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Past Tense of Loving
For the first time, they sat close together as they flew back to L.A. in the company jet. They worked their way through the miniatures once more, but this time feeding them to each other, watching coloured liquid drip seductively down hot throats.
By the time they landed, they both felt drunk, but whether this was the effect of alcohol or mood they weren’t sure.
The limo met them, and they sobered enough to keep their hands off each other until they reached the privacy of Angel’s elevator.
Then the driving need they’d contained since sharing the tent with Spike’s young namesake overtook them.
Spike didn’t even wait until they arrived at Angel’s apartment. He spread Angel against the elevator wall and fumbled inelegantly at his own zipper with one hand, Angel’s clothes with the other.
Angel helped him out, just as clumsy, just as desperate. He even spread his cheeks, unembarrassed, begging.
Spike closed the gap between them and pushed.
Angel’s whole body shivered with the anticipation of entry.
Spike licked his lips and tried again.
Angel adjusted his feet and gave him better access. Finally he glanced over his shoulder. Spike glared at him. ‘Don’t say a bloody word.’
Angel mimed zipping his lips but glanced down. Spike stuffed himself out of sight and stalked arrogantly into the apartment, waving imperiously at Angel as if at a slave. ‘Get me some fucking blood!’
He mumbled and complained about things as Angel went meekly to the refrigerator. Leaning in, considering his options, he said hesitantly, ‘Maybe I could… cook something?’
Spike turned, his embarrassment easing somewhat. ‘I forgot you could cook.’
Spike shrugged. ‘Sure. But blood first. I need….’
Spike narrowed his eyes. Angel looked innocent and began to heat some blood, planning what he was going to cook.
Spike took the blood and wandered into the living room, throwing his coat on a chair and making himself at home. He lifted his drink to toast the couch, smirking as if he’d won some contest only he knew had been in dispute.
After a while, Angel came out and sat on the arm of his chair. He’d changed and was wearing only a pair of loose, black, cotton pants. He leant back and began to play absentmindedly with Spike’s hair. ‘Reviving?’
Spike grinned and moved Angel’s hand down to his crotch. Then he moved it away again with a hiss of frustration. Angel said nothing but went back to playing with Spike’s hair.
A sense of peace descended on them both. Worn out from the trip, the blood yet to revive them, the warm smell of cooking wafting in from the other room, it was a moment to savour in the storm of their lives.
Angel took the opportunity to murmur, ‘Tell me the plan. Please.’
Spike sighed. ‘Okay.’
He twisted around in his seat and stretched his legs up over Angel’s thighs.
‘We’re gonna become pirates.’
Angel frowned and repeated, ‘Pirates?’
Spike nodded seriously. ‘Yeah. They all used to fuck each other. No women, see?’
Angel opened his mouth to add something rational to the debate then clamped it shut with an annoyed look.
Spike sighed again. ‘Okay, sorry. I guess it’s not a joking matter. Are you sure you want to know?’
Angel nodded but added quickly, ‘But I do trust you.’
Spike smiled sweetly. ‘Good, cus I thought one of us could have the op.’ He mined slicing something and scooping things out. Angel paled then slapped him lightly over the head and got up to check on the food.
Spike trailed after him and watched as Angel bent to peer in the oven.
With a groan of desire, he stood against him, grinding them together softly. ‘I’m reviving.’
‘Maybe you should go find a woman then.’
Spike smiled at the petulant tone. ‘Nah. I like what you’ve got just fine.’
‘You’re not gonna tell me, are you?’
Spike trailed his fingers up Angel’s prominent spine. ‘I’m gonna cast a spell on everyone—so they can see this like I do.’
Angel turned, his anger dissipated at the touch of Spike’s soft fingers. ‘How do you see this? Tell me that instead.’
Spike refused to tell him.
He showed him.
He showed him with his lips, pressing them softly and wetly to Angel’s. He showed him with his tongue, probing gently into his mouth, sharing a faint trace of blood. He showed him with his swift recovery, unzipping to bring into the open what now throbbed strong and urgent on the stolen blood. He showed him with the precise and practiced way he slid Angel’s pants down to the floor, forcing him to step out of them and stand naked in front of him. He showed him when he lifted one of Angel’s legs to the counter and slid up inside him without once taking his eyes from the dark, questioning ones. In all this he said clearly, in a way that Angel would understand, that for him this was how it would always be. That from now on, he would only seek his relief from this body. That from now on, he would only embed where he embedded now. That his eyes would only roll back from the intensity of an orgasm when that orgasm was being shot high in Angel’s receptive body.
Angel ceased to ask anything more that night. He closed his eyes, tipped his head back and concentrated on the feeling of Spike, hard and thick, pushing up inside his body.
Spike’s hands gripped Angel’s shoulders.
Angel’s grasped the counter edge behind him.
Without hands, Spike made sure he ground his belly hard over Angel’s cock with each thrust of his hips. It winked up at him, a red, puffy eye, appearing and disappearing in its thick fold of protective skin. He thought he would die from the erotic beauty of that sight.
Angel began to pant raggedly and thrust his body forward as Spike rose within him. The trembling began in his raised leg, but it soon consumed his whole body, rippling under Spike’s hands as they dug white crescents into the smooth skin of Angel’s shoulder.
With a triumphant cry, Spike watched as Angel’s orgasm was drawn from the perfect body by the skilful strokes of his cock. Shot after shot of creamy thickness lifted into the air like silent fireworks of passion, and with a shuddering groan, he set his free inside the hot, tight confines of Angel’s body.
The orgasms drained the little energy they’d recovered. Soft almost immediately, Spike slipped out on the wetness he’d created. Angel lowered his leg and wrapped his arms around Spike’s waist, resting his chin on the blond head.
Spike ran his fingers through the coating on Angel’s chest, swirling it in patterns around one flushed nipple.
Spike looked up, surprised. ‘You don’t like that?’
‘No. That, I like, only… you’ve just fucked me against the stove.’
Spike pulled him off, horrified, and inspected the red, burning skin. They glanced at each other and began to laugh, kissing affectionately. ‘I told you that you make me hot.’
Spike shook his head. ‘Go shower and put some bloody clothes on. I’ll….’ He waved uncertainly at the food.
Angel kissed him and went happily enough to obey his commands.
They ate like old lovers: Spike reading a book with his feet propped up on a chair, Angel with work spread out on the table around him, making and returning calls.
It was not lost on Spike that once work intruded, Angel’s soft, playful mood disappeared along with the food.
When he was done, he rose, stretching. ‘I’m going back to my place.’
Angel stood up, too. ‘No. I want you to stay….’
‘And then what? When I appear tomorrow? What? We’ve been… working?’
‘You said you had a plan, that you’d sort….’
‘I have and I will. Tomorrow.’
Not wanting to give in to the almost irresistible urge to crawl into Angel’s bed and curl their bodies together, Spike left.
Angel worked long into the night, partly to prevent him thinking about Spike, partly because the empty bed held no allure despite his exhaustion, but mainly because he had to. As part of his plan to put his stamp back on the city after his recent absences, some days ago he’d scheduled a meeting of all the demon bosses. He had not planned on this second trip to Wyoming—that being a panicked flight, chasing the one he could not lose, however impossible keeping him seemed to be—and had not done the preparatory work he’d planned. Now he sat under an arc of light cast from his desk lamp, adding names to a complex diagram of connections. In the centre, he’d drawn an angel, bowed head and folded wings. Whether this figure was in retreat or repose was hard to say. Spidery lines then twisted around it, tendrils reaching out to the chiefs, joining the demons, indicating obvious alliances, secret agreements, possible allies, known enemies. He refreshed some of the arcane languages, talking quietly to himself in their guttural tongues as he worked, rehearsing pleasantries that he didn’t mean in soft tones he didn’t like.
When the sun came up, he felt ready. He had mapped the state of the nation. He would not be caught out. He lifted his eyes from the paper, closed them for a movement, pinching the bridge of his nose, then began to fold it up. With a grunt of surprise, he stilled his hand over the complex, spidery tracks. Every connection he’d drawn seemed to be in the shape of the letter S. Every S wound around the angel until he seemed more bound than bowed.
With all his newly imposed order, Spike was the great unknown, yet ironically also the one in whom all his trust was now placed.
Angel’s trust didn’t shatter in one tremendous crack, it fragmented, shivering until it fell in tiny pieces at his feet.
Things had begun well enough.
The demons had begun to assemble in the lobby, antagonisms and rivalries put to one side whilst the pleasantries were made, slaves complemented, traded or fed upon.
Angel stayed to one side, silent and brooding as was his wont.
Spike sauntered into the lobby just as they were moving toward the conference room. Angel’s heart kicked over once: a tiny erotic beat of desire. He tried not to catch Spike’s eye, lest he give himself away, but found himself staring helplessly into blue, his mouth open slightly, a sheen of sweat forming on his brow. His whole body yearned towards the slim form. He took a step toward him, but Spike, having ignored him entirely, followed the demons into the conference room.
Angel felt a surge of pride in Spike’s strength of purpose and followed them, too.
In the middle of Angel’s welcoming address, which he repeated in various languages, Spike lit a cigarette.
It was so incongruous in the circumstances, but so absurd that it should be incongruous given many of the demons present were attached to walking, living food sources, or spare organs, or even in one case a head detached from the torso, that Angel was completely wrong-footed. He lost his thread and his grasp of the complex language he was attempting and clearly said something mildly offensive to some of his audience.
He recovered, apologies were made and he launched into his first demand. He’d relied on their fear of him and he was not disappointed. He could see mutinous fury, but not one dared challenge him. Satisfied, he said calmly, ‘You would do well to remember that I am an unfortunate enemy to cross.’
The snort of derision was very quiet, but it was audible throughout the room, as if just pitched for all the demon ears present.
Angel felt incredulity at first, but then a huge wave of grief hit him at this betrayal. Once more, he lost his thread and poured himself some water to cover. The casual gesture covered nothing. One by one, the demon chiefs glanced around, catching the eye of potential allies, and finally, one said contemptuously, ‘It seems even your own—this is William the Bloody, no?—childe is sceptical of your wrath.’
Spike looked up innocently. ‘You mean me? Cus, I mean, I not sceptical. Honest.’ He turned with a cheeky look to Angel. ‘Am I, Luv? Would you call me… sceptical?’
Angel took a drink of the water. ‘Can we move on, please?’ He hadn’t meant the please. He wasn’t sure why he’d said it. The moment it left his lips, he knew he’d lost it. There was one moment when he could have stopped it all unravelling around him, but he didn’t seize it and make it his. Reeling from Spike’s betrayal, he could do nothing but repeat more angrily, ‘Let’s move on!’ but by then he knew: they looked at him with contempt. They didn’t openly defy him; they were too crafty for that. They leaned forward eagerly, like predators sniffing an easy victory, waiting to jostle and snarl with the others for the richest titbits.
After another half an hour, Angel had scheduled a break, and he watched with angry relief as carts of coffee and blood were wheeled in. He stayed in his chair, sullenly watching Spike as the others around the table rose and milled around. Suddenly, instead of taking an offered cup of coffee, he rose, pushing his chair back angrily. He gestured to Spike. ‘A word?’
Spike stretched back in his chair. ‘Can’t it wait? I’m kinda peckish.’
Angel snapped closed, a lid dropping on a marble tomb: all emotions inside, nothing but cold, blank hardness showing.
He strode to Spike’s chair and stood over him. A few cups were laid down with interest at this scene.
Spike edged away.
Angel folded his arms.
Spike stood up, as if he’d been going to do that anyway.
Angel turned and strode out to his office, delegates parting around him like waves under God’s command.
Spike, with his best not bothered expression, followed him out, not catching anyone’s eye.
‘What the fuck is this?’ Angel glanced back into the conference room and lowered his voice.
Spike made to turn away.
Angel grabbed his arm. ‘Talk to me! Is this your fucking plan?’
‘I thought you bloody trusted me.’
‘Yeah? Maybe I just said that to….’
Spike shoved him. ‘What? To get a good fuck?’
Angel’s arm rose as if to hit him, but he lowered it and said icily, ‘Who said it was good?’
Spike shoved his tongue into his cheek and smirked broadly. ‘Oh, Spike, harder, harder….’
Angel hit him, and at the stinging contact of his palm to the perfect cheekbone, something that had remained alive inside Angel’s shutdown died. He felt it wither and turn to arid dust. He didn’t bother to keep it alive. He didn’t need it.
He turned away and went back to what he needed.
The rest of the day’s conference was held in a sense of uneasy confusion. Their sense of easy victory over Angel wasn’t quite abandoned. He seemed weak; they sensed it like all natural predators. Quite where this weakness lay, however, they weren’t so sure. They thought it sat in the empty chair that he steadfastly refused to look at for the rest of the day. It confused them though. They’d seen violent emotions but had no reference points to work out what they were.
With the business of the day unfinished, they agreed to return the next. Filing out past Angel’s dark expression, they almost looked forward to the feeding frenzy that might be theirs on the morrow.
Angel reckoned what he felt was shock. He had no way to tell. He’d never really felt shock before. He felt sick. He felt like crying. He felt more like making Spike cry, which he could, quite easily. He wanted to get up and go somewhere else, but there was nowhere else, for he’d carry this, whatever it was, with him. So he stayed in the conference room, staring at his pathetic picture. He recognised the angel’s stance for what it was now: despair.
If the demons noticed that Angel was in the same suit the next day, they didn’t comment. As he didn’t grow stubble, or show his exhaustion easily, they had no way of knowing that he hadn’t left his seat all night.
They filed into to their places from the previous day and waited for him to start.
There was a movement by the door, and another figure came into the room.
Once or two of the slaves murmured unhappily when they saw him.
They were jerked to silence, but a few of the demons made small sounds of surprise.
Angel looked up, but before he could react, Spike was sitting quietly in his place, his face lowered.
A surge of vomit rose in Angel’s throat, and he made to rise, but Tragan Declas, one of the most important of all the leaders around the table, said coolly, ‘At last. We see some sign of this mythical wrath. Shall we start the meeting?’
Angel looked around the table and saw that the fear had returned to their eyes. One by one, they lowered their gazes from his as he moved his dark eyes across their features.
He knew he’d won. He was back in control. He’d regained his former position, surpassed it and now stood on the brink of victory, yet he’d not left his chair all night. They didn’t know this though. They thought he’d done that to Spike. They thought he’d broken Spike’s face so badly he was unrecognisable, except for the coat and the hair. They thought he’d broken Spike’s arm and removed his fingernails. They thought he’d ripped his neck and taken what was his due: his childe’s blood and his obedience.
For he was obedient now. He sat mute and still. When coffee arrived, he rose with difficulty and brought Angel one, putting it on the table deferentially.
Angel took it but kept his eyes lowered in guilt and confusion.
Had he done that to Spike? He had pictured it, or something similar, as he’d spent his long, lonely night. Before he could examine his hidden feelings, someone sat down next to him. He looked into a pair of eyes that held their evil thinly veiled. ‘Angel.’
Tragan Declas held his gaze.
‘I’ve been interested in some of your proposals today. I believe we can do business. Wolfram and Hart has made an interesting choice in its CEO; I’m impressed.’ Declas was the first of Angel’s enemies to crack, but the others quickly followed suit, Spike’s blood and pain oiling Angel’s wheels for him. Taking enormous pleasure in this subjugation of a childe—this reminder to them all of the rightful scheme of things—the rest of the meeting was concluded almost cordially.
Angel basked like a shark on their respect, while they, the smaller sharks in his pool, wriggled in a frenzy of blood pleasure at Spike’s defeat.
Eventually they were gone.
The air reeked of them, and he wanted to be away. Away from it all. Away from himself. Away from Spike and the trust that lay shattered at his feet.
He watched Spike limp out without trying to stop him.
The next day slipped back into the routines of the great edifice of evil. He spoke to Wesley; he did paperwork; he answered the phone. Already the rewards of his victory at the conference were beginning to grow, the concessions he had demanded quieting the streets.
Just before lunch, he saw Spike coming across the lobby toward him. He rose and went to the window, nausea rising in his throat. He’d not slept for over forty hours, and it was beginning to tell on him.
‘Well, aren’t you even gonna turn around and bloody face me?’
Angel spun around, utterly confused and angry at the belligerent tone. Last thing he remembered, they’d been fucking against the stove. Now it was if he’d fallen through another time warp.
Just as he was about to make an angry retort, Wesley appeared in the doorway, head lowered over some papers. ‘I’ve found those reports that were mentioned… oh, sorry, I didn’t know you were…. Good grief. What happened to you?’
Spike grimaced. ‘Ask him.’
‘What?’ Anger overwhelmed Angel. He’d toyed with the idea he’d done this to Spike, but it was only his game: self-recrimination like a pleasant lash on his sensitive soul.
Wesley made a face at Angel. ‘What was Wyoming all about? I thought all this damn squabbling was over!’ He turned and marched off.
Angel grabbed Spike’s shoulder, but Spike creased up with a look of extreme pain. Angel winced, ‘Shit, sorry. Look….’ Spike punched him and left.
Angel retreated to his lair, but as he stepped out of the elevator, the remains of the meal they’d shared mocked him.
He turned on his heel and went back to work. It was all he had.
Later that afternoon, Harmony came in to empty his tray, her eyes red and mutinous. He glanced up warily. ‘What?’
‘You’re being very unfair. What’s he supposed to do trapped up there with you day and night? We’ll never see him! I’ll never see him!’ With a small, false sniff she tottered out, her devastating point made.
Angel, pouting, watched her go and looked with some relief to Wesley’s entry.
Wesley looked as if he’d recovered his composure for he came over and said cheerily, ‘Well done, Angel. At last. I’m rather surprised you’ve taken this measure, but very impressed with you. Well done indeed.’
‘Making Spike move in here with you. It’s about time you got a grip of him. All right, I don’t approve of the beating….’ He waved his hand to silence Angel’s interjection. ‘It’s vampire business, and he seems no worse for wear this afternoon. I have no idea what you’re going to do with him up there; I don’t envy you that close proximity all day and night, however, I do think it’s the right thing. He’s been allowed far too much freedom, I suppose. Being under his sire’s thumb will be just the right thing. Only, promise me one thing: please, no more arguments in the office. You really are wearing us all out.’
He nodded pleasantly and left.
Bemused, Angel stared into space for while until another figure appeared in the door, lugging a heavy bag.
He watched Spike drag it across the floor and then push the button for the elevator.
When the doors opened, he stepped inside and disappeared from view.
Go to chapter 15
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