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Wesley realised they’d gone by lunchtime. A car was missing; Angel’s clothes lay scattered around the apartment as if subject to an urgent packing, and the place stank of betrayal.
He wasn’t entirely sure what he was most angry about. The suspicion that he’d been played was so painful that this existed outside the anger—bright, sharp and stinging.
By the evening, he’d run out of excuses for them and knew he had to act. He strode into his office and sat purposefully at the desk. He picked up the phone and punched speed-dial for Spec Ops. Once, in another lifetime, he’d had libraries and galleries on speed-dial. Now he had intense young men in black, calling him Sir.
As he was waiting for someone to pick up, the mail cart arrived. A number of envelopes were put into his tray, and he nodded, distracted. One package was slightly bulkier than the others, so he picked it up, vaguely curious. It was an internal delivery, and his name was written in bold red ink (he assumed it was ink) in Spike’s very distinctive handwriting.
He carefully replaced the phone and tore the package open.
A small silver device, the size of a cell phone, slid silently into the palm of his hand.
Angelus lay on his belly on one of a pair of double beds that filled the non-descript motel room. He was reading something that lay spread out on the floor. Turning a page, he said idly, ‘Brazil. Always wanted to go there.’
Spike was pacing, and he glanced at the road map Angelus was studying. ‘I’ve been to Brazil—didn’t like it, and that’s a map of… somewhere called… Madley County, Arkansas.’
Angelus turned the page again. ‘You’ve gotta use your imagination. What about Italy? We both liked it there.’
‘You didn’t take to the waiters much, I seem to recall.’
Angelus’s face clouded. ‘Oh, yeah.’ Suddenly, in a suitable voice, he joked, ‘Spike and Angel’s most excellent adventure.’
Spike looked at him curiously. ‘I didn’t know Angel watched films—and not that one particularly.…’
Angelus rolled over onto his back and folded his arms under his head. ‘Angel does a lot of things he doesn’t tell you.’
Spike flung himself down alongside the stretched figure. ‘Like what…?’
Angelus turned onto his side, idly plucking Spike’s buttons. He laughed. ‘Ten. He does it ten times a day—seeing as you asked.’
Spike’s eyes widened then he huffed. ‘Liar. He’d have to be doing it under the desk to fit all those in….’
Angelus only raised an eyebrow. The fingers on Spike’s buttons were now not so idle. One by one, he slipped the small discs through their eyelets. Spike watched, pursing his lips.
With a grin, seeing he wasn’t being denied, Angelus leant over and teased Spike with his lips. Brushing them with his, he murmured, ‘So, you’ve discovered I can kiss like him…. Wanna see what else I can do just as well?’
Spike removed his hand and mirrored his position, propped on his side. ‘You can never be him, Angelus. You just don’t get it.’
Angelus looked briefly annoyed. ‘Why? Because I won’t be thinking your name like a fucking thumping headache in my skull as I pound into you… Spike, Spike, freaking Spike? Because I won’t lie there afterwards thinking I’ll die if you ever stop wanting me…?’ He saw Spike’s expression and added quickly but unconvincingly, ‘Not that Angel ever did either of those….’
He reached out and slipped Spike’s shirt off one shoulder. ‘I really want your body, Will. You’ve given me a taste for it. I want to press into you, watch your….’
Spike silenced him by abruptly climbing off the bed. ‘You speak of need—I get that, I do! But we found want, Gelus. WANT!’
Angelus waved his hand dismissively. ‘Semantics.’
‘Not when you’re being fucked, it’s not. I’m going for some food. We have to hole up here till dark.’
‘Why the fuck did we go to all that effort to steal a Goddamn sun-proof car if we have to hole up here like… well… vampires…?’
Spike sighed. ‘We walked in and asked Lennie for the keys. And we aren’t using it, cus that’s exactly what Wes will expect us to do—he’ll assume we’re travelling by day and night, and he’ll work out exactly where we could be. This way, he’ll be looking hundreds of miles away, while we’re right here in the….’ He glanced at the information on top of the TV. ‘Sandy Dunes Motel. Now I’m peckish, an’ I’m going for something to eat.’ He kept his expression steady and slipped out of the door into the shadows of the building.
When he returned, arms full of supplies, he stopped at the sight of a maintenance cart outside the room. It brought memory flooding back. It steadied his resolve, and he skirted it, pushing open the door with his toe.
There was a squeak from the bed and a petit blonde giggled. ‘Whoops.’ She appraised him as she lay on her back, legs akimbo, then added slyly, ‘Mmm, threesome.’
Angelus pulled his tongue out and murmured sarcastically into her thigh, ‘Spikey doesn’t believe in sex without lurve….’
She shrugged, and he returned to her wet folds.
Spike put his purchases on the table and said softly, ‘Time for you to leave now.’
Angelus laughed, the sound muffled, so he pulled away to say, amused, ‘Jane, here, hasn’t….’
‘Hey! It’s Jade!’
‘Whatever. Jade hasn’t had her main course yet….’
Despite his intention not to look, Spike did. Angelus stroked a very familiar cock. Now though, it was dark red, leaking, and swollen to impossible proportions by the almost constant state of arousal he’d been in since coming back. Seeing the hidden effects of the chip like this—the physical repression—plunged Spike back into bad, Sunnydale memories.
Angelus mounted the girl.
Guilt about the chip, as well as a number of other emotions, made Spike turn away, so he missed the action. First he heard a wince of discomfort. Then he heard a cry. Then he heard a thump. A female voice cried out, ‘Hey!’ and he turned to find Angelus on the floor, holding his head.
Still resolute, still desperate, Angelus climbed back on again and tried to say reasonably, ‘You’ve gotta let me do it so it doesn’t hurt!’
He tried again, but as soon as his cockhead entered her, he couldn’t hold back, and he thumped in as he always had with the dead or the soon to be dead. She screeched with as much fury as pain, and once more, he tumbled off the bed, this time hitting his head on the nightstand as he went down.
The girl scrambled off the bed, too, retrieving her panties from the floor. She glared at Spike as if somehow his presence had ruined her fun, tugged down her skirt and left, mustering as much dignity as she could, given how he’d found her.
When Angelus’s pain subsided, he raised his eyes to Spike. Spike tossed him a bag of chips. Angelus rose, shredding it, scattering chips across the room, venting his fury on these tiny slices of dead potato because he couldn’t vent it elsewhere. He seemed oblivious to the fact that he was naked from the waist down and that as he stormed and ranted, droplets of crystal clear pre-cum flicked off his cock, making small damp patches around the room.
Finally, with a shudder and suppressed howl, he flung himself face down on the other bed and didn’t move for some considerable time.
Spike gingerly inspected the bed he’d been left, stretched out, folded his arms behind his head, then went through once more the reasons why he was doing this. They’d seemed good when he’d been talking to Wesley. Now, he wasn’t so sure.
Spike roused from his thoughts and glanced at the clock. Angelus had been silent for over an hour.
Angelus didn’t sit up; he just slithered from one bed to the other, still on his belly, but now with his head propped up, studying Spike. ‘I’ve been thinking.’
‘Thought you might have been.’
‘Hmm. About this need / want thing….’
Spike snorted. ‘This is gonna be good.’
Angelus trailed a finger up and down Spike’s thigh. ‘See, I was there, remember? When you and Angel first did the dirty. Seems to me there was more need than want—that first time, against the wall.’
Spike turned his head and kept Angelus’s gaze. ‘You could be right.’
Angelus moved his hand to Spike’s lap and pressed gently with the heel on the bulge, sliding his fingers between the legs. ‘So, Angel didn’t learn to want until he’d had a chance to get the need out of the way.’ He continued to rock his hand, kneading swelling hardness. He leant closer and took Spike’s earlobe in his mouth and pulled wetly on it, flicking his tongue into the ridges and swirls. ‘You were chipped, too. I’m kinda seeing things differently… more… human, I guess.’ He began to unbutton Spike’s jeans. ‘It’s like a mechanical soul, Spike. I feel I can want you—love you!’ He eased his hand inside with a hiss of delight. ‘Yeah, want you….’ He kissed Spike languorously, proving that he could do slow and sensuous. His hand, meanwhile, scrabbled furiously to get better access. Finally he pulled away. ‘Fucking hell!’ He knelt up, his erection almost purple, and tried to tug Spike’s jeans off his hips. Spike sat up and then slipped off the bed.
Angelus yelled with frustration and dove for him, catching his arm. ‘Why the fuck are you doing this? What’s the point of any of this—this fucking great escape—if you don’t wanna fuck! I mean love me.’
Spike sat down again, and Angelus put back on his best silky voice. ‘There ya go….’ He began to free Spike from his clothes once more, but Spike put a hand on his arm.
‘How much do you want me, Angelus?’
To give him his due, Angelus’s reply was heartfelt and honest. ‘At this moment, more than I’ve ever wanted anyone.’
Spike nodded, glanced up to the ceiling as if steadying himself and then murmured, ‘Enough to want your soul back first?’
Angelus sat back on his heels, his erection the exclamation mark of his unspoken thoughts.
Spike glanced over his shoulder. ‘If you ask for your soul, you can have me whenever, wherever, however you want. For eternity.’ He fiddled with a small thread on the sheet, hearing how utterly pathetic this sounded. It had been so much better in his head. ‘Where does the real difference between them lie?’ It had seemed to him then, as he’d asked Wesley that plaintive question, that even if they brought Angel back, he still might not feed. That, even restored to them, he might still be tormented by whatever demons held him in their sway, immobile and not feeding on the bed. It had seemed to Spike that Angel needed to take on his demons and banish them, choose his soul and accept the penalty of that decision—as he had done: a conscious choice to be a better man.
It did not escape his notice that Angelus had not replied. He pouted, without turning to look at his expression and added, ‘You asked me how I cope with my soul. This is how: wanting something enough that the pain and guilt are nothing beside it. I want Angel more than I want to be a demon.’
He waited a moment then said softly, ‘You just have to come back with me willingly. It would be so easy.’
Angelus suddenly flung off the bed and went to the window. He eased the blind aside. ‘You fucking cunt. You traitorous little faggot.’ He turned and deliberately punched Spike in the face. Knowing it was his one shot, he made it a good one—all his power, all his demonic fury went into it. Spike was lifted off the bed and propelled hard into the wall. He slumped down, stunned, blood cascading down his face. Angelus was on his knees, but he was silent, as if trying to will the pain away quicker so he could rise before Spike did. He almost made it. Just as Spike’s fist came down to pound him into submission, he raised an arm to parry the blow and thumped his other fist into Spike’s genitals. It was pretty clear then that Spike was in more pain than he was, and they both grunted and rolled on the ground. Angelus dragged himself to his feet first, and Spike, only able to see out of one eye, saw that blood was running from his sire’s ears. Dumbly, before he was kicked in the head, he saw that Angelus was ejaculating automatically, great sprays of his sperm raining down from the stiffness that jerked with urgent spasms, releasing its heavy load. He curled into a ball and waited out the pain from the kick but, this time, rose before Angel.
He backhanded the crouching figure, but he couldn’t inflict as much pain as the chip; once Angelus had determined to fight that, he seemed invulnerable to anything Spike could throw at him. He rose and shoved Spike back onto the bed, crawling onto him, blood now running from his eye sockets, spasms of pain marring his features.
Spike pushed back, and Angelus fell, kicking out, catching Spike on the shins, but barefooted, it did little damage. Angelus bellowed and rose, and they squared off across their tiny, bloody battlefield.
‘We’re going now, Angelus. Don’t make me drag you outta here without your pants.’
Angelus growled and punched Spike once more, just as hard as he had before, and they both went down, their heads almost touching as they crouched in agony. So close, Spike only had to whisper, ‘Why? Why won’t you do it?’
Angelus croaked a laugh around his pain. ‘Want you? You fucking fairy, Spike! I don’t want you; I just wanted you to take this fucking chip out—fuck you into agreeing! I don’t want you! Angel doesn’t frigging want you! No one wants you; they never have! Shall I tell you why he won’t feed? Shall I tell you what’s really going on his head? It’s YOU! He can’t face the thought of you and that Goddamn body of yours! He can’t stand the thought of wanting you because of what it says about him! He’s still there in that fucking crowd clinging to Da, and I can still smell the burning as they poured pitch into his fucking arsehole, and do you know what? I’m the other one as well, and I’m watching, and I’m doing nothing because I’m afraid! I’m a sodomite, and I’m dying, and I’m watching him die. They’re cowards. Why don’t they save themselves? And I’m still six! I’ll always be six, and I can’t get off this fucking path I’ve been given. That’s why he won’t feed! He’s punishing himself for his desires! For his desire for YOU! He wants to be the one in the hell dimension, not the pissant lawyer, not the nigger! He’s not feeding, because he wanted it! I wanted to be fucked and tortured. I want to die! That’s why! So, how are you gonna solve that, you pathetic little faggot? How you gonna solve that?’ He went for Spike again, but this time other hands held him off. He fought them, too, but they were many; he was only one, and he was bleeding so badly from his eyes that he couldn’t see.
Spike heard the fading cries of fury and tried to rise to his feet. A dark form crouched in front of him. ‘There are precisely six Sandy Dunes motels in this bloody city, Spike. Could you have been more vague?’
Angelus’s chip fired off continually the entire trip back to Wolfram and Hart, because he refused to admit its power over him. He fought the Spec Ops team that restrained him even as they beat him into submission. By the time they drove into the underground garage, Angel’s eyes were juddering, his tongue had been bitten in half, and his body was wracked with shudders of pain.
Wesley took one look at him and ordered, ‘The lab.’ He turned to Spike, who had not said a word during the drive back. ‘We’ve got to get the chip out now.’
Spike nodded dumbly, and Wesley knew he’d neither heard nor cared what he’d said.
He supervised the transport of the raving vampire to the lab and the removal of the chip under heavy sedation. He then accompanied the unconscious form as it was taken to the holding cells and locked in. He personally accepted responsibility for the key.
Spike had not been seen since they returned, but Wesley found him lying on the couch in his office, his feet up on one arm, smoking.
He perched on the edge of the desk and watched him for a while then offered, ‘At least we know what’s in Angel’s mind. We can help him now.’
Spike narrowed his eyes, whether because he was considering this or because the smoke was irritating him, Wesley couldn’t be sure. ‘You think?’
‘Yes. I do.’
‘Angelus has never told the truth about anything in his life.’
‘It sounded pretty heartfelt to me.’
‘That’s what he wanted us to think.’
‘This was the first time that Angelus had been truly restrained, Spike. He said it himself—the chip humanised him—albeit for a very short time. Everyone saw it with you.’
‘It’s true, and you know it. Once you had to stop living like a demon, you were forced to interact in a human world. Once you began to interact with Buffy and Giles and Willow and the others, you changed. Eventually, you were so human you made that conscious decision to want your soul. Maybe, for the first time ever, Angelus was telling you the truth.’
Spike turned his head, his gaze fixed unwaveringly on the darker eyes. After a moment, he held out his hand, and Wesley went gratefully and sat on the edge of the couch. ‘I was rather angry when I discovered you’d gone.’
‘Guessed you would be.’
‘I’m sorry your plan didn’t work.’
Spike shrugged. ‘I just wanted to….’
‘Save him from all the guilt and pain?’
Spike nodded and closed his eyes. Wesley poked him. ‘We’ve got a soul to replace.’
‘Go fetch it. I’ll prepare.’
Wesley went back to the cells after fetching the necessary scrolls, expecting Spike to already be there. He hesitated when he saw the area outside the bars empty. He had the strongest feeling of déjà vu—that he’d been here before, done this before, but as he didn’t believe in omens or anything French, he stepped in boldly and laid his equipment out on the floor.
There was a stirring from inside the cell.
Wesley ignored it.
There was an amused sigh.
Wesley ignored it.
‘Wesley…. Oh, Wesley….’
‘What do you want, Angelus? I’m prepared to listen to a dying man’s last request.’
‘Did you get your kicks listening to us?’
‘Not especially. Listening to you is rather tedious.’
‘Oh, I’m hurt, Wesley. And when I’ve got such interesting tales to tell.’
‘You’re wasting your lack of breath; I’m utterly immune to anything you have to say.’
‘Shall I go to my grave—metaphorically you understand. Been there and done that! What a rush—with my little of tale of Fred untold?’
‘Shut up. I don’t want to hear that name in your mouth.’
‘How about if I add the word return? Fred’s return?’
‘This is old ground. Frankly, I’m rather disappointed you can’t come up with anything more original.’
‘Imagine Angel knowing how to bring her back, but not telling you. Telling you that Ingram was lying. What the fuck do you think they were talking about while they were fucking! He knew exactly how to do it, and he told Angel!’
‘You’re lying. Angel would have no reason not to act on that knowledge. That was what the whole thing with Spike was about.’
‘Wesley, Wesley, you’re so clever and so stupid at the same time! He didn’t tell you about Fred because he needs Illyria! He needs Illyria more than he needs Fred. That’s why he let Illyria out. That’s why he didn’t stop her in that damn hole in the world when he had the chance. Illyria is the key to the apocalypse.’
‘Well, you’re getting better. I’ll give you that. You’ve left the realms of totally deluded and entered the grounds of just seriously deranged. Unlike you, Angel does not lie to me.’
Angelus began to laugh, deep genuine amusement. After a while he hiccupped to silence and then, after a few moments, murmured, ‘Do you dream about a baby sometimes, Wesley?’
Wesley’s head jerked up from the scroll he was reading, a gesture not unnoticed by Angelus. He continued in the same low tone, though with no evidence in his voice that he’d seen this affirmation. ‘Do you dream about pain? Does the name Jasmine come into your nightmares?’
Wesley stood up. ‘What do you mean?’
‘Why is Angel running this firm, Wesley? What sense does it make? You’re fighting demons in the Hyperion then—kerpung!—you’re all here.’
‘That’s something that….’
‘He did a deal with the Senior Partners, and this was his side of the bargain.’
‘Yes, for once, that is the truth. You just don’t remember.’ Wesley went closer, drawn by the similarity between this and Spike’s words.
‘Why don’t I remember, if this happened?’
‘Angel had timelines altered, minds wiped.’
‘Why? What could have been so awful that he didn’t want me to remember it?’
Angelus smiled softly. ‘Shame on you. Why do you assume it was awful?’
Angelus looked down at his feet and played with the bars for a moment. ‘He had a baby with Darla.’ He looked up into Wesley’s eyes. ‘Can you picture the monster that union would produce?’
‘I’ve heard of one or two…. My God.’
‘He grew too quickly, his body pumping with demon blood, his outward form human, but inside… a maw….’
‘But I still don’t see why Angel covered this memory….’
‘Because you killed him.’
‘Connor, the monster child. You killed him to save Angel’s life. Connor caught us together one night, although he was never allowed into our room. He….’
‘Wait. What do you mean—caught us together…? Together how?’
‘Wesley, Wesley, think…. What else haunts your dreams?’
‘He was insanely jealous of my feelings for you, and in a rage, he came at us. I tried to protect you; he tried to stake me—fucker knew my weak spots.’
Wesley ran his fingers through his hair, coming closer. ‘Why…? I mean…? Why did you take the memories of us away? Why…?’
‘Wesley….’ Angelus hung his head and very slowly and sadly held his hand out through the bars. ‘Angel punishes himself for Connor by denying what he feels for you.’
Wesley reached out and brushed his fingers to Angelus’s.
Angelus crowed his delight, had Wesley in a headlock and the keys in his hand before Wesley’s fingertips gave up the memory of that small touch.
Angelus stepped free of the cell and went straight to the scrolls. He ripped them into shreds and then turned back to Wesley. ‘Well, isn’t this just predicable? Sheesh. I need a new fucking scriptwriter.’
‘How about a good death scene then, Angelus?’
Angelus whirled around facing Spike and Illyria, but retook Wesley into a headlock. ‘I die, he dies.’
Wesley croaked, ‘You have to do it….’ He was choked off to unconsciousness. Angelus faced Spike but kept a wary eye on Illyria. ‘What’ll it be? You’ve got no scrolls now….’
Suddenly, Illyria held out her hands, tipped her head back, her eyes rolling in her head and began to chant. Angelus eyes widened. ‘They were a bluff! This fool was a bluff!’ He pushed Wesley into Spike’s arms and went for Illyria to prevent her saying the words. She punched him into the wall, and as if remembering Angel’s recent, ineffectual, bout with her, Angelus suddenly turned and began to run.
Spike dropped Wesley and went after him, but Angel knew the building better than he did, and after an hour, he lost him in the maze of tunnels that criss-crossed the lower levels of the firm.
When he got back to the cells they were empty so he ran to Wesley’s office.
Bruised, oddly quiet, and lying with his head in Illyria’s lap, Wesley watched Spike’s progress across the floor.
Spike stood in front of the couch and then suddenly bent and slapped him. He was punched across the desk for his troubles from a blur of blue, but he rose and came at Wesley again.
Illyria stood between them. ‘Your idiocy amazes me! Are we your enemy now?’
Spike squared off with her. ‘How did you know the resouling ritual?’
‘I did not. I was reciting all the curse words I knew in my own language.’
‘To defeat an enemy as powerful as he, you have to exploit his weakness. Angelus’s only weakness was fear of his soul. I knew he would run rather than risk me completing the ritual. It would have been better had you thought of that yourself instead of freezing with fear for Wesley’s safety.’
Spike looked mutinously at the human. ‘There was no freezing, and there was no fear, got it?’
Spike stabbed his finger at him. ‘You listened to his lies, didn’t you?’
Wesley nodded again.
Spike shook his head then plonked down next to him glumly. Wesley put a hand on his thigh. ‘Sorry.’
‘I hope they were good lies.’
Wesley looked away.
Spike watched his eyes then said softly, ‘You idiot. Didn’t you hear him doing that to me?’
‘Yes, but it’s never the same when someone else’s heart is being dissected.’
Illyria folded her arms.
The men glanced up at her, abashed. She nodded, having gained their attention. ‘I wish Angel to be returned. I am tired of your inanities. When he is in command, things will return to normal.’
Spike glanced at Wesley and murmured, ‘Bossy females,’ then covered with a cough. ‘In case you’ve missed the plot, Luv, we have Angel loose and his soul….’ He produced a small, glowing vessel from his pocket. ‘In here. I’m open to suggestions how we bring them back together.’
Wesley put his hand out for the jar, holding it reverently. ‘Can we not just catch him and do the ritual? The loss of the scrolls was immaterial; I have facsimiles, of course.’
‘And we’ve got a pretty good record of catching and restraining Angelus, haven’t we?’ Spike raised his eyebrows questioningly.
‘Well, we could…. I mean, you could…. Taken by surprise…. Hmm.’
Illyria tapped her foot, and once more they looked up obediently. ‘What is the first principle of attrition?’
‘Have a bloody big weapon?’
She ignored him and directed her reply to Wesley. ‘Surprise. You need to trick Angelus into accepting his soul by thinking he is accepting something quite different.’
‘But there’s nothing Angelus wants from us.’
She turned her gaze on Spike who looked theatrically around. ‘What? He doesn’t want me! He made that pretty clear….’
She shook her head. ‘You contradict yourself, Vampire. Is he not the father of lies? You are his childe. You are the last of his line. Like attracts like. He will want you at his side.’
There was silence in the office for a while, each digesting this in their own way. At last, Wesley looked up at Illyria. ‘Do you have a plan?’
She hesitated for the first time that evening, looked directly into his eyes and replied, ‘Fred does.’
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