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Reality Check - Chapter 1
A leaf floated lazily on the pool, turning in circles.
It caught his eye.
A flaw in his otherwise perfect world.
He blinked behind his dark sunglasses and wondered if he had the energy to rise and remove it.
When he looked again, it had gone, possibly blown out of sight to the nearest edge.
Angel sighed and went back to doing nothing.
He reckoned he earned doing nothing after nearly three hundred years of doing too much.
It was blisteringly hot, but however much sun he absorbed, it never seemed enough. It never burnt him, which was strange, as he’d built up no immunity to it when young. Sometimes, he wondered if this was the very reason why he didn’t burn, just went a dark bronze: it was so long since he’d had human skin, that this he had now was unique. Sometimes, he wondered if he was just an all-over unique human.
Shanshu had never said ordinary.
After all, ordinary had never been part of his life.
He heard a phone ringing somewhere in the house, knew who it was, and knew he should answer it. She’d worry if he didn’t, worry that he was lounging in the sun instead of working. He smiled, a quick flash of amusement, hidden behind the dark lenses. He loved her worrying about him: the gentle nagging when she returned home, the fake frowns and promises to withdraw her many favours. Which she never did, of course: they couldn’t get enough of each other now—now they had all the time in the world.
Thoughts of Buffy—remembrances of the things they had done the previous night, anticipation of what they would do that night—made lying on his belly suddenly uncomfortable.
He rolled onto his back.
Naked, reluctant to have any area of his body not a mahogany bronze, the source of his discomfort was now lying heavy on his belly. Every so often, a tiny pulse of clear fluid seeped from the pisshole, and he watched it avidly. Every fluid that came out of there now fascinated him, particularly piss, which he never tired of watching arcing through space and hitting water in a long, satisfying stream.
He brushed a finger along his thick, long penis as if adding a stroke to one of his paintings.
Sometimes, being human was too good to be true.
He had a number of choices: he could pull himself here and now and enjoy a long, lazy jerk-off in the sun, or he could go indoors and put some porn on the TV and do it there. Alternately, he could retrieve a magazine from his sock drawer and lie in the cool of their huge bed.
Or he could save it for Buffy.
He pictured her now, coming through the door, her work clothes slightly wrinkled, her face alight with the pleasure of another day that gave her so much satisfaction and happiness. He could be waiting for her just inside, in the shade, something prominent greeting her with a steady pulse of need dripping to the floor.
She’d catch her breath in pleasure and let him take her against the door, crushed to the wall, or lying askew on the stairs, or clinging to the banister. Or she’d run. She could run like the wind, and she always added that edge of fear, as if he were still demonic and as if he still had physical power over her. Her pretence almost gave it to him: the speed to catch her, the strength to bring her down and take her.
Or she would stalk him, pretending he was still demonic, calling for him with his old name and falling on him, stabbing into his heart with her love, but impaling herself, not him.
Or he could wait for her here. Have her climb slowly into her bikini, pulling it high and tight. Adjusting it again. Then slipping it to one side and the impaling again….
He couldn’t wait.
He began a strong beat on the hard flesh, stroking over his balls with his other hand. It was no matter. By the time she returned, he would be hard again.
Life was so much better than he could ever have imagined.
There were no houses near them, but sometimes, he liked to imagine there were: spying eyes on him as he lay in the sun day after day. He knew he was beautiful, and sometimes he wondered if he was trying to make up for so many years of feeling deformed, hideous and beneath contempt with this craving for admiration now.
He pictured an audience—an appreciative one—and sped up, lifting his hips, sliding his hand beneath.
It wouldn’t be long now. Blood was rushing south, tingling into his cock in an impossible rush. His balls were uncomfortably heavy.
His reaching finger found its target.
One press and an electric charge surged from back to front. His balls rose high, and everything released on a flood of intense pleasure.
Arc after arc leapt gracefully from his purple-headed shaft, until the colour faded to a deep rosy pink. The last arc slowing to spumes bubbling thick globules of come into his fist.
It seemed as if he were making up for more things than hundreds of years without sun—compensating in other areas. He produced so much human sperm that he felt he could impregnate the world. Power—primal, masculine power—surged through him as he wiped the thick life around his sweat-glistening body.
When he was covered with life, he slid off his shades, rose and dove gracefully into the pool.
It was his water, and he liked the idea of it swimming with his life—liked the idea of swimming surrounded by his life force.
He swam to the bottom and lay flat, emptying his lungs slowly so his body was leaden.
He was going for two minutes this time. He’d not done it yet, only ever reaching just over a minute and a half (and he suspected he counted too quickly as well).
If he could only reach two…. The rush would be…. He swam frantically for the surface and… there it was… the first great gulp—air!—oxygen sucked into his screaming lungs… the rush to his head… the burning in his chest.
He vowed he’d never take it all for granted: this life of his. This humanity.
He could hear the phone again and grinned openly this time. It was still Buffy. He could almost see her tapping her foot, glancing at her watch, wondering where he was.
He decided to surprise her by his industry, swung strongly to the side and levered out of the water. Dripping, naked, he padded to the house.
Pulling on some sweatpants, he circled his desk, glancing down at the unfinished sketches. They were good—very good—even he could see that, and he was his harshest critic.
Demons, in all their hideous forms, danced across the page, but somehow, he’d managed to turn hideous into comic, fearful into fun. It was a children’s anthology, after all.
He ran his hand over the bookshelf. Award-winning books. Award-winning illustrations. Astonished publishers wondering that he had such an imagination.
How it made them both laugh, for he just closed his eyes, and they were all there: the parade of creatures in his mind. He just let his hand move, and they danced onto the pages for him: fairies and unicorns, devils and demons.
Three lifetimes of memories and the gift for drawing had brought them a good life. A very good life.
Bare chested, he sat and picked up his pencils, a slim, plain cross swinging free from his tanned neck, reminding him of Buffy: his gift to her returned, now that he could wear it.
He smiled as he worked, humming, sipping coffee, bathed in sunlight from the glass ceiling panels.
It was a good life, and she’d be home soon, making it better.
Later that evening, clearing up from the meal he’d cooked for them, kissing over the washing up, the doorbell rang.
With a brief stab of awareness, Angel knew that he’d never heard it ring before, but he shook off the prickling sensation on his scalp. It was that sort of neighbourhood: no one needed to ring; they just pushed the door and hollered.
Wiping his hands, he gave Buffy a final peck on the nose and went down the pure white hallway.
He prepared a smile of welcome and opened the door.
Spike looked up from an examination of his boots and cocked him a crooked grin. ‘Hi ya, Pet. How’s life?’