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Reality Check - Chapter 6
The baby was now walking: small, unsteady steps into his father’s loving arms.
Spike watched from the privacy of the oddly wavering house. When Angel saw him, the house steadied, and Spike stepped out.
Angel frowned and picked up the child. ‘You’re back.’
Spike gave him a hopeful smile. ‘Am I welcome? Cus, like, I was out of order last time, Luv. It was just a joke….’
Angel nodded warily.
Spike came closer. ‘So, how’s the little chap?’
Angel beamed. ‘He’s grown so big! Hey, watch him walk. Connor, walk to Uncle Spike.’
‘Connor? I thought he was called….’ Spike shuddered with the effort to pander to Angel’s delusions. ‘Hey, Connor’s a great name.’ He held out his arms to the eager toddler, curious to see how substantial he felt.
He even smelt right—what he could remember of eating numerous children about this age. He was impressed: Angel had managed every detail. The pool, however, he noticed, was looking neglected: it appeared to be a flowerbed. Clearly, maintaining the smell of talcum powder and the illusion of baby-soft flesh was taking its toll.
He spun on his heel and carried the baby into the house. Angel hovered like a nervous hen, almost clucking as his precious was taken from him.
‘He’s tired, Angel. Let’s put him to bed, yeah?’
Angel nodded and smiled. ‘I love bedtime. It’s just the best, Spike.’
‘Yeah, I remember you thinking that.’ He stared into the baby’s eyes and pictured ripping its head off. It made him feel sorry for himself, which steeled his resolve. He wasn’t cut out to be demon. He never had been.
He should have been left to be a poet.
He began to eat at the cold dish he’d come to enjoy.
The nursery hadn’t changed, and the child was still put in a cot. It still lay silently, eyes wide, gurgling. The perfection was freaking Spike out. He lifted his eyes and saw a large picture of Buffy on the dresser. That was new.
Angel paled. ‘Didn’t you hear? Oh, God, Spike. I sent word. She….’ His voice choked. ‘She was killed—car crash. I’m so sorry. I know how you felt about her.’ He came close and appeared willing to offer the traditional comfort.
Spike saw no reason to waste a hug: he was curious to see if it would turn into something more.
For all Angel’s inability to maintain a house, a baby and Buffy in his fictions, he’d not neglected his own body. It was even tauter than before—perfect musculature currently exemplified by just one set of muscles: the erectile ones.
Spike grinned into Angel’s shoulder and murmured plaintively, ‘Did she suffer?’
Angel shook his head. ‘She was lying by the side of the road when I reached her. She held Connor in her arms and blessed him. Then she told me….’ There was a sob, and Spike increased his sympathy, the tightening hug turning into something else—for him, at least.
‘Go on, Luv. Let it out.’ Let me have it.
‘She said she’d never been happier than these last twelve years and that she knew she was going back to the good place—that her mom would be there waiting for her.’
‘Ah. That’s nice.’
‘We held the funeral in the early morning. God, it was so pretty. The leaves were the colour of her hair. The air was so crisp. Connor was in his new little suit. He looked so cute! You should have seen him, Spike; he held a red rose over the coffin, and when the preacher said ashes to ashes, he dropped it in.’
‘Uh huh. Was it frosty with an early mist rising from the ground?’
‘Oh, yeah. It was so pretty.’
‘As perfect as I could make it for her.’
‘So….’ Spike pulled away fractionally. ‘You must be lonely…?’
‘Huh?’ Angel looked genuinely puzzled. ‘I have Connor.’
‘But he’s a baby, Angel. What about… adult… company?’
‘Oh.’ Angel blushed and turned away. ‘You don’t have time, ya know? By the time you get them to bed, then you’re so tired….’
Spike smiled and put an arm around his shoulders. ‘How about a drink?’
Angel nodded gratefully. ‘Wanna see his Christening video?’
Spike swallowed deeply. ‘Sure. Why not?’
Spike couldn’t work out what was different in the living room until he noticed the colour: just traces of it, hints in corners, subtle lines on walls. He guessed Buffy was reallocated.
He accepted the drink but smelt the Bushmills before he tasted it and gagged.
Angel frowned. ‘What’s wrong?’
‘Nothing, Pet, only I had a few too many last night with Wes.’
‘Wesley! But he’s DEAD!’
‘In the final battle, Spike! He died in my arms! Don’t you remember?’
He’d be a mean demon another night. ‘I didn’t mean our Wesley, of course. It’s someone I met in… England. Last year.’
‘Oh. I miss him so much, ya know?’
‘You loved him.’
Angel nodded happily. ‘I did.’
Spike waited until Angel chose the couch and then sat down next to him. Close.
Angel didn’t appear to notice.
Spike opened his legs, pressing his thigh to Angel’s. ‘You must find the bed kinda empty these days.’ Had his chat-up lines always been that bad?
Angel nodded. ‘I bring Connor in most nights.’
‘Oh.’ Damn. ‘That’s not supposed to be good for kids.’
‘Why? How can that be? It makes him feel safe—so no one can take him!’
‘But what about you? You need…. Are you keeping fit? Human an’ all….’
Angel blushed faintly once more. ‘I’ve a gym. Wanna see it?’
Spike gritted his teeth. It wasn’t what he’d had in mind seeing. ‘Why not?’
Spike narrowed his eyes at Angel when the smiling figure didn’t seem to remember that his gym had once been a studio.
He couldn’t resist a soft, ‘So, what did you say you did, Luv? Work, I mean?’
‘Oh, I don’t need to…. Buffy… insurance money….’ He could say no more.
Spike ran his hand over the weights. ‘Wanna show me what you can press?’
Angel grinned like a kid in a candy store and lay on his back on a bench. ‘Put four hundred on.’
Spike fitted them into place and was about to step back when Angel asked, ‘Spot me?’
Spike hesitated then straddled Angel’s head, his arms outstretched. It was a favourable position to watch Angel from, the unfamiliar body so tight and flat to the bench, except in the place where it wasn’t—flat.
On an inspired thought, he eased the bar into the cradle and came around to the other side. He straddled Angel’s torso and said helpfully, ‘You’re not lifting right, Mate. Let me show you.’ He ran his hands up the insides of Angel’s arms, from armpit to wrist. ‘Straighten up a tad.’ He did it again, lingering in the hair in Angel’s armpits and trailing his fingers slowly up the warm skin. ‘Tighten up; take the strain.’ As Angel obeyed, he held the straining muscles and crooned encouragement, ‘Christ, you’re so hard….’
Angel let the bar sink back and made to get up, pushing Spike off, but he had to hold the slim waist to do so, and his hands lingered for a moment on the tautness.
Spike wasn’t going to pretend he couldn’t smell the effect he was having on Angel. The scent of pre-ejaculate was potent. Some was his, but most wasn’t. He made it easy for Angel and swung his leg off, sitting down on the bench beside him. ‘I really miss the fighting, Angel. Got no one to spar with now.’ Angel nodded, his brow furrowed. Spike could almost hear his fear. Subtly, he murmured, ‘Think how perfect it would be if we could train together again.’
Angel turned his head, interested. ‘Training buddies… companions. That would be… perfect.’
Spike grinned inwardly but contented himself by saying, ‘Not everyone would think so, I guess. All that sweat, those muscles straining…. Course, I’d take it easy for you.’
Angel’s eyes widened, and he shoved Spike off the bench.
Spike laughed, pleased by his tactic to get Angel physical, then swiped his legs at him, catching Angel’s between them. He pulled hard and dislodged the heavier body, rolling on top and pinning him down. ‘You’re human now, Angel; remember? Can’t possibly take me.’
Angel flipped him off and jack-knifed to standing. ‘Really?’
Spike sighed with intense pleasure: Angel’s flirt with humanity was not being extended to his physical prowess. It seemed a short step to him then to bring Angel back to the dark side. Some things you never stopped wanting.
He flicked to his feet, too, and they stood face to face, sizing each other up.
Spike jabbed out his fist, but Angel was quicker and caught it in his like a catcher taking a fastball. The dull thud of flesh on flesh increased the salty potency in the air.
Suddenly, like a man who sees he’s bitten off more than he’s willing to chew, Spike stepped back and ran his fingers through his hair. ‘I’m bushed? Mind if I borrow the spare room again?’
Angel hid a frown. Almost.
Spike looked innocently at the door they exited from before.
Angel shook his head. ‘The guest room is next to mine.’
‘Ah. Is it.’
Angel nodded wisely and led the way.
It even had a connecting door.
Spike grinned. Seeing Angel’s sexual frustrations manifest in room arrangements was amusing.
He lay in just his jeans in the huge bed, leaking, fairly sure that Angel was doing the same.
He waited until he heard deep breathing, until the house grew unnaturally quiet. He wondered if Angel ever stopped dreaming and just slept, and if he did, whether it would all disappear for a short time before he recreated the fantasy.
When the time felt right, he let out a loud, fearful moan. He followed it up by crying out Buffy’s name. He thrashed around in the sheets and drummed his heels as if in pain, and like clockwork, the object of his efforts appeared.
‘Dead! I didn’t bring a rose!’ If Angel could lift from slushy romantic films, he could, too.
Angel perched on the edge of the bed and shook him gently, ‘Hey, Spike, you’re dreaming.’
Spike sat up with a huge gasp, his eyes wide. ‘Buffy!’
Angel’s eyes welled up. ‘I know.’
Spike buried his face in his hands.
Angel hesitated but put an arm over his shoulders. ‘Don’t. She wouldn’t want this.’
‘It’s so wrong, Luv! She shouldn’t go before us! She’s not had her time! We’ve had too damn much.’
Angel nodded sadly. ‘That’s exactly how I felt.’
Spike suddenly clasped him around his broad neck and buried his face in the warm hollow. ‘Stay with me for a while? I really don’t wanna be alone.’ He hesitantly patted the space alongside him. ‘Stay and tell me about her? What her last years were like for her?’
Angel seemed only too pleased to relive this part of his fantasy—the one that he’d tired of so quickly. He lay alongside Spike and appeared happy to have the contact and company, too. He folded his arms behind his head and smiled fondly. ‘I’ve missed this. We used to do this—in the beginning.’
Spike propped himself up on one elbow, turned toward the smiling profile. ‘’S bin long time. Be nice, wouldn’t it? If we could stay like this. Like you said: mates… good friends.’
Angel nodded. ‘I wanted to be your friend in L.A., but you were fighting so hard to stay my enemy.’
Spike frowned, not liking this intrusion of reality. He said petulantly, ‘That’s revisionist crap. That’s the kind of thing you’d think up if you’d fallen into some sort of better than life dream: that it was all my fault and you were the perfect champion for Right.’
Angel turned his head to look at him. ‘That’s what you said before—about this being a dream.’
Spike pushed his luck gently. ‘It must seem pretty unreal to you here sometimes? I mean, all this perfection? No one’s life is this perfect.’
‘I’ve just lost my wife, Spike. I’d hardly call it perfect.’
Spike suddenly got the real reason behind Buffy’s death: another squeeze by the demon to cement this as reality after his dramatic kicking of it last time.
Not wanting to risk another punch, and consequent violent dislodging from Angel’s dream, he gently patted the strong arm. ‘You’re taking it so well, Pet. She’d be so proud of you.’
Angel visibly relaxed.
They lay quietly for some time, side by side on the bed, as they were elsewhere, in their other reality. Spike idly wondered if he was hard there, too.
When he judged the time was right to move Angel along a bit, he murmured innocently, ‘Angel…?’
‘You are really kinda tense. Turn over; I’ll rub your back….’
Angel looked dismayed. ‘That’s just freaky! You’ve never offered to rub my back in the hundred….’
‘Jeez! Don’t get freaky on me then! It’s just a backrub! Hey! What are you thinking it is?’
Angel turned over abruptly. Spike grinned. Sometimes it was like taking the proverbial from babies.
Spike slid his hands under the warm T-shirt, being careful to do nothing that startled Angel. If he’d been tense before, now he was like a coiled snake, a jack-in-the-box of fear. His palms moulded themselves around Angel’s prominent shoulder blades. He longed to remove the shirt. He ached to flare his fingers erotically over the broad back, but he contented himself squeezing and kneading Angel’s muscles with his strong fingers.
Angel only nodded, seemingly not trusting himself to speak.
Very carefully, making sure he dug even harder with his fingers to distract Angel, Spike swung his leg over the slim waist.
Angel closed his eyes.
Spike grinned and leant harder into the massage.
Suddenly, in a brusque, business-like tone, he said, ‘Take your shirt off. I can’t reach you.’
Angel frowned and opened one eye. Spike added slyly, ‘Something you need to tell me, Luv? You got an ulterior motive for not taking it off?’
Angel grimaced and worked himself out of the T-shirt. He lay spread out, hot, sweating. Spike swallowed deeply, utterly distracted from his task. Then, for the first time, with a jolt of shock, he realised that he could do anything to this body, for it wasn’t real… anything he wanted….
Fangs pushed out of his gums, accompanying another blossoming equally pleasant below. With his hands spread on Angel’s flesh, his balls grinding into the hollow of Angel’s back, he leant down and took some of the sweat into his mouth—along with skin and blood.
Angel cried out with a gasp that began as shock and turned into fury. He twisted, and with a strength beyond that he’d had even in real life, threw Spike into the corner of the room. Spike hit and crumpled, driven into the wall with a force to cause unconsciousness.
When he didn’t pass out, he blinked then looked back at Angel through dilated eyes. For the first time, it occurred to Spike that Angel wasn’t the only one here who was unreal: he could do anything he wanted to his own body, too.
He came at Angel, growling, his demon face screwed tight with menace. He could see Angel’s wavering: the temptation to meet his childe’s attack as a demon breaking down the desperate desire to be human. Human won out, but he met him with all the strength of Angelus—and more.
Spike boosted his power, too, and they flung and ripped and bit and clawed. Alpha-males battling; the reality of the house blinking on and off around them.
Angel flung him out of the room. Stairs appeared, and he tumbled down them. Angel had the advantage because he could control their physical environment. Spike could only control himself.
He drew into a ball at the foot of the stairs and listened to Angel descending—the thump, thump of a giant from a childhood nightmare. When the menacing sound was close, he flung out an arm and grabbed Angel’s ankles, tipping him off the stairs. Angel sprawled hard on the tiled floor then flipped over to retaliate. Spike was faster.
This time, he bit deep into the soft front of Angel’s throat, his nose resting deliciously in a hollow as he filled his mouth with blood. It wasn’t human—inside, Angel was now what he always was.
As he leant over, he connected with something. Two long, hard columns of flesh touched then shifted, then stretched to touch again.
Angel moaned, and Spike knew it wasn’t from the fall.
He lifted his face and stared into dilated, amber eyes, shockingly beautiful in the otherwise perfectly formed human face. He rubbed them together once more, a single touch of his cock to Angel’s sending more pleasure through his body than he’d felt for months.
Angel suddenly said, in a voice that dripped venom, ‘What do you think you are doing?’ He pushed Spike off and rose, his posture cold, withdrawn. ‘You had better leave, I think.’
Angel held Spike’s gaze intently, and with a frisson of excitement, Spike realised that Angel was trying to exert his control over him, too: make his reality bend to his will as he did every other aspect of this better-than-life world. Walls faded then reappeared. The floor rippled under them as Angel brought his great will to bear on Spike.
However hard he tried, though, he could not make him leave.
It amused Spike that Angel had less control over him here than he had in reality.
He licked his lips and slid back to human form. ‘Okay, Luv. Don’t burst something. I’ll go. But… hows about a shower first?’
Spike spent a long time in the shower, doing something he didn’t do very often: thinking.
He knew his motives for being in Angel’s dream world were confused. Ostensibly, he was there to bring Angel back because he was an obedient little sidekick who now worked for the good of mankind… blah, blah, blah.
Privately, he was there to see how Angel liked being ripped from his humanity for once. He couldn’t actually turn him—as Angel had him—but it was a bloody good second best. He was fairly clear, therefore, on these motives. It was the others that confused him. For although he knew there were others, he couldn’t bring them to the surface, and they continued to lurk, just out of reach of rational examination. He felt them in flashes as he, for example, watched Angel with the baby, or saw him run his fingers through his hair, or caught a shy smile on the perfect lips. Vague feelings about Angel, however, were nothing new. He had enough of them in real life though and didn’t want to even begin examining the ones he was feeling in this place—which was, after all, only the inside of Angel’s head.
However, it was these hidden motives that made him glad he was returning to the real world for a while. He would come back, but it was reassuring to think he could put off his main reason for being there. Let Angel have his humanity for a while longer.
He replayed Angel’s resistance to him as he washed his hair. He’d been relatively okay about the bite—reacting just as Spike had expected him to; although he gave Angel credit for the way he’d controlled his demon. It must take Angel a huge amount of willpower to maintain his human form under so much provocation. Willpower or desperation—Spike reckoned they were one and the same thing when you analysed them too carefully.
The bite, therefore, had not fazed Angel. It was what came afterwards. Angel had rejected the explicit offer of Spike’s body.
Spike frowned and scrubbed at his hair harder. He’d thought he’d made it explicit, anyway. Perhaps he hadn’t. Perhaps Angel had merely felt some vague inappropriateness in the way their cocks had stretched and rubbed around each other like hungry felines.
Whatever. Angel was resistant. Just as Spike had known he would be. It should make the conquest sweeter. It should make that dish colder.
He stomped out of the shower and walked naked into the bedroom, rubbing his hair furiously in the towel. Should!
Why—could anyone answer him this one simple question?—why was he such a blisteringly crap demon?
‘I’ve been thinking—shit!’
They both blushed furiously, and Spike dragged the towel tightly around his waist, cursing that it was too small to tie.
Angel tried to resist putting his hand over his eyes, but he looked resolutely out of the window.
Spike was torn between holding his towel and sorting his hair, which he now knew would be badly defining his nickname. He grabbed his jeans and turning his back to drag them on, spoke in a distracting rush. ‘Give me a min and I’ll be out of your hair, Angel. I’m sorry….’
‘No. I’m sorry.’
Angel turned and caught Spike dragging his fingers through the blond mass of his hair. He took a small breath and continued, ‘I was kinda freaked by the bite and thought you…. But that’s my fault, not yours. Look, what I’m trying to say is: I don’t want you to go. It gets kinda lonely here sometimes. I’m glad you’re here.’ He grinned shyly. ‘It’s like when you burst out of that damn necklace in L.A.’
Spike pulled his T-shirt over his head and said dryly, ‘I think you’ve got a bad case of revision-itus again there, Mate. You hated me then; the last person you want—wanted—in L.A. is—was—me!’
Angel toed the ground. ‘I just made it seem like that, Spike. I was lonely. You relieved the boredom. Hell, you just kinda relieved everything.’ He looked up at a spot on the wall, frowning deeply. ‘And I seriously need to rephrase that!’
Spike began to laugh, and Angel cast him a wry look. ‘See? No one else finds me all that funny.’
Spike sobered slightly, but he kept amused eyes locked with Angel’s. ‘So, I stay?’
Angel smiled softly. ‘Comrades… brothers….’ He walked slowly toward the hallway, pausing in the doorway. ‘Spike?’
Spike, struggling to pull boots onto wet, bare feet, grunted.
‘Is there someone…. I mean, will anyone be missing you?’
Spike looked up sharply, and Angel added quickly, ‘It’s been twelve years since L.A. You can’t have been alone all that time.’
Spike kept Angel’s gaze and said distinctly, ‘You know there was only ever family and Buffy.’
Angel looked down at his shoes. ‘And you lost both at the same time—after the battle.’
‘Well… if that’s true, now I’ve got one back.’
Angel looked up, his face a restrained mask of delight. He nodded brusquely and left.
Spike stretched out fully clothed on the bed and wondered which, out of all his muddled motives, he had just served the most.