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They never alluded to the incident, as Angel thought of it, or the fuck, which is how Spike thought of it. They both had it on their minds when they were together though, and it created an atmosphere between them. They’d always had an atmosphere between them, but this was different. It was almost pleasurable, and they sought it out.
Spike was in such a confusing place, that Angel’s familiarity actually calmed him: the way he always hitched his pants before crossing his legs; the way he ran his fingers through his hair when he was anxious; the way he sometimes, inexplicably, grinned as if he were merely the actor playing his role and the absurdity of it all struck him. All this was so familiar to Spike that the great hole of confusion into which he’d fallen was softened. He still fell; he just didn’t hit so hard when he landed.
And the confusion was fairly extreme for… he’d enjoyed being fucked.
So easy to think, so confusing to know….
He’d enjoyed every moment of his time with Ingram. Like a man who has only ever played polite parlour games after tea with elderly aunts, he felt the shock of discovering what down and dirty games with men could be like. The only part of the evening he had not enjoyed, had been Ingram. He had loved the things he’d done but hated the man he done them with.
Spike watched everything Angel did with new eyes, the old familiarity suddenly not so familiar. When Angel hitched his pants, Spike watched the muscles in the strong thighs twitch, and his cock twitched in response. When Angel ran his fingers through his hair, Spike imagined his fingers tangled in the long, dark locks, and his mouth watered in response.
When Angel grinned, Spike wanted to press his mouth to those soft lips and taste Angel’s amusement.
He could not get it out of his head that Angel had been in his body.
How had they done it? Where? On the office desk? On the conference table? In Angel’s bed? Had he lain on his back as he had at first with Ingram, or had Angel taken him from behind, animal like, as he’d allowed Ingram to do later. What had Angel’s hands felt like on his skin? Had Angel’s tongue bathed him? What sounds had he made—had they made together?
Spike spent his entire time in a state of arousal, his body now woken to new pleasures and aching for them.
Angel ran his fingers through his hair, but stopped when he noticed Spike watching him. Spike still stared at the fingers as if in a trance, and even when spoken too, he continued to be… engrossed. Angel leant forward and said sharply, ‘Spike!’
Spike roused and stared around the table. He looked down at his agenda for the meeting and said annoyed, ‘Cars. Use of. See! I heard.’
Angel pouted, with a small half-smile mixed in with the pout. ‘We’re on item… seven.’
‘Oh.’ Spike frowned and peered at his papers with great concentration.
‘So, any other business?’ Angel went around the table, no one had any further points, so he dismissed the meeting, watching Gunn’s slow, careful progress out of the room.
Spike was still pretending to be interested in the paperwork, and Angel said as much to himself as to Spike, ‘He’s still in pain.’
Spike shrugged. ‘’S not the kind that’s gonna be helped with Tylenol, I’m thinking.’
Angel tented his hands under his chin. ‘He sees his error in front of him every time he sees Illyria. That can’t be easy. At least we… ate… our mistakes.’
‘’Cept your penchant for making children, yeah.’
Angel pouted some more and watched Spike folding and unfolding the agenda. He sensed that Spike had something on his mind, dreaded that it would be something too personal: like the sunlight that now danced on elegant fingers, which had danced on him; like the way Spike’s hair felt when he’d touched it; like the way his skin had warmed to the friction of their bodies writhing; like the way his voice had lowered and lost its rough edges as softer words had slid off his lips.
Angel rose with an all-encompassing grunt and went into his office.
Spike came in, too, and threw himself into the couch. ‘I was thinking….’
Angel looked up from some paperwork he had suddenly found urgent. ‘What?’
Spike frowned. ‘I was wondering if you’d want to…. Jesus. Do you want to go for a drink or something tonight…?’ He lit a cigarette, even though he knew it was banned in Angel’s office and leant back to watch the smoke.
Angel rearranged his pen a few times and then replied shortly, ‘Sure.’
Spike glanced over but didn’t say anything more. After a few moments he rose and left.
They both had the strange sense that this new tension between them had just tightened a notch.
Angel spent some considerable time standing in front of his closet that evening. He knew he thought too much about appearances—his mostly—but it was a character flaw he wasn’t about to work too hard to lose. Three centuries and he reckoned some things just were. He liked clothes.
At this very moment, he hated them. Nothing was right. Nothing said just the right thing: that this was merely a very casual drink between old acquaintances so they could discuss work away from the office environment. He could see the outfit he wanted in his mind—suit with the jacket undone, possibly; suit with jacket off. For some reason though, his eyes didn’t stray to that end of the closet; they strayed to the fun end. Black leather pants and black silk shirt didn’t say anything about acquaintances or offices; he knew this. He heard skin rubbing on skin, heard moans of desire, felt the heat of bodies expending energy on each other. Nevertheless, it was the leather and silk he wanted to wear.
This need led him to uncomfortable thoughts about the evening—what he wanted from it, what he was expecting from it.
Even more uncomfortable were his thoughts about Spike’s expectations. He had the distinct impression that Spike had actually meant the offer to be as casual as it sounded: a very casual drink between old acquaintances so they could discuss work away from the office environment.
With a grunt of annoyance, he made his decision, pulled on the leather pants and silk shirt, grabbed his cell phone and went out to the elevator. He would judge Spike’s intent by his clothes.
Spike was late.
Angel was angry and feeling self-conscious by the time he arrived, but his fury dissipated when Spike strode in. He looked as if he were going hunting: leather pants, too, a dark aubergine shirt, and dull silver jewellery drawing attention to his hands and neck.
Angel smiled inwardly and turned back to the bar to order him a drink.
Spike slid into a seat and lit a cigarette, accepting the drink when Angel passed it to him.
Finally sitting together, they suddenly had nothing to say. Spike offered Angel a cigarette, which was refused, so he blew some smoke and leant back, just staring at Angel.
Angel felt something stirring, something unfamiliar, so took command of the situation by saying casually, ‘So, what did you want to talk about?’
‘This… meeting. Why?’
‘Because… I wanted to have a drink with you?’
Angel took a long drink and waved to the bar for another bottle. ‘We haven’t had a drink together for eighty years, Spike. Why now?’
Spike narrowed his eyes. ‘You have a good memory.’
‘So do you, and you didn’t answer my question.’
‘I don’t have to if I don’t want to.’
Angel made to stand and leave, but Spike put a hand on his arm. ‘Sorry. I’m nervous. Babbling.’ He grinned as if he found this amusing and added, ‘I wanted to talk about us.’
Angel sat down a little too heavily. ‘Us?’
‘Yes, Angel. Us. You and me.’
The second bottle arrived, and Angel busied himself pouring generous amounts before he said cautiously, ‘And we’re not talking… colleagues, I’m thinking.’
Spike leant back with his drink. ‘You’d be thinking right.’
Angel flicked his eyes up for a moment, then went back to studying his drink as if he were afraid it was going to move suddenly and catch him unawares. ‘Last week you didn’t even like me. Now you’re using words like us.’
Spike leant forward so suddenly Angel’s glass wobbled, and he gave it an accusatory stare as if it had fulfilled his worst expectations. ‘Something fairly major has happened between last week and now. You decided to shag me.’
Angel held Spike’s gaze. ‘No. I thought you wanted me.’
‘So…. What? Nothing would have changed if Ingram hadn’t tricked you?’
‘No! You weren’t on a fucking cruise when all this was going on! You were getting fucked, too! So, if one of us is different, it’s you!’
Spike glanced toward the table behind Angel and pouted. ‘Maybe tell the whole sodding bar while you’re at it.’
They fell silent for a while broken once by both trying to speak at the same time and both lapsing angrily into silence.
Angel suddenly leant forward and said, ‘Tell me you didn’t enjoy it.’
‘Why? So I can satisfy some perverse need of yours to have my life totally bloody miserable. No, I won’t tell you that. I did.’
Angel tried to mask his expression, but he wasn’t quick enough, and Spike added with an annoyed sigh, ‘But it hurt, too, and he was a total goyt. Happy now?’
Angel pouted and trailed his finger through a small spill on the table. ‘If I knew what a goyt was I might be.’
‘It’s pretty much what you’re being now.’
‘Oh. That bad.’
Spike laughed. ‘You’re not at your best, I’ll give you that.’
Angel looked up through lowered lids. ‘What’s my best, Spike?’
Spike took a long breath and leant forward, shifting slightly on the seat. ‘Shit, Angel, you can be such a….’
Angel leant back with an interested smile. ‘A what?’
Spike blew some smoke between them to obscure the issue a little more. ‘A contradiction. You can be such a contradiction. One minute you act like you believe what you’ve become, and then the next, you’re him: Angelus.’
Angel took a cigarette from Spike’s packet and leant forward putting it between his lips. Spike hesitated then leant forward too, cupping his hands and touching his cigarette to Angel’s. They stayed with their mouths an inch apart for a little longer than it took to light the cigarette then both leant back, now watching the other through the thickening smoke.
‘What do you want?’
Angel flicked some ash from the tip of his cigarette and stared down at the slim column between his fingers. He reflected bitterly that he could have easily asked Spike that. ‘I’m not sure that what I want comes into this.’
Angel shrugged faintly. ‘Force of habit. I’ve had a shitty last few years. I’ve gotten used to not considering what I want.’
Angel took a slightly shaky drag on his cigarette, and Spike said more cautiously, ‘What?’
Angel waved his hand dismissively. ‘It’s a long story and not relevant to us.’
Angel opened his mouth as if to add something to explain his comment but only took another drag on his cigarette.
Spike leant forward again, clearly restless and feeling confined in the seat. ‘Maybe it’s time to start having what you want. No reason why things can’t change.’
‘I’m not here to have what I—.’
‘Bullshit again, Angel! We all have needs. It’s what drives us!’ He slapped his hand onto the table. ‘I beat you for that damn cup because of this lassitude of yours. So…?’
Angel pouted looking petulant, and Spike added triumphantly, ‘You know I’m right.’
‘Nooo, I’m trying to remember what the original question was.’
Spike laughed ruefully. ‘Wanker.’
‘That had something to do with it, I do recall.’
Spike licked his lips softly, hearing an unusual tone in Angel’s voice. He wasn’t sure what it was, but he knew the effect it was having on him. Hard for days, he was now throbbing. It was uncomfortable and distracting.
‘Why don’t we…?’ He took another breath and tried again. ‘There’s nothing stopping us doing what we want.’
Angel leant forward again, and they were suddenly only inches apart. Keeping his voice low, Angel said slightly hurriedly, ‘I can’t afford to do what I want, Spike. It always has consequences. I’ve lost members of my team; we’re in this freaking fight with powers we can’t even begin to understand. I don’t have time for a personal life. I’ve made that mistake too many times.’
Spike put his hand to Angel’s as if he were going to remove his cigarette, but then left it there, just lying on top of Angel’s loosely. ‘You didn’t deny that you want it.’
There was a very significant pause as they both stared at where their hands touched. ‘I’m not sure that I can. You have preternatural senses, Spike. Use them.’
Spike jerked his eyes up and met Angel’s gaze.
Spike lowered his voice until it was almost a whisper. ‘Then let’s tell ourselves it’s the very last thing we want to do, but do it anyway—for the greater good.’
Angel’s eyes dilated, and Spike knew he’d won.
Very slowly, he stood up. ‘You coming?’
Angel slid out of the booth, and side-by-side they went out into the soft, night air. Angel veered away from the car and began to walk back to the office, and needing the space, too, Spike was happy to follow.
‘What are you think…?’
Angel’s hand cupped around the back of his neck; he was dragged into an alley, and Angel whispered, ‘This—I’m thinking this,’ and clamped his lips to Spike’s, opening his mouth wide and pressing them tightly together.
Angel was the first to ease his tongue out of Spike’s mouth, ease his lips away. His voice was still low. ‘Tell me what you liked about being fucked—tell me!’ He shoved his hand down the back of Spike’s pants, cupping one hard cheek and squeezing, clamping them together. ‘Tell me!’
‘I liked it ramming into me.’
Angel groaned deeply. ‘I heard you and—I fucked you in my mind as I listened.’
They kissed some more, both amazed how erotic they found it—this familiar activity now touched with illicit newness: kissing each other; it was unthinkable and so, so good.
‘Did you enjoy my body, Angel? Tell me.’
‘Fuck, Spike, you were…. Every inch was like….’ He sought Spike out with one finger, releasing the button on his waistband for better access. ‘I licked you—here.’ He circled his finger over Spike’s dry, soft hole and everything else on their bodies became limpid, melting together.
Angel stroked his lips along Spike’s cheek and nuzzled into his ear. ‘Turn around.’
Spike tipped his face closer to Angel’s seeking the warm affection, replying, ‘Not here. This is more than a… fuck—for me, anyway.’
His tone was so unsure that Angel couldn’t help but remember the human Spike had once been, a surge of affection for a time when uncertainty had been the norm rising up in places that usually held only demonic need. He straightened and began to tidy Spike. ‘I’ll even buy you some freaking flowers if you want.’ He lowered his face closer, and they came together in a kiss that began wondering and exploratory, but became deep and intensely loving. Angel only pulled away when he sensed things getting out of control. He bent slightly and put a hand to the wall. With a groan, he whispered, ‘You almost made me come.’
Spike ran his fingers through Angel’s hair, and pressed close for a moment, then he began to walk slowly toward home with one meaningful look over his shoulder. Angel straightened, willed some self-control and trailed after the tight, hard body.
They even risked talking as they walked back to Wolfram and Hart and were surprised that they could form semi-coherent sentences. Neither was too sure what they talked about, but they didn’t embarrass themselves and carried on a credible conversation until they entered the elevator.
The privacy of the small space made them both laugh and abandon this desultory attempt at normality. They came together in a kiss so hot that the elevator rattled slightly on its cable, and Angel glanced up. ‘Fuck.’
Spike murmured, ‘Let’s shag in here and bring the whole bloody edifice down.’
Angel twitched up his eyebrow and a feral smile crept over his face. Suddenly, he slammed his hand onto the emergency stop; to the sounds of gears grinding, they came to a halt. He turned back, his eyes lowered and dangerous. Very slowly, he slid his hands up inside Spike’s shirt, tweaking his nipples. ‘I don’t think that’s showing the proper respect for my place of work, Childe.’
Spike’s eyes dilated, half from the pleasure of having his nipples teased, and half from the promise of fun implicit in Angel’s words. He responded in the same vein. ‘That’s because it’s a crock of shit.’
The teasing became harsher—more like torture—and Spike winced, trying to wriggle out of Angel’s grasp. Angel thumped him back into the wall, and the elevator swung again. ‘Maybe I will fuck you in here. Maybe this is just a fuck to me.’
‘Yeah? You don’t have the balls, Angel…. Omph.’
Spike could only nod, tears coming into his eyes. Angel twisted his balls harder. ‘Say you’re sorry.’
‘No. Let’s try one more time. Say: I’m very sorry, Sire.’
‘Ahhh!’ Spike was laughing too much by this time to give due weight to Angel’s game, so Angel stepped it up a notch. In one swift move, he let Spike’s balls go, ripped open his pants and slid his hand in to grasp them without the protection of the leather.
Spike paled even more than usual and sweat broke out on his brow. ‘I’m gonna need those soon, Pet, if you wanna have some fun later, like.’
Angel looked theatrically intrigued. ‘Tell me what you have in mind.’ He squeezed absentmindedly.
Spike groaned, despite a suspicion that this erotic sound would only make matters worse and pulled himself up to Angel’s ear, holding tight to Angel’s shoulders. In a very low tone, he said, ‘I want you to suck on ‘em.’
It was Angel’s turn to groan. He moved his hand slowly, grazing it hard over Spike’s erection, dragging the velvety skin high. With his other hand he cupped around the back of Spike’s neck and pulled him into a prolonged kiss, their tongues clashing and entwining.
Angel did not, Spike noticed, remove his hand. Spike took it in one of his and encouraged some more exploration.
As they kissed, Angel took hold of the thick column and eased it free. He opened his mouth even wider and began to pull Spike, jerking him expertly. Spike responded to both: the kiss and the hand job, clawing at Angel’s neck. He thumped them back to the opposite wall and then pulling his mouth away, giving Angel a piercing look, he began to press on the broad shoulders.
Angel fell to Spike as eagerly as he had once fallen to receive the host. He took Spike in with similar devotion.
He swallowed Spike’s cock to the back of his throat.
To Spike, the sensation was mind-blowing and utterly unexpected. He arched back, crying out, and Angel caught him around the waist, holding him arched and taut while he sucked.
It had only taken him a few attempts before he’d leant how to do this: Ingram a very conscientious teacher. He’d allowed the man to deride him, teach him, praise him, and plunder his mouth until his voice was hoarse.
He slid his hands from Spike’s waist to his backside and clamped them on the firm buttocks. On one hard plunge, his fingers dipped into the shallow cleft. He’d been here many times before, and he craved the feel of the tight hole.
He tickled his finger around it as he continued to suck Spike off.
Suddenly, the momentum changed. Spike jack-knifed forward and braced his hands on the wall. Now he was thrusting forcibly into Angel. He snatched one hand off and clamped it around Angel’s wrist, increasing the pressure of the finger.
It slipped through, and they both let out intense sounds of pleasure, Angel’s reverberating through the thick cock and making Spike pant.
Angel stroked his finger in and out, scratching his immaculate nails over the soft, wet walls.
He could have stayed like that—on his knees and joined in a circle of flesh with Spike—forever, but his throat was suddenly coated by a thick, salty release.
Spike was shuddering into Angel’s mouth, each pulse of cum he released greeted with a harsh, biting cry of pleasure.
Angel sensed it was over and began to withdraw his finger, but Spike held his wrist even tighter.
They stayed still for a very long time, Angel gently nuzzling into Spike’s softening cock, licking and cleaning him, Spike swaying slightly on the finger, prolonging the pleasure.
Gradually, they fell apart. Spike sank to his knees, his head bowed.
Angel put a finger under his chin and tipped it up. ‘You’ve got approximately… two… minutes to recover.’ With a greedy smile, he bounced up and hit the stop button again. Once more, gears complained, there was a jolt, and they began to rise.
Spike rose slightly shakily to his feet and tried to fasten his pants. Angel made a soft tsk sound and helped him, taking the opportunity to slide his hand down the back once more and cup Spike to him.
Spike was about to lean in and kiss him, but the doors slid open.
Angel was about to demand the kiss anyway, when a groan from the direction of the hallway made him turn. He cried out softly and they both jogged over to Wesley who was lying on his side and trying uselessly to rise.
‘She did this to you?’
Wesley nodded. ‘She’s still very powerful, despite the drain.’
Angel cursed, rose and strode off toward the lab. Spike helped Wesley to his feet, trying hard to appear as if this was exactly how he had planned to spend the rest of the evening.
‘I think my arm is broken.’
Spike nodded. ‘I think you’re right.’
Wesley glanced after Angel. ‘I should have taken his advice.’
‘Not to tangle with Illyria?’
Wesley made a rueful noise and blinked slowly. ‘No, to tangle with her some more. I try to keep her at arms’ length, yet she beats me up; Angel fucked with Ingram every night, yet you’re still his best friend. I think I’ll rethink my gentlemanly watching strategy. Well…. I guess I’d better get to a hospital and get this seen to. Spike? Spike?’
Spike turned his head slowly back to the human and nodded.
‘You didn’t tell Angel what you were going to do with that stream of power from Illyria. I’ve been wondering why.’
‘Pushing you in? No, I didn’t tell him.’
‘Well…. I thought he might try to stop me—if it was hurting you. I told you that.’
‘But that’s not the real reason, is it, Wesley?’
Wesley gave a small dismissive wave of his hand as if he didn’t want to get into it, but Spike took hold of his broken arm and jarred it. Wesley paled, sweat breaking out on his forehead. He stared at Spike as if seeing him for the first time. ‘Ah. You didn’t know: about Angel and Ingram.’
‘No, I didn’t. I want you to tell me the real reason you didn’t tell Angel about your plan to bring me back.’ He kept his hand on Wesley’s arm and smiled icily.
Wesley swallowed. ‘I will tell you, but it will have nothing to do with the pain you’ve just caused me. I think you have the right to know—so whatever you do will be based on truth. It’s something Angel seems to neglect too often. I didn’t tell Angel because I was afraid he would stop me—afraid he didn’t want you back. Sometimes, looking at him with Ingram, I got the impression that he had something he’d wanted for a very long time. Now, please let go of my arm, and if you aren’t going to help me, then bloody well stay out of my way.’ He pushed past Spike, who allowed the human to jostle him, and limped painfully to his office.
Spike stayed in the lobby for a while, thinking. It was hard to bring himself down from the place he’d be in when they’d exited the elevator—not his recovered erection, that he willed down quite easily. The sense of easy intimacy between them had to be picked apart piece by piece until it wasn’t there anymore: for it hadn’t—been there. Angel, in his mind, had been blowing Ingram. Angel hadn’t just fucked the man once by mistake, he’d done it systematically, night after night, clearly preferring the shell of his childe without its rightful occupant.
Spike’s first thoughts—to kill Angel or just run away—were so familiar, such old friends that he had surprisingly little trouble resisting them. Angel had spent the last hundred years pissing him off, and that’s exactly how he always reacted. Not this time though. For this time, what Angel had done seemed entirely… understandable.
Spike actually agreed with Angel: his body was better without him inside it. Every other lover he’d taken had thought exactly the same. Buffy hadn’t even attempted the desultory conversation Angel had. She hadn’t even tried that hard—come, fuck, go before he had a chance to make a connection.
He got why they were like this. He really did. He didn’t like himself most days.
He felt time closing in on him. Whatever Angel was doing with Illyria couldn’t last forever, couldn’t last long enough for him to stop being what he was: irritating, snarky, melodramatic, dumb—whatever it was that other people saw in him, these masks he wore to compensate for not being able to be what he’d rather be: loving, kind and brave.
His first thought to run flickered across his mind. How far could he go before Angel caught up with him? Not physically, of course: Angel wasn’t that obsessed with his body that he’d actually come after him. Spike had no doubt though that he would never run far enough not to want Angel, not to need him, not to drift back one day and try this all over again. He’d been doing that for a hundred and twenty years; why break the pattern now?
If he couldn’t run, he had to do the other: stay.
Spike suddenly lifted his head and stared fixedly toward the conference room. Ingram—if Angel wanted him, he could have him. He’d be exactly what Angel wanted: that man in this body. Spike had a vivid picture of himself as the human and saw it all playing out in his mind.
He dropped his head. This was being exactly what other people hated in him. This was so typically Spike: go for the most extreme solution.
He didn’t have to become someone else; he just had to stop being who he was. He had to lock himself away—lock away all these personality flaws that people found so repellent. He would turn himself into something desirable: something hollow.
He sensed Angel coming back along the hallway and closed his eyes for a moment, beginning the lock down.
Angel sensed something was different about Spike as soon as they re-entered the elevator together. As this something seemed to manifest itself in silence and no repetition of the affectionate intimacy they’d established on the walk over, he was grateful and thought no more about it. He’d had his arse royally kicked by Illyria—to the extent that she’d held him helpless, dangling from her skinny outstretched arm—and he was still smarting from the ignominy. All he really wanted was to go to bed—alone—and brood, but he now had Spike tagging along. Spike silent and thoughtful, therefore, was exactly what he needed right now.
They stared at each other. Angel sensed Spike’s arousal despite his silent, almost hostile stance. Spike saw only Angel’s desire for his body, so maintained the silence he’d adopted as his best form of defence until he could decide what he was going to do, (run away or kill Angel still not entirely off his list of options).
They exited into Angel’s apartment, and Angel ran his fingers wearily through his hair. ‘Fuck, she pisses me off, sometimes. I’m going to shower.’ He turned and made a small face. ‘This isn’t how I planned… it.’ He expected Spike to come out with some amused snark about the situation, and was unnerved by his silence. ‘What do you want to do?’
‘Whatever you want to do, Angel.’
The thought that’s a first flickered across Angel’s mind before he had time to stop it. He held out his hand, and Spike obediently came into his embrace. He’d been about to ask for a rain check, until his libido, taken such a dent from Illyria, had recovered, but Spike’s hard, tight body recovered it anyway. The hug turned very quickly into a kiss, and the kiss became roving of hands and desire more intense than he’d felt before his embarrassing confrontation with the ex-Goddess. Yet still, Spike seemed distant—aroused, yes, but oddly compliant. For a moment, the thought flickered across Angel’s mind that somehow Ingram had returned. He held Spike away, their mouths parting reluctantly, their tongues missing the contact already. ‘Are you… okay? What happened with Wesley?’ Angel turned and began to strip off his shirt, heading toward his promised shower.
Spike replied neutrally, ‘I’m fine and nothing happened.’
Angel hesitated before removing his pants. The kind of frenzy he required to do this in front of someone else was missing, and he went into the bathroom to do it there. Suddenly, he found himself perching on the edge of the washbasin, thinking, arousal dipped to almost nothing once more. He could not work out where the problem lay. Spike was…. What was Spike? Angel leant back cautiously and glanced out at Spike who was standing, staring at nothing. All that Angel could think was that Spike had changed his mind. He had changed his mind and now didn’t have the heart to tell him. Angel felt a surge of self-doubt. Ingram had not complained about his… technique… but then the human had needed him, wanted him to find him irresistible—as he had. Ingram would hardly have told Angel that his kisses were like kissing an old man, or that his body was heavy and gone to seed. Spike, though, might have thought all this and was now regretting his impetuous decision to try Angel out. Spike might be missing Ingram—whose kisses and touch Angel knew that Spike had enjoyed.
His arousal was now utterly gone, his cock hanging flaccid and heavy in his pants. More importantly, he felt flaccid in his head—a disturbing sensation of wanting to sleep for a long time in a dark place, curled and insensible to his surroundings. He wanted to run away. He wanted to be someone else.
He went back into the bedroom. Spike watched him and said flatly, ‘You’ve not showered.’
Angel shook his head. ‘I’m kinda beat. Can we do this another time?’
An expression seemed to flicker over Spike’s face, but it was so quick, Angel didn’t have time to read it. He nodded, seemingly utterly unfazed. ‘Sure thing.’
He spun on his heel and left.
Angel frowned, looked at his nails for a while then, with a curse, pulled on a clean shirt and strode out of the apartment.
Wesley had taken a number of painkillers—some prescribed, some not—and was not in the mood for visitors. When he saw Angel he actually blocked the way for a moment. ‘I’m very tired.’
Angel, not used to Wesley’s resistance, toed the ground and said contritely, ‘I came to see if you were okay.’
Knowing this was a lie, but feeling a surge of affection for Angel for attempting it so blatantly, Wesley huffed and let him in.
To give Angel credit, he attempted to appear interested in Wesley’s arm and told him the edited version of his confrontation with Illyria—the parts where feet had remained on the ground—but it didn’t take long before he got around to the real purpose of his visit. ‘What happened when I left you with Spike?’
As Wesley had been fearing something like this, he had his defence ready: the truth. ‘I told him your strategy of coping with Ingram and wished I’d taken the same tack with Illyria.’
‘You told him—what exactly?’
‘I told him that you found him irresistible—more so than you’d ever found Spike when he occupied his own body.’
Angel rose from the couch, unable to compute what he was hearing. He began the words that might have led to the final confrontation with Wesley, one that had begun with Connor, but only thinking them made him sit once more and stay silent. Who had begun these endless betrayals? Who had built their lives now on an edifice of lies and half-spoken truths? Not this man before him. He had. After all, Wesley had not known how the situation had changed between him and his childe. He could not have known what they had stepped out of the elevator intending to do that night—what they had just finished enjoying. More than this, though, he had spoken only the truth. It had crossed Angel’s mind that his life would be easier if Spike did not return to his body—if he left his body entirely to Angel to play with as he pleased, without the irritant inside. It was ironic that only now Angel realised he didn’t want his life easier. He didn’t want what had been offered to him in the bedroom that night: compliant Spike.
Angel pouted and stared at his fingers, for the first time considering what Spike had been thinking as they’d travelled up to the apartment together—what he’d been thinking as they’d kissed. He would have expected Spike, hearing what Wesley had told him, to turn on him, vicious and angry. It’s what always happened: he pissed Spike off—leaving him, stealing Drusilla, trying to kill him; the actual details were immaterial—and Spike turned on him and tried to kill him. This time, however, Spike had stayed. This time, Spike had clearly been willing to go along with…. ‘Whatever you want, Angel.’
Wesley watched Angel from his chair, his heart pounding, pumping the blood into his arm in an extremely painful throb. He’d almost seen his life flash in some trite, proverbial moment of pre-death as the vampire had risen like the angel of death from the couch. He’d actually seen death—his death—in Angel’s expression before something else had taken its place, something that now made Angel’s brow lower and his expression so dark and intense that Wesley felt it like tiny tendrils of obscuration in the room. He had misread Angel’s involvement with Spike. He had not realised that Angel had fallen quite so hard for his blond childe. He felt deeply guilty that he had let a moment of pain and grief for Fred—what should have been an offer made freely by her in her own body—spread out and hurt other people: hurt Angel, which was all he really cared about. He tried various apologies in his mind and finally settled for the truth. ‘I’m very sorry. He caught me unprepared. I was angry about Illyria.’ He lifted his arm, but even that small movement caused him intense pain.
Angel’s dark expression did not lighten, and Wesley wondered if the vampire, for once, wanted to talk. He prompted him gently. ‘Can you tell me…?’
Angel pouted. ‘He wasn’t pissed off. It was… weird. It was like he… went away.’
‘Ingram?’ Wesley leant forward with a groan. This was something he’d not considered. ‘Are we entirely sure that he’s gone? Perhaps he’s still in there and under particular stress, he can come back!’
Angel shook his head. ‘It wasn’t him either. It was someone….’ He wanted to say dead, but didn’t want the usual quip that people made when vampires spoke of themselves as if they were alive. Remembering that this was Wesley, however, and that he never made trite quips, Angel shrugged and finished, ‘It was like he was dead inside.’
‘Well… I was just recalling the… conversation… I had with Illyria that led to this.’ This time, he only looked at his cast and did not attempt to lift his arm. ‘She suggested, again, that we get better acquainted, and I pointed out… rather forcibly, I’m afraid… that I wasn’t interested in her, but in the body she inhabited.’
‘Spike didn’t break my arm, Wesley.’ Angel didn’t need to point out that not only would Spike not have been able to do this, he would have preferred it to the reaction he did get from Spike. Wesley heard both these anyway, unspoken as they were.
‘No, I understand that, but as I was—well, I supposed lying there in agony wouldn’t be overstating the case too much—pondering events, I tried to put myself in her position: what I would do if someone told me that.’
‘I think I’d take myself off somewhere and just let them have my body.’
‘Jesus, Wesley. That’s utter bullshit. You’ve got more self-respect than that! Spike’s got more….’
‘You’re entirely missing the point, Angel—I am so tempted to add as usual, but, as usual, I’m sitting here feeling vulnerable and you’re sitting there looking menacing. The point is: I would do that if I wanted someone more than I wanted myself.’
Angel didn’t want to have to ask, but as he was totally bemused he did risk a small, ‘Huh,’ but tried to make it sound more like a cough of agreement than admittance of total confusion.
Wesley leant forward—a huge sacrifice—and said very distinctly, ‘I think Spike must have decided that he wanted you more than he wanted himself. That to have you, he was willing to put himself to one side.’ He leant back again and said more to himself than to Angel, ‘I’m rather impressed. It’s a kind of religious allegory really.’
‘Huh?’ This one was more forceful, but Wesley ignored it. ‘What are you going to do?’
Angel did rise at that and began a more familiar pacing. Wesley felt relieved. He never felt death quite so close as when Angel was still and contained. He struggled to his feet and poured them both a whisky, eyeing his for a moment and wondering what interesting effects it would have on top of the painkillers.
Angel took his whisky and tipped it down his throat in one then poured them both another. Wesley wasn’t about object, he couldn’t feel his arm anymore, and that was okay by him.
‘You haven’t answered my question.’
‘I know. I don’t know what I’m going to do.’ Angel went to the window and leant on the glass. ‘It’s not something we can talk about.’ He pouted and Wesley felt a stab of something that went well beyond sympathy. He came closer.
‘Tell him I was… jealous. That I was… mistaken.’
Angel turned his full gaze on the human, and Wesley swallowed. ‘You weren’t mistaken. For a while, I did think life would be easier if Spike never came back. Jesus, I actually did think that.’
Wesley had the strangest feeling that Angel had heard, processed and filed away his comment about being jealous, but that he had chosen not to discuss it. It unnerved him, and he felt unsure suddenly why he’d said it. Said it at last. He’d always felt it. He stood looking at the dark vampire but actually studying himself. He’d seen them exit the elevator. They’d been laughing at something. Angel’s hand had been down the back of Spike’s pants. And Spike—Spike…. Spike who could never do anything bad enough for Angel to actually turn on him; Spike who always seemed to have Angel’s real confidence; Spike who shared Angel’s history; Spike who turned slowly at the centre of Angel’s universe, holding him captive—Spike had been standing in the place he’d always wanted to occupy.
Wesley didn’t like the outcome of his study much.
Angel suddenly cursed softly and pushed off the glass, striding to the door and leaving. Wesley had seen a glimpse of his expression, and his self-hatred knew no bounds.
Go to Chapter 8
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