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Reality Check - Chapter 9
When Spike went up the stairs, there was now only one room at the top. His room, the guest room, seemed to have been subsumed into Angel’s, which was now larger and more luxurious. The bed was particularly impressive, and Spike had a bizarre thought that, given time, Angel would shrink the entire world so that they lay together in that bed. He could not decide whether he found this prospect attractive or appalling, so sat on the edge and listened to the sound of Angel’s skin warming under water, concentrating on that instead.
He knew he should feel elated. He should feel that Wesley had given him the perfect opportunity to enjoy his private reason for being here: hurting Angel. He could dangle the promise of his body just long enough to get Angel back to reality and then withdraw it. Angelus had kept up his promises until the moment Spike came around from his turning. Just as all his demon need coursed through his blood, just as he came to a realisation of his new power, Angelus had laughed and gone to find Darla. He should be enjoying the prospect of doing the same to Angel. But he wasn’t. He stretched out on the bed and let his fingers sink into the rich eiderdown.
He heard the water shut off and then a rustle. He sensed Angel in the room, the very air tightening in his presence as reality followed, obedient to his command.
Spike turned his head and smiled wanly. ‘Hey.’
Angel was naked, rubbing his hair with a towel, unconcerned, even blatant standing before him.
Spike had a startling moment of clarity that whatever happened, he would not regret seeing Angel like this. It was a memory that he would carry with him into whatever was coming. He was seeing Angel as Angel wanted to be, and he wondered if they would ever achieve this level of intimacy again. Angel was drying his face and held the towel so he could watch Spike the whole time. Only his eyes did not match the arrogant certainty of his body.
No longer entirely sure who was lost, Spike held out his hand and smiled. ‘Come here.’
Angel crawled onto the bed and over Spike, braced on his powerful arms. He flashed him a lopsided grin, which twisted Spike’s heart into a similar shape. ‘Are you giving me orders?’
Spike felt a surge of intense excitement at the soft, flirtatious tone of Angel’s question. He licked his lips and replied quietly, ‘That depends. Would you obey them?’
Angel dipped his hips and let his hardness speak for him. It dug into Spike’s belly, leaving a silvery trail across his dark T-shirt.
Spike didn’t waste time with words either; he cupped his hand around the back of Angel’s neck and rose to meet the descending mouth.
Warm, on the vast, soft bed, kissing overwhelmed them. Reality or fiction didn’t matter; they were both lost in a separate, third place, which existed only for them. It was a place of heated flesh and intense scents that made Spike’s mouth water, made a small damp stain spread on the front of his jeans. They rolled but had no spatial awareness, locating themselves only through the mouth of the other. They didn’t keep their lips crushed senselessly together, but constantly pulled apart to inspect the effect of a soft bite or a lick, darting back in to try another position or place that had yet to be explored on the swelling lips. They didn’t speak coherently, but odd words of command or exclamation escaped: yeah, bite me, want you, stop, don’t, don’t stop, yeah—always that soft affirmation of pleasure at what they did.
Hands were not idle; they joined in, finding their own places to explore and enjoy. Fingers probed like tongues, almost seeming to taste, so soft and gentle did they brush and dance over heated flesh. Angel didn’t let Spike’s clothes distract him; he seemed to take enormous pleasure from exploring what lay beneath, unseen, running his hands up the muscular back, pushing down into the slack waistband and swirling over ridged belly and peaked nipples. Spike knew, almost without conscious thought, that he had been right about Angel’s desperate need for touch. His very fingers seemed greedy, moving with a life of their own; his hands jealous they could only touch in one place; the fingers dancing in response, plucking sweet music from the chords of Spike’s body.
It was the longest kiss that Spike had ever enjoyed with anyone, long foreplay not something any of his lovers had asked from him. He had not realised that such a strong streak of sensuality existed within him, but Angel drew it forth. For a moment, Spike wondered if he too had fallen under Angel’s power to control reality. Was he himself, or was he a projection of something that Angel wanted? With a chuckle deep into Angel’s mouth, he realised that these seeming contradictions were merely different ways of expressing the same thing. He was who he was because Angel had wanted him. What Angel wanted, he took, and he had taken him.
Suddenly, he held Angel off, hands spread either side of the perfect face. ‘Why have we waited this long, Angel? I want to know why you turned away from me.’
Angel’s lips were swollen, his eyes deeply dilated. He seemed almost drugged with the pleasure of the kiss. He touched a finger to Spike’s lips, drawing along their pink swell. ‘You never really got being a demon, did you Childe?’
The reply could not have startled Spike more. He tried to pull away, but Angel sighed and just put his head down on Spike’s chest, playing with a nipple through the material of his T-shirt. It was such an affectionate, trusting thing to do that Spike felt his body melt with pleasure into the heavier one. ‘Being evil is an art, Spike. I told you that once, but you didn’t believe me. How could you? You never really were—evil. Hurting strangers was good, and took a lot of skill to make it just right, ya know? Just long enough screaming, just long enough for them to think that hell would be preferable to what I was doing to them. But the real perfection, the real artistic flare was in making my family suffer. Why turn someone unless you can totally, utterly destroy them in the process?’
‘Oh. I was kinda going for the having a life-long companion theory.’
Angel chuckled. ‘You’ve been reading too much again, Will. Being a demon is a negative; it’s absence. Anyone who sees the romantic in the demon has been seduced by the devil.’ He lifted his head and whispered into Spike’s ear, ‘His form had yet not lost all her original brightness, nor appeared less than archangel ruined, and the excess of glory obscured. I wanted to destroy you utterly.’
‘Your plan didn’t work too well then.’
‘Yeah, well, even Angelus had off days. My heart was never really in it.’
‘But you never let us have… this.’
Angel lifted his head, his eyes narrow and thoughtful. ‘Why did it have to be me to make the first move?’
‘Well, when we were together in L.A., for example, why didn’t you say or do something? Why didn’t you initiate something?’
Spike pushed him off and sat up, not sure whether to laugh or hit him. ‘Me? Me! Yeah, that’s rich. Shit, Angel, you are so up your own arse all the time! What am I… was I… supposed to say? Hey, Luv, give us a kiss!’
Angel obliged, and they were lost to kissing and laughing about this for some time until Angel broke away and said thoughtfully, ‘It’s all so long ago now. But maybe if we had said something, if something had begun between us, we wouldn’t have faced the end together as we did.’
Spike propped himself up on his elbow and prompted him to continue by drawing his boot up Angel’s bare leg.
Angel smiled and caught at it. ‘See? This is what I mean. I’m not sure that if anything had happened between us, I’d have been able to do what I needed to do—at the end. I think I might have just curled up in a bed somewhere with you and let the bad guys win.’
This confused Spike on so many levels—given that Angel was curled up in bed with him, letting the bad guys win—that he didn’t reply for a moment. When he did, he said softly, ‘Buffy just woke up early and left me. She had the strength to just go.’
Angel rolled onto his back. ‘She was always stronger than me. She was one hundred percent goodness. I’m evil wearing its thin veneer, which you can scratch off with a well-placed nail.’
‘Well, not now….’
Angel smiled. ‘No, not now. Now I don’t have to be anything. Now I can be like every other human schmuck: sometimes a little bit bad, sometimes a hero, but not really trying too hard either way.’
‘So, that’s what we are—for you? Something not quite one thing, not quite the other but not going to faze you either way?’
‘Angel, why are you doing this with me now?’
‘I told you. I’m doing the things I didn’t do then.’
‘But wanted to?’
‘Why is it so important what I wanted back then?’
Angel looked back wistfully to a yesterday that Spike was living painfully through today, and he felt a vast surge of frustration that he could not get Angel to answer this critical question.
‘Is this what you wanted then? I mean, did you ever picture this and want it? If I make the first move will you respond? I mean, if I had made the first move, would you have responded?’
‘That’s a lot of questions for one small vampire.’
‘Damn you.’ Spike rolled onto his back and stared at the ceiling, mirroring Angel’s position.
‘The past isn’t important, Spike. There’s just us now. Here. What we can have here.’
‘You’re having nothing here, Mate.’
Angel laughed at Spike’s petulant tone and walked his fingers up Spike’s leg. ‘Is that so?’
Spike removed his hand. ‘Yeah, it is. And where’s my own bloody room gone? Cus I’m thinking a little time out from you would be kinda good about now.’
‘So…. You don’t want me to…?’ He pulled one of Spike’s jeans buttons undone—the middle one, which enabled a finger to slide into the warm wetness beneath.
Spike groaned. ‘No.’
When Angel moved his finger the flesh beneath it shivered and shifted.
‘Angel….’ Angel rose over him and silenced him by a kiss that made the previous one seem tame. This only gave the lie to Angel’s apparent humanity. His lips may have been warm, but his power was undeniably demonic. Spike responded, but he knew that he should resist. They had just passed the point of no return. They had passed from foreplay to the real thing, and Angel was tearing at the buttons of his jeans.
If he gave into this, then he would have no leverage over Angel, nothing that Angel would want from him that he hadn’t already given.
He held Angel’s hand still.
Angel’s eyes went dark for a moment, and Spike said hastily, ‘You’re human now, Angel. That changes everything—for me. You know me: I’m not one for casual fucking. I kinda commit big time to things and… you’re human.’
Angel brushed his thumb over Spike’s cheekbone and said wistfully, ‘You’ll think I’ll grow old and that you won’t want me anymore.’
‘It’s just too soon.’
Angel quirked up his mouth, apparently at the thought that a hundred years could be too soon. He rolled onto his back with an audible sigh. Spike extricated himself and stood looking down at the perfect display on the bed. He rolled his eyes and said, ‘Where am I gonna sleep?’
Angel replied by twitching down one corner of the sheet, his face a mask of innocence.
Spike grunted his acquiescence, which sounded suspiciously like a groan, spun on his heel and made for the shower, peeling off his T-shirt as he went. He stepped into the bathroom and kept going, rising from the bed and walking out of Angel’s room and into the elevator without stopping to speak to Wesley.