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Past Tense of Loving
Spike draped over Angel’s back, more unconscious than asleep, but with snatches of near-lucidity, which only sank him deeper into dreams when they finished. He dreamt about stars, and it seemed important, seemed as if he learnt something important that he had to tell Angel, but when he woke, he couldn’t remember the dream, only the stars.
He only woke fully when the horse stopped. Angel nudged him awake and said softly, ‘Molena. Sun’s up in two hours.’ Spike slid off the back of the horse, feeling as if one had kicked him. He reckoned he must look pretty bad, if Angel was anything to go by. They left the horse at the livery and made their way to the saloon. Not surprisingly, it was almost empty, only a few drunks lolling over tables they’d been unable to leave. Angel eyed them distastefully and then glanced up the stairs. He made his way over to the bar and disturbed a small man who was nodding in a chair, paper over his face. Within a few minutes he had a room and a bottle of whisky and was heading purposefully toward them.
He toed open a door and went inside, immediately going to the window and checking the drapes. Spike came in and shut the door softly, patting around his pockets. ‘I’m going down to see if he’s got some cig….’
‘No. You’re not. Not yet….’
It was some time before the subject of cigarettes came up again. Other things came up instead.
Pulled onto the bed, almost devoured by Angel’s raging need, Spike hardly had time to release his pants. Angel demanded his mouth. Spike surrendered it. He mumbled incoherently against the possessive lips and tried to hold back. He didn’t want to spill inside again. Angel finally got the message and let him go, fumbling desperately with his own buttons. He grabbed the towel off the washstand and together they soaked it, kneeling on the bed, two mouths locked, two cockheads swollen and mushing wetly together, two slits like red mouths wanting to kiss, two men pumping seed into faded material until it was saturated with their thick spills.
Panting, Spike tipped onto his back. Angel eyed the raw, soft cock, grinned and was about to pounce on it like a cat upon an exhausted mouse, when there was a shot from beneath their window.
They crawled off the bed and peered out, buttoning up. A man lay groaning in the dirt, another man standing over him, and then the large figure of the sheriff appeared.
Angel glanced over to Spike, and before he thought what he was doing, he swept back a loose lock of hair. He stared at his hand, clearly bemused at what it had done and said swiftly, ‘I need to speak with him now—not wait until tonight.’
Spike tried not to look disappointed, but Angel seemed to sense this feeling anyway and added softly, ‘I’m not... avoiding issues…. Only….’ He turned back to watch the scene. ‘Life is short here. I can’t risk something happening to him before I’ve had a chance to find out what he knows.’
Spike nodded. He knew there was more to it than that. He knew Angel had suddenly decided he didn’t want to spend the day in this room with him—that he was afraid where it might lead, what they might do.
He suddenly reached over and made a mess of Angel’s hair in retaliation for his and then sprang swiftly out of reach toward the door. Angel rose in a more dignified manner, but as he passed gave Spike a small, grateful smile. Spike floated on the pleasure of this right through the bar, over the street and into the sheriff’s office.
He was still burning with pleasure when the man looked up at their entry, but cooled rapidly on the warmth of the reception. ‘Looky what the cat’s dragged in.’
Angel went to the wall, pretending to be interested in Wanted posters. He said very quietly, ‘Are you in on it? Do you have some kind of profitable scheme going, Sheriff?’
The huge man rose. ‘Now, wait one Goddang minute. You don’t come into my town and….’ He narrowed his eyes suddenly at Spike. ‘I advised you to buy a hat, Sonny. I advised you to get out of my town. Don’t seem like you take too kindly to good advice.’
Spike made an irritating face, and the man stepped around his desk. Angel stood between them. ‘You found us both and brought us here. I’d like to know why. But more importantly, I’d like to know how—how did you happen to be in the right time and place twice. Weeks apart.’
The man held Angel’s gaze for a moment. ‘Let’s go get a drink.’
He didn’t wait for a reply and strode out across the street.
Angel glanced around then snatched a Wanted poster off the wall with a gleeful expression. ‘Butch Cassidy!’
Spike snatched it out of his hand. ‘Fuck me! It’s Paul Newman!’
Laughing, an easy mood between them that puzzled but pleased them both, they made their way over the street and into the bar.
The sheriff was sitting at a table, scanning a paper and drinking. Angel ordered two beers, Spike bought the makings for some cigarettes, and they joined him.
He glanced up as they sat down and folded his paper nonchalantly. ‘I did twenty years on the force.’ He twitched up an eyebrow, amused. ‘L.A.P.D.’
Angel put down his beer slowly, but the man waved at him to be silent. ‘I’ve done two years here, and so far, the only real stressful thing I’ve discovered is having to go to the Goddamned church with the good Christians every Sunday. I’m a pig in shit, and I don’t wanna go back.’
‘You came through the portal?’
‘I have no freaking idea what I came through. I was looking for some scrawny rich kid who’d disappeared—liked to buy his dope at the pier. I was questioning this little schmuck with a camera; stuck my face in….’
The man winked at Angel. ‘You’d best be careful how you say that around these parts, Sonny. Cowpokes don’t take to faces being thrust in ‘em—if you get my meanin’.’
Spike smiled, and somehow, his foot found Angel’s under the table.
Slightly distracted now, Angel said, ‘So you—what? Woke up…?’
‘In the tool shed out back of the jail. When I stopped puking, I wandered out in my fancy blues, and the rest’s history.’
‘How did you…?
‘Become sheriff?’ He laughed. ‘Well, you know the old saying: the voice that speaks loudest in the crowd?’ He reached into his holster and withdrew a Kimber .45.
Spike laughed because Angel had just rubbed his foot up his shin, but the sheriff nodded as if it had been a reaction to his gun. ‘I know. It kinda makes me the big man in these here parts.’
Angel shifted slightly so he could slide a hand onto Spike’s thigh—high up, where things got interesting. ‘How many others came through before us?’
‘Three. Scrawny kids all of ‘em. Druggies, runaways.’
‘Where are they now?’
‘What are you doin’ tomorrow?’
Angel kept his face neutral. ‘We need to rest up for the day.’
The man looked amused. ‘That resting gonna include some more of what you’re doing under the table?’
Angel rose, his chair falling over. The sheriff chuckled. ‘Calm down, sonny. I’ve got something to show you, but it can wait till the evening. I’m thinking it’s not as good as what your blond friend’s got to show you anyhows.’
Spike liked this man, and he leant back, blowing smoke across the table at him. The sheriff winked once more then stood up. ‘Well, another busy day on the mean streets. I got some chickens gone missin’! Preacher swears it ain’t a fox. Lordy, you’d think he’d know—seein’ as he’s got friends in high places. You folks meet me outside come sundown—when you’ve finished your little games upstairs, that is.’
Angel, to recover some nads, said menacingly, ‘Why didn’t you tell us who you were when you found us?’
The sheriff nodded pleasantly and tipped his hat. ‘Sundown. I wanna show you something first.’
Spike was already trying to suppress a laugh at Angel’s expression. By the time they reached the room, he was having trouble standing.
Angel didn’t want him upright anyway, so tipped him onto the bed and straddled him. He bounced them both and said angrily, ‘I just don’t like other people knowing my business.’
Spike licked his lips seductively. ‘Am I your business now then?’
Angel huffed and rolled off onto his back. Spike turned his head to watch the approaching dawn through the drawn drapes. ‘It’s gonna get hotter than hell in here soon. What the fuck is the big man playing at, do you think—staying here?’
When he got no reply, he turned back. Angel was asleep, one arm still hanging off the bed, one draped over Spike’s belly. Spike eased it off carefully and sat up, studying the uncharacteristically relaxed face. He’d never seen Angel asleep before. Despite the pleasures they’d been taking from each other, Angel’s body was still a mystery to him. So intense was their passion whenever they’d come together, he’d only seen it in snatches, like watching himself shag under strobe lighting. He had an impression of one armpit with sparse hair (which suited him just fine. One hundred years and counting of loving women’s bodies didn’t give him an appetite for hair). His lips had discovered more luxuriant hair elsewhere, but he’d been distracted by the cockhead that had been tickling his tonsils at the time. He’d seen Angel from the back, naked, rising from the bath, stretching his sleek, luxuriant muscles. He’d seem him cold by a campfire, huddled and very human. He wanted to know the whole package, to put all these jigsaw pieces together to form a complete picture. He wasn’t fooling around in this, telling himself he only wanted Angel’s heart or mind, his interest in him as his sire, although he did want these things; he wanted them very much. He ached to see Angel’s cock in the daylight, have the leisure to explore it, study it, play with it. Saliva soaked his mouth as he remembered it sliding over his lips. But he could remember little else. Angel had fucked his face so hard back at the pool that he’d been mindless with pleasure. The perfect mindless fuck, just as Angel said. Spike lay down alongside him and smiled softly. It was more than that for both of them, a lot more, but he knew Angel was finding this hard to admit. You don’t push stray locks of hair away from the faces of mindless fucks. Angel shifted and Spike’s smile turned into a grin. You don’t shift in the bed and lie across a mindless fuck, pulling him into a tight spoon, nestling your face into his neck, and stroking his belly in sleep.
Spike closed his eyes to the day and allowed himself sleep that was deep and refreshing. His last thought on slipping away was that he understood only too well what the big man was doing. He wasn’t going back because what he had here was better. As he lay in Angel’s tight, sweaty embrace that seemed to apply equally well to him.
Angel woke to a mass of confusing thoughts that clashed against each other like cross-tides, causing the same friction and churn. His first thought was that he had lost Spike and that he was now alone. Then he remembered he’d found Spike, the sleeping presence in his arms swiftly confirming this. Instant lust for the warm body came as a particularly powerful surge, beating back all others. But in the riptide left on its departure, deeper, calmer, clearer thoughts remained. If this were only lust, he’d wake Spike now and take his pleasures on the slim, hard body. Then the tides returned, confusing thoughts about L.A., Nina, his old life. And shifting under all of these was the thick silt of uncertainty about their dangerous situation. He was under no illusions about their ability to live in this world. They’d done it as demons, slaking their thirst for blood where they liked. Like this—souled, domesticated—he did not like the odds stacked against them. This led to a huge, overpowering surge of protectiveness for the one he held, followed by tiny aftershocks of fury at this utterly uncharacteristic emotion. This was Spike! (in his head, Spike’s name always had an exclamation mark. The mark illuminated varying emotions, particularly in the last few days, but it was always there, nevertheless.) He couldn’t feel protective about Spike. Spike was his chief irritant. Now he had become this warm mass of flesh in his arms, this thing he wanted to kiss and fondle and…yes… cuddle.
Angel gritted his teeth. Cuddling wasn’t usually in his repertoire. That he should want to cuddle Spike! of all people was beneath contempt.
The tide went out completely and left a blank sand of thought where nothing had been resolved. He drifted back to sleep, only ensuring that Spike’s backside was pulled tightly against his cock, thus telling himself that the embrace was to salve his lust. If his heart told him different, he ignored it. Ignoring the dictates of his heart was becoming a habit.
When he woke again, Spike was sitting in a chair that he’d dragged over to the window, smoking. Sensing Angel had woken, he said unnecessarily, ‘Sun’s down.’
Angel twisted around in the bed and patted the space next to him hopefully. Spike smiled, but continued to peer out into the soft, early darkness. ‘Sheriff’s waiting for us.’
Angel crawled off the bed murmuring fuck and other suitable expressions under his breath. Spike laughed and got a more characteristic look for his troubles.
They emerged onto the street and found the sheriff had gone to the trouble of providing a new horse for Spike. He held theirs on a loose rein and nodded. ‘Evenin’. Sleep well?’ He couldn’t hide a twinkle of amusement at his own joke but watched passively as they mounted. ‘’K then. Ain’t far.’
He rode out of town in the opposite direction to the Big T and set up a steady trot. Angel nudged his horse closer and said brusquely, ‘I want to know why you hid what you were from us.’
‘All in good time, young man. You’ve got that L.A. impatience ‘bout you. How old are you? Twenty-six? Seven? You’ve gotta slow it down a mite, Son.’
‘The longer we’re here, the harder it may be for us to get back.’
The man ignored him and suddenly swung away from the trail towards a fence line. He followed that for a mile until a house came into view in a small hollow. They reigned in, looking down at the peaceful, domestic scene. A woman was feeding some chickens that ran around in the yard. A young man was forking hay into a barn, where it was seized on by a younger boy and stacked. Off to one side, a girl was grooming a small, sturdy pony. Suddenly, the woman saw them and called to the boys. They stood around her, staring through the soft evening, trying to identify the riders. The sheriff raised his hat and waved, and the girl suddenly swung bareback onto the pony and rode up to them. ‘Sheriff!’ He laughed as she came close then reached into his pocket and fished out some candy, tossing it to her. ‘Share it with your brothers, Possum.’
She nodded, gave Angel a quick once over then stared longer at Spike. Close up, they could see she was older than they’d first thought, but unaccustomed to teenagers being dressed in sober, plain clothes, they’d taken her for child. The look she gave the vampires was challenging, curious, almost aggressive, and the sheriff said softly, ‘Don’t worry, Hon; I’ve got everything under control.’
She nodded and let them ride past down the hill. The woman came forward to meet them, and the sheriff tipped his hat to her. ‘Ma’am.’
She smiled but was clearly uncertain about the visitors. He repeated what he’d said to the girl and swung off his horse. He looked at Angel. ‘Well, you coming in, or what?’
It became almost surreal. The woman, Mrs Van Hausen, plied them all with rich, aromatic coffee and home-baked biscuits. The boys were soon dragging the sheriff off to show him their latest hunting trophies, and the girl sat staring at Angel, apparently in some kind of dream.
It was unnerving. Angel didn’t know what he was supposed to be seeing, so was unsure what to say or do, something that infuriated him and made him feel clumsy and awkward. Spike was distracted by the girl watching Angel, trying to see him through her eyes and finding this so amusing that he missed half the halting conversation.
When the sheriff returned, he nodded to them and indicated that it was time to leave.
They rose, glad to be away. They left the strange place with its unnerving occupants and rode back toward town. As soon as they were out of sight of the house, Angel grabbed the sheriff’s rein and halted him. ‘Now we talk. I’ve come out here; I’ve seen. So?’
The man hooked one leg over his saddle horn and shook his head. ‘You’re amazingly slow. Your friend’s got it though.’
Angel turned to Spike and narrowed his eyes. Spike glanced back into the dark. ‘They’re the runaways.’
Pleased, the sheriff gave him a slow handclap. ‘The big ‘un was in a gang. Street-wise. Ya know the kind? The little ‘un—he was a runaway. Abused by his dad and an alcoholic by the time he was fourteen. And Possum? She was still carrying the bruises her pimp had given her when she came through. Pretty expensive habit she had to pay for. Possum came through first. I thought of Mrs Van H right up. She and her family come from Holland some ten years ago—new beginnings. ‘Cept they weren’t; she lost her husband and four children in an Indian massacre. She was living on her own with her ghosts out in that big old place. Seemed to me she could use a little life around again. If I was a learned man like you, I guess I’d called it symbiosis. I’m not, so I just call it plain dang lucky for all of ‘em. But what I’m trying to tell you, Son, what I wanted for you to see is pretty obvious. We’re not going back. None of us. We’ve nothing to go back for and everything to stay for. So, you can come through any darn portal you want and try to find us, but we ain’t shifting. That’s why I didn’t tell you. That’s why I’m thinking that if you try to take us, I’ll have to draw this gun of mine….’
‘We didn’t come to get anyone back.’
Spike glanced over at Angel and murmured, ‘Well, you kinda came for me….’
Angel looked annoyed. ‘That’s different.’
‘No, it’s not. You said….’
‘I’m not interested in anyone else; I’m just interested in…. I mean….’
‘Maybe you two would like to keep this little lovers’ spat till we’re back? I’m plumb glad you’re not….’
‘Will you stop with the fucking John Wayne imitation? This isn’t a fucking Hollywood movie!’ Angel didn’t fool either of his audience what the real cause of his anger was.
The man sat square on his horse and began to walk it slowly, scanning the ground for unexpected dangers.
Angel, looking slightly sheepish, turned his horse in the same direction and followed. ‘I don’t have any intention of taking you back—or the kids. I need to see this place where we came through, and I need to find a way back for us. That’s all.’
The sheriff spat on the ground. ‘Well, there ya go. Missin’ the point again. See, it’s all very well us sayin’ we don’t wanna go back when we patently can’t….’
Angel frowned and the man added, ‘Ask your friend. He knows what I mean.’
Once more Angel turned to Spike. This time, Spike seemed less willing to be forthcoming and shrugged. Angel turned his horse with difficulty and reined it in so they were walking close. ‘Well?’
Spike took his time lighting a cigarette. ‘He’s afraid that if we find a way to return, they’ll all be tempted. He doesn’t want to be tempted. He likes what he’s found here. He’s afraid that he won’t have it when he gets back. That things will have changed.’
The sheriff laughed. ‘You two seem to have a small communication problem goin’ there. I thought you were gonna tell him why we didn’t want to find a way back!’
Spike flashed him an angry look but then saw it didn’t matter. Angel hadn’t understood he hadn’t been talking about the sheriff. Angel just looked tired and strung out, and Spike had an immediate stab of intense pity for him. When the sheriff was once more studying the ground, and not them, he reached over and tentatively touched Angel’s fingers. Angel looked over, and his face softened. He caught hold of Spike’s fingers for a moment then let them drop, but it was enough.
Hot with pleasure, Spike said, ‘I’m betting we’ll find something in this tool shed. We could be home tonight.’
Angel was clearly pleased with this thought, and some of the stress left his face. Spike nudged his horse so their legs brushed and then trotted ahead to give his sire some space.
Angel listened to desultory conversation—the human asking about some shows he’d been following in his other lifetime—mulling over what they had seen that night. He wasn’t falling for it. It seemed to him like a good act, almost Stepford in its simplicity. You take streetwise punks and whores and give them a dose of home-baked biscuits and the highlight of their day suddenly becomes the church social? If that were true, then he could live here in a little white-picket fence fantasy—the one he’d always had about Buffy. He could work in an honest trade, be a good man. Except he couldn’t. He was a vampire. He needed to atone for the evil he’d done, not mince about in a better-than-life delusion. It seemed to him that something had gone badly wrong since he’d come here. This thing with Spike! What the hell had he been thinking? And even if he had been thinking it (which he most definitely had) then he should have resisted, should have seen it for the snare and delusion it was. Spike was worse than home-baked biscuits. Angel intended to return to L.A., and one thing he didn’t do there was eat biscuits.
It wasn’t too late to put a stop to it. He hadn’t let it go any further than quick relief. It was something men did. When they were no women about. Times of high stress. Testosterone. Nothing to get excited about. Nothing to give labels to. He knew Spike would agree. The last thing either of them needed in their volatile relationship was added complication. He had a pleasant vision of them returning to L.A., shaking hands and agreeing to put all this behind them—like the hunting and torture they’d once indulged in together, but didn’t now, and didn’t speak of either. This would have cleared the air. It would give them something to laugh about over a drink. If they ever went out for drink. Which they might now. A drink with Spike, watching the way his fingers curled around crystal. No one would suspect it was anything other than a casual drink. Everyone knew he hated Spike. The perfect cover. He needn’t lie alongside Nina feeling like a beached whale, cringing in the wake of their disastrous sex. He could use Spike for the pleasure, her for the… normality. Spike would understand. The last thing he’d want was to stop! Spike was enjoying it—that much was obvious. They were both enjoying it. Where was the harm in it? It was too late to put a stop to it anyway….
Angel jerked his head up, and Spike gave him a funny look. ‘I’ve been talking to you for the last mile! Where you been? Stop bloody staring at me! What the hell’s got into you? We’re going to this place you want to see.’
Angel nodded and plodded on behind Spike.
He was getting tired of horses.
That, he didn’t feel confused about.
The tool shed turned out to be a small, decrepit structure made of wood standing a few yards behind the jail. It was secluded from view by a few scrubby bushes and had clearly not been used for anything as useful as tools for a long time.
Angel dismounted and approached warily. The sheriff hooked one leg over his saddle and accepted a cigarette from Spike. ‘Your friend always this intense?’
Spike took a drag. ‘He’s kinda mellowed since he got here.’
‘Jeez.’ He gave Spike a long, thoughtful look. ‘You know, Blondie, it’s no concern of mine what you and Mr-Politeness himself get up to in your own time. Shut up, now, Son, I’m talking…. As I was sayin’: I don’t care. But some people round these parts would. They hanged a man last year for playing by your rules—‘fore I could get there. Nasty business. Rode him around some before they did, if you get my drift.’
As Spike refused so see how this applied to him, he merely said nonchalantly, ‘Local cowboys?’
‘Hell, no. I reckon they’re a mite too fond of a little lonesome comfort themselves to point fingers. It were Mormons—train of ‘em travelling through. Nothing as evil as a righteous Christian who lives by words written on a page. If you’ve gotta choose one day, Son, between an Injun, a Mex, or a Mormon, shoot the Goddang bible and hightail it outta there.’
‘I’ll remember that. I’m sure it will come in useful.’
‘Save the snark for those that are impressed with it, youngster. Don’t cut no ice with me.’
There was some forcible swearing from the hut, something was flung out and nearly hit them, making the Sheriff’s horse snort and stamp.
Spike lit a cigarette, and trying to keep his voice casual, asked, ‘Why didn’t you knock this place down? If I didn’t want to go back…’ he felt the man’s knowing stare, ‘I’d tear it down. Make sure.’
‘Well, I thought about it. But it seemed to me that that might stop other people who maybe needed to leave L.A.—though they don’t know it. See, it sorta come to me that maybe only those that should leave, do leave.’
Spike pouted. ‘I’m not sure Angel would agree.’
Spike nodded toward the dark figure poking around inside the empty shed. The man laughed. ‘Angel? Yup, that’s the first name that springs to mind when you meet him.’
Spike smiled. ‘He improves on acquaintance.’
‘He’d have to. So, I didn’t pull it down. Also, it occurred to me that maybe if we could go back it wouldn’t necessarily be from here. There’d have to be another one of those cut out thingies, and plainly, there ain’t.’
‘We’re not going back, are we?’
The man hesitated. ‘I don’t wanna kill your hopes, Son, if that’s what you feel you need to do. You got family back there, I guess. That’d be a powerful motivator.’
Spike slid off his horse and wandered over to his only family. ‘Anything?’
‘Dirt and more dirt.’
Angel turned and stared at the small, feathered object. The sheriff ambled over. ‘It’s a dream catcher.’ He stared thoughtfully around the darkened yard. ‘This was a burial ground. The damn settlers built the town on a burial ground. When I was poking around out here—just like you, friend, wanting to go home then—I found some bones, bits and bobs. Didn’t seem right.’ He rubbed a hand over his face. ‘I found that and hung it up. Might give an ancestor some good dreams.’
Angel held the small bundle in his hand, turning it over thoughtfully. ‘What tribe?’
The man seemed to have anticipated his question and said softly, ‘Shoshoni,’ but added quickly, ‘All gone. Not a one left in these parts.’
Spike bit the inside of his mouth and said anxiously to Angel, ‘You’ve got a plan. You’re thinking something I’m really not gonna like, aren’t you?’
Angel looked up and stared at the sheriff until the man faltered and admitted, ‘It’s just rumours! A medicine man. In the mountains, up on Gannett Peak. But you ain’t gonna get there! No man could live there but the damn Indians. Some people say they ain’t human like the rest of us. Takes a special breed of man to live in those mountains.’
‘I am a special breed of man. Spike, go get some supplies. We’re heading out in a hour.’
Spike had made the inside of his mouth bleed, so he ran his tongue over it, enjoying the familiar comfort. ‘No.’
Angel didn’t appear to hear. He was folding the feathered bundle carefully into his pocket.
‘I’m not going, Angel. We’re not going.’
The sheriff sucked his breath in and said tactfully, ‘And I’ll be in the jail if anyone wants me.’
Angel looked up. ‘We’ll need some blankets, maybe. It was cold enough on that damn plain. Rifles—good ones. Steal them if you have to.’
‘No! You’re not listening to me! I’m not bloody riding up some mountain with you on a wild goose chase to find some old Indian on the say so of a man who just admitted he’d kill us rather than have us take him back!’
‘Knives might be handy, too. Spare horses.’
Spike turned away and began to lead his horse back to the saloon. ‘I’m not coming. If you go, you go alone.’
Angel jogged to catch him up, not saying anything for a while. Spike cast him a sideward glance. Angel pouted. ‘I’ve confused things by letting this… thing… happen between us.’
‘Oh, you mean you can’t order me around anymore cus I know where you live! I know what you want…!’
‘Well, I wouldn’t have put it like that, but essentially…. You need to remember I’m still your….’
‘Don’t. Don’t you dare say it. It means nothing here, Angel. Shit, it never meant much back in L.A. You never made it mean much. Where was my sire when I needed him—chipped, souled, fucked around by the First, burning up to save the world, incorporeal…?’
‘I came back for you, Spike. I dived into that fucking portal and came for you.’
That silenced Spike entirely, and they walked the rest of the way to their room without speaking.
As soon as they were inside, Angel took hold of Spike’s arm gently. ‘I can’t order you. Hell, I gave up on that a week after I turned you. You have to trust me. I have a feeling about this. What is it you’re afraid of? The trip? The mountains? Going back?’ The last was eased in so softly that it took a while for Spike to separate it from the more likely suggestions.
He pulled away.
Angel rubbed his fingers through his hair. ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen when we get back any more than you do. Shit, I don’t know what’s happening here. I know….’ He came close and after only a moment’s hesitation, slipped his arms around Spike’s waist. ‘I know things have changed between us. And that scares the hell out of me, too.’
Spike turned around and eyed him, head on one side, with an expression that made Angel’s heart contract. ‘You still don’t think this is real, do you? You’re hoping when we get back to L.A. things between us’ll go back to normal.’
Angel let his arms drop. ‘I could do without the fighting. That, I don’t want to go back to.’
‘But you don’t want this.’
Angel suddenly pushed him out the way and went to the window. ‘Why do I have to have all the answers? I don’t know! I don’t know what I want. Things weren’t right with….’
He couldn’t believe he was discussing this with Spike! of all people, but the image of lying beside her cloying gratitude when he’d done nothing but perform a perfunctory set of moves on her haunted him. His silence assent was all the reply he could give. After a few moments, he turned. ‘You tell me, Spike. What is this? Can you seriously see us…? Shit! I can’t even say it! Can you see us having some kind of relationship when we get back?’
Spike lifted his eyebrows thoughtfully. ‘I thought we did have a relationship, Pet.’
‘That’s different. That was….’
‘Come on, Angel, that was just this without the honesty. You got me hard just lookin’ at me, and I’m fairly certain I did the same to you, only we were too proud to admit it.’
Spike laughed. ‘So, you don’t deny I made you hard. That’s interesting.’
Angel’s lip quirked up.
Spike sighed and sat on the edge of the bed, putting his face in his hands. ‘We could stay here….’
Angel sat down next to him. ‘A world without punk rock?’
‘I could invent it.’
Angel chuckled. ‘No TV.’
Spike looked up.
‘No porn on the internet.’
Spike frowned. ‘There’s porn on the internet?’
Angel poked him gently in the ribs. ‘Will you come with me? Please….’
Spike sank with fatigue.
Angel hesitated then leant over and kissed his hair. ‘With any luck, we’ll get our asses frozen on some mountain, and we won’t have to work out what this is.’
Spike flicked up an eyebrow. ‘I’ll have to think of a way of keeping your arse warm then, won’t I?’
Angel blushed faintly, a tinge of excitement or embarrassment colouring his pale face. He let out a long, slow breath. ‘Rifles and knives.’
Spike smiled. ‘Blankets, don’t forget. To make us nice an’ cosy at night.’
Angel swallowed and glanced at the bed.
Spike stood up. ‘Right I’ll go get all those things. No time like the present, or was there something else you wanted….?’ He kept neatly out of Angel’s range.
Angel fell back onto the bed, an arm across his eyes, laughing. There was little point denying that he did want something else—that he wanted it very badly—they could both see the evidence rising in the front of his pants, betraying him.
Go to chapter 7
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