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Past Tense of Loving
Angel rode back the following evening with three men flanking him. They all looked grim, determined and reined in hard and fast, dismounting with an unnecessary amount of dust.
Angel jogged up onto the porch, and Tom met him just inside the door. Angel nodded back at the men. ‘I guess you know them.’
Tom’s lips were clamped firmly together, but he looked squarely at the oldest brother. ‘Leave your guns on the porch and come inside.’
The man looked about to argue, but Tom added honestly, ‘This is a home, Grant.’
Something in this simplicity seemed to appeal to the man, and he nodded at his brothers. They shed their weapons and followed Tom into the house.
Angel sat on the railing of the porch, staring out into the night. He heard laughter from the bunkhouse, voices: sounds he was coming to associate with life on a ranch. A figure emerged from the light and began to walk slowly across the yard. He was unmistakable, his blond hair so incongruous in this world of the natural.
Angel averted his eyes.
Spike saw the horses first then Angel. He jogged up the steps straight past him and went into the house.
Angel cursed, swung his leg off the railing and went in, too.
The meeting was being held around the dining room table. Angel didn’t know what he had expected; soft laughter was certainly surprising. Katherine was sitting at the head of the table, one hand on her considerable bump, one on a newspaper clipping. She was listening intently to Grant, her eyes shining, and when Angel glanced at the paper, as he made his way to an inconspicuous armchair by the fire, he saw that it was an obituary.
He wondered where Spike had gone, and assumed he had a room of his own in this house. Then he wondered if he didn’t and glanced evilly at Tom Devant. With considerable amusement, he saw that Tom was talking to the youngest Caruthers brother, Pete, with equal intensity and apparent enjoyment as his sister was speaking with Grant. The body language was unmistakable. He wished Spike would come in and see the developing intimacy. Then he heard Spike’s angry question in his head once more: What the hell’s business is it of yours?
Spike was right: what he did was none of Angel’s business. Angel tried to imagine what he would say if Spike spoke of Nina, if Spike dared to tell him that seeing her was wrong. But this was different. Nina was normal—given she was a werewolf. Tom wasn’t normal. Not for Spike, anyway. Angel couldn’t stop the images in his head. What had they done? Had they touched? Fingers entwining?
He shook his head. He was seeing phantoms of a relationship that in all probability was nothing more than Spike said it was and was none of his business anyway.
The meeting broke up surprisingly quickly. Angel listened half-heartedly to the newfound family solidarity. He felt disassociated, disconnected to the action in the room, which had become, albeit for a short time, the centre of his world. He liked Grant. He’d got to know the younger boys, too. But now they were… past. He saw them as shadows moving in a world that no longer existed for him. He had to get home. He had to get Spike home. The problem was, he was fairly sure that Spike did not feel this as strongly as he did, and for many reasons. He refused to examine the reasons why Spike did not want to come home.
He went to look for him and found him in a small room at the back of the house, stretched out on the bed, staring intently at something on the ceiling. Angel couldn’t see anything there, so only said, ‘Time to go. It’s all been sorted.’
Spike didn’t appear to hear him. ‘Spike! Time to go.’
Spike swung his legs off the bed. ‘I’m going on alone, Angel.’
Spike pushed past. ‘You heard.’
Angel was about to catch his arm and detain him, about to force some sense into him, when Tom appeared in the doorway. Spike turned sharply to Angel. ‘Do you mind? This is private.’ He stood to one side, waiting for one to enter, one to leave.
Angel could think of no reason not to do as ordered, so as much as it rankled, he stepped out. Tom brushed past him, and Spike slammed the door.
Tom sensed something was wrong and glanced back at the closed door, frowning. Spike saw the look. ‘What?’
‘He seems nothing like you described him.’
Spike knew this was true. He’d spoken of an Angel that only existed in his head: brave, noble, loving, his. None of this was true in reality—not his version of it anyway. Perhaps Angel was these things to other people; perhaps that was his secret: he kept his corrupting portrait for his childe alone, venting all this bitterness and anger on Spike so it wouldn’t poison his relationships with other people.
Once, Spike would have been willing to take on this role (he’d done it for Buffy, taking enough of her self-hatred onto his shoulders to last even his considerable lifetime). Not now though. Now, he had more self-worth.
He turned to the boy and cupped his face. ‘I have to go now. The time’s come. I always said it would. I never meant to stay this long.’
Tom was clearly trying to be brave, and Spike gave him kudos for this. ‘Will you ever come back?’
Spike quirked up a lip. ‘I’ll tell you what, Pet, if I can’t get back to my own place, I’ll come back and annoy you some more.’
‘You saved Katherine’s life; we’ll never forget that.’
Spike shook his head. ‘I’ve told you, Luv, he wasn’t aiming at….’
‘By giving her the blood, William.’
Spike smiled, amused by this thought. ‘I’ll go up say goodbye—if she’s still up.’
‘She’d never forgive you if you didn’t.’
Angel waited on the porch for an hour, thinking Spike was with the boy. When Spike finally emerged, an arm around the human, talking softly about a baby that was going, apparently, to be called William, Angel bit back his anger and stood. ‘Ready?’
Spike totally ignored him and walked with the boy toward the barn. They came out together after a moment, Spike leading his horse. Angel led his closer and hung around, feeling furiously redundant as he watched the parting.
The boy stayed brave until the very end, until Spike swung into his saddle. Only then did he catch hold of his leg and say a stream of things in a very quiet voice. Angel caught a few words, but he was more interested in Spike’s reaction.
Spike climbed off again, caught the boy’s face in both hands and kissed him, open-mouthed, slowly, fingers combing his hair. He pulled apart, gave one curt nod, swung into the saddle, and urged the horse into a canter.
Angel didn’t bother to say goodbye. He had a feeling nothing he said would be heard anyway.
Spike had slowed to a walk, and Angel caught him up. Spike reined in, keeping his eyes on the horizon. ‘North, south, east or west?’
Angel glanced over, mystified.
Spike clarified softly. ‘You choose one, Angel, and I’ll choose another.’
‘Jesus, Spike, you are so….’
‘Okay, I’m going south then.’ He swung his horse around and left the trail. Angel swatted his horse’s rump and trotted to catch up.
‘This is dumb, Spike! Stop….’
Spike reined up once more. ‘No. No more. I don’t want this anymore, Angel. I can’t stand it anymore.’ His voice shook slightly when he said this, but it never occurred to Angel that he was upset about his recent leave-taking. ‘I don’t ever want to see you again. Ever. Not in this time, not in our time, not anywhere.’
Angel circled him, more because his horse had suddenly decided to move to the other side than any conscious decision on his part. He tried to turn it to his advantage, making it appear a deliberate gesture. ‘We need to stick together! I came back to….’
‘Fuck off, Angel. I’m not interested anymore.’ Spike began to walk his horse again.
‘What do you want me to say? Do you want me to say I’m sorry?’
Spike gave him a look. ‘We haven’t got time for you to apologise! We’ve only got two eternities!’
‘Oh, here we go again. I’m to blame for everything bad that’s happened in your life.’
‘No. But you’ve never contributed to anything good.’
Angel was silenced by this for a while. He noticed though that Spike was no longer fighting his presence and decided he was best off being silent for a while. They walked slowly along, negotiating with some difficulty the scrub bushes, holes, boulders and other detritus of a rough prairie.
For the first time, Angel noticed that it was bitterly cold. He wasn’t normally bothered by temperature, one way or the other, but this was beginning to make him shiver. It did nothing to help his mood. He was hungry, too, and his horse’s pumping heart was distracting.
Suddenly, everything was noise and motion. Spike’s horse shied violently; Spike was thrown and stepped on; the horse shied again at stepping on Spike and then appeared to tip over. It struggled to its feet but fell over again, a fearful screaming splitting the night.
Angel, slightly stunned by the speed of the disaster, slid off his frightened horse, clinging tightly to the reins. He went to the fallen horse and winced at the sight of a bone sticking out of its leg. He tipped his head up and cursed the fates, then felt someone shoving him violently to one side. Spike had a gun drawn, and he was limping badly. His face was an unreadable, white mask in the darkness. He tried to catch the thrashing horse’s head, and finally lay on it, calming and reassuring it. He brought the gun to the soft forelock then looked up at Angel. Angrily, he hissed, ‘Turn yours away then!’
Angel realised he meant the horse and, slightly puzzled, turned its face away. There was a shot and then blessed silence.
The smell of the fresh blood made Angel salivate. He turned back to survey the scene. Spike was removing his saddlebags. He appeared to only have the use of one arm. He flung the bags over his other shoulder with a wince of pain and then began walking.
Angel toed the dead horse, watching the blood, letting Spike get out of sight.
Angel could smell Spike’s blood and caught up with him an hour later. He nudged his horse closer. ‘What happened back there?’
Spike didn’t reply.
Angel rode alongside him until their progress was so slow that he dismounted. ‘Get on.’
‘If you say one more word, Spike, either good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, I’ll punch you unconscious and sling you across the horse like the sack of shit you are. Get on. And you know what? I really don’t care what you think about that one way or the other.’
Knowing that he had little choice, Spike went up the horse and with some difficulty levered himself into the saddle. To his considerable ire, Angel swung gracefully up behind him. Angel laughed. ‘Like I’m gonna walk while you ride.’
They went slightly faster than with Spike walking, but Angel reined the horse back, well aware of their combined weights, needing the horse to pace itself.
‘Where are you injured?’
Angel’s breath tickled hot around Spike’s ear. He was tempted not to reply but didn’t really have the energy. ‘Dislocated shoulder and knee.’
‘Okay. Those I can fix. We need to stop.’
Spike put a hand on Angel thigh very briefly. ‘It’s an hour from dawn.’
‘It won’t take….’
‘Where are we gonna shelter? We need to push on—there.’ He pointed toward some distant rock formations.
‘Fuck, Spike, one of these days thinking about you is gonna get me killed.’ Angel nudged the horse with his foot to increase its pace, seemingly unaware of the strange confusion created by this even stranger confession.
They reached the rocks just as the sun was beginning to tint them a deep red. Angel scrambled off and led them into a narrow canyon. He raked the walls with his eyes, looking for a telltale shadow. Spike suddenly said raggedly, ‘There.’
Angel twisted around to look and saw it: a small slit in the rock face about eight feet up. He scrambled up, checked it out, fetched Spike and pushed him in. Quickly, he made a cursory attempt to seal off the end of the canyon with boulders and some up-rooted bushes, unsaddled the horse and joined Spike in the cave. His hair was smoking by the time he got into the dark interior.
The cave was more of a depression in the rocks. About eight feet deep and six wide, it was shaped like a mouth, higher at the front, but closing sharply until it was only about two feet high at the back. With the early morning sun behind them, they were able to make full use of the space—Spike lying in the back, Angel a couple of feet away, lying across the entrance. By afternoon, when the sun came round, they knew this would have to change, but they left that distasteful thought until it mattered.
Angel reached in and pulled Spike’s leg closer. ‘This is gonna hurt.’
‘It’s bloody hurting now. Just get on with it.’
Angel popped the kneecap in, forgiving Spike when he lunged out and hit him in the face. He only grimaced, caught hold of Spike’s shoulder and reset that, too.
Spike went an even paler shade of pale and closed his eyes. He turned his back to Angel, facing the wall at the back, and withdrew into his own thoughts.
Angel didn’t want to withdraw into his; they were too unpleasant. Eventually, after some considerable internal debate, he said roughly, ‘I’m sorry.’
Spike made no response, so he added, ‘I came back to find you because I need you with me in L.A.’
That took Angel by surprise. He’d not really meant what he’d said—not exactly, anyway—so being questioned on it threw him. ‘Because you’re a fighter?’
Spike laughed unpleasantly. ‘Good try.’
Angel went back to surly silence for an hour or so. It was unpleasantly hot. Cold, now hot—he was getting pissed off with this close proximity to nature and missed his hermetically sealed life. He shed his coat, balling it up and putting it under his head. After a while, Spike did the same.
‘I need you because I can trust you.’
Spike snapped his head around. Angel looked away, peering out into the increasingly bright day. ‘Happy now?’
‘If you trust me so much, why can’t you just… trust me?’
Angel knew he was referring to the childish rant about Tom Devant. He pouted. ‘I—.’ He stopped, regrouped and said faintly, ‘You surprise me sometimes, that’s all. You and Buffy…. She saw something in you…. Then this. I don’t understand what I’m supposed to do.’
Spike rolled over so he was facing him. ‘Why do you have to do anything?’
Angel continued to stare out at the light. ‘Feel then. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to feel.’
‘Why do you have to feel anything?’
‘Are you going to answer everything with another question?’
‘Are you going to say anything else dumb?’
Angel smiled faintly and rolled onto his back. ‘I’m sorry. Okay? We have to stick together, and we have to get out of this. We can’t afford to fight each other here. There’s enough else tryin’ to kill us, I reckon.’
‘What did you just say?’ Spike’s voice was suddenly amused, affectionate once more.
Angel was so glad to hear this he couldn’t work out what Spike meant, until in uncanny mimicry, Spike drawled, ‘There’s enough else tryin’ to kill us, pardner, I reckon, Gawdammit!’
Angel laughed softly. ‘Yeah, well.’
After a while of relatively companionable silence, Spike said, ‘Can you see the horse?’
Angel shook his head. ‘We were lucky to find this.’ He turned his head, studying Spike, who was drawing pictures on the roof with one finger. ‘If we hadn’t found this cave, what would you have done?’
‘You have to think about things, Spike—out here. Everything is hostile to the likes of us here. What would you do if the sun came up and you were caught out on the plain?’
Spike turned his head lazily. ‘Do I have to raise my hand if I think I know the answer, Miss?’
‘Just answer the Goddamned question, will you?’
‘I dunno! Sheesh. I’d dig a hole, course.’
‘No! See! That’s why you need me. You don’t think things through! That’s how they cook chicken out here! It’s so hot if you roll one in mud it cooks.’
‘No it bloody doesn’t. ‘Sides, who said anything ‘bout mud? I said sand.’
‘No you didn’t.’
‘So, all wise sire. Where would you hide?’
Angel smiled, hoping for this cue. He said smugly, ‘I’d kill the horse and climb into its belly.’
Spike sat up in such a hurry he cracked his head on the roof. When he’d recovered, still bleeding, he said between gritted teeth, ‘That’s the dumbest, the most stupid thing you’ve ever said Angel! How ya gonna fit in there?’
‘Jesus, Spike! It’d be plenty big enough! Remove the guts….’
Spike rolled onto his belly, looking angry. ‘So, what you gonna cut the belly open with? What you gonna cut all those entrails out with?’
‘I’d have a knife on me….’
‘Whoa! No inventing knives when you want one. I’m gonna invent a nice trailer home in that case—just happened to have one on me!’
‘I’d improvise. Sharp flint or rock.’
‘Oh, and like you’re gonna get that done before the sun fries you.’
‘So, what would you dig a hole with?’
Spike held up a hand. Angel snorted but didn’t dignify that with any other response.
They were quiet for a while until Spike said moodily, ‘You’d be pretty fucked later with no horse.’
‘We’re going to be pretty fucked later if our horse is frying down there.’
‘Maybe he’s found another horse and dived in ‘is belly.’ Spike seemed to find this unnecessarily funny and laughed at his own joke on and off for the next hour or so. By the time he’d decided he’d annoyed Angel enough, the temperature had risen to well over a hundred in the canyon, a few degrees cooler in the cave, and it was still only ten o’clock.
Spike wriggled out of his shirt and managed to kick off his boots. Angel frowned and made a small sound of disapproval, but after another half an hour, he followed suit.
‘Do we need water?’
Angel roused from a slight doze. ‘What?’
‘Water. Can we dehydrate?’
‘And you are how freaking old?’
‘I’m nearly a hundred and thirty, but then you should know that—seein’ as you killed me. And I’ve never been in a hot place before—without blood. So, if we don’t have blood, do we need water?’
‘Good. So, I can safely ignore this burning in my throat?’
There was a delicious pause then Spike quietly retorted, ‘And that from the man who’s just eaten my fucking horse.’
Angel flicked his head around. Spike only raised an eyebrow. Angel made a small sound that could have been interpreted any way Spike wanted and appeared to go back to sleep.
The temperature rose to over a hundred and twenty in the cave. A glean of sweat covered them both. The floor was becoming uncomfortably hot to lie on, and they manoeuvred onto their coats. Suddenly, Angel yelped. His elbow had begun to smoke. Without saying anything, they knew it was past midday, and the sun had now begun to enter.
For all they knew, it reached the back of the cave when it got low in the sky, toward the end of the afternoon. For all they knew, this was their last afternoon.
Angel put a coin in the line of the sun so they could gauge its progress and shifted toward Spike.
A sense of tense anticipation hung in the cave. Every so often, Angel shifted closer, and Spike watched the coin getting brighter and brighter until he could look at it no longer.
For the first time, they touched, Angel shifting against Spike, even though he was pressed to the back wall, the rough sandstone rubbing his bare skin. The temperature increased to a hundred and ten. Spike felt it like a band around his head, his preternatural body unable to deal well with extremes of temperature, unable to cool off like a human body. Angel was silent, but Spike could feel his tension through the touch of his skin, and then he shifted again, now pressed tightly to the figure behind.
Spike hesitated, then snaked his arm over Angel’s waist and held him close, Angel’s sweating back sticking to his chest.
Angel couldn’t get his arms out of the sun and cursed when they began to smoke. He wrapped them back around Spike. Spike hauled him closer.
The smell of burning flesh began to fill the cave, and Spike shouted, ‘Under me!’ He raised up, Angel rolled beneath him onto his back, and Spike lay down on top.
They’d gained a couple of inches of shadow between them and the sun. They readied their coats as best they could, knowing they would not save them and lay very still.
Spike’s whole body lay in contact with Angel’s. From toes to hair, they touched. He couldn’t remember ever in all the time he’d known Angel, being this close. Although they were sweating heavily, the smell rising from Angel was intoxicating. He smelt of cordite and wood burning fires, of whisky and gun oil.
There was nothing he could do to stop it. His body responded to the heat and the skin and the smell of Angel. He didn’t know whether to shift or not, whether moving would make his bone-hard cock more noticeable or less. He opted to move, trying to ease onto one hip and take the hardness off Angel.
Angel grunted painfully, and Spike realised he’d propped up on something equally hard that shifted, uncurling beneath his bony hip.
The sun had narrowed the gap to two inches. Angel pulled his coat over their heads and kicked Spike’s loosely over their legs. Neither could move more and knew their feet were exposed.
In the darkness of Angel’s coat, their minds coalesced downward, zeroed in on their cocks and balls, hardening, pulsing, aching. Angel tried to turn his face but ended up with it buried in Spike’s hair. He breathed in, and his shaft twitched at the scent of his childe.
He moved his face again, pressed it to the hollow of Spike’s neck. There was a soft groan, and in the darkness, Angel put his mouth to the old scar.
Beginnings and endings. It seemed fitting to Spike that they’d go together, his sire’s fangs against his neck as if this were the beginning and not the ending.
He pressed his face into Angel’s shoulder and said hoarsely, ‘’S bin fun.’
Angel nodded. ‘Yeah. I made a good choice.’
Spike huffed. ‘Now you tell me. Kinda different tune to the one you were singing last night.’
Angel laughed softly, the burning against the coat making it hard to force the sound out. ‘Last night I was fucked up with jealousy. Now I’m dying with you stuck on my fucking belly.’
Spike lifted his head.
Angel, dislodged from the warm neck, opened his eyes. They stared at each other in the dark protection of Angel’s coat, and then their lips came together softly.
Both meant it as a goodbye kiss, a kiss that recognised the long way they’d come together, the shared milestones, the good times. At the first touch though, resistance to something melted along with their bodies. As they felt the burning on the coat, as they scrabbled their feet to try and remove them from the light, they opened their mouths to one another.
Sweat coated bodies squirmed, and in a place where there was no water, they became soaked in moisture, tongues lapping at saliva, sweat mingling, and in heavy shots that darkened their pants, sperm releasing.
When Angel cried out in orgasm, Spike thought they were burning and tried to climb into the cave of his mouth. When his orgasm hit, he shuddered violently, and Angel thought he saw flames. He wrapped his arms tighter around Spike’s back so they would burn together.
They came down from their individual intensities with small pouts of confusion. Angel peered out from under the coat. They were in the shade once more. He exclaimed and wriggled out from under Spike with some considerable difficulty, both chests and bellies flaring red for a moment as stuck skin unpeeled. He crawled cautiously to the entrance and saw that the sun had dipped below the opposite wall of the canyon. Two feet above his head it blazed in evening glory on the wall. He, however, was in cool shadow.
He sat down heavily and ran sticky fingers through his hair. Numerous other things were sticky as well, but he couldn’t think about them. Literally, his mind jumped off the events as if they were too hot to linger on. He needed some space to think them through. He glanced behind. Spike was studying his back but averted his eyes quickly when he saw this small inspection was observed. ‘Better check on the horse.’
Angel nodded and began to dress.
As he pulled on his boots, he could taste Spike’s saliva in his mouth. As he buttoned his shirt, his orgasm surged again like a small back eddy forgotten in the first rush. As he slipped on his coat, he remembered Spike’s shuddering body. It was better than holding him in death, better than the shaking and shuddering of dying. As he left the shelter and stood in the relative coolness of the evening, all these events seemed like a tiny, dark intensity that belonged out of time. They’d been brought on by the extremity of their situation: that sense that they were more than this—more than two demons burning up in a time and place they should never have been. They’d tried to make it more. They’d tried to give their deaths some significance with the only things they had left to control: their bodies.
Thus Angel rationalised as he climbed down the wall. He packed the events away into a tidy box labelled Extreme Circumstances. He knew he ought to explain all this to Spike, as he had with his horse theory—rationally, calmly, knowing he was right. But given his childe’s reaction to that theory, he was reluctant to expose this one to the bright light of Spike’s derision. This one fractured when he probed it too much. He wasn’t at all ready to have it turn to naught with one of Spike’s knowing laughs.
He felt himself under scrutiny as they rounded up the horse. As the creature was standing with his head hanging down, looking about as sorry as a horse ever looked, the rounding up wasn’t too hard. Spike went up to it and stroked around its muzzle, whispering soft words of endearment.
Angel had to turn away.
A surge of jealousy rose in his throat.
Now he was jealous of a horse.
His carefully erected edifice of lies crumbled around him.
The truth stood stark in the ruins.
He turned his back to it, saddled the horse and began to lead it out. ‘We need to find water.’ He was a master of avoidance when it came to the truth.
Spike had watched Angel going through his small crisis with more than intense interest, although he felt fairly certain he’d not given this away to Angel. He had a pretty good idea how what had happened in the cave would affect his sire. To him, it seemed a continuance of the feelings that had gradually been creeping upon him since he’d been thrown back to this place. Hell, who was he kidding? He’d always felt something between them that Angel had refused to acknowledge. But since he’d been back here, it had grown—the sense of missing Angel, the desire to have him close, the substitution he’d attempted with Tom, the unexpected erection he’d got at seeing a trickle of sweat on Angel’s back….
Spike, therefore, felt the incident in the cave clarified matters between them. If he was given the opportunity now, he’d pull Angel down into the hot sand and fuck him.
Just the thought of this, rolling and wrestling and sliding into Angel’s body, made him harden once more. It was incredibly liberating: knowing what the tension was, knowing why he hated Angel so much, knowing why they fought so much. He wanted to mount his father—his creator. He wanted to bend Angel to his desires, subjugate him physically and emotionally. He wanted to possess him. And so he fought; he argued; he kicked against the pricks, trying to ignite the powder keg of their relationship.
For one moment in the cave, when they had sent their shuddering orgasms against each other, Spike had felt Angel at his mercy, utterly laid bare and vulnerable, and in that one moment, he’d willed the sun to take them both. In that moment, he’d won.
Victory never lasted long for him. He knew this. But it was sweet while he had it.
‘Did you hear what I said?’
‘Can you tell which way the water is?’
Spike’s senses were so full of the smells of cum and sweat, he couldn’t isolate any others for a moment, but then he did. The earthy smell of fresh water. He shrugged. ‘Let Dobin have ‘is head, and he’ll find it.’
Angel nodded to the wisdom of this and released the leading rein.
The horse cantered off, leaving them standing on the rock-strewn prairie.
Angel glared at him then, unexpectedly, began to laugh. Spike shook his head and laughed too. They ran over the rough ground, trying to keep the horse in view.
After some miles, the ground changed and pitched downward. They ran down a smoother long bank and found themselves at the edge of a pool, the stream dammed by a sudden narrowing in the valley floor. About thirty feet around, it stood dark and still in front of them.
Even the horse seemed to say oh, shit and plunged in. Laughing like kids, they shucked off their gun belts and then plunged fully clothed, coats and all, into the cold water.
It was melted ice, the stream coming out of the high mountains and hardly having time to warm in its deep valley. They’d never felt water so good. They tore off their clothes and flung them to the bank, diving and swimming, and then floating serenely on the black depths.
Suddenly, Spike whistled softly. ‘Look.’
Angel followed his gaze to the heavens. The earth was tilted so they looked down the arm of the Milky Way, the stars so bright and numerous that the light made their skin glow white.
Angel rippled his hand over the surface of the water and the tiny white droplets sent a frisson of excitement into his balls. He looked over at Spike and saw something like starlight in his eyes. They looked alive with something knowing. He wasn’t surprised when Spike said quietly, ‘We should talk about what happened.’
Angel heard himself outlining his theory—that it had been a moment of near death honoured by the supreme act of life—but heard this for the crock of shit it was.
For the first time in his life, he gave Spike a halfway honest reply. ‘I don’t know what happened.’
Spike suddenly ducked under the surface in a lithe, pale movement and rose the other side of him. He blew out some water and said mischievously, ‘I could remind you.’
Angel frowned. The suspicion that Spike was way ahead of him in something, thinking things he’d never suspected, worried him to the extent that he refused to discuss it further. He swam to the edge of the pool and climbed out.
‘What?’ Spike turned at the note of alarm in Angel’s voice and swam over, too, pulling out into the…. ‘Bloody hell!’ The temperature had plummeted from the highs of the day to the extreme lows of the night. Angel was shivering badly, and at this utterly uncharacteristic sight, Spike began to shake violently. Everything shot high and shrivelled, and they turned away from each other. ‘Clothes?’
They were sodden and beginning to freeze to an uncomfortable crispy frostiness.
‘Get some wood.’
Mumbling, Spike stumbled away, arms wrapped around his body, wondering if somewhere, somehow, he was becoming more human. He came back with an armful of wood and dropped it in a surly manner by Angel. ‘What are you doing?’
‘What the fuck does it look like? Lighting a fire!’ Angel was twiddling two sticks together vainly. Spike stood and watched him for a while, derision in his silence. Unable to stand the criticism longer, Angel snapped, ‘I suppose you could do better?’
Spike knelt, removed his lighter from his saddlebag, caught the kindling alight and chucked on some wood.
Angel suddenly shot a fist out and punched him. ‘You moron! We freeze to death while you….’ Spike launched himself across the fire, knocking Angel out of his crouch, tumbling them back into the sand. They rolled and wrestled and…. Spike wrenched out of Angel’s hold and then walked out of sight into the dark.
Puzzled, Angel threw some more wood onto the fire and called out hesitantly, ‘Spike?’
When there was no reply, he stood up and began to gather their clothing, hanging it to dry as best he could. The fire began to blaze, making it steam. Softly, as if he were talking to himself, he said, ‘It’s warm here now. Maybe we could catch something and eat it? If you want, that is….’
Spike appeared back and squatted down by the fire.
No longer shrivelled or high, they averted their eyes from the obvious. Being caught staring at another man’s dick was a line neither wanted to cross.
They stacked the fire unnecessarily high, enjoying the light as well as the heat. Suddenly, Spike jerked his head up and said, ‘How far do you think this bloody fire can be seen?’
Angel peered into the dark. ‘Why?’
‘No, I mean, there could be. Raiding party….’ He trailed off at Angel’s expression and added, ‘You obviously never watched the right bloody shows, Mate.’
‘And what are they going to do to us? Scare us to death?’
‘Shoot us with wooden arrows, I was thinking.’
Angel’s hand hesitated before throwing another log on then laid it back down. They checked their clothes, turning them over and pulling them closer to the heat. Spike ran his fingers through his drying hair and in a casual tone, as if commenting on the weather, said, ‘You said you were jealous of Tom. You can’t deny that.’
Angel nodded wisely. ‘Of the way you’d made a place for yourself, yes. The way you’d coped.’
‘Bullshit. That’s not what you meant.’
Angel didn’t reply and poked the fire viciously, sending small sparks like tiny red fireflies into the air.
‘That wasn’t a kiss of pride in my achievements, Angel.’
‘I don’t want to talk about it.’
‘Why not? What have we got to bloody lose? We might never get home! We might be stuck in this Goddamned place forever!’
Angel tipped his head to one side clearly struck by this idea. Spike seemed to be confirming his theory—that what had happened had been spirit of place and time, that what they felt here, what happened here, wasn’t reality.
‘You think something’s happening to us here? Making us act uncharacteristically?’
That wasn’t what Spike had meant at all. He’d only meant that he wanted to launch at Angel again, but this time wrestle in another way, and what did anything matter when here the old relationship of sire and childe seemed so redundant? Angel’s response seemed useful though. Carefully, he said, ‘Perhaps it is. Perhaps we can’t help ourselves. Perhaps we were MEANT to be here, and this is what we have to do to get back!’ He surprised himself how inventive he could be with the right motivation.
Angel seemed impressed, too. ‘It can’t be natural that we fight like we do. I mean…. The only two souled vampires….’
Angel seemed to have wandered off the important track of the shagging once more, but Spike gently steered him back. ‘Maybe things that are natural in L.A. are unnatural here, but things that are unnatural are… natural.’ He was scaring himself he was so brilliant.
Angel reached for his pants, which was exactly what Spike didn’t want, so he grabbed Angel’s wrist and held it. Across the fire, he dropped the act and said with searing honesty, ‘You make me hot.’
The words zinged through the cold air with more force than an arrow. Angel’s head jerked up as if he’d been pierced. His breath went out in a small puff of exclamation and then they were in the sand, tangling, teeth jarring, trying to find what lay beyond the softness of lips.
It was cold out of the circle of the firelight, but the darkness was welcome. They didn’t want light shone on what they did. In darkness, they could explore and wonder and discover, and not be perfect. They could make mistakes and have those mistakes covered by the soft velvet of the night.
As if by mutual consent, they didn’t speak. Maybe their voices were too familiar to each other and they didn’t need that incongruity—familiarity in all this that was new. Or perhaps it was that they knew their words flared so quickly to anger, that they feared the tempestuous sparks that lay at the heart of their relationship might flame to life at this provocation. So they kept their thoughts to themselves and only shared their bodies. The release was revelatory, but whether it revealed more about their feelings or the unnatural chasteness they’d practiced since coming to this new place, neither of them cared to examine. Spike rubbed hard on Angel; cocks clashed together, squished and fondled by eager fists, and he came with a huge gasp of frustration. Angel cried out in the darkness and shot, too, his seed propelled so far that it landed sizzling in the embers of the dying fire. Missing his, he played with Spike’s, rubbing it into his belly and hair, joining it to the traces of his still hanging in tiny, glistening threads from his cockhead. Then he realised what he was doing and pushed Spike off.
He sat up and looked at the unearthly, pale figure, sprawled in the starlight. ‘It seems that you make me hot, too. But that’s all it is, Spike.’
Angel nodded. ‘I’m not going to change what I am. If I’d had a woman here, I’d have wanted her. I didn’t, so I took you.’
Spike stood up and stretched, not at all bothered now about Angel seeing or staring at his cock. It had been down Angel’s throat for a while there, so he figured looking was pretty tame now. He glanced down at the squatting figure. ‘You are so pathetic, Angel.’
Angel sprang to his feet. Spike came closer not at all intimidated. ‘Can’t you feel it again? Don’t you get it even now? It’s nothing to do with this place! It’s us! You and me—dancing this bloody dance we’ve always danced!’
Angel shoved him out the way and went to fetch his pants. He made to pull them on but seemed to remember the sticky, flaky residue on his body. He glanced at the freezing water again then cursed and dressed anyway.
Spike snickered. ‘You’re gonna smell of me now.’
Angel ignored him.
‘Do you? Let me see….’ He darted in, sniffing, and laughed when he got a cuff for his trouble. He waved around, taunting Angel, laughing. He was silenced by a fierce kiss, Angel crashing them to the ground, laughter cut off in a groan of need. They rolled over and over, Angel always getting the better of things for being so much heavier. He rolled on top of Spike and thrust his hand down, cursing softly with pleasure when he found things heavy and hard. Spike wrenched open Angel’s jeans. ‘Still rather have a woman, Angel?’
Angel nodded and bit one nipple. ‘Yeah. I would.’
‘What? Not feel this?’ Spike crushed Angel’s hand to his prick, forcing him to make a fist around it and helping him ease the foreskin down. ‘You wanna put your tongue to me like a bloody lolly, don’t you? Lick me, Angel. Lick my cock.’
Angel obliged, and by the way his mouth opened around the bulbous head, by the way his tongue slurped over the tip, they both knew he wasn’t thinking clitoris. He wanted stretch and thrust, he wanted rawness in his throat and the aftertaste of cum.
So, Spike obliged him, too, arching into Angel’s mouth, pushing out the pale cheeks, making him emit sounds like feeding: muffled snorts of pleasure.
Suddenly, Spike extracted his cock and rolled away, rising to a crouch. ‘Wanna know what else you can’t do with a woman?’ He launched himself at Angel, flattening him, lying over him possessively. ‘You can’t get fucked up the arse.’
Angel growled and thrust him away then swung out with his leg, kicking him. ‘I wouldn’t want that if you were the last fuckable thing left on this planet Spike. I’d take the freaking horse inside me before I became that desperate.’
Spike laughed and circled him in a crouch, his cock semi-hard, bouncing up and hitting his thighs. ‘You’ve always wanted it. You wanna lay it all down and be taken. You want to trust someone so much that you can let them into your body.’
Angel suddenly stood up and walked to the pile of clothes, ending whatever it was that had begun. Or ended—neither of them were too sure.
Spike knew that somehow out of all the bluster and bravado that he’d taunted Angel with, that he’d tried to trick him with, he’d said the one thing that was actually true: Angel was looking for someone to trust enough with the most precious thing he had—his body.
Spike licked his lips and came hesitantly to his own clothes. As he dressed, he cast an eye over to Angel and said, as calmly as he could, ‘Sure, it was just fucking, Luv. Why not? We’re stuck in this damn place together…. Things… exploded. When we get back to L.A., I’ll go right back to pissing you off, and you’ll make my life a misery all day. You’ll have Nina; I’ll have Harm. Just as it should be. It’ll be great—just you wait and see.’
Angel nodded dumbly. He seemed oddly lost, which worried Spike.
He decided that now was the time to share his plan—the real reason he’d headed south.
He waited until they were mounted, Angel sitting in front and he clinging to his back, to say seriously, ‘I was thinking….’
Angel only nodded, deep in his own thoughts.
‘Where did you arrive—I mean, what place did you fall into?’
Angel turned his head, suddenly interested. ‘I don’t know. There was this pain in my head. I felt someone dragging me, and I woke up in the jail.’
Spike nodded, pleased. ‘’Xactly. Same thing happened to me. So, do you think maybe our fat friend knows more about this than he’s lettin’ on?’
‘At least he’ll know where he found us. If it’s the same place, maybe there’s something there—a big fucking Tardis would be nice, course.’
Angel suddenly punched the side of his head in anger. ‘Jesus! I’ve been so obsessed with you again I’ve….’ He trailed off, seeming to realise that this somewhat belied his assertion that Spike was nothing more than a convenience, only just better than a horse.
Spike squeezed his arms around Angel’s waist a little tighter. ‘I was kinda thinking about you, too, Mate—when you were gonna bloody rescue me!’ Spike oiled the wheels of Angel’s confused mind, allowing him some peace. It was too hard to ride so close together, the motion of the horse bumping and grinding, without that emotional distance.
Spike wasn’t unduly concerned. He had a feeling that they’d be… discussing… these things in the very near future. You didn’t pack away that kind of heat, that need, that desire, along with your saddle. And on the thought that he’d been in this place too long, and that if he didn’t leave soon he’d be substituting dang for bloody, he fell asleep against Angel’s broad back, lulled by the motion of the horse and exhausted from the exertions of the night.
Angel gave him a minute, then snaked his arm back and clamped it around his sleeping child, holding him close. He was so confused his brain almost ached, and he welcomed this slow ride through the night with the feel of Spike so close but, for once, silent and restful.
Go to chapter 6
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