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The thought, like a heartbeat, pounded in Spike’s head as he wrapped Angel in a blanket and waited for the Spec Ops team to arrive. He hadn’t anticipated finding Angel like this—so damaged that he could not carry him. Blood: Angel needed blood and vast quantities of it, and he would heal. Blood, and Angel would be perfect again. Blood, and Angel would come back to him. For Spike didn’t need to look at the ravaged features to know that Angel wasn’t with him now. Angel wasn’t with anyone. He was a long way away, lost in the insanity that had overtaken him.
Before the team arrived, Spike removed the objects from the room that were coated with Angel’s blood. He removed pieces of strange material that he didn’t examine. He dragged the dead human out of sight, too. He’d come back later and burn the place down, burn the city down, burn the world. But for now, no one would know but him. He wrapped the blanket more securely around Angel, allowing not one inch of his body to be seen and waited.
He lived an eternity waiting for the sound of voices.
Wesley wanted Angel taken to the hospital wing, but Spike refused. He couldn’t remember turning and snarling at the man, but suddenly he was in his demon face, and he was snarling, and everyone was staring at him.
He blinked, changed back and said reasonably, ‘He just needs to feed. He’ll heal.’
Reluctantly, Wesley gave in. He knew that some battles he would not win. He didn’t need to know what Ingram had done to Angel; he saw it in the way Spike gripped the blanket to the still form; he saw it in the way he hid even the feet from prying eyes; he saw it in Angel’s face—a study in madness.
Finally, the horror of the journey back to Wolfram and Hart was over. Spike could not believe that he felt safe within its walls and realised he’d reassessed his definition of home.
Angel lay in his own bed; Spike sat alongside him, and for that moment, there was nothing more that he wanted.
Except for the blood.
Angel needed to feed.
He went out into the living room and found Wesley. He pulled him to standing. ‘There’s no time for that now.’
‘If I’d listened to you, if I’d believed you, then….’
‘Shut up! It’s done. It’s over. He’s back. He needs to feed, Wes. Human blood.’
Wesley nodded grimly and pushed Spike out of his way as he strode purposefully to the elevator. He could not make amends for his lack of faith, but he could do this.
Spike went back to the bedroom, trying not to expect a rueful grin from the bed, a wry comment about hell. It was just as well he had no expectations, for he got nothing from Angel. He lay there, eyes open, blinking occasionally, but no other sign of the powerful life force that animated him.
Spike took a bloodbag out of the fridge and tore it open with his teeth. He poured it carefully into a mug and heated it just right. Then he sat alongside Angel, blessed the blood in his own small demonic prayer, and began to feed it to his sire.
It poured down the right of Angel’s face; it ran down his chin; it stained the pillow and the sheets, but not a drop went into Angel’s mouth.
Spike straddled him and tried to prize the strong jaw open, but it was fixed, refusing to move. But Angel’s eyes tracked his efforts, the dull emptiness now replaced with something else. Spike dipped his fingers into the mug and teased them over Angel’s lips. ‘Come on, Pet. Just a drop. Get your appetite back up, hey? Remember that time I….’ Angel’s eyes closed, not through exhaustion, and not because the pain took him away, but in a deliberate act of shutting Spike out. If he’d told him to piss off, he couldn’t have made it any clearer.
Spike stared at him and then had a moment of startling insight. He slid to one side and embraced him, gently draping one arm over the resistant shoulder. Very softly, staring at the familiar tattoo, he murmured, ‘I tried to find you, Luv. I’m sorry. Did you think I wouldn’t come for you? I’m so sorry, Pet. I tried to find you, but….’ Angel didn’t seem to care any more for this confession than he had for the anecdote, so it dried up and withered on Spike’s tongue, leaving a bitter taste.
Later, Spike felt his emotions turning and twisting unnaturally in his gut. They weren’t really anger and hatred, but that’s how they emerged. ‘He told you something about me, didn’t he?’ He paced and smoked and accused the silent figure. ‘That’s what this is, isn’t it? A let’s-piss-Spike-off game. I did it to you, and now you’re going to do it to me. What did he tell you? Tell me!’
Screaming at Angel did no more good than apologising or pleading.
Still later, after a prolonged bout of misery, which he’d taken into the next room, hiding his wracked sobs from Angel, Spike crawled into the bed. He was naked and pressed his body tightly to the warm mass in front of him, curling around it. His body still gave off an occasional telltale shudder, but as there was no one to listen, the tale of his recent tears went unheeded.
After a while, he began to stroke Angel’s flank, softly, sensually, whispering, as if this would make his words as irresistible as the hand, as if he spoke the private, erotic things two naked men in bed might. ‘You have to feed, Angel. Please. For me. I told you that I—.’ He faltered then tipped Angel onto his back and gently straddled the broad chest. ‘I told you that I love you. Angel?’ Spike’s body responded of its own accord to the friction between them. His cock rose slightly from Angel’s chest. He leant down and placed his lips to Angel’s. ‘Please, Luv, feed.’
He told himself he saw a flicker of affirmation in Angel’s eyes, so climbed off, humming happily and went to the kitchen. He thought he’d reached for a blood bag, so when he returned to the bed and discovered that he had a kitchen knife in his hand, he hesitated, puzzled.
Straddled across Angel’s chest, his thighs gripping the inanimate mass, he stared into Angel’s eyes. ‘You have to feed.’ He began to hum once more, a cheerful tune, and with a precise cut, sliced his cockhead across from one side to the other, neatly dissecting the small hole.
He sucked in the pain and tried to make it Angel’s, for if it were Angel’s, it was now his and Angel’s no longer.
He inched up the solid chest, now red-slick from the blood raining down upon it and placed the spurting tissue to Angel’s lips. Three fluids—so similar in structure he’d once been told that it was hard to tell them apart in a lab—blood, pre-cum and tears were all he had to give, but they were rejected. Angel turned his head away from the gushing cock and a red, sticky trail glazed his cheek.
Spike felt a great blackness sweeping up to engulf him. He didn’t care whether this was lack of blood or something else. It removed him from where he was, and that was okay by him.
He began to topple, but a pair of strong hands caught at his shoulders and eased him down to the bed.
He lay bleeding heavily into the sheets, watching, puzzled. A hand…. A wrist…. The knife, and then a long slow cut—vertical, along the direction of the artery, a pro, not some theatrical cry for help.
Blood splashed him as the human stretched to Angel. It was warm and sticky with a kick from distilled rye and grief.
It animated Spike enough to sit and watch greedily as the spurting flesh descended to Angel’s mouth.
Wesley rubbed his wrist to the closed lips. He murmured in astonishment and went around to the other side of the bed to get a better angle. He knelt up and tried to force Angel to take him in. Eventually, with a cry, he staggered back and stared at his bleeding wrist as if wondering what on earth he was supposed to do with all this inconvenient blood.
He went into the living room, stumbling slightly over some discarded clothes. Then he felt a hand on his shoulder, and a T-shirt was retrieved from the floor. Spike took Wesley’s wrist reverently and balled the cloth to the wound.
He had a sheet tied around his waist; neither of them commented on the red stain that marred its paleness. They stood close, Spike pressing the cloth to the human’s wrist, staring mesmerised at the creeping fluid.
Wesley resisted for a moment, then leant his cheek to the soft down on Spike’s head. When he spoke, his voice was so quiet Spike only heard it because they were standing in this intimate circle of blood. ‘In my dreams he always drinks. He’s so cold and grey, and I feed him. I save him. I thought I could for real.’ His voice rose in pitch. ‘I didn’t look hard enough for him. Did I betray him?’
Spike’s face contorted as if he didn’t need this additional burden—the human’s guilt—but he said simply, ‘You love him.’
He lifted his face to see how this was received. At the same moment, Wesley looked down to see what he meant, and before either of them thought it through too minutely, they were kissing. It flashed into Wesley’s mind then that he was drinking salt water, but dying of thirst as he was, that was okay. Spike wasn’t so imaginative; he just told himself he was doing this because he couldn’t kiss Angel, and he desperately needed to kiss someone.
Coming to the same conclusion in their separate ways, they finally eased apart. Mutual embarrassment struck them both, but suddenly, Wesley’s brow clouded, and as if he were still dreaming that dream that he could not know had once been his reality, he slowly lifted his wrist to Spike’s lips.
Spike jerked his head away. He didn’t know why exactly—too intimate? too tempting?—but Wesley ran his hand up the stubbly scalp from neck to crown, and the sensation was so overwhelmingly sensual that Spike fastened on and sucked. He didn’t know why exactly, maybe because it was intimate and tempting. He sucked the fluid into his mouth and rolled it around on his tongue. He was making small purring sounds of pleasure that for some reason made Wesley press close.
He slid his hand down but then stilled, the fearful sight that had greeted him as he’d entered the bedroom—the blood spurting over Angel’s face from Spike’s ravaged cock—still horrified him.
Spike though pulled the sheet from his body and urged his hips to Wesley’s.
Wesley found his hand grasping something sticky but hard—and healed. He groaned, the blood leaving his body faster as his heart began to pump with sexual tension.
Suddenly, Spike lifted his mouth from the deep wound. He stared into the man’s eyes, and Wesley realised that the vampire had sensed the limits of this offering: known when to withdraw before any real harm could occur to his unexpected provider. Spike had stopped because to go further would hurt him.
It was the most sensual gift Wesley felt he’d ever been given—far more sensual than the long tugs he was giving Spike’s dick.
Spike seemed to find these ministrations erotic enough though, for he suddenly grunted, lurched forward and spurted between them, his sperm mixed with a residue of blood and making a pretty trail down his already blood-flecked skin.
Gradually, they both sank to their knees, foreheads touching. Wesley’s heart continued to pound, but every so often, it fluttered weakly as if it were caught between the essential duality of his nature: great hero, skulking coward. Spike looked up and gave him a smile. Wesley smiled back gratefully. He was neither one nor the other—hero or coward—but just a man who was in love and facing that insight for the very first time. As he stared into the startlingly blue eyes, he had a flicker of momentary doubt just who he was in love with, but he decided to push this thought to the back of his mind to think about later. They had more pressing problems.
He tried to inject his voice with the right amount of gravity and said, ‘He needs to feed.’
Spike sat back on his heels and dragged the sheet over his lap. He replied flatly, ‘I know that.’
Wesley pursed his lips. ‘Intravenously?’
Spike shook his head. ‘Tried that with Dru when she were so poorly after Prague. Doesn’t work with vampires—‘less they’re willing.’
‘We need to shake him out of his fugue.’
Spike’s eyes sparked angrily, but he didn’t direct his wrath at the human. ‘It’s kinda why I did a Freddy with my dick, yeah! Why you did this!’ He held up Wesley’s wrist, but his hold was gentle, belying his words. He made a soft tsk sound. ‘You bloody pillock. And this the broken one, too.’ He probed softly around the cut, now beginning to clot, then tore off a long strip from the sheet.
Silently, he bound around the strong, dark flesh, noticing, but not commenting on the fact that the strip of bandage was already stained with his blood.
Wesley, however, said softly, ‘Our blood mingles. Will I be in your thrall?’
Spike quirked up his lip. ‘Driven to do my bidding?’
‘Hmm. Overcome by your dark presence—obeisance to your magnificence.’
Spike chuckled. ‘And you’ve actually met me then, Pet?’
Wesley rolled the soft laugh around in his mind, enjoying it. He was grateful to hear it once more and grateful to have brought it forth. ‘I think you are magnificent, Spike. Don’t knock yourself. You brought him back. When we’d all given up, you brought him….’ To his profound embarrassment, Wesley saw that Spike was crying. He’d never had another man cry on him before, and although he’d just fed Spike his blood, kissed him, and brought him off in his fist, this somehow seemed more intimate.
Not knowing what he did, he just cupped the back of Spike’s neck and pulled him to his shoulder, patting him ineffectually. He knew why he was crying—Angel wasn’t really back at all. His outward form was; what had lain within still seemed quite lost.
Suddenly, Spike yanked his head away from the comforting embrace and said raggedly, ‘We have to bring him back.’
Wesley sighed. ‘I know; we’ve agreed that, but….’
Wesley frowned, stared into Spike’s dilated, limpid eyes, and felt a chill of dread track down his spine. ‘No.’
Spike looked mutinous, but the expression on a face streaked with tears had the opposite effect to the one he’d intended. Instead of looking threatening, he looked endearing, like a child trying hard to be brave. This worked on Wesley just as effectively as Spike had intended the original expression to, for instead of rejecting the idea a second time, he reasoned, ‘It’s the last thing Angel would want.’
‘Angel would want to be whole again. Angel wouldn’t want to be lying there like that.’
‘No, Wes. This is the only way.’
‘It’s too dangerous. It’s another dream, Spike. I dream of doing this, and it goes so badly wrong…. You don’t know what he’s capable….’ He trailed off, clearly embarrassed, and Spike nodded.
‘I’m the only one left who does know! I’m talking about my murderer, remember!’
Wesley blinked. ‘All right.’
Spike let out a breath of relief and murmured more to himself than to the human, as if trying to taste the sound on his tongue, ‘Angelus.’
Suddenly, he rose and pulled Wesley to his feet, fastening the sheet securely around his waist once more. Wesley felt an absurd sense of disappointment at something he couldn’t define, but covered this by asking, ‘How?’
Spike roused from deep contemplation of something. He turned to Wesley as if to reply, but instead captured his head and kissed him—a swift, surgical strike of tongue and lips.
Just as quickly, he pulled off. Wesley caught his breath audibly and said inanely, ‘Oh.’
Spike smiled. ‘Hamilton was willing to do it. I suggest we ask him.’
He strode away and said casually over his shoulder, ‘Angel’s office. One hour. Tidy up, and get that wrist stitched.’
Whether he was in Spike’s thrall from the tiny sharing of blood, he wasn’t sure. Wesley did know that he now felt no disappointment at all, and more importantly, there was no aftertaste of salt from this kiss. He walked brightly to the elevator, despite the occasional grey spots in front of his eyes and his excessively throbbing wrist. He punched the down button and stepped in, tasting his lips, reliving the moment. It was hard to be focused and confused at the same time, but he realised, with a rueful grin, that he was managing it quite well.
An hour later and Spike emerged from Angel’s elevator to the office, showered, changed and determined. That he was swamped in some of Angel’s clean clothes was not commented on by his audience. Wesley felt an absurd flush of fondness; Hamilton smirked unpleasantly. Spike came up close to him. ‘You know how to remove Angel’s soul.’
Marcus’s eyes hardened. ‘You are mistaken.’
In an almost perfect mimicry, Spike said, ‘Do you hear something? Perhaps we’re haunted….’ Hamilton’s eyebrows rose no more than a millimetre, but it was enough for Spike to know he’d made his point.
Hamilton turned away. ‘I was willing to do it because Angel requested it. His capitulation was manna from heaven—so to speak. Taking it from him is of no value to us. If capturing souls were that easy, the devil would have a rather idle time of it.’ He paused and frowned briefly. ‘Not that I’m comparing the Senior Partners to the devil, you understand.’
Spike glanced at Wesley. ‘Angel’s no good to you as he is. You need him to run this damn place—for reasons best known to you.’
Wesley stepped forward. ‘You need the whole deal—Angel, me, Lorne, Gunn…. Without Angel, we walk. All of us. You need to bring him back.’
‘I dislike being blackmailed.’
Spike was staring at Wesley with an approving smile, but he addressed Hamilton. ‘Offer freely then.’
To give him his due, the man actually made it sound as if the idea had come from him. ‘You need to bring Angel back. I will provide what is necessary.’ Adjusting the perfect lie of his suit, he left.
Spike let out an audible sigh of relief. ‘I didn’t think he’d go for it. Remind me to tell Angel just how much that creep really does need him.’
Wesley nodded, but Spike could see he wasn’t really listening.
He came closer and laid his hand on the man’s arm. He was surprised how strong a spark jumped between them. Wesley looked down to where their skin touched. ‘I’m not sure how much of what went on upstairs was you effectively manoeuvring me into something I wouldn’t normally have agreed to—no! Don’t say anything until I’ve said this. I think we should do it. I’ve not changed my mind, only….’ He looked up into the anxious eyes. ‘ I have one condition. And I’m not doing it until you agree.’
It was frighteningly easy to do—this detaching of a soul, this splitting someone from the thing that defined them. They returned Angel to his bedroom after Wesley’s condition had been fulfilled, to prepare, expecting him to regain consciousness as they worked around him, but other than placing the vessel close to the bed and unfolding a scroll, there was nothing else to be done. So, they waited until the figure stirred from its deep sleep and lay awake and inert as they had, disturbingly, come to expect as the norm. None of them wanted to point out that there was little difference between the two states.
The new wound on Angel’s head bled profusely, the lack of healing this indicated only convincing them that what they did was right.
Spike stood to one side, reading the incantation, his Latin rusty but serviceable. Wesley stood to the other side, pointing a crossbow at Angel’s heart. Lorne and Gunn hovered nervously in the background, summoned as witnesses, but unsure of their roles.
With only a cry, widened eyes and a jolt of shock, Angel’s soul streamed from him and into the small glass receiving jar.
Spike picked it up and with a steady look, handed it to Lorne. He flinched but then met Spike’s gaze equally steadily as if the initial shock of being entrusted with this particular role only strengthened his determination to do the job well. He laid a hand over Spike’s. ‘With my life.’
Spike quirked up his lips. ‘Maybe with something more precious?’
Lorne touched his cheek then together with Gunn, headed to the elevator. He glanced back at the drama unfolding in Angel’s bedroom then down at the receptacle in his hands. ‘Why do I have the feeling someone’s walking on my grave?’
Gunn shrugged. ‘Damned if I know, but if you’re tellin’ me it feels like we’ve done this badass business before, I’m with you.’
Spike returned to his vigil by the bed. Wesley had not moved—not one muscle, not a blink, his aim still true, Angel’s heart still in his sights.
The figure stirred, and one hand emerged from the covers. The fingers stretched. There was a groan, then a ‘Fucking hell!’ and brown eyes fastened on Spike. For the longest time there was only silent communion between them. Eventually, Angelus said softly, ‘Well, get me some damn blood then.’
He lifted the sheets, inspecting his body then looked ruefully at Wesley. ‘I’m thinking you won’t be needing that, human. This ol’ body of mine’s not moving from….’ Before Wesley could twitch the hair’s breath trigger, Angelus was behind him, arm around his neck.
Spike, halfway to the fridge, froze. Angelus, bleeding, grinning, a feral glint in his eye, his body a parody of its former perfection, began to tighten his hold around Wesley’s neck. He chuckled. ‘I always wanna kill what he values the most—dunno why. Call me sentimental.’
With a final twitch of his eyebrow, he tightened his hold. To give him his due, he stayed on his feet even when the pain kicked in. He staggered but held firm as it began to fry into his brain. Finally, he capitulated and let go, falling to his knees and crying out, a sound of incoherent fury. When it was over, he staggered to his feet, holding onto the bed for support. ‘You chipped me? You fucking chipped me!’
‘Me! You’ve chipped me!’
Spike didn’t see the point of nodding again. He felt so much confusing guilt over what they’d done that he didn’t bother with any other gesture either. Angelus eased his body carefully onto the edge of the bed. Suddenly, he reared up and went for Wesley again. The result was predicable, and he fell once more to his knees, wounds ripping open and bleeding afresh at his efforts.
Silently, Spike handed him a bloodbag.
Angelus sat back on his heels, reached out a hand to take it, but suddenly had Spike in a headlock. He whispered, ‘I really didn’t wanna hurt you—so soon. But what the hell? I’m feeling pissy.’ He began to twist.
This time, the cry was mixed with a huge slice of petulance as he doubled up holding his skull as if it would split apart and spill the pain.
Still fighting guilt—and a number of other emotions his Sire’s reappearance had stirred—Spike only murmured, ‘We adapted it, Angelus. Give us some credit.’
Angelus lifted his head and rearranged his features. He glanced at the blood bag in Spike’s hand. ‘I won’t feed then. That’s what this has all been about. The dumb lug won’t feed, so you bring me back to do it for him. Well, I won’t play your little games.’
Spike pursed his lips, said nothing, only handed him the bag again.
Angelus snatched it, ripped it open and downed it in one. He gave Spike a wry smile. ‘Another.’
Spike smiled back but quickly turned it into a frown and went to fetch the first in a long succession of healing bags of blood.
Angelus fed steadily all day. Every so often, he poked at a wound to test its recovery.
Satisfied that both the chip and the de-souling had worked, Wesley left them to it.
Angelus watched Spike from his position on the bed, his eyes, despite his wounds, twinkling with glee. ‘You know this won’t work. I’ll escape somehow—I always do. That’s how the script goes. This pathetic bunch of misfits bring me back to help with some dire emergency… I escape… blah, blah. Still….’ He regarded Spike carefully. ‘I didn’t expect you to be involved with something like this. That’s… unexpected.’
He waited for a reply then added patiently, ‘Not gonna talk to me, Will?’
Spike handed him another blood bag, but Angelus caught his wrist. He quickly released it and held his hands up in a gesture of surrender, laughing. ‘Come, sit with me. Talk to me. I never was a good patient, remember?’
Spike sat down.
Angelus ripped open the latest bag, then murmured around a mouthful of blood, ‘So, we’ve been getting better acquainted recently.’
Spike flicked him a glance and corrected, ‘Angel and me.’
Angelus raised an eyebrow. ‘Good. You can talk.’ He continued to eye Spike, amused. ‘Seems to me I remember you telling him that you’d always loved him… ie….’ He dragged it out to its fullest extent. ‘…me.’
Spike shrugged. ‘Tell me why he won’t feed.’
Angelus was silent for a moment then began to laugh. ‘Well done, Childe, slip it in as if it’s of no consequence—just another bit of chit chat. When it’s the only reason you brought me back! The ONE thing you need to know so you can heap that freakin’ soul back on top of me. Well, apologies to all concerned, but I’m not tellin’!’
Spike eyed him for a moment, then he rose and very deliberately slapped Angelus a resounding blow across the face. Predictably, Angelus reared up with a roar of fury, but at the first contact fell back, clutching his head. It was debatable which hurt him more: the chip or the knowledge that his childe had gotten away with such an outrage.
Spike turned away, a confusing mass of emotions warring on his face. Despite his self-absorption, this was not lost on Angelus. He made a sound and held out his hand. Spike hesitated but turned back.
Angelus brushed the back of his hand over Spike’s arm. ‘I don’t want to fight with you.’
Spike pouted and glanced up at him through lowered lids. ‘Maybe that’s cus you’re kinda helpless and would get stomped on?’
Angelus laughed. ‘Appearances can be deceptive. And it’s not because of that. I don’t want to fight with you, because since we’ve gotten better acquainted, maybe there’re better things we could be doing….’
Spike gave him a more direct look. ‘I’ve told you; that was Angel, not you.’
Angelus waved his hand dismissively. ‘He’s just me without the natural charm. So… what do you say…?’ He leaned forward and rubbed his hand over Spike’s fuzz. ‘Friends?’ He shook his head, perplexed. ‘What freaking possessed you to do that to your hair?’
Spike couldn’t help smiling shyly. ‘You hated it when I turned it blond, too.’
Angelus laughed and pulled him closer, planting a kiss on the stubble. ‘Did I say hello, Will?’ He stretched and laughed again. ‘It’s good to be back.’’
Spike disentangled himself physically and went to heat some more food. He wasn’t fooled for a minute—he knew exactly what Angelus was doing, and why. Not fooled but… tempted. Just because you know the devil speaks the words, doesn’t make the sentiment any less attractive.
Angelus watched Spike with a feral grin on his face. He knew he wasn’t fooling Spike for a minute, but he sensed the temptation. After all, he knew exactly what that slim body was experiencing as they touched and talked and parried for position. His was responding in exactly the same way.
The next time Spike turned, Angelus was standing naked in front of the closet, humming quietly. He pulled out one of Angel’s suits, studying it closely. He held it up to Spike. ‘What do you think?’
Spike put the blood down and murmured, ‘They make you look fat.’
Angelus nodded with a chuckle and ripped it in two. Spike made a small noise in the back of his throat, not bemoaning the torn Armarni but absorbing the sight of honed muscle rippling across Angelus’s broad shoulders.
Angelus predictably discovered and seized on some leather pants. He eased them over his still badly damaged legs. Spike heard a soft ‘Damn.’ There was a pause, and when Angelus turned, a hand shaded his eyes, obscuring his expression.
In reply, Angelus held out his hand, broken and severed fingers still not fully healed. ‘I can’t work the damn zipper.’
‘You are joking.’
‘Do these look like a joke?’
Spike sighed and came close. Keeping Angelus’s gaze, he zipped him up. Angelus watched him through lowered lids.
Spike narrowed his eyes. ‘You’re not fooling me.’
Angelus made a small sound of amusement. ‘Got you to do it though.’
Spike fastened the button for him as well.
‘Kiss me, Will—for old time’s sake….’
‘The only way you know how to kiss is to dominate and take, Angelus. I don’t recall your kisses were something to look forward to.’
‘I do a real good impression of Angel. You should see it…. And remember, he had no problem fucking someone else in your body.’
Having implanted this thought, he pulled away, humming again and began to rummage for a shirt. When he was dressed, he accepted another blood bag, acknowledging that the effort to dress had nearly exhausted him.
When it was gone, he straightened his shoulders. ‘I wanna get outta here.’
Spike couldn’t think of a single reason why not, so shrugged and followed him to the elevator. As they were riding down though, he said pointedly, ‘Don’t try to escape. You’re helpless. Remember that. You need my… benevolence.’
‘That’s an odd choice of words, Childe. And you remember that they thought they had me helpless last time—steel bars and every precaution, except for remembering that there’s always a fifth columnist. Fucking losers couldn’t see it: Wesley so wound up with his guilt and betrayals; Connor thinking with his dick. But there she was—Cordelia—evil as they come.’
Spike listened to this tirade, understanding little of it, interested in less. ‘Don’t try to escape, Angelus. That’s two warnings and the only ones you’re gonna get.’
Angelus glanced over to him, his expression unreadable, then exited into Angel’s office. He flung himself in the chair and spun it around, but when his knee contacted with the desk, he winced and began to rummage in a drawer with great concentration.
Spike came over and perched on the edge. ‘You okay?’
Angelus nodded shortly, as if it were a conversation he wasn’t willing to have, but intent on his rummaging, he did say, ‘What happened to Ingram? I was kinda out of it at the end.’
Spike sat back, clamping down on all unwanted emotion. He had not missed Angelus’s use of I, and that, combined with his soft, rational tone, threatened to undo him. He swallowed and replied brusquely, ‘He’s dead.’
Angelus nodded. ‘Good. Slowly?’ He smiled at Spike through seductively lowered lids, and despite the lock down he was trying to maintain on his emotions, Spike smiled back. Suddenly, Angelus closed his eyes and leant back, a flicker of pain crossing his face. ‘Fuck.’
Spike hesitated. ‘I’ll get some more blood. Go back to bed.’
Angelus’s expression was half-angry, half-petulant. He fiddled some more with the things on the desk then glanced up at Spike. ‘Why don’t you come join me?’
Spike didn’t remember pushing off the desk, storming out of the office, tearing down the hallway, or crashing into an empty office. He’d only wanted to escape—whether it was Angelus’s manipulations he was escaping or his susceptibility to them, he didn’t care to examine.
When he discovered the office he’d burst into was the one he and Angel had had their earlier confrontation in, he lost it for a while—literally out of himself and out of control: smashing, tearing, and destroying. It was only when he felt a warm hand on his arm that he stopped. He turned—pieces of something fluttering to the ground around him—and found a whisky bottle thrust into his hand.
‘I find this helps considerably.’
Wesley urged it on him, and Spike took it, swallowing desperately.
Wesley nodded. ‘He’s feeding; he’s healing Angel’s body; he’ll tell us what’s wrong, and then we’ll bring Angel back. I’m holding onto that, and I suggest you do, too.’
‘He’s not going to tell us! He knows that’s the only thing keeping him here!’
Wesley put out his hand for the bottle, and their fingers touched, an immediate spark passing between them. Wesley took a small breath and said softly, ‘I’m not sure—what happened… before.’
Spike took hold of his wrist and appeared to be examining the stitches. ‘We were both trying to find Angel in some odd places, I reckon.’
Wesley hesitated, watching the strangely compelling sight of Spike’s fingers on his flesh. ‘Not in that final kiss we weren’t. That one was just us.’
Spike pouted, twitched an eyebrow and shrugged all in one fluid motion. He changed the grasp on Wesley’s wrist. ‘Wanna see if he’s here now?’ He looked straight at Wesley’s lips and took them with the same hard, decisive strike he’d used before.
Wesley changed all that.
He opened his mouth and flicked his tongue to the urgency, turning it into languid need. Spike’s hands came up behind the dark, head and his fingers plunged into the longish locks, tugging their mouths harder together.
Wesley danced his fingertips over the shortness of Spike’s hair, rasping it lightly with his nails, sending frissons of pleasure through Spike’s body. Gradually, Wesley took his mouth away, their kiss ending sloppily, nosily, wet and hot. He bent his forehead to Spike’s, and his voice was uncharacteristically ragged, ‘What is this?’
Spike shook his head. ‘I don’t know. I only want Angel. I’ve only ever wanted Angel. Now I want this, too.’
‘I’m not sure you can have that contradiction.’
Spike jerked his head back and paced to the window.
Wesley went and stood behind him. ‘I’m not sure I want you to have it.’
‘What about you?’ Spike turned angrily. ‘I know how you feel about Angel. I’m not fucking dumb! You’ve always felt it!’
‘Now I’m feeling this.’
‘You’re supposed to be the clever one! You’re supposed to sort things and make them right!’
Wesley laughed. ‘Oh, God help us all then.’
They were silent for a while, both lost in their own thoughts, until Spike ventured, ‘What I don’t get is why all this started when I got Angel back.’
‘You think this is just—what? Grief? Anger?’
Wesley stared thoughtfully at the door. ‘And when Angel comes back, it will just… go.’
‘Is that what you want?’
Spike turned to him. ‘At this very moment?’ He took one of Wesley’s fingers and turned the hand over. ‘No. At this moment, that’s the very opposite of what I want.’
‘I wonder if things aren’t complicated enough without….’ Wesley ran his finger over Spike’s palm, trickling it up over his wrist. Suddenly, without warning, he seized Spike’s arm. ‘Come with me.’
Spike didn’t resist, curious about the intense look on the human’s face. Wesley led him silently to the elevators and then stood equally dumb as they descended. Spike lit a cigarette for company and smoked it, watching Wesley through narrowed eyes, deep in his own thoughts.
They exited on the floor for the lab. Wesley went someway toward it but then stopped and leant on the wall, indicating with a small twitch of his head that Spike should continue alone. Spike did.
Then he reeled back and took a sharp intake of breath, the air, after the smoke, making him cough. ‘Fred?’
It was Fred to all intents and purposes: short skirt, deceptively fragile limbs, long hair. Fred giggling with an assistant…. Fred calling out and demanding another reading, another instrument….
Spike tried to run his fingers through his hair, seemingly annoyed now that he had lost the ability to make this gesture. ‘What the hell is she doing?’
‘Illyria? She’s studying Ingram’s research, and she said she needed to be Fred to do it.’
‘Can’t you stop her?’
Wesley pushed off the wall and went back to the elevator, followed by a sober, silent Spike. Spike watched him as they rode up with a similar concentration to that which he’d employed on the way down. Now, though, he acted on his thoughts and abruptly, murmuring, ‘Christ,’ he pulled Wesley into his arms. They kissed slowly, deliberately, challenging their fates, pushing back their own individual darkness by intimately exploring the other’s mouth. Then they explored elsewhere, Wesley’s hand returning to Spike’s crotch, aware, knowing; Spike’s moving to Wesley’s, unsure but eager.
Things stirred, lengthening and hardening to touch, until they pulled their mouths apart reluctantly.
Spike nodded. ‘Just grief.’
Wesley chuckled. ‘Anger—totally.’
‘When Angel’s back….’
‘Of course. When Fred’s back….’
That joke fell flat, and its audible splat on falling seemed to take away Wesley’s brief moment of humour. Spike brushed his hand over stubble, and they walked back to the empty office as if they’d not seen the disturbing illusion in the lab.
Wesley stared around at the devastation. ‘We’ll say a client saw his bill.’
Spike nodded glumly.
‘Are you going to help me?’
Spike raised an eyebrow. ‘I’m a superior creature. I don’t do clearing up.’
‘Oh… really….’ In an uncharacteristic attempt to bring back the moment of fun they’d shared in the elevator, Wesley shoved a piece of torn foam cushion into Spike’s face. It caught on his cigarette and immediately burst into flames. Cursing, laughing, they stamped it out together, not realising, until it was too late, that they were standing so close that Spike could hear Wesley’s startled heart pounding.
With a groan of inevitability, they forgot the smouldering mess on the floor and caught their hands, entwining fingers, pulling mouths together, brushing lips and clashing their tongues.
This time, Spike ended the kiss. He jerked away, his eyes fixed on the door.
Wesley didn’t need to turn; he heard the slow, ironic hand clapping. He kept his eyes fixed on Spike.
‘Well, well. My two favourite people getting better acquainted as well. Is there something in the air of this damn place?’
Spike began to run his fingers through his hair but let his hand fall to his side when that familiar gesture, once more, proved to be redundant. Angelus pushed off the doorframe and came over to them, his arms outstretched in a parody of friendliness. ‘Group hug.’
‘I thought you were going back to bed.’
Angelus looked offended. ‘Well, I was. Then I came to find my little vampire fuck-bunny.’ He turned to Wesley. ‘And here he was, playing away from home.’
Wesley didn’t seemed fazed, which Spike gave him credit for; he was pretty sure the human was paddling frantically beneath the surface. ‘This has nothing to do with you. Or Angel, I suppose.’
Angelus was watching his face with serious consideration. He nodded then began to chuckle. ‘You… what? You don’t want me to tell him?’
Wesley nodded. ‘There’s no reason for him to know.’
Angelus turned to Spike with gleeful incredulity. ‘Who the fuck does he think I am?’
Spike gave him a look, and Angelus looked momentarily angry. ‘What? You don’t want me to spell it out to your new little friend?’ He pressed his face close to Wesley, whom, he noticed, took a step back. ‘I AM Angel. Angel is me on a bad day. Angel is me when I wake up and feel sorry for someone! It does happen, you know! I can’t NOT fucking tell me this because I already know it! I just haven’t got the fucking soul to make me give a damn—yet.’
For the first time, Wesley seemed flustered. He turned quickly to Spike then back to Angelus. ‘Look, this isn’t what….’ Spike laid a hand on his arm and shook his head.
‘He’s only doing this so you’ll be tempted not to put the soul back. He’s putting plan B into effect even while he’s playing plan A. It’s what he does.’
Angelus turned slowly to Spike. ‘Well, it’s nice to know you can count on your children for support when you need it.’
Spike shrugged. ‘Don’t mention it.’ He lit a cigarette and blew some smoke in Angelus’s face.
Angelus suddenly laughed and put his arms around both their shoulders, giving them the hug he’d joked about. Then he spun on his heel, gave Spike a significant look and a small beckon with his head, and left.
Wesley let out a breath. ‘He seems okay about it.’
Spike ground out his cigarette. ‘We’d have been better off if he’d tried to kill us. That was him really pissed.’
‘What are you going to do?’
‘Go see what he wants?’
‘That’s not what I meant, and you know it.’
‘No. Sorry. I don’t know, Wes. That’s the truthful answer.’ He came closer and trailed his fingertip over Wesley’s shirtfront. ‘Perhaps it would simplify things if we just did it. Cathartic fuck, ya know?’
Wesley laughed and caught the hand, snagging the fingers. ‘I see who you learnt to argue from now. You’ve both kissed the devil’s blarney stone.’
‘That’s a vicious rumour that we’ve been denying for years. We’re just friends.’
Wesley laughed and the moment passed. They straightened and let hands fall, fingers part.
Together, they turned to the door and wandered back into the relative normality of Wolfram and Hart.
‘Hmm. Gelus mentioned him. Said you’d brought him back once before, put him in a cage. Said you and Connor misjudged him.’
Wesley frowned deeply and not just because he’d heard and resented the casual use of the nickname. ‘He’s lying again, I suppose. I’ve never taken Angel’s soul—he lost it once and seemed to lose it another time. But no cages and no one called Connor.’
They’d reached Wesley’s office, and Spike put a hand on his arm. ‘He’s not lying.’
‘I’m not sure what you’re getting at. Are you implying that I am?’
‘No. I’m saying it happened, but that you don’t remember it. I was thinking that maybe you should try to remember, because… he also said he escaped.’
Wesley frowned. ‘But presumably—in this fantasy of his—we got him back, too. I mean… put the soul back.’
Spike tipped his head to one side. ‘Presumably. He didn’t—obviously—mention that part.’ Wesley opened his mouth to comment, but Spike suddenly added, ‘Where does the difference between them really lie?’
Wesley looked at him for a moment then said surprisingly angrily, ‘Angelus may be playing with my head, but I’m very, very sure where the difference between them lies. It’s bloody obvious. And I’m very unhappy that you seem to suddenly have a problem with seeing, or remembering it. Angelus is a monster.’
‘Look, Spike.’ Wesley took his arm firmly, and they both resolutely ignored the stirrings this caused, Wesley because he was genuinely pissed off, and Spike because he was planning. ‘You are not as you once were, either. You are not the Spike who knew Angelus. You are souled. This isn’t a reunion between Sire and Childe! Angelus should be nothing more than a monster to you, too!’
Spike nodded, but it was so obviously a gesture of dismissal, an I-don’t-want-to-talk-about-this-with-you-any-more gesture, that Wesley paled slightly. ‘In the morning, Spike. We bring him back tomorrow morning.’
Spike eased past him and headed to the door. Wesley added in a low tone, ‘Don’t mistake my priorities, Vampire. I may have for a moment, but I won’t do so again.’
Spike didn’t even register this last. He was deep in his own thoughts, thoughts that took him back to Angelus.
Angelus was feeding again, his back to the room, a number of empty blood bags scattered on the desk.
Spike went up to him.
‘Where have you been?’
‘Talking to Wesley.’
‘And let me guess who the topic of that conversation was. We have to return the soul. I owe it to Angel!’ This was said in such uncanny imitation of Wesley’s voice, but with an amusingly cruel addition of pomposity, that Spike smiled, despite his better intentions.
‘You shouldn’t mess with Wesley’s head.’
‘Sheesh, take away all my fun.’
‘He’s a dangerous enemy to make.’
‘Not something you need to worry about, I’m thinking.’ Suddenly, he put his arm over Spike’s shoulder. ‘I’m jealous.’
‘No you’re not.’ They both noticed that he did not shake the arm off.
‘Let’s go out. I’m kinda feeling… perky.’ Whether this was a deliberate echo of something he had said before the dramatic shift in his relationship with Angel, or an unlucky coincidence, Spike couldn’t determine. He was too distracted by the fingers Angelus waggled in front of him. They were healed. ‘So, what do you want to do? Bar? Club? Theatre? Bed?’
‘The last—and you, alone.’
Angelus made a small dismissive noise. ‘I’m gonna atrophy if I stay in his damn place. I wanna go out and have some fun.’ He didn’t need to add while I can; they both knew it hovered beneath the surface of his words.
Spike suddenly broke away from the loose embrace and said deceptively casually, ‘Okay. Bar then. Quick drink.’ He kept his expression hidden from Angelus and added, ‘My place first though. I maybe need to wear some of my own clothes.’
Angelus laughed. ‘I don’t know. I kinda like seeing you in mine.’ He slapped Spike on the backside and sauntered out into the lobby.
Spike smiled, but it wasn’t in response to anything Angelus did or said.
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