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The plan came to him sometime later on a strange floating sensation, which he couldn’t, for the life of him, attribute to anything in particular. It seemed such a brilliant plan that the bed actually stopped spinning for a while as he contemplated it. He studied it carefully from all angles—his inhibitions and pain were suppressed, not his intellect—and he could see no flaws.
He’d torn them apart; he’d glue them back together.
The image of Angel and Spike being stuck together, and the various ideas for the substances that could be used to do the sticking, actually made him laugh, but by the time he’d had some considerable amusement, tears were running down his cheeks, and he was too sad to remember the joke.
He tipped over into drug-induced unconsciousness, imagining knots in a spotless white handkerchief, each one representing a stage in his plan—whatever else he wanted to forget about this night, he did not want to forget that.
It was surprisingly easy to put into effect. Once he’d recovered from his hangover, which had taken twenty-four hours and a number of pints of water, Wesley was able to focus on his books, and he found what he wanted.
He spent another day gathering his materials, and then one more examining every tiny part of his motives to check their purity. He didn’t want to fool himself a second time as to why he was interfering in Angel’s life.
When he was totally happy that he had nothing in his heart but love—and the good kind of that—for Angel, he put the plan into action. It was surprisingly easy.
Angel had spent time trying unsuccessfully to avoid Spike. He didn’t like him very much in this strange mood he’d adopted. Somehow, despite being entirely in the wrong, Spike had once again managed to seize the moral high ground. If he’d ranted and raved, tried to kill him, done all the usual Spike-esque things, Angel could have justifiably told himself that this is why he’d preferred Ingram, that this is why he’d so happily fucked the compliant one occupying Spike’s body. Spike’s more normal immaturity would have validated Angel’s actions. Like this, however—mature, seeking to please, calm, responsive, responsible—Angel felt his guilt growing on him like fungus. Which was so unfair, when he knew that this apparent Spike wasn’t the real Spike—that Spike was undoubtedly smirking behind the adult façade.
He so desperately missed the ranting and raving, the fighting and attempts to kill each other that he tried once or twice to initiate this familiarity by taunting Spike with Ingram.
He took his first opportunity when he woke that morning to find Spike standing at the end of the bed watching him. He’d sat up and swore angrily at the still figure. ‘What the fuck are you doing?’
‘I wanted to see you.’
Spike’s eyebrow rose at this. ‘Because we were going to get it on last night, and I woke up thinking about it—thinking about you.’
Angel winced inwardly. It was like talking to a total stranger. Spike would never say something so freakily honest—not when he was sober and actually meaning it. He got out of bed, deliberately flaunting his nakedness. ‘Well, okay then. I’ve kinda gotten used to your body in the bed, Spike.’ He actually pictured Spike’s face screwing up into outraged fury, felt Spike’s fists pounding on him and was so lost to this pleasant fantasy that Spike calmly removing his shirt was entirely missed until he stood semi-naked in front of him.
Angel stepped back and said, incredulous, ‘You’re going to let that go?’
Spike shrugged. ‘I’m glad you had the company, Angel. We all need company.’
Angel’s jaw dropped, and he tried a small punch, but it was like punching a baby: only fun when you really are a demon. Spike sort of smiled and nodded amiably, which was so unlike him that Angel stepped back and murmured, ‘I’m not doing this with you.’
That, at least, got some reaction. A dark expression flickered over Spike’s face, and Angel tried to capitalise on it, taunting him again by saying precisely, ‘He really was a great lay, Spike! I had to give him credit for that.’
Spike nodded and replied evenly, ‘Perhaps you could show me some of the things you enjoyed.’
Angel stumbled away and into the bathroom. He shut himself in the shower and hoped that Spike would be gone when he came out.
Spike listened to Angel showering for a while, toeing the ground thoughtfully. Angel hadn’t wanted him to come back, now it appeared he didn’t even want the corpse he inhabited. It kinda left him nowhere to go. He turned and went back down to the offices. He’d felt more substantial when he’d hadn’t needed the elevators to get around inside Wolfram and Hart.
Wesley summoned them both to a meeting that afternoon. Angel noticed that he seemed out of sorts and edgy and put it down to pain from his arm. Spike didn’t notice or care.
Wesley began to outline a case, and Angel stopped him with a small wave of his hand. ‘We really don’t have time for this shit, Wes. This is kinda small-fry compared to the….’
‘No. This is exactly the kind of thing we need to be doing. We’ve all been too distracted. We need something like this to get back on track.’
Angel had been about to argue some more, but the prospect of things being back as they were was too tempting. He nodded, without looking at Spike, and sat back to hear the details.
Wesley let out a silent sigh of relief. ‘Right, well. Believe it or not, it appears to be a haunted house. Some very unpleasant things happened to the occupants—who are now dead unfortunately—and I’ve traced this back some decades. It rather reminds me of the Hyperion—which is why I immediately thought we should take on the case.’
‘He wasn’t the only one of his species.’
Angel leant forward, suddenly interested. ‘So, what’s the plan?’
‘You and I go there tonight and see….’ As Wesley spoke, he swung around slightly in his chair and appeared to knock his arm against the desk. He groaned deeply and swore uncharacteristically.
Angel frowned. ‘You’re not going anywhere with….’
‘There’s no one else, Angel. I have to….’
Angel gritted his teeth. ‘Gunn.’
A look of annoyance flickered over Wesley’s face, but he suppressed it quickly and said even more quickly, ‘He’s not stable enough yet for something like that—something that can play on human emotions.’
Angel nodded at the wisdom of this. ‘Damn.’
Wesley appeared to be interested in his notes and said neutrally, ‘So, you and Spike will have to….’
Angel’s head turned quickly at Spike’s interjection. It actually was Spike. But if the one he wanted made this short guest appearance, he bowed out pretty quickly, for Spike said in a much flatter tone, ‘I don’t think that is a good idea.’
Angel agreed, but it was half-hearted. He had the distinct impression that Spike’s emotional disappearance wasn’t as permanent as he’d been giving the impression—that something like this could be exactly what was need to bring him back.
Spike heard the half-hearted response and cursed inwardly. The last thing he wanted was to be shut up in a spooky old house with Angel. Things might…develop. Things might…come to a head. His new persona was proving very hard to maintain, and the annoying thought had crept in that far from it being genuine and heartfelt, he was being merely… Spike-like—as usual.
As he trailed behind Angel (the decision to take the case having apparently been made), it came to him in a startlingly clear flash of insight that he didn’t want to do this because he was having far too much fun pissing Angel off. This only brought him back to the conclusion that he was despicable and that Angel was right not to love him.
Angel watched Spike out of the corner of his eye as he drove. Spike was inspecting his nails with a level of concentration their bitten appearance didn’t warrant. He pouted, debated in his head if he could take the rejection, but said in a low voice, ‘You can’t hide from me forever.’
He was rewarded by a glance that proved his theory: the old Spike was not far from the surface of this bland new one. He grinned, turned on some music guaranteed to irritate the old Spike, but which the new Spike could presumably not object to, and actually began to look forward the job. He half suspected that Wesley had set this up—this opportunity for them to be together like the old days—but for once, he didn’t object to being manipulated at all.
The house was very old—by American standards—and certainly had the potential to be haunted. Spike eyed it thoughtfully, then Angel. As he had no idea how his new and improved persona would think about such a task, he’d decided to be silent, which was very not him anyway, thus beautifully suiting his plan. It was also annoying Angel, which was even better. Angel commented on the house; he commented on the barricaded door; he commented on breaking down the barricaded door; and at every comment that elicited no reply, he glanced increasingly annoyed at Spike. Spike kept up an air of martyred innocence and followed Angel up the wide staircase.
The centre of the spectral activity had been identified by Wesley as the master bedroom. If Spike made a comment under his breath that sounded like, ‘Typical,’ Angel ignored it and pushed open the door cautiously. He could sense nothing out of the ordinary and shut the door behind them.
The room still contained its original furniture: a large emperor-sized bed, two huge, freestanding closets and a dressing table. Spike stayed as far away from the bed as possible and went to look out of the window. ‘How long before something happens, and what are we supposed to do when it does?’
Angel turned, surprised to hear his voice. ‘I’m not sure, and I don’t know.’
Spike’s shoulders tensed, as if he was having difficulty repressing a reply to this provocation, but he made no comment.
‘Might as well make yourself at home.’ Angel stretched out on the bed and folded his arms behind his head. ‘It’s quite comfortable.’
‘People may have died in that bed.’
Angel smiled at the more familiar turn their conversation was taking and replied lazily, ‘Someone dead’s lying in it now.’
Spike let the drape fall and went to one of the closets, opening it cautiously. When he’d inspected that one, he moved on to the other one, well aware that Angel was watching him. Suddenly, Angel said, ‘I know you know, by the way—I know Wesley told you.’
‘Wesley tells me a lot of things.’
‘Some things he had no right to.’ That was guaranteed to get a response, and Angel almost heard Spike’s outraged, ‘No right? No right?’
Spike’s shoulders tensed as if he imagined himself saying it just as clearly, but the response when it came was mild. ‘It made no difference to anything.’
‘Ah. So… what? You were fucking leaking all over me in the elevator; you let me suck your brains out, then by the time I get back, you’re playing your freaky little games again?’
The comment about playing games so closely mirrored Spike’s own worries about his attitude that he almost slipped and rounded on Angel. Instead, he shrugged. ‘I still want you, Angel. If I was playing games, I’d be flouncing around and pretending I didn’t.’ He went up to the bed and stood alongside Angel, who unfolded his arms uncertainly. ‘We’ll do it now, if you want. If this has been some pathetic plan of Wesley’s to bring us together in a spooky house all night and fling us into each other’s arms then he’s deluded. I’ll fuck with you anyway. No biggie.’
‘I—. What was that?’
Spike hesitated and said, ‘Someone downstairs….’
Angel sighed. ‘Can we put this on hold? Can we actually have a conversation about this afterwards, Spike? I—. I don’t think an apology is what you want or what I particularly want to give you, but…. Shit.’ He stood up and faced the door, the sound of voices outside unmistakable. He glanced at Spike. ‘Put the fucking I’m-not-Spike-anymore game to one side. You need to switch on now.’
Spike glared at him, and Angel nodded. ‘Good.’
The door swung open, and Angel straightened, annoyed. ‘Vampires! Freaking vampires!’
Spike laughed. ‘So much for a nice juicy haunting.’
Angel nodded wearily, counting four vampires. By their dress they were fledglings; by their attitude they were punks. He waded into two of the group, saw Spike doing the same, and had such a stab of desire for his blond childe for his grace and lithe beauty that he took the two vampires out with one stab, the stake propelled with such force that it impaled them both before they exploded into dust. He caught a similar explosion out of the corner of his eye and turned to grin at Spike.
He frowned instead. Two vampires were turning to him, and he could not see Spike.
He fought on instinct and eventually there was only one vampire left in the room: him.
He actually turned slowly in the bedroom as if seeking some place where Spike could be hidden.
That he had been dusted by two fledgling punks was impossible. That he had been dusted at all was impossible, so he had to be hiding somewhere—this being part of his latest irritating plan to piss him off.
When he’d turned and looked at the empty room, he could think of nothing else to do, so he just stood there.
As he watched his friends depart, Wesley felt a stab of anxiety that his plan wouldn’t work, that something would go wrong.
He debated following them to the house, but knew his presence would upset the dynamic he was attempting to create. He’d wait until they returned and see their faces then.
As he’d listened to their childish sparring over the last few days, he’d wanted to crash their heads together like recalcitrant infants. He’d done this instead. He’d planned it to the nth degree, obsessing over details. What could go wrong?
After a few hours, the sun started to creep into the bedroom. Angel watched its progress across the faded carpet. He watched it touch the toe of his boot and then watched the smoke drifting lazily into the air. It was the hardest thing he’d ever done, but he removed his foot from the light and stepped back into the shadows.
Having used up all his courage to make that small sacrifice to the need to go on, he had nothing left. He spent the day standing in those shadows, thinking—about the past, about the future.
Eventually, he saw that it was dark once more. He’d spent his first day without Spike somewhere in the world—somewhere in his world, about to appear with a snarky comment, smoking his damn cigarettes, swaggering as if he owned the place.
He cast a last look around the room. It didn’t seem much of a memorial either to Spike’s life or to his passion, which had now gone. Being hollow now, there was no room for the passion Spike had created in him. He knew other emotions would come soon and wanted to be back in his own apartment before he gave them air to breathe. Spike’s presence seemed palpable in the room, but he left it there as a dangerous delusion and made his way home.
Spike wasn’t especially pleased when his two attackers turned from him to Angel. He watched, puzzled, as Angel seemed to take an inordinate time to dust them, then, with an impatient huff, said more characteristically than he had for a while, ‘Need a hand there, Mate?’
Angel ignored him, which was par for the course, so he lit a cigarette and leant on the wall, waiting for Angel to take his angst out in any way he saw fit.
When Angel had finished, Spike pushed off the wall and said in his new, neutral tone, ‘Is that supposed to be the haunting thing then, or is there more?’
Angel was standing in the middle of the room, and he turned slowly, staring into the corners and shadows. Spike nodded. ‘I guess we’re staying then.’ He went and sat on the bed. ‘I should have brought a book.’
Angel continued to ignore him, and Spike sighed. He was getting very bored with all this neutrality and debated just dropping the game (and possibly dropping something else as well). ‘So….’ He tested Angel’s mood to see if he was receptive to a flirtatious comment that dripped innuendo.
Angel hung his head and remained standing in the middle of the room.
‘Fuck you then!’
Angel didn’t reply; Spike blew a long stream of smoke at him, watching this with narrowed eyes. ‘Is this some sort of punishment? Do you think this is impressing me? Cus, ya know, you look like a pillock.’
When that didn’t get a response, Spike felt a twinge of anxiety. He got off the bed and came closer. ‘Hey, Angel…. Hey! Fucker!’
Suppressing a surge of panic, Spike poked Angel. He watched with dawning comprehension as his hand passed through the solid body. ‘Angel! Oh, FUCK! Angel!’ He tried, illogically, to shake Angel, but it had the same effect as the poke: none. He stepped back and wrapped his arms around his body, the thought suddenly dawning on him that Angel thought he was dead.
He stood and watched Angel for the rest of the night, a few inches away, not moving, as still and silent as Angel himself. He only stirred when he felt a burning sensation on his back. He turned, too distressed at watching Angel to fully take it in. It was only when Angel moved his foot that Spike realised the sun had come up—that it had come up and that it recognised him: vampire that could burn. He cried out and put his hand in it, watching the smoke. He wasn’t dead; Angel just couldn’t see him. He shouted this to Angel, hoping it would stir him from the rigid stance he’d maintained since dusting the vampires, and Angel suddenly turned and went to stand in one corner of the room. Spike suspected it wasn’t because of his shout; nevertheless he shouted and screamed some more. Angel remained impervious to the noise.
Spike sat on the bed and put his head in his hands. He couldn’t bear to see Angel any more. He would rather his sire ranted and raved and vented his emotions in a blur of violence—this histrionic reaction so much more what he would have done. This almost catatonic introspection unnerved him, and he wanted it to stop. He kept expecting Angel to move, to leave the house, but he stayed against the wall, not actually leaning on it, but just standing, head down, as if deep in thought. Spike picked his nails and felt a distinct stab of guilt. He couldn’t prove that the way he’d been behaving had brought on this bizarre state—neutrality causing invisibility—but he couldn’t prove it hadn’t either. He kept glancing up at Angel then down quickly. He felt he was intruding on something very personal, but as Angel’s grief was all about him anyway, it didn’t feel wrong to watch. Angel’s behaviour was having a strange effect on him though. It began with a sniff; then his vision wavered. Eventually, he had to wipe his sleeve over his eyes, and that infuriated him so much he stood up and began to pace, shouting at Angel, venting his anger. He’d been the one staked, or whatever, so why was Angel standing there like a fucking zombie? The shouting still had no effect—either on Angel’s mood or his—so he sat back down.
After a few minutes, he went up close to Angel and said in a low tone, ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry I’ve been such a total fuck up, Angel. I’m sorry I—. I’m just sorry, okay!’ It made him angry again, and he took his angst out on Angel, swiping his hands through the lowered face as if he were really slapping him. It only made his eyes water again, so he sat heavily on the bed. He stood then sat again. He hit the bed. It was quite solid: as with the sun, this seemed to find him real. Suddenly, he grabbed the covers and ripped them off, waving them in front of Angel. Angel didn’t even blink and continued his silent contemplation of the floor.
Angel’s inability to see the covers scared Spike, so he let them drop. He wasn’t sure what had happened to him, but the thought began to sink in that he was in some serious shit (again).
It was a long day. One of the longest Spike had ever spent. He refused to admit to himself that this was due to guilt at causing Angel such a long day. He was actually getting angry at Angel’s reaction to his disappearance. It now seemed more histrionic than ranting and raving.
When Angel finally pushed off the wall and went toward the door, Spike let out a heartfelt, ‘At last,’ and followed. Angel stopped so abruptly at the door that Spike stomped right through him. It almost amused him that this was his first time in Angel’s body, but the thought was lost as he watched Angel’s eyes roam around the room. The expression in them made him look away.
When they reached the car, Spike opened the door incredulous at its familiar solidarity. He slammed it a couple of times and shouted at Angel some more. It was beginning to freak him out. He slumped in the passenger seat and watched Angel out of the corner of his eye. Angel had one elbow on his window; the bottom half of his face was covered by his hand. He tapped a nervous rhythm on his cheek with one finger and then said softly, ‘Put some music on.’
Spike cried out, ‘Yesss!’ but Angel paid him no more attention than he had all day, however, and continued to stare at the CDs. Suddenly, he raised his eyes to the building. ‘I’m sorry. I have to leave you here. You—. We—.’ He gave a nervous laugh. ‘No body.’ He slammed his hand into the wheel, making Spike jump. ‘No fucking body!’ He rammed the car into reverse and spun the car out.
Spike, feeling uncharacteristically subdued, stared out at the passing buildings. He wasn’t sure whether he entirely liked Angel’s mood. As he watched the L.A. life, he reflected bitterly that it was probably a good thing that the dead didn’t get to see the way that they were grieved. It wasn’t that he wanted Angel tearing his hair and beating his chest, but a few stray strands? a few bruises? would that have been too much to ask?
He cast Angel increasingly annoyed glances as they made their way up to the offices. They emerged into the lobby, and Angel actually went over to Harmony to collect his messages. He went to his office and listened to more messages on his machine. Only then did he go down the hallway toward Wesley’s office. Spike trailed behind, feeling more and more insubstantial. If no one really misses you, what’s to say you’d existed at all?
Wesley rose from his desk and kept his eyes fixed rigidly on Angel. ‘How did it go?’
Angel shrugged. ‘Not one of our better cases.’
‘Did you—? I mean, did you get what you wanted?’
Angel frowned and picked up the book Wesley had been reading. ‘It wasn’t haunted. Just vampires.’ He looked up and said casually, ‘You haven’t asked where Spike is.’
Spike made a small sound of relief. ‘At bloody last!’
Wesley kept Angel’s gaze. ‘Err, no, I haven’t. Where’s Spike?’
‘He’s gone. My team is depleting. I need to shower and change; we’ll talk later.’ He turned and walked out.
Spike let out a stream of obscenities—obscene even for him—and began to follow him out.
‘Did you get what you wanted?’
Spike spun around. Wesley twitched up an eyebrow.
Spike’s jaw dropped then he nodded. ‘Oh, surprise, surprise. We’re in some fucking spell and who’s to blame? Bloody Wyndham-Price, that’s who.’ He came forward menacingly. ‘You are so going to die.’
Wesley sat down and picked up a book. Spike made a face. ‘Don’t tell me….’ He swiped his arm right through Wesley. Wesley said, ‘Ow’ obligingly.
Spike perched on the edge of the desk and said in a very low voice, ‘Just tell me why you’ve done it.’
Wesley swivelled his chair around to face him. ‘Do I really have to tell you? Jesus, Vampire, can’t you work it out for yourself?’ He stood up and began to pace. ‘You two will be the death of everyone here! All day, everyday, you play these games with each other. Well, no longer! Angel will confront how he feels about you. Then you’ll be forced to come to terms with whatever those feelings are!’
Spike frowned deeply at the logic of this. ‘What about me confronting how I feel about him, Tosser?’
Wesley huffed ruefully, pointing out without words that they both already knew how Spike felt about Angel. Spike pouted. ‘So, how long is this little charade going to last?’
‘That’s up to you two.’
‘And that means?’
‘I didn’t set any parameters. The events will last as long as they last—until they’ve done what they’re supposed to do.’
Spike picked thoughtfully at a nail. ‘Until Angel’s… confronted these feelings…?’
‘Oh, you stupid, stupid man.’
Wesley stopped pacing and turned to study Spike. Spike pushed off the desk and came very close. He thrust his face into Wesley’s. ‘It’s taken him a hundred and twenty years to sit at the same table with me. What did you think would happen? You fucking idiot, Wesley! I’ll be trapped like this for bloody ever!’
Wesley frowned, getting annoyed by the suspicion that he might have overlooked something. ‘You’re wrong. Angel thinks you’re dead, and he’ll….’
‘What? What will he do? He’s done his grieving—it that’s what you can call it—already. I died yesterday, and he stood and stared at the fucking wall. Boo hoo. Angel was sad for a few hours. He was probably thinking about the fucking team. It’s being depleted—did you know that?’
‘Cynicism is cheap. You’re wrong….’
‘And you’re repeating yourself. Got nothing new to add, Human? You shouldn’t play with things you don’t understand! How can you understand something like Angel? Fuck! Fuck! I’ve done this insubstantial thing already!’ He spun around and swiped everything off Wesley’s desk. ‘How come I can do this? Why can’t I touch Angel? Why can’t I kill you? What have you done?’
‘I hardly think that you’d really comprehend the science, even if I did tell….'
'You patronising git! How dare you!'
'All right! I'll try and put it simply for you.’ Wesley sat down and fiddled with a piece of paper, mentally ordering his thoughts. ‘It's been postulated that there isn’t a precise static instant in time underlying a dynamical physical process at which the relative position of a body in relative motion or a specific physical magnitude could—theoretically—be precisely determined. Do you see the significance of this, Spike? It's quite revolutionary, because you can conclude that it's exactly because of this that time—relative interval as indicated by a clock, of course—and the continuity of a physical process is possible, with there being a necessary trade off of all precisely determined physical values at a time, for their continuity through time. What particularly fascinated me, and made me attempt this rather novel use of the theory, is that it's also shown to be the correct solution to the motion and infinity paradoxes, excluding the Stadium (although I’m not entirely convinced that it is wholly excluded), originally conceived—as you know—by the ancient Greek mathematician Zeno of Elea. So, your condition is entirely explainable by science. Do you see?'
Spike narrowed his eyes. He lit a cigarette, considering its precise and underlying physical process, wondered if he was having the piss taken out of him, decided that the human was quite serious, and determined that when he got out of this mess, he'd either kill Wesley or help him actually get a life.
Wesley smiled inwardly and added, 'I'm right about this—Angel will come through. I understand Angel better than you think—better than you in some ways. You see him through the—what’s the word I’m looking for: handicap. You see him through the handicap of being his flesh and blood. The long history you share obscures your view of what he’s become now. He will work this through in his own way, and when he’s done, you’ll come back.’
‘Fuck you!’ Spike stormed out and went into Angel’s office. Angel wasn’t there, so Spike stabbed the button for the elevator and rode up, his anger toward the human making him feel sick.
He heard the shower running when he got in and stood in the bedroom, hands on hips. Angel’s clothes were strewn over the floor in the typical way a man might undress, but strangely uncharacteristic for Angel.
Spike waited for a few minutes. He couldn’t hear any noises coming from the bathroom but the sound of the water. Cautiously he walked in and peered around the dividing wall.
Angel was sitting on the floor of the stall, his arms wrapped around his drawn-up knees, his chin resting on his arms. His eyes were open, but they were blank, not even blinking as the water streamed into them.
Spike felt a jolt of something deep in his belly, and however much he wanted Angel to grieve, he wanted this to stop. He cursed and crouched down in front of the still figure, the water freakily soaking him, but Angel’s skin impervious to his touch. Nevertheless, he laid his hand in an approximation of touch on the warmed flesh and said softly, ‘Don’t do this. I’ll bloody kill him for making you suffer like this.’
‘Why can’t I let you go?’
Spike was so shocked by Angel’s plaintive question that he lost his balance and fell into the naked body. Recovering, feeling disoriented, he backed out and said nervously, ‘Angel?’
‘Are you haunting me?’
‘No! I’m sodding here!’
Angel sank his head so his forehead rested on his arms, his expression obscured, then he sighed and levered to his feet. He walked through Spike and went into the bedroom.
He seemed in no hurry to put on some clothes, and Spike figured as he was technically not there, it couldn’t hurt to look… technically.
Angel was much thinner than Spike had realised; what looked bulky in his clothes was now revealed as sleek, conditioned muscle. His body gleamed as if it had been oiled, as if his skin were reaching a level of perfection short-term skin of humans never could.
Spike sat on the bed and watched Angel moving around the room, picking up his clothes, flinging them back down again—an apparently random set of actions that achieved precisely nothing.
Spike watched the way Angel’s muscles expanded and contracted as he moved, the way his torso was held firm by rock-hard abdominals. He watched the tattoo shifting on the shoulder blade; he watched the play of light and shadow on the smooth perfection; he watched anything and everything but what he was actually looking at: Angel’s semi-hard erection. It rose just free of his body, stretched and long, but not hard enough to escape its soft covering. At every step, it swayed, hitting the solid thigh and thickening some more.
Spike didn’t watch it with an eager fascination that had developed since his night with Ingram. He knew what it felt like to stroke another man’s cock, to feel it thickening in his hand. He knew what the prominent vein felt like under the tip of his tongue, how it felt to run his tongue along, tracing a path. He could taste it in his mouth, feel it bulging his cheek. His mouth watered to the memory of pre-cum wiped on his lips and sperm shooting against his throat. He swallowed at the memory of swallowing and licked his lips softly. Angel turned and sat on the bed alongside him. Spike murmured, ‘Jesus,’ and glanced down to see the deep red cockhead peeking out from its shadowy cave of skin. He lifted his face to Angel’s, but Angel seemed oblivious to the state of his body. He pulled the covers back and stretched out on his back, folding his arms behind his head.
After a few moments, he sat up and climbed out of bed again, once more going around the room with meaningless adjustments of things that were perfectly all right where they were. He fetched a book and took it back to bed, but Spike noticed he didn’t turn the pages.
Eventually, not quite knowing what he did, Spike shed his clothes and slid into the bed. He reflected that if Angel rolled over in the night, he’d be subsumed, and in the mood he was in, that was pretty much okay by him.
Angel lay awake, his body yearning sleep, his mind yearning forgetfulness, his heart utterly unwilling to let him slip into that deceitful realm.
He didn’t want to think about Spike.
Their whole relationship was based on him not thinking about Spike. If he once began, he knew he wouldn’t be able to stop, and it was too late now: too late to think about Spike. So, it was better not to begin—thinking about Spike. It was better not to think about him at all.
He didn’t know why he was surprised that it felt as if Spike were haunting him. He’d been fucking annoying his whole life; why stop now? Everywhere he went, Angel felt as if Spike were watching him. It made things…difficult. He couldn’t remember a time he’d not climbed into bed and beaten off, relieving the ache that held him angsty and frustrated all day. When he’d lived with Darla, they had fucked at least ten times a day, but it still had not satisfied him. He’d fucked Ingram seven times straight one night, and he’d still wanted more. He hated this bestial side of his nature, but accepted it, too. Self-hatred was par for the course for a souled demon.
Lying in bed now, feeling like he was being watched, he was so frustrated that he was reduced to reading—something he usually only bothered to do when trying to impress. At least he wasn’t thinking about Spike….
He tossed the book into the corner of the room and turned his head to the empty space on the pillow. He’d found a blond hair there yesterday and had spent some time studying it, trying to decide whether it was Spike’s or Ingram’s and whether, in that confusion, he was going mad. He could almost picture Spike lying there now, watching him with his perfect clarity of thought.
Who would give him that clear vision now? Who would interpret the world for him?
Angel cursed softly. He was thinking about Spike again, so he shut him out and switched his mind to something else. Cock… Spike—both banned topics, they didn’t leave much else to think about. He began to laugh, seeing his whole life reduced to these two obsessions.
He climbed out of bed and went back into the shower. At least under that hot envelopment, he’d been able to blank out all feeling for a while.
Go to Chapter 9
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