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Just An Insubstantial Trick of the Light - Chapter 3

Angel had only come to Spike's crypt to humiliate him. This was one of his favorite sports. He had heard Spike's astonishing confession with glee: more ammunition on him in one go than he could have dreamt of. So, when Spike had left to go home, he found out from Buffy where Spike lived and went there to wait for him.

A simple plan, but one in which he had not counted on coming under the spell of Spike's Angel. He was there in the crypt, his presence palpable. And it made Angel mad. How dare Spike prefer this Angel to him? His layers of guilt shifted to accommodate another guilty thought: he had not been a very good friend to Spike during the last few years, had not been a Sire and had certainly not been a lover, all three of which he had been once and remembered.

Angel was a complex and deep character. Or, at least, that’s how he wanted others to see him. On bad days, he had the overwhelming dread that he was nothing more than an Irish lout with a tendency to run to fat, with little education and who had a liking for viciousness and littleness that had thrived on being a demon. That was on really bad days.

He knew he was irresistible to most women. It was knowledge that worried and scared him. He knew he was equally irresistible to some men. But this knowledge made him even more uneasy. He was under no illusion about his sexual needs and desires. He needed sex all the time, and desired anything that moved, or had been moving within the last day or so. He prided himself on keeping this side of his character from everyone, especially Buffy, who conveniently fell for his 'I'm really just a complex, melancholy young man' act and had only found out his true nature due to an unfortunate foray into sex with him.

He had known it was a bad idea from the moment they started undressing. Nothing about curses or gypsies though; no, he had taken one look at Buffy's slim, naked body and wondered how he was to do anything worthwhile with that. The last time he had had sex had been a hundred years before with Spike. It had been violent, manic, vicious, bloody, painful, long, and absolutely incredible. Even Spike, who had once walked away from being hit by a slow moving steam train when he had fallen drunkenly on the line, even Spike, had had trouble walking for a week after that five hour, glorious pounding from Angelus. So Angelus' reappearance had had very little to do with a moment of perfect happiness, and a lot more to do with an overwhelming need to get away from the soft, sweet, female body and find some much needed relief.

Of course, Angel now foreswore all sex, and that almost drove him insane with suppressed desire. But he tried to see himself as a chaste, worthy warrior, fighting for the Right. This, of course, was only on good days: days when he wasn’t the fat, Irish peasant.

On some days, Angel felt he was only just holding it all together. This was not really surprising, considering his unusual history. He'd had a miserable childhood with a domineering father; he'd been kicked out… well, he'd left, same difference when you've no job, no prospects, and you get killed by a small blond vampire. He'd been a Master Vampire; he'd been cursed; he'd gotten his soul back; he'd lost it again; he'd been sent to hell; he'd survived hell; he'd had to leave his love; he'd had to become a detective and, finally, to cap it all, he'd had to work with Cordelia Chase. So, occasionally, he gave himself a little slack, and allowed himself to be a bit fucked up. Not that he disliked Cordelia. She was one of the few people who saw right through his 'nice young man' act. She ate, slept, and worked with a stake close to her heart and often told him to get over himself. This was good for Angel who did need to get over his previous, hideous, two hundred and fifty year life and unlife. It was just that, most of the time, he had no idea just how he was supposed to do this.

So, some of these thoughts had definitely been in his mind when he went to Sunnydale in answer to a request for help from Buffy. Turning up anywhere in his beautiful car helped him sustain his chaste warrior fantasy, and not fuel his Irish peasant nightmare. Buffy and the other girls always made him feel like a mysterious, dark, slightly menacing, avenging figure with a heart of gold. And he liked that. He especially liked it that they all thought his re-emergence as Angelus had been the result of a moment of pure happiness. He particularly liked the idea that they thought he could cause a moment of perfect happiness in anyone during sex. It spoke well of his technique.

He also liked going to Sunnydale, because he got to see Spike. He liked seeing Spike, because it always made him feel smug and superior and successful to see just how well he was coping with being a vampire in a human world, compared to Spike, who was usually drunk and always highly emotional.

He had been particularly delighted, therefore, to see Spike stomping in only a few moments after his arrival. Pleased to see that Spike was annoyed to see him, and transported beyond delight to be the recipient of Spike's passionate confession whilst rummaging in the fridge for blood.

He'd listened attentively, not wanting to disturb Spike's train of thought. So, he heard Spike declare his love for Angel, heard the underlying loneliness there, heard, distinctly, the promise of friendship and good demon sex that Spike offered. Most of all, he heard that Spike had, by now, become so unhinged, that he had not only created a fantasy Angel in his crypt, but that he thought he, Angel, was that insubstantial trick of the light.

But nothing in the entire speech delighted him as much as Spike's reaction to his amused reply.

He'd never seen Spike jump vertically two feet in the air and had, certainly, never seen him do it whilst producing a high-pitched squeal of terror. Angel was very pleased with himself and glad he'd come to Sunnydale.

This was going to be interesting.

Determined not to let promising Spike out of his sight, he had no choice but to follow him when he left.

He hated running. It was undignified and didn’t show off his features to their best advantage and made those deceitful thoughts about being too fat start to surface again. Nevertheless, he effortlessly kept up with his much younger prey and virtually ran side by side with him till they reached Sunnydale Main Street.

Now Angel was in a dilemma. He wanted to stop Spike but would never stoop to an unseemly display in front of all these humans. It just wasn't him. It would ruin his pants if he tackled Spike. He was positive Spike would resist such a tackle and there'd be fists and blood and ruined hair. Without being able to see in a mirror, it took him long enough as it was to do his hair. So he compromised and just ran along, too.

He expected Spike to go back to where ever it was he lived and then he'd have his opportunity to bait, fight and generally piss Spike off. So Spike stopping at a café and sipping Hot Chocolate had rather fazed Angel. Fazed and annoyed him. Spike appeared to have taken control of this situation and that was intolerable. He wasn't used to Spike getting the upper hand, unless said hand happen to contain either a crowbar or a hot poker. And Angel had developed a very easy way to deal with those memories. He just never thought about them, as if they had never happened. So he was absolutely furious to find those tactics being played against him, by Spike. Spike was ignoring him. More, Spike was actually giving the impression that Angel did not exist and was not talking to him. It was a bizarre but effective display. Angel was almost as impressed as he was furious. He put up with it for about half an hour, was in full flight, telling Spike how much he needed to sober up, get a life, become respectable and all the other things he knew would particularly annoy Spike when the object of the improving lecture, got up, left him to pay the bill and sauntered on down the street. When Angel started to follow, Spike spun on his heel and headed back to the Watcher's. He seemed in no rush now. He browsed in windows, he stopped for a cigarette. He wandered into Giles' with an air of complete unconcern and finished helping himself to the blood in the fridge. Angel trailed after him like the invisible man in a bad Hollywood movie.

He was not invisible to the humans, though, and it was clear by their faces that they had high hopes of enjoying more amusing entertainment at Angel's expense. This did not fit at all well with Angel's view of himself or how he expected them to view him. He was not funny. Spike's behaviour, which made him look ridiculous, made him blood-red with anger. He could literally feel his blood boiling with rage when Spike interrupted his conversation, when Spike continued to watch TV through him, as Angel tried to block the screen. The more Xander Harris snickered, the more Giles tried to placate everyone, the more the girls watched the two vampires like spectators at a tennis match, their heads turning rhythmically from him to Spike, the more all this happened, the more he wanted to do something that would force Spike to acknowledge his presence.

In the end, he suggested the demon hunt just to get out with the humans and away from Spike. He could have ripped Xander's lungs out when the boy pointed out to Spike that by not coming, it only proved he could hear Angel, because, otherwise, he would have come.

Even Angel, though, was slightly amused by the physical pain Spike appeared to be in trying to work out which of his options most clearly made the point that he, Spike, did not hear or see said vampire. He was even more amused when the gang engineered Spike having to sit next to him on the ride.

As Spike's hard thigh pressed against his own, Angel's thoughts had taken a completely different tack. He was remembering traveling with Spike before, when thighs together had become mouths; mouths had led to tongues and tongues inevitably to cocks. His cock swelled at the memory of Spike's small puckered entrance. It throbbed to the thoughts of pressing through the ring of strong, vampire muscle that guarded that soft, welcoming passage. He felt a slight leak of precum as he remembered the feel of Spike, the scent of Spike, the taste of Spike and the sight of Spike cresting in waves of pleasure to his own cock. These thoughts occupied him in the car as Spike seemingly dozed, his head tipped back on the headrest behind him, his elegant cheekbones throwing the seductive hollows of his face into deep shadow, a position that only served to emphasize more his eternal beauty.

Angel was extremely annoyed with himself now. He'd fallen prey, once again, to his sexual cravings. He tried to tell himself that it was not Spike in particular he wanted, just sex. Sex with anyone, anything. He imagined having sex with the humans, pressing his cock into each one of them depending on who was speaking at the time. Had they known it, the humans in the car, Giles, Buffy, Xander and a very squashed Willow might have been horrified that, in turn, they were being impaled on either Spike's railroad spike or Angel's cock. Some of them would have had a hard time choosing between those two options.

Angel's mood did not improve when he found out that he had been paired with Spike for the hunt and kill. If Spike was not acknowledging Angel's existence then in Angel's book that left him on his own, too. He felt slightly vulnerable when Spike stalked off without him. He was tempted to let him go until he saw a huge, hideous demon with awful hair advancing on Spike. He shouted a warning and was horrified to see Spike hesitate, see the demon, but just….wait for it.

Angel thought that Spike had taken this game far enough. He killed the demon effortlessly and knelt beside the creature on the ground who had once been his best and only friend, his favorite, beloved Childe and his passionate, intense, infinitely fuckable lover. The smell and sight of Spike's blood made Angel's now urgent erection just a bit harder, just a bit more painful against his pants. He wanted to plunge his face into Spike's stomach wound, he wanted to lick his entrails and suck on his cock from the inside, but he didn’t think these desires quite went with his chaste warrior role, which, so far, he had maintained all day.

When Spike fainted he carried him back to the car and cradled him in his arms all the way back to Giles'. He wasn’t unduly worried about Spike. It was a minor wound for a vampire. He was far more worried about himself. He held Spike directly over his cock. In fact, if he maneuvered him just slightly, he could hold Spike's backside directly over his cock. This was very enjoyable. He tried to wish away the four layers of material separating them, was pleased to remember that it was unlikely that Spike was actually wearing underwear, and reduced the barrier to three layers. He wriggled slightly under Spike, but had to stop when he threatened to cum there and then. That might be hard to explain when they all got out of the car. So he contented himself with staring at Spike. He had forgotten in the space of the half hour since they had last been the car, just how beautiful he was. Angel never tired of looking at beautiful things. He liked them around him. He remembered having this beautiful face around him all the time, on his pillow at night, on his cock in the morning, on his mind every other moment of the day.

Pissing Spike off was fun, tormenting Spike was better, but best of all, he had to admit, was fucking Spike. There was no getting around it, Spike was very fuckable.

Angel liked using the word, fuck, and used it every chance he got in his head. It was one more little revenge he got on the world that had made him a demon then smacked him on the hand for being one and cut off his bits. Metaphorically. He would never dream of actually using the word out loud, but he rolled it off his mental tongue with glee. Being Spike’s favorite word, too, made it seem as if Spike were present every time he thought it, but this poofy thought was not something he wanted to dwell on. He was happy to admit he missed fucking Spike, he was much more unwilling to admit he missed him, liked his company, and found him entertaining, amusing and a very good friend. If he admitted all that, then he would want Spike back. If he wanted Spike back, he'd have to ask him. And that was as likely as him wearing pink and telling jokes.

But he had now incontrovertible evidence that Spike wanted him. And that was just fine by Angel. He was all for Spike begging and he, Angel, magnanimously granting favors. That's why he had preceded Spike to his crypt. He had every intention of making Spike beg for him and possibly, he would grant a hand job, or if Spike begged particularly well, begging that involved a tongue on Angel's cock, then perhaps, he would even go so far as a blowjob.

But when he got there he was ambushed by Spike's version of Angel. Angel sensed him there, haunting the place. He saw Spike's things laid out as if they had been discussing them, sharing them together. Angel should have been sharing this with Spike. He saw Spike's TV remote placed on the arm of the chair as if they had been watching TV companionably together. He wanted to watch TV with Spike. He saw the discarded and well-thumbed porn mags under the chair. He particularly wanted to share those with Spike. All in all, he was a very unhappy Sire when he saw just how real Spike had managed to make his fantasy Angel.

That's when the plan had occurred to him. He knew Spike was at the Bronze drinking, he'd followed him that far. He knew he had a fairly considerable stash of money, he'd seen him pinch it from Giles. Spike, money and beer equaled incoherent, not very observant Spike. He might just pull this off. He climbed carefully out of his clothes and folded them neatly out of sight and went to sit on the tomb. Then, he got off again and went back to rearrange them into a careless heap. Warriors didn't fold their clothes. Neither did Irish louts probably, but the other alternative, the other persona that he dreaded even more than bog boy was the ponce. Spike had started that one. Angelus had had nothing whatsoever poncey about him. He was a vicious, imaginative killer. But in trying so hard to fit into modern day American life, Angel sometimes felt he had gone too far the other way. A weakness and a concern that Spike had immediately spotted, preyed upon, mimicked, enlarged and never stopped getting pleasure from. So Angel did fear he was a bit of a poof. He did worry that he might come over as a ponce and ruffling up his clothes into an untidy heap relieved him of this worry. He hopped back up onto the tomb. Then he hopped down again and refolded his clothes. He wasn’t going to let Spike win. Cashmere was better left folded, it was just a fact, nothing to do with being a poof.

It was interesting to note that Angel was worried that a pair of folded pants might mark him as a poof and not the fact that he was naked, erect, weeping and waiting to stick his cock up Spike's ass. He knew such mental discussions would only confuse and depress him so, like Spike, he employed the, I won't think about that, tactic. It was effective and allowed him to retain his warrior-like persona.

By the time Spike actually arrived, Angel's backside was suffering from sitting naked on a cold slab of granite for three hours. His cock was suffering even more. He'd been tempted to relieve himself once or twice. He had even had the wicked but highly amusing thought that if he jacked off in Spike's crypt and then buggered off, Spike would come home and find real, tangible evidence that his fantasy Angel was giving himself hand jobs when Spike was out. Angel imagined that this might be the final straw that would metaphorically break some proverbial camel. It might break Spike's final vestige of sanity and, whilst that would be amusing to watch, Angel still reckoned Spike would be more amusing to fuck, so he held off adding real Sire cum to Spike's imaginary Sire presence.

But three hours! Angel had never held off for three hours before, because, of course, swearing off sex didn't mean he didn’t do it himself…frequently, avidly, and enjoyably. He needed no stimulation, he needed no aids, all he needed was a free hand, a few minutes without interruption and time to slip back into brood face should anyone come into the office. So three hours was a bit of a record for him. He felt he might lose it, so swollen was it. He'd heard of limbs getting gangrenous and falling off when they were so engorged with blood. He idly wondered if his would re-grow if it did fall off. It was not a vampire attribute he particularly wanted to put to the test. So, all in all, Angel was as relieved to see Spike, as Spike had been to see Angel.

Spike even managed to surprise him. This was the first time he had seen Spike when Spike was not with him. He very quickly realized that the Spike he knew was the front the real Spike put up whenever he had to deal with Angel. This Spike, who thought he was talking to his Angel, was very much not his Spike. He was new, thoughtful, sad, lonely, sweet, funny and rather vulnerable.

This, Angel decided, was starting to get confusing. He was not Spike's Angel, who was obviously only an insubstantial trick of the light that Spike saw as more substantial than him, who was the real Angel, but who Spike called Insubstantial and this was not Spike, but new Spike who was only real when real Angel was not around.

Angel decided again not to think about all this too much, he was far too engrossed anyway in new Spike's monologue. Spike was laying his heart out like a cadaver on a surgeons table voluntarily saying, 'here you are, examine my innermost secrets.' Angel almost felt guilty to be tricking Spike like this. Until he started to hear just how completely Spike distorted the story of their life together. Angel suddenly had the horrible thought that Spike actually went around spreading these sorts of lies, that he, Angelus, had been a maniacal, sex-mad psycho, a pervert, into torture and sexual deviance. He had the even more horrible thought that perhaps all of this was true. That this was actually how he had been, how he was, not warrior, not Irish peasant, not even poof, but a homicidal, fuck-up. His whole view of himself as an elegant, Master Vampire was shattered. Is this how Spike saw him? Is this how it had been for Spike?

He was plunging into the depths that only a very fragile ego can reach so quickly, when Spike turned to him, asked him if he wanted to pound into him again and stripped off the top half of his clothes. Angel practically came on the spot. Only thoughts of giving away his game, which was providing him with undreamt of access to Spike's mind and now Spike's body, prevented him. But oh, the look of Spike. He'd gotten considerably thinner since Angel had last seen him. His arms joined his torso with deep concave shadows. His abdominal muscles were so clearly defined that Angel actually wondered if Spike had been working out. Then he remembered that this was Spike, who considered a wank enough exercise for one day. Spike's belly button, in contrast to most of the intriguing hollows on his body, was convex. And oh, didn't Angel's tongue throb with desire to lick over that enticing little bump. That would be just like licking the tip of a tiny, hard cock. Fuck, Angel realized he had slipped imperceptibly into poofy mode again and tried to reclaim ground by remembering that at least Spike had called him a psycho. Psychos were scary. They were very rarely poofs. Or not avowed ones. Fuck, they were probably all closet ones. Not a good analogy.

Angel really felt he ought to concentrate more on what Spike was saying, because he had just gotten to the interesting bit. He was explaining just what he wanted to do with his Angel when he became hard enough. As he'd missed the beginning of this speech thinking about Anthony Perkins, Angel realized that Spike was, of course, talking about metaphorical hardness, not the literal hardness that he, Angel, was suffering from. Even Spike, even drunk Spike, even new Spike, could not have missed the fact that Angel's cock was now doing the impression of a well-hung donkey. Not, of course, that Angel had ever looked at a well-hung donkey up close. Fuck it…he had to stop falling into mental traps like that. But Spike's description of the activities he wanted to get up to, literally, with Angel, decided him. His original intention to be Spike's Angel for a while, then leave for LA, had suddenly changed to, stay and do some of the things Spike clearly wanted Angel to do. He felt quite substantial enough for any of the challenging activities Spike was outlining.

So when Spike invited him down to the bed, Angel went.

He almost regretted it when he saw the mattress he was expected to lie on. It betrayed its origins all too clearly. It almost had, 'dump-find', written all over it. Angel thought scabies. Angel thought fleas. Angel had the bizarre thought that if he got bitten by fleas, would he sire a race of evil flea-vampires and would anyone know given they were still, after all, only fleas and fleas bit people anyway. This led on to the thought that perhaps fleas were already vampires which is what he was mulling over when Spike closed his eyes and started bunching up his pillows. Angel really wished he could have some of Spike's remaining alcohol, so he could use it as an antiseptic wipe, just in case. He hadn't planned to admit yet that he was real. He was actually feeling a little less real than when he had arrived earlier. He wanted to retain his advantage over Spike for a little longer and see a little more of this new, interesting, adorable, Spike. Well, quite a lot more hopefully, if Spike would just lift and spread his legs a little.

So, in the weeks that followed, when Angel got over his self-doubt and personality angst, aided entirely by Spike's complete faith in him that it didn't matter whether he was a chaste warrior or an Irish peasant, cus he was still a pillock either way; when he got over being afraid of being a poof because Spike showed him the good bits of being one of those; when he got over being broody and sad and lonely because Spike became the best lover and friend he could have wished for; in those weeks he often wondered just what it had been that had made him decide to show Spike that he was real. One night, lying in Spike's arms as Spike deliberately and thoughtfully rearranged his hair into a hideous, poofy style, he came to the conclusion that it had been the moment that Spike put his own hand to his mouth, pretending that it was Angel's lips. At that moment, Angel had seen his own intense loneliness and sadness reflected back to him more profoundly than any mirror could have done.

He had decided it was time that he, Angel, found himself by helping Spike find him. Time that he admitted he had failed as a Sire, as a friend and as a lover but that being eternal meant he had another chance to put it right.

And being eternal, if he was really, really good, he might one day be just be as important to Spike as had been Spike's insubstantial trick of the light.

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