On Me - Chapter 10
'Wow'. And with that incredibly
intelligent comment, I sum up both our feelings about this cabin. This is cabin
American style. No, this is cabin Californian style. No this is just cabin bloody
David Nabbit style. It’s incredible. It’s huge and beautiful and minimalist
but incredibly well appointed and... stop, Angel, you’re starting to sound like
an estate agent.
Spike has been beside himself since we got here. He’s discovered the big screen surround-sound TV and the enormous stash of DVDs. He’s found the PS 2 and the state-of-the art CD player. He’s been on the computer and already found a number of porn sites. He’s totally ignored the honey coloured maple floors and the shaker-style open-plan kitchen with, ohhhhh, granite work tops. He’s found the emperor-sized bed. He ignored the two hundred year old, hand-embroidered quilt. He put his filthy docs up on the two hundred year old, hand-embroidered quilt! He found the hot tub on the deck, found the sun bed and threatened to test it to see if the UVs did him in. And, ye Gods, he’s found the bar. A bar stocked for a conference: so almost enough for Spike for a couple of days.
I thought there would be tears when I had to leave. I thought there would be tantrums. I thought there would be accusations of betrayal. Goodness, I sort of hoped he might actually look up from his nest on the couch to see me go.
‘Spike. I’m going now.’
‘ ‘K, mate.’
‘Spike, I’ve got to get back to LA to sort a few things out. I’ll be back soon as I can.’
‘Cheers then, mate, see ya soon.’
‘Spike, will you be okay? Do you know where everything is?’
‘Uh huh.’ Jees, would he just go already, cus me ice-cream’s melting, me beer’s getting warm, and this is just the best bit of me film. ‘See ya then, Angel.’
My ungrateful, beautiful childe. Looking at him there, so happy, so in his element, I can do nothing but love him. I don’t want to leave him. I want to take him up to that huge bed and give him the pleasure he gave me in the car, but I have to go. There are things that need to be done. There are nightmares to make reality.
I make my way down to the basement garage and, moving past David’s vehicles, get into the now, very empty car. A long drive back, a long time to brood, a long time to think on what is to happen, and I fear, in the depths of my heart, that when I see Spike again, I will not be the Angel he has been starting to love again. What I am about to do in LA will change everything for us. There may be no coming back for me.
If I hold onto this... woops, bad lamp, weak lamp, broken lamp, maybe just crawl... oh, nice floor. Big Bed, moving bed, bed – stay still. Strange smell. Me. Me smelling. Oh, hot tub. Big tub. Like David. Who is David? What is David to Angel? Don’t like David. Like tub. Very hot. Very hard now. Where’s Angel?
Shit, where is Angel? I sober up very quickly. What did he say as he was leaving, and why did he have to leave? What couldn’t have been done on the phone?
My borrowed blood stops flowing for an instance, and I have to force it to move, move back to my heart, which is surely breaking. I know what he is doing in LA. I know what he has gone back to the city to do. And as surely as I want those fuckers destroyed, torn limb from limb, fucked by every implement Angelus can lay his hands on, I don’t actually want Angelus back. I don’t want the old demon with his rage and his Sire/Childe obsessions and his vampire intensity. I want this man I have now, the one who has friends, and who laughs, and who lives in LA in 2001, and not in some twisted memory of the past. And I know, with a certainty born of years of being royally kicked in the arse every time something good happens for me, that I am about to lose this new Angel. That what he will do to those men will effectively destroy the souled part of him and let the demon have sway.
And just as surely, I know I can’t let that happen. I climb swiftly out of the tub and make my way to the phone, but it’s engaged and precious minutes tick away as I listen to that enraging tone. Fuck it. Pulling on my kit, I head down to the garage. I can drive this thing. I drive. I’m still drunk, but I can drive. Where’s the... oh, brilliant, it’s got proper gears, woopie for proper cars. Shoving the extremely expensive Range Rover into reverse, I hammer out of the garage and head back to the city. If I drive at a proper English speed – about 95 - I can get there before dawn, before Angel has a chance to ruin our last chance at happiness.
There’s no one in the office when I get back. But I know why, because there is an unmistakable scent coming from the apartment: the scent of vanilla and warm sunshine and of love. Buffy is here.
When I get into the apartment, they are all there: Cordelia, Wes, Buffy, and Willow. And I’m absurdly glad to see them, because I feel desperate, and I don’t want to do what I have to do, and I want to put if off for a little longer. I want to have a little longer when I am still in love, when I am still myself, before the darkness comes over me once again.
‘Angel! Wesley phoned Giles to tell him Spike has been found but that he was really badly injured, and Willow thought she might be able to cast a healing spell. So we came.’
The concern is palpable in Buffy’s voice as she comes over to embrace me. Knowing only that Spike is my childe, she is concerned for me if anything of mine gets hurt.
‘He’s OK, Buffy. Willow, thank you, but all he needs is rest and time. He’s got an amazing constitution you know, we all have.’
‘Well, OK then. We’re going to book into our hotel, and then we’ll come back for a while, if that’s OK, Angel.’
‘NO!’ God, did I shout that a bit too loud? ‘Sorry, I mean, it’s really dangerous out there at the moment, the men who... mugged Spike are still out there. You must stay here 'til I... 'til the police find them. I won’t be here; I have stuff to take care of, but you are welcome to stay here together. There’s plenty of room, if you don’t mind sharing the bed.’
Oh, God, did I change the sheets from this evening? Good one, Angel: offer your bed to two teenage girls when it's covered in vampire cum and blood.
‘Just give me a minute to... tidy up.’
‘Wow, Buffy. I’ve always wanted to sleep in LA, and we can have a pyjama party and talk spells and... ohhh, we could do a spell and eat chocolate all night and....’
‘OK, Will, I get the picture, and thanks, Angel. We will stay, if you’re sure it’s OK.’
I start to move towards the bedroom, and Wes gets up to follow me in. If he notices the state of the bed (what is THAT stain), he doesn’t say anything. But he does look incredibly serious. He’s watching me as I work around the bed.
‘WHAT! Wesley, if you’ve anything on your mind, spit it out.’
‘Angel, I may occasionally appear to be a little slow on the uptake about certain things, especially as a foreigner here, but that aside, I AM NOT BLOODY STUPID!’
Now, that got my attention. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard Wesley shout or swear, and certainly not at the same time.
‘I know exactly what you are planning to do, and I think I suspect why... no don’t turn away from me, Angel. I suspect Spike was much more badly hurt than you told us, and I suspect you have some Angelus-like plan to exact revenge on his tormentors. Well, I can’t allow that; I won’t allow that. Not because I defend them as humans, not because I don’t like Spike, I do like him. I like him a lot, and I think he is good for us all. But I won’t allow it, because I like you more. You are the only real friend I’ve had for a long time, and I won’t stand by and see you destroy your soul, destroy your chance for redemption, for this meaningless act of revenge. In fact, not only will I not allow it, I’ve already done something about it.’
I fly to his throat and force him back against the wall. ‘What have you done, Wesley? You had no right.’
‘I had every right, Angel, as a member of this agency, as your friend and, damn it, as a fellow citizen. I’ve told Kate what happened, and I tracked Spike’s trail....’
He falters, and I can see from his eyes a reflection of the pain and misery he must have seen in that trail and, for the first time, I realise just how terrible that journey must have been for Spike.
‘Yes, Angel. It was awful. He must have suffered greatly. But it’s over now. For BOTH of you. The police found the men responsible. They are taken care of now, Angel. There were enough, err… biological samples present at the scene to implicate them in quite a few murders recently. I’m sorry if you feel I’ve betrayed you... oh, Angel, please don’t... Angel!’
I can’t help it, the tears come and, backing away from him, I sit on the edge of the bed. And I know in my heart that it’s tears of relief I feel. I can go back to Spike. I don’t need to lose my soul.
‘Thank you Wes.’ It’s all that needs to be said. He gives me one of his trademark, brief nods of his head, and makes his way to the door.
‘Oh, there IS one problem for you to take of, though.’
‘Where are you going to sleep? Err, I think you have just offered your apartment out for a pyjama party!’
I really hope I don’t get pulled over here. Needle’s just gone over the 100 mph mark. Sodding poofs these yanks, stupid speed limits. Shit, they should try the M1 on a Friday night, got flashed to pull in once by a Merc, and I was doing 120! But would be kinda embarrassing... er, no officer, I don’t have ID, and no, I don’t have a license either, and there’s one more thing, now what is it .... oh yes, I’m dead.
Nope, wouldn’t go down too well. But don’t care, gotta risk it; I have to get back to Angel’s place before he does something that will destroy both of us. If the stupid ponce can’t be the mature, responsible one in this relationship, then ole Spiky boy’ll have to.
The couch at Wesley’s is incredibly uncomfortable; what is it with these Brits – are they still fighting the war or something? I shift, yet again, and try to stretch my legs over the end, try to fit my bulk into this tiny space. Not much point staying here at all, and the only reason I’m not in the car again and heading back to Spike is that I’m utterly exhausted from the last few days. Can’t remember when I last slept really, seems a long time ago. Before Spike. Suddenly I have a vision of the future with no peace and quiet, no time to broo.... think by myself, no sleep. But Spike there. Spike in the mornings waking me up. Spike by my side during the day. Spike with me in the evenings. Spike in my bed. Spike in me. And bugger, now I’m hard, and this couch does not improve with a raging hard on. Wonder if Wesley has good hearing?
As soon as I get to the office, I sense that Angel has been here recently. Can’t tell if he’s still here though, as I can smell all sorts of scents overlaid with him. I make my way down to the apartment and yes, he is here; I can hear noises from the bedroom.Thank God, no way would he have had time for killin’ and dismembering, and I don’t smell any blood, so I fling open the bedroom door.
‘Ready for a shag then, mate?’
But the words trail off in my mouth. Sitting in the bed, sitting in Angel’s bed, sitting in our bed, is one very pissed off Slayer who had been in the middle of putting on some sort of pink, flimsy thing and who is now clutching it to herself and screaming at me.
‘Spike! Get out, getting undressed here. What are you doing here? You’re not supposed to be here. GET OUT!’
Yeah, I guess I wasn’t supposed to be here.
Cus, whatever this is, I don’t think Spiky boy was supposed to be involved. Ole Spike was stashed away in some fucking cabin. I don’t want to ask this, but the words leave unbidden from my mouth,
But, oh, I don’t need an answer, cus, just then, I hear the shower starting to run, and I know exactly where Angel is and what he’s doing, and who he’s gettin’ clean for. I can picture exactly who his sweet smelling skin will be for, and who will get to nuzzle into his wet hair.
‘Spike, what’s wrong?’
She even manages to look concerned, as I stagger against the door frame. But then, she doesn’t know, does she? I bet that wasn’t the first thing on his list of things to tell Buffy, "Hi, Buffy, I’m shagging Spike; how’s Sunnydale?’
So, there’s not much else for me to do really. I turn around, and I think I am going back up the stairs, but I’m not sure, cus my brain isn’t connecting with the rest of my body. I think I am standing outside the office, but I don’t know or care really. And what am I supposed to do? I don’t know where to go or what to do. I have nowhere to go.
Everything that I feared would happen, has happened. I’ve lost Angel, but this is far worse than I imagined, cus I’ve not even got Angelus back. Even Angelus had his moments – good for a shag if nothing else – no this is far worse, cus I’ve lost the man I had just been allowed to love, the Angel who was sharing his life with me. And I’ve lost him to something so powerful I can’t fight it.
I’ve lost him to teenage love.
And when I saw Buffy in that bed, my own sense of myself was dimmed by her bright light. She must be sunshine and love for Angel. I am just an annoying distraction he couldn’t wait to be rid of. The soft sounds of a bar and the smell of beer distract me, and I desperately just want to get drunk, to put off the decisions that I have to make. But I’ve no money. Angel forgot to pay his little whore for his services, but I head in anyway. Maybe I’ll get lucky.
I want to sleep, but it eludes me, and I lie in the soft, quiet dark listening to Wesley snore, and I think of Spike. I think of Buffy. I still feel the pain I felt having to leave her. I remember her face when I told her I didn’t want to be with her forever. How could she have understood? It was like loving a tiny child, a child who only sees and understands you in relation to themselves. She saw only the surface of me. I tried to explain it to her once when she tried to read my thoughts: that she saw only the projection of me that I allowed her to see. She saw the twenty six year old, the quiet, devoted puppy, following in the wake of her sunshine and light.
And I did love her. I do love her.
But oh… when I think of Spike, and I put the put the two of them together in my mind, she pales into insignificance against his brightness. With him I can be whole, and that oneness of being - soul, man, demon - is beyond any human illumination. Is it love in a human sense? Can I really love Spike? He is loud, foul, rude, messy, dangerous, evil, funny, passionate, sweet (when he wants something), and he is not sunshine, and he is not light.
But he takes me to those places when I am with him.
I can’t lurk in the shadows of my existence when I am with Spike. I am vital, and I feel alive. And just thinking of him, hearing his voice in my head, makes me horny, and I am desperate to get myself out and stroke myself gently 'til I come. But I feel weird doing it in Wesley’s house, on Wesley’s couch and, as I think these things, I can hear Spike laughing at me… but, oh, I also feel his mouth on me, too.
Just as I give myself over to my fantasy, the phone rings. I hear Wes answer it in his bedroom, and he comes stumbling out, looking sleepy and rumpled.
‘Angel! There’s a bit of a problem, I’m afraid. It’s Buffy. Perhaps you’d like to speak to....’
I snatch the phone from him. ‘Buffy! What’s wrong?’
‘Oh Angel! It was weird. Spike was here....'
‘SPIKE! Sorry Buffy, just tell me what happened.’
‘I was getting ready for bed, and he just came into the bedroom. He saw me, asked where you where, then he heard Willow taking a shower, and he just sorta went funny. I thought he was still suffering from the after-effects of the mugging, and I was just about to tell him you were at Wesley’s, but he ran out. Angel, I’m really worried. He looked awful. What’s going on?’
How do I tell her that she may as well have put a stake through my heart? I can see the scene through Spike’s eyes. Christ knows why he came back to LA; maybe he guessed what I was going to do and wanted to watch. But, whatever, I doubt I’ll ever see Spike again. Cus there is only so much hurt and betrayal anyone can take in one, very long lifetime. And Spike has had more than his fair share. What did he think? That I would really sleep with Buffy, now that I have found him again!
‘I’m coming back. If he comes back, just try to hold him there, Buffy. But be careful; he’s very angry and not thinking straight; he may not be very reasonable.’
And I cast one look over to Wes and, even then, in my heart of cold, dead hearts, there is still hope. Until I see the truth in his eyes.
‘I am sorry, Angel. I am so very sorry.’