!'

Angel ignored him and cast off a coat that was covering his head. He went to the stairs and shouted up, 'Is it clear?'

Fred's voice drifted down. 'Yes.'

Angel ran up the stairs two at a time and burst back into the lobby. Spike nearly skidded into him he was so close behind. They looked around in wonder at… nothing. The four humans were bending over a small box on the floor. Angel went over slightly warily. 'Anyone hurt?'

Wesley looked up. 'It was just sunlight, Angel. It couldn't hurt us.'

Spike came over and toed the box with a thoughtful expression. 'Some bleedin' holiday this turned out to be.'

Wesley bowed his head, grateful for the small ease in tension. Spike raised an eyebrow at Angel. 'Anyone want to tell me what's going on?'

Gunn answered for Angel. 'Just a happy day at the even happier Angel Investigations.'

Seeing Spike's face, Angel added, 'I have dangerous enemies, Spike. This was just a reminder that I can't relax - even in my own home.'

'Sunlight? In a box?'

'They have even more powerful allies.'

'Bloody hell! And hey - who the fuck pushed me down the stairs? Cus I'm telling you….' Fred began to giggle, and Angel put a hand on Spike's arm in gratitude.

'You sure you're okay?'

Spike nodded then said neutrally, 'This is not normal. This is not how it should be for vampires. You stake us. You don't come up with elaborate plots to… obliterate us.' He suddenly looked up with a look of dawning comprehension. 'This is personal, isn't it? This isn't about vampires, is it? This is about you.'

Angel tried to deny it, but Wesley interrupted. 'They are a law firm, Spike, and they've tapped into some ancient evils and use and abuse their power as they see fit. Angel has become a dangerous enemy for them. They were the ones that brought Darla back.'

Spike had not taken his eyes off Angel. 'They're trying to kill you?'

Angel pouted.

'They've tried before - this wasn't the first time?'

Angel increased the depth of his pout.

'And there's just you and….' He looked around at the faces watching him. 'Them?'

Angel nodded as well at that.

'Bloody hell! Bloody fucking hell, Angel!' He looked around desperately. 'Look at this fucking place - all glass and shit. Why don't you hole up underground somewhere - where it's safe and you'd be on your own territory? Jesus, any minute they could….'

'Calm down.'

'CALM DOWN! Someone's just thrown fucking sunlight at me, and you say calm down?'

'They were throwing it at me actually.'

'Leave. Now. You have to leave LA now and do this mission shit of yours somewhere else!'

He sensed more than saw Cordelia staring at him. He shifted his gaze from Angel's rather hangdog, guilty expression. 'What?'

Cordelia gritted her teeth. 'I was there when YOU nearly killed him.'

Spike hesitated. He felt some emotion wafting off Angel that he couldn't immediately define. He took a wild guess and said more cautiously, 'I don't give a fuck what happens to him, but if my sire's gonna be done in, I don't want it to be fucking lawyers. Jeez, I've got some family pride left.'

Angel hunched further into himself, waiting for the humans to see through this blatant lie and accuse them of sharing Angelus-inducing moments of true. To his immense relief, they didn't appear to detect the lie he heard so clearly. He smiled softly: they hadn't had the benefit of a night in bed with Spike, getting… better acquainted. He heard Spike cough quietly and looked up, realising that he'd been grinning. He returned his features to brood mode and glanced out at the approaching night. 'Let's go and thank them for their thoughtful present.'

Wesley and Gunn nodded their agreement, and they began to select weapons. Spike picked up an axe, but Angel took it off him. 'Visit to the human members of the firm, tonight. Not you.' Spike clenched his jaw and wondered, not for the first time, whether impotence was the right term for his condition after all. Before he let his emotion show too much, however, he felt another stab of almost overwhelming affection for Angel so only shrugged and swallowed his furious embarrassment. Overwhelming affection seemed to growing exponentially when he saw the tiny band leaving. He desperately wanted to speak to Angel alone but could think of no excuse to do so. Finally he said, as if to the humans, 'Crap idea, maybe?'

They looked at him witheringly.

'If they can do this….'

Wesley hefted an axe over his shoulder. 'This was just playing with us. This was to remind us that we are never safe.'

Spike brightened. 'Exactly! There ya go. Never safe. So, don't go out.'

Everyone ignored him, but politely so, as if sorry that someone else was being pulled into their desperate plight.

As they left the lobby, Angel gave him a long look and said quite neutrally, 'We'll continue that earlier conversation when I get back, Spike. I think you were about to tell me something I need to hear.'

Spike pouted and turned his back on the door and went (with what he hopped was a stubborn stomp) up the stairs.

It seemed an age that he lay on the bed in the dark. The hotel moved and shifted around him only adding to his conviction that the place was haunted. He desperately wanted Angel to return, and he desperately wanted him not to so the words would not have to be spoken. Inevitably, Angel did return. Spike heard voices in the lobby. He heard muted farewells. He heard lights being turned off, and then he sensed Angel standing in the doorway looking at him.

'Can I come in?'

Spike shrugged and sat against the headboard. Angel sat on the end of the bed and put his hands wearily over his face. 'Long day.'

'Let's go to sleep then, yeah? Both tired out like.'

'Tell me.'

Spike wrapped his arms around his knees and rested his forehead on them. 'Some geek in Sunnydale made a robot, and it was so good - so lifelike - it fooled even the slayer, and it fooled me. And I wanted one. So I had one too. Of you. An' it sort of short-circuited. Got nasty. Hit me and stuff. So I destroyed it. That's all. Honest.'

He risked a glance up. Angel was frowning at his boots. 'Why me?'

Spike snatched his eyes away. 'Cus I could. Cus I wanted to piss Buffy around.'

'Was it good?'

'It was so like you that….'

'Nooo….' Spike heard a change in Angel's tone and looked up sharply. 'Was it… good? Did you enjoy it?'

Spike was silent for a moment. 'No. I didn't enjoy it.'

'You're lying. I can smell him on you. It's what's been there all this time. I didn't recognise it.' He turned and reached for Spike's leg. 'You tensed because I'm not him.'

Spike narrowed his eyes. 'Go away.'

'You invited me in.'

'I thought you were Angel.'

'I can be.'

Spike mouth was dry, but he said steadily, 'Go away.'

Angel smiled. 'Make me, Bitch.'

Once more, the inevitability of the dream hit Spike; it didn't seem to help his fear much that, this time, he knew he was dreaming. He looked down as he always did but his penis was not missing, it was shrivelled and burnt as if that part of him had been exposed to sunlight. His visitor laughed and climbed slowly over Spike until he straddled him. 'Last night was just a dream too, Spike. You know Angel. Do you think he wants your body? He's spent one hundred and sixty years ignoring it, why now? It was just a dream, Spike.'

Spike jerked open his eyes and for the first time, woke from the dream without assistance. It seemed like a good sign, but it didn't stop him from being profoundly disturbed by it once more, pissed also that he'd wasted his whole confession. The room seemed darker. The hotel noises seemed even more threatening. Spike strained his ears listening for Angel.

When Angel returned, he hung up his weapons and went almost trance like up the stairs. He paused in Spike's doorway, frowning then went to his own room. Spike lay sprawled, deeply asleep in his bed, a sheet twisted loosely around his body.

Angel stayed a lifetime leaning on the doorframe, just looking. It had been such a long time since he'd been given anything that reminded him his struggle was worthwhile.

He smiled, stripped off and slipped under the sheet. He sensed Spike open his eyes and heard a faint grunt of welcome. He turned on his belly and folded his arms under his head, in his now favourite watch-Spike position. He sensed Spike tense once more and said softly, 'So, tell me?'

A pause, and then an odd reply was mumbled out. 'I already did, only you weren't there.'

Angel hesitated. 'You've had the dream again?' He felt an anger he could not define at the thought of his childe being so vulnerable. Spike turned and, as last night, mirrored Angel's position.

'I woke though. Yey for me.'

Angel nodded distractedly and opened his mouth to ask once more, but Spike put a bed-warm palm over his lips and shook his head. 'Not again. Hearing it out loud only made it worse.'

Angel frowned, but it turned involuntarily into a huge yawn, and he smiled apologetically. 'I'm going for a shower.'

Spike rolled his eyes. 'You do wash a lot.'

Angel poked him. 'And you don't.'

Spike raised an eyebrow, turned over and made a show of snuggling back down. Angel gritted his teeth and had the fastest shower of his entire life.

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