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Reality Check - Chapter 25
He’d sobered enough to feel guilty in equal measure to the mean pleasure he took in guiding Nick down toward his apartment. He had absolutely nothing to offer this man, but he was going to take quite a lot from him. Guilt had been his constant companion for so long now that he shrugged it off and even threw his arm affectionately over the man’s shoulder.
Once inside the apartment, Nick seemed to panic. The reality of what he was doing hit hard when he saw the unmade bed and the general mess—a man’s mess, a man’s life. He was about to share that and more with a man, and it scared him witless. He began to babble, talking a stream of consciousness about books and movies that Spike didn’t even hear. He only stared at the soft lips and wondered why they weren’t the ones he wanted.
As he stared at the man, leaning on the counter, finishing off the bottle he’d brought from the bar, he wondered if he should try and make it better with Angel. He was confused. He remembered loving bodies, which didn’t seem to fit with Angel’s declaration that he was only being tolerated, humoured, kept close—a dangerous, unstable enemy.
Perhaps Angel had been lying to the human. Perhaps Angel had balked at admitting what they were to each other now.
By the time he’d finished all the available alcohol in the apartment, he’d dismissed this idea. It had not been the voice of a liar. He knew Angel too well now, and that had been the truth. But if he knew Angel so well, why had he not felt that the perfect body had been lying to him all night?
For the first time, Spike realised he was biting savagely at a cuticle, making it bleed. It took away the feel of Angel’s slim golden chain running through his fingers, and what was a little blood?
Nick had a lot of blood.
Spike could smell it.
He closed his eyes and saw it: red, moving hotly over striated muscle. His mouth rushed with water, and he began to shake.
Too close. The man was too close. A hesitant hand on his chest.
‘I’m afraid, Sean.’
You should be.
‘What do you want to do?’
I want to give up the effort to be a good man—with you, here, tonight. Let me lose my soul in you.
‘I’m kinda new to this—if you didn’t already know it.’
I’m not. I’m so old, the pages have all been written, the songs all sung. There’s nowhere for me to go now. Lost my soul, got it back, had it trampled on. I’m so sorry, human. I’m so sorry that it had to be you.
The sharp rap on the door made Spike jump more than the human, but it was a close-run thing.
Nick backed off, and his legs collided with the couch, where he sat heavily.
Spike turned his head to the door, his body moving out of time. For some reason, he said quietly, to no one in particular, ‘He’s come to tell me how much he hates me for making him love me.’
Knowing that he had no option but to follow his script, Spike walked calmly to the door and opened it.
Angel stood in the hallway, a large pizza box balanced in arms with a number of video boxes. ‘Why didn’t you tell me you’d come back here for the night? Good idea, by the way.’
He pushed past Spike and actually got as far as the coffee table before he saw Nick.
The lack of confusion on Angel’s face for a moment wrenched Spike’s heart. Why wasn’t he confused? Surely he could see what this was. Only someone in love and very, very secure wouldn’t be confused at this.
Spike did nothing, only held the door, waiting for everyone to leave him.
Spike holding the door and not speaking gave Angel his first clue. He looked again at the man he had taken to be someone come to see the apartment—and saw him properly. He actually smelt the fear and the recent arousal, now nothing but a distant memory.
He turned, and Spike saw nothing but genuine pain on his face. It seemed so easy then to say, ‘I’m making it easier for you, Angel. I’m letting you down easy.’
‘Guh? I mean…. Guh?’
Unheeded by the vampires, the human slipped silently out of the apartment, only his fear, like the smell of stale sweat, left behind.
Spike shut the door and went to the kitchen, looking desperately for some more alcohol. ‘I heard you and Wesley talking about me, Angel.’
Angel blushed deeply. ‘I can’t have him taking what I love again. I had to be sure he understood this time.’
‘I understand, I really do.’
‘I didn’t so much tell him about us—he guessed.’
‘I know you can’t trust me. I’m sorry. I thought you did. But I would never hurt you.’
‘And he kinda knew before, I’m thinking.’
‘You shouldn’t have let your body lie like that.’
‘I think he’s gonna be okay with it. Which is good.’
‘You don’t owe me a thing.’
‘Because I do owe a lot to…. What did you just say?’
‘Huh? What are you talking about?’
‘I’m—weren’t we talking about my talk with Wesley tonight?’
‘Yeah. And I understand. Have I just said that already?’
‘Understand what? Spike, what the fuck are you babbling about?’
‘I have no idea. Angel, I heard you! You said you were humouring me! Keeping me close so that I wouldn’t hurt anyone!’
‘Gunn! I’m keeping Gunn close. Why the hell would I be humouring you? And who the hell was that man?’
‘No! You told him that I’d tried to kill myself!’
‘Gunn! Gunn tried to kill himself. I told you! Well, okay, no, I didn’t. But I wanted to tell you! And who was he? Shit, Spike, what’s going on here?’
‘It wasn’t me you were talking about?’
‘I don’t know! I told Wesley that I love you! No, I mean, I didn’t tell him that; he guessed. I think. Oh, fuck, I need a drink. Who was he?’
Spike sat heavily on the arm of the couch.
Angel watched his expression for a while then went closer and after a moment’s hesitation, pulled the head against him. ‘Shhh.’
It was entirely the wrong thing to say. A huge hiccup of self-pitying vomit rose and splurged over Angel’s belly, dripping in large lumps onto his shoes. Before he could react (by even a scream), another followed it—more watery and propelled further.
Angel sucked in air as if he needed it and cursed, with curses dragged up from his memories of hell. He grabbed Spike’s arms and thrust him none too gently into the shower. He was still vomiting, and the stall became slick and sticky.
Angel didn’t know what to do first and hovered hopelessly, doing nothing. Then he tore off his own clothes and flung them furiously on the floor. Naked, stinking, he turned on the shower over the fully dressed vampire, unheeding for a moment that Spike slid down the wall, still hiccupping and retching quietly.
‘It lasted all of one night, Spike—some kind of idyll with you. And now this.’ He lifted Spike to his feet, and his loving touch belied the harshness of his words. ‘And isn’t this familiar? How many times have you vomited on me in our acquaintance? Huh? How many?’ The shirt tore in his hands, and he dropped it to the stall. ‘More than I’ve ever sicked on you, which is never!’ He ripped the jeans open. ‘Oh, and I didn’t just dress in my favourite leather pants, did I? And my eight hundred dollar shirt. Fuck you!’ The jeans followed the shirt to their feet. ‘But do you know? Best of all, I like finding you with some other guy.’ He began to turn Spike under the water. ‘Oh, and I’m getting now that he wasn’t a prospective buyer—not of the apartment, anyway. How much you charge now, Spike? Because I’m remembering that time in Paris when you went pretty cheaply. Whoring around those rich old ladies until you could suck them….’ He held Spike’s arms, staring into his face. ‘Whoa! Was that what this was tonight? Were you thinking of a whole different use for a human?’ He brushed a fleck of vomit off Spike’s chin. His hands began to stroke over Spike’s head. ‘Christ.’ He pulled Spike into his arms. ‘Don’t love me this much, Spike. I told you: I’m a shit lover, and I’ll hurt you.’ Spike was too ill to reply. Angel replied for him. ‘I was talking about Gunn, until I was talking about you, and then I was saying that I love you. I think it, so why shouldn’t I say it?’ He pulled Spike out from under the shower and wrapped him in a large towel. ‘When you’re sober, we will talk about that man on your couch.’
He eased Spike onto the bed then climbed on behind him, sitting with his legs either side of the silent figure, one thigh Spike’s pillow. He stroked Spike’s head, trailing his finger around his ear. ‘I brought pizza. First time I’ve ever done that. Weird.’
There was a small stir on the bed, and Angel leant closer to catch the almost non-existent voice.
‘What were the films?’
Angel sat back and began to laugh. Spike groaned at the jiggling, so he stopped. He went back to stroking Spike’s head. When he saw that Spike was asleep, he pulled a blanket over him then closed his eyes and rested his own throbbing head on the wall.
He wondered what would have happened if he’d been a few minutes later.
Angel had not meant to fall asleep—he was too uncomfortable—but he was woken by an urgent shaking. He jerked to full wakefulness and said into the dark, ‘What?’
‘Nothing would have happened.’
‘With that bloke. Angel! Nothing! I love you!’
Angel fumbled for the light, but by the time he’d found it, Spike had fallen back into the near-unconsciousness he’d been in up to then, his mouth hanging open, snoring lightly.
Angel felt a weight lift from his shoulders; bands of fear unwind from his heart. He heard more truth in this confused, nighttime declaration than could ever have been in a more sober, planned confession.
That brief moment of lucidity was the last for the rest of the night and the following day. Perhaps feeling guilty, Spike made little effort to rally and lay in a fug of self-pity and pain, while Angel attempted to sort the mess. He knew Spike wasn’t as ill as he was pretending to be, knew that a pair of blue eyes watched him from the bed when he wasn’t looking, but he didn’t call his childe on his fiction. He just looked after him quietly: bringing him water, making him take some blood; feeding him Tylenol at regular intervals and not mentioning the man on the couch.
He didn’t demand Spike’s improvement until the evening, when he said calmly, ‘Let’s go home.’
Spike pouted and pulled the blanket a little higher.
Angel sighed and sat on the edge of the bed. ‘You told me nothing would have happened, and I believe you.’
Spike frowned deeply. ‘No, I didn’t.’ He seemed surprised at his own voice but added swiftly, ‘I mean, it’s true, but I haven’t told you. Yet. Didn’t think you’d believe me.’
Angel suddenly grinned. ‘You talk in your sleep, Childe. And it’s better than what you say when you’re awake—mostly. Now, get up and find something clean to wear. We’re going home.’
Spike sat up and swung his legs off the bed. ‘I am sorry.’
Angel shook his head wryly. ‘May we live in interesting times.’ He cuffed Spike affectionately on the side of the head and went to fetch his own clothes from the dryer. He wasn’t looking forward to discovering how the leather and silk had fared in the machine. His back to Spike, he missed the look of extreme pain and confusion that crossed the pale face.
Angel wanted to walk back to the Firm, thinking this would be good for both of them—for different reasons. He glanced frequently at his companion, pondering the silence. It didn’t seem defiant; it didn’t seem confused, but there was something there, some edge Angel couldn’t define.
He was about to tackle Spike and force him to talk, when his arm was suddenly seized, and he was effectively manoeuvred into an alley.
He batted Spike’s hand away and was about to spring to righteous anger when Spike thrust him against the wall, insistent hands holding him pinned. Angel swallowed. ‘Not here for….’
Spike dropped to his knees.
Angel got genuinely angry. ‘Stop it, for fuck’s sake! You don’t know who’s….’
Spike tore frantically at Angel’s waistband with one hand, the other cupping and squeezing him through the leather.
Angel’s complaints died on the soft night air. He tipped his head back, still thinking that this was all wrong, but utterly unable to articulate this thought. He was still soft, so swift and unexpected had been the attack. When Spike swallowed him then withdrew, his lips clamped onto the softness, Angel’s whole penis stretched. By the time Spike released him and went back on, Angel was hard, the rush of blood to his cock so swift that he felt light-headed. He closed his eyes and watched colours, like fireworks, explode as the rush continued downward. Those tiny pinpricks of false light were the only other sense left to him. Everything was focused below.
Now that Angel was hard, Spike treated him to the back of his throat, pushing himself on, ensuring that the smooth, exposed cockhead rubbed on his strong walls. His lips and tongue played their own games until Angel’s knees began to weaken.
When Spike slid a hand into the opening in the pants and found Angel’s balls, it was all over. With a shudder of intense pleasure, Angel gasped with each release until he was empty. Even then, Spike kept him deep in his mouth, his lips pressed into the soft hair until he felt the hard length soften.
Gracefully, he rose to his knees and began to fasten Angel, not looking at him. When he was sufficiently recovered, Angel put a finger under Spike’s chin and tilted it up. ‘What was that for?’
Spike pouted. ‘Does it have to be for anything?’
Angel finished the job of tidying himself. ‘No. I guess not. But I’m thinking it wasn’t because you were suddenly overcome by my natural charm and wit.’
Spike had the grace to smile, a tiny quirk of one lip that he seemed to regret. Stony-faced once more, he said flatly, ‘I just wanted you. Nothing wrong with that is there?’
Angel decided to pursue it no longer. He heard a lie, but couldn’t quite assign it to any one reason. They began to walk slowly toward the main street again. Thrusting his hands into the pockets of his coat, Angel murmured, ‘You can tell me.’
‘There’s nothing to tell.’
‘Don’t patronise me.’
Angel sighed. ‘I’m not trying to do anything but love you, but sometimes you make it incredibly hard.’
Spike was silent for a moment then said tiredly, ‘I don’t know what’s wrong.’
‘But something is?’
‘I—.’ He dried up and lit a cigarette instead of trying to find words for something he didn’t understand himself.
Angel hesitated then slid an arm over his shoulders. If he’d studied relationships for all of his three hundred odd years, he couldn’t have done anything that was more perfect.
Without need for words, they continued on to Wolfram and Hart, his arm speaking everything he needed to say.