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Past Tense of Loving
Angel continued to sit in his office for a while longer. He began at the beginning and worked slowly through to the end.
He knew he was slow sometimes, but he usually got there in the end.
Finally, like an automaton, he stood and rode up in the elevator.
Spike was folding his clothes and stowing them away in the wardrobe. ‘Evenin’, Pet.’
Spike came over, obediently, as if they were still watched and he was still playing his games.
Angel held him firmly and inspected him: cheekbone, arm, nails, burns. He undressed him and saw with some considerable relief that the wounds had been restricted to visible flesh. ‘If anyone else had done this to you, I would kill them.’
‘Yet you do this to yourself and I let you live.’
‘You never stopped trusting me. I thought you might.’
Angel looked away, anguish in his eyes. Spike turned him back. ‘No. You never did. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t trust me.’
Angel walked over to the bed and sank on it, exhausted. After a moment, he patted the space next to him.
Spike crawled on, and they flopped onto their backs, one naked, his wounds shockingly vivid on his pale body, one dark in his sombre work clothes.
‘Tom gave me the idea.’
‘Don’t get all fired up with jealousy at the mere mention of his name.’
‘I’m not jealous. At this very minute, I’d happily hand you over to anyone who would take you.’
‘Liar. Anyway. It was Tom and Pete that got me thinking. Jesus, Angel, all those years, living together as brothers, and no one but the family knowing the truth.’
‘Yeah. I’ve been thinking about that, too. But I don’t see how they apply to us.’
Spike sat up next to him and began to unbutton Angel’s shirt. Angel watched him with a slightly puzzled look on his face, as if he didn’t know very well what he had in mind.
Spike glanced up at his expression and smiled. ‘See, I thought about something you said: that you have to live by their rules. And you’re right; I think you do. Tom knew it, and Pete knew it. But we’re vampires. What’s the first rule of vampire life?’
‘Obedience to your sire.’
‘’Xactly. We won’t live under their noses as brothers. We’ll live as what we are: sire and childe.’
‘Sire and childe.’
‘You and me.’
‘You at my side.’
‘You at mine.’
‘Obedience to my will.’
Spike slid Angel’s pants down and said amused, ‘Yours to mine when its just us, Mate.’
Angel smiled. ‘I’m feeling like being obedient right now.’ His body agreed, parts of it already rising to attention like a disciplined martial weapon.
Spike was undoing Angel’s shoes and pulling the dark pants off, so said without looking, ‘Yeah? Well, I’m feeling like I’ve been run over by a train, so you can forget…. Oh.’
Angel removed his tongue from inside Spike and murmured obediently, ‘Go on, you were saying?’ then returned to his interesting exploration.
Spike took a breath—not easy to do with his balls stretched and his channel invaded. His softness hardened to the aggressive demands of Angel’s tongue. ‘When we’re… down there… down there… oh, down there… we’re… the perfect vampire… you are perfect… couple. When we’re up… up… yeah, up there….’
He pushed Angel off. ‘Turn over.’
Angel caught his chin. ‘This is the deceit you didn’t want. This is the lie I said I couldn’t live.’
‘Do you trust me?’
Angel closed his eyes. ‘I don’t deserve to be asked that again.’
‘I want to.’
‘Well, okay then. Now, turn over. I need to teach you a little lesson in obedience.’
Angel spread his body on the bed for Spike’s pleasure, but the pleasure was short-lived. Unable to use one arm, his ribs still aching, Spike gave up the attempt to push into the enticing hole and rolled onto his back with a defeated moan. Angel turned over then pulled him close. He reached to the nightstand. With practised ease, he drew the tip of a letter-opener in a line, just above his right nipple. Spike watched, mesmerised, as the blood trickled down and reddened its soft pink flush.
He almost whimpered with pleasure when Angel cupped the back of his head and urged him to feed.
For the second time in his life, Spike’s mouth filled with Angel’s blood. Angel stroked the blond head, rubbing his thumb erotically over the short hairs at the back of Spike’s neck.
They pushed their bodies together, seeking the pleasure from the friction. Spike’s good hand slipped around Angel’s hips and grabbed one cheek, kneading it to the rhythm of his lips on Angel’s nipple.
Angel growled and the low sound was pure eroticism. It was primal. It was sound of imminent demonic sex. Spike’s hand slid further around, a finger teasing Angel’s hole. He felt its puckered surface spasm under his sensitive touch: a small quiver of anticipation.
They rose to their knees, Spike mouthing wetly to Angel’s swollen, bleeding nipple. Flat hipbone met flat hipbone, strong thigh pressed to strong thigh, and between them—rushed, rubbed, ground together—cock met cock. They circled, rubbing one slowly up against the other then humped them against one another in random short jerks of pleasure.
Spike lifted his mouth from feeding and it hung open, blood dripping to his chin, teeth coated in sticky, red fluid. Angel cried out and plunged his tongue into this hot cavern with even more pleasure than he’d enjoyed the other one. He licked his blood off Spike’s teeth, cleaned the pale face with long sensuous strokes of his rasping tongue, and below their movements became even more frenzied. Neither put a hand to the wet, red, swollen joining. They controlled the contact with their hips, strong clenches of their muscles causing cheeks to dimple as they kept up frantic pleasuring.
They stopped kissing and crushed their foreheads together, gazing down, panting raggedly with need. As they watched, their orgasms hit them, each cockhead opening up and erupting, Spike’s propelled high on the new blood, Angel’s bubbling over like a pot on the boil, his sperm thick and glistening and moving sluggishly down both pale phalluses.
Scent of sperm and blood permeated the air. They went back to kissing; the smell keeping them hard, keeping them interested. Angel fell onto his back. Spike lay over him, and his fingers returned to their game, teasing Angel now with a wet slickness that enabled them to slide in and out through the tight, clamped sphincter.
He found the slight swelling he sought and played with it. Angel arched and began to thrash his head from side to side. He shot his hand down to try and stop Spike’s touch, too sensitive after his explosive orgasm, but Spike caught his wrist and pinned it to the bed.
Angel blinked sex-sated eyes. Spike rose over him, removed his finger and slid his hardness inside Angel’s body. He let go the strong wrist and lay carefully on the broad body, sliding in an out of the clenching anus with almost no sense of motion at all. Angel lifted his legs and wrapped them around Spike’s back, locking his ankles. It was the perfect position to let their mouths join the play. Smiling, teasing, Spike tempted Angel to lift his head then jerked his offered lips away. Angel pouted and snatched the back of the blond head, pulling Spike down, making demands of his own. They both felt Spike’s cock swell as their lips touched and smiled some more at this, sensing that they were discovering each other’s secrets for the first time, learning how to give each other pleasure. The lessons went on for some time, for with initial urgency relieved from his first orgasm, Spike was in the mood to draw the pleasure out.
Angel folded his arms behind his head, anticipating the hours of delight that lay ahead.
After a minute, he peered down.
A long, lazy grin split his face. Spike’s face lay on his chest, turned to one side as if, in the deep sleep he’d crashed into, breathing was still a necessity. He still penetrated deep, but was softening. Angel clenched slightly, and in auto-response, the invading shaft hardened once more.
The blond, sleeping figure began to breathe.
Angel put one hand to his eyes and squeezed back threatening tears. In the stillness and great calm of the moment, his lover asleep like a child upon him, Angel allowed himself to think that unthinkable: Spike’s plan wouldn’t work.
It had no chance whatsoever of working—as if he could look at Spike now and have that look be taken for that of an authoritarian sire.
He dug his fingers into Spike’s longish locks and pressed the perfectly shaped head harder onto his chest.
Ironically, despite the contradiction between what was and what had to be, he didn’t care.
There was no way he was letting Spike go now.
It wasn’t even a dilemma.
Angel closed his eyes and for the first time allowed his lies to dissipate. It had never been about being gay, about superheroes or retaining menace. He doubted if a single one of the demons he knew would be remotely interested in what he did in bed. Most of them made human definitions of sexuality—heterosexual, homosexual, transsexual, bi-sexual, hermaphrodite, asexual—seem straightforward. Although he’d never met one himself, Wesley had once told him—during one of their rare sessions over a whisky bottle and too much honesty—that there was a demon that bred by detaching its own ass and fucking it with a proboscis concealed inside its nose.
It had never been about being gay. It had never been about fearing to love Spike because he was man.
It had been about fearing to love.
To Angel, love meant vulnerability rewarded by pain. In almost three hundred years, he’d allowed himself to be vulnerable twice: Buffy and Connor. Love was a torturer wearing the face of a beautiful stranger.
He’d been seared so badly by the pain of losing them that the scars were still around his heart, thickening it, making it resistant to love’s call now.
He stroked his fingers through Spike’s hair and wondered why this man had been the one to chip those bands away.
Now his heart was soft, malleable, forming itself to the shape of Spike’s love. He could no more let Spike go than he could his heart. Separate him from Spike and he’d last as long and burn as brightly as if his heart were ripped from his body.
As Angel lay stroking his sleeping lover, he faced the unpalatable thought of facing the demands of Wolfram and Hart without his hardened heart. Once more, he had something he could not bear to lose. Once more, he had something that made him vulnerable. Once more, they had a weapon that could be used against him.
He had no choice but to face them though.
Because there was no real dilemma.
Very carefully, he eased them both into a better sleeping position and pulled up the covers.
He propped himself on one elbow and studied Spike’s sleeping form for a while. He was healing: his face less swollen and the bruises in their yellowing phase. Angel couldn’t decide whether he felt more affection or fury for his childe that he’d been so stupid, so… desperate… as to attempt something so fundamentally dumb. Affection won out. Smiling ruefully at the use of a word which described how he felt for Spike about as accurately as ripple caught the essence of a tsunami, he wrapped his arms carefully around the bruised, battered body and prepared himself for a long night of brooding. Love for another man or not, love still made him vulnerable, and he could not see a way through the tangles of this snare.
He knew that he’d not fallen asleep; nevertheless, Angel had the sense that Spike had been watching him for some time before he finally became aware of this intense scrutiny. Rousing from his deep contemplation of his woes, Angel grunted at Spike’s concentrated stare.
He had no intention of telling Spike that the plan wouldn’t work. To do that, he’d have to tell him the real reason why he’d panicked and nearly lost him. He wasn’t that ready to admit that he’d lied and that he’d nearly let Spike go on the pretence of that lie. He wasn’t that ready to admit that Spike was better at relationships than he was. He wasn’t that ready to admit that Spike knew more about love than he did.
He cradled Spike back into the crook of his arm, and tried to settle them more comfortably into the warmth of the bed.
‘You’re thinking about Connor, aren’t you?’
Angel frowned at this astute observation. He hadn’t been, but he had been thinking about love and vulnerability. Spike’s comment cut to the chase of his anxiety more accurately than any other. He tightened his arm around his childe, this child, and tried to will him to sleep.
He woke with the sun streaking into the bedroom. Glancing over at the clock, he cursed loudly, and continued to swear as he ripped the covers off and headed to the shower. He turned, about to complain about being late for a meeting, when he saw Spike’s expression. He had the very distinct impression that Spike had been awake since that perceptive question in the middle of the night and that he had continued his intense, thoughtful scrutiny.
Angel shook off the feeling that he was exposed, all his secrets known, and continued in silence to the shower.
He turned and twisted under the hot, reviving water. It washed away the staleness of bed, if not his worries. He was grateful for small mercies that morning.
He opened his eyes to seek some shampoo and saw that he was being observed again. Spike had come silently into the bathroom and was now sitting naked on the counter next to the sink, leaning back on the mirror, smoking, watching him.
Angel blinked some of the water from his eyes and picked up the shampoo, returning Spike’s frank gaze. Oddly, despite allowing Spike to discover his body from the inside, this washing in front of him felt more intimate. He didn’t hurry though. He continued to wash slowly, allowing the suds to cascade over his skin, rubbing soap on his body parts with considerable intimacy, despite his audience of one.
Spike continued to watch him, his face completely neutral, just smoking his cigarette.
When Angel was done, he stepped out of the stall. Instead of reaching for a towel, he closed the small gap between them and stood between Spike’s spread thighs.
This close, what Angel had taken for neutrality in Spike’s eyes revealed itself to be concealment: his thoughts were shut behind cool blueness that now flicked slowly down Angel’s wet torso.
Angel’s maleness hung soft against a dark bush glistening with tiny droplets.
Spike lifted his eyes and took another drag on his cigarette, turning his head to blow the smoke away from Angel’s face.
Angel spread his fingers over Spike’s thighs. He was warm from the shower and his skin met the steel hard coldness of the legs with a frisson of shock. He worked his thumbs deep into the muscles, watching brief blossoms of red flare on the untarnished flesh.
Spike, he noted, was not soft.
He slid his hand between Spike’s thighs and lifted him out, laying the provocative column over one thigh. It refused to stay dormant, rising cobra-like to his touch. For the first time since he had chased Spike to Wyoming in such a panic of need, the thought occurred to him that this length of flesh had been inside his body.
Once more, he looked up to find himself observed.
He was taken aback by Spike’s continuing silence. He wasn’t accustomed to it. He assumed they were having some sort of silent, lovers’ communion, but he couldn’t be sure. He’d almost never done that before, so had nothing to compare this with. He had so little in common with Nina that they’d barely communicated when they had spoken. Their only connection was fear of being a freak, which she had felt far more strongly than he. Since coming to L.A., he had redefined his views on freakish, and for the most part, felt more normal than most of his acquaintances. He’d communicated silently with Buffy equally infrequently. Just once they had thought the same thing at the same time. Wet from the rain, aroused from a fight, they had both thought let’s fuck at exactly the same time, although he gave her the benefit of the doubt that she had used an expression considerably more romantic. It wasn’t particularly uncanny that they’d had this silent mutual thought. He’d been thinking it every time they’d kissed for the preceding year. He guessed that’s what you got when you were a vastly experienced, three hundred year old, dating a sixteen-year-old virgin: incompatible thoughts.
But now, there was Spike.
Spike was a vampire. He had a soul. He was a man. They worked together. They shared a distant past and a more recent one in Sunnydale. Spike had also loved and lost Buffy. And if Angel looked the mirror, Spike would be absent, too. These were pretty fundamental similarities. Angel was only surprised that they had spent so much of their acquaintance seemingly not communing.
Just as this thought crossed his mind, leaving a satisfactory wake of confidence in his ability to read Spike, speaking or not, the blue eyes shifted slightly to grey. Angel faltered and realised he had absolutely no idea whatsoever what Spike was thinking.
It scared him to the extent of forcing him to speak. When the words emerged, they sounded inconsequential but at the same time frighteningly astute.
‘You’ve not moved your wash things in here yet.’
Spike kept Angel’s gaze, his eyes changing once more to an icy, pale blue. ‘I thought maybe you could move some of your previous lover’s stuff out first.’
Angel tensed and looked wildly around: a pink razor, a packet of Tampax, an old mascara wand.
Spike softened his observation with a small quirk of his lips. ‘I’m not complaining. You’ve made room for me where it counts.’ Hands on Angel’s buttocks pulling them slightly apart, left no doubt of his meaning.
He lifted one off and stubbed out his cigarette in the sink, returning spread fingers to the firm cheek. ‘Thought you were late for work.’
Angel pouted slightly, not sure he liked being dismissed. ‘Are you coming down?’
Spike shook his head. ‘I think you need some space for a bit of top-level brooding. Last person you need to see today is me.’
Angel started. He thought he’d hid his nighttime doubts better than that. He didn’t like the idea of silent communing only going one way. The image of Spike, quietly watching him all night and misjudging him sent a trickle of fear down his spine.
He caught Spike’s chin in an iron grip. ‘You read my mind? Read this, Spike: you – are – staying.’
He saw from the sudden dilation of Spike’s eyes—a black flower blossoming in ice—that he didn’t need to add, ‘In my life, in my work, in my bed, and in my body.’ He smiled shyly. He liked this silent talking thing.
Angel suddenly swept the detritus of his past love life to the floor in a rather impressive (if theatrical) gesture. ‘Move your shit in, Spike. You’re staying.’
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