Parallels - Rich Text Format here
An air of anticipatory nervousness hung over everyone.
Most people attributed Angel’s new zero-tolerance policy on evil to the
embarrassing events of the Halloween party. By the following day, every
detail of what he had done to Eve (including the number of times he had
done it and the different positions he had done it in) was common knowledge…
even if all of it was contradictory and some of it physically impossible—even
But it wasn’t only the CEO who seemed to be suffering the after-affects
of Lorne’s psyche. Fred and Wes trod their delicate path around each other
even more cautiously, with even more hesitant speeches and halted comments.
Spike seemed oddly affected, too, and he only had the embarrassment of
being positive. Even his newfound corporeal status didn’t seem to cheer
He sulked around the hallways. He got in people’s faces. He annoyed.
Despite his own troubles, Wes had an inkling of what was wrong and had
this spectacularly confirmed one day when Spike nearly killed someone
for gossiping about Angel and Eve. It seemed to Wesley that there were
some things Spike particularly regretted being so positive about.
Nearly killing someone wasn’t an option, however, in the new and improved
Wolfram and Hart.
Zero tolerance—it had to include the nearly killing of gossips.
Spike was summoned to Angel’s office.
As he had nothing better to do and a hangover, he obeyed, albeit with
the air of someone not really bothered about tolerance at any level, including
Angel was writing in his practiced, precise hand and didn’t look up when
Spike came in. He didn’t really need to say anything, for a sword lay
prominently along the desk between them—the most visible sign of all the
things that lay between them.
Spike sneered at this attempt to intimidate him and flung himself carelessly
into the chair in front of the desk. He hung one leg over the arm and
lit a cigarette. He knew that Angel knew that he knew Angel wasn’t actually
going to behead him. He couldn’t explain how he knew this; he just did.
Nevertheless, he reckoned he was going to get shouted out, and with his
newly corporeal head thumping and his newly corporeal stomach queasy,
this almost seemed a worse prospect to the dusting.
Being ignored was a pathetic tactic, unworthy of Angel, so Spike retaliated
by leaning forward and picking up the fearsome weapon.
‘Put it down.’
Angel looked up wearily. ‘He’ll be in hospital for three weeks, Spike.
You broke his back. There’s a possibility he’ll never walk again.’
‘Like you care. He wasn’t human—or good!’
‘That’s beside the point. You attacked him without provocation.’
As Spike could hardly admit what had provoked him, he kept silent and
ran the tip of his finger across the blade, testing its vaunting claim
Okay, it was sharp.
He sucked his finger sulkily. ‘Have you finished?’ To make the point that
he was, he flung the sword down and got up to leave.
Before he could make it halfway across the space, Angel flicked the switch
to darken the glass. Spike pouted and looked back cautiously. Angel was
on his feet with the sword in one hand.
Spike laughed. ‘You tryin’ to frighten the children, Pet?’
‘I don’t know. Am I?’
‘I’m not your soddin’ child.’ To make the point that he wasn’t intimidated
in the least, Spike turned around and confronted Angel. ‘You’re not gonna
kill me, Angel. You don’t have the balls.’
‘Wasn’t gonna use my balls on you.’
As no one had bothered to tell him what Spike’s fight had been about,
and as he probably wouldn’t have gotten it even then, Angel had no way
of knowing that this comment was the equivalent of a red rag to the bull
of Spike’s ire.
The smaller vampire suddenly attacked, and taken totally unawares, Angel
stumbled back against the wall.
Spike had the sword, and he pressed it to Angel’s throat gleefully, but
in a move that stunned even Spike by its power and swiftness, Angel reversed
their positions—the sword now at Spike’s throat. Angel was so close Spike
could almost feel the vibrations in Angel’s throat when he hissed venomously,
‘Give me one reason why I shouldn’t just press this home, Spike.’
Before Spike could reply, someone shouted, ‘Cut! Okay, that’s a wrap.
Good job guys. Let’s call it a night,’ and instead of the biting comment
he’d planned, Spike merely said, ‘Angel….’ The tone of that one word sent
a quiver of something deep into Angel’s heart: Spike sounded as a child
in the grip of a fearsome nightmare. He’d never heard Spike use such a
tone, and to match the intensity of the voice, the pale hand crept out
and fastened onto his shirt: tentative, seeking comfort, shaking.
Totally thrown, realising that Spike could see what he clearly couldn’t—the
odd voice in particular—Angel turned his head.
Something liquefied within his body, and if he’d been human, he would
have embarrassed himself through fear.
The office was gone—or the other half of it was—as well as the ceiling.
They were surrounded by people; bright lights stung his eyes. He had never
needed the comfort of Spike’s hand on his chest more, and he gripped it
hard enough to break mortal bones. He felt his legs weaken, but they had
stayed strong in hell, so he refused to let them give way now.
Spike was staring up at a gantry of lights and equipment over their heads,
mesmerised. Angel made the mistake of glancing to the window only to discover
that L.A. had become blue—just huge blue panels, where his city should
Spike slid closer, their bodies now pressed tightly together.
Angel couldn’t have sworn that he’d been about to say something apposite
and wise, but he was silenced anyway by the approach of a young man in
glasses, holding a clipboard. ‘Hi, Mr Boreanaz. Your wife called.’ He
handed Angel a piece of paper and added, ‘She said could you please turn
your cell on occasionally.’
Angel summoned strength of character that had given him three hundred
years and counting, and nodded. The young man added, ‘You want me to take
that back to props?’
Angel followed the man’s gaze to his sword. It was… plastic… painted with
shiny metallic paint that glinted dully in the bright arc of lights from
the gantries above their heads. Angel nodded mutely again and handed it
They watched the man walk away, weaving his way between cables and… cameras…
which all appeared to be pointed at them…large, aggressive weapons of
the hell into which they appeared to have fallen.
Angel suddenly shook himself and hissed for Spike’s ears alone, ‘Slow
and cautious, follow me.’
Seemingly relieved at doing something at last, and apparently over his
initial shock, Spike murmured, ‘Beheading of favourite childe off the
Angel turned swiftly but saw and heard genuine fear behind the bravado.
He responded in kind, saying dryly, ‘Postponed, not off.’
Spike dipped his head in gratitude for the understanding and the sharing
of his fear. ‘Until we’ve… put the world to rights?’
Angel smiled and gave the hand on his chest a final squeeze. ‘Yeah, when
we’ve put the world to rights—as we always do. Ready?’
Spike nodded grimly, and together, not quite holding hands but wanting
to, they eased their way past the strange objects that had invaded and
stolen their world.
They got to the door with a sense of relief until Angel opened it and
stepped through to another nightmare that should only have been his lobby.
Once more, there was no ceiling, only a dark space filled with equipment
hanging from steel runners, but even more alarming, the hallways went
nowhere and ended in large spaces that could have been some kind of warehouse.
Angel murmured, ‘Just keep walking.’
‘Where the bloody hell to?’
Angel’s eyes darted furtively around. ‘Elevators. We need a car.’
Spike put his hand on the small of Angel’s back. ‘Okay. Take it slow though;
don’t get noticed.’
He needn’t have worried. No one seemed to take any notice of them. A few
people nodded pleasantly, but most of the oddly scruffy men and women
moving around and apparently rearranging Angel’s firm ignored them completely.
With a sense of huge relief, the vampires made it to the elevator. Angel
thumped the down button—and the doors collapsed. They just toppled over
and fell with a loud crash… onto his bed… which seemed to be behind them,
although still in his bedroom. Unable to compute any of this, they
backed off, now being noticed by everyone. A man called over. ‘Everything
Neither vampire responded; they were both heading swiftly toward one of
the dark spaces they could see at the end of the hallway that should have
led to the lab.
Now it ended in a large, echoing space that was filled with bits and pieces
of fake demons, walls, furniture, and some clothes, hanging on rails.
Suddenly, in a small voice, Spike said, ‘Oh, thank the fuck: there’s Wesley.’
Angel looked back down the hallway and saw Wesley talking to someone.
He appeared utterly unfazed by whatever was happening, but Angel knew
that with Wesley, appearances could often be deceptive. They began to
run back down the hallway toward him. Suddenly, breaking off mid-stride,
Angel shoved Spike hard into what he’d assumed would be an office, but
which turned out to be only back into the large dark space once more.
Spike began to swear, but Angel dragged him to the fake door and whispered,
Spike stuck his head around then ducked back. ‘Why the sodding hell is
Wesley snogging Willow?’
‘Willow! Spike, it’s Willow! This is all Willow’s doing. She’s done something
to the firm!’
They looked again then jumped at the same time when a voice behind them
said, ‘Wardrobe is looking for you both!’
Angel had no response to this: somewhere in his mind seeing a large piece
of furniture on legs coming for him. He stared dumbly at the man, who
added puzzled, ‘Mr Boreanaz?’
The man put a hand out and began to slide Spike’s duster from his shoulders.
‘Hey! Lay off the coat, Mate!’
The man backed off. ‘Okay….’ Suddenly, he nodded, amused. ‘I’m being set
up for the holiday outtakes!’
Suddenly, Spike said boldly and very distinctly, ‘We are leaving here
now.’ The masterful effect of his statement was reduced somewhat when
he had to add, ‘Where is the way out?’
The man suddenly muttered, in a voice humans would not have heard, ‘Jerk-off
actors,’ and stomped off with a dismissive wave of his hand.
Spike shouted, ‘The way out?’ hopefully, but the man didn’t even turn
Angel suddenly gripped his arm, pointing. ‘Red sign. Says Exit. Let’s
They began to run across the vast space toward the sign and skidded to
a halt by a door on rollers, big enough to bring a large truck through.
Angel dragged it open, and they stepped out into a street. It appeared
to be an alley in Sunnydale, but their brains were on total overload now,
so they ignored this and began to walk with studied nonchalance in the
early evening dark.
A car purred softly up alongside them, and man in uniform jumped out smartly.
‘Sorry, Mr B, no one told me you were ready to leave.’ He eyed Angel’s
clothes and added dubiously, ‘Are you ready?’
Angel nodded. ‘Yes. We are. Get in, Spike.’
The man looked between them and suddenly shook his head amused. ‘You been
doing a little… celebrating… again, man?’
Angel gritted his teeth. ‘We need to get out of here. If you don’t wanna
drive, fuck off somewhere and give me the keys.’
‘Hey! No need to be snippy.’ He climbed in and waited for the two vampires
to climb in the back. Without turning around, he said slyly, ‘So, when
did you two start talking?’
Angel frowned. ‘What’s that supposed to mean?’
‘Well… no offence… but you two ain’t said one word to each other since
the season began.’
‘Can this panel be closed?’
The man didn’t seem offended. ‘Sure thing. Soundproof too. You going to
pick up some babes again, Sir? Because, I just got done cleaning the leather
from the last… spills.’
‘Just close it.’
It slid close, and both vampires appeared to collapse emotionally and
physically into the seats.
Spike was the first to recover, if only by finding enough strength of
mind to light a cigarette. This seemed to animate Angel enough to say,
‘What the fuck has the witch done?’
‘Why, more to the point.’
‘And Wesley…. In it together?’
‘Don’t seem likely. I mean, he doesn’t know her, does he?’
‘Some. When he was in Sunnydale.’
‘Where are we going?’
‘Where are we going? In this car?’
‘Oh.’ Angel tapped on the panel, and it slid down. ‘Where are we going?’
The man turned for a moment. ‘Home?’
‘Oh, okay. Home is good.’
Spike nudged him and whispered. ‘Wife?’
Angel indicated for the panel to go up, and when they were secure, lifted
his eyebrows questioningly. Spike dug into Angel’s pocket and pulled out
the note he’d been passed. ‘That kid with spots said call from your wife.’
Angel looked over his shoulder as Spike read the note, and at the same
time said, ‘Mexico.’ Spike smiled. ‘Okay, she’s doing a pilot in Mexico.
She loves you—which seems oddly unlikely after that. Bloody pilots and
those uniforms!— and someone called Jaden is well.’
‘Great. I’m pleased.’
‘So, home it is?’
‘I wonder what she looks like. I mean… being my wife, and all.’
‘Angel! Focus, maybe! This is a spell. Just like that damn thing Lorne
cast on us.’ Angel missed the bitter tone, but Spike’s reaction to him
screwing Eve was the least of his worries now.
They rode in silence for a while, both processing the fact that the despite
the catastrophic changes to their small slice of it, the rest of L.A.
seemed much the same. Other than the fact they were heading to a part
of town that their clients didn’t frequent, Willow’s spell had clearly
not extended to the rest of the world.
Spike was the first to voice what they were both thinking. ‘You know what
all that was, don’t you?’
‘A sound set.’
Angel pursed his lips as if afraid that if he admitted this it would make
‘It was movie—or show on the telly. On a set. Wolfram and Hart
was a set. Oh, buggery… Angel…?’
‘If that was a set, what does that make us?’
‘It makes us nothing.’ Angel seemed to suddenly hear an unintentional
subtext to this and added quickly, ‘It doesn’t change anything about us.
It was a spell. We are what we always were… are.’
‘No. Stop it. It’s no use speculating about what this is or isn’t. It’s
no more real than me and that sk… than Eve.’
He caught a mumble and asked pointedly, ‘You got something to say?’
Spike put on his martyred innocence face. ‘Nothing everyone else isn’t
Angel nodded thoughtfully then retorted devastatingly, ‘Yeah, well as
none of them are apparently real…. Ya know? I - don’t - care.’
It silenced them both, and to ensure that Spike stayed silent, Angel tapped
for the screen to be removed once more.
Spike could see from Angel’s expression that he longed to question the
driver, and he smiled inwardly, looking forward to this conversation.
The effort to think up questions that would give him the answers he sought,
without compromising his utter ignorance, seemed to dismay Angel, however,
and the dark vampire only sank back into the luxurious car and watched
the suburbs roll away.
He cheered up visibly when they pulled up in front of the house. A grin
crept around Angel’s lips as he eyed its splendour, and he hardly seemed
to hear the driver, until Spike nudged him with a significant rise of
his eyebrows. ‘No, we don’t want picking up in the morning, do
Angel switched on and, dragging his eyes from the beautiful house, replied
curtly, ‘Leave me your number—I’ll call when I want you.’
The man frowned and fished around on the front seat until he found a page
of closely typed paper, scribbled over with numerous notes. He scanned
it. ‘Okay. You’re not on until Thursday, Mr B. Got pick-ups for the party
scenes.’ He looked up at Spike. ‘Can I drop you somewhere, Mr Marsters?’
Spike felt a cool finger just touch the back of his hand lightly, an unspoken
plea, so replied, ‘No.’
‘You’re staying here?’ The tone said: wife away; paparazzi; you can’t
stand each other; and what do I care—I’m only being paid to drive.
The man appeared to take his own advice, climbed back in the car and drove
‘He didn’t give his number.’
Angel grimaced. ‘I’ll call a cab.’
‘Where were we? Not Wolfram and Hart, I’m thinking.’
Angel didn’t seem to care about these minor details; he was busy breaking
into the house.
Spike watched him for a while then coughed, ‘Keys?’
Angel looked foolish then patted his pockets. For a moment they both stilled.
Spike glanced thoughtfully at Angel. ‘We’re in the wrong clothes—apparently:
ours where we were, but not ours here.’ This simple observation seemed
to sum up their whole dilemma: being for real people they weren’t
supposed to be.
Angel shrugged and finished breaking into the house.
They wandered around until they found a living room.
Spike looked around, turning in place theatrically. He grinned and snickered.
‘Okay. You’re definitely married.’
Angel grimaced at the overt feminisation of the décor then picked up a
picture frame. He swore softly and handed it to Spike.
Spike’s jaw opened slightly. ‘Bloody hell!’
It was Angel, but clearly not Angel, as in the picture the smiling
figure was bathed in sunlight and wearing a pale pink shirt. Angel pursed
his lips and moved on, not sure whether he was most bothered by the smile,
the sun or the pink. He picked up another. Spike, peering over his shoulder,
chuckled. ‘Your passion for small blondes hasn’t gone then, has—?’ He
stopped abruptly and found something fascinating on the bookcase.
Angel didn’t hear the confusion or notice Spike’s diversionary tactics
and moved on through the house.
When Spike caught up, Angel was in the hallway, flicking through a telephone
directory. ‘No Wolfram and Hart.’
‘Oh, and you’re surprised at that?’
‘I’m not listed either.’
‘But you’re not anyway….’
Angel nodded, blushing slightly and continued to flick. ‘No Wesley; no
Fred. They’re in, I know.’
‘But we saw him; we know he’s real—or here—or whatever….’
Angel glanced up then jogged up the stairs.
They wandered through the top of the house and stopped in what was clearly
the master bedroom. Angel examined the closet. ‘Now I know I’m in hell.’
He pulled out a couple of bright shirts disgustedly then crammed the whole
lot back in and sat disconsolately on the bed. ‘Let’s go over what we
Spike sat down alongside him and lit a cigarette.
‘We’re still real and ourselves, yeah?’
‘So, we’ve not changed; everything around us has.’
‘I’m not sure that’s very sound logic, Mate.’
‘Oh, happy day! The brain-dead suddenly spark. Jeez, now I know
this isn’t real.’
‘Don’t be a twat. Only, just because we’re the same, don’t mean that this
ain’t real, too. I mean, we could be the same only in a different place
that’s just as real as where we are—were. I think.’
‘What? Somewhere there’s a place where we are just something they’ve made
up? We’re just characters played by dumb actors like that moron in
He’d finally voiced their fears, and they both sensed the shift in the
atmosphere. Angel said more softly, ‘Are you saying that we’re just TV
characters come to life? That this is the real world?’
‘No…. I don’t think so….’ Spike didn’t sound too confident, but he added
more robustly, ‘We were born before TV, so how could it be?’
‘And that’s relevant how?’
‘Well, how could we be characters if we lived before…? Unless, they just
filmed…. Oh. Well, I’ll just shut up then.’
They were both very quiet for a long while, sitting side by side on the
bed. Angel was studying his nails without seeing them, his brain frantically
churning possibilities. Something had occurred to him, but he didn’t want
to be the one to voice the unpalatable again. He didn’t have to. Spike
pursed his lips and said in a flat tone, ‘If we only exist because someone
is making us up, what’s gonna happen to us now they’re gone?’ He turned
and stared squarely at Angel’s profile. ‘Where have the fucking actors
That was a question the actors would have liked answering.
It had been an important scene. They didn’t know where the writers were
taking the characters, but they both sensed a shift in the relationship
approaching. David hoped it meant the end of James on the show. James
just wanted some physicality. Portraying a ghost had been torture, and
he was sure it was a punishment for being foisted on a show that didn’t
need or want him.
So, they’d thrown themselves into the scene, as always. If there was the
ever-present distance between them, they tried to work around it and bring
it to the characters. James suspected it made them seem wooden, but he
couldn’t let himself go with David. There was always that simmering resentment
emanating from the big man.
Pinned to the wall, the prop sword at his throat, James gave a last glare
at David and waited for Vern to shout, “Cut!”
Most of his view blocked by Boreanaz’s bulk, he only saw the changes obliquely
out of the corner of one eye as if watching the shadow of a cloud flit
across a field. He assumed it was a problem with the set, stayed in character,
and waited. David was the first to break contact. Apparently tired of
being that close to James in such an intense clinch, he turned. ‘What
James saw the room fully for the first time and something cold clamped
around his belly. He shivered. David, staring around as if drugged and
insensible, put a hand on the warm arm—a voluntary touch for the first
time in almost six months of working intimately together. When he spoke,
David’s voice was unnaturally hoarse. ‘What’s...?’
James said deceptively calmly, surprising himself with his conclusion,
‘It’s become real.’
David laughed unnaturally high. ‘It’s a joke. This is for outtakes.’
‘It’s a damn good joke then. No cameras… no people…. Real L.A outside
the window…. And can I just say that that sword better not come any closer
to my throat!’
David’s eyes widened at the lethality of the weapon in his hand and let
it drop to his side. ‘We’ve been drugged.’
James snorted. ‘You’d know better than me about that.’
David cast a look at him and said slightly bitchily, ‘And that from the
only one of us—wait, of the entire cast!—who was alive in the sixties.’
James didn’t rise to this familiar dig at his age; after all, the entire
world as he knew it had just winked out. He said neutrally, ‘I’d like
to see the drug that can create shared hallucinations. Come on….’
‘Wait!’ David grabbed his arm. ‘Where are you going?’
‘I’m going to find someone. Ask what’s going on. You got a better idea?’
David didn’t, so as much as he disliked acquiescing to anything James
suggested, he followed dumbly behind as they left the office. James stopped
so abruptly on the threshold that David bumped into him.
They stared once more. The sound set was gone. The hallways led past real
offices. People in suits moved through the lobby, seemingly intent on
some real purpose and utterly regardless of them. So used to people
only moving on cue when they appeared, this threw them entirely.
Suddenly, James said with relief, ‘Mercedes. She’s here, too. Come on.’
David frowned, uncomprehending, then looked to the desk where the blonde
figure was talking to a man in a suit.
He jogged to catch James up, keeping an eye on the man until he moved
James glanced at David as if for support, then leant on the partition
and said in a hushed hiss, ‘What the hell has happened?’
‘I know! Isn’t it cool! Wesley’s checking for demonic influences because
it’s been so quiet all day!’
James suddenly reached out and put the back of his hand to her face. He
snatched it off as if she burnt him and gave David a worried glance, mouthing,
She looked puzzled, too, and said, ‘Jeez, you’re hot, Spikey! Are you
‘That’s the understatement of the year.’
‘Oh! Cool accent! Say something else! And why are you talking like normal
James swallowed and said in Spike’s voice, feeling foolish, ‘No reason,
She pouted at the return to his usual voice and handed David some slips
of paper. ‘Your eight o’clock cancelled—well, actually, died, but he’s
not coming, anyway—you’re still on for your manicure at nine, and then
dinner with the Plethos of Darm.’
She suddenly tipped her head to one side and said to someone behind them,
‘Hey! Wes! Come hear Spike’s American accent. It’s so cool!’
Wesley smiled and diverted from his path to Angel’s office. ‘I have some
data on Lorne’s manifestation that I thought you’d both….’ He stopped
abruptly and regarded them closely. After a moment, he said carefully,
‘Perhaps you’d both like to come to my office and discuss this.’
James stepped forward and said calmly, ‘You know we’re—.’ He looked helplessly
at David, quite unable to complete this, as he had no idea what
they were. He turned his gaze back to the man he could not think of as
Wesley in his head and finished, ‘You know what’s happened.’
Wesley dipped his head. ‘As I said, my office?’
They trailed after him, and when they’d entered, Wesley shut the door
behind them. ‘Tell me what happened. You’re both human. My God. Shanshu?
It must be. But so sudden? How do you feel? I mean—.’
‘You’re not… Alexis…. How did you know we weren’t…? I can’t do this; this
is madness.’ David folded his arms protectively.
‘I’ve spent the last six years studying every twitch of your face, Angel;
I think I’d notice a flush and the beginning of stubble.’
David automatically ran his hand over his face.
‘So, tell me, how… no, when? How long have you…?’
‘I’m not Angel! I mean, God, this is so fucking dumb! There is no
Angel! Shit, there is no YOU!’
James stepped closer and put a hand on his arm. ‘Calm down.’
David whirled around. ‘Fuck off, James! You’re the last person I wanted
to share my Goddamned show with; so I sure as fuck didn’t want
to be sucked into hell with you as well!’
James dipped his head, laughing bitterly. ‘Now we get to the heart of
Wesley stepped between them. ‘I’m not entirely sure what’s happening here.
‘I’ve just told you! I’m not Angel! For God’s sake, is everyone
crazy!? Angel is a dumb character in a TV show!’
James flicked him a quick look, which David caught with a scowl. ‘What?
Have I upset Mr. think-I-really-am-Spike?’
‘Gentlemen, can we focus here, please! All right, Angel, you say you are
not Angel….’ Wesley turned to James. ‘But you’re still Spike?’
James winced. ‘Well, actually, no. I’m not.’ He suddenly realised he was
still speaking like Spike and said in his own voice, ‘But I’m thinking
you won’t believe who I am.’
Wesley narrowed his eyes thoughtfully, went to his desk and punched his
phone. ‘Hold all my calls.’ He waved at the chairs and took one himself.
‘So, what’s the plan then, Mate?’
Angel woke with a start and realised, with a slight sense of embarrassment,
that he’d dozed off on the bed. His bed. In a way….
Spike was pacing, and he repeated his question. Angel sat up, surreptitiously
checking his hair. ‘Plan?’
‘Well, yeah. How we gonna get back?’
Angel lay down again. ‘I need to think. Where are you going?’
Spike frowned then said in a slow I-am-now-talking-to-the-mentally-impaired
voice, ‘To find another bed?’
‘I don’t think we should split up.’
‘Oh! An’ I’m bloody sure we shouldn’t get together!’
‘Don’t be dumb, Spike. We slept together for twenty years.’
‘With two little fillies between us, Mate! Nice big family hug time!’
‘Stick a pillow between us—if you feel threatened!’
‘I don’t feel threatened! Okay, yeah, I do.’ He flung down on the far
side of the bed and pointedly dragged a pillow between them, glaring.
‘Lace! Soddin’ lace-edged pillows. You are such a bloody ponce! Oh! And
not tonight, yeah! No poncing on this half of the bed, right?’
‘This isn’t my freaking bed, Spike! This is his—that guy
in the photograph with the dumb-ass shirt. Do I look like a lace person?’
‘Just saying, is all.’
‘Well don’t! In my head—all night—your voice yacking away!’
‘Oh, right, and your broody silence just about deafens me!’
He was deafened for a long time until the tension notched up enough for
him to blurt out, ‘And don’t think I don’t know what’s caused all this,
cus I do!’
‘Oh, swell, the congenital idiot offers his opinion again.’
‘And do you know the most likely cause of congenital idiocy… Sire?’
‘What’s your damn theory?’
‘Me? Oh, this’ll be good.’
‘It is good. It’s you and all this disconnected twaddle.’
This was followed by an unexpected minute or two of silence, which seemed
very telling, given the sniping that had preceded it. Eventually, Angel
said neutrally, ‘What do you mean?’
‘Well, seems to me, and forgive me if this is too complex for the sire
of a congenital idiot, but if I was feelin’ disassociated, I might
start to think I weren’t real, like. Maybe, I’d start to think I was just
playing a part, and maybe, just maybe, I’d make up this whole fantasy
where I was a rich and famous Hollywood actor with a fabulous lifestyle
playing the part of a doom and gloom vampire, cus actually being
a doom and gloom vampire for real was just too painful!’
Angel pursed his lips in the dark.
He really had nothing much to say to that so turned onto his side and
said gruffly, ‘Go to sleep.’
Suddenly, he turned back and snapped, ‘So, what the hell are you
Spike pouted. ‘Yeah, well, there is that.’ He shrugged. ‘Seemed like a
good theory when I thought of it.’
Angel rubbed his face tiredly and said grudgingly, ‘It is a good
theory, but it doesn’t explain why you’re here.’
‘’Parently to come up with the good theories.’
‘Well, I guess it’s you—again. Your energy, your floaty soul-aura-psyche
thing. It’s kinda big and bulky. Hey, like you—again. So, I’m thinking
that being as we were all cosy and tight with the bloody sword-on-my-throat
moment back there, I got swept up for the ride!’
Angel frowned deeply, pondering this, but said doubtfully, ‘But I was
enjoying that—least disconnected I’ve felt for….’
‘Oh! Cheers. Love you, too.’
‘So, why would it happen then?’
‘I don’t know, Angel!’
‘Maybe….’ Angel rolled his head on the pillow and fixed Spike with his
penetrating gaze. ‘Maybe it’s not me at all. Maybe this is all
‘You are so deluded. For a start, I like being what I….’
‘You’ve been acting weird since Halloween.’
‘No, I have not.’
‘Yeah, you have. You’ve been… moping.’
‘It is physically impossible for me to mope.’
‘Hanging around. Glaring.’
‘Maybe going for the shutting up and sleeping option now?’
‘What happened at that party? Can’t be Gunn—didn’t see him pissing on
you. Can’t be Fred…. Wesley! Was it Wesley? Did he try something—when
he was drunk?’
‘Bugger off, Angel! I don’t have the humungous ego required to create
a total balls-up like this!’
‘Shit. Eve! You’re mad that I slept with Eve. You… like Eve!’ He hesitated.
‘Okay, that’s not possible. But you’ve been ghosty for a long time… maybe
anything warm in a skirt…. Tell me this isn’t all about Eve.’
‘Isn’t that a movie?’
‘Don’t be dumber than you already are. I didn’t cause this. Tell me you
haven’t been slipping away, Angel. Go on… tell me you love being the CEO
of the evil empire. Tell me your heart is still in it. Tell me you that
you don’t feel you’ve sold out.’
‘We haven’t sold out. We’re changing things from the….’
‘Jesus. You’re already working from a script! Maybe, you’re already the
actor in a theatrical staging of your life. Maybe, you’re already
a very short step to being Mr David Boringarse.’
‘It was Borin…. Boring…. Go to sleep, Mr Masturbates.’
‘Yeah, now, there’s a name to conjure with: Marsters. Wonder what comes
‘fore it. Alexander…? Alexander Marsters.’
‘And that from Boringarse.’
‘I should have pushed that damn sword home!’
Angel swallowed and immediately regretted the image his words flowered
in the increasingly warm space between them. Stirred by the verbal dual,
they were both more than ready for combat of another kind, and the absence
of the women suddenly became tangible.
Spike shifted to relieve tightness, and a disembodied voice alongside
him said distinctly, ‘Do not do anything disgusting.’
‘Only one wanker in this bed, Mate.’
Angel pointedly retrieved another pillow and reinforced the barrier.
After five minutes, Spike swung his legs off the bed and said gruffly,
‘I’ve been in these clothes since yesterday. I’m going for a shower.’
Angel didn’t jump in to repeat his stricture that they should remain together,
so with a grunt, Spike shed his duster and went into the connecting bathroom.
Angel listened to the hum of the bathroom light and the faint sounds from
the shower, considering his next move. It seemed incredibly tacky to relieve
himself in someone else’s bed, albeit that that someone seemed a little
too close to home to actually be termed someone… else. Besides, there
was the suspicion that had been nagging at him all day that he had not
only caused this, he’d proved his own fears that he was
disconnected—not even real. And if he wasn’t real, then he couldn’t have
a stiffness that ached for touch. If he wasn’t real, then nothing mattered,
and his erection could go to hell.
He knew exactly what Spike was doing in the shower, and that helped keep
his hand still at his side. He was better than Spike—always had been,
always would be. He overcame by the force of his will—not gave into the
slightest whim that came his way. The moron wins back his soul or wanks
off in a bathroom—they were pretty much the same thing as far as Angel
was concerned: the result of a weak mind in a childishly out of control
So, he lay on the bed and suffered every pulse of blood surging into his
prick, stiffening his resolve as flesh stiffened and rose rubbing the
fabric of his pants. He would resist; resistance was all he had left.
Spike leant on the wall, letting the water stream over his body, resisting
too. He knew damn well what Angel thought he was doing and got a huge
amount of pleasure from, yet again, proving the tosser wrong. (Although
probably not as much pleasure as he’d get from relieving the painfully
swollen and throbbing purplish thing bouncing off his belly.) He pictured
Angel lying on the bed relieving his, and the image did nothing to improve
He still wasn’t sure why the thought of Angel with Eve had pissed him
off so much. It was something to do with Angel being his sire, but his
feelings weren’t at all clear. Angel had demeaned himself, and that demeaned
them all, but he’d once caught Angelus in a compromising position
with a Border Collie, so why Eve demeaned him more than that, he wasn’t
Get a room….
Be more positive….
Why hadn’t he been told to get a room? Not with Angel—of course!
Although… ironically… that’s exactly what they’d done now….’
‘Leave some damn water, Spike!’
Spike jumped and turned his back to the indistinct figure in the steam.
‘Do you bloody mind?’
‘Jesus. Just get out, will you?’
‘Pass me a soddin’ towel then!’
Carefully wrapped, he slid past a similarly clad Angel and went back to
the room. Angel’s inactivity in his absence was palpable by the neutral
smell of the bed. Spike was puzzled by this, and he moved the small barrier
and spread himself over the space that Angel had occupied. It smelt of
him—his cologne, which spoke of his desperate desire to be a man; and
his hair, which always smelt faintly of coconut. Spike smelt the body
of an intimate who now wore the scents of a stranger.
He cursed inwardly for allowing his mind to perpetually turn and churn
on these old, old sentiments.
Perhaps Angel was right. Perhaps he had caused all this. Perhaps
he was still a ghost, lost somewhere in the bowels of Wolfram and Hart,
bending reality to his will.
Angel came out of the bathroom, and his surly manner and constant sniping
cheered Spike up considerably. Even he wasn’t screwed up enough
to bend reality to this shit, and he rolled back to his side of
the bed, folding the towel tightly in place, preparing to sleep.
It was only as Angel slid in next to him, similarly arranging his towel,
that Spike realised it was the first time in over one hundred years that
he’d smelt Angel smelling just of… Angel. It was the smell of skin: Angel’s
smooth skin, which smelt to Spike like a home he’d lost before he’d had
the courage to reach out and bind it to him.
Wesley listened to the whole recitation with a fixed, calm, neutral expression,
which did not waver even when the man calling himself David told him about
a man called Alexis. Stories—he’d heard a lot of them in his time, and
they had ceased to frighten him by the time he was five.
The other one, the quiet, thoughtful one, did not speak at all, but his
eyes spoke volumes. Wesley was curious to read what was written on those
pages. He switched his mind back to the one speaking: the one who looked
so like Angel, but spoke like a stranger, albeit a beautiful one… like
‘…so, this is not real. You are not real, and we need to
find out what the fuck has happened and go home.’
Wesley murmured behind a false cough, ‘Shall I click my heels?’
‘Sorry. That wasn’t very helpful.’
‘I’m not gonna argue with a Goddamned character!’
‘Well, I have to say that I dispute your interpretation of our relative
‘Well, even if, as you say, I’m merely a character created in another
dimension by someone acting me, I still have a separate existence
outside that character’s time on screen. Unless television is very much
more interesting in your dimension than it is in mine, I have a life here;
I do things here that are entirely distinct from that.’
For the first time, James took a part in the conversation. He leaned forward
and said abruptly, is if slightly annoyed by David’s lack of comprehension,
‘Maybe he jerks off.’
Wesley blushed. ‘Actually, I was thinking about something much more mundane,
but I am English and our minds rarely get above the lavatory—apparently.’
‘Not English where we come from.’
Wesley tipped his head to one side, puzzled, and James clarified, ‘Alexis
‘As you are—surprisingly.’
‘Anyway, you see my point, I hope. Presumably this conversation isn’t
being shown on your… show… yet we are, undeniably, having it.’
James suddenly turned on his companion and hissed, ‘Will you fucking switch
on! Shit, you are so dumb!’
David narrowed his eyes. ‘Why don’t you quote some Shakespeare, James?
We all know how smart you are!’
‘Err… could we focus maybe?’
James pouted, a look so familiar and so in character that it sent
a small shiver of confusion down Wesley’s spine. He murmured, ‘Maybe we
James’s eyes flashed with quick interest, and he laughed. ‘Spike is the
Wesley grinned, pleased at his quickness. ‘He is very you.’
‘Well, great! James has another freaking fan club. Hey, Wesley, why don’t
you start up a new website for him! He’s only got two hundred thousand
Wesley turned his cool eyes on David and said slowly, ‘Angel does you
rather well, too.’
David’s eye twitched slightly, and he suddenly leant back with a deep
sigh. ‘Sorry. I’m being an ass. This fucking knee is….’
James glanced at him. ‘You okay?’ If he was attempting to mask his genuine
concern, he was doing a bad job.
David nodded. ‘Do painkillers exist in this damn place?’
Wesley chuckled. ‘I think Angel might have some upstairs. But then you
know what he’s got up there better than I, possibly.’
David got up stiffly, clearly in pain. ‘All I know is props and scripts
and someone telling me when to speak and where to stand. I know shit.’
He limped to the door and exited, apparently not so fazed now at being
in place that only a few moments ago had seemed like the end of his world.
Wesley watched him leave with an amused smile. James leant back, crossing
his legs. ‘What’s so funny?’
‘Chicken and egg. What an interesting example this is of that little paradox.
Your relationship with him—David—seems to mirror Spike’s with Angel, but
then Spike and Angel existed long before you did. Or did they? If you
‘You seem to be taking all this pretty calmly.’
‘Oh, believe me, mentally I’m running around in circles and tearing my
hair—with the occasional girlie scream. But I’ve never been one for much
outward show of emotion. But then… you’d know that, wouldn’t you? As you
know everything about me.’
‘Excepting the jerking off.’
‘Ah, yes.’ They grinned at each other, mutually pleased with the discovery
that despite definitions of reality being threatened, life went on if
you wanted it to.
‘I think Spike would like you. I wish you could meet him.’
James laughed again and slipped into the voice. ‘I don’t need to, you
wanker. I live with him everyday.’
David was sitting disconsolately on the bed.
James sighed and sat down next to him. ‘What?’
‘Do you think we’re dead?’
‘Do I think we’ve become vampires, you mean?’
David looked up quickly. ‘No. I mean… maybe something happened on set.
It’s possible. A cable. A piece of set falling and hitting us. Maybe,
when you die, you sort of go on… doing what you died doing. So we
go on forever doing… this. Being them.’
To David’s surprise, James seemed to be giving this some serious consideration.
Eventually, however, he shook his head. ‘It would be interesting to know
what would happen if one of us died now though. Where would we
go… being so entirely lost?’
David visibly shivered. ‘Then I’d be alone.’
‘If you died here—I’d be alone.’
James gave him an amused, puzzled look. ‘I wasn’t volunteering, but it’s
nice to know I’d be missed.’
David shrugged dismissively but kept his eyes averted. ‘We need to get
out of this together—I’d never hear the freaking end of it if I
came back without you.’
James heard something more genuine behind the addition than the flippancy
of the words implied, but he didn’t push it. He glanced at David’s drawn
face. ‘How’s the knee now?’
David lay back slowly. ‘The same.’
‘Did you find anything?’
At the shake of the head, James went into the bathroom, slightly amused.
‘First time he’s been in here.’
‘Spike—or me, come to that. Hardly done a scene up here at all, and never
in the bathroom. It’s nice. Very… real.’
‘Here.’ He handed David a bottle of Tylenol. ‘I wonder if he’ll miss them.’
David sat up and glanced piteously at the kitchen, and with a small, fond
smile, that he quickly hid, James fetched him some water.
As he took the pills, David asked, ‘If who’ll miss what?’
As he said it, only meant in jest, they both stilled. David coughed. ‘Where
James licked his lips. ‘Now, that’s an interesting thought: maybe they’re…
‘They’d be spotted straightaway!’
‘You so sure about that?’
‘Wesley did us—immediately.’
‘But we just wandered out like dumb fucks and tried to talk to a vampire.’
‘And you think they’d…?’
‘Well, I’m thinking they’ve had a lot more practice dealing with alternate
David leant back against the headboard. ‘I didn’t think of that. So, they’re
living our lives? Fuck, if that psycho touches Jamie or….’
‘They’re in Mexico?’
‘Oh, yeah. But only until the holidays.’
‘But we’ll be home in a few days!’
For the first time, David heard uncertainty, even fear, in James’s voice.
For the first time, therefore, he realised just how carefully the man
habitually masked these emotions. A slight shift in his perception of
this rival occurred. He put a hand on the strong arm and smiled softly,
a genuine smile, saying amused, ‘At least we’re the ones who have Wesley….’
‘We need Wesley.’
Spike grunted in reply. He was so close to sleep he didn’t want to wake
up enough to actually form words.
‘He’s behind this, somehow. With or without Willow—although I’m kinda
‘Maybe think tomorrow?’
Angel turned once more in the bed. ‘We’re gonna have to stay here all
day tomorrow. Plenty of time for sleep.’
‘Good, well let me have some of it now.’
Angel sat up. ‘I’m going to look for some more pictures—maybe some diaries
or something. We need to be able to pass ourselves off as them….’
Spike flung out an arm and restrained him. ‘Lie down and go to sleep.
I’ll help with the research-y tomorrow.’
He left his hand on the clean skin a moment too long, until Angel shook
him off with a grunt. Angel lay down, however, as he had been told.
Spike had just reached the edge of a good dream when a soft voice crept
in with him. ‘If I caused this, I can stop it.’
He dragged voice enough to murmur, ‘Not if you’re dead first. Go to soddin’
‘Since when does the childe dictate to the sire, Spike?’ The quiet affection
in Angel’s voice chased Spike into his dreams, tumbling around and confusing
Sometime in the night, like dry sponges absorbing moisture, their starved
bodies reached out and found the comfort they hungered for. When Angel
woke, his limbs were tangled, sheened with shared sweat, and limpid with
His body mocked him: although dead in so many ways—a shrivelled heart,
redundant organs—one place swelled and ached with the hot beat of life.
Solid, twitching and moving under its own internal pressures, his cock
lay stiff along Spike’s backbone. If he moved, it rubbed upon the bony
protrusions, shifting loose skin over a bone-hard core. Like dirty clothes
scrubbed on a washboard, something fundamental was uncovered in this rubbing.
As if someone edited the movie of his life, he saw his past play out as
it actually had, rather than the revisions he applied in retrospect.
Sure, as Spike said, the girls had been between them. But they hadn’t…
always. Sometimes, there had been just… them. Spike knew this as
well as he did. They both played the revisionist game on their relationship,
just as they glossed over the violence and horror of their past. Angel
reckoned everyone did this though. He saw it daily: Charles and Fred,
for example. Where was the evidence of their passion now? And perhaps
there was nothing for them to gloss over after all. A churn and
maw of blood, passions that soared out of control to demonic peaks of
intensity— who could remember what was chewed up or spat out in that whirlwind
of desire? He remembered hard bodies and sweat; family blood calling to
him; hair twisting like silk around his memory. But whose body had pleasured
him, whose body had made him cry out—that he could not remember. Or would
One thing he did know: it wasn’t this body beside him now. This
body he abhorred as intensely as the demon that possessed it. This
body he could not afford to lie limpid and sexed against, rubbing and
pleasuring himself on the prominent spine. For this body belonged
to a stranger. It belonged to Spike—Spike of the great goodness and desire
to do right; Spike with the uncanny knack of seeing all his sire’s inconsistencies
and faults; Spike who had become his conscience, prompting him to better
things. Spike. Whatever confusions lay in Angel’s mind about pleasures
of the past, they did not involve this Spike.
Why wasn’t he rolling away and separating them then? He should. He should
have woken and grunted in annoyance and pushed Spike hard to the other
side of the bed. He shouldn’t have lain in their increasingly hot, damp
nest, entangled and thinking of the past.
One movement, beyond the subtle rubbing, and Spike would wake. He could
feel him now, pliant yet achingly alive in his arms: breathing, shifting,
eyes flicking behind their closed lids. He did not need Spike to actually
wake to hear the derision this closeness would engender. What the bloody
hell? You soddin’ ponce! Are you…? You’re bleeding rubbin’ your fricking
dick on me! You total twat!
Angel smiled, more amused at being able to conjure Spike in his head than
he had been for a long time. The affection of familiarity struck him once
more. It wasn’t easy to feel affection for someone you hated passionately—but
he reckoned he carried it off with aplomb. Beyond everything, he was suddenly
glad that Spike was with him. Hatred was a solid enough emotion for survival.
It was better than many others. They were together; they hated each other,
and that was good.
He had to stop. If he didn’t, he’d release. Years of abstinence cued up
to be relieved. He pictured a huge fountain of bodily fluids releasing
against the hard, curled body. It would drum against the tight skin like
rain on the Shannon. Its essence would swell in the hot room, permeating
their relationship, changing it.
Not only could he not stop, he began to picture other pleasures. In his
mind, he kissed soft lips that murmured his name: hero worship and burgeoning
love combined. Not Spike’s lips, of course. Not Spike’s
hero worship. Another blonde’s in another time….
What would it be like, though, to silence derision with such a kiss? Once
more, Angel smiled with the fond image of Spike’s utter outrage if instead
of using his tongue in their combat of words, he inserted it in the hot
mouth. What would someone as strong and independent as Spike feel like
under his power?
Once conjured, the thought could not be un-thought. He wanted to
lever over the curled body and hump his sex against the smooth skin. He
wanted Spike to wake and resist. He wanted to hold him down and make
him take it. He wanted this childe to squirm and wriggle beneath him.
Jerking, spasms wracking his body, Angel gasped and dragged the discarded
towel to the tip of his cock, emptying for a long time into its warm folds.
More than sperm spurted into the wet towelling, but he didn’t stop to
analyse this additional, emotional release. Old enmities died hard. Memories
were best left as that.
Spike would wake, and they would be as they were.
In a world where everything else could be destroyed on the flip of God’s
card, that, at least, remained constant.
They would have stayed upstairs longer. It seemed safe and hermetically
sealed from the fears that lay beneath, but after half an hour, the elevator
pinged, and Wesley stepped out cautiously. ‘Ah, you are both here.’
David nodded and returned to watching the city lights from the window.
Wesley went to James and sat opposite him on the couch. ‘There’s a problem.’
James dipped his head slightly in amusement. ‘Over and above the fact
we’ve been sucked into this world and you’ve lost your originals?’
‘It’s not quite as simple as you just being here or Spike and Angel being
gone.’ David turned and regarded the pair, then joined them, sitting
in the remaining chair.
Wesley licked his lips. ‘You are here, do you see?’
They clearly didn’t.
‘This isn’t a show. Angel has a role that is vital.’ He caught a look
from James and added seamlessly, ‘Spike is needed, too, of course.’
David eased his leg straight and said with a wince, ‘I’m not sure we’re
James cast David a small look. It was the first time he’d heard him voluntarily
refer to them as we. Smiling, he returned his concentration to
the Englishman to hear Wesley sigh and add stiffly, ‘I do not understand
what has happened here yet, so I have to assume that certain events that
happened in this reality, happened in yours as well. Although to us they
‘A party. Did you have a party recently?’
Wesley seemed relieved. ‘And Archduke Sebassis was invited?’
James snorted. ‘No. A Leyland Crooke was employed, but you’re close enough,
‘Ah, well, yes. Only, in this dimension, the Archduke has now returned
the favour: we are all invited to a party he is… throwing. It’s a huge
David frowned and said before thinking it through too much, ‘That’s not
in the scripts.’
Wesley tipped his head a little to one side. ‘You see advance scripts
for this show of yours?’
James glanced at David and shook his head, but the small gesture either
wasn’t seen or went unheeded, for David said nonchalantly, ‘Sure we do.
We know what’s gonna happen for, like, two or three episodes ahead.’
‘Anything you would care to share with me?’
James said softly, ‘Dave….’
David turned as if to remonstrate, but James’s expression made him hesitate.
He ducked his head and said, ‘Okay,’ to some unspoken warning.
Once more, at David heeding his warning, James felt more acceptance than
he had for many months. David turned back to Wesley. ‘So, what’s the problem?
‘We can’t not go. All of us. You, more specifically. Or,
rather, Angel. Well, no, actually, you. Both of you. It would be
a huge dishonour—all out demon war—if Angel did not attend.’
David nodded. ‘So, you need to work out what has happened and get him
back! And quickly.’
Wesley glanced at James. ‘Well, that’s one solution, I suppose….’
James, holding his gaze, said distinctly, ‘No. No way.’
David looked between them. ‘What?’
‘We’re not doing it. For one thing, we’re human. You spotted us before
we even spoke. How long do you think it would take him?’
David leant forward. ‘What are you talking about?’
Wesley ignored the interruption. ‘I’ve thought about that. There is way—if
you’re agreeable, of course.’
James’s head was still shaking from his earlier denial. ‘No. Whatever
it is, it’s still no. I don’t think you understand how fundamentally this
would not work. He is not Angel. He’s nothing like Angel.’
David finally got what Wesley was suggesting at the very same time as
he got James’s objections. He wasn’t sure which to be angered by first
and went for the most obvious. ‘You’re suggesting we go and pretend to
be them! You’re fucking joking.’
Wesley looked disappointed. ‘Actually, I wasn’t. I’m afraid I can’t see
the great differences you both seem to think are there.’
James glanced uneasily at the coat he was wearing. ‘We were sucked out
mid-damn scene, wearing these freaking costumes. But, believe me, there’s
no way anyone would take him for Angel.’
‘Hey!’ David finally decided to be angry with James, too, and got to his
James gave him an annoyed glance and murmured, ‘What? You want to be taken
for a psychotic vampire with no sense of humour and a crap sex life? It
was meant to be a compliment, you moron.’
David’s jaw clenched, and he blushed slightly. ‘I can act!’
James got up. ‘You didn’t want to go a minute ago!’
‘Yeah, well, I don’t want anyone telling me I can’t go even if
I don’t want to go!’
Wesley leant back in his seat, his head turning from one to the other.
‘And… still not seeing the difference.’
They both sat down abruptly. James cast David an evil glance. ‘Whatever.
We can’t go because we can’t pass ourselves off as… dead.’
‘As I said, I believe there is a way. There are ancient markings that
can be used to obscure their bearer—the person becomes invisible to mystical
seekers, as well as, I believe, to more modern surveillance devices.’
David frowned and glanced at James. ‘That’s what they’ve got Chris wearing.
He showed them to me a couple of days ago.’
James winced. ‘I’m not sure we should talk about this. I keep thinking
about time-lines—but I feel too dumb to say it.’
David grinned. ‘Geek.’ His teasing smile belied his words, and James responded
in kind by mock-slapping him.
Wesley leant forward and said casually, but curiously, ‘You’ve already
seen someone wearing these runes? I mean, it’s been written into the…
script… that someone is wearing concealing runes?’
David glanced at James for confirmation then shook his head. ‘Look, we
only get a vague picture of what’s coming up. They change their minds
all the time. So, how would they work for us?’
Allowing himself to be distracted, Wesley let David’s slip drop. ‘I believe
I can adapt these markings to obscure your… humanity. To all intents and
purposes, you would be utterly neutralised. And that’s a rather unfortunate
James stood up. ‘You’re missing the point. We’re still not going to the
party. It’s ludicrous.’
Wesley stood up and faced him, a slight flush of anger on his face. ‘I
don’t know whether you are the real ones, or we are. I’m not sure I care
all that much. What I do know is that you have some responsibility for
what happens in this world either way. And this is a world. It’s
my world, and despite all its faults, it’s the only one I’ve got.
So, I would take it as a personal favour if you would at least think about
this.’ Clearly too angry to remain, he turned and went toward the elevator.
As an afterthought, though, he turned and said over his shoulder, ‘I suggest
you don’t try to leave the building. I’m not threatening you—not at all,
please believe me. But you are safe here, at least.’
The elevator doors slid shut and they were alone.
David began to pace with an angry look, not actually directed at James,
but clearly meant for him nevertheless. James went into the kitchen area
to avoid yet another confrontation, but David followed him in. ‘What’s
with the I’m not good enough to do Angel at a party?’
‘Don’t start with me, Dave. If you’ve got a problem with me being on the
show, you need to deal with it. And I’m suggesting that this isn’t the
time or the place!’
‘It’s my show, James. I’m the only one who left Buffy and had a
show of my own. I didn’t need you to prop me up!’
‘I’m not doing this with you now! I’m not doing any of this! And I’m particularly
not doing that stupid fucking party!’
David came closer, watching his eyes curiously. ‘What’s wrong?’
James looked slightly taken aback that David had seen beneath the shell
of his very simple comment. He backed off, opening the refrigerator. ‘I
wonder if he’s got anything to eat.’
‘What? Why don’t you want to do this thing? Besides me not being good
enough to carry it off….’
James’s shoulders sagged slightly, and he turned. ‘I don’t do… parties.
You know that. Or maybe you don’t—it’s not like we’ve exchanged two words
since I came on the set. Parties are your thing, Dave. You’re the big
Hollywood guy. You and Chris, tearing them all new ones; hell-raisers
of the new-Millennium. I go home and read Shakespeare, remember? The Geek?’
He ripped the tab off a beer and took a long swallow, his eyes averted.
David’s brow lowered, and he had never looked more like his character.
He reached for a beer as well and said in a low voice, ‘Have you just
said there’s something about me you’re envious of? You?’
James laughed incredulously. ‘Oh, add to that the beautiful wife, the
baby, the lifestyle, the incredible looks, the talent and the damn show
in your name! Duh!’
David took a step back, his expression veiled. He gave a small nod, more
to himself than to James and went thoughtfully back into the living room.
In a much gentler tone than he’d used before, he said, ‘So, what do we
As if regretting his very telling outburst, James said with false cheerfulness,
‘Do you seriously think we can pull it off? What if we have to drink blood?’
David laughed. ‘We take our own fake stuff and say we’re being cautious.’
‘Oh, and that’d be polite!’
‘I’m not sure we have to do polite. I’m more concerned about the needing
to piss. And speaking of which….’ He made a wry face. ‘Shit. The bastard
doesn’t have one.’
‘He has a sink.’
‘That is… a good idea. Wait here.’
‘Oh, that goes without saying!’
Before David left the room, he cast a look back over his shoulder. ‘I’ll
stick by your side. Don’t worry. Like you said—I can kinda do parties
for the two of us. We’re in this together, James.’
James watched him go with more confusion over that small kindness than
he had over this whole revolution to his world.
Dreams and reality merged for Spike as he woke. The domestic, comforting
sound of a shower merged with the feeling of intense warmth from the bed
until he dreamed he was beneath a warm ocean. He could not tell which
way was up, as not needing air, both realms seemed equally seductive.
He surfaced for a brief time, from dream and water, and rolled into an
even hotter indentation that was then a salt-heavy lagoon. He played in
the waves with a mirror image of himself—another souled vampire who shared
his blood, his memories and then his bed, as he woke to find Angel sitting
on the edge, watching him.
Wet from the shower, wrapped in a towel, it appeared to Spike for a moment
that Angel had shared the dream with him: warm, salty water glistening
on his skin.
Angel’s expression was uncharacteristically relaxed and open. ‘You were
dreaming. I didn’t mean to wake you.’
‘Did I talk?’
‘Huh? No. Not really.’
Spike spread his limbs luxuriously in the warmth of the crumpled bed.
‘I’m thinking I ought to feel more….’
‘Panicked, Mate. Pure panic. But I don’t. Ya know? I feel really… rested.
‘Spike…? What are you doing?’
Spike pouted and looked down at his offending finger—the one that had
been stroking small circles on Angel’s naked thigh. ‘I’m… not sure.’ He
made another small circle to see if that helped clarify matters.
Angel grabbed his hand and twisted it away. Spike laughed and rolled with
the twist, and before they knew it, they were wrestling on the bed. Laughing
too much to really put up much resistance, Spike was defeated fairly easily.
Angel lay over him, pinning his wrists. ‘What the fuck are you doing,
moron? This is the last thing we need! Aren’t things freaky enough?’
‘I had a weird dream, ‘s all.’
‘Spike! I don’t like you when you’re awake; I sure as hell don’t want
to think about your dreams.’
Spike flicked up an eyebrow and licked his lips provocatively. ‘I don’t
know: I reckon you dream much the same as me….’
Angel climbed off, holding his towel like an old woman clutching a shawl
in the cold. ‘This is not what I am now.’
‘And what’s that… that you’re not…?’ He made a bad job of suppressing
Angel gritted his teeth. ‘This. With you.’
‘Bloody hell.’ Spike suddenly rolled off the bed to his feet, ignoring
that he was naked. ‘We fall into a whole new dimension. We find we’re
characters in a damn TV show, and you’re not even prepared to remember
one tiny little-bitty part of our….’
‘We’re not characters!’ Angel suddenly whirled around, eyes narrowed.
‘Maybe this place has affected us.’
Spike stopped in the middle of fastening his jeans. He tipped his head
to one side and said curiously, ‘Us?’ Very slowly, he turned his
head and regarded Angel’s side of the bed. ‘Uh huh. That puts a
whole new spin on my dreams.’
‘I think I know what you meant, Angel. We both dipped a toe in the old
well of memory, hey?’ He pulled his T-shirt over his head and tucked
it in. ‘You know what?’
It was clearly the very last thing Angel wanted to do, but he said gruffly,
Spike laid a finger on the broad, bare chest. ‘Your whole disconnected
problem might be solved by one good shag. You ever thought about that?’
Thinking he’d sent a painful knee metaphorically into Angel’s nuts, Spike
turned away, grinning, only to be pulled up short by Angel saying softly,
‘Yeah. I kinda have. I’ve been thinking about it quite recently in fact.’
He slid past Spike and cast over his shoulder as he headed into the hallway,
‘So, how weird is that?’
Spike was still annoyed when he caught up with Angel in the living room.
All the drapes had been pulled, but chinks of light still slid dangerously
into the room. Spike went up to one curiously and pushed his fist into
it. He pulled back with a yelp, but not before he’d caught a look from
Angel. The moment was resonant with memory, and for a moment, Spike wondered
if Angel was right: that this place was conspiring to churn up long-repressed
To lighten the moment, Spike murmured, ‘Don’t suppose Boringarse has any
blood in the fridge.’
Angel didn’t bother to reply; he was scanning books on a shelf.
‘What ya looking for?’
‘You reckon he’s a bit of a scholar, this actor guy, then?’
‘His history. I need to know who he is—what he is. If we’re to pass ourselves
off as them—at least until we get to Wesley—we need to find out more about
‘Oh. Okay.’ Spike pulled a book off the shelf, scanned it then let it
Angel retrieved the book. ‘Moron. Be respectful.’
‘Oh. Sorry….’ He picked the next one up theatrically carefully until he
saw what it was. ‘Bingo.’ He held out a photo album with a grin.
Angel took it and sat on the couch. Spike said pointedly, ‘Thanks, Spike,’
then sat down next to him. ‘Anything interesting?’
‘All of some kid. No, wait, that must be the wife. And me—I mean him.…
Jeez.’ It didn’t seem to matter how many times Angel saw a picture, he
still found it difficult to accept.
Spike peered over his shoulder and snorted with amusement. ‘Oh, I’m just
loving the thong! That is so… not you!’
‘It’s not a….’ It was, so he changed the subject. ‘This isn’t getting
us anywhere. Keep looking.’ He stood up angrily (as if Spike had actually
found a picture of him wearing just a thong) and went back to the shelf.
After a few moments, he turned. ‘Are you going to help? What are you doing?’
Spike stepped to one side, pointing with a cigarette. ‘Looking at that.’
Angel tore his eyes from Spike and looked at a desk in one corner. ‘A
Spike lit the cigarette. ‘Well, I was just thinkin’…. Lot’s of stuff on
the net about other shows an’ other actors…. Maybe there’s….’
Angel strode over and sat down in front of the screen. Spike dragged another
chair over, and they peered at it together, waiting. After a moment, Spike
muttered and turned it on. Angel nodded, as if he’d been about to do that,
and they watched it come to life.
‘Go onto Google.’
‘Wanna swap chairs?’
Reluctantly, Angel swapped with him, and Spike typed David Boreanaz slowly
into the search bar. He glanced at Angel. ‘You sure you wanna do this?’
Angel nodded grimly, and Spike pressed enter.
They craned forward, Spike’s mouth theatrically slack. ‘How bloody many?’
Angel made small sound of pleasure. ‘Only two hundred and thirty two thousand.’
Spike smiled nastily, swapped the name to Marsters and pressed enter.
He crowed and stamped his feet.
‘Oh, now that’s mature!’
‘How many is that, Sire? Shame. Three hundred and….’
Angel leant forward and determinedly clicked on one of the sites. ‘Right,
let’s find out about this Marsters fucker; maybe he’s as much of a moron
as you are. Huh. James. Well, what d’ya know? Just as freaking English
as William. Both kinda not good names for the Irish, ya know?’
Spike leant forward, frowning. ‘He’s in my clothes… and that’s my crypt.
That’s not him, that’s… me!’
Spike shoved the chair away and stood up, putting some distance between
the computer and his body. ‘Turn it off.’
Angel bit his lower lip but clicked another site. Spike folded his arms
tightly around his chest. ‘That’s me again. Turn it off, Angel. Please.’
Angel stood up then suddenly took Spike’s arm. ‘Let’s make some coffee.’
Spike didn’t even protest. He allowed himself to be led into the kitchen
and slumped while Angel found the coffee makings.
‘It’s true, isn’t it? We’re just them. Or they’re us. I mean, we’re not
real, are we? We click on him, but it’s me—as if there’s no difference.
They don’t even bother to make us different! How can I be in there? I
mean, I’m not, am I? It’s the me he creates, and that’s not really
me. I mean….’ His brow creased with the effort of trying to put
into words something he couldn’t even work out in his head. ‘Last night!’
He seemed to seize on something that made sense at last. ‘Last night when
we slept together won’t be on any TV show, will it? And before—when we
used to really sleep together! I bet that wasn’t on any soddin’
show! Or was it? Us shagging! Oh, fuck, oh fuck….’
‘Calm down.’ Angel came to his side, put a mug of coffee on the table
and rested his hand on Spike’s shoulder for a moment. ‘It wasn’t you.
Not really. It looked like you, but it wasn’t. I could tell. Oh,
Spike looked up, his face a picture of misery.
‘We never fucked. Let’s keep our history straight.’
Spike shoved his chair back and stood up, his whole body emanating a tense
fury. ‘Don’t do this, Angel.’
Angel sat down very carefully. ‘Sit down and calm down.’
‘No. I’ve wanted to say this since…. For a long time, anyway. I remember
things, but you’ve never once acknowledged there was anything between
us. It’s so weird, and I don’t know where I stand. Did I make it all up
in my mind? Did I just dream it? Or was it the blood and the killing and
the sharing that with you that got me all turned around? I thought
when I saw you in Sunnydale that first time, ya know? Thought you’d say
something—make some reference to us and what we’d been—done. But
you never did... do.’
‘Calm down! This isn’t the time for this!’
‘It never is the time for this! Shit, Angel! You brought me back
from that damn necklace; we’re practically living together. We work together.
An’ now we’re trapped in another bloody dimension where I’m on the bloody
internet, and you say it’s not the time!’
‘I can’t deal with this now.’
Spike leant his hands on the table, putting his face right into Angel’s.
‘You can’t deal? You feelin’ that disconnected thing again, Luv? The disconnected
thing that soddin’ got us here in the first place?’
Angel thrust his chair back and took Spike’s jaw in one hand. ‘I did not
cause this. I will not discuss this damn obsession of yours now.
When I’m ready to discuss it, believe me, you’ll know about it.’
Spike banged the hand away from his jaw. He hesitated for a moment, as
if he could say a lot more but only spun on his heel and went back to
the living room.
Angel sank back into his chair and put his head in his hands. At least
he’d told the truth about one thing: he couldn’t deal with this now. He
couldn’t deal with it at all, so that kinda had to be the truth.
After an hour, when he’d drunk all the coffee, Angel went back into the
living room to see what Spike was doing. Spike was reading intently, flicking
pages on sites with abandon, scrolling faster than he could possibly be
Spike pushed the mouse away from him in an angry gesture. ‘Too bloody
much and bloody not enough.’
Angel hesitated then sat down next to him. He stared down at his nails
for a moment then said in a very low voice, ‘One day, I promise, we will
Spike kept his face glued to the screen, emotions only visible in the
flicker of an eyelid. Deliberately, he laid his hand over the mouse, and
as if Angel had not spoken, murmured, ‘I think it’s time we stopped looking
at the bleedin’ actors.’ He typed a single word, clicked enter, and the
search engine began to search for angels.
It found forty seven million of them.
Spike leant forward at the same time as Angel and their heads touched:
Spike’s blond hair brushing Angel’s darker locks. Neither noticed. Spike
said hoarsely, ‘Can’t all be you…?’ Angel raised an eyebrow and clicked
on the first site.
This time, he was the first to push his chair back and stumble away. Spike
pursed his lips and clicked off the picture. ‘That were that little demon
friend of yours. What was his name?’
Angel sat back down and began to research in earnest. Spike leant back
in his chair just out of Angel’s line of sight, watching the screen occasionally,
but watching the intent profile more. Finally, Angel stopped and folded
his arms across his chest.
‘So, what you reckon, Mate?’
Angel pursed his lips. ‘Some of it is… exactly how it happened. Pictures,
words…. But some isn’t—and most of it is missing.’
‘Well, yeah. I mean, sure I did some of those things, and I said some
of those words, but I did other things in between. Okay, they weren’t
the big things, ya know? Not the things that changed the world, but I
read a book or I….’
‘Had a wank?’
Angel had the grace to smile faintly. ‘So, it’s like someone’s dipped
into my life but only taken the….’
Angel nodded, pleased with Spike’s perception. ‘Exactly.’
‘An’ all this helps us how?’
‘What’s going to happen, Spike, if they find out what’s happened?’
‘What? If they discover real vampires stalking in their midst?’
‘I’m thinking we’ll be doing the rounds on Oprah and the like.’
‘Probably hunted down and killed. Uh huh, so we’re not to give ourselves
‘We need to blend in. We need to live their lives until we can get back
to ours. I need to know everything about the person they think I am, and
you….’ He suddenly turned back to the keyboard and typed in Spike.
Spike put a hand over his arm. ‘Don’t. I don’t want to see it.’
‘Can’t be any worse than seeing my life.’ He clicked enter.
Spike shuddered. ‘Nine million? Bloody hell.’
Angel pushed the mouse in his direction. ‘Get to work. I’m going to see
if I can find the number for that driver.’
Angel hesitated in the motion of standing. ‘What?’
Spike turned and caught Angel in a full-on attack of blue. ‘When you’re
ready for that talk, I’ll be here.’
David did more to cement Angel in the affections and respect of the demon
population of L.A. than Angel had in his long months as CEO of their favourite
law firm. He out-drank them; he brought party favours that made the alcohol
redundant; he introduced some games that broke a lot more than the ice,
and finally, he got the most beautiful woman in the room to strip for
Sebassis and offer him her blood.
James hung in the shadows and watched. He felt as if he’d woken in one
of his long-forgotten English classes, answering a question on the American
Dream/Nightmare. He was here, now, living it. He was a celebrity on a
top-rated TV show—but no one was saying cut: the dream and the
nightmare. And through it all, he watched David with a sense of awe—for
David wasn’t really drunk, and he wasn’t really the life and soul of this
obscene party. To James, who in this place knew him best, he seemed almost
feverish with the intensity of this performance. A long while into the
appalling night, James sensed someone and turned his eyes from David to
find Wesley watching him with a similar intensity. Wesley smiled
and came closer. ‘He’s really rather good.’ James didn’t want to discuss
David, or what he was being forced to do, with this man, so he only turned
his eyes back to the show. Wesley watched him for a moment longer then
said carefully, ‘He was going to tell me something that might happen in
‘I’m not going to tell you.’
‘I’m not going to ask you to. But I am curious as to why you don’t want
me to know.’
James turned and looked at him full on. ‘I don’t know whether we create
you, or the other way around. It’s like the paradox of God: we can live
without him, but….’
‘He can’t live without us.’
‘Yeah. If no one is saying your name then how can you exist?’
‘We validate his existence.’
‘And maybe you do ours.’
Wesley raised an eyebrow. ‘You think we are Gods?’
‘Not at all, but I’m not willing to risk telling you what happens in the
future. Say I told you that Spike kills you—how would you use that knowledge?’
‘I’d be a little more careful next time he offers to make some tea?’
James smiled. ‘He doesn’t, by the way—not in the next couple of episodes,
anyway. Jesus, what am I saying?’
‘Oh, I’m not sure that even begins to cover it. You seem to be taking
this freakily well.’
‘The first thing a watcher learns is to separate truth from illusion.’
James pursed his lips. ‘You come up with shit like that without a scriptwriter.
That’s just weird, man. So, how about finding some Goddamned reality and
getting us home?’
‘Ah, yes. I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that.’
James’s full attention fastened on Wesley, David forgotten for a moment.
Wesley held his look. ‘I need to bring Fred in on this. I can’t work the
science without her, and I believe this has far more to do with science
than it does with magic.’
James shrugged lightly.
Wesley looked surprised. ‘I thought you’d want to keep this more… under
wraps. I’m sorry. So, do you think we should hedge our bets and get Angel
James put a hand on his arm. ‘It’s David, not Angel. It’s kinda important
you remember that.’
Wesley looked down at the hand. ‘I’m sorry. You’re quite right, of course.’
‘He’s done this party thing for you, but don’t sacrifice him to your apocalypse.’
‘Ah, so there’s going to be an apocalypse?’
James smiled beatifically. ‘How should I know? I’m too busy killing you.’
He watched David pace the apartment, watched him favouring one leg, watched
his eyes flick over objects without being able to rest on any one. With
a sigh, unable to help David’s restless behaviour, he eased up his T-shirt
and examined the pattern that covered his abdomen. ‘This had damn well
better come off eventually.’
David pulled up his shirt and ran a finger over an identical set of markings
then said bitterly, ‘Can’t have the merchandise ruined.’ He gave a small
glance then sat down on the couch next to James. ‘You ever feel that,
too? That we’re nothing more than….’
‘Highly paid whores?’
It clearly pained him to do so, but David nodded.
James leant back. ‘Sure. I take my clothes off for money and let people
have at my body. I guess that’s what we are. Except… tonight. No one was
paying us tonight. Tonight, it was for the greater good. And….’
David turned. ‘What?’
James shrugged. ‘No, I’m not going to say it. I think the word patronising
might leave your lips.’
‘Say it anyway, maybe?’
‘I’ve never seen you act like that before. You were… amazing.’
David quickly looked away. ‘Thanks.’ The look on his face said more than
words could. James patted his leg. ‘Take the bed, Dave. I’ll be okay here.’
‘Will they get us home tomorrow, do you think?’
‘Wesley said it was just a matter of science.’
‘Science? Oh, shit. Not one of my subjects, ya know?’
‘Me neither. More the books and the poetry. Sorry.’
‘The Shakespeare thing again. I didn’t mean that you don’t read…. And
I’m thinking I’ll just shut up now.’
‘You’re right. I never did read much. Kinda too busy with balls.’ He narrowed
his eyes. ‘If I wasn’t so tired, I think I’d rephrase that.’
James stretched his legs out and hooked the coffee table with his heels.
‘Guess it’s time for shut-eye.’
David rose stiffly and limped toward the bedroom.
James opened his eyes.
David made a small gesture with his hand. ‘Shakespeare is good, yeah?
Just because I don’t get it. I think….’ He rolled his eyes skyward as
if for strength. ‘I think you’ll do a cool Macbeth one day. I’d like to
get back to see that.’
James watched him go, the unreality of what seemed to be happening between
them only cementing the unreality of the whole experience for him.
‘We have a problem.’
James opened one eye and said huskily, ‘Houston?’
Wesley came further forward. ‘I’m sorry?’
James paled and sat up. ‘You guys did have a moon landing, yeah?’
Wesley looked relieved. ‘Yes. Of course. Before my time though.’ He came
further into the room and James groaned, rolling off the couch to standing.
‘So, as I was saying…. We have a problem. Fred and I have been working
on your problem.’
James looked aghast. ‘All damn night? Don’t you guys ever sleep?’
Wesley tipped his head to one side and said carefully, ‘It’s six o’clock
in the evening. You have slept all day. I assumed you needed it and left
James rubbed a kink in his neck and glanced sourly at the couch.
David appeared in the doorway, stripped to the waist and wearing some
loose black sweat pants and holding a T-shirt. James suddenly laughed.
‘Hey, all his clothes will fit you!’
David smiled shyly then nodded at Wesley, pulling on his T-shirt. ‘What’s
‘Well, yes.’ He sat down and waited until they did, too. ‘Your appearance,
so to speak, did not go unnoticed. Fred’s instruments recorded it in the
lab—which is good, very good. Unfortunately, what they tell us isn’t so
helpful.’ He appeared to be gathering his thoughts then ploughed on. ‘There
is a theory, which has been around for quite a while, that not only are
there alternate dimensions, but that there are parallel ones.’
‘Where things are exactly the same as here?’
Wesley frowned slightly at James. ‘It’s not that simple. No two things
can be exactly the same and actually be different.’
It was James’s turn to frown. ‘Sure they can. What about twins, for example.’
‘They may look identical to the casual eye, but to instruments testing,
for example, their DNA or their cellular structure—even, I suspect, things
as simple as weight and height—there would be measurable, recordable differences.
If they were identical—same atoms—they would be the same. You would effectively
see only one person, because to our perception, only one person would
be there. So, we come back to you. Fred and I both concur that you were
in a parallel dimension where things ran on a parallel track to us, albeit
with some major differences. For some reason, at one specific point in
time too small for our instruments to measure, something fundamental made
these different realities the same. The result was intensely localised
and seems to have merged then separated the identical elements.’
‘Whoa. Are you saying that we became them for a moment?’
‘We’re not talking a measurable amount of time here. Think of all the
time since the big bang, compared, say, to the amount of time you’ve been
in bed today, and that gives you the sort of scale we’re working on here.’
‘But we died and became vampires—I mean characters in a TV show?’
David was watching the two men as if he were watching a game of tennis:
his head moving rhythmically from one to the other.
Wesley looked slightly annoyed. ‘I’ve told you, the time is too….’
‘Yes! You merged. As I said. But then—and let’s try to focus on
what’s actually relevant here—then you separated again… only on
the wrong side of the distortion.’
‘How can you be sure we separated fully?’
‘Do you feel annoying and English?’
James’s mouth opened to reply, but he smiled instead and murmured, ‘I
could, I could.’
Wesley smiled. ‘I can’t be entirely sure until I have Spike and Angel
back and run a full analysis on them—I have no control data for either
of you, so any tests would be meaningless. But I am fairly certain that
you separated cleanly.’
‘Okay, so when are we going home?’ For David’s only contribution, it was
a good one.
Wesley pouted. ‘We return to my original point.’
‘The Houston problem?’
‘Exactly. As far as we can tell from our records, two dimensions becoming
identical at the same moment as ours did is very rare.’
Once more, David intervened. ‘How rare exactly?’
Wesley faltered for the first time. ‘We have no record of it.’
The other two were silent for a while, processing this, until James said
deceptively calmly, ‘But it’s possible it’s happened many times only you
have no records?’
‘Yes. I would say that that is a very strong possibility. It’s entirely
coincidental that Fred had her instruments focused as she did yesterday.
She was tracking Spike—she’s been monitoring his corporeal essence to
ensure its permanence.’
‘Can she create a… whatever it was?’
‘Obviously that’s something we’re working on, but with our current knowledge?
‘What the hell are we going to do then?’
James didn’t wait for Wesley to reply to David’s question but said slowly,
‘What caused the dimensions to become the same?’
Wesley nodded, pleased. ‘That’s what intrigues me. That and the localised
effect. I feel certain that it was something to do with two of you.’
‘No, one… pair. Either you and Spike, or David and Angel.’
James turned to David. ‘You caused this?’
David stood up. ‘You’re the one who wants this to be real! I have
a fucking life!’
James got up, his fists clenched. ‘What the hell does that mean?’
‘Sit down! This isn’t helping anyone.’
‘Yeah?’ James turned furiously on Wesley. ‘Maybe, I can cause this to
happen again. Maybe, I’ll do exactly what Spike is dying to fucking do
to Angel!’ He swung his fist and punched David squarely in the jaw.
David’s hands flew to his face, checking his nose and teeth then he hissed
and swung at James. To his intense surprise, his fist was caught and held
by Wesley. ‘Stop it!’ David, unused to being bested at anything physical,
tried to pull free, but Wesley held him fairly effortlessly. ‘Are you
two going to sit down and stop being drama queens?’
James went to the window and folded his arms across his chest, his back
to the room. David nodded his compliance, and Wesley let him go. ‘You
are quite wrong about Spike and Angel. There’s one thing I’m fairly sure
about, they will have put their differences aside and will be working
as a team to solve this. It’s what they do. It’s why they are considerably
older than any of us. And their differences, may I remind you,
stem from a history of murder, dominance and evil that still makes me
wonder they can be in the same room together let alone work together.
Your differences, I suspect, stem from who has the bigger dressing
room, and who gets the higher billing?’
David sat heavily in one of the chairs and said sulkily, ‘It’s more than
James turned his head and gave him a penetrating look then went back to
studying the city.
Wesley glanced between them uneasily. ‘I need to get back to work. I was
going to suggest you two stayed up here out of the way, but maybe it would
be better if I kept you apart?’
‘We’re okay.’ David glanced over at James. ‘I had a kinda bad night.’
James accepted the apology, if that’s what it was, with a small shrug,
and with a last uneasy look between them, Wesley left.
‘Jesus. He was damn strong.’
James turned, seemingly surprised that David was attempting conversation.
He saw a contrite expression on the familiar face, and his shoulder slumped.
‘Sorry about the… punch thing.’
‘It’s been a while coming, but I guess I was owed that one.’
James came hesitantly forward and sat on the couch opposite David. ‘I
think we came over as total fuck-ups then.’
‘Yeah. Worse than a couple of freaking demons.’
James laughed. ‘Oh, that’s pretty bad then.’
David leant back in his chair. ‘Let’s make the assumption that something
I did or something you did caused this, okay?’
James nodded, relenting. ‘One of us, for sure.’
‘Can you remember what you were thinking just before it happened? Anything
James blushed and said, going for humour, ‘Everything I think about you
David hesitated then said boldly, ‘I was thinking about what it would
feel like to kill you with that sword—if it was real.’
James got up, his face contorted. ‘Fucking hell!’
David got up, too. ‘Don’t tell me you don’t think things like that! I
know you do! I see it in your eyes! Shit, James, you have this amazing
imagination, and I know you must!’ He was almost pleading, and to his
immense surprise, James nodded.
‘Okay. Sometimes—but not you specifically. Sometimes just’ he sank back
heavily on the couch and finished sadly, ‘everyone.’
In the heat of the moment, caught by the feeling of relief at these confessions,
neither noticed that David had not told the outcome of his odd thought:
how he would feel if he had pushed the sword home.
As soon as it was dark, Angel rang the number he had found in a small
book by the telephone. It had been called “car” and underlined a number
of times, so he made a fair assumption that it was the number he required.
A familiar voice answered and agreed, although with some obvious surprise,
to drive him to “work”. Feeling things were back in his control (albeit
in a very minor way), Angel went back into the living room where he had
left Spike some hours earlier.
They had avoided each other for most of the day, uneasy at the abrupt
changes to their world, but just as uneasy at the changes to the familiar
skeins of their relationship: they appeared to be unravelling, and the
consequent sense of looseness made them very vulnerable and uneasy.
Spike appeared to have become bored with sites either about himself or
his alter ego and was now surfing porn. Angel folded his arms and peered
out at the growing darkness. ‘We keep ourselves to ourselves: don’t talk
to anyone you don’t have to; don’t attract attention. We find Wesley,
and we get out. Agreed?’
Spike didn’t reply, but Angel sensed his acquiescence. Suddenly, Spike
said deceptively casually, ‘Maybe you should change.’
For a moment, Angel mistook this: years of self-hatred making him hear
something more profound in Spike’s simple remark about clothing. When
he got what Spike meant he frowned and glanced down at his habitual dark
clothes. Spike pouted, still staring at some flesh-coloured image on the
screen and added, ‘They’re your clothes, not… his. You wanted us to blend
in—pass as them.’
‘What about you then?’
Spike turned off the computer and rose, stretching. ‘Thought maybe we
could swing by his place first, like.’
Angel couldn’t decide whether he was more surprised that Spike had been
thinking or that he’d actually been thinking usefully. He grunted and
went up the stairs.
When he came down, Spike restrained from commenting, only gave him a sideward
glance and nodded.
Angel took this as affirmation that he had now somehow merged with all
the unreality around him, hitched up the old jeans (which he had been
delighted to find were too big for him) and patted down a shirt that made
him feel like an American jock.
They heard the sound of the car and went out. The driver still had an
amused, ironic look on his face, which increased when he saw Spike. Spike
strode up and said boldly, ‘Do you know where I live?’
The man’s eyes narrowed, but he nodded. Spike nodded, too. ‘Let’s go.’
Angel’s only audible comment as they stood in the apartment was, ‘Not
married then.’ His other views were aired in annoying mumbles that only
half-caught Spike’s ears as he rummaged for something clean to wear.
Eventually, he emerged from the bedroom wearing jeans and a T-shirt. There
was little difference to his habitual look except for a number of large
rips in the knees and seat of the jeans, and an odd design splashed over
the front of the shirt.
Angel pursed his lips and tipped his head to one side as if studying something
he had just sculpted. ‘Bring your own clothes, too.’
Angel lifted his eyes. ‘Because I want them close when we leave this place.’
He held Spike’s gaze, and whether he had meant his reply to be a promise
or not, Spike appeared to hear one in it, for he nodded grimly and turned
to fetch them.
They drove to the studio in comparative peace, given the urgency of their
situation. Once more, Angel demanded that the partition between them and
the driver be raised, and in the private confines of the rear, they were
able to relax a little. Spike discovered a small opening in the driver’s
seat and pulled it down to find, to his delight, a miniature bar. Angel
rolled his eyes but, Spike noted with glee, did not refuse to assist in
the consumption of the alcohol. Spike stretched out his legs with a glass
balanced on his belly and said conversationally, ‘I could get used to
Angel glanced over. ‘Don’t—we’re going home.’
Spike shrugged. ‘Course. Just sayin’, like. ‘S not all that bad.’
Angel peered out at the passing nightlife and murmured, ‘I wonder how
long we could fool them.’
Spike grinned, clearly amused by this idea. ‘You mean… be them… being
Angel actually smiled and added, ‘You’d do a good Spike, I’m thinking.’
Pleased, but not showing this, Spike took a long swallow of his drink.
‘He’s forty two.’
‘The other one.’
Angel turned incredulous. ‘But you were only twenty six when I….’
‘I was going to say met you.’
‘You could be him but never age.’
‘I wonder if they ever want to be us….’
‘Without the blood lust and inherent evil then.’
‘But all the super powers and the no aging thing….’
‘World full of demons and death.’
‘Very cool clothes and some exceptionally great shags.’
‘Frequent torture and one or two spectacular deaths.’
‘The not having to crap.’
‘Yeah… guess they do then.’ They turned and grinned at each other, pleased
at the small game, and at the looks and the laughter, memory sparked between
them: riding in a much older carriage, laughing, companions in life and
Angel sobered and said pointedly, ‘We can’t be seduced by this place,
Spike. We have to put things right—go back.’
‘No, I mean it. Tempting as it would be to just,’ he turned and gazed
out at the very familiar streets of L.A., ‘stay here.’
‘Can’t say as I am tempted, Luv. Nothing much here for me. But
then,’ he waited until Angel turned back, ‘I like being a vampire.’
Angel shifted uncomfortably on the seat and nodded. After a moment more
of silence, he added softly, ‘Make sure I don’t forget, Spike. Make sure
I remember that we need to go back.’
Spike paused with his glass halfway to his lips. He knew a response was
not required. He’d back Angel up any way that was required. They both
knew that’s what he did—now. In some ways, it’s what he’d being doing
from the beginning of their relationship, only his backup had often worn
the appearance of something else, confused as he habitually was by his
feelings for his sire.
The car was waved in through some impressive security and it swept up
in front of a set of doors, which were open and through which a great
number of people were passing to and fro. All seemed intent on their own
activity, yet somehow appeared part of some vast, external design. Spike
nudged Angel and murmured, ‘That’s your desk.’
Angel watched it being carried past them by four overweight men in dirty
jeans and sighed. ‘Let’s go find him.’
They climbed out of the car and, for want of a better plan, followed the
desk. They soon began to recognise the fake hallways and offices of the
day before, and before long, found themselves back in the approximation
of the lobby. This time, Harmony was not in sight, so they made their
way over to the desk and lounged, trying to blend in and get their bearings.
A few people hailed them, and they nodded back, but other than that, their
presence seemed to arouse no suspicion. After a moment, Spike nudged
Angel and nodded toward the young man who had spoken to them the previous
night. He had another piece of paper clipped to his board and was walking
determinedly down the hallway. They peeled off from the desk and began
to follow him. He exited the hallway through a door neither of them had
ever seen there before, and when they followed, they found themselves
in a large room, partitioned into smaller bays, each with a number of
highly illuminated mirrors.
Angel shoved Spike into one of the bays and hissed, ‘Wesley.’
Cautiously, they raised their heads over the partition and watched the
scene before them with mounting horror.
Ducking back down, and dragging Angel down, too, Spike said forlornly,
‘Who’d have thought it? The poof wears makeup.’
Angel turned his head incredulously. ‘I’m thinking maybe that’s not Wesley!’
Spike looked puzzled for a moment then brightened. ‘Oh! That’s the… actor?’
Angel was too embarrassed not to have realised this himself earlier to
be too impatient with Spike, so he merely gritted his teeth and said,
‘This is a waste of time. He can’t help us.’ He sank to sitting, his posture
betraying a sense of defeat.
Spike rose up and peered over again then sat down heavily, too. ‘Eyeliner.
Wait till I tell ‘im.’ It suddenly seemed to occur to him that he might
never have the chance to wind Wesley up about anything again. He lit a
cigarette and glanced at Angel, and for the first time it occurred to
Spike that Angel was going to miss Wesley far more than he would.
He had never really appreciated just how heavily Angel relied on his human
friend to interpret the world they shared. Now they were in a far stranger
world—but they were on their own. With only a slight hesitation, he put
his hand on Angel’s outstretched thigh and squeezed it. Angel neither
banged the hand away nor moved his leg. He looked down at the pale fingers
stretched over someone else’s pants, and this incongruity seemed to strike
him very forcibly. He tipped his head to one side then laid his hand over
Spike’s. Turning, he regarded the blue eyes carefully. ‘It’s just us.’
Spike nodded. ‘Been that way before though.’ He turned his hand over,
and their fingers slowly entwined. As if he had no control over them,
Angel’s eyes dropped to Spike’s lips, and unconsciously, he licked his
own as he stared at those in front of him. Spike felt a bolt of intense
energy course down his spine, almost orgasmic in its power. He felt sure
that Angel could feel its residual spasms through their entwined fingers.
Afterwards, neither could have said who initiated the move or whether
they had not moved at all but that something had grown, swelling to reach
them, but they found their hands over a sudden hardness in Angel’s lap.
Still not breaking the intense gaze between them, Spike moved his hand,
swirling the back in a small circular motion over the rounded end of the
shape. Angel’s eyes darkened, dilating until they resembled holes, into
which Spike felt he might fall. ‘I—.’ Angel didn’t complete his sentence
for Spike’s other hand flew up and one finger was laid over the open lips.
Then, beginning to grind against the rising hardness below, he pushed
the finger into Angel’s warm and shockingly willing mouth. Spike groaned
a soft curse and closed his eyes, as much to escape the falling as to
concentrate on the feel of this tiny penetration. When he felt Angel’s
tongue flick sensuously over the blunt tip of his nail, he drew his legs
up sharply and exhaled a long breath of desire.
At the sound of human voices, seemingly inches from where they sat, they
pulled apart as quickly as their counterparts in this world might have
done, had they been compromised in a similar situation.
The voices passed on, and they were not discovered—but the moment had
passed. However, with a furtive glance at each other, they discovered
that it had merely passed for now. It had not gone forever, and,
perhaps, more importantly, it was not regretted. It hung—a possibility,
a promise—over them, and they knew that it would not be long before it
rose, spectre-like, to haunt them once more.
With a small straightening of his clothes, Angel climbed to his feet.
‘Let’s go back to the house.’ As if Spike might mistake his meaning, he
added defensively, ‘And make a plan.’
Spike blew out a long breath, that seemed to say more than if he’d actually
spoken, and climbed to his feet as well.
They sidled past the other portioned areas and made for the lobby once
more. As they passed some of the equipment pushed against the walls of
the large space, Spike suddenly veered off with a small sound of pleasure.
Angel followed him, annoyed, to find him wrenching open a large refrigerator
that he had last seen in the canteen. Gleefully, Spike indicated the
thermos flasks inside, one of which said The Boss in large letters.
Angel’s eyes widened. He slapped Spike on the arm with pleasure, and together,
furtively, they stole the entire contents of the fridge, pilling flasks
and bloodbags into a box they found among the other rubbish lying around.
The car was dutifully waiting where Angel had instructed it to, and trying
to be nonchalant, they climbed in with their haul.
Angel stashed the box on the floor and told the driver to head to the
house, his stomach now vociferously reminding him that he had not eaten
for over twenty-four hours.
An intense anticipation of the pleasure to come, perhaps heightened by
the small, unexpected pleasure they had just shared, kept them silent
on the ride back. Feeding, the taking and ingesting of blood, was so similar
to other bodily activities that they sometimes confused them in their
memories, and each would have been hard pushed to say exactly what it
was that they were anticipating as they reclined on the soft leather seats
of the limo.
Dismissing the driver as casually as he could, Angel took one end of the
box, and together, they hauled it into the kitchen. Neither wanted to
wait to warm the food, so they chose a blood bag each and with eager,
sharp teeth, ripped through the plastic.
Angel was the first to react, Spike the first to actually spit out a shower
of pink, sticky liquid. Angel only grunted and looked down, his lip curling.
Spike, who had taken a far larger mouthful, almost screamed and spat it
in an arc, which decorated Angel’s football shirt.
Horrified at the sweet, sticky substance, but not entirely getting it,
they abandoned their first choices and took another bag each. When these
proved equally treacherous, Angel ripped off the top of his thermos and
tried to drink the contents of that. He spat, but more discreetly, into
his hand. They stared at each other aghast, and only then did it occur
to them that like everything else in this world, their blood wasn’t real.
Spike then began to think about starving to death and ultimately feeding
in more creative and interesting ways; Angel went on to think about the
meaning of his reality, concluding that the very basis of his existence,
the blood taking, was too foul for this world. Equally pissed off, despite
the very different nature of their musings, they immediately found fault
with the other: Angel complained about his shirt; Spike blamed Angel,
once more, for the fact that he had to feed on blood in the first place.
Furious, needing some space, Angel swept out and headed up to the bedroom
to shower and change his clothes.
When he came out, Spike was sitting on the bed, his head in his hands.
He looked up as Angel emerged and said forlornly, ‘I’m not feeding on
Angel was knotting his towel securely and didn’t reply. He wandered to
the window and parted the curtain, seemingly taking a great interest in
Angry at the lack of response, or empathy (although he did not exactly
call it this), Spike rose and ripped off his T-shirt, preparing to follow
Angel’s lead and shower. Suddenly, he was propelled against the wall.
Angel’s huge strength held him captive, one steel-like arm across his
throat. Very deliberately, Angel lifted his other hand to his mouth, twisted
his wrist over and with a small snarl of intent, ripped it open: ulnar
and radial arteries spurting blood like an effect on a slash movie. Before
Spike could either complain or beg (both of which crossed his mind in
a fleeting burst of confusion), Angel mashed the bleeding arteries to
the tense mouth.
Hoarse from deep emotion, or perhaps from the sudden pain, Angel growled,
‘We feed the old way.’
Spike’s eyes widened and even as he sucked and drew the addictive fluid
into his mouth, he lifted his own wrist and substituted it for a moment
to deliver a similar level of damage to his own arteries.
Angel darted his mouth forward eagerly and caught at the offered limb.
They stood pressed to the wall in a circle of blood, a soft slurping and
small murmurs of pleasure the only sounds in the room.
After only a few minutes—blood flow slowing for a moment or perhaps because
he missed the initial slice and crunch—Spike’s mouth left Angel’s wrist
and slid up to the hand. He bit open the soft join of thumb to fingers,
then languorously sucked the blood-slick thumb into his mouth. As he mouthed
into the wound, the thick length of Angel’s thumb slid into his mouth.
It withdrew as he eased off, allowing the blood to pool once more.
Angel pulled his mouth sharply away from Spike’s wrist and watched this
sleepy, almost hypnotic feeding. As he watched, unconsciously he pressed
his body to Spike’s in a matching rhythm to the thumb sliding in and out
between the soft lips.
With a deep groan, Angel fastened on once more—but not to the wrist.
This time, he pushed Spike’s arm to the wall, raising it, turning it,
then opened his greedy mouth to the hollow that lay so enticingly beneath
the bony shoulder. Nuzzling into soft hair and almost human warmth, he
bit into Spike’s armpit, drawing a gasp of delighted pain from Spike and
a matching but brief bite into the tendons of his hand.
Pain and pleasure and the concentration on these tiny areas of flesh,
made their extremities weaken. They fell to the bed in a tangle of blood
and moans, Angel’s carefully tied knot surrendering the field and slipping
To increase the depth of his penetration into Spike’s soft hollow, Angel
rose over him, pressing him to the mattress with his free hand, one strong
thigh laid over the slim hip, now thrusting his thumb into the eager face
to match a similar thrusting below.
Their bodies responded to the age-old rite of blood taking. Like tides
obeying the pull of a long-banished moon, male juice surged and fell,
surged and fell, until driven by a rhythm it was powerless to resist,
it erupted from their bodies as a wave cresting and crashing against towering
cliffs. Although not alive, this surge of sperm had the illusion of great
power and vitality—Angel’s firing from the slick exposed tip of his cock
and pooling like foam in the hollows and creases of the bedding; Spike’s,
trapped in his jeans, showing only as a gradually darkening stain on their
worn paleness, as if the ocean had bubbled up from the core of his being.
And still they fed, neither gaining nor losing, only exchanging blood
in a tight circle of need.
Sense of themselves as individuals only returned at the insistent ringing
of the telephone next to the bed. Although neither made a move to answer
it, they did pull apart. Like fighting men who have exhausted themselves
in some struggle to the death, they lay side by side on the bed, panting.
Even Angel’s nakedness did not rouse him to move. He was full and empty
in equal measure, and it seemed to him then that something in this contradiction
beautifully defined his relationship with Spike.
Spike was the first to sit up. He pressed his hand to the wet front of
his jeans and brought it away thoughtfully. He did not appear to like
his thoughts much, for with a curse, he rose and went into the shower,
shutting the door with some considerable force.
Angel pulled on some clean sweat pants and went down to the kitchen, ostensibly
to find something to wrap his hand with, but actually to avoid the need
for talk when Spike emerged.
He rarely termed himself a coward, but he did for the rest of that night.
He did not go back up to the bedroom but, despite his genuine belief that
they had better stay close, sat at the computer dipping in and out of
another man’s life for wont of thinking about his own.
David wandered out into the living room feeling slightly guilty that,
yet again, James had taken the couch. He needn’t have worried; James did
not appear to have slept at all. He was leaning on the window, staring
thoughtfully out at the view of L.A.
Scratching, David came up behind him. ‘Anything interesting?’
James turned and gave him a wan smile. ‘Sleep well?’
David shrugged. He never slept well these days, but he didn’t really need
to tell James this. For all their rivalry, you couldn’t work such long
hours with someone without noticing increasing levels of strain on so
familiar a face.
James pursed his lips and offered cautiously, ‘This is real, yeah?’
David wobbled his hand, not willing to totally dismiss his earlier theories
that they’d either died or were under the influence of a drug.
‘Well, if it is, then they have some damn good doctors here—remember Spike’s
arms? Maybe you could,’ he glanced pointedly down at David’s knee, ‘get
a new one?’
David’s eyes widened.
James shrugged. ‘Just a thought.’
Suddenly, David’s face fell as dramatically as it had shown hope. ‘If
we do get back….’
‘When we get back….’
‘Yes, okay, when we get back. But when we do, I don’t think it
would be a very good idea to have something from here inside me—in case
it didn’t come back, too.’ He heard an odd sound and glanced up at James
sharply. Suddenly, he laughed, too, and shook his head with almost hysterical
despair. ‘I’m buying into the insanity that this is real!’
‘Best thing to do: adapt and overcome.’
‘So, what kept you awake?’
James sighed and turned back to the window. ‘What if Wesley is right?
What if for one split second our lives merged with theirs?’
‘So? Doesn’t help us get back.’
Without making his irritation too obvious, James said gently, ‘I think
it does. I think that if we want to get back, we have to try and make
it happen again.’
‘We don’t know how it happened the first time. Something you did? Something
‘Perhaps something we thought….’
‘Maybe. But I don’t see….’
‘The closer we are to doing what they’re probably doing, the more likely
we are to have that matching moment.’
‘How do you suggest we do that?’
‘I’m not sure you’re going to like this idea.’
David frowned. ‘Try me.’
‘I think we should be them. I think we should live their lives as much
as possible and force that one perfect moment when what we do or say coincides
David’s face was a picture, but James tried not to laugh. He’d had all
night to work through the ramifications of his suggestion; he had to give
David time to….
David was the one who laughed—at James’s expression. He added slyly, ‘I
can think you’re right sometimes….’
James smiled ruefully. ‘Did you get the freaky thought then that we were
already pretty much just being… them?’
David cast him a look out of the corner of his eye. ‘I’ve been thinking
that since we got here. So….’
‘Live the life?’
‘Other than the drinking of blood thing, of course.’
David nodded thoughtfully. ‘And the being stabbed and battered.’
‘Oh! And sleeping with dead women—however pretty they are in pink.’
‘And no werewolves!’
‘Can we pull this off?’
James grinned. ‘What? You and me?’
David smiled shyly. ‘For the first time, I think I’m glad it’s not just
the Angel show anymore.’
James groaned, but there was a considerable amount of pleasure behind
the sound. ‘Don’t start to like me now! We have to be them, remember?
Angel hates Spike! Spike hates Angel!’
David looked amused. ‘I’ll act.’
James grinned. ‘Okay. That, I know you can do.’
As they parted to shower and dress, David said with an enigmatic look,
‘What if they stop hating each other—while they’re in our world?’
James looked genuinely aghast for a moment then he shook his head. ‘Nah.
Not gonna happen.’
David nodded, relieved, and as James walked toward the bathroom called
out softly, ‘Shave real close.’
James turned, and at the same time, with annoyed groans, they realised
that razors, like many other requirements of the living, were absent from
Angel’s bathroom. With a sly grin, David picked up the telephone, punched
through to Harmony’s desk and placed an order. What she thought of buying
pizzas, beer and razors for her boss, she didn’t say, but as she never
turned down an excuse to go shop, she didn’t complain too much.
Wesley was surprised to see them walking into his office later that day.
He had to admit that if he hadn’t known what they were, he would have
taken them for his absent friends. They’d lost the flushed skin that the
shock of arriving had given them. They’d grown into the clothes, shaved
close and walked like heroes.
It was a good act.
He pursed his lips and said cautiously, ‘I don’t think that this is a
James frowned. ‘We haven’t told you what our plan is yet.’
David suppressed a small grin at hearing the ‘our’ and cast James
a small glance of pleasure.
Wesley chose to ignore the look and said coolly, ‘You’ve decided to precipitate
another exact moment between the parallels by being them.’
James made a face. ‘Damn, you’re good.’ He turned to David. ‘And no script!’
Wesley came out from behind his desk. ‘I think you’ve just pointed out
the flaw in your plan.’
David unconsciously stood closer to James, allying himself with the smaller
man. ‘This is what you wanted from us for that damn party.’
‘Yes, I’m well aware of that. To your credit, you pulled it off rather
well. But this is entirely different. You know only a surface gloss of
‘We know enough! Jesus, we’ve lived and breathed these characters for
‘That’s just my point! They aren’t characters! They are living, breathing…
well, all right, I admit that they’re not either of those. And what about
the physical?’ He came up very close to David, eyeing the large, formidable
figure. Very deliberately, he punched him in the belly.
With a gasp of shock, retching, David sank to his knees, tears springing
to his eyes.
James hit Wesley.
It was surprisingly hard. It was very evident from Wesley’s expression
that he had not expected the much slighter figure to be so powerful. He
sank to the edge of his desk, winded.
The other two both noticed, however, that he was far less winded than
There was an impasse for a few minutes while everyone reconsidered positions.
David dragged himself up and flopped into an armchair. After a moment’s
hesitation, James went over and perched on the arm. He was surprised to
look down and see David’s hand on his knee. David patted him softly and
James quirked up his lip. ‘If I’d known how much my knuckles would hurt,
I’ve have left you to it.’
David flicked up his eyebrows with amusement then turned to Wesley. ‘It
seems to me, when all is said and done, that you have very little choice
in this matter. If we choose to do this thing, you can’t stop us. It seems
to me, Wesley, that if I only raise my voice, I could have security in
here in under a minute. And I have the very distinct impression that you
trying to tell them that I was an actor from a parallel universe only
playing Angel wouldn’t impress them much.’
Wesley opened his mouth to counter this argument, but David continued
unabashed. ‘Sure, you could have tests run on me—eventually. But then
what? You cause this whole edifice to come crumbling around your ears.
I’m fairly sure that the Senior Partners have no idea what has happened.
And I’m also fairly sure that they wouldn’t take too kindly to having
Angel out of the picture. So, we do this thing; we’re happy; you’re happy;
everyone is happy.’
Wesley pursed his lips and tented his hands under them thoughtfully, a
gesture he knew he’d picked up from Angel and liked the more for that.
He suddenly nodded. ‘The viability of this plan has just improved.’
James laughed and ruffled David’s hair. ‘And he wasn’t even acting!’
David stood up and put a hand on James’s shoulder, but still addressing
Wesley, said with his other hand on his sore belly, ‘Don’t ever try something
like that again.’
Wesley nodded. ‘I’ll remember that. But Ang…. Sorry. David…?’ When he
saw he had the man’s attention, he said very distinctly, ‘The next thing
that punches you won’t wear the face of a man, nor will he show restraint
or feel… guilt. I suggest you remember that.’
‘I’m not intending on trying to do all that Angel does. I’m not
Wesley turned his eyes on James, and the implication that he might
not be so cautious was obvious.
James said, ‘Hey!’ in a slightly aggrieved tone.
David laughed. ‘I’ll watch out for him. I’ll restrain his… enthusiasms.
We’re in this together.’
Wesley suddenly let his shoulders sink, and the other two saw relief flicker
across his face. ‘I think you stand a remarkably good chance of pulling
this thing off then.’
James tipped his head to one side, curious. ‘Why the change of heart?’
Wesley got up and went behind the security of his desk. ‘When you behave
like that, I see them before me.’
David came a little closer. ‘Are you saying that Angel doesn’t hate Spike?’
Wesley didn’t look up but murmured as he turned the pages of a book, ‘Good
grief. And you lived with these characters for how long?’
Angel didn’t know much about how if felt to be a teenage girl, but he
did have the suspicion that as an opener, the girlie “About last night”
scored dismally for macho impact. But that’s exactly what he wanted to
say: About Last Night. For that’s what it was—not just this conversation,
but everything that was them: their history; their relationship; their
enmity; their accord. It was all about last night. It was all about blood
and desire and control, and lack of that last, too.
They had successfully managed to avoid each other all morning.
At midday, Angel didn’t go consciously in search of his absent childe—he
was merely exploring other rooms—but he found him upstairs in what was
clearly a child’s bedroom. Spike was sitting cross-legged on the floor…
Angel leant in the doorway, watching him, annoyed. He’d expected some
kind of funk: contrition, fury—at the very least, confusion. Spike, however,
looked perfectly unconcerned about dilemmas of any kind, and was trying
to push little pieces of shaped plastic puzzle into the right holes in
Angel opened his mouth to speak, but as so often seemed to happen between
them, the momentous got lost in a fixation on the mundane. Instead of
what he had intended to say, he snapped, ‘Will you put that down!’
At first, Spike seemed not to have heard, but then he pushed up gracefully
to standing, and before Angel could repeat his command or continue with
what he had planned to say, he was thinking about Spike’s body: its sinewy
fluidity and grace. It was still all about last night.
Utterly distracted by his confusion, he was far more approachable than
he usually allowed himself to be around Spike and suddenly found them
only inches apart, Spike staring at him thoughtfully. Angel stepped back
sharply, but collided with the doorframe.
‘Look.’ Spike held up the child’s toy and very deliberately pushed one
of the plastic shapes into Angel’s palm, pointing to a particular hole.
Gritting his teeth, feeling foolish and oddly vulnerable, Angel said without
needing to look, ‘It’s not going to fit.’
The oddly poignant request seemed to strike Angel forcibly, for he said
in a conciliatory tone, ‘Because it’s the wrong shape.’
A glimmer of understanding flashed in Angel’s eyes, and he glanced down
at the toy. ‘No, not wrong, just… different.’ He put his hands to the
toy, over Spike’s fingers, and turned it around.
If their eyes travelled to the still visible wound between thumb and fingers,
if their mouths salivated in remembrance of the cause, if they hardened
and felt a great confusion, neither showed it other than a too hasty pulling
apart of their fingers when Angel found what he sought. Angel grunted
and pursed his lips, the only other outward sign of internal upheavals,
but with an absurd sense of triumph, he pushed the piece of plastic into
the correct hole. ‘It goes in because it fits this one.’
Spike smiled, pleased with him.
Quickly, Angel pulled the toy apart, letting the pieces inside cascade
to the carpet. He dropped to his knees and lined them up. ‘One in ten
chance of them being right.’
‘But imagine if that container was one whole world—a whole universe—a
whole reality!—and that piece of plastic was another.’
Angel pushed a piece in. ‘But for some reason, they line up beyond all
odds and….’ Spike dropped to his knees and pushed another home.
‘And we fall through.’
‘You think we found a hole in a matching reality?’
‘Could be—but one that only we fit in. Or I guess more people would have
‘Our paths merged with… theirs.’
‘Who knows? Perhaps we’d been running so close for so long something happened
to make us cross over.’
Angel’s face darkened. ‘You think the two of them maybe died? They died,
and for a tiny fraction of time, that made them like us?’
Spike seemed to be considering this. ‘But there would have been bodies?’
‘Maybe they fell through dead in our world. I don’t see how else there
could have been a moment when we became so physically close that we… swapped.’
He took the pieces out and began to push them in again.
Spike retrieved one that rolled away, leaning close to reach behind Angel.
There was something in Angel’s last that he wanted to challenge—something
that struck him as wrong—but he couldn’t work out what it was.
However, as Angel then took the opportunity to say in a low tone, ‘About
last night….’ the thought was lost.
Angel glanced up to see how his soft opener was received and was surprised
to see a faint blush under Spike’s normally unchanging skin. He was pouting
and frowning at the same time and began to toss the plastic object from
hand to hand. ‘What about it?’
‘I think the things we remember….’ He ground to a halt: he found talking
about his past difficult at the best of times, but discussing his past
sex life with Spike while they floundered alone in a parallel universe
seemed particularly tricky. He coughed and began again. ‘You confuse what
we did as demons with what those things would mean if we had been souled.’
It was so much worse than it had sounded in the rehearsal of his “about
last night” speech. For want of anything better, though, he floundered
on. ‘I remember blood, and I remember power, and I think you confuse those
things and think they meant more. You think that the things we did for
fun or for release or just to spite the world mean what they would mean
if we did them now!’ In desperation at the uncharacteristic lack of response
from Spike, Angel finished, exasperated, ‘Does any of this make sense?’
Spike raised his eyes. He nodded sadly. ‘Yeah. I think it does.’
Angel’s shoulders sank with relief.
Spike laid his hand on Angel’s thigh, and his expression turned into one
of pure mischief. ‘So… about last night then… being as we are souled
an’ all now….’
Angel could have cursed—and not least for the way those words had sounded
so much more macho in Spike’s mouth. He clenched his jaw and realised
he had no answer for this at all.
Spike smiled and patted his thigh patronisingly. ‘Never mind, Pet. It
was a good try.’
Angel pushed angrily to standing and threw the toy onto the bed. ‘It’s
wise-ass comments like that that really piss me off about you! Any hope
we had even for friendship you constantly niggle away at with that damn
mouth of yours.’
Spike rose, laughing. ‘Oh, sure, blame me. Your problem, Angel, is that
in your heart of hearts all you really want is a little girl fawning over
you and never criticising you: Angel, Angel, oh, you’re so clever and
so… perfect….’ He knew, even as he was saying it, that he’d overstepped
the mark, but yet again, he was stinging from Angel’s words. Hope, which
had risen with other things as they had lain together, had been trampled.
He was getting tired of feeling stepped on by Angel. Nevertheless, the
blow, when it came, caught him off guard with its ferocity. Angel backhanded
him; he stumbled and tripped over another discarded toy and fell inelegantly
on his backside—a heavy fall, which made him bite his tongue sharply.
Bleeding from tongue and lip, he stared up at Angel.
Angel passed his hand very briefly over his eyes then stuck out his hand
contritely. ‘I’m sorry.’
Spike ignored the hand, flipped to standing and strode out, ignoring the
blood, too, which had begun to drip off his chin.
Angel pursed his lips for a while, toeing the ground. It didn’t help that
he toed the plastic toy. That Spike had worked out a possible solution,
while he’d only paced and worked on some dumb lies, stung. It stung enough
to make him move. He used his senses and tracked the smell of blood. Spike
was raiding the refrigerator. Angel leant in the doorway, arms folded,
watching him, then when he thought there was very little he could say
that would make the situation any better, he found himself saying, ‘I
tell myself that it meant nothing. It’s me. I tell myself
that it was demon thing. But I’m a man now—or trying to be. So, if I’m
a man, what does last night make me? I can’t work it out in my head, Spike.
Can you? I am a man, and I put away the childish things of my past when
I chose this new path. If I take them out and play with them now, I can
no longer call myself a man.’
Spike, who had up to then given a pretty good impression of either not
listening or not caring, straightened and turned. ‘Maybe you’ll just be
a man who is so comfortable in his own skin that he can be whatever he
wants to be without caring about the labels the world attaches to him.’
He lifted his eyebrows archly, pushed past and went back to the computer.
Angel followed him into living room and hung uncomfortably in the feminine
space, watching him still. After a few minutes, where he was utterly ignored,
he said miserably, ‘You cared about labels once. You were just as pleased
to be William the Bloody and to have me the great Angelus as I was. So,
yeah, I do care about labels; I always have; you know that.’
Spike sighed and leant back in the chair, looking thoughtfully at the
screen. ‘Look at these men, Angel—these men who look so like us. Their
lives are nothing but shadow and illusion. They can never be what they
want to be; they have to be what people see them as. Who is more a character?
We’re not defined by other people’s expectations. Do you want to
be as imprisoned as they are?’
Angel came over and sat heavily in the chair next to him. ‘I despise in
other men what you want me to become.’
‘I don’t want anything from you but for you to be yourself! Do whatever
you want, Angel—hate me, beat me, ignore me—but do it honestly!’
He did not expect, from his bitter speech, that a hand would seize him
roughly around the back of the neck. He did not expect lips, equally careless
of his comfort, pressed hot and urgent to his unprepared mouth.
He had no time to respond before Angel sank back, his eyes dark and confused.
‘I cannot reconcile what I still want to do with want I now want
to be. I’m sorry.’ Despite the apology, which seemed to imply one
course of action, he took the opposite and returned to Spike’s lips, now
giving them all the time in the world to respond.
Spike’s mouth seemed to surge in response, opening wide. They both made
small sounds of surprised delight, and tongues came into play. With so
much else rising, they rose to standing, too, straining into the extremes
of this kiss.
Then, the very last thing that either of them expected to happen happened.
Spike pushed Angel off his mouth and said, wide-eyed, ‘We can’t!’ Before
Angel could fly into a justified fury, he added desperately, in an uncharacteristically
incoherent rush, ‘We need it to be the same so we can fall through again.’
He slammed his hand on Angel’s chest and said more slowly and carefully,
‘We need to make another line-up happen—with them! We need to mirror what
they’ll be doing to make it happen again.’
He saw by Angel’s expression that understanding was beginning to sink
in. Spike smiled, a small provocative grin. ‘I’m thinking they won’t be
Angel finished for him with a groan, ‘This…’ and proceeded to demonstrate
once more exactly what it was their human counterparts would not be doing.
The kiss turned frantic—Spike’s sudden clarity of purpose not affecting
one bit his desire to kiss Angel. Mouths strayed away from mouths, over
ears, lingering on sweat-scented flesh to necks, then lower…. Collarbones
explored by tongues seemed to shiver in delight; hands fumbled on buttons,
sharing these exquisite shivers of anticipation.
Before he undid more than the top button on Angel’s shirt, Spike was crushed
to a strong chest, and he heard an agonised murmur. ‘If I go further,
I won’t be able to stop until…. My body craves to take you—and I could
not stop. If we are to go on as we have always been, I need to stop. I
want to cross back, Spike. I want to go home.’ He pushed
Spike out to arms’ length, his grip on the hard biceps booking no refusal.
‘We need to feed on enmity.’ At a flash of some deep emotion in Spike’s
blue eyes, Angel crushed him back into a possessive hold. ‘But I am finding
hating you does not come easily to me now.’
Spike kissed sensuously into the hollow of Angel’s neck and replied with
convincing honesty, ‘It never did for me, Pet.’
They knew it was wholly wrong; they knew they should be what they had
always been to one another to enable their realities to meet and merge
once more, but they could not stop. Even Angel, who had purported to despise
what they had done, seemed to have no trouble now with his tongue deep
in Spike’s mouth, exploring, with his hands roaming over Spike’s taut
body, or with his fingers eagerly seeking confirmation that Spike was
as aroused as he by this intimate clash. It seemed he’d been right when
he’d said that he would not be able to stop, for as he mouthed wetly and
urgently to an equally ardent pair of lips, he pulled their hips together,
seeking a rub and grind that they both knew heralded far more than a kiss—however
intense this joining of lips was. He touched; he fondled where he knew
pleasure lay, dormant and waiting to be drawn out by his skilful touch.
Only when their hands began to tear at clothing, renting shirts from pale
backs, did they both cry out in guilt and frustration. Spike dashed a
hand across his eyes, wet from the confusion of emotions. ‘If we do this,
I’ll never be able to hate you again.’
‘I’ll see you and crave your body.’
‘I won’t be able to fight you—I’ll want something else….’
‘Your hands on me… like this….’
‘Fuck!’ The curse, only said to give vent to Angel’s frustration, suddenly
made them laugh.
Spike laid his forehead on Angel’s broad chest. ‘I’m thinking that that’s
the very last thing we should be doing right now.’
Angel cradled his head, stroking his fingers idly through the damp, blond
hair. ‘But you want to?’ The question was hesitant, and he added slightly
amused by his own fears, ‘We never have—despite what you seem to remember.’
Spike lifted his face and grinned. ‘We got bloody close sometimes.’
Angel dipped his head, a glow suffusing his skin. ‘That we did.’
‘Lots of… sperm.’
Angel lifted his eyes heavenward, and for a moment, Spike thought he was
seeking guidance, or patience, then he realised that Angel was remembering:
every drop spilt on an equally muscular body; every lick through the thick
blood-like fluid; every shudder and spurt of pleasure shared with one
chosen to share an eternity.
It seemed to sober Angel considerably for his face became serious and
focused once more, the dilated glint of madness in his eyes gone. ‘We
need to get back, and we need to do whatever is required to achieve that
one aim.’ Despite his apparent decisiveness, his voice betrayed his need
to have Spike’s agreement. Spike stepped back, straightened his shirt
then tidied Angel, too.
‘Anything we have to do.’
Angel nodded, clearly very pleased with his childe. This thought appeared
to lead to another that almost weakened his resolve, but he turned sharply
away and said before he’d thought it through too much, ‘We need to hate
Spike suddenly laughed. ‘Okay, you first.’
Angel turned, smiling reluctantly, ‘This isn’t helping. Be… like you always
‘No, you’re much more irritating than this.’
‘No… you just used to find it irritating.’
Angel sighed. ‘I’m not sure I ever really did. I just enjoyed thinking
that. We had so much time to fill.’
Spike nodded. ‘Maybe if you hit me?’
Angel seemed tempted but he shook his head. ‘I’ve done that already.’
Spike’s eyes widened. ‘Oh! Yeah! You bugger! You hit me! Right!’ He punched
Angel solidly in the nose. ‘There!’
Angel howled (very unnecessarily). ‘That hurt!’ He glared at Spike, but
they both knew that some other emotion, quite different, hid happily under
that hateful stare.
Spike flicked his head toward the door. ‘You storm out now and go find
‘I never do that.’
‘Yeah. You do. You usually head for a shower. I’ve always wondered, ya
know? Do you go up after our fights and have a good wank? Oh, bloody hell.’
Realising he’d said entirely the wrong thing, he hurried past Angel to
find some space of his own.
David’s first hour as CEO of Wolfram and Hart was surprisingly easy. Despite
signing a huge pile of letters with his own name and having to pretend
to Harmony that he’d lost them, it was pretty normal, he assumed, for
someone who worked in a law firm, evil or not.
It intrigued them both that they managed to carry it off, even though
they only met Harmony and a man from the IRS who didn’t know Angel anyway.
James stayed with him in the office, feeling slightly redundant, which
was something he’d felt so often recently that his day seemed pretty normal,
The first test came when Wesley appeared and said casually, ‘Fred wants
to meet you.’
David lifted his eyebrows and glanced at James. Wesley smiled, ‘I told
her not to come up here—I rather feared a scene. Why don’t you come to
the lab? She’s on her own today.’
David glanced surreptitiously into the hallway and seeing the look, Wesley
added, ‘There’s no one much about. I think we can make it safely.’
He seemed to be enjoying their dilemma a little too much, so James jumped
to his feet and clapped his hands, enthusiastically. ‘Let’s go.’
Both David and Wesley froze and glanced at each other. David shivered
theatrically. ‘There really is very little difference.’
James gave him a finger, and they went happily enough out into the hallway
David began to laugh first, but James wasn’t far behind. They kept glancing
at each and touching things, pushing open doors, hitting the walls. Wesley
looked censorious and muttered something about being covert, but they
ignored him. David squared his shoulders and seemed to enjoy being the
CEO more than his dead counterpart ever had.
When they arrived in the lab, Fred was standing by one of the tables,
and her knuckles where white, gripping the edge with fearful anticipation.
She frowned when they entered and let go. She came closer and pushed her
glasses up to get a better look. With a smile, she said, ‘I was expectin’
monsters! What was I thinkin’?’
David folded his arms and nodded at James. ‘He is—especially when he’s
just bleached his hair.’
She walked around them. ‘My God!’ Her eyes wide with excitement, she gently
touched her hand to the back of James’s neck.
James watched her intently for a while then looked away, his expression
troubled. He felt a small touch on his hand and glanced down to see David’s
finger lying there in solidarity. The small gesture clearly said that
he was thinking about her fate, too, and that he shared James’s sadness.
At the same time, they jerked their heads up and stared at each other,
and they realised that they had just crossed the line that lay between
them dismissing this as an unreality they merely had to escape from, and
believing in these people as real. Fred was real; they knew she was scheduled
to die, and the knowledge saddened them both immensely.
When the strange meeting had run its course, Wesley took David’s arm and
said carefully, ‘Angel had a meeting scheduled a couple of days ago with
the Plethos of Darm. With all the confusion of your… arrival… it was never
held. They are returning this afternoon. It was bad form that they were
kept waiting before, and I don’t want to….’
‘It’s okay. We’ll do it.’ David didn’t need to look to James for confirmation
of this; he could feel him, standing firm at his side.
‘Right. Good. I need for Gunn to brief you. Do you think you can carry
David shrugged. ‘Piece of cake.’
James leant forward and suddenly said, ‘I don’t guess you’ve actually
got one of those: piece of cake, that is. Everyone seems to be forgetting
that we actually eat!’
Wesley looked guilty and nodded. ‘I won’t expose you to the canteen crowd
just yet; I’ll have something brought up to the office for you. Can you
manage to return on your own?’
Fred seemed reluctant to part from them, but she was eventually persuaded
to let them go. She gave each one of them a hug. ‘See y’all.’
It did nothing to make either man feel better, and they walked slowly
side-by-side back to Angel’s office, fairly oblivious now to their surroundings.
James was the first to voice his thoughts, and he said in a low tone,
‘Maybe we should tell them.’
James pouted. He hadn’t really wanted David to agree with him; he wanted
to be argued back into what he knew to be right. Eventually, he said,
‘But back in our world, they’ll be working through the events in the script.
If we change things here, we’ll maybe never get that moment when things
line up again. We’ll be stuck here.’
‘Sacrifice Fred so we can go home?’
James rubbed a hand over his tired eyes. ‘I feel like a shit.’
‘No….’ David put an arm over his shoulder. ‘You’re right.’
James glanced up at him, shifting his shoulders pleasantly under the weight
of the unfamiliar arm.
When they got back in the office, David flipped the switch that darkened
the glass, and they sank onto the couch together. James studied his nails
for a while, then said, ‘How should we play this thing? To bring us together
‘I wonder what they’re doing back there.’
‘Yeah. Maybe Wesley’s wrong. Maybe they’re fighting and trying to kill
each other—as they always do.’
David rolled his head and regarded James thoughtfully. ‘Do you know, they
wanted to put a scene in where Angelus and William were in bed together
in London. Asleep. But still, the implication was there.’
James’s eyebrow rose. ‘And they didn’t because?’
‘Because I refused to do it.’
‘I’m not as comfortable with things like that as you are.’
‘We spent a day in bed doing that damn dream scene. So, are you saying
that Angel and Spike have….’
‘History. Sure. Don’t you sense it?’
James didn’t commit himself. ‘But how does that help us play this? I
mean—if we want to get home. All we need to know is what they’re doing
back there and try to mirror those thoughts or feelings here.’
‘What if they had put their hatred to one side and were working together—like
James was quiet for a moment then he said bitterly, ‘Could you do that
though—even to get us home?’
David tipped his head back on the couch. ‘You belong here, James.’ He
looked up and frowned, staring at the ceiling as if it could help
clarify his thoughts. ‘I mean, Spike does. So I guess that means you belong
with me—in our show. I can’t picture being in it without you now.’
James closed his eyes for a moment then stood and went deceptively casually
toward the conference room. ‘Let’s get ready to meet Gunn, yeah?’ He didn’t
speak his gratitude or pleasure, but David could see both these on the
He followed James in and went to the window, never tiring of the view
from his offices. James came and stood at his side, and something in the
small gesture said more about their new relationship than David’s words
James sighed. ‘What happens if we can’t get back, Dave?’
David squinted at the view, as if the light hurt his eyes. ‘I guess they
still have a TV industry here.’
James’s lowered his eyes and said softly, ‘Too late for me to start again.’
David glanced at him and offered hesitantly, ‘I was discovered walking
my damn dog, James. They couldn’t get enough of my face. Look at me. Do
you think that’s gonna happen now?’
James smiled, a very small smile down at his shoes. ‘You don’t have a
For a moment, David’s face darkened then he let out a sharp laugh.
‘What’s so funny, man?’
Gunn was standing in the doorway, a bundle of files in his arms, and he
looked suspiciously at the two of them. David shook his head. ‘Nothing—private
Gunn didn’t seem convinced, and he eyed them for a moment more before
coming forward and putting the collapsing bundle on the desk. ‘The Plethos.
How long you got, Boss?’
David let James sit closest to Gunn and watched Gunn’s surprised face
when James picked up a file and scanned it. The lawyer looked helplessly
at David and murmured, ‘He get a brain implant, too?’
James suppressed a smile and tossed the file aside, starting on another.
Gunn leant back and folded his arms. ‘This is one of the freakiest things
that’s happened in this heart of freak. You two… agreeing on something,
James didn’t look up but said softly over the paperwork scattered about
him, ‘Somewhere, in another place, our destiny is being worked out just
like this. We need to work together—only, we never really saw it
until now.’ He risked lifting his eyes to David’s and saw nothing but
deep, abiding friendship in the look that the man now returned.
‘Fuck off! You need to fuck off, Angel! I can’t….’ Spike turned and leant
on the sink, bowing his head. ‘I can’t have you near me if we have to
Angel came closer, then closer still and pressed his body to the leaning
figure: legs, hips, torso. ‘I’m just… dominating you. I’ve done it before.’
Spike whirled his head around to protest at the complete revision of what
they were trying to do, but with a laugh of triumph, Angel caught a kiss.
He seemed to sober as soon as his lips contacted with Spike’s, and he
let the space grow between their mouths once more. ‘You’re right. We can’t
do this.’ To emphasis his words, something hard shifted almost imperceptibly
against Spike’s buttocks. Angel placed his hands either side of Spike,
gripping the sink and let this hard shift grow and seek and rub against
the tight globes. ‘We need to argue and fight and draw blood and….’
‘Maybe you’d better move away then?’
Angel pouted. ‘We’re sort of arguing….’
Spike smiled softly. ‘Shall I struggle?’
Angel’s eyes dilated. ‘God, yeah….’
Spike pushed back sharply with his hips, grinding them into the hardness.
Angel doubled over slightly, but came back harder, now biting the back
of Spike’s neck. ‘Do it again.’ The feel of Angel’s breath on the short
hairs of his neck made Spike moan faintly, and his attempts to gain his
freedom were pitifully weak. Angel pressed closer, enveloping the smaller
figure, half-lying over him, running his hands up Spike’s arms, under
the short sleeves of his T-shirt and cupping into warm hollows.
Spike twisted his head around once more, and they kissed slowly, languorously
entwining their tongues, sensing the smile on the other’s lips. But by
mutual consent, eventually, they slowed the pace and eventually disentangled
themselves. Spike nodded his approval. ‘We’re going home, Pet. Then we’ll
have all the time in the world.’
There was a flicker of something in Angel’s eyes, which he tried to hide
by turning away, but Spike was too quick. He grabbed Angel’s jaw and pulled
him back square. ‘What?’ He peered intently into the eyes he knew so well
then with a small gasp of shock, he said in a tight voice, ‘You don’t
intend to do this back there, do you? This was just something you could
get away with here! You bastard!’
Angel banged Spike’s hand away. ‘Don’t put frigging words in my head,
‘Mouth! You dumb fuck! The expression is words in my mouth! Jesus!’
‘Jesus! Was I really thinking I could have some sort of relationship with
you! You’re a moron!’
‘’Pparently you weren’t thinkin’ about a relationship! ‘Parantly, you
just wanted a convenient fuck in this reality ‘till we get back to ours!’
‘And you know this how?’
‘I saw it. In your damn eyes.’
Angel nodded thoughtfully. ‘Good. Okay then, Spike. Fucking read this!’
He stared at Spike, unblinking for some moments then turned away and swept
out of the kitchen.
Spike nursed a mug of coffee for a while, trying to pretend it was blood,
but it didn’t help.
With a curse, he got up and tracked Angel down to a games room, where
he was idly pushing coloured balls over perfect green baize.
‘Okay, I didn’t see what I said I did— but I could have! I feel that I…
should have done. It’s in my head that you’re gonna throw me over again.
Angel pouted then looked up, his expression conciliatory. ‘This isn’t
going to work.’ At Spike’s look, he added quickly, ‘I mean trying to keep
up the pretence of fighting.’ He had the grace to add sheepishly, ‘However
good we are at it.’
Spike came over and just brushed his fingers over Angel’s hand, then copied
his stance: leaning on the table, clicking balls against one another.
Angel pushed one final ball then straightened and said decisively, ‘We
need to get back to the office... set—whatever—closest we can to our
reality in this world.’
Spike didn’t seem fazed. He said lazily, ‘Never gonna happen. No way could
we carry off being them. We know nothing about their world—actin’, an
all.’ He rolled a ball accurately into the opposite pocket.
Angel watched it drop. ‘But we know someone who does.’ He strode out,
and with a sigh of resignation, Spike followed.
Angel was half-lying on the bed, waiting for him. ‘Remember how we got
interrupted the other night?’
Spike stood between his thighs, then very slowly knelt and crawled until
he straddled Angel’s hips. ‘Nope. I remember what we were doing before
we got interrupted though.’
Angel smiled at the logic and lay back, enjoying the feeling and look
of Spike straddling him. He folded his arms behind his head and twitched
his hips up.
Spike winced with pleasure and spread his hands over Angel’s chest. ‘Do
Spike did: he bent down and bit Angel’s nipple through his shirt, unerringly
accurate, sharp and unrelenting. Angel’s hips jack-knifed off the bed,
and Spike gasped with pleasure, moving his mouth to the other side but
pulling the shirt down, just enough for this nipple to peep out, flushed
and enticing. He licked it, sucking it hard into his mouth as he had with
other nipples, and swelled with pleasure that the reaction from this man
was no less erotic.
Angel caught at the strong biceps and moaned, ‘It’s not what I brought
us up here for.’
Spike let the blood-engorged nipple drop from his lips and replied lazily,
‘’S what I followed for though.’
Angel rolled, tipping him off and in a fluid movement, punched the answer
machine on the nightstand.
He tried hard to make Spike concentrate on the voices that drifted into
the room, but not so hard that he wasn’t rolled and kissed and licked—and
enjoyed every moment of all of this. They were engorged, and the smell
of arousal permeated the air. Spike’s eyes were wide and dark, a shade
of blue that Angel had never seen in them before. It seemed the height
of flattery that his body could make Spike’s eyes change colour. Finally,
the voice he wanted began to speak, and he clamped his palm over the laughing,
enticing lips, which, if he allowed them, would devour him entirely with
their desire. ‘Listen.’
‘… so give me a call, and we’ll do the lines thing.’
Spike frowned and mouthed, ‘Wesley?’ against Angel’s hand. Angel nodded
and repeated his command. They listened intently together, and Wesley,
with an oddly New England accent, apparently offered his help with perfecting
an Irish accent.
When he’d finished speaking, Angel switched the machine off and turned
his head to regard Spike, wondering if he wanted to remove his hand, so
nicely was Spike licking over his palm. With a groan, he pulled it away
but then used it to pin Spike down, so the effect on his increasingly
aching groin was the same. ‘We need him to help us pass as them in this
‘Tell him—that human?’ Spike seemed so sceptical that for a moment, Angel
‘We need him….’
Spike’s body sagged into the mattress, and after only a tiny hesitation,
he pulled Angel down to lie alongside him. ‘Let’s just fuck the fighting
Angel agreed with the sentiment, but he said increasingly anxiously, ‘That’s
why we need to work through the life, Spike. We can’t do it here. Back
in the office—even if it isn’t real—we’ll be more ourselves.’
‘But….’ He could think of no objection that was convincing enough. ‘Okay.
‘Well, it’s your house, an’ all. I’m getting the distinct impression that
this bloke, James, didn’t get much of a look-in in this life of yours.
Can I just say: cliquy?’
Angel frowned at the phone then seeming to want to get it over quickly,
pressed redial-last. They listened to it ring until a voice said, ‘Hi.’
Angel glanced frantically at Spike, cleared his throat and replied, ‘Hi!’
It sounded high-pitched to him, but the man at the other end didn’t appear
to find anything amiss.
‘Dave! Thanks for getting back to me.’
Spike nudged Angel when he dried up, and Angel said quickly, ‘Do you want
to come over? Do that… lines thing?’
‘Oh, sure. Today?’
Angel nodded, then feeling foolish said, ‘Yeah. Today.’
‘Nothing, you just sound a bit weird. Oh, and hey! Wardrobe are out for
‘But it was fake!’
‘The blood! It was some strawberry shit.’
‘You’ve been doing those damn pills again.’
‘Just come over, yeah?’
‘Sure. I’ll be there in two.’
Angel put the handset down and lay back on the bed. ‘This isn’t going
They waited nervously and rose together when they heard the sound of a
car pulling up in front. At the knock, Angel strode to the door and pulled
it open, staying in the shade to one side. He stared at the man, willing
him to see something wrong, but Alexis only grinned and lifted a slab
of beer. ‘Reading and beer. Some things never change.’
Angel nodded at this wise but utterly inaccurate comment and stepped aside.
Alexis made swiftly for the living room, clearly familiar with the house.
He skidded to a halt on the threshold, and Angel watched his reaction
carefully. Seamlessly, the man said, ‘James,’ as if this was the best
thing that had happened to him all day.
Angel snorted softly and as he passed Spike, said for his ears alone,
‘Wesley’s a better actor.’
Alexis sat down and pulled off a can, tossing it to Angel. He did the
same for Spike then one for himself. ‘Okay, where’d we start? I was thinking
maybe chronological? Start with the Room of Pain Scene? The trick with
an Irish accent is not to force it. If you do that, you come over like
Dick Van Dyke trying to do cockney.’
Angel tipped his head to one side and dropping the American accent he’d
perfected to fit into his adopted country, said, ‘I didn’t call you over
here to run lines, Wes… Alexis. We need your help with something else.’
Alexis rose. ‘Wow! That sounded pretty good!’
Spike chuckled. ‘That’ll teach you. Only pretty good….’
Alexis frowned. ‘We all know you do the damn accent thing perfectly. You’re
not helping. Drop it, yeah? What kinda actor puts on his accent when he’s
‘Brad Douris? Oh, and I don’t mean to help, Mate. You’re here to help
Angel gave him a warning look then turned back to the man. ‘Alexis, I
want you to concentrate for a minute—on us. Look closely.’
Alexis immediately flicked his gaze behind, cautiously scanning the room.
‘Who’s gonna jump up and surprise me? This is a joke, yeah?’
The man turned back and appeared to be doing just that, but his expression
Angel sighed and strode over to him, pulled him to his feet, grabbed his
hand and placed it firmly over his heart.
Alexis tried to pull away but then held still. Angel, watching him closely,
saw the blood drain from his face. It was an interesting reaction: something
he had never actually seen when he was still in his human face. He sensed
Spike at his side and transferred the hand to Spike’s chest. By this time,
the hand was cold.
Alexis began to shake his head then he laughed and began to undo Angel’s
shirt. ‘What have you got under here! Some kind of….’ The naked, pale
skin silenced him, and he backed away, but standing in front of the couch,
there wasn’t far to go. As soon as he fell, he rolled off and scrambled
to his feet. Spike was already standing in the doorway, before the thought
of escape had propelled the man’s legs in that direction.
‘Let me go!’
‘Calm down. You need to calm down.’
‘No! I’m sick. I’m in a dream. I’m drugged…. You’ve drugged me!’
‘So you do accept that this is real.’
‘No! Jesus! No! Go away!’ He stumbled further back into the room, his
eyes darting wildly around.
‘We need your help.’
‘Something happened, and we fell into your world. We’re trapped, but we
think we can get back.’
‘Go away. Leave me alone.’
‘We think the two realities collided maybe. We think your friends are
over there—in our world.’
Alexis blinked. ‘You’ve killed David?’
Spike frowned and leant forward. ‘And James, Mate. Why the fuck does no
one care about him?’
Angel glared at him. ‘Not helping! No one is dead, hopefully. We haven’t
killed anyone. They’re over there in our world.’
Alexis began to laugh, a hysterical sound. ‘It’s why you stole the costumes!’
‘What? Can we focus here, maybe! We think that if we can bring the worlds
together again, we’ll pass back. But we need to try and make a moment
of connection happen again. That’s where you come in. We can’t live their
lives! Not out there in your world. We need your help!’
Spike tried a second interjection. ‘You’ll get them back then—if you help
us.’ It was better than his last. A slight glint of madness left the man’s
eyes, and he appeared to begin breathing again.
‘What do you want me to do?’
Angel nodded, pleased. He opened his beer. ‘First off? We need to talk.’
Spike was suspicious and slightly annoyed by how quickly this man seemed
to accept the idea of their existence once he’d overcome the initial shock.
He watched him relaxing, thinking, adapting to the crazy things he was
being told. After an hour of listening to Angel’s story, he didn’t even
seem fazed. It freaked Spike out (not least because he was still
freaked after three days), so at last he leant forward and poked the man
in the leg. ‘You’re bluffin’.’
Angel cursed under his breath, but Alexis turned calmly and lifted his
eyebrows. ‘About what?’
‘How can you just suddenly find there are bloody vampires around and not…?’
‘What do you want me to do?’
‘I was thinking of you wetting yourself or something dramatic!’
‘Sorry to disappoint. But you’ve got to remember that I’ve sort of been
working around vampires for so long now, you almost do seem real.’
‘We are real, Mate, and don’t you forget it.’
Alexis’s face began to clench, and he did a bad job of repressing laughter.
‘You’re so over the top; James would never get away with playing you like
Angel did a worse job of not laughing. Spike stood up, gave them both
an equally characteristic gesture and stomped out.
Alexis leant back in his seat and stared at Angel. ‘I’m not taking this
as well as he seems to think I am.’
‘You’re doing okay.’
Alexis nodded, gratefully. ‘I’m thinking it must have been a shock for
‘You could say that.’
‘Finding out you were only a character.’
A muscle in Angel’s jaw twitched, but he didn’t challenge the man; he
needed his help. ‘So, do you think we can pull it off?’
‘What? Come on set and pretend to be David pretending to be Angel? Avoid
even a hint of a mirror or sunshine? No, I don’t think you have a hope
in hell of pulling it off.’
‘We have no choice. We can’t stay in his house and retain the level of
enmity we need to make this connection thing happen.’
‘No? I’d have thought being locked up with Spike would be the perfect
way to do just that!’
‘Yeah, well….’ Angel managed to look sheepish, flushed, aroused and annoyed
with himself in one glance at his nails.
‘What’s that supposed to mean?’
‘Well… we’ve always speculated about…. But David loses it if anyone suggests
they had a history.’
‘We don’t… well, okay, we do, but that has nothing to do with… okay, it
does, but this is…. And why the fuck am I explaining this to you?’ He
stood up and went to the bookcase, pulling down the album he’d studied
on the first night. ‘Can you help me to be him?’
‘I want him back, so I don’t see that I have a lot of choice.’
Angel’s shoulders sagged with relief. ‘Okay. We do this thing. What’s
Alexis tented his hands, thinking. ‘I guess we turn up on set and play
it by ear. I’ll stick by you. I guess you’ll just have to pick it up.’
He glanced at the doorway. ‘Will he go along with it?’
‘He’ll do what I say.’
‘Fuck you!’ The voice drifted out from the kitchen. Angel and Alexis smiled,
pleased and surprised by the complicit, amused expression each found on
the face of the other: a stranger who so closely resembled a lost friend.
All three were required for pick-ups that evening, so it seemed that Angel’s
plan was going to be put to the test earlier than he had expected. Alexis
promised to return as soon as it was dark and drive them in himself.
As he left, he found a cool hand on his shoulder. He turned to find Angel
staring intently at him. ‘Our fates are entwined, human. You see us as
extensions of your make-believe world. But perhaps you exist through the
power of our reality. Think on that. I need for you to return tonight.’
Alexis nodded gravely. ‘I don’t resemble my character very much, Angel,
but I believe I give him my own honestly and trustworthiness.’
Angel nodded, touched. ‘Do not tell the witch.’
‘Oh, okay…. Not a word to… Willow.’ Smiling faintly, sure that he would
soon wake up and find that eating spicy Mexican food after a long day
on set was a bad idea, Alexis went to his car.
Angel felt sinuous arms slide around his waist as he watched the human
depart. ‘Good job, Sire.’
Angel put his hands over Spike’s on his belly, and leant back a little
into the firm embrace. ‘I trust him. It’s weird, but he’s so much like
‘Seeing as we’re going there tonight—where our best chance lies—it can’t
really hurt what we do now, can it? An’… we’ve got two hours to kill….’
Angel smiled, unseen by the other. ‘Good idea. I need to read up on the
making of this show.’ He tried not to laugh when he heard a distinct growl
‘I was thinkin’ something more fun than that.’
‘We could go hunt down some rats: I’m starving.’
‘Or I could take you to bed and fuck you until you can’t say my name.’
He twisted in Spike’s arms, reversing the hold, pushing him back to the
wall. ‘Research? Rats? Fuck you? Which would you have me do?’ He licked
into the hollow of Spike’s neck, just in case there was any doubt left
about the correct answer.
Spike pushed his mouth into the long, dark hair, and said distinctly,
‘I want you.’
Angel didn’t see any point waiting until they made it to a bed. He spread
his hands on the wall behind Spike’s head and leant in, placing his lips
softly to the ones waiting for him. They smiled around the joining of
their mouths, laughed as their tongues lapped together. ‘What do you want
me to do?’
Spike shifted against him. ‘Do me.’
Angel murmured his agreement and began to turn Spike, his intent clear.
Spike made a show of resisting, just to perfect the moment for them both,
and then he was face to the wall, Angel pressing into him, grinding against
him… unbuttoning him.
Angel took his time releasing Spike’s jeans. As he opened each button,
he pushed his hands farther and farther into the warm nest of hair and
hardness they constrained. He pushed down further and cupped the warm,
vulnerable ball sac in the palm of one hand. With his other, he eased
the waistband down until both white buttocks were exposed. The contrast
of white between the blacks of Spike’s jeans and T-shirt made the globes
of hard flesh seem almost luminous in their beauty, and although Angel
had not thought much on this part of Spike’s anatomy before, it now overwhelmed
him. He was trapped in its allure, and he knew he would never again be
free of its power over him.
Parting the twin mounds seemed a sacrilege, but when he had them held
apart, he saw that they were not invulnerable and remote; they willingly
gave up their secret: an intense vulnerability and earthy core that he
could savage and take and make his own. He wanted to bow and worship at
the shrine, make offering to the dark God of his new religion. He fell
to his knees and kissed passionately, then gave of his tongue and its
gift to give pleasure.
Spike felt the cool air as he was pulled apart; he felt a flush of deep
unease; but when the tongue touched him, all doubt dissolved on the soaking
delight of Angel’s mouth. As best he could, he wriggled his jeans further
down so he could part his legs. To reward him, Angel slid his hands around
and grasped Spike’s root, right down against the hard belly, pulling his
childe further onto the reaching length of his tongue.
The sight of Angel’s fist encircling him, his own soft hair curling up
around the strong fingers and brushing them erotically made Spike’s balls
harden and rise. He felt a great swelling and rush of blood to his cock,
passages opening and readying themselves for the great push of sperm that
was to follow. He desperately didn’t want to spill so soon, and fought
Angel for possession of his hard shaft. It didn’t help; the more they
handled it and fought for tight grasps, the more it rose and hardened
and quivered in anticipation of heady pleasures to come.
Finally, so close he could feel a stream of crystal-clear fluid wetting
his hand, Spike twisted, intending to pull away entirely.
Deep in Spike’s body, Angel seemed to have anticipated him with his tongue,
as if reading an erotic form of Braille transmitted through Spike’s body
by the power of the external stimulation. As Spike turned, Angel gracefully
opened his mouth and took him in, swallowing the thick, wet length so
far that when he tightened his throat, he tightened it around the base
of the slick, bulbous head. He worked the strong muscles of his throat,
milking Spike, until with a high-pitched cry, Spike could hold back no
Shot after shot of sperm squirted into Angel’s throat, washing back to
fill his mouth and glistening his lips. As soon as he tasted it, he knew
that the truth of their past lay somewhere between memory and desire.
When he felt that the ejaculation had ceased, he drew his mouth off the
still hard cock, deliberately doing this so slowly and with such tight
lips that he caused a second small shudder and release. He paused with
the hot wet length of cock half-out, his tongue just in the right position
to probe and tickle the tiny slit as it released its last few drops.
When he withdrew fully, Spike collapsed: his knees buckling as if he’d
been felled by a weapon far more intimidating than Angel’s soft mouth.
This was fine by Angel for it brought their mouths together, and he crawled
over Spike’s lap, straddling him, giving him ample opportunity to share
the taste in his mouth. He felt Spike’s hand creep onto his achingly
hard lap, one nail scratch the tip of his cock through the soft wool of
his pants, and he moaned into the kiss, urging him on. Spike slid his
hand between Angel’s legs and cupped him, squeezing up lightly, rolling
the tempting balls in the palm of his hand. He wanted to see Angel, but
not as much as he was enjoying feeling him up through his pants. It seemed
incredibly erotic to him, more so than having Angel stretched out and
naked for his pleasure. This way, it was all touch: tantalizing hardness
and familiar softness that drew out skilful strokes from his fingers.
This way, it was touching the forbidden: a fulfilment of many idle fantasies.
He loved the way he could trace the lay of Angel’s cock down one pant
leg, thick and heavy, like a jungle creeper running along a smooth branch.
Even more, he loved the tip, where if he scratched and probed with a nail,
he could make Angel cry out with need for him. Most of all, he loved the
gradually increasing dampness at this place where the thick rope of cock
ended. It was cool and spreading and seemed to obey his commend: when
he stroked, it rapidly grew; when he left off, it missed his touch and
grieved for the dancing power of his fingers.
He wanted to teach it who was in command—this dampness that he drew forth
siren-like from Angel’s otherwise contained body. As he kissed, therefore,
he slid a hand down the back of Angel’s pants, working it down the smooth
crack until his fingers found the place he sought. Access was poor but
good enough to get the tip of one finger right to the entrance of the
secret place. With his other hand on the dampness he sought to dominate,
he pushed his finger home.
Spasms rent Angel’s body. He rose up on his knees and cried out. Now in
front of his face, Spike watched with fascinated greed as Angel flooded
his release into his pants. Unable to resist, he pressed his face to the
wetted material and sucked hard, biting softly into the covered flesh
With his finger dislodged by the violence of Angel’s orgasm, Spike withdrew
his hand and wrapped his arms around Angel’s waist as he nuzzled and licked
and mouthed. Angel groaned when he was done and leant his forehead against
the wall, his hands making sweeping circles in Spike’s hair.
Obliterated by the overwhelming presence that was Angel, Spike chuckled
into the damp fabric and murmured, ‘Not a drop spilt in his precious house.
That would have been hard for him to explain.’
Angel looked down, tipped Spike’s face up and kissed him. Without the
need to release driving them, the kiss was slow and gentle. It moved them
beyond what they had just done, and when they eased their mouths apart,
they saw this awareness in the expression of the other: whatever they
had done or been in the past, what they were to each other now was new.
Angel smiled ruefully and pushed to standing, grimacing then at the state
of his clothes. He held out a hand, and Spike took it gratefully, pretending
not to trust his legs. Fastening his jeans, he said with a cheeky raise
of an eyebrow, ‘We’ve still got an hour and a half….’
Angel gave him an enigmatic smile, ran his fingers through his hair and
said softly, ‘Good. Just enough time to get ready for my debut.’
They both found it hard to be in Fred’s presence, however much she seemed
to enjoy being with them, seeking them out whenever she could. They looked
at her and could not help but remember an actress who relished the challenge
in front of her, who had brought in preliminary sketches of her blue makeup
to make them all laugh and who had seen dying and becoming an ancient
demon as something to be relished. To them now, though, it was Fred’s
Ironically, however, the sense of guilt and sadness only drew them together
more. For the first time, David saw how deeply James felt things, and
James saw that David was more like Angel—the good parts of that complex
character—than he had ever realised.
None of this changed their minds that it was fundamentally wrong to tell
anyone, given that their only chance to get home depended on both the
parallel realities running along on the same tracks as they ever had—albeit
with the dramatic changes that had already taken place.
They had never worked so well together, either as actors, or in this world
where they were required to be a great deal more than that. Other than
actually proving their vampire prowess, they did most else that their
counterparts would do, and after four days, given all this effort, were
becoming increasingly despondent that their plan wasn’t working.
Their success at being Angel and Spike began to feed off itself: Wesley
now allowing cases to come before David without screening them first and
occasionally letting him see clients without his careful, watchful presence.
David found himself facing just such a situation on the morning of their
forth day on this permanent set. A very human-looking couple sat anxiously
in front of him, pouring out their worries about their daughter. David
listened, watching their faces intently. As an actor, he absorbed this
extreme emotion, wanting to remember it and use it. He had not realised
just how testing this new world was to frail emotion, and he had seen
more real fear, anger, hatred, passion and desire in these four short
days than he had in all his carefully constructed fakeries. He glanced
over to his ever-present companion and saw with great delight that James
was doing the same: studying these distraught people. He knew they both
did it partially to distance themselves from the pain, but it was more
satisfying to see that they now travelled the same path. He didn’t actually
let the thought “Now I’m a real actor like James” surface, but it lurked
just out of reach, adding to the bond he now felt with this man.
As if sensing David’s scrutiny, James turned from his intense study of
the couple and gave him a small grin. David nodded back and returned to
listening to hear, ‘… so she says she’s being abducted.’
He frowned in bewilderment, had a momentary surge of desire at the thought
that Dana Scully might be real in this world, and said in utter confusion,
‘Aliens are abducting your daughter?’
The husband’s face turned from despair to disbelief to derision. ‘Aliens?
Are you joshing with us, Sonny? You’re not one of these freaky I believe
guys are you? Aliens—my foot.’
The wife turned and patted his hand in a conciliatory way. It appeared
that she’d had a lot of practice of this. ‘Now, Ned, don’t go off all
fired up at the nice man. We’re here for his help, remember?’ She turned
back with a smile. ‘Demons. She’s being abducted by demons.’
David looked relieved and tried to ignore a snort from the fake blond
in the corner. Sometimes life was too weird: aliens, what had he been
James stood up and came to perch on the desk. ‘Being abducted?
You mean it’s happening regularly?’
‘Well, I’m not sure as I’d say regular, like. She don’t seem to know when
it’s gonna happen next. But whoosh, off she goes, and we don’t get her
back for days.’
James took every moral fibre he had and resisted turning to give David
a look. He merely said casually, ‘And you say she’s… eighteen?’
‘That’s right. Turned last week. So, do you think you can help us?’
David stood up and held out his hand. ‘We’ll come over tonight and meet
The couple rose gratefully, but the husband’s level of aggression notched
up once more. ‘Now, about payment….’
Hearing the genuine fear behind the bluster, David felt a surge of sympathy
for the couple and took great pleasure in saying, ‘We don’t charge the
abductee—we’ll get the payment from the demons. It’s kinda like insurance.
Trust me on this one.’
Melting with gratitude, the woman took her husband’s arm and hustled him
out before the nice young men could change their minds.
James chortled and stood up stretching. ‘Abducted by demons. What d’ya
‘Pot-smoking, gang-banging ones, I’m thinking then.’
James nodded. ‘Shame. They seem nice. It’s not gonna be easy to tell them
David looked up and frowned. ‘Maybe we won’t have to. Maybe we can persuade
her of the dangers…. Get her to stop?’
James nodded wisely. ‘I’m thinking that we’ve just found a case where
both of us have more expertise than either Angel or Spike!’
David looked stern. ‘I’ve have never taken part in a gang-bang.’
James caught the twinkle behind the look, and in a similar tone said pompously,
‘And I have never smoked pot. Of course.’
They dissolved into laughter, and this, more than anything else they had
done over the last four days, increased the suspicion in Harmony’s mind
that they were still under some freaky big-Lorne influence.
They didn’t even bother to tell Wesley where they were going. They’d decided
to speak to the girl then go have some dinner and maybe catch a movie.
L.A., outside the confines of the firm, was very normal, and they discovered
to their delight that familiar restaurants still existed.
The couple had moved to L.A. from Texas only a few months before—a move
that had coincided with the apparent abductions. They lived in a suburb
a few hours to the north.
The cars, they were both very pleased to discover, were just as real whatever
reality they were in, so they chose a Camero and headed out.
As he negotiated a stoplight, David said deceptively casually, ‘What will
you do when it all finishes?’
James turned, puzzled. ‘When what finishes? Life?’
David seemed about to deny this then nodded and said softly, ‘It does
seem like my whole life sometimes. I meant the show. What will you do
when Angel finishes?’
‘I’ve not thought that far ahead. We’ll run for another two seasons, I
reckon, with the storylines they’re giving us now. You know I watch TV,
Dave, and there’s nothing else out there to beat this show. The writing
is amazing; Joss’s imagination keeps it so damn fresh, and then there’s…
David smiled, but it was a troubled look as well. ‘I don’t know. I hear
things, ya know? I… sense things. What if we don’t? What if this is last
‘Can’t happen. Won’t happen. How could they wind up all the story arcs
this season? And hell, the Illyria episodes are inspired.’
‘So… you’ve not planned for a future without Spike at all then?’ David
turned his head and fixed dark eyes on James.
James sighed. ‘I don’t think for a minute the show will be cancelled,
but I always have plans. It’s just me, yeah?’
‘I’ve bought up the rights to a couple of novels. I’m turning them into
screenplays. I want to produce them one day.’
‘What about you?’
‘I see a future being in films like Valentine—if I’m lucky. I’ll do the
Cons, and one day I’ll write a book titled “I Am Angel”. Then, when I’m
too old to even do Cons, I’ll write a book called “I Am Not Angel”.’
James swallowed deeply. ‘Shit.’
They drove in silence for some time. James fidgeted with his seatbelt,
seeming to miss the convenience of having a cigarette to play with. Eventually,
he said very hesitantly, ‘I kinda fantasise sometimes about you being
willing to take a part in my first film—when I’ve written it.’
‘Me? You’re kidding. You don’t even like me.’
‘Didn’t. Much. Always wanted to though. Do now.’
David blushed slightly. ‘If I could go back and change the way I….’
‘Yeah, love you, too, Dave.’
David smiled and let the mutual admiration session drop—they didn’t need
false dramatics between them now. ‘What is this part? Another vampire?’
‘Not at all. He’s a man. But he’s intensely dark. He’s probably the darkest,
most complex character I’ve ever read in a book.’
David blushed again. ‘And you thought of me to play him?’
‘Yeah. I did. From the first. Jacob Cullen. But there’s something you
said about…. I mean, I’ve kinda dropped the idea recently.’
‘He has a relationship with another man. After what you said about being
uncomfortable playing scenes like that, I didn’t think you’d go for it.’
‘Oh. Another man.’
‘Yeah. Christopher Ferris. They become lovers.’
‘Shit. Who did you have in mind to play him?’
James didn’t reply, only looked down at his nails.
‘Oh!’ David was quiet for a moment then he chuckled. ‘That would freak
the fans out.’
James laughed. ‘Depends on which fans you mean. Anyway, it’s just an idle
thought. I’ll do it one day; the story is utterly unique, Dave. It’s amazing.
I just need to find the right Jacob.’
David gave him a glance but didn’t respond for a while. Finally, he just
said quietly, ‘Could I read the book, maybe?’
James grinned. ‘Is that a commitment?’
David laughed. ‘If you think you can get me to kiss another man and make
it look like I’m actually enjoying it, then I’ll commit to the project
just to see you put under some pressure for once.’
James nodded gravely. ‘It’s a deal.’
David nodded, surprisingly serious. ‘Life beyond Angel.’
James looked equally serious, almost wistful. ‘Yeah. Life beyond Spike.’
A sense of deep happiness and hope then seemed to seep into the car. They
relaxed and felt as if unspoken burdens had been lifted from shoulders
they’d not realised had been stooped to accommodate them. By the time
they pulled up outside the clients’ house, they were almost blasé about
the unreality of everything around them. Which later proved to be their
‘No, I’m not bloody doing it, and nothing you say can make me.’
Spike’s declaration fell sharp and decisive into the trailer. Alexis pursed
his lips thoughtfully and glanced at Angel.
Angel felt the glance but didn’t give into the temptation to return it:
no need to add fuel to the fire of Spike’s wrath. He was surprised how
easy things had been so far. With Alexis at their side, they had breezed
through a confusing world as if they belong there. Almost. It seemed to
him that in a more normal job in this reality—accountant, doctor—they
would have been discovered by now. But here, in this one, things were
so chaotic and so false that no one seemed to notice their total incomprehension,
their contradictions, or their errors. He’d almost thought that they’d
expected them somehow. When he opened his mouth, everyone laughed whatever
he said anyway. It was better than being the boss of Wolfram and Hart.
If he’d had a shallow ego, the constant adoration might have gone to his
head…. He’d only had to say (at Alexis’s suggestion) that he wanted to
try some method acting, and they’d removed all the mirrors for him. So,
Spike’s pissy attitude now confused him. They’d suffered makeup; they’d
done wardrobe—what could be worse than those? He glanced at the pages
of script he’d been handed: fragments of scenes from a number of episodes.
To Angel they looked like flashlights on his life. Still without catching
Alexis’s eye, he rose from the bench and nodded toward the bedroom at
the back of the luxurious trailer he was enjoying, courtesy of pretending
to be the star of the show with his name. It was only divided from the
main room by a curtain; when Spike sulkily stomped in after him, he kept
his voice lowered. ‘What the hell is wrong? This is what we’ve been waiting
for! Doing some of our life!’
Spike glanced at the curtain to ascertain if they could be overheard and
said equally vehemently, ‘What’s the bloody point of redoing stuff that’s
already happened? They won’t be!’
‘I’m not dumb, Spike! I know that! It’s a start. When we’ve done this—if
we can do this—we’ll be able to do more, until one day we get it right,
and we’re back where I don’t have to wear damn eyeliner!’
‘Shame… it suits you….’
Angel melted at the soft mischievous tone, which was an entirely novel
sensation. Normally, such comments wound him up until he bit back. He
still wanted to bite—just in an entirely different way.
Spike saw the effect of his words and edged closer. ‘Reckon he’s listening
in?’ He swirled his finger over Angel’s shirt, deliberately ensuring that
both nipples were grazed erotically in passing.
Angel suddenly caught the errant finger and half-laughed, half-hissed
in annoyance, ‘Good try, Childe. But you still have to do this.’
Spike pulled away and turned his back on Angel, lighting a cigarette.
‘No. I’m not doing it.’
Exasperated, Angel spun him back. ‘We’ve already done all this—for real!
Where’s the big…?’ He narrowed his eyes and snatched up the pages he’d
dropped on the bed, scanning them once more. With a frown and a stab of
pure pleasure in his gut, he said, ‘It’s Eve. You don’t want to do the
scene where you find me and Eve.’
Spike continued to stare at him then he gave a little shrug.
The pleasure in Angel’s heart began to swell. He put a finger to Spike’s
chin and lifted it slightly, the better to see the expression in his eyes.
‘That’s what you were moping about.’
‘I’ve told you. I don’t….’
‘It wasn’t Eve; it was me. Even then.’
Spike banged his hand away angrily and took a long drag on his cigarette.
‘Funny me, then.’
Angel began to laugh. At the sound, any bravado that Spike had assumed
crumbled, and his expression showed a rare flash of genuine anguish. ‘You
Angel shook his head and grabbed his shoulders. He leant in very close
to Spike’s ear and tried to calm his voice. With a slight hiccup he managed
to say, ‘I felt the same when you went off with Harmony—solid, but then
off with her. So… funny me, too.’ He turned the grip on Spike’s shoulders
into a hug, running his hand in circles around the bony back. ‘Let’s go
do this scene, only… this time you’ll know I’m thinking about this instead….’
Still clenched in the hug, not allowing Spike to look at him, he slid
his hand slowly up the lean thigh, swirling his thumb sensuously on the
Spike arched back in his arms with a soft expletive. Then Angel’s seeking
fingers found the soft, round end of something that lay solid and heavy
down the top of the thigh.
Naturally, as if they’d been doing it all their long lives, their lips
met with ardent passion. It was something new, and they murmured in surprise
at the surge of emotion that rose even stronger than more familiar surges.
Angel played with the hard growth in Spike’s jeans, roughly caressing
it through the material as he sought and explored the warm mouth. With
his other hand, he massaged Spike’s neck, crushing him into the intensity
of the kiss, kneading and shaping him to his own desire. Spike’s fingers
suddenly found Angel’s dark locks, and he dishevelled them eagerly. Suddenly,
stilling his lips against Spike’s, Angel whispered, ‘Don’t do this with
Spike smiled and licked gently over Angel’s glistening lips. ‘Only if
you do first.’
Angel smiled and nodded. Spike frowned and licked his own lips. ‘Strawberry?’
Their eyes opened wide, and they stepped back to survey the horror they’d
made of their hair and makeup. Spike began to laugh and made an attempt
to flatten Angel’s hair. ‘Sorry.’
Angel wiped at a smear of lipstick on Spike’s face and said carefully,
‘I’m trying not to think weird things about you now. There.’ He stood
back and nodded. ‘You’ll pass.’
‘As you. So, does that mean you’ll do…?’ He glanced at the script.
Spike wobbled his hand, and Angel had to make do with that.
When they emerged, Alexis was on the phone, which relieved Angel for he
realised that their conversation could have been easily overheard toward
the end, voices rising with the passion.
Alexis glanced at them and wound the call up. When he put the handset
down, his face with thoughtful.
The man shook his head. ‘Not with you, per se. It’s odd though. Joss wants
to see me—said he had a screenplay I might be interested in.’
Spike, not really bothered or interested, said neutrally, ‘That’s good,
Alexis made a face. ‘I’m not sure. I have a contract with this show for
another two seasons—or so I thought. Anyway. So, are you ready? We’ll
be called soon.’
Angel nodded for both of them, and as Alexis predicted, there was a knock
on the trailer door. ‘We’re ready for you, Mr Boreanaz.’
A sense of despondency seemed to permeate the atmosphere in the car on
the way home. Although they had not been unrealistic enough to expect
that the minute they said something in character, they’d be whisked back
to their own lives; nevertheless, they’d expected something to happen:
a glimmer, a glint, a slight waver in the air—anything to keep hope alive.
There had been nothing.
Alexis appeared to be in an equally bleak mood, and he glanced at them
once or twice in the mirror as if he could actually see them, a sad expression
darkening his face. Angel debated asking him what was wrong, for but
some strange reason, didn’t want to hear the reply.
He was in a mood of his own. It wasn’t easy to discover that you couldn’t
act—yourself. They’d had to do the scene so many times that finally they’d
been… sacked for the night. Of course, no one had actually used that word
(or any like it), but even he could hear that the “Great job, Dave” or
“You really nailed that” were becoming more and more affected as the evening
Spike hadn’t helped, of course. It wasn’t easy for Angel play himself
now—not when he wasn’t… himself: he was the man Spike’s passion had created.
Or he perhaps he was himself—the real person beneath the façade
he’d perfected over the last hundred years.
Whatever. It still rankled being told, by implication, that he was doing
a crap job acting himself.
Alexis dropped them off at the house but refused to come in. Too tired
and too hungry to argue, Angel extracted a promise from him to return
the following evening and then followed Spike into the house.
A discarded T-shirt lay in the hallway.
A pair of boots stood on the first stair.
Jeans lay draped higher up.
With a grin of deep pleasure, Angel bounded up the stairs.
Spike was sitting on the edge of the bed… not quite in the sexy position
Angel had anticipated: he was staring down at his lap with a frown of
Angel followed his gaze, but before he could see what Spike was examining
so forlornly, he knew: blood—or extreme lack of it. He was in a similar
state of…. He tried not to watch Spike flicking what seemed hardly more
than a listless flap of skin and went to the window, surreptitiously feeling
a not dissimilar emptiness in his pants.
Suddenly, Angel whirled around. ‘Let’s hunt.’
Spike jerked his head up. His eyes held one moment of suspicion then they
flashed with deep, repressed craving.
The father waved them in with a grunt of surprise that they had come so
quickly. ‘She’s down in the cellar doing some darn fool project. But come
in; come in. Mother? Those detective types are here.’
The mother emerged from the kitchen, wiping her hands on a towel, smiling
nervously. ‘How are you going to do this?’
David’s mouth opened and closed again quickly with no reply. James stepped
forward. ‘We’re just going to have a little chat with her.’
The woman glanced at her husband. ‘She’s downstairs. She feels safe there.
You’d understand that, I reckon.’
Forgetting they were believed to be dead, and therefore supposedly fond
of the earth, David just nodded, thinking about how to broach the subject
of gangbangs with a teenage girl.
The light on the stairs was very low wattage, and he stumbled slightly
as he negotiated the first turn. James did exactly the same, and David
heard a soft snort of amusement and a whispered, ‘I’m thinking we’re not
coming over as super heroes exactly.’
‘What’s that, Son?’ At the voice behind them, David turned, surprised.
He was about to point out to the man that they wanted to speak to the
girl alone, when he saw the mother following, too. Unsure what to do,
he just carried on until he felt the ground flatten beneath his feet.
When James was down, they peered into the corners of the room, puzzled.
David turned to the couple on the stairs. ‘Where is she?’
The man smiled, and something that had been warm and human in that look
was now absent. ‘Well, now Son, she’s right behind you.’
Putrefaction. They’d thought they seen a lot of it, but it wasn’t until
they saw it for real that they got just how fake their lives had been.
This was no clever makeup. The figure wasn’t acting. She stood, dripping
menace as effectively as she dripped the fluids of her body into the soft,
James gagged and turned away, retching. David put a hand on his shoulder
and said a lot more boldly then he felt, ‘This is what they do to her?
When they… abduct her?’
The father looked puzzled for a moment, then laughed jovially. ‘Hell no.
Now, you’ve got to get with the programme here. Ain’t no demons did this
to her. Was a human.’
David and James were backing slowly as the girl advanced on them, very
unwilling to come any closer to the pulsating flesh. David swallowed his
fear and said, ‘Human? What is this? Why did you want our help?’
‘Help? We don’t want your help! We want you to admit what you did—or what
that Devil’s spawn of yours did to her. Name Connor mean anything to you,
‘Connor? He’s….’ As it was impossible to say that Connor was a character
on a TV show and the son of the character he played, David said nothing.
He just nodded.
The man seemed pleased. ‘Well, that saves us all some pain. Your son did
this to my little girl, and I’m gonna make him pay.’
‘He’s… I don’t see him…. I mean….’
‘I know all about your little deal with Wolfram and Hart, Mr Angel. He
may not be with you anymore, but he still is—he still exists. Fact
is, he’s living the highlife now, ain’t he? The life my little Amy should
David couldn’t help his gaze straying to the revolting sight in front
of him and quickly averted his eyes again. ‘You can’t hurt Connor. He’s
‘I’m not gonna have to hurt him. You’re gonna do it for me.’
James tapped David on the shoulder and said in a low voice, ‘Let’s get
out of here.’ He nodded at the elderly couple, and his meaning was clear.
Suddenly, the air seemed to split apart around them, shivering and splintering
on the power of a primal scream. James’s knees buckled, and he fell to
the ground, clutching his head. Something warm and sticky flooded his
mouth, and he realised with shock that he’d almost bitten his tongue in
two. He could not open his eyes, but he felt warm hands under his armpits,
lifting him to standing, fixing something around his wrists. ‘There you
go. Getting her all riled up. Just as Mother and me got her calmed down.
You can’t upset the dead, Son. Thought you’d know that.’
When the screaming stopped, he opened his eyes. He was fastened to a bracket
against the wall. David was alongside him, and they were alone. Unconsciously
they shifted closer.
When James said nothing, David turned his head. ‘You’re bleeding.’
James nodded and stuck his tongue out.
David winced. ‘I think I burst an eardrum. Fuck. This is… bad. How can
this be happening?’
James tested his tongue and mumbled, ‘Cus we were dumb and didn’t….’
‘No, I meant… it’s not in the show, right? So how can it be happening?’
‘Oh. Yeah. Maybe we’ve caused things to… diverge… instead of becoming
closer—by trying to be them.’
‘Shit. You’re right; Angel would never have fallen for this.’
‘Spike wouldn’t have gone down those damn stairs.’
‘Neither of them would have been felled by that fucking scream.’
James pulled at the manacles binding him and didn’t point out the obvious.
He didn’t voice the obvious question either, and was relieved when David
asked it for him. ‘What are they going to do with us?’
A chilling snicker from a darkened corner made the hair on the back of
their necks prickle. David licked his lips. ‘You gonna show yourself?’
The girl stepped out, smiling. ‘You didn’t like seeing me much the first
They didn’t bother to deny it. ‘Tell me how you know Connor.’
The figure wavered as if the effort of remaining corporeal was taking
its toll. She swayed to and fro, her arms wrapped around her decaying
remains, humming as she crooned, ‘I told him that I had to get home; that
Mom was gonna be mad. He said he was sorry—but he wasn’t.’
‘Amy, what did Connor do to you?’
She grinned, and a few teeth dropped from her mouth, slipping down her
chin on a slick of putrescence. ‘He watched while the axe fell on my head.
He anointed her belly with my blood. I felt it as his flesh went into
my flesh. I was a virgin, and it felt like rape.’ She looked up almost
sadly. ‘My blood brought forth evil.’
‘Oh, Jesus. Stephi?’
James nudged him with his body. ‘What? Who?’
David’s face screwed up with the effort to remember. ‘It’s Stephi. Vince
had to…. I mean….’ He turned anguished eyes on James. ‘This is real, Jamie.
We’re not drugged, and we’re not going to wake up. It’s not Stephi, a
cute actress Joss liked cus she cried real well. This is a girl that Connor
sacrificed to bring Jasmine here.’ He turned back to the swaying corpse
who watched them with curious eyes. ‘I’m not Angel! Can’t you see that
we’re human? Just like you… were.’
She tipped her head to one side thoughtfully. ‘Nooo. You’re dead. I can’t
hear your life.’
‘The runes! Dave, the runes!’ James rattled his chains, trying to reach
his shirt to yank it up and show the girl the drawings on his belly. ‘We’re
not vampires! We had nothing to do with what Connor did to you.’
She closed her eyes and began to rock herself for comfort, intoning, ‘Not
listening to the bad men. Not listening to the bad men.’ Gradually she
began to fade back into the darkness of the room. Just before she dissolved,
she flicked open her eyes and said balefully, ‘Daddy’s coming.’
David began to pull frantically on his chains, but they appeared to have
been prepared for his alter ego, and he made no inroad on them. He sank
wearily. Suddenly, he turned his head, his face only inches from James’s.
‘Where will we go? Like you said? If we die here.’
‘Don’t, Dave. We can’t die, remember? We’re gonna make this great movie—you
David tried to smile. ‘Oscars?’
James laughed. ‘Sure. Me for Best Screenplay, you for Best Actor.’
David calmed slightly and rested his head against the wall, his eyes closed.
James watched him for a moment then with a small hitched intake of breath
asked softly, ‘Dave?’
‘What were you thinking when you had that sword to my throat? What
would you have thought if you’d pushed it home? You never said.’
David rolled his head on the wall, staring into the deep blue eyes, their
colour strangely visible and compelling even in the gloom of the cellar.
He smiled and dipped his head, about to reply when they heard heavy footfalls
on the stairs.
‘Well, here we are then. Did I keep you folks waiting?’ The man stepped
into the soft pool of light under the single bulb. He was carrying an
odd looking device in his hands. At David’s anxious look, he looked embarrassed.
‘Sorry, Son. Did I not explain why you’re here?’ He put the device on
the ground and came over to them. ‘See, now. Our little Amy came back
to us to tell us what happened. Course, if you wish for a thing enough,
they say it can happen. And Mother and me wished for it; I can tell you
that.’ He ran a hand over his eyes. ‘We prayed and cried and wished like
there was no other child in the world. And there wasn’t for us. Never
has been. She was perfect, see? Do you have children?’ He was gazing at
James, and James nodded reluctantly. The man seemed saddened by this.
‘Then I’m sorry, Youngster, for you had no part in this. But I have to
do you, too, or you’d be too strong for me. Amy said: Do the Father and
the Childe. And I’m reckoning that’s you.’
‘What are you going to do to us?’
‘Why, where are my manners? I’m going to remove your souls. Didn’t I say?’
David turned frantic eyes on James then blurted out to the man, ‘Open
my shirt! I’m not Angel! I’m not a vampire!’
‘There’s no need to beg, Son. I’m not doing this to avenge Amy on you!
This is for that boy of yours. It’s what she told me: Bring back the Avenger.’
‘Oh. God. Angelus. You think you can bring Angelus from me?’
‘I sure do.’ He began to hum, the same tune that the demon calling itself
Amy had used to snare him. ‘I’ll use this here billydo and take that soul
of yours. And yours, Blondie. And you’ll go to your son, and you’ll have
my revenge for me.’
‘Listen to me. Please….’
James heard the catch in David’s voice preventing him speaking and spoke
for him. ‘We’re human. Feel my skin! It’s warm.’
‘I used to touch her skin—when she was a baby. Couldn’t believe she was
mine, see? Mother said: You’ll wear her out, you old fool. But I didn’t.
But he took….’ He couldn’t continue, his voice choking with tears. Almost
reluctantly, he picked up the thing he had laid on the ground and held
it out. ‘I’ll do you first, Son. She said leave the most powerful for
the last.’ He laid the device on James’s shirt, over his heart. ‘I can’t
tell you just how sorry I am.’
‘Jamie!’ David tried to kick at the man, but he was out of reach. He swung
around to James.
James’s face was filled with fear and incomprehension, as if he couldn’t
work out how they had come to be where they were. He closed his eyes.
‘James!’ David whispered urgently. ‘James! Oh, God! With the sword… I
was thinking…. James…!’
Spike stretched into the warm night air. ‘So, what? Nice little virgin?’
He caught Angel’s look and nudged him fondly. ‘Only joking. Murderer then?’
‘No humans? Then what we gonna hunt? You said hunting!’
‘Okay, okay! Don’t whine.’
‘I don’t…. Never mind. So. Dog! Let’s find a right big mutt and….’
‘No! Dogs are…. I mean….’ He finished lamely, ‘I like dogs.’
Spike grinned mischievously. ‘Mmm, I remember.’
‘You need to be shutting up now.’
‘Oh, yeah, drawing a veil over that particular memory of my lover’s life.’
Spike stopped, his face creased with the effort to think. ‘Did I just
‘Yeah. You did.’
‘Huh. What d’ya know? I’ve had a lot of names for you. Never that one
‘Hmm, I can imagine. And no dogs.’
‘Not cat either. Too many bloody whiskers and all that damn purring when
you’re trying to bite ‘em.’
‘You’ve eaten cat?’
‘And you do actually remember something called a chip?’
‘Oh. But cat?’
‘Don’t get on your high horse! Never eaten rat!’
‘I was atoning.’
‘You were wearing a very big, very ill-fitting hair-shirt, I’m thinking.’
‘Same thing. No cats.’
‘We could go to the local hospital.’
‘Now you’re talking! Terminally ill—they’d never know!’
‘I’m only joking! Soul, remember?’
Angel narrowed his eyes, not convinced. ‘So… bloodbags?’
Spike shrugged—a reluctant agreement—but murmured disgruntled, ‘Some bloody
fun they’ll be to hunt.’
He was proved right. The feeding was prosaic, flat, reminding them what
they were and what they had to take into their bodies to stay in this
illusion of life.
They stood in the parking lot, taking in the blood they had stolen for
their survival and felt the walls of doubt closing in upon them.
Angel saw the depression in Spike’s manner as clearly as he sensed the
revival in his libido. His body, too, was responding to the blood.
He let it swell, hoping it would swell new hope along with the hot shaft.
He watched Spike throw an empty bag into the detritus of city life despoiling
He watched him light a cigarette.
He feasted his eyes on the fingers that dexterously held the slim column.
He let his gaze trail down the leather-clad figure, brushing like desire
over the swellings and curves. And then his whole mind centred between
the pale globes that parted to his imagination as easily as they had parted
to his need.
And he spiralled into that warm, clinging darkness, feeling with his mind
the hot slick walls that awaited him, breathing shallowly as if he were
squeezed and milked by that tightness.
Angel closed his eyes, swallowed deeply, and dragged from the pit of his
need, ‘Hunt me.’
Spike looked up from his cigarette.
He looked around, confused.
He looked up and saw a flicker of movement on the roof above him. ‘How
the bloody hell did you...?’
Spike began to run. He skittered around the corner and caught a glimpse
of a dark figure running into an alley. He grinned and lifted his face
to the night. He wasn’t given to introspection (much), but he reckoned
that life didn’t get much better than this: he was hunting Angel, and
when he caught him, they would bring their bodies together in a clash
of demonic power and an embrace of human desire that would melt the world.
With a small hiss of anticipation, he began to run.
He pounded down the dark alley, all senses alert. He slid to a halt by
a chain-link fence, listening.
Suddenly, this was the not the L.A. he had always known (and disliked).
This was a city that did not threaten him. For the first time, it came
to him that he and Angel were the only two demons in this entire world.
There was nothing that threatened them. They were the petty Gods of a
place without magic and mystery. They were governed by laws that did not
exist in this place, and thus they were free.
He seemed to grow in place, felt his stature soar beyond its normal confines.
Everything pulsed and throbbed with energy and life. He could have spread
himself on the dark walls of the building and ploughed life into them,
so heady was the sense of sex and power in his body. And in the midst
of his glory, he heard a whisper, felt a ghostly hand brush his hair and
sensed the throb of Angel’s presence. He groaned with need and leant into
the fence, clawing at the wire to keep his feet. Despite what he wanted,
despite what he sensed from the teasing presence, he had never felt more
a man. For the first time, he understood what he had needed to realise
a truly masculine state: another man.
He levered off the fence and went in search of what he needed.
Angel hovered around Spike’s presence, teasing him. He felt as if he really
could fly, as opposed to the graceful stretching of his honed muscles,
which enabled him to give the illusion of that gift. He shared Spike’s
epiphany in the alley, so close to the blond figure that he could smell
his own hands all over the pale flesh, desiring to place them in those
places once more and feel the hardness and throbbing he could scent on
the air. He had never wanted or needed to penetrate anything as much as
he wanted to push into Spike’s body. His whole being yearned to seek the
elusive core of his Childe, that last resistance to his will, which he
knew had never yet been given unto him. It was as much physical as it
was emotional. When his hardened shaft slid past the defences of Spike’s
body, something else would open to him. And he wanted it. He craved it.
He whispered his need into the perfect ear and merged once more with the
darkness, laughing softly.
Spike tracked him as a dying man seeks water: his whole being focused
on the need to see his sire, to touch him and have him. It wasn’t feeding
anymore that consumed him. It was the fire that rose in his heart at the
thought of Angel’s body.
The city streets passed in a blur of nothingness as Spike ran, yet ever
before him was the elusive scent of Angel’s taunting presence. Sometimes,
Spike could fancy that he felt a soft touch on the back of his neck. Once,
a finger brushed his cheek, and always teasing whispers wrapped and entwined
him in their secrets.
At last, he could run no more: he had come to the edge of a dock, and
a great basin of dark water lay before him. Behind him stood a warehouse,
equally dark, equally forbidding. But it drew him nevertheless.
Soft shafts of moonlight pierced the failing roof and stretched their
ghostly fingers into the vast space. They illuminated in stripes, and
in their light, fleeting glimpses of a dark form moved.
Spike walked boldly into the very centre of the space and stood, his head
bowed. He felt Angel circle and turned his head to track the seductive
‘You hunt well, Childe.’
‘I am an eager carnivore, desiring this prey.’
‘Would you eat me?’
‘Yesss.’ The power of Spike’s hissed affirmation shivered the air. ‘I
would consume you, until I was more you than me.’
‘But you didn’t hunt me; you merely followed where I lead.’
Spike lifted his head sharply.
‘You are not the carnivore here, Spike.’ Something passed across Spike’s
vision, a shadow of promise. ‘I am.’
Spike closed his eyes. ‘Am I the prey then?’
Angel laughed, and the shadows departed slightly at the sound. ‘You always
have been, Will.’
Spike let his hands fall loosely to his side. ‘Then I am yours.’
Still unsighted, the feel of Angel’s hands at last on his body felt to
Spike like that first waking from death. The realisation of Angel’s great
promise and power was present now as it had been then. Propelled against
the wall, Angel’s desire was as irresistible as death had been, and Spike
surrendered just as willingly to one as he had to the other. Clothes were
rent from his body, and he shivered once in the cool, still air. Naked,
he finally opened his eyes, but it wasn’t death staring back at him.
In that great space, with the shards of diamond-blue glass illuminating
the pale face, he saw only a man. Angel wasn’t a hunter now, and he
was no longer prey. And the light showed him something else, something
that swelled his heart with love: Angel was afraid. Angel was, at the
last, uncertain what to do, or how to do it, or where the thing that he
wished to do would take them. Spike dipped his head down to his chest,
over his love-swollen heart and smiled ruefully. Very slowly and deliberately
he turned in Angel’s arms. They were men, and he made the first, necessary
He pressed his face to the rough bricks and spread his arms, every inch
of his vulnerable back offered.
The gift seemed to revive Angel’s courage. He pressed his face between
Spike’s shoulder blades, kissing deeply into the smooth skin. Desire growing,
he groaned and kissed the back of the strong neck. Now Angel’s hands began
to explore the naked body, roaming over it like a blind man’s, restlessly
seeking to identify the whole by the parts. What his hands read seemed
to please him, and he moaned softly in pleasure as they passed over nipple
and through hair and over sharp, bony hips.
With a ragged cry, Angel’s hands found proof that Spike’s supplication
was utterly willing. Spike ached for him, a hard shaft rising tight against
his belly, wet-tipped and eager for caress.
He bit lightly into the smooth neck as he pinched the foreskin high, as
if holding Spike still and obedient. The shudder of pleasure that wracked
Spike’s body made Angel’s hand grope unconsciously to his own hardness.
It demanded release, an insistent urging below the level of his deliberate
thought. A man, he followed the dictates of maleness. Even as he dragged
out his heavy cock, he was thinking about Spike’s hair, or his skin, or
the smell of him, or the feel of his peaked nipples under a finger. Even
as the cock probed unbidden between rounded cheeks, he was running his
hand through the soft nest of Spike’s cock. Even as the wet tip found
somewhere to embed, he was jerking urgently on Spike’s shaft and causing
him to writhe with pleasure in his arms.
He was utterly unaware that the drives of his powerful nature were being
fulfilled until he felt his own foreskin drag tight over the wet stem
it contained. He cried out and thrust forward with his hips. His cry was
joined by another, and the pain in that sound made Angel grab for Spike’s
shoulders, digging his fingers in deep, as if comforting—or warning that
there was no escape. Spike tore one hand off and replaced it on his cock,
and Angel knew then that the cry had not begged for escape; it had only
begged for more.
He gasped and pulled out then plunged back in, now spreading the cheeks
as best he could with one hand and peering eagerly at the erotic sight
of this penetration. He flattened Spike as he pushed home deeply, rubbing
his entire body over the naked skin, then pulled off, leaving him exposed
so he could watch as he drove home once more. The pleasure of the watching
overcame Angel so completely that Spike had to put a hand to the larger
hand and take his share of the gratification. Together they worked Spike,
hard dragging of his cock up and down, rough squeezing of his balls and
relentless stretching of both as the solid rod took him from behind.
The only sign that Angel was past the point of no return was the almost
mindless speed with which he now worked the pliant body. Again and again,
he forced Spike into the wall, rapid jerks taking the place of the long,
slow ploughing. Angel’s breath came rapid and forced on the back of Spike’s
neck; sweat flicked from the broad brow and caught the diamond light,
sparking like tiny fireflies in the blue-black darkness.
At last it came: a furious rush of sperm, which in releasing, would release
him from the thrall of his male drive—for a time. One look from Spike,
one touch of an errant finger, and Angel knew it would all begin again:
an eternity of desire now for this other man was a thirst that could be
slaked whenever they chose.
They: the thought brought him back to Spike, and as Angel shuddered in
orgasm and filled Spike’s virgin ass with a deep pool of sperm, he brought
Spike relief, too, jerking him and milking him, feeling the reward of
a small, thick fountain of sperm splashing back and wetting his fist.
All became fluid and soft. He pushed in still, but only mushed in his
own wetness. He worked Spike, but the penis was wet and soft in his hand.
Slick slurping sounds filled the air, and the scent of potent sperm tickled
their senses. They swelled in its intoxicating smell, bloated with desire
for each other. Spike twisted his head around and nothing could have kept
their mouths separate. So wide did they stretch their lips as they kissed
that they tasted blood and moaned at that additional, unsought-for pleasure.
So slippery from thick fluid, Spike’s body gave up its treasure, Angel
slipping wetly from him. It only made the kissing easier, and Spike turned
languorously in Angel’s arms, wrapping his arms around the broad neck
as they mouthed and pulled apart and sought again and sucked in the desire
of the other.
Even now, Angel’s hands were not still: they moved sensuously over Spike’s
body, holding the hands that lay on his neck for a while, then moving
down the strong arms and nestling in the hot hollows of his shoulders,
sliding down his waist and flanks and enjoying the hard flatness of all
those sharp angles. Spike’s only buried deeper into Angel’s hair, pulling
them tighter into the kiss, until they seemed to return once more to carnivore
and prey, although it was impossible to now say which appeared to be eating
the other more.
It was only when Angel heard his heart begin to thump with life that he
pulled off the seductive mouth. He jerked his head back and said, wide-eyed,
Spike tipped his head to one side and said puzzled, ‘I think that’s a
The wild dilation of Angel’s eyes steadied, and he listened more carefully
to the slow pulse of an engine somewhere on the docks. Before he could
comment further, they heard voices. For the first time, they realised
that night had departed. What had been a cathedral of dark light was now
just a large space for storing things. Spike felt his nakedness acutely,
and Angel bent and retrieved his clothes for him, helping him to dress.
They did not speak. Words seemed inadequate, and they had none anyway.
Despite their great lives, they knew that they had not experienced passion
like that before, and that they should find it with each other was still
too extraordinary to speak of.
Feeling drained and starved, exhilarated and scared, but very, very satisfied,
they found a sewer cover and dropped into fetid darkness.
After a few minutes, Angel put his arm tentatively over Spike’s shoulder,
and when this unfamiliar gesture was not denied, he pushed his fingers
into the blond hair, and played with it thoughtlessly as they walked home.
When Alexis arrived to collect them that night, the vampires, despite
their intense self-absorption with each other, could clearly see that
all was not well with the man.
He seemed to be attempting to be his usual self, but every so often he
would lose the thread of the conversation and stare at them, some great
emptiness in his gaze.
They had to re-shoot the scenes that had been so unsatisfactory the previous
night. All was rushed and incoherent. The vampires stuck close to their
guide and did what they were told, went where they were required and hardly
spoke at all.
They were inconspicuous until they stood face to face and mouthed enmity
at each other, which was now so meaningless that their passion defeated
the words. Time and again they had to repeat simple lines, which bent
and distorted on their love.
Alexis watched them from the back of the set. What they were now to each
other screamed across the space at him. He felt it like something heavy
and satisfying in his belly. Every look Spike gave Angel was passion manifest.
Alexis wondered if it had always been there but had been hidden under
the bitter rivalry of their human counterparts.
He was decided. A great weight of indecision slid from his shoulders.
He turned and went in search of some paper and a pen.
Finally, a break was called, and the vampires were allowed to rest. More
scripts were thrust into their hands, the old ones taken. Spike just wanted
to lean on Angel and close his eyes for a while. He looked closely into
the dark eyes and said calmly, ‘We’re never going to find another crossroads,
are we? This is all there is for us now. And for them.’
Angel’s shoulders sank a little, and he stared morosely at the script
in his hand, contemplating the future, which then seemed as bleak to him
as it did to Spike.
Angel didn’t appear to be listening, he was scanning the handwritten paper,
a frown increasingly deep on his features.
Spike touched his arm. ‘What?’
Angel reached the end of the paper and looked up, his face a world of
Spike felt a stab of terror in his gut. Angel was his sire, and he wasn’t
supposed to be afraid. The papers slid from Angel’s hands and fluttered
to the floor.
Suddenly, Spike’s shoulders were grabbed fiercely, and Angel said hoarsely,
‘I won’t lose you. Not now.’
‘What do you…?’
‘Nothing will mean anything if I lose you. I knew it! Even as I pressed
that damn sword to your throat! Oh, Jesus, even then I was thinking….
…thinking that I couldn’t do any of this without you. If you died, nothing
would mean as much. That’s what I was thinking, James. Even then. James!
David tipped forward, and his forehead hit James’s. They put their hands
up and complained softly before they realised that they were released
and no longer in the cellar. David’s hands flew to James’s chest. ‘Did
he take your soul?’
James shook his head. ‘Don’t guess so. And, hey! We’re back! And what
did you say? About a sword?’
David shook his head fondly. ‘Nothing. Just something I should have said
a long time ago.’
‘If it got us back, I’m thinking you should have…. Huh.’ David turned
at James’s exclamation to see Joss coming toward them. Thinking they’d
been discovered, they braced for something they had no idea how to explain.
Joss stopped in front of them, but his eyes did not meet theirs. A chill
trickled down David’s spine. ‘Got a minute, Dave?’
Alexis found them at the back of the lot, sitting on a low wall, sharing
a bottle of whisky. He stared at them for a moment, took in the stubble
and flush of alcohol, and felt another jolt of pleasure in his gut. ‘Welcome
David looked surprised for a moment, then his face returned to the sad
expression it had worn. ‘Some homecoming.’
‘Ah. Joss told you. Cancelled.’
‘You know? They told you before me?’
‘No. Not exactly.’ Alexis sat down and took the offered bottle, drinking
deeply. ‘He offered me a screenplay to read, and I guessed. Then I kinda
forced him to tell me.’ He saw with wonder a glistening of tears in their
eyes, and said softly, ‘It’s not the end of the world. You’ve both got
great careers ahead of you.’
David waved his hand dismissively. ‘I’m not thinking about us.’ He glanced
shyly at James. ‘We have plans.’ James pouted, and at the look, David
ruffled his hair. He took a swallow of alcohol and handed James the bottle,
watching him drink. ‘I was thinking of them.’ His face crumpled. ‘All
of them. This is the end for them.’
Alexis patted his thigh. ‘I wouldn’t be so sure about that if I were
Angel wrenched free of the manacles and pushed the old man off Spike.
Spike, freeing himself from his restraints, muttered annoyed, ‘Sheesh.
Trust us to come back in a bloody cellar…. Whoa. Who’s she?’
Angel glanced at the demon advancing furiously on them, grabbed the device
from the old man and neatly thrust it into her head. ‘She’s history. Let’s
They drove back to the office, Angel grim and silent. Spike looked out
of his window, biting his nails, dark thoughts plaguing him—they had been
lovers in that other reality, not this one….
He hadn’t wanted hearts and flowers when they’d returned… but some acknowledgement….
Angel flew up to Wesley’s office. After a moment of hesitation, the human
came forward and embraced him tightly. ‘Thank God.’
Angel pushed him off roughly, grabbed his upper arms and held him in a
vice-like grip. ‘If you have never trusted me before, Wesley, you need
to trust me now. Do you understand?’
Wesley stared into his eyes. ‘You know how this plays out. You were
there, and someone told you how this ends.’
Angel tightened his grip. ‘I saw it all until the end of time. Now, listen.
Ancient runes that hide the wearer—do you know of such things?’
Wesley swallowed. ‘I’ve just used them on… them.’
Angel nodded, pleased. ‘Good. Then I want them on all of us: me, Spike,
Fred, Lorne and Gunn—and you. Understand?’
‘Tell no one.’
Wesley blinked and nodded once more.
‘When each is done, they leave. They take nothing; they tell no one.’
‘The hotel—for tonight.’
‘What’s going to happen, Angel?’
‘I’ve read the names of evil, Wesley. I know each one, and I didn’t have
to lose myself to discover them. Lindsey wearing the runes so we can’t
see him; Eve in league with him; Sebassis, Vail and Ill….’ He lost his
power for a moment and whispered, ‘Fred and then you. Then you.’
He lifted his head, and his eyes were dark with intent. ‘I’m going to
destroy them one by one, and they won’t know what has come for them in
the dark.’ He bent his face and kissed the human full on the lips, a
move that shocked the man more than the impassioned speech. ‘We’re leaving
Wolfram and Hart. Angel Investigations is back in business. There’ll be
an apocalypse, but it will be ours. We will rain it down like fire
upon their heads. Gather them, Wes. We’re moving out.’
Wesley put a hand to Angel’s cheek—promise of his fealty—and left.
Angel turned to Spike and shot out a hand, cupping him around his neck.
‘I don’t have time for you now.’ At Spike’s flinch of anguish, the hand
tightened. ‘But in one hour, we’ll be safe—all of us. Safe and protected
beyond their reach. And we will then have all the time that the world
apportions to us.’ He moved closer and placed his mouth to Spike’s, a
light touch of desire but an unbreakable promise. ‘Be the one who makes
that great length of time have meaning for me?’
He needed no proof of loyalty or love from this new member of his team.
David and James watched Alexis, their faces masks of incredulity. At last,
David intoned softly, ‘You told them?’
Alexis stared back at the set, immensely pleased with himself. ‘I did.’
He tipped his head back and laughed then turned and held each one in turn
in his steady gaze. ‘When all this fades to memory, when we are nothing
more than pictures clutched by loyal fans who weep our passing, they’ll
still live. I freed them from our path. And do you know what? Somehow,
in that release, I think I’ve given us some tiny part of their immortality.’
Feedback always very welcome
| Parallels Index