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Reality Check - Chapter 14
It was the most unlikely thing that could have happened, given what had gone before, but it happened anyway: things went back to normal.
The only difference was that where they had previously sought each other’s company and fought, now they fought by avoiding each other. It was a different kind of enmity, but an effective one, nevertheless.
Angel made no move to eject Spike from the agency, and Spike wasn’t about to give him the satisfaction of admitting defeat and just going. So, they avoided each other and fought from a distance, instead of up close and personal. The pain inflicted by these distant wounds only seemed to hurt more.
Avoidance was a good strategy, except that they did still have to work together, and they could not altogether avoid the business of the agency. They still had to attend meetings and go out on cases, but always with plenty of other people around so they could keep up the pretence of being utterly unaware of the other’s presence.
Working on just such a case one day, Angel leant against the car, deep in his own dark thoughts, waiting for Gunn and Wesley.
He noted the blond figure arrive but appeared to give it no more consideration than he did the comings and goings of the other employees in the garage.
Spike ignored the fact he was being ignored and leant against a pillar, lighting a cigarette.
Angel checked his watch then made a call on his cell phone.
When he saw the call end, Spike said to no one in particular, ‘We getting this thing on then?’
Angel didn’t reply, but he turned and climbed in behind the wheel, tapping his fingers aggressively on the leather.
Spike assumed this was Angel’s way of telling him to get in without actually having to speak, so slid obediently into the passenger seat. When Angel started the car and pulled away, Spike’s heart sank.
They had a four-hour drive ahead of them, a meeting, and a four hour drive back. Alone. With any luck, he’d be staked and would only have to make the journey once.
The close proximity to Angel was only made worse by the fact he couldn’t open a window, lean out, feel space, if only illusory.
He cast a surreptitious glance at Angel’s profile under the excuse of checking the direction and got the message that Angel had no intention of making conversation. Spike was tempted, somewhere in his evil centre, to chatter and thus force Angel to actually say, ‘I’m not talking to you.’ It made him smile to have forced such a childish pronouncement—even if only in his head.
Even more satisfying was to light a cigarette. As Angel wasn’t talking to him, he couldn’t tell him to put it out, which he knew Angel was dying to do. He could see it in the way the powerful hands gripped the wheel.
It passed another ten minutes or so.
When he’d finished the cigarette, he held the butt between his fingers, frowning. He debated grinding it out on the carpet but began to rummage around the dash instead, opening things, not pushing them back in…. It was hard to look genuine and not smirk at the same time, so he finally put it in his pocket and settled back until he could think of something else to do to pass the time.
Eventually, he pulled out the small, two-headed axe he’d brought and began to twist it around in his fingers. He had a vision of himself suddenly sinking it into the flesh of Angel’s thigh. That would get a reaction. It made him think about his severed arms, and afterwards, when Angel came everyday to the hospital. He’d hardly spoken then either, but there had been no silent hostility as there was now. Without thinking what he was doing, Spike began to drag one of the blades over his arm, watching dully as fine lines of red blossomed on his smooth skin. Angel had brought him presents, too… nothing of consequence, small things, but thoughtful, nevertheless. Sometimes, he altered these memories so that the gifts were more personal, leading to them becoming more… personal.
Spike jumped, and the blade sank deeper into his arm. He yelped and was about to put the wound to his mouth when Angel wrestled the axe from him. ‘You are a fucking moron, Spike.’ The angry vampire flung the weapon into the back seat.
There was an odd sound.
Spike twisted his head around to look. ‘Now you’ve done it.’
Angel refused to look at first then he quickly glanced back. The axe had sliced the two-thousand-dollar-per-hide leather as easily as it would have sliced the cow that had once owned it. It stuck out from the middle of the backseat at a jaunty angle.
Angel yanked the car over to the side and twisted in his seat, pulling it free. It came away with a puff of surprisingly cheap filling, which drifted over them like confetti. Spike held out his hand and caught some. ‘That’ll teach you.’
‘Don’t what, Angel?’ He tried to make his voice sound weary, but wasn’t at all sure that it didn’t just come over as dead.
‘Don’t make this out to be something that it isn’t. This isn’t us back to normal.’
‘Oh, get a life, Angel.’ The casual, throwaway line couldn’t have been less planned or more unfortunate.
Angel put both hands on the wheel and gripped tightly. ‘Get out.’
‘Well, yeah. I heard. But it’s like… sunny.’
‘No! You get out! You’re so keen to be rid of this life, you bloody get out and end it all! Oh, no, you just make up a nice cosy little life to escape it. Haven’t got the balls to do it properly?’
Angel shoved the car into drive and swung carelessly back into the traffic. His driving was erratic, and for a moment, it seemed as if he’d taken up Spike’s suggestion for the both of them.
It had a certain appeal—going out in a blaze of glory, fusing slowly with Angel in a molten fire of hate—until Spike remembered he’d already done molten. It wasn’t pretty. Kinda lit you in a funny way. He lit another cigarette, just to piss Angel off and began to lick at the cuts he’d made on his arm. Sometimes, you just had to make your own oral pleasures.
By the time they pulled up in front of a run-down bar in the middle of nowhere, it was dark. They had never been so glad to get out of a car, and both immediately separated, Spike going around to the back of the building to check it out, and Angel going in the front.
Spike took the opportunity to sit on some crates and smoke another cigarette. It was an easy job: find an informant and get him to… inform. With a sigh, he hefted the axe and prepared to kick open the back door.
Before he could contact with the wood, the door flew outwards and something heavy and very smelly landed on him. He grunted, rolled off and ducked a punch. The thing was so ugly he sank his axe into its forehead and reckoned it was an improvement.
When he entered the bar, there was a blur of movement and the sounds of crashing and breaking. Angel, it seemed, had taken his angst out on the demon patrons, and a simple enquiry for information had become a brawl. Spike shrugged and waded in: Angel wasn’t the only one who was feeling the need for release. In fighting.
Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Angel, a dark figure spinning and kicking. The incongruity of it all suddenly hit Spike: Angel’s suit, the demons, the bar in the middle of nowhere, his feelings. He should be looking at Angel now and seeing the demon. He should be hating him for what he had done, but he didn’t. All he saw when he watched the lean figure was the man Angel wanted to be: the one he had let exist, albeit for that most illusory of moments.
Spike fought on automatic pilot—cut, thrust, swing, dodge. Was he living his life like this, too? He should either commit or surrender. Riding in silence, cocooned in expensive leather behind magical glass, bathed in harmless sunlight… his whole life was out of kilter. Was it any surprise that his emotions were, too?
He glanced over to Angel once more, trying to summon the anger he ought to feel and hissed in anxious surprise when he saw Angel on his knees, trying to parry a blow from a larger, heavier and very mean looking demon.
He decapitated the two demons that were standing between him and Angel then flung himself on Angel’s attacker. Grunting with the effort, he got the demon around the neck and jerked. There was a spine-tingling crunch, like footfalls in deep snow, and the demon went limp in his arms.
‘You fucking moron!’
Angel came to his feet in a fighting stance, his face darkly shadowed with fury. He strode over to Spike and began to check the dead demon’s pockets. When he rose, he bellowed, ‘What the freaking hell have I done to deserve you?’
More than a little put out that his heroic gesture had not been met with at least a nod of gratitude, Spike shoved Angel out of the way and began to make his way over the sea of bodies. He arm was snatched. Angel swung him around and hit him. ‘That-was-my-informant!’
Spike dabbed at his lip then before he could stop himself, he swung and punched Angel back, equally hard. Angel staggered, roared, and came at him. They both slipped on blood and crashed to the floor. By the time they separated enough to kick and punch, they were both in their demon faces. Spike rolled, trying to reach his axe. Angel caught at his ankle and dragged him back. Spike got hold of a chair and brought it down on Angel’s head, wriggling free as soon as Angel released him. He reached the axe and swung just as Angel lunged at him. The blade sliced into Angel’s arm, just above the elbow. Holding his injured arm, Angel kicked the axe out of Spike’s hand then crashed into him, taking them both down in a tangle of limbs onto the bodies that littered the floor.
They were awash with blood. It saturated their clothes and caked their faces. Angel got his hands to Spike’s neck. There was too much blood to get purchase, and he slipped and slithered, so he belly-punched Spike and the smaller vampire went down, winded. Angel put one knee onto Spike’s chest and dragged him up by the lapels, but Spike swung out and hit him on the temple. Angel fell heavily over Spike, and Spike brought his knee up, almost catching Angel in the balls, but at the last minute, Angel deflected the blow with his arm. They grunted and rolled and tried to dig eyes out of sockets, rip hair from skulls, strip skin from bone. Finally, Spike’s thinness told against him, and he lay pinned beneath Angel’s superior weight as their hands scrabbled to inflict injury to face or neck. Spike growled in frustration and bucked, jerking his hips up sharply. Angel fell forward, but he was too solid to dislodge completely. He punched Spike on the side of the head and sat down heavily again. Spike tried to wriggle out from under him, but Angel only punched him again. Spike snarled and grabbed Angel’s lower lip with one hand, twisting viciously. Angel gave a muffled cry and peeled the fingers off, his lip torn. He imprisoned Spike’s wrists and pinned them over Spike’s head, leaning along him to hold them there.
Suddenly, there was nothing but silence.
Angel pressed down again.
Spike hissed and turned his face to one side.
Before either could think it through, Angel was rocking on the bloodied figure beneath. He released Spike’s wrists and held onto his shoulders, his thumbs buried into Spike’s hot armpits. He jerked his hips against Spike’s, met by Spike’s arching thrusts. Spike turned his face back and seized Angel’s hair, pulling it hard each time Angel slammed their groins together. He lifted his mouth, his eyes dilated, fixed on Angel’s as if mesmerised by the bleeding lip. Just before their mouths met, Angel twisted his face away and closed his eyes, blocking out everything else but the humping movement of cock crushed to cock.
At the refusal to kiss, Spike only dug his fingers more viciously into Angel’s scalp and used the hair to grind them harder together.
Relief when it came was as hard and unsatisfactory as the fight. Angel arched back, his face that of an addict getting a fix. Spike shuddered his orgasm out as if he were being tortured with electrodes: jerky, helpless, defeated.
By the time they’d finished and Angel rolled off, they were soaked with too many fluids to individually identify.
Spike climbed shakily to his feet, testing his injuries. He heard Angel behind him and turned. Angel didn’t look at him. ‘Make your own way back, Spike. Maybe find someone to stake you on the way. Do the world a favour.’
‘Why don’t you do it?’ Spike’s voice was soft and silky: the kind of voice he might use to a lover.
He bent and picked up a chair leg, splintered off in the fight. He held it out. ‘You do it.’
Angel frowned, probing his damaged lip.
‘Come on. If you hate me so much. Just do it.’ He flipped the stake around so the ragged splintered end was against his chest. ‘Embrace me, Angel, and send it home.’
‘Stop being melodramatic.’
‘You’ve just said you want me to get staked on the way home!’
Angel pursed his lips and winced faintly, probing the wound. He flicked his eyes up to Spike’s then down again, cast a glance around the room, murmured, ‘Jerk-off,’ and very carefully edged past the offered stake.
Spike watched him leave and stood in the detritus of their battle, wondering who held the field.
Spike saw no reason to hide his wounds so turned up the next day as he always did. Angel, he was intrigued to see, was also at work, also sporting the evidence of their battle.
He was about to turn and inconspicuously leave the lobby, intending to continue with their mutual avoidance strategy, when Wesley, Lorne and Gunn, accompanied by a number of other employees Spike vaguely recognised stepped out of the elevator. They came toward Angel’s office looking purposeful, and Angel looked up, gathered some paper and moved around his desk toward the conference room.
Spike continued to slide quietly away until Gunn hailed him. The entire group paused and waited for him to join them, by which time Angel had come out to see what the delay was.
Innocently, Harmony looked up from her desk and said, ‘Whoops. I forgot to email Spikey about the meeting, Boss. Hey! You’ve got matching bruises!’
Both vampires looked at their feet, and to cover the embarrassment of this, Angel indicated with a tiny flick of his head that he didn’t care if Spike joined them. Thinking it would be the least conspicuous thing to do, Spike trailed after the other employees and sat as far away from Angel as he could.
It was only after half an hour had passed that he felt steady enough to glance up toward Angel on the pretext of hearing the phone ring in the office. Angel was staring at him. Spike snatched his eyes back down to the table, frowning. It had not been a look of derision.
For the first time, it occurred to Spike that Angel was thinking about him. Even more startling, it struck him that these thoughts included the fact that they were now intimate. That they included remembrance of what they done only last night, lying in the blood and sweat of their fight. Spike realised that for the first time he was in a room with someone who wanted his body, who burned for it. He glanced up again and caught Angel’s eyes rising from the table, too.
This time, they held the gaze for a moment, and a shiver consumed Spike’s body, beginning at the back of his neck and running down his spine. It lodged in his balls and made them clench. Angel was the first to break eye contact.
Spike continued to watch Angel’s lowered head, challenging him to look up again, and eventually, Angel did, his look annoyed, as if he’d been fighting the urge and lost. Without allowing Angel to look away without losing face once more, Spike lit a cigarette, letting the first drag curl from his mouth, pursing his lips as if blowing a kiss toward the dark vampire. He dangled the cigarette on his lips, toyed with it, and Angel shut his eyes.
Spike smiled, intensely pleased.
When the meeting broke up, everyone rose from the table still talking, and Angel pushed his chair back, buttoning his coat before he stood. He watched his employees file past, his eyes downcast and hooded.
Spike stubbed his cigarette out and shoved his chair back. He felt cheated of something he hadn’t been offered and shouldn’t want anyway.
He trailed out behind the others, wanting to push them out of the way to get away from Angel’s presence.
He passed the dark vampire, mentally giving him one more chance to say something, but Angel kept his eyes lowered to the carpet. Spike swept past, hoping he could feel his anger.
A hand shot out and captured his wrist. No one noticed. No one turned around. When they’d gone, Angel reached around with his other hand and very deliberately shut the door.
He turned on Spike, twisting his wrist up, rubbing hard on his chest. Spike’s coat slipped off one shoulder, and Angel tore it down, leaving Spike’s arms trapped at the elbows as he sank his mouth into the corded throat. He crashed them to a wall, biting with blunt human teeth into the pale skin. Spike wriggled free of his coat and caught hold of Angel’s head, tilting it up, staring hungrily at the lips, raising his for a kiss. Angel caught hold of Spike’s hair, ran his fingers into the long locks, then with cold eyes, jerked him painfully away from his lips and held him there, the message clear: no kissing.
Spike tried to pull free, but roots were giving, and he nodded in surrender. Angel only grinned and used the hold to exert enough pressure to force Spike to his knees.
With the dispassion of a man taking a piss, Angel heaved his heavy cock out of his pants and pushed it into Spike’s face.
Using the blond hair like reins, he rode past the lips which he had rejected for more loving uses.
The only time he released his hold was to slap at Spike’s ear, or press his thumbs over the blue eyes to close them.
Suddenly, Spike’s arm flew up and banged Angel’s away. Before the standing vampire could object, Spike took hold of Angel’s root and licked right down the underside of his shaft, nuzzling into his hair and balls. Very deliberately, he knelt back on his heels and looked up challengingly. His message was clear, too. Angel got it and let his hands rest more lightly on Spike’s head, let Spike take the lead. When the sensations began to overwhelm him, he spread his hands on the wall, like a man being frisked, the blond head moving languorously on him.
Only when he began to shudder did he catch hold of Spike’s hair once more, now gently holding him in place as he released.
Spike stayed on his knees for a moment, then rose gracefully and faced Angel. Very deliberately, he parted his lips, let Angel see the cum glistening on his tongue then came forward for a kiss.
Angel put his palm over Spike’s face, fingers splayed, then shoved him into the wall. ‘Yeah, like, not.’
He zipped up, even dipping his knees slightly—a man satisfied—turned and strode back to his desk.
Spike had to walk past him to leave. It was more humiliating than what he’d let Angel do.
It was only when he was in the elevator, heading to the sewers—where he had suddenly felt a very strong desire to be—that he remembered he’d left his coat in a heap on the floor.
Nothing, nothing could have made him walk past Angel and fetch it.
He closed his eyes and wondered what hurt more: his scalp, his throat or his feelings. It was a close run thing.
Suddenly, his eyes snapped open.
Perhaps he would go and get his coat.
A couple of hours later, Spike strode across the lobby, ignoring a slight gasp from Harmony. He shoved Angel’s office door open so hard it hit the glass and bounced back. He strode into the conference room and scooped up his coat.
Angel watched the whole display with lowered, thoughtful eyes.
Spike grinned as he stepped back into the elevator.
He ran his hand over his shaved head.
He’d made his point.
He was still grinning when he sauntered down his hallway, rummaging for his keys to the apartment. He didn’t see the dark shadow until he was almost upon it and stopped abruptly.
Angel peeled off from the wall and folded his arms.
Spike shrugged. ‘So, you know where I live.’
‘I know everything about you.’
‘Is that so?’ Spike opened his door then stepped neatly inside. He turned and put his arm, an immutable barrier, over the gap. ‘Then know this: you’re not invited.’
Angel narrowed his eyes, pursed his lips and stepped closer. One lightest of touches on the inside of Spike’s wrist, and the barrier gave.
With his assertion crumbling like all his other lies, Spike spun away and flung his coat angrily into one corner. Angel caught hold of the back of his T-shirt, just exerting enough pressure to make clear his intent.
Spike wasn’t in the mood: his pride beginning to surface from where he’d left it floating in Angel’s imaginary pool.
He batted Angel’s arm off angrily and flung himself onto the couch, flicking the remote to turn the TV on. Angel came closer, too close, standing between the open thighs. Spike tipped his head to one side so he could see around the large figure.
As graceful as a supplicant, Angel dropped to his knees.
Spike let out a small curse of shock but did not try to stop him.
Angel took his time. He seemed in no hurry to actually do anything else but play with Spike through the soft denim of his old jeans. He cupped the shape of his penis, pressed it with the heel of his hand, worked it a little between two fingers, rearranged it as it began to swell and fill the material.
When all was tight and hard, Angel pressed his lips to the cotton and mouthed wetly over the place where the tip lay, pulling off to see the effect of his work, murmuring with satisfaction when Spike looked as if his own excitement had overcome him.
Whatever Angel did, Spike was determined to ignore him, and he resolutely watched his show, turning it up pointedly.
Angel didn’t seem to care one way or the other whether Spike was engaged with what he did. Just as when he’d ridden his mouth in the office, he made it abundantly clear that loving or sharing was not uppermost in his mind.
The show was halfway through before Angel actually unzipped Spike enough for the purple plum of his cockhead to peek through the gap—just that, he held the cotton around it like a napkin around a drumstick, the foreskin squeezed out of sight. Only then did he glance up with a sly smile to Spike and work his tongue into the deep slit.
Spike’s finger jabbed reflexively on the remote and the channel changed. He swore and fumbled to turn it back. Angel’s eyebrow rose, amused, and he popped the whole plum between his lips, lashing it with his tongue like a hummingbird seeking nectar.
Spike gasped and arched back on the couch. Angel rose up on his knees and opened his mouth wide, pressing down with his lips so Spike’s cock emerged from the teeth of his zipper like a missile rising from a silo, blasting hotly into Angel’s cavernous mouth.
Angel’s hands flew to Spike’s knees, and he pushed them open, lifting them onto the couch, dragging Spike down and further into his mouth.
Spike felt as if he was being eaten from the cock up. Angel looked and sounded like a monster from a medieval fairytale: grunting, feasting, slavering. He rose off the wet shaft, saliva glistening his lips like opaque blood.
Very deliberately, he took Spike in his hand and curled his fist around the veined length. As he stared with an unreadable expression into Spike’s eyes, he jacked him off, an expert, fast, slurpy hand job that made Spike’s eyes roll back in his head, his fingers curl and uncurl in the soft material of the couch, and finally, his body rise to a contorted arc of quivering flesh as an erupting climax propelled streams of come high into the air.
Spike did not soften even then, but he rolled to one side and climbed with difficulty to his feet, tripping over Angel in his haste to put some distance between them. Angel allowed himself to fall to the floor, theatrically abandoned. Then, with an amused sigh, he hefted himself onto the couch, got comfortable and changed the channel, examining the wet remote with amused interest.
Spike went to the small kitchen area of the apartment and fastened his jeans, his back to Angel. He gripped the edge of the counter. His body still betrayed him, tingling with tiny after-tremors of pleasure. It had done that with Buffy, too, even as she was spitting her hatred at him, gathering her clothes, running away to shower and wash his fluids out of her. He’d come all this way, only to end up back where he had started.
He glanced over at the figure on the couch and, for the first time, seriously considered leaving L.A. He wasn’t sure how much longer he could go on like this. Was it brutal loving or loving rape? It hung somewhere in the middle of those uneasily.
Straightening, he fetched one beer from the fridge and made a point of sitting on the couch as if the large vampire were not lying on it.
Angel casually reached over and relieved him of the beer. ‘Thanks.’
Spike kept his expression neutral, fetched another and sat back down.
He watched the dumb programme Angel had turned onto, his eyes taking in the images, his mind thinking about the future. He had a depressing vision of them still locked in this destructive relationship in another century. Now, he could not get a soul to change the dynamic. He’d done that for Buffy. Couldn’t do it again.
With a deep frown, Spike felt Angel’s fingers on his head, rubbing around the stubble that was all that was left of his hair. He swore, twisted around and banged them away. After a suitable amount of time had elapsed, they returned, now the whole palm, rubbing and swirling erotically over his sharply delineated skull.
Spike jerked his head away and hissed between gritted teeth, ‘I did this to piss you off!’
There was a pause, and Angel said with a small laugh, ‘I kinda got that.’ He went back to his game.
Spike shot to his feet. Angel had to go—now! One more minute and he’d lose what little pride he had left. If he cried in front of Angel now, he’d be lost. There were only so many times he could come back from death. He said nothing (not trusting himself to speak) but held the door open.
Angel sat up, still seeming to find the situation amusing.
He stood and stretched then clicked a finger like a pistol at Spike. ‘See you around.’
Angel stopped. ‘Oh, don’t tell me my little fuck-buddy is thinking of leaving!’
Spike clenched his jaw and nodded toward the hallway.
‘You know that’s a crock of shit, Spike! You aren’t leaving! You’ll never leave.’ He leant in close. ‘You need me! You want me!’
Spike scratched the side of his head, not deliberately reminding Angel of what he’d done to his hair, but nevertheless pleased with the gesture once he’d made it. ‘Seems to me…’ he dragged the moment out for effect, ‘that all the times we’ve fucked and sucked, it’s been you that’s initiated it—just sayin’ like.’
Angel growled. ‘Don’t push me too far, Spike.’
‘Why? What ya gonna do? Try and maybe get it hard enough to finish the job this time! Maybe try Viagra, Angel! ‘S good for flaccid rapists!’
Angel stepped in menacingly but suddenly hesitated. He licked his lips as if tasting the words he’d planned to say. He apparently didn’t like them, for with only a token push at Spike’s chest, he left.
stood frozen to the spot for some time after. He wasn’t sure whether he’d
maligned Angel’s manhood or obliquely told him that he missed him actually
being inside. More to the point, he wasn’t sure which of these he hoped