Chapter 2 - Spike's Day
Spike wakes to a new day. Every day is new now, and he smiles inwardly, stretching luxuriously in the small bed. He’s had lots of days in his long life—waking up still full of rage or blood lust, alcohol or fear—a repeating lifetime of days that weren’t new. Now he wakes up and feels rested and whole. It feels good.
The good feeling extends all over, and he leisurely strokes his hand down his chest, heading for his nipples, which he tweaks for a while, enjoying the message the gentle pain sends to his balls. He misses sharing his body with a lover, but not as much as he thought he would. It’s his now, just as much as his thoughts are.
He’s free of it all, and he feels good.
He delays the moment as long as he can, but eventually, his hand slides lower, over the rock-hard abdomen that he can’t seem to fatten however much soft living is indulged. He brushes his hand over the tip of his cock, which rests on his belly, leaking quietly, waiting obediently for attention. He rewards it, and it responds lovingly, rising to his touch like a cat stretching for attention. Arching and beginning to breathe, he beats the solid rod, hard and relentless as befits preternatural flesh.
His mind roams over favourite fantasies: hands—some gentle, most not. These rough ones are the memories he indulges most: Buffy tearing at him, thumping him into walls, splitting herself as if he was a stake that she forever tried to impale on; Dru crooning her mad songs as the moon bathed them in its icy light. Further back… pounding between memories as his fist pounds his flesh: beds filled with bodies passing long summer days; curtains billowing allowing dangerously seductive sunlight to their lair; shouting and laughter and the passing of blood between eager mouths.
His whole body taut with pleasure, he releases to the memory of a tongue easing blood into his mouth and licking it around the soft walls.
He presses his fist hard into his groin, making his prostate pulse and his balls fill his cock. As fluid shoots out, he tears at the sheet, tearing someone’s broad back, demanding fulfilment of a promise made with burning flesh.
When he comes down, he wipes his hand over his chest, wondering if he ought to be getting off to thoughts of blood. It doesn’t seem the thing to do: now he’s saintly… now he’s so… good.
Laughing quietly and calling himself a prat, he heads for the shower, realising it’s getting late. He has to get in early; he always gets in early. It’s important to be there first, before he comes down. It’s not just a point of pride; it’s his secret moment of pleasure in the day: when he has Angel all to himself.
He rubs soap over his body, wondering what mood Angel will be in today. He’s always cranky, often downright mad, but occasionally, just occasionally, he softens and talks and laughs—if ruefully—and these are the moments Spike waits for. More and more, these moments seem reserved for him alone, as if Angel can’t relax enough around the others. For all their troubled history, it is history, and he knows Angel knows that his childe knows too much for him put up the defences he does with the rest of his team.
He grins again as he’s drying: team. He’s part of the team—signed on voluntarily. It makes him feel very good again.
The task ahead of them filters into his mind: some grand rescue. He lets Angel make the plans. He just goes along to keep the poofter safe.
He hums as he stomps through the sewers, something he remembers hearing in the Bronze. That’s another lifetime though, and he tries not to recall any of it. It’s not who he is now—who he’s trying to be.
The offices are quiet, the building apparently empty, until he enters the elevator. He eyes its occupant, surprised. ‘Thought you were getting your knackers fixed in the hospital.’
Gunn doesn’t look at him; he seems focused a long way away. ‘I’m better.’
‘Oh, ‘k. So….’
Gunn doesn’t pick up the cue to make small talk. Spike shrugs and lights a cigarette. ‘You don’t mind, do you?’ He’s dying for the man to say that he does. It always amuses him, that small joke. Disappointingly, the human replies, ‘Not gonna matter soon—me getting the big C.’
Spike raises an eyebrow. ‘Uh huh. That so.’
‘You in on this rescue thing?’
‘Tell Angel I’ll wait for him by the car.’
‘’K.’ He watches the man depart, unnerved by the tension he feels pouring off the dark flesh.
When the elevator opens to Angel’s floor, Spike gets his customary tingle of anticipation. There’s always this moment, just before he actually sees Angel, when he imagines it all going another way, as if he were in a show and the writer suddenly sniffs something stronger than coffee and writes him zany scenes. He sees them playing out in his head. Sometimes it’s a fight. Sometimes it’s not. Either way, they always end up naked with lots of blood. Grinning slightly, he perches on Angel’s desk and blows sufficient smoke around for the non-breathing bastard to smell it. He’s well into the first fantasy—fighting and ensuing nakedness—when the elevator opens.
Angel scores… three! Spike grades Angel’s anger every day and awards him points as the hours tick by, adding or subtracting from the running total. At the end of the day, he mentally rewards or punishes him, which is kinda fun, because those things are always the same… fighting with lots of nakedness and blood….
‘Put it out.’
Spike chuckles inside and keeps his face straight. Score four. ‘Yeah, like, not.’ He can sense Angel’s distraction, almost hear him thinking about the task ahead: decisions, who’s to do what, taking charge, taking the entire burden onto his own shoulders. He wishes he could make Angel see him—see that he doesn’t need to carry that burden by himself, but he never does.
‘Waiting for us.’
Angel doesn’t appear to hear Spike’s cautious testing of the word us and replies without a flicker. But Spike’s delighted and uses it again in his head a few times as he follows Angel across the lobby. As he strides behind the powerful figure, his pleasure threatens to break forth in an extravagant display of delight.
Reunited with his sire; it seems too good to be true.
Gunn is waiting for them as promised, and once more, Spike senses unbearable tension and wonders what’s going on behind the dark eyes.
His pleasure then takes a severe denting. Gunn folds his long legs into the passenger seat, and Angel holds his seat tipped forward, waiting for him to climb into the back. With a bitter look (which, he notices, is totally lost on Angel) Spike obeys.
He doesn’t want to travel in the back.
He wants to sit up front—with Angel.
He’s left out, relegated to the rear, stuffed into the less important position. He tries to butt into the conversation, but as usual, Angel is in a pissy mood, so he just awards him five points and sits back, muttering under his breath. Angel doesn’t appear to feel the metaphorical daggers being thrust into his back.
When the bullets start flying, it’s the most exhilarating thing that’s happened for a long time. Angel flying behind the sofa is almost as much fun as Angel covered in feathers, and he laughs, feeling the old rush. Only this is so much better, because he’s fighting with Angel, not… with him. That’s something he’s never allowed himself to want, until now, when it’s suddenly all his.
The high lasts until they descend the steps. It lasts a few moments longer as his eyes adjust to the gloom. It lasts for just a second more as he holds the still warm heart in his hands. Then he looks around, and it all goes: the fun, the exhilaration and the sense of feeling good for the first time in his life. He looks desperately at Angel, but as usual, Angel is giving him no attention at all. He steps back, not wanting to look at the objects in the room, but compelled to anyway. He shouldn’t feel like this. He’s been tortured too many times to feel this kind of fear: the Trials, which laid him bare with pain, testing him beyond even his limits to endure; the First laying long knives into his gut, tracing patterns of pain on his pale skin; burning up, cell by cell, eyes exploding in the heat. He’s done all of that. So, this should not scare him, but it does. It scares him so much that all he can think about is escaping: demon, flames—nothing can keep him in here. He fights like a man possessed to be free, to leave this place and return to what he now has.
It doesn’t make sense this paralysing fear, until the new one, Marcus, welcomes him to the team. He thinks it’s deliberate—that the man must know what he’s thinking, because it suddenly all becomes very clear to him. He’s scared because for the first time in his life he actually is part of the team, and that gives him something to lose.
Because, of course, he will lose it.
He’s a demon; he’s still going to hell; soul’s not gonna change that.
He’s going to go to hell—today, tomorrow, sometime in the future of his precarious life—and he will be trapped, and the real torture won’t be the pain but the knowing that he’ll never have this again: his simple new life that brings him so much pleasure.
He doesn’t remember walking up to Angel’s apartment, doesn’t remember the casual invite, which he’s never been given before and would so have enjoyed in another time. Most of all, he doesn’t watch Angel stripping off his shirt, which he most certainly would have watched in that other time when he was happy. It’s the smell of Angel’s blood that brings him back—snap, sharp focus. Sharp focus on Angel… Angel… Angel… Angelus!.. the demon that bit him like a rabid wolf and took his life… the demon that condemned him to hell.
Angel isn’t looking at him. Angel’s never looking at him, but that’s just fine by him now. He stares at the demon, feeling suppressed hatred bubbling out like a vast boil lanced by the knowledge that that creature condemned him to hell. He feels sick but doesn’t want to vomit in the demon’s apartment.
He makes his way back through the tunnels and is sick in his own, vomiting heavily into the bowl, smelling his disgusting fear in the fluid. Nothing scares him, so this aching fear makes him want to curl up in a very small ball and not peek out at the world again.
He doesn’t want to die.
He doesn’t want to go to hell.
He wants to be a good man. It doesn’t seem much to ask for saving the world.
The unfairness of it all keeps him from that tiny ball; it makes him pace and shout, and cry with anger and frustration instead. It doesn’t matter what he does; he’s condemned for being a demon, but he didn’t choose to be given this demonic heritage. He’s a victim.
He’s Angel’s victim.
The idea doesn’t come to him like a cold, clear plan. It seeps in on bitterness that sears his soul, eroding all his better feelings with a dull, acidic burn of hatred for Angel. Then it floods out, drowning his rational brain under an ocean of illogical self-pity. But when the idea does come, he wallows in its truth: if Angel dies, there’ll be no one left to bear witness to the fact that he’s a demon. If Angel dies, his last ties to that old life are gone. If Angel dies, he has a chance to make a new, good life for himself.
If Angel dies, he can escape hell.
He doesn’t sleep all night but paces, talking to himself. Both of him agree that Angel has to die.
The sun comes up, and he wants to get to work. It’s what he does: getting there before Angel, so he can have the pleasure of seeing him first. But that’s all gone now; a hollow, mocking emptiness has taken its place. Now he’ll have the pleasure of seeing Angel before he dies.
It’s so ironic: he could take Angel out at any time now. Angel has let his guard down around him; he knows this.
When he sees him, he stares, willing Angel to feel a knife in his gut, which heralds a stake sending him to hell. As usual though, Angel doesn’t notice his existence. For the first time, this really bothers Spike, and although he knows it’s illogical, he adds another entry to the list he began in the bad hours of last night: Reasons Why Angel Has To Die.
His opportunity comes quicker than expected, but he joins the team heading into the tunnels bitter at Angel’s easy assumption that he will follow, obedient-puppy-like to his master’s command.
Puppies bite sometimes. ‘Fuck off.’ He feels a sense of satisfaction that he isn’t whining around Angel’s heels anymore, the obsequious childe seeking approval. That’s gone now; he doesn’t need anyone’s approval. With Angel dead, there’ll be no one left he ever wanted approval from anyway.
Even as he adds this excellent new entry to his list, he’s finding complex ways to test whether this is the right thing to do—the right time to do it. He’s making deals with God to be shown his path: if the tunnel turns to the right, I won’t do it; if Angel looks at me, I’ll let him live; if Angel chooses one of the others to accompany him, I’ll do it another time.
Angel beckons him without looking, and the tunnel bears to the left.
If the second tunnel bears…. But it’s suddenly too late to make deals with God…. No! If by the time I light a cigarette Angel is still being attacked…. He’s halfway through a final complex deal involving smoke and the direction it rises from his mouth when Angel turns, looking for him.
Two thoughts stab into his mind at the same time: it’s too late now to look for me, Angel, and Angel’s finally looking for me.
The thoughts are so contradictory, but so the same that he needs to get away from those pleading eyes and work it all out.
He thinks he shrugs; he’s not sure; he thinks he probably did, only he’s not thinking too clearly about anything.
The voices of the humans surprise him; he’d forgotten about them in a world that had, for a moment, only held him and Angel in its painful embrace. He nods at them, and when Wesley begins to ask the inevitable questions, only then remembers that he once had a sire who is not here with him now. Wesley takes the right-hand tunnel, looking for Angel, and Spike lets him. It seems fitting somehow: promises to God fulfilled
Lost in his thoughts, he doesn’t hear the humans return, but too soon their voices intrude on his privacy. He frowns, wipes his eyes and listens for a while. They’re talking about Angel. They’re agitated, angry, scared.
He follows with a kind of sick fascination as they head back to the office.
An overwhelming fury is growing in his belly.
What right have they to speak their grief? Angel was his sire!
He’d known Angel for over a hundred years, yet they think they have the right to speak of his death?
Not once, not one single time since he’s been in L.A. has one of them ever acknowledged his right to love Angel best.
For he does, of course.
He always has.
They bemoan him as a friend, an employer, a colleague, a champion—all the ways they will miss him—but Angel was his creator. He’s lost God, and they’re wondering who’ll sign the cheques.
He only drags incredulous eyes from them and their snivelling grief when he senses a presence in the lobby.
The sunlight is bright behind him, flooding into the office, spilling over into the vast reception area. It wavers on the highly polished floor: water spilt on glass.
And Angel emerges, slowly striding, floating over the water God-like. He advances, coat billowing and given independent life by the power spilling out of the illuminated figure.
Spike watches the advance like a starving disciple on the shore, and he realises the meaning of the saying that God is love. He plummets as fast into love as he’d fallen into hate, for the two have always been the flip sides of his passion.
He suddenly understands that he can’t escape hell by creating it here—by betrayal—but by beating it back with better feelings. If he loves enough, he’ll be saved, for God is love.
For the first time in a very long time, Angel is actually looking at him.
Out of habit, Spike awards him a ten before the angry words even spew forth.
He feels tears threaten, in front of humans, in front of Angel, and he knows nothing he can say will make this better.
He pulls some self-respect out of his deep reserves, summoning the Big Bad back for a suitable gesture, then storms out onto the illusion of water that won’t support him, for he’s not God, and no one loves him.
The one he talks to that night is beginning to feel just a little too real. He’s done this before though, and doesn’t find it as worrying as he should. Of all the Scoobies to be visited by the First, he was the only one to see himself, and still he didn’t get it! He actually stood and talked to himself for hours, watching those nancy-boy bloody cheekbones and didn’t get that it wasn’t real. So, talking to another him has become something of an art form.
The other one is advising him not to love Angel, because loving Angel is clearly even more insane than talking to imaginary selves. But all he can see is Angel striding across the sea, coming to rescue him. If he loves Angel enough then he can push hell back, and it won’t claim him. His hell would be leaving Angel anyway; it’s so beautifully logical, it makes him cry.
Crying like this is painful. He’s not done it since he helped carry a dead slayer to her house, since he helped lay her on her bed with her familiar, girlish things around her. Since he helped bury her. Sometimes, it feels as if those tears never really stopped. He doesn’t think he can stop now. He doesn’t know if he’s gone mad again, or if he was never sane and this is sanity for the first time. He’s created his own hell here on earth. Shut out. Banished from his new life. No longer one of the team.
He didn’t need to die after all.
He’s in a living hell.
Suddenly, the door flies open, and Angel storms in. Spike can’t believe he was so intent on his own misery that he didn’t sense Angel’s presence.
He tires to hide the evidence of his misery, keeping his face neutral, wondering if Angel can smell his tears.
Then for one moment, as Angel closes the gap between them, Spike thinks that Angel regrets his hasty words… regrets banishing him… has come to take him home.
The hope makes him defenceless when Angel’s hands land on him, hate-filled and heavy. But he says what’s in his heart—foundations of honesty that have been exposed by undermining tears. ‘I’m sorry, Angel. I’m sorry. I made a mistake.’
His mistake has been hating instead of loving, which he does now almost without his own volition.
‘You’re damn right it was a mistake.’
The smell of Angel’s blood is overwhelming. Does communion have this affect on the faithful? Can they smell their God? He wants to taste Angel too, his gaze dropping irresistibly to the centre of the broad chest. He wants Angel to show him, to lift his shirt and reveal the bleeding centre of his flesh. ‘Are you okay?’
He could have dodged, but he wants this punch too much, absorbing the feel of Angel into his skull, enjoying the slight ringing in one ear: bells summoning the faithful.
‘I don’t have time for this shit, Spike. Did Lindsey put you up to this?’
He’s listening so hard to the distant peel that he doesn’t get the question at first. He can’t think whom Angel is talking about and frowns, running over their shared acquaintance in his mind. But it’s not easy remembering so many in such a short time, and he gets distracted, billowing curtains shinning dangerous light on things best forgotten. Finally, he gets it: Doyle. Identities confuse him though; is this is Angelus? Who should he be today?
‘No, Spike, the other Lindsey we rescued from hell today.’
It stabs his heart—this reminder of Angel’s saving grace dribbled out to his favourites. Why can’t Angel save him? He’s condemned to hell just as effectively as the lawyer with the two names, two faces, two chances. He wants his own second chance; he wants Angel to crash into his hell and rescue him.
The redemption offered by Angel’s blood makes him tip, hypnotised toward the larger body. His mouth waters; his tongue quivers with need, but he’s not sure whether this is for forgiveness or… something else. Before he has time to find out, Angel steps back.
The loss is like a slap to his face. When Angel tells him it’s time to leave L.A., repressed tears from that imagined slap make his voice shaky. ‘No!’ He tries to summon one tiny sliver of self-respect. ’I mean… I want to help. I do, Angel.’
He hears I need your help, Angel and wonders if Angel does, too.
Angel no more seems to hear this plea than he’s heard any other Spike’s tried to send him over the years.
Angel pokes him. He looks down. Suddenly, in his imagination, the finger pokes him elsewhere. His face flares with embarrassment, and he hopes it doesn’t show on his preternatural skin.
With a jolt, he realises Angel’s still talking, and he shakes his head obediently in denial of something he didn’t hear.
As soon as Angel turns away, Spike closes his eyes and lets out a small breath, releasing tension in his buttocks, clenched at that embarrassing repositioning of Angel’s finger.
‘I’m not abandoning anything of mine to hell.’
Spike’s eyes fly open.
Love soars in his heart—mine! Can Angel read him at last?
‘We’re going back to get him. I’m not leaving him there, contrary to what everyone thinks.’
Would he could knock Angel out of his life. Shoving him hard out of the way has to suffice.
‘Can I count on you to back me up?’
If he cries anymore, he’ll lose the foundations of his sanity as well. Keeping his back to Angel, he just nods.
It’s good nodding; it can mean so many things.
‘Why do you stay here? It’s grim….’
I was living in a crypt. I huddled alone in a school basement. Now I live here. The place changes; the loneliness doesn’t.
‘Where else can I go?’
Angel’s odd reply to this confuses him; he’s not sure whether it’s a curse or a suggestion, and he mulls this over as he watches Angel leave.
Sometimes he thinks he’s spent his entire unlife watching Angel leave.
With a sick feeling in his gut that spreads rapidly throughout his body, he knows that this will be last time he ever sees Angel.
So many times they’ve met and parted, met and parted over the long decades. In a huge world, they seem to orbit each other intimately, held in some perpetual bond of nature that they can’t break.
What has happened this time though is more final than it’s ever been before. It’s the first time he’s turned on Angel without provocation since he’s been souled.
Angel’s forgiven him so many transgressions in the past because of that very absence. If Angel doesn’t admit that the lack of a soul makes a difference, he can’t go on believing that his soul makes him different.
It’s a quirk of logic that Spike’s exploited frequently.
Now he’s destroyed the delicate balance between them. Like figures on a seesaw, one soars high, one sinks down.
Now that it’s finally over, Spike allows himself to think over the past as he makes his way up to the roof.
An hour to sunrise, the city is hot already, and he sits on the edge of the parapet, smoking quietly, remembering. In his memory, the beds were always vast, big enough for four, but this confuses him because everything was smaller then. He supposes he makes the space around them seem larger because what they did together seems so significant to him, even now. They were like wild animals, as he’d always imagined those to be—a city dweller, picturing warm dens and safety in the entwining of sleeping limbs. But his memories aren’t pure; he knows this; they’ve been contaminated by the longing of dreams, so that when he pictures a mouth straying to his in the bed, he can’t be sure whether Angel’s lips ever did meet his, or whether this is just fleeting resonance of sleeping desires. There were hands on him, giving him more pleasure than he had known existed, but he sees Darla lying alongside him, similarly pleasured, so the hands on him could not be Angel’s—they would surely have been on her softer flesh. But a stray joker, Drusilla, hovers un-allocated in his memory of their daytime lair, and it’s entirely possible that Darla moaned and arched for her, and that his pleasure was from Angel’s skilful, loving touch.
The memory of blood in his mouth, eased in on Angel’s insistent tongue, is real, but they were demons: feeding and passion often indistinguishable. He thinks too much like a human; he always has; he knows this. But it seems to him that feeding someone from your mouth, opening blood-red lips wide and allowing fluid to pour between you suggests more than a casual act done by a thoughtless demon.
It seems fitting to sit waiting for the sun thinking about the past. It was the best time of his life—human or demon: following in Angel’s wake…his childe…his protégée. Long nights of hunting and feeding, playing in the destruction they caused wherever they went carouse through his mind; long days, indolent, full of blood, intimate–like animals–licking and nuzzling and sleeping out the fearful sunshine loll in his memory.
Fear of that sunshine comes back to him now—Angel’s lessons, Angel’s strictures, Angel’s care.
He’s disobeying it all!
Guilt burns as Angel’s anger echoes in his mind: Is it the dust ye be wanting, William? Have you seen the likes of us burning? It’s not a pretty sight, boy, and I did not turn that face to see it burn up so soon.
Angel tried to put the fear of sunlight into him, like a priest, bemoaning the wrath of hell.
Ironic, really, that he actually burnt up saving the world.
An icy chill prickles down his spine despite the hot sun-prick on his skin.
It always seems to come back to hell.
If he goes now, he won’t have a chance to escape its fiery maw. Killing Angel… loving Angel—either way, he might escape his fate.
He knows burning and doesn’t want to do it for an eternity.
Reluctantly, he leaves the roof, a small puff of flame dancing on his hair as he descends. Is this how the lawyer felt, day after day, as he descended to his darkness?
He knows he’s actually mad, as opposed to the confusion that’s surrounded him since rescuing Lindsey, when he sees the other self he talks to substantial and in his room, waiting for him.
He’s still got those sodding nancy-boy cheekbones, so he narrows his eyes menacingly at this poofy apparition. ‘Fuck off! I died destroying you.’
‘I’m not the First, Wanker. Stop talking to yourself.’
Spike sighs; he sounds like a bloody ponce, too. ‘I’m not in the mood for this.’
‘Got something better in mind? Like crying maybe?’
‘Fuck off! You’re not supposed to piss me off as well! Everyone else does that!’
‘See! You’ve made me cry now!’
‘Hey! That’s my line!’
‘I AM YOU, you stupid Wossock!’
‘Oh. That’s not either of us….’ Spike holds his breath, staring at Angel. Another apparition—it must be. He’s banished from God, so Angel can’t be here now.
Maybe he can conjure this ghost so thoroughly that he can talk to its unreality, too.
Maybe it might actually come to understand him; the real one never has.
‘I’m not leaving you here, Spike. I want you where I can keep an eye on you.’
Is it the dust ye be wanting, William? Have you seen the likes of us burning? It’s not a pretty sight, boy, and I did not turn that face to see it burn up so soon.
They’re not quite the same words—the accent is different—but Spike feels the intent is pretty much the same. He doesn’t hear Angel’s next words; he’s too busy remembering Angelus’s: Ye be too pretty, Will, to burn. Remember that. I like my pretty ones around me. Will you remember, William? Down the long years ahead of us?
‘Okay.’ But he hadn’t. He’d forgotten on the long years of Angel’s derision.
‘Okay…? You’re agreeing?’
He’s so lost the thread of Angel’s words that he just shrugs, agreeing to pretty much anything. It’s got to be better than burning up alone or talking with poofy ghosts.
‘That’s it? You’re just going to come with me…. You try to kill me; now you’re agreeing to live with me?’
Live with you? In a vast bed, billowing curtains cutting us off from the world outside….
Angel didn’t mean this. That’s obvious from the anger on his face, which is all for the present. Billowing curtains belong to the past. He needs to banish them to that distant realm. He needs to differentiate between Angel and Angelus, the added syllable critical. Angel never seemed to be bothered by us; why should I?
He wants to assuage Angel’s anger, but it’s not possible, so he offers a platitude instead. It doesn’t work either, and anger flares. Spike mentally awards Angel a fifteen—his biggest score for months—and almost smiles, feeling more himself than he has since coming down off the roof.
The remark about petty history plummets his mood back into dark places. Perhaps it is: petty. Perhaps he’s the only one clinging to memories of hands and lips and burning flesh: promises unfulfilled.
He watches Angel covertly as they walk through the tunnels. He wonders if Angel sometimes watches him like this: clever, sneaky, seeing beneath the skin.
Depressed by the conclusion, he knows Angel doesn’t.
Spike’s not sure that Angel hasn’t been talking all the way along and tries desperately to guess what might have been said. He goes for a neutral repetition, stalling for time. ‘What?’
‘Tell me what’s between you and Lindsey.’
He doesn’t believe it! The fucking lawyer again! Not only is Angel not thinking about him, he’s thinking about that short, fat, greasy-haired, cocky, snub-nosed, dumb-ass lawyer! With the poofy earrings…. Worse! Angel’s thinking about him with that short, fat, greasy-haired, cocky, snub-nosed, dumb-ass lawyer! With the poofy earrings….
‘Me and Lindsey?’ His skin shudders at the thought; his gut heaves in disgust; his…. He runs out of suitable ire as another thought slides in unpleasantly on his pleasant wrath: Angel isn’t thinking about him at all…. Angel’s thinking about the lawyer.
It suddenly occurs to him that Angel might have used that term deliberately, setting up a contrast between their history and his with someone else—Angel’s history with this evil little piss-breath lawyer!
Angel and Lindsey.
It’s so blindingly obvious he’s surprised he didn’t see it before…
… Angel, vast, heavy and urgent; Lindsey performing like a bitch in heat beneath him.
He spits out an accusation, voicing some–if not all–of this suspicion.
Angel’s mouth actually quivers slightly as he tires to find suitable words. ‘Huh?’ The reply would have been endearing—in another time and place. Not now though.
You can’t fool me with that innocent…
… actually, that is pretty endearing….
Spike narrows his eyes and regards Angel for a moment, demanding the truth with his gaze. ‘You. And him.’
‘He’s a pissant lawyer that’s fucked me around for the last seven years. What can I say? I tried to save his soul.’
Spike stops. Even that miscreant, rodent-faced lawyer…. Even Lindsey, Angel tries to save. Why didn’t he come for me when I huddled alone in a sodding basement? Why won’t he help me now?
Angel glances back at him, but he hides his bitterness behind his cheekbones. (He knows people get distracted by those.) ‘You tried to save him.’ He puts the emphasis on save, not on him.
He listens carefully to Angel’s reply, mulling over the sudden softness in his voice. He tries to picture Angel and the human as they’d been before he knew them: Lindsey, successful and powerful but desperate to change; Angel, still optimistic, still believing in the power of redemption. He wants that Angel for himself. He wants that Angel to save him, too. Very softly, he asks, ‘Do you think people can change?’ hoping that Angel will see that he has and offer him the redemption of his all-embracing love.
The reply frightens him, and he feels hot tongues of flames lap. ‘What’s it all for if people can’t change?’ I’ve changed Angel, but you refuse to see it! I’m a good man. I can be a good man.
‘Lindsey is an evil bastard, and I only rescued him from hell because I need him.’
It infuriates Spike that Angel returns to the lawyer again. But he sees the parallels; he sees that he is just like that to Angel: evil, not to be trusted, only here because Angel needs him in the fight.
Desperate, he murmurs, ‘What if he wants to repent? Angel, what if he wants to repent, to make it up to you, to be your… what can I be to you, Angel; what’s the limit of our possibility? ….help you? Would you save him?’
‘Why are you so concerned about Lindsey, Spike? I still think there’s something you’re not telling me.’
Spike decides to kill him again.
He doesn’t care about his recent good intentions to love Angel till the flames go out. Now he just wants to kill him.
Sod bloody flames.
Flames…. Tongues of pain flicker around him…. Confidence wanes…. He’s felt God’s flame and doesn’t want to sample the Devil’s. Seeking reassurance, wanting Angel to tell him that hell isn’t all that bad, he purses his lips and says with as much confidence as he can manage, ‘It just seems kinda… harsh. No?’
‘Piece of cake to where I was. And when I’m finished with him, he goes right back.’
‘No!’ He wishes he’d never asked. Not this Angel, anyway. He should have asked the original one; Angelus would not have spoken so lightly of hell. He wanted his pretty things around him. ‘I mean….’ He doesn’t really know what he means, except he wishes someone in the world still loved him. For it had been–with Angelus–love of a kind. There was intense friendship, and that was a kind of love: feeding together; sharing blood, which was so similar to other fluids that rolling it around in their mouths they had shared knowing looks—looks that even now, all this time later, he recalls as if it were yesterday. The memory hardens him; it’s an itch that needs scratching—inside.
The terrifying thought suddenly occurs to him that perhaps Angel is focused on the past but that this might not be a good thing. Perhaps Angel’s focus isn’t on remembrance of days but of nights, nights when they were demonic—when he was demonic. Maybe Angel only remembers him with victims, drawing out torment for his sire’s pleasure, offering the first taste of blood—obeisance even then to his God.
Perhaps Angel’s never been able to separate what his child undoubtedly was from what he has become. After all, Angel didn’t have the benefit of seeing him chipped, when he hung in that half-life between being bad and good: wanting to be both but choosing the latter—of his own free will, renouncing what he had been.
‘I don’t think you should judge him on the past, Angel, but on what he’s like now.’
‘I don’t remember this much charity when you tried to fucking kill me yesterday!’
Ah. Clearly, he hasn’t renounced hard enough. It seems he is still evil. If he were the good man he wants to be, he’d have grasped Angel’s outstretched hand and saved him. Instead, he turned his back and walked away.
He’s so deep in his misery and regret for opportunities wasted that they’re standing by Angel’s private elevator before he realises where they are.
Why isn’t Angel taking him to the holding cells?
Why haven’t they stopped at the laboratory where Wesley obsessively studies Illyria? Where he had pictured Angel coldly studying him….
Instead, they wait together for Angel’s private elevator.
Despite what he’s done, it seems that Angel is bringing him home after all.
He doesn’t deserve any of this. He deserves to be staked, or something slower… possibly crucifixion–yeah, his smoke drifting up, a sacrifice to God–or hanging and drawing and…. He’s well into pleasant possibilities when the swelling in his groin actually begins to hurt, and for the life of him, he can’t decide if this is due to the death fantasies or the close proximity of Angel. As Angel is standing in front of him, staring morosely at the doors, Spike has a good opportunity to adjust his jeans and study him without the covert effort this usually takes.
He likes the back of Angel’s neck. It reminds him of the way Angelus used to sweep up his long hair and tie it, arms lifted, muscles rippling. Sometimes, as they lay bed, he would help untangle the long strands, taking over when Darla got bored, spreading sable hair over the pillow, Angelus watching him with his unfathomable gaze, accepting this obeisance as nothing more than his due.
But he prefers Angel with short hair.
On this worryingly poofy thought, the elevator doors open, and he trails after Angel, hoping his blush isn’t actually visible on his face. Errant fingers relieving internal ache… thinking about Angel’s hair….
He seriously needs to get a girlfriend.
‘Okay, this is yours.’
The mirror effect of the two rooms confuses Spike for a moment; it seems so fitting—always mirroring each other. He steps inside. It’s too empty; he’d much rather be stepping into the one on the other side.
‘I’ll send someone for your things.’
He wants to shout no! but murmurs weakly, ‘What things?’ This is a second chance; this is the tangible promise of Angel’s forgiveness, and he doesn’t want to contaminate it with his old things—things that belong to another lifetime.
‘Now? Now, you keep out of my way until I need you.’ The word need pulses through Spike’s brain; his balls give an urgent hitch. He has the startling vision of himself as Angel’s bitch, being here for him when he’s needed: for relief, for fun, for any damn thing that Angel wants. He wants to prostrate himself to Angel’s pleasure, just as he did to Buffy’s: being there when she needed to get off… violent kinks that she could never have shown to anyone else but him—the dead man.
Maybe Angel will come up at the end of long days and take him with her level of loveless violence that was only fractionally better than masturbation.
‘I need all the people I can have on my side in the coming fight.’
Spike smiles inwardly. It seems to be his mission in life to be the sidekick champion. Angel doesn’t even want to fuck him into compliance first, sucking his loyalty out and holding it, swilling in his mouth, hostage to his obedience. But then Angel doesn’t have to. He has a far more binding hold on his childe than Buffy ever had: love. ‘I’ll do anything I can.’ I’ll die for you, Angel, if that’s what you finally need from me. She did, and I didn’t balk at her terms.
For the first time in so long, Angel catches his gaze and holds it, not censorious, not angry. Spike sees sadness in his eyes, and more than anything, more than dying for Angel, he wants to take that sadness away. But as he suspects he’s a fairly major cause of it, he doesn’t attempt to tell Angel this.
‘If you need anything, you know where I am.’
Spike senses that Angel was going to say something else, and he desperately wants to know what it was.
He wonders if it was also about need.
When Angel is gone, Spike sits carefully on the couch, staring at his hands—the ones that didn’t reach out.
With a sigh, he leans back and closes his eyes. His soul is leaking. He pictures it quite graphically in his mind like a bright pool of reactor fluid, leaking out and poisoning him. It’s supposed to stay locked up somewhere inside, where he can control it, like humans do: still doing all the wicked things they do without compunction. He doesn’t want to feel this guilty about Angel. He doesn’t want to want him so much all the time. He wants to be what he was: hard, resilient. He doesn’t want to be this lonely.
Bach soars from the opposite apartment, and for one bizarre moment, Spike hears it as Angel’s soul leaking from his perfect body, curling lazily into his room on its perfect notes. He tips his head up so it can find him more easily.
It’s not the sort of music to listen to when your heart is achingly alone. He needs Angel, even if he’s only full of anger or derision.
Hating himself for being so weak, he gets up, shrugging off his coat and going silently across the hallway. He leans in the open doorway and watches. If he didn’t know better, he’d say that Angel looks sorrowful. But he knows he’s not. Angel has too many other emotions trapped inside his head to ever be full of just one. The burden that Angel carries is palpable: dragging down his shoulders, lowering his brow. If his eyes were open, Spike knows he would see a weariness of soul that almost matches his own. And still, Angel will not share with him. He created him to be his companion, yet when he needs that friendship most, he closes his eyes and sits alone in the dark, listening to Bach.
When he realises he’s been sensed, he debates leaving—he can’t think of a single excuse to be leaning there, watching. But something in Angel’s silence doesn’t want him to leave. With a huge leap of faith, he says neutrally, ‘That’s nice. That used to be one of your favourites.’ He holds his breath, waiting to see what Angel’s reaction will be to this transgression on his territory.
‘It still is.’
The breath is let out slowly. He deducts ten. The remaining five is a pretty good score for Angel at the end of such a bloody awful day. Not only was he not banished back to his own room, Angel made this huge concession and spoke of something personal. The fact that Spike knew this small detail already, and that it hardly compares to twenty years spent sharing a bed, he relegates to the back of his mind. This is something momentous, and he wants to enjoy it.
He inveigles a drink—Angel can hardly refuse to feed his captive.
‘I want you to help me question Lindsey tomorrow.’
Spike keeps his back turned to Angel, his expression hidden. He’s trying to be a good man. He thought Angel wanted him to be a good man, but he uses him to do these things. He used him to torture the mind-fucker doctor; he uses him to punch the hell out of Illyria, who still has Fred’s nose, even if it is a little blue. He doesn’t want to hurt people anymore. He wants Angel to use his other attributes, but they’re so dormant, even he’s not sure what they are anymore.
His life is constant repetition: everyone he loves wanting him to be good and then turning on that goodness, needing him to be bad again. He pictures himself going back into the apartment and shrugging on his coat, becoming the Big Bad for Angel, which is all anyone seems to want from him.
All it got him was fire.
He wants a different kind of burning now.
For all this, though, he hears a different, better note somewhere deep in his heart. Angel needs him. Angel is suggesting they do something together at last. He has a memory of striding across the lobby with him and laughs inwardly.
What does it all come down to in the end except being there for Angel?
He tosses down his drink and lies. ‘Only if I get to hurt him a bit. He pisses me off.’
He’s not sure what to do now and pours himself another drink, feeling, absurdly, that he’s abusing Angel’s hospitality with this, more than he did by trying to kill him, which seems unreal now—now that they’re here together, entwined by Bach.
He can’t stand forever, and the couch is very big. He makes his way toward it as if approaching a cobra: waiting for it to rear and strike him with angry, dismissive words—Fuck off, Spike; I’ve had a pissy day, and I don’t need this from you now.
Amazingly, he’s allowed to sit, and he’s so tense he misses his aim and ends up far closer than he’d intended. There’s a disturbing distance between them now: too much to make them seem friendly, far too little to maintain their habitual reserve.
Encouraged by the intimacy of sitting alone with Angel, being allowed to share his whisky, his music and his couch, Spike says softly, ‘So….’ hoping that Angel will pick up the cue for conversation, wondering if he can turn it so they’re talking of promises made between the other people they’ve been—how they’ve come to be here, like this: intimate strangers. When Angel doesn’t play, he adds sadly, ‘What’s the real reason for me being here?’
Because I want the reassurance of what we once had. I need you bound to me again, Spike— ties of loyalty that won’t break.
Hearing the words he wants to hear, he almost misses the actual reply. ‘What I said: I want to know what you’re up to.’
Surprised, Spike fancies he can hear his better version hidden beneath Angel’s translation. It cheers him up to the extent of cancelling Angel’s remaining five points and offering a small, weak joke. ‘I’m sitting here, having a drink and a nice chat with you, Angel.’
It doesn’t get the reaction he was going for—Angel laughing, turning to him, realising he wants him and taking him on the couch (he blames his zany writer again, accusing him suspiciously of sniffing coke)—and he hears Angel’s bitter, careful declaration with growing anger. He mulls it over for a while, swilling its acidic taste in his mouth, along with the whisky. It’s so egotistical: I don’t make the same mistakes twice.
It seems to him that they’ve both been making exactly the same mistakes their whole lives, which is why they’re sitting together on a couch, neither having had a shag for many months. He points this out, reminding Angel of one of his many, repeated mistakes.
‘You made me.’
He’s crossed the line now, gives Angel ten points to be going on with, knowing he’ll earn them soon, and adds, ‘You turned one lunatic, then you went and kinda did it again. Think you’d have learnt the first time—bad seed.’
Annoyingly, Angel doesn’t anger, so he takes the points off him again. Points win prizes, and he’s not giving them away for nothing.
‘You call yourself mad?’
No, Angel, I only lived with a chip in my sodding head for a year, shagged a robot, tried to love a slayer, got my bloody soul back, went insane in a basement, had some of my best ever conversations with myself and didn’t even sodding realise it was me, and died to save the world. So, no, not mad.
It’s so bloody ironic that he chuckles and replies, ‘I think you do.’
‘I call you an idiot.’
Something tingles seductively, deep in Spike’s groin, making him shift slightly on the couch. That’s the first genuinely amusing thing Angel’s said to him for a long time. If he didn’t know better, he’d say it was almost… flirtatious.
He uses the same tone to reply—the manner of very old acquaintances that know far too much about each other to hide behind barriers. ‘That’s fair.’
The flirty tone continues, Angel’s voice now slightly husky and low. ‘Why are you still here in L.A., Spike?’
The answer is so obvious he wonders if the potted plant will get it before Angel does. What other reason could there be? He’s so intent on picturing himself saying I stay for you, Angel; you’re my sodding life, and I love you that he doesn’t hear most of the rest of Angel’s speech. Reconstructing, therefore, he offers dismissively, ‘I don’t think a big world suits me. I think I’m too small for that.’
He suddenly feels insignificant, as if his great sacrifice was done on another show, with another audience, and it’s irrelevant to the part he’s got on this one: the humorous sidekick. Perhaps that is all he’ll ever be to Angel. Perhaps Angel remembers the past differently. Perhaps he doesn’t remember him as a friend at all. Perhaps Angel has memories of minions that are more potent in his mind than memories of him.
Has he merely constructed an elaborate fantasy past life in his head to make up for the never-ending disappointments of the present one? It’s entirely possible. He always did have a vivid imagination. Maybe, there never were four of them in that bed, and the curtains never billowed in on their intimacy, making them scream and laugh with mock fear. Maybe, when seeking Darla’s mouth, Angelus had never kissed him, wickedly chuckling at the possibilities their lips had then suggested. Maybe, when taking Darla, Angelus’s hand had never strayed to his thigh, stroking it as he stroked inside her soft walls.
Maybe, he doesn’t have an embarrassing hard-on now.
It’s an interesting theory: if this erection is real, then maybe all the rest is, too. It feels real, stretching painfully against the material of his jeans.
It’s the sort of erection that makes you need to slide down on the couch to ease. It’s trying to find somewhere to go, and his jeans are too tight. Thank God they’re black, or he could anticipate a small damp spot appearing. He can feel the tickle of leaking pre-cum, something in any other circumstance to be enjoyed to the full, but not here, not now.
Desperately, he keeps his eyes closed, going with the totally logical belief that if he can’t see it, Angel can’t either.
He tries to calculate how far it is to the door and how much tenting there will be if he stands up in profile.
With a horrified start, he realises that Angel will be able to smell him soon so says quickly, ‘I should go.’
Is the music is still on? He thinks it is, and hopes it distracts Angel enough for him to make a subtle exit.
He opens his eyes cautiously, doing his sneaky-observation-of-Angel thing that Angel still doesn’t get after over a hundred years of being covertly watched by his childe. Unfortunately, Angel is looking directly at him, studying him, too. He smiles wanly and bends to place the glass on the floor.
Squeezed blood compacts even more, and he says in a slightly high voice, ‘Thanks.’
For the first time in his unlife, he’s glad that Angel never notices him. He makes it out of the door and leans on the wall. All he can think of is release: clichés of tidal waves rushing through his mind… explosions… fountains.
He falls into his own apartment, fumbling at the button on his jeans. It’s a relief just to yank the zipper down, sighing as he eases his cock out. The feeling of bursting departs, leaving him with a dull, aching hardness.
He kicks his jeans off disgustedly, not sure whether he’s angrier with them for being too tight or at himself for being so stupid, so… cowardly. For that’s what he is—a coward. He should have captured Angel’s hand and introduced it to his bulge, holding it there, not burning with sin, but burning. Maybe he should have just turned to the ponce and told him how he felt.
He flings himself face up on the bed, arms akimbo, punishing himself for being so reticent. It only increases the anticipation of relief, his cock now standing like a pole from his body.
They mirrored each other there, too.
It’s the wrong thought—Angelus’s cock. It makes his swell that final bit, unpeeling the head from its soft covering.
Sitting up and eying the bathroom door, he sighs with frustration. It seems so pathetic to feed his seed to the drains of L.A., when there are so many more pleasurable places to deposit it.
He turns the shower on, idly watching steam make patterns on glass. Very carefully, lips pursed with effort, he writes Spike. Angel then follows, entwining their names through the e. It’s more pathetic than the contemplation of drains, and he hastily rubs it off again. But he can’t help his gaze straying to the door… the hallway… on—all the way into Angel’s apartment, if it could….
What would Angel say if he walked in and just told him?
What’s the worse that could happen?
Tell Angel exactly what he’s thinking for once….
It’s as intoxicating as it is frightening. He’s fairly sure Angel wouldn’t stake him. He’s fairly sure Angel wouldn’t go for it either, but he’s not… positive. There’s that tiny element of doubt given life by the belief that Angel remembers the past as well as he does.
Desires like that don’t change.
Angelus said it: deviant.
They both knew what he’d meant and had been willing to take that journey together. Perhaps Angel does remember billowing sunlight, lips, and smooth thighs stroked to enhance pleasure. Perhaps he remembers it all and misses it, too.
It’s the fear of hell again—not some pissy Roman version of that, which he suspects Angel still respects, but the hell he can bring about on earth. If he goes in there now, the worst that can happen is just that: the worst—banishment from Angel.
He’d rather live this half-life than live without Angel at all.
The water is so hot he winces as it splashes on him, and he leans to one side, staring at the door.
Suddenly, before he can change his mind, he turns the shower off and pulls his jeans back on, striding into Angel’s apartment.
Thought is banished for once, he’s all action—physical need.
Angel’s not there.
Cursing with frustration, he hears a sound in the bathroom and stops to listen.
It’s unmistakable: the sound of flesh upon flesh.
His whole body dissolves with need.
Closer… tipping his head to the sound… leaning on the other side of the partition… spreading his hand on the wall… wondering if Angel’s is spread there, too—his other hand….
Intense visual images of an erection tease his memory as he listens to Angel jerking off, beating his cock, and they’re so clear that he knows he’s not imagining them. He can actually picture it: same size, uncut.
A hand slides inside his jeans, uncapping his dick once more. He hisses as the foreskin bunches behind the ridge, the wet tip too sensitive to touch.
Angel isn’t finding his too sensitive. It sounds as if he’s running on a wet pavement: slap, slap, slap—heavy beats, jerking pleasure around his body.
He wonders what Angel is thinking—what he’s picturing. Even Angel must use fantasies to get off. Perhaps they’re of Buffy, too, although, somehow he doubts this. She was his virgin bride, and he’s fairly sure Angel isn’t using her innocence for relief. Is he rolling on a shared bed? Is he thinking about hands? Does he remember blood dripping from mouth to mouth, lips joined just a little too long, tongues inserted a little too far? Does he remember sly smiles exchanged with knowing looks on promises of so much more?
Spike’s hand speeds up, matching Angel’s pace, but then there’s a gasp and a long drawn out moan.
Almost immediately, the shower goes off, and Spike only has time to wonder that Angel doesn’t linger more over this pleasure, before he makes an attempt to stuff his cock back into his pants and retreat.
Angel emerges from the shower, an overwhelmingly masculine figure emerging from steam and becoming solid. His cock swings heavy and spent as he walks, head down, frowning as if he’s had no pleasure at all.
Confused by his planned declaration to Angel turning into some kind of freaky voyeurism, Spike stays still, trying not to stare at the swinging dick.
He’s impressed and pleased by the effect his unexpected presence has on Angel though, enjoying the earthy cursing and watching Angel, thoroughly embarrassed, retreat back into the bathroom.
‘What the hell do you want?’
Huh? He’s not thought this one through and comes out with the first thing he can think of. ‘There’s no hot water my side.’ He wonders if Angel will notice that his hair is wet.
Angel doesn’t seem impressed with this inspired excuse, but not quite realising how, Spike ends up moving toward the shower in a kind of dream. He’s thinking about drains and wondering if Angel regrets wasting his seed, too.
‘Don’t touch the water either.’
He turns. It’s there again: that flirty, low tone that makes his balls prickle.
In his mind, he asks Angel to join him, but Angel replies in a puzzled voice that he’s already showered. With a stab of deep affection for all Angel’s quirks and inadequacies, Spike just says, amused, ‘Towel?’
The growl is better than words—Angel is flirting with him, and he’s doing it in their own unique language.
Standing naked in Angel’s shower, he trails one toe over the drain.
His erection is actually painful, but he leaves it alone. He’s thinking. He raises his eyes and fixes on the wall between them. Does Angel stand there listening—as he listened? Is he waiting to hear proof of his childe’s loneliness? Does he crane to hear a telltale beating of preternatural flesh? Flesh of his flesh….
Shutting down, locking all the crazy thoughts inside, he acts on pure instinct once more. He steps out of the shower and confronts Angel with a wet, urgent erection solid against his belly, a cockhead out and raw, and balls pendulous, swinging painfully as he walks.
There’s nowhere for him to go now. He offers everything he has, waiting.
It doesn’t go exactly to plan.
Angel’s acute embarrassment embarrasses him. He falters, and the terrifying thought comes to him that it has all been a dream—none of it real. Angelus never gave him the time of day…. He was merely treated like a minion, banished to distant rooms in the house whilst his sire played with the women…. There was no illicit kissing done under the excuse of feeding….
Feeling totally exposed, disgusted with himself—a cheap whore—he asks for a towel, not minding that he’s thrown the wet, second-hand one of Angel’s.
He doesn’t mind at all… for in the action of stretching around to reach the towel, Angel’s shirt rides up. Soft cotton pants hide nothing….
Something thick and heavy points toward the ceiling….
Spike flits back over the events of the evening. Between Angel getting off in the shower, and Angel being erect now, there’s only been one event… his shower.
He mulls this over as they go through some desultory, routine jibing.
There’s a startling, but very pleasant conclusion to his flit: Angel got hard listening to water falling on his skin.
He goes into his room and leans on the door, holding onto the handle.
The world suddenly seems full of possibilities again. He’s not in this strange confusion alone: Angel’s there with him. Maybe his sire isn’t able to articulate this yet, but Angel’s body is doing the talking for him. You can’t fake an erection; it comes from being aroused, from wanting to fuck or suck or roll with someone, feeling their heat, feeling their passion, too. Angel had listened to him showering, and he had wanted his body.
The only trouble is, Spike has the distinct impression that Angel is not ready to admit this yet—even to himself. If he’d pushed it—possibly falling on Angel as he sat embarrassed and hunched on the bed—he would have lost everything. Angel’s denial needs something other than his usual stalk-‘em-until-they-give-in approach. This needs subtlety.
If he’s aware of a certain inconsistency in his moods, he ignores it. He’s a vampire with a soul; who’s gonna say what’s consistent for that?
He needs a new plan, one that will draw Angel out slowly, get him to admit his need.
It’s all about subtlety.
After he’s taken care of….
He eases the knot of the towel with a sense of palpable relief. He’s subsided somewhat from the peak of hardness listening to Angel had produced, but a few swift strokes brings that urgency back.
Dropping the wet towel on the floor, he goes to the bed, planning to lie back and think of his plans for Angel, but as he kneels on the edge, a startling memory floods his mind: Angelus, naked and sprawled on his belly on a bed, reading.
It doesn’t take much of a switch to shorten the hair and update the covers. Now, it’s Angel’s prone body beneath him.
He spreads his fingers over Angel’s solid ass, able to feel the imaginary skin as vividly as he can feel his own dick. He strokes both idly: Angel’s flawless cheek and his thick member.
He can’t see Angel’s hole, but if he closes his eyes, he can feel it under his thumb, so he thumbs it for a while, his other skimming the tip of his cock.
The hole is very tight; he forms a fist with his spare hand—as tight as he anticipates Angel would be.
Gently, experimentally at first, he pushes his cockhead against the tight, fleshy enclosure. It seems impenetrable, but he doesn’t release his grip to accommodate it; he just pushes harder.
The sensation of forcing into something so resistant makes him harden enough to make an inroad, and the sensitive cockhead slips through his fist. He can’t help a soft sound of pleasure and withdraws to do it again. This time, slippery with pre-cum, the push in is easy, and he’s half-embedded before he knows it.
He’s lost track of Angel, so tries to focus on him again, but it’s too hard now. He can’t put Angel in this position—being penetrated—and keep his imaginary sire real. He has no idea how Angel would react to something like this, or even if he would allow it.
He gives Angel a few long, hard strokes, just to help him make up his mind, feeling it’s appreciated. Leaning over further, climbing on top of the hole, he bangs in, using his hips for momentum and holding his fist rigidly still.
He doesn’t last long; he’s too hard. But it’s longer than he would last if he actually were fucking Angel.
Flinging down onto the wet patch, it’s impossible to imagine this is Angel’s body—that he’s pitching down in post-orgasmic pleasure to that welcoming flesh. It’s all too impossible to imagine. Most days, Angel doesn’t even notice his presence; it’s a long way to go from that to…. But there’s the erection…. He recalls the shape of it under the soft cotton pants. For one sickening moment, he wonders if Angel shoved something down there—some kind of sick, vampire thing—then chuckles: what he saw was genuine arousal.
An even more unpleasant thought then creeps in. Maybe, Angel became aroused thinking about someone else…. Maybe, in Angel’s mind, the water was cascading over different flesh.
He’s not entirely innocent of the crime of substitution himself: once fucking Dru and picturing Darla; always fucking Harmony and seeing Buffy; occasionally fucking Buffy and wishing it were Dru; fucking Anya the once and thinking of Harris—but only in an up-yours-Mate kind of way (of course); and doing all of this thinking, somewhere in the back of his mind, of Angel, or Angelus.
No wonder he’s screwed up.
But if Angel had done a little substitution, there’s a fairly short list of suspects: the wolf-girl. Bloody milksop with her annoying jaw. But Angel has a thing about werewolves…. Blond ones….
He rolls over onto his back and runs through the whole scene one more time.
Despite all his self-doubt and confusion, he’s convinced that Angel was not picturing someone else as he hardened standing the other side of that thin divide. He was picturing his smooth flesh. He was picturing…. He sits up, a tingle trickling unpleasantly down his spine. Was Angel fucking him? It’s a startling thought. His arse clenches in sympathy.
Lying back carefully, he ponders this.
He knows the theory. He’s a Victorian—sodomy hardly a mystery. But he’s never wanted it. It’s not occurred to him before that if Angel were picturing them together, his sire would be kneeling and penetrating, and he would be lying down and… taking it. All nine inches of it.
Eight—no need to boost Angel’s ego any more than necessary.
The most unused place on a vampire….
Sheesh! Six, or it’s going nowhere near me!
Hmm… with suitable lubrication though….
He folds his hands under his head and slowly draws his knees up, then spreads his legs experimentally.
Bloody hell! Six….
But… maybe seven….
Huh, even eight… suitably… prepared. Imaginary cock becomes imaginary finger, and it’s gently easing into him, twisting slickly through his tightness.
He hisses, drawing his knees up to his chest, cock rising in response. Angel’s fingers are made for this: long and powerful. Angel’s well into it, the penetration suiting natural inclinations. Spike watches his eyes carefully, trying to read from the imaginary the needs of the real, and has to conclude that the flesh and blood one would get off on this, too.
He arches and begins to pull his prick. He actually misses something he’s never had: feeling of something inside him. He thumps on the bed, desperately wanting that something thumping inside him—eight inches of solid Angel ramming into him, and it’s a theory in his head no longer.
Oh, yeah, bring it on….
He explodes, a rain of sperm that leaves him shaking, aching for the feel of something hard easing slowly out of him.
Twitching up an eyebrow, he smiles shyly as the provenance of this occurs to him, but, hell, if he had another hole, he’d offer it. He doesn’t, and the one he has will have to do.
Exhaustion sweeps over him, but it’s good. It’s tiredness from being almost shagged by Angel; it’s tiredness with Angel lying only a few feet away from him instead of being alone; and it’s tiredness from having his mind calm and clear for once.
He knows what he wants. He knows what Angel…. Should he say wants or needs? He hopes they’re the same. Wants. He knows what Angel wants, too. He just has to persuade him that it’s what he wants.
He wakes to another new day. He’s had many new days, but often they aren’t… new. He grins softly. His small Chernobyl of the soul is over. He feels it. Hell’s fires no longer lick; they’re there, but he’s burnt up before… no biggie.
Hell hasn’t got him yet; he’s sneaky like that.
He stretches then folds his arms under his head, thinking. Angel.
Has there ever been a time when he’s not been thinking about Angel? Even when he fell through a floor with the Slayer, even when those years of stalking had finally come to fruition, he’d been thinking of Angel and what he was taking from him… where they’d both been… what else they would now share.
Stalking…. It had worked with her: a persistent wearing down of her defences until she’d relinquished them as easily as her panties.
Distracted suddenly, a few moments do pass when he’s not thinking about Angel, but then he veers back on track.
It’s not going to work—not with Angel. He’s not going to wear his sire down with sexual persistence. Angel needs something else. He needs something else with Angel.
He turns his head on the anonymous, guest-apartment pillow and studies the other one—the empty one.
Once more, thoughts of Buffy intrude. But they’re not thoughts of falling into something neither of them could control. He remembers the other time they shared a bed. When she really needed him, he’d given her nothing but his strength. With startling clarity, he sees that what he was for her at the end, he has to be for Angel at the….
He frowns, wondering where that depressing thought came from. Is this going to be the end?
With a small flick of his eyebrow, he admits he doesn’t care all that much—as long as he goes down fighting alongside Angel.
Angel needs him to be exactly what he turned him to be: his companion in the fight. That they’ve changed sides in the conflict doesn’t alter that.
He has a slightly vague idea of what this companionship will entail, long-forgotten Latin lessons coming back to him: Thebans, Spartans…. He always knew there was more to those intimate brotherhoods than his tutor had allowed.
He’s not forgotten that he’s here under a cloud—a slight lapse in a tunnel blotting his otherwise fairly spotless copybook.
The first thing is to get Angel to trust him again.
He narrows his eyes and admits reluctantly that this might be trust him for the first time, but this is a mere detail, and he doesn’t let it ruin his enthusiasm for the project.
It’s not a very inspired name, but it’ll have to do for now. Get Angel to trust him…. Tame Angel? Angel… a wild horse: nervous, trembling, beautiful. The huge stallion rears, challenging him. Break Angel! That’s a much more interesting thought…. He strokes a hand over his belly, heading lower, as the ways he could do that breaking occur: Angel chained—one touch, an electric twitch—Angel manacled—soft stroking—Angel bleeding—urgent jerking—Angel torn—arching off the bed—Angel begging—break me Spike; break me in. He comes in a glorious mess on his belly, shot after shot of thick cum arcing out and raining down on waiting flesh.
He doesn’t come down from this pleasure for a long time, his whole body quivering with contentment.
Rubbing his hand around in the stickiness, he mentally rebukes himself for falling at the first hurdle. This kind of behaviour isn’t going to get him anywhere—isn’t going to get Angel to trust him.
It’s bloody fun though….
Full of enthusiasm for the day ahead, he swings his legs off the bed and enjoys a long, leisurely (hot) shower, then retrieves his clothes from the heap he left them in on the floor.
He sniffs them suspiciously and tries to imagine what they’d smell like to non-preternatural senses. As they’re the only ones he’s got, there’s not much choice but to dress in them again.
He stands for some time, watching Angel sleep. It only confirms the need for his project. No one should sleep alone in a double bed. The occupant tries to fill it, stretching limbs to the four corners, but it never really works. Where there should be another warm body, there’s only space. He tips his head to one side and mentally measures the spare capacity in Angel’s bed and reckons he’d fill it quite nicely.
Getting bored, wanting some company, he claps his hands and shouts a rude reveille.
Angel jerks awake and rolls onto his back.
Spike nearly laughs out loud, but lowers his gaze and pretends to be searching in his pockets for a cigarette. For a moment, as he’d turned, Angel’s erection had tented the sheet like a fifth limb seeking space.
Totally distracted by his thoughts the previous night, trying not to think inches, he blurts out, ‘Come on. We get to torture the little fat git today!’
He’d forgotten what a terrible morning person Angel is—his brain slower to get going than damp kindling. ‘You think Lindsey is fat?’ Spike mentally rolls his eyes at the mention of that bloody name, but then grins when he’s ordered out.
He claps again, chivvying Angel a little and turns to see what might be for breakfast. All this planning has given him a real appetite.
He chatters nonsensically until Angel finally goes to shower, then helps himself to some food and wanders over to the window to pull the drapes.
In the hermetically sealed apartment, they don’t billow.
Leaning on the glass, remembering a time when there was no morning wake-up call, when they lay curled together, happily filling the available space, there’s an overwhelming sense that this is all wrong.
It’s wrong, but Angel doesn’t seem able to see it. They live in sunlight, sleep the hunting hours away, feed on degrading blood from plastic bags and deny the constant need for the pleasure of flesh. He has the hopeless desire to return to what they had once been: soulless and simple. He wants to curl in a lair, deep in the safely of the earth—not discover that the earth is hollow and not to be trusted.
He senses clean, soap-smelling skin return to the room—does Angel prefer the smell of non-soaped, natural skin, too?—and murmurs, ‘It’s too high up here.’
At the reply, he flicks his eyes over, studying Angel with his habitual, stealthy regard. He hears a deep vein of cynicism and defeat in the seemingly casual reply. There’s something in Angel’s tone that worries him… intrigues him. This is more than just the weariness of being CEO of Wolfram and Hart. It’s as if the fight is just too much for him. The impression of Angel’s vulnerability is not helped by the fact he’s peeled off his bandage, revealing an ugly wound beneath. Sensing that this raises thoughts of him (and not in a good way), he turns his gaze back to the view. Defences down, guilt swelling, he’s caught with a broadside by Angel’s criticism of his clothes. He can’t think of a suitable reply, but is surprised when Angel flicks an envelope over.
He replays the moment as he opens it… implication he smells… envelope. Pout! He files this interesting thought away to pick at later: Angel was deflected and affected by a simple pout. He’s got lots of variations of these, so this could be an extremely useful discovery.
Money! He wasn’t expecting the envelope to contain dollars, and he’s rather pleased. The pleasure quickly subsides when, once again, Angel manages to ease that damn lawyer’s name between them. As long as that’s the only part of the man easing between them, he’ll let it go. No, he bloody won’t! ‘Angel, do you have a problem with something? Every bloody time—oh, sodding hell—we talk about him—Angel is actually jealous—you accuse me of—of me with him!—fucking him! Bloody hell!
It’s unbelievable but very, very satisfying. Angel is jealous! He picks up Angel’s cue like a terrier. ‘What? What don’t you like thinking about, Angel?’
When Angel says you, a great sense of calmness descends over him. For one moment, all the striving—to survive, to understand the world, to understand Angel—ceases, and all he knows is that Angel wants him. The truth of this is in Angel’s shy flirting with that contradiction. The certainty of it is in Angel’s confident stride to the elevator. Whatever dark thoughts he woke with, whatever led to his strange, uncharacteristically nihilistic comment earlier, he’s now riding high on the same connection he feels, the same promise that was sealed with their burning flesh.
He strides after Angel, joining him in the elevator, feeling more like a companion than he has for a very long time.
Feeling brave, he tests Angel’s patience, winding him up subtly as he used to be permitted to do—in another time and another place when Angel played the role of father, and he played the child (albeit with a very enjoyable incestuous sub-plot to that pseudo relationship).
It seems that Angel can still play the game, that he still remembers the rules. Spike fancies he can hear an Irish lilt in the way Angel murmurs, ‘You try my patience.’
It’s the voice that has haunted his dreams for over a hundred years.
He doesn’t want the other Angel—the cynical, hopeless one—to return. It seems to be his new mission—blown in on the heat of imagined flames—to keep Angel buoyant, energised, and ready for the fight. He tries to recall some Homer to set the right mood then takes Angel’s arm in a manly, warrior-like way.
‘Let me do the torture thing, Pet. You do the talky-talk thing and then leave, yeah?’ Sheesh… how much more noble can you get than that?
He ignores Angel’s predicable reaction and adds in a slightly seductive voice, ‘I don’t want you to do it.’ Ignore the poof’s rant. God—he’s so lovable! ‘Precious. You’re too precious.’ Bugger. Gone too far. Heart on fricking sleeve. Claw back some dignity. ‘To the mission, that is.’
Not hitting the delicate balance needed to pull off this manly companion thing, he lights a cigarette and floats away for a while, thinking about going shopping and wondering if he’s got enough money to buy a telly.
He’d forgotten just how much the small human annoys him. He annoys him even more now because he can watch him with Angel, and there’s no doubt, there’s… reaction. He can’t describe it any other way than that: reaction.
He watches for a while then works it out. The man wants Angel.
He’s not sure it’s entirely sexual.
It’s close enough though.
He turns his gaze upon Angel.
It’s extremely interesting viewing Angel from someone else’s point of view for once.
For the first time, Spike tries to look at the outside. He always looks inside Angel to the things they share: blood, demon, memories. He rarely looks at the exterior, but he does now.
Angel has changed. He looks tired. Spike sighs, wishing he could discover the provenance for this extreme weariness. It’s a manifestation of the nihilism he’d heard earlier, a sense that nothing matters—that they don’t matter. It depresses him to see Angel defeated. Nothing broke Angelus: not the Inquisition, not that stalking plank Holtz, not Buffy.
Okay, he admits it’s a tad unfair to compare Buffy to the Inquisition, but the pain they caused was bloody similar…. She did that thing with a stake….
This pug-nosed little git doesn’t seem to find Angel tired. He seems very happy—very happy—to be mauled and shouted at, dragged and touched and handled by Angel. It’s beginning to piss Spike off, so he suggests they swap, taking over the questioning—a little interrogation that won’t give bloody toerag a standing ovation.
It’s not hard to deflate the ponce’s nads: a few well-timed murmurs about hell, and things subside nicely.
It goes on all day. He’s so bored. If it weren’t for watching Angel getting angry, which is always an incredible turn on, he’d go do his shopping. He’s alternating between a telly, which he’s not sure will work in the apartment, and some books, which he figures will.
He desperately wants to buy one of those doobries… with the little silver sticks that you can tap with at meetings and look as if you’re taking notes, but you’re really surfing porn… silver with a little blue screen.
Oh! And an MP3! He could attach them and do illegal things with music. This little pillow-biter looks like he’d know how to attach them—looks like he’d know how to attach a lot of interesting things. Spike tips his head on one side, thoughtfully studying the earrings. Why has he never had something pierced? He lets his mind wander, musing on likely places. Would a hole try to close over? Crushing the stud…. Popping it out…. Course, he wouldn’t get something poofy (like bloody earrings)—nah, something hard…. Great fucking bolt up his piss-hole!
The image of a bolt flying from his cock, squeezed out as his preternatural flesh heals, cracks him up, and he turns away to hide a grin.
At bloody last—Angel’s finished!
Angel sweeps out, tapping him on the back; Spike’s only too happy to follow. If he gets a shifty on, the shops’ll still be open.
As he strides behind Angel to the elevator, Spike thinks (not for the first time) that Angel needs to lighten up a smidge. Always yammering… torture… redemption (he’s bound to bring redemption in somewhere)….
Where would Angel look good pierced…?
That’s an interesting thought. He studies Angel’s body as he walks behind the imposing figure.
Picturing decorative studs (and, if he’s really honest—which he usually is, of course—picturing the putting in and taking out of decorative studs, and the nooks and crannies of Angel’s body that would need to be held, probed and separated whilst he worked) takes his concentration off Angel’s conversation, and before he knows it, they’re side by side on the couch, and Angel’s being broody again.
He’s just beginning to think up a whole new points’ system for Angel—based on a complex arrangement of different broody facial expressions—when Angel’s conversation becomes considerably more interesting.
Could he have put a more flirtatious undertone to his voice if he’d tried?
What would it be like to be called to bed by that voice…? Angel lying naked and aroused, arm outstretched….
He stretches his fingers, studying them as if Angel has taken one and is pulling him forward….
‘Are we talking about the lawyer?’
Huh? Photographic memory replays the conversation.
Their whole history implodes to this one moment, and then explodes, a kaleidoscope of fragments. Has he been talking about the human while he’s hardened to thoughts of Angel, naked and glorious on a bed, or has he obliquely told Angel all the things he’s been trying to tell him since he got his soul?
How his soul aches to confess: to admit love and need, to acknowledge his great desire to do good.
He starts to reply—the word love actually on his lips.
‘Why did you leave me there?’
Love, and all the other words are swallowed, just as surely as all his good intentions were when he turned from Angel.
He has no answer. Not one that he can explain to Angel, anyway, for his explanation teeters on the brink of insanity between his extremes of love and hate. He doesn’t know which side of this great chasm he will eventually fall, but sure as hell doesn’t want to be pushed early by Angel.
He’ll fall in his own good time.
‘I have something I need to do.’ He sinks his tone, adding an air of mystery and import to his declaration, striding out.
Project Angel isn’t going too well.
He has absolutely no idea where to go or what to buy but has a vague idea that Project Angel might stand more chance of success if he was… cleaner.
He might not know where to go, but he knows someone who will. The trouble is it has to be approached carefully, subtly. Never let the enemy know your ultimate objective.
‘So, Hamilton. How’s it going?’
‘Spike. How charming. It’s going very well. And with you?’
‘Huh? Oh, yeah. Well, so… nice suit, by the way.’
‘Thank you! I’m flattered you noticed. Slightly worried, but intrigued enough to continue this conversation.’
‘What? Look, I mean…. Are you just gonna stand there with your bloody hands folded?’
‘No, I could unfold them. There. Isn’t this pleasant.’
‘You, Mate, need to chill a bit.’
‘I’m not familiar with that term… chill…. Is that the opposite of burning in hell?’
‘What do you want, Spike? Unlike you, I have a role in the coming apocalypse, and I’d rather like to get on with it.’
‘Right. So much for sodding subtle. Where’d you buy the fucking suit?’
‘Turnball and Asser.’
‘It’s hardly your sort of place, Spike.’
‘Never mind, Ponce; I’ll find it me bleeding self.’ He tries to make a sweeping, grand exit, but it’s not easy in grubby black.
He cheers himself up by stealing Angel’s favourite car and relaxes as soon as he pulls out from the evil empire. Fucking over-dressed, poncy git. He’s top of Spike’s new list: People Who Are Gonna Get Bumped Off Come The Apocalypse.
That’ll teach her to get a room with his sire.
He’s forced to call Harmony on and off for over an hour getting directions, but eventually, he scoots into the turn-ass place under his coat, shaking the smoke to disperse it slightly.
He’s the only person in the shop, except for three Marcus-clones. Smaller, but creepily similar.
‘May we help you?’
He looks around theatrically then down at his own clothes, raising one eyebrow.
‘Ah. Quite. I’m afraid, Sir, that you won’t find anything in here to suit you. So to speak.’
Spike stares at him for a while until the man reddens and turns away.
He marches to a rack of shirts and pulls a number off hangers, but they’re all… shudder. He drops them to the floor, walking over them. ‘So, where’s the cool gear?’
‘I’m sorry, Sir, but I’ll have to ask you to leave.’
‘Ask away. I’m feeling just pissy enough to forget all my good intentions and fucking EAT you!’
‘Sir! Seriously, I’m trying to…. Don’t! Sir! There’s a…. Please! Better… shop… for you…. It’s really… cool! Don’t! We cater for a much… older…. Please!’
Spike drops him and rips a couple of sweaters off a stand. They’re black and fucking clean.
He slams them on the counter.
The man sidles around to the other side, hastily ringing them up. Then he stands expectantly. Narrowing his eyes, Spike digs in his pocket to retrieve the envelope, glancing casually at the till.
The man smiles as if he’s won a pissing contest. ‘One thousand and thirty five dollars. Sir.’
A dignified exit isn’t possible.
Hell, he’s had worse things dented than his pride. ‘So, this other shop…?’
Winning the dick-measuring contest as well, the man nods understandingly. ‘Energie.’ It’s tagged on, but it’s not meant. ‘Sir….’
This one isn’t empty, and a number of young men turn to watch as he shakes out his smoking coat.
He looks around for a moment, puzzled then picks something off a table.
‘Still my beating heart; the I has just been put in desire.’
He turns to find a young, apparently homeless man watching him admiringly. ‘Huh?’
‘Anything I can get you? And I’m including myself in that….’
A slight frown. ‘Oh, jeez, do—you—speak—English?’
‘Bloody sodding hell! Of course I speak bloody English. I am sodding English, you git!’
‘Okay! Do you want to buy some… sodding… clothes. Jeez, I love that… sodding…. That’s so cool!’
Spike holds up the pair of jeans. ‘Where’s the new stuff?’
‘The—new—clothes. I don’t want this homeless shit!’ He pokes his finger through a rip in one knee. ‘I’ve already got a pair like this. I need something new.’
‘You are so funny! Go on—tell me you’re an English comedian, and this is some kinda candid show, and you’re gonna….’
‘Fucking hell! I want to buy some sod…. Some freaking clothes! Is that too much to ask?’
‘Sheesh! Unripped jeans! You’re breaking my heart. Over here….’
He sees a price tag. It’s a nightmare, spooling like a bad movie. ‘How bloody much!!! I don’t wanna buy the sodding factory!’
The walls are closing in on him. He doesn’t understand any of this. He just wants a pair of jeans. Last time he’d bought some, they’d been ten bob. Throwing his hands up (metaphorically as well as literally), he sees a rear exit and storms out.
He’s in a large mall.
There are people everywhere; he’s jostled. The roof is smoky glass; the sun begins to burn.
Totally disorientated, he dives into a shop.
A sublime sense of calm descends.
Shiny metallic things everywhere…. Some have flickering blue lights…. And every single one of them is playing The Ramones.
There is a heaven after all.
Too Tough to Kill on full blast, a bottle of whisky to christen the new sound system, and he makes heaven here on earth.
He can actually feel hell being pushed back, flames dampened by the smoky taste of the fiery liquid.
He strips off his T-shirt, the smell beginning to get to him now, too. The boots join them in a pile on the floor, and he begins to slide away on the alcohol, his body taken over by the music. It’s better than heaven, and the memory of the unsettling shopping trip fades.
Utterly caught by surprise by the sudden cessation of the music, he falters and stops singing. He can’t look Angel in the eye. He’s standing on his T-shirt and feels intensely guilty that he was such a failure. He just wanted to buy some new clothes and look… nice. But he’ll be damned if he’ll admit anything of this to Angel’s censorious look. ‘Buying clothes is so boring.’
It’s an argument before he knows it, but it’s not what he wants with Angel.
Then it’s a blur of angry words that he doesn’t stop to consider until they’re standing toe to toe, and he’s poking Angel and telling him that he loves him, only he doesn’t use exactly those words.
Angel doesn’t hear what he doesn’t say and takes the finger, bending it painfully. Cresting high now on pain-induced memories of vampire foreplay, Spike invites Angel to remember, too. The word fuck seems startling out loud despite the number of times he’s said it in his head.
But Angel doesn’t remember. He wipes a small trace of him from his cheek. Did they once lick traces of blood from the corners of inviting lips? Did they stare too long? Lick too knowingly?
Perhaps it’s all delusion—as deluded as his memories of a slayer actually loving him.
‘I’m sorry.’ I’m sorry you wiped me off. ‘I don’t want this.’
‘What do you want?’
I want you.
It’s so crazy. He no longer knows what any of those words mean. He doesn’t know who he is; he has no idea what the want entails; and he’s damn sure he doesn’t know Angel anymore. Angel… Angelus… his sire… his companion… his teacher… his friend. His.
It’s a lot to invest in one slightly poofy vampire. He feels guilty for needing so much from Angel when Angel so patently can’t give him any of it.
Project Angel is shit.
‘I’m kinda tired, Angel; I’m going to bed.’
The tension between them is unbearable, more potent than whisky or music, but it doesn’t subdue emotion—it heightens it.
His back to Angel, he can feel hairs on the back of his neck pricking with stress at the aching need in his heart.
‘If you want to tell me, Spike, you know where I am. I’m not going anywhere. Go use the shower first if you want.’ The voice is so close—when did Angel get so close? ‘I’m gonna read for a while.’
He stares at Angel hard enough to drill down into his soul. Are you offering me something more? The promise of your domesticity? The family I lost when I lost you?
‘I won’t runt and play in shit with you, Spike. Not now. We’re more than that now. Both of us. Equal and the same—souled and precious.’
OH! The absent fuck screams in his mind.
Tired, drunk and strung out, he pushes past, heading blindly to the promised shower, his mind churning all the possibilities implicit in Angel’s declaration.
He said they were equals.
He called him precious.
He didn’t deny that he wanted to fuck.
He showers mechanically, feeling no heat, no water. Angel isn’t a project; this isn’t a game. This is their history being tested, and without their history, what are they? The world tumbles down around them, and without their history—the ties that bind—they’ll be destroyed. Angel needs him, and he’s got to stop pissing around. He can hardly stand for drink when Angel needs him. He feels abashed when he accepts some offered blood.
‘You used to talk to me.’
Unprepared, his defences dulled by unaccustomed guilt, Spike can’t summon the clever deflections that have protected him all his life. He hears defeat in his voice. ‘You used to listen.’
‘Are the souls barriers?’
Of course they bloody are. ‘I don’t know.’ I’m half-mad most of the time, kinda makes it hard to talk! ‘Yes, maybe.’ You’re always so angry it makes it hard for you to listen. ‘You’ve not heard me since you had yours.’
Once more, an argument erupts. This never changes: the volatility of their relationship. But suddenly, he’s watching Angel fetch him a sweater, and different words tumble out.
One of them’s been listening.
The words crack Angel open; he can see fractures in the carefully presented façade. Angel’s vulnerability draws him closer.
Angry words build, spat out but still meant. Then Angel turns, his eyes dark and accusatory. ‘You never talk to me; you never tell me what you’re thinking. I never know what you’re thinking, Spike! I’m sorry! I can’t be the intuitive person you seem to want me to be! You have to….’
It seems to Spike he’s been screaming at Angel for so long that his inner voice is hoarse, so now he speaks in the old language, the one they used to use.
Touching Angel’s body is like falling into a familiar bed after years sleeping in anonymous ones. Memories mass on his lips, their shared saliva releasing them, but the kiss is a paradox: the longest and the shortest—an equinox between what was and what could be.
Then he stands straight and keeps Angel’s gaze challengingly. You hear me well enough now, don’t you?
He sees that Angel does, and the thought frightens him a little. Angel’s crossed a line in the sand that was a marker between them. Angel has crossed over into his scary realm where thoughts can become desires and memories become more tangible than blood.
Possibilities have gone—all the promise that something could happen… gone.
Something has happened, and certainty is so much harder to kick against than possibility.
The kiss was a test, a dip in the water of memory. It doesn’t matter whether Angel kissed him back, or not—which is just as well for Angel’s lips stayed still and cold—the critical question is did Angel want to kiss? Did the memories swell in his mouth, too, or did he swallow without tasting?
The cold reality, when he returns to his room, is that the kiss did not give Angel the key to his memories. Spike begins to believe that there’s nothing locked in there to discover anyway.
It rather puts paid to his romantic version of their past.
Where was the erotic charge that was sparked to life by burning flesh?
He puts some music on and picks up the bottle a little unsteadily.
On a swallow, music eases out….
Knew the signs
I was stupid for a while
Swept away by you
And now I feel like a fool
My heart's bruised
Was I ever loved by you?
He turns, incredulous, to the sound. Did he conjure this from his feelings for Angel? Is this the kiss made manifest?
He puts the bottle down and stands by the window.
Out of reach, so far
I never had your heart
Out of reach,
We were never
Meant to be
He beings to laugh, but is surprised when he’s mute, and the humour emerges as tears.
I could drown
If I stay here
Keeping busy everyday
I know I will be OK
He does need to go—to leave L.A. He’s known that for a long time but fooled himself that he was helping, doing some good, when all he was doing was hanging around like Angel’s puppy, waiting for a bone.
That makes him laugh again, finding schoolboy humour in the word bone, but once more, the laughter is twisted inside his heart and emerges as a sob.
But I was
My heart's bruised
Was I ever loved by you?
He hears footfalls and wants to ask was I? but instead, says wearily, ‘Go away, Angel. It’s late.’ It’s too late for us now; there’s too much history, and it tangles around my heart like thorns.
Out of reach, so far
‘You’re right, Spike. I do use you.’
I never had your heart
Out of reach,
We were never
Meant to be
‘I kinda thought we were using each other. You’re here willingly, though. I don’t force you to stay.’
No, but you don’t really want me here. I embarrass you— remind you of things you don’t want to remember.
So much hurt,
So much pain
Takes a while
What is lost inside
And I hope that in time,
You'll be out of my mind
And I'll be over you
I can leave you, Angel, but you’ll never be out of my mind.
‘You’re wrong. I do want you here. I need you here.’
Where did that come from?
But now I'm
My heart's bruised
Was I ever loved by you?
Shut up, Bint, I’m listening to my sire here.
‘I think you’ve always liked the fact that I can’t read you.’
Well, yeah! So stop bloody doing it now! Get out of my head, Angel! He heads nonchalantly to the shower, hoping Angel will go before anything more incriminating is read.
‘Haven’t you forgotten there’s no hot water this side?’
Trying to summon some dignity from an undignified position, he turns to the bed, but Angel’s parting words hold him fixed in time. ‘I do like you, by the way. I still think you’re an idiot, but I’m almost kinda fond of you.’
Angel looks at him. The look is memory made tangible, but it stabs into his gut in a way memories never can, and the look has nothing of the past; it’s all of the future.
He’s ensnared in a net, fished from darkness where his thoughts were his own, and Angel stares down at him, captured.
As he lies in the bed, his stomach heaving from tension and whisky, Spike realises that he’s lying quite still in Angel’s net.
Not one thrash for freedom.
He doesn’t sleep, so wakes to Angel’s presence, disoriented.
He’s never been less sure whether this is Angel or Angelus, never more snared in the confusing uncertainty of his memories. Angel stands over him as he’s done so many times in the past when they shared sleep as willingly as blood.
His body yearns to return to those days.
Too soon, the figure departs, but Spike closes his eyes and settles into a light dreamless sleep, for once untroubled by something he can’t reach.
He wakes to another day, but this one isn’t new at all.
It could be any of his mornings, waking with the world lurching around him, his body poisoned and sick. He retches weakly and wishes he were under the ground, in the dark. Squinting at the blinding, painful light, he senses movement in the doorway. Before he can turn his head—which has to be done very slowly—Angel throws something at him, and he fumbles to catch it.
The events of the previous day now join all his other confusing memories. Clearly, kissing Angel is a false memory, or another dream, better than life, which is never difficult given the crud life usually throws at him.
Oh shit. I did kiss Angel!
He dresses, colourfully cursing everything he can think of. When he steps out, Angel does too, looking fresh and immaculate, clothes pressed and expensive, hair just so.
They stand side by side, waiting for the elevator.
It’s more embarrassing than being caught shagging a robot.
No way he’ll mention it; he’ll be too embarrassed.
The git! He’s humming!
Right. Just say it…. ‘I was drunk last night, k?’
Dying slowly is too good for him.
It’s too much. He can’t be this exposed. He wants to obliterate the memory of being so desperate that he… kissed Angel….
Despite his blinding headache and churning gut, he makes a dignified departure, heading for the stairs.
It actually takes a moment of standing in the dark with brooms falling to work out what he’s done.
He turns and makes an equally dignified return to wait for the elevator, but as he approaches, he stops, mouth dry.
The face is full of mirth, gleeful and teasing… and it’s Angelus… after all these years….
His heart kicks over, as if his sire’s presence returns the beat he stole. Tears beckon—grief that this beloved ghost should still haunt him so.
It’s not Angelus; he knows this really; it’s Angel—but Angel’s laughing just as fully and as happily as Angelus ever did.
He rides down with Angelus bearing the face of this newer, handsome man, and for the first time, Spike suspects that he’s the one being covertly watched. A stab of excitement stirs his loins from pain-induced flaccidness. He tries not to smile but murmurs, ‘Ponce,’ teasingly.
Angel’s reply is equally soft and flirtatious, willingly speaking of the kiss. Spike is effectively silenced for the first time in his life, and he’s debating using his lips for something instead of speech when Wesley comes in. Angel shoots an expectant glance at the door, humour sliding from his face like a sloughing off of unwanted skin. Spike wants to make Angel smile again; he wants to hear his soft, private voice, not this harsh one that he uses to stay in control.
When they enter the elevator Spike stands slightly forward, waiting for the doors the opposite side to open. He wonders sometimes about Wesley. He’s not easy to read, and Spike’s got where he has by being able to read humans. Well, okay, he admits just now isn’t a good time to judge just how far he’s got—not literally in this bloody elevator a semi-prisoner in the evil empire… more got in general… the bigger picture… still standing after all this time kind of big…. Bloody good song that. He saw the poofter in concert once—Wembley. Good days.
That’s it! He can’t picture what kind of music Wesley listens too… can’t see him away from this place… can’t form a picture of his life, and it’s disturbing. He’s not sure if it’s because the man is so boring he doesn’t actually have a life, or that he’s got it so carefully masked it’s behind an invisibility shield of some kind. Sheesh, what an anorak! He obliterates this analogy and searches for a cooler one… and is it fucking hot in here, or what?
Something’s twitching his neck. Exposed skin heats; short hairs prickle; sweat’s running down his back. He’s uncomfortable in his clothes and has the absurd desire to strip.
Suddenly, without glancing sideward to confirm it, he knows that Angel is studying him.
Angel’s eyes are on him as sensuously as hands, and he waits, aching for the first touch of flesh. Opportunities are passing them by! Eternity isn’t all that long if you can’t learn to take a risk, commit to something unknown…!
The doors slide open, and suddenly, the day stretches before them, like so many others in the past—all their better chances wasted. It makes him want to weep for the stupidity of it all. He doesn’t want to end up like the dark human, studying his demon through a glass window, too afraid, too closed off to get up close and personal and just taste her. He wants to eat his demon, taste him to the bone and back again. ‘You know what, Angel? Sometimes you think too damn much.’
They question the lawyer mechanically, but Spike’s still thinking about Wesley. This human he can read so easily, and he’s comparing them, trying to see where the Englishman’s weakness might lie. He seems to be the key to understanding Angel better. He’s been to Angel what he was to Buffy….
Seven years flash before his eyes, but a few weeks of thumping and bumping kinda stand out… rather like other things that stood… out….
Buffy plummeted him into a depression of spirits bad enough to go and get his fucking soul! If Wesley and Angel had thumped and bumped and then…. Jeez! Has Angel been dumped by Wesley?
Purely for the sake of giving them the benefit of the doubt, he pictures them together. He has the very interesting thought that in bed with Angel, the human would be very easy to read….
He chuckles at the interesting contrast of dark and pale flesh he can see in his mind. He knows that if there were any truth to any of this, he wouldn’t find it so amusing, so he’s just goes with the fun for a while. Angel and Wesley…. “Thank you, Angel, I’m very grateful.” “You are welcome, Wesley, it’s my mission to give orgasms where I can.” “No, Angel! Your mission is to save the world! Never forget your mission!” “The guilt, Wesley, the guilt! Gunn and Fred! I’m….”
‘I’m getting them back, Spike. Gunn and Fred. Both of them.’
Huh! Shit! I do him better than he does himself!
But Fred’s name… hurts! It actually hurts! He’s not used to this yet—his soul too new. She was the only one willing to help him, but when she needed him, he was the other side of the world, staring uselessly into an endless hole. He burnt up to save the entire world, but for one stick-thin girl with a pretty smile he could do nothing.
‘Fred.’ It doesn’t bring her back saying her name, but it feels good.
For a brief flash of complete altruism (which he’ll punish himself for later—perhaps a nice little pain session with Illyria….) he almost wishes that Angel had fucked Wesley. His sire needs all the moments of pleasure he can get. Angel’s setting himself up for a fall; he’s going to fail with this as he’s failed so many times before. One vampire taking on the world…. It doesn’t work that way.
The elevator finally arrives, and mulling over his punishment (it’s good being your own judge and jury, and he’s always very strict with himself), running over some of his favourite moves with Illyria, he steps inside. He’s adapting, but not fast enough, and he doesn’t like having his arse kicked quite so easily by someone even thinner than he is. She reminds him of a stick of rhubarb, but he obviously hasn’t pointed this out to her.
Suddenly, he’s pinned into a corner, and Angel’s dark look fixes on him. ‘What?’
If only he could tell Angel about the rhubarb—not the actual thought itself, of course, but the theory of all his thoughts. It’s how you escape from the big picture, how you don’t set yourself up for a fall. It’s what he does, but he can’t explain it to Angel. Angel just thinks he’s an idiot, and maybe he is, but he’s still standing, stupid or not.
He’s not sure he can explain any of what he feels—this sense that they won’t make a difference to the people that need them… that they’re too focused on the big picture and not on the individual need (one person’s in particular), but he tries.
Angel so doesn’t get it that he actually laughs, Buffy’s name now between them. As if she is something they can talk about in a bloody elevator. He doesn’t need Angel to remind him that Buffy only carries him in her heart—never in her guts and blood where he wants to be… where she carries Angel.
For the first time, when Angel asks him if he still loves Buffy, he sees that she’s only in his heart, too: pure and beloved. How can he explain this to Angel—explain what they shared at the end? How can he speak of the ethereal to this—this overwhelmingly physical presence?
He’s about to tell Angel about the last few weeks with Buffy when he falters, his belly suddenly clenching in fear. For one moment, he’s not Spike trapped in an elevator by Angel, but William, trapped against smog-darkened bricks by Angelus.
When Angel’s lips posses him, his reaction is much the same as it had been to fangs; total surrender.
He’d forgotten that Angel knows how to kiss this well.
The next time he has a coherent thought, he’s standing behind a secretary from the accounts’ department, but he has no memory of how this happened.
His arm is touching Angel’s, leather sleeves brushing, and it’s every bit as erotic as the kiss.
It would have been a passionate kiss from an established lover, but from Angel….
Angel…! Angel who must have been thinking about kissing him for some time…. Angel thinking this when he was looking at him…. He groans inwardly. Angel suddenly gives a small, amused snort, and Spike’s face flares, convinced the humans will be able to smell the intense scent of vampire arousal hanging heavily in the air.
Angel wants him, and that changes everything.
It seems to him now that a monumental decision is coming.
He’ll have to decide to give up memories, dreams and longings for reality. If he commits to this thing with Angel, there’ll be no going back to a time when it was just possibility. It’s as if he’s in a show, the end uncertain until the script comes through. He’s not sure he wants to read that final script and see where all this ends—it’s safer to stay where his memories and his desires shape reality.
Too soon they’re alone, and Angel turns, demanding to know the ending, too, asking him what’s to happen.
It’s so unfair. Angel holds all the cards—he always has.
Then Angel throws him a huge curve and bends reality to match fantasy.
Angel asks him up to his apartment.
It’s the most difficult thing he’s ever had to do, just walking through a brightly lit lobby toward Angel’s private elevator.
The tension in his belly is unbearable. Everything he’s pictured or wanted is going to play out in some form or other, and now that it’s here, he doesn’t feel ready for it—too small, to stupid, too grubby, too old, too young, too confused, too exactly what Angel has always thought of him.
He wishes Angel had just pounced and taken him—as he’d taken him to death. Why not with this as well? He could have taken him between floors… the elevator slamming against the walls… no escape possible….
This slow anticipation unmans him, makes him want to turn away, run away, stay away—anything not to go upstairs to fuck with Angel.
Maybe he can limit it to fighting with lots of blood involved….
He’s surprised he’s actually able to step over the threshold of Angel’s office. It seems way too reminiscent of something else he’s gonna breech soon. Okay…. What exactly does Angel think is going to happen upstairs...?
Suddenly, he realises he’s not alone and stares wildly at Wesley and Lorne, for one bizarre moment thinking they’ve come to watch. Then he remembers that not everything revolves around him and Angel, and that somewhere, out there, the world is coming to an end…cus if he thinks I’m gonna be the one being breeched, he’s got another think….
He nods at them, distracted by the mechanics of exactly what’s going to go where, and Wesley murmurs, ‘Where are you going?’
Spike’s jaw drops slightly until he realises that the human probably wasn’t referring to his cock, and goes to the window, suspecting he doesn’t have to worry about the nervous clenching of his arse now anyway: they’ll have Angel now, dragging him back to the fight.
He registers Angel’s presence, hears words, but isn’t sure whether it’s their meaning or the tone of urgent need that makes him turn. Both are kinda startling.
‘Later guys. I have something urgent I need to do with Spike.’
He catches Angel’s eye for the first time since they obliquely discussed having sex. SHIT! Maybe Angel actually does want to talk! Oh, no, about redemption and fucking souls…!
With a frisson of shock, he sees that Angel is as nervous as he is. You don’t get that nervous thinking about the prospect of… talking.
He softens his look and gives him a tiny nod. Angel smiles at him. Whatever happens upstairs, Spike suspects nothing will give him more pleasure than that intimate smile.
They both turn at Wesley’s mention of Gunn. He watches Angel’s face change as he shoulders his burden once more.
Determined to be there for him, he stands close behind, listening…. If I really was a Lieutenant, I’d have a cool uniform…. Oh! Yessss! Black…. I bloody loved that Nazi uniform. Bloody Krauts and their….
Sometimes it would be better if he didn’t listen at all, instead of this half-listening that enables him to survive but never engages his heart.
It’s so much better if your heart isn’t engaged.
A sense of inevitability settles over him.
He knew they would come to this point at sometime.
It’s all so painfully logical. Hell can only hurt you as much as you can stand it.
He wants to scream at the human to stop.
Angel can withstand everything hell has to offer, and Angel will volunteer to go to hell again to take Gunn’s place.
But that’s not the way this final script goes….
He’s Angel’s Lieutenant.
He’s Angel’s right hand man.
He’s the champion.
He’ll go instead of Angel, willingly making that exchange—he’s done it before.
Life is process of endless chances and coincidences that bring you back to exactly where you started.
He slides out silently and goes up to the apartment. He has to do this thing before Angel tries to stop him, before they stand and argue, and then Angel lets him do it. They both know who the real champion is, who’s the star of the apocalypse, who needs to stay and fight the bigger fight. Letting him go will hurt Angel now. He’d save Angel from that pain just as surely as he wants to save him from the pain of hell.
Spike’s eyes water slightly as he brushes his fingers over his new sound system. He shouldn’t have bought anything that ties him to this life. Making things… cosy… only leads to getting your heart trampled on. He knows this and should have remembered it.
As if he could live here with Angel in cosy domesticity. That’s the other version of his story—the one his zany writer was gonna write for him. This is the real one, and he’s the comic sidekick wearing the red shirt.
He needs to move swiftly, needs to speak with Hamilton, find out how to offer himself for the exchange.
He takes nothing with him and waits for the elevator.
Angel steps out, and Spike gives him credit for being disappointed before he’s angry. Then he’s too busy awarding him a huge twenty points before they launch into the latest argument. But it’s fitting—they’ve spent so much time arguing it’s actually comforting.
He’s rarely heard Angel this angry, though.
He steps out, keeping his dignity by the simple expedient of making it look as if he was going to leave anyway, and strides back to his apartment. He doesn’t need to smell Angel’s arousal—it distracts him too much from his aim. And he only has one aim—to prevent Angel from guessing what he’s going to do—so quite how he ends up blurting his whole plan out to Angel like a three year old caught with his fingers in the biscuit tin he’s not at all sure.
Perhaps it’s the fact that he melted under Angel’s kiss and didn’t reform quite right afterwards. Perhaps it was Angel’s cock grinding into him that ground the confession out.
Angel hurt him, fingers digging into his skin, evoking echoes of their history.
He surrendered his willpower to Angel’s kiss as surely as he once did his life.
He was pinned against the window, sunlight pricking his skin, exposing him with its clarity.
Still he would not speak….
But Angel ran a finger lovingly down his cheek.
It laid bare his heart more effectively than any torturer’s blade and he confessed, ‘I’m going to exchange myself for Gunn—so you don’t have to. I don’t want you to go to hell.’