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Spike staggered into the old building toward the early hours of the morning. He found Angel pacing between shadows.
He crashed over to him. 'Did you fuck her?'
Angel was so wound up with worry about Spike's non-appearance that he didn't stop to analyse the subtleties behind this question-- he heard only the angry, bitter accusation.
He snapped back, 'No! Grow up, Spike! She's only sixteen!'
The confusion of hearing exactly the reply he wanted for completely the wrong reason undid Spike, and he spat back, 'You've fucked her already when she was only sixteen!'
Angel grabbed him by the lapels but then reeled away, disgusted by the smell of alcohol and vomit.
Covering hurt from Angel's expression of disgust, Spike added slyly, 'She told me once, when I was coming inside 'er… said she was born at quarter to midnight but you de-flowered 'er at eleven. Sixteen still…. Pervert!'
Angel hit him.
Drunk, off balance to start with, Spike fell more heavily than Angel had intended, so with a curse, he picked the slumped figure up and checked his arms. 'If you've freaking damaged them….'
Spike tried to pull away.
Angel decided he'd had enough and held him tightly by his upper arms. 'I didn't fuck her, Spike.'
'Why not?' He held Angel's eyes locked with his, challengingly.
Angel shook him a little but said softly, 'We only ever did it once.'
This was so unrelated to the question that Spike had asked, that Angel suddenly laughed and relaxed his hold on Spike's biceps. He let his arms drop wearily to his side. 'I felt so old. I've aged. I'm not who I was when I was here.' He turned Spike's face to a shaft of moonlight streaking in through one of the badly boarded up windows, inspecting the newly rising bruise. 'Damn you. Why do you do this to yourself all the time?'
Spike mumbled something, and Angel straightened his coat for him a little, repeating softly, 'I didn't fuck her, Spike.' Putting one finger on the sharp cheekbone, hot from the punch, he added, 'She's not real; you are.'
Immediately, he turned away and became busy, finding some water for Spike to wash and some food, but however much he bustled around, the implication from his last hung in the air between them.
Spike sat uneasily on the edge of an old mattress and studied his nails through the unfocused fog of his hangover.
Angel came back and handed him the blood, then with a small sigh of resignation, he lowered to sit alongside him. They sat in silence for a while, until Spike, finding something particularly interesting under one nail, murmured, 'You've been the one constant my whole life.'
Angel turned and said wryly, 'And haven't you always just loved that….'
Spike had the grace to smile.
Angel leant closer and nudged him with his shoulder.
Spike flashed him a small surprised look and then said with a frown, 'It wasn't true what I said about Buffy-- I wasn't actually coming in her….'
Angel put a hand wearily to his eyes and shook his head. 'One hundred years and counting, and your logic is still as warped as ever.' He patted the mattress. 'Sleep it off, Spike.'
Spike twisted his head around and looked thoughtfully at the offered bed. 'It's a double.'
Angel pursed his lips and seemed to consider this for some time. Eventually, he said carefully, 'Let's just get out of here.' He eased Spike back and covered him with his coat.
Spike was drunk enough to let him, but not so drunk that he hadn't heard the unspoken first at the end of that careful suggestion. He flicked an eyebrow up at Angel. Angel gave him a small, exasperated shake of the shoulders then he rose and went back to pacing between the shadows.
Spike watched the lithe, graceful figure as he lay in his increasingly unpleasant alcohol-poisoned state. Every so often, Angel cast glances back through the dark at him, and he could feel the increasing intensity of these looks. The air between them began to waver in his vision as though thickening, and it gave off a subtle odor of salt and musky sweetness. Eventually, he propped his head up on one arm, admitting what had been covert until then: that he was watching Angel.
The pacing became more desperate as though Angel, too, could sense the dangerous air between them and was trying to escape it.
Then, on one long pace back, he diverted and flung himself down on the edge of the mattress, putting his head in his hands.
Spike licked his lips but did not risk speaking.
Eventually, there was a murmur. 'When I… did it… slept with… fucked… Jesus… when I fucked Eve - dragged her into my office - I wanted her more at that moment than I'd ever wanted anything before.' He turned and caught Spike's gaze, his dark eyes dilated, despite the gloom. 'All I could think about was her skin-- touching it.' They strayed down to Spike's neck and lingered there a while. 'I wanted to be wrapped in her hair.' His eyes dragged higher and seemed almost to lift the golden strands of Spike's hair with the power of his gaze. 'I was so hard I came before….' Swallowing, he ran his eyes over the entire length of Spike's body, settling somewhere where the word hard ached between them. Putting his face back into his hands, however, he said in a forced, neutral tone, 'It was a spell, and when I think of her now….' He did not need to speak his revulsion aloud; his unconscious shudder said it all.
Suddenly, he lifted his head and stared once more at Spike. 'And those were feelings I understood… I'd had them before-- fuck a woman… not… deviant.'
He kept Spike's gaze as some understanding passed between them, an understanding born on shared memories and passions. Spike suddenly shifted over on the mattress, but by wrapping Angel's coat more tightly around him, his acceptance of what Angel needed was obvious.
With an equal amount of apprehension and relief, Angel lay down alongside him, and they both stayed silent in their own thoughts, testing their control as if it were their weight on thin ice.
Eventually, with a small affectionate pat, Spike said amused, 'Why are we holing up in here, by the way?'
Angel turned his head and gazed at Spike through the dark. 'Because it's safe?'
Spike ignored the patronising tone and said wryly, 'Why not a nice comfy hotel…?'
Angel was silent for a while, but then he began to laugh, his whole body shaking, as much from amusement at the thought of how quickly he had reverted to hunted-vampire mode, as from the tension he had been under since Spike's drunken arrival.
Spike huffed, shook his head in despair, and turned onto his side, his back to Angel. 'Tomorrow night? Nice hotel, room service, and a comfy bed, Mate.'
Angel sobered. 'Let's hope we're not still here tomorrow.'
Spike rolled onto his back again. 'Why are we here? I mean, what's the big nasty this time, do you think?'
The thought that it might be Buffy silenced them both for a moment.
Eventually, Angel said softly, 'Why haven't you gone to her?'
Expecting this question every moment of every day since the flash of light had made it a possibility, Spike replied, his eyes fixed on the shadows lurking in the arched roof spaces, 'She could never give me what I need.'
Angel hissed his breath in at this, but after a moment said, 'When I left for LA, I told myself - told her - that it was because I could never give her what she wanted. It's taken me all this time to see what you see so effortlessly: she could never give me what I want.'
'It's not effortless, Pet. Don't make the same mistake everyone else makes about me.'
Angel pursed his lips but nodded. After another silence, Angel voiced what they had both been thinking. 'She'll come eventually - when she finds out - to L.A.'
'She'll find some things very changed then, I'm thinking.'
They both knew he wasn't only referring to the fact that Angel now worked for the other side.
To defuse something he felt rushing upon him - some temptation - Angel picked up on the most obvious part of Spike's comment and replied sadly, 'I don't know why it upset me when that idiot told me that she doesn't trust me: she's never trusted me. Not really.'
'People find it hard to trust you, Luv.' Angel frowned deeply, and Spike added with a small chuckle, 'Told ya… my mantra…?'
Angel quirked up his lips for a moment and nodded, but his attempt at cheering up didn't work very well. Spike watched as Angel's face became dark. He sensed the whole body tensing. Frowning himself, he put a tentative hand on Angel's arm. Angel suddenly swallowed and said raggedly, 'I couldn't save him, so I signed on with the devil and sacrificed everything and everyone to give him a new life. You shouldn't trust me.'
Him? Spike shivered as he heard something in Angel's tone he'd never heard before: passion, fierce and dark. He frowned, a sick, empty feeling rising in his stomach. Him? He wanted to ask more, but Angel suddenly turned on his side away from him, effectively cutting off the intimacy of their conversation. He didn't know what to do, didn't know why Angel's strange half-confession confused him. Putting to one side the burning need to ask - him?- he rested his hand lightly on Angel's tense shoulder.
When this was not pushed off, he took the coat and stretched it over them both. Under the cover of its dark leather, he turned on his side, slipped his arm over Angel's waist, and as he felt the waves of silent anguish washing over the silent figure, he ran the pad of his thumb in small, repetitive movements of comfort on the hard, tense belly.
As he lay beside this powerful figure who was trying so hard not to betray that he was crying, Spike thought again conflicted and vulnerable, only now he was not too sure which of them it most applied to.
He wasn't stupid; he knew exactly what they'd been discussing, easing around, and tasting on their tongues like expensive wine. It had been the sub-text of their whole relationship, written when Angelus had said that one word deviant. Now it echoed down the centuries, spoken once more in that enticing mouth.
Spike's head ached to think of it. Of course it had to be the factory; where else would they play out this little drama of theirs - games within games - but on this passionate stage?
They both woke at the same time, the movement of one disturbing the other. They opened their eyes to the new day and knew intrinsically that things were now very different between them. Anticipation and confusion, in equal measure, made them tongue-tied, desperately polite: Spike passing Angel his coat with a small apology; Angel demurely putting the mattress against the wall.
When no other domesticity could be conjured to cover the agonising embarrassment, Angel said desperately brightly, 'I promised Buffy we could all talk this morning.'
'Yes! That's great! Good!'
'I didn't tell her about us….' Angel blushed deeply in so human a manner that he turned away at this first crack in the armour of their apparent neutrality. Doggedly though, he continued, 'I didn't tell her about this damn spell. I told her you were….' He couldn't continue and went to change the position of the mattress.
Still being unnaturally polite, Spike murmured, 'Told her what, Luv-- Angel.'
Angel dipped his head, resigned. 'I told her you were in love-- if I'd known… I mean, if it had been before last night…. I told her you were in love with a human girl and were trying to be good.' He turned with a slight challenge in his eyes. 'It happened once-- seemed like a good idea.'
Spike nodded. 'So, we go see her. Then what? Level Seven…?'
'Or we win and get out of here.'
Spike was tempted to repeat then what? but decided he wasn't too sure that he was ready to hear the answer to that.
They descended into the tunnels, and he was glad of Angel's silence for once. He cast him the occasional small glance as they negotiated familiar landmarks they had never before seen together.
'Where are we meeting her?'
'Buffy-- where's the meeting?'
'School basement-- she had a free period.' Angel glanced at him when he said this, and Spike had the distinct thought that some weighing up was being done in Angel's mind.
They walked on, the silence now growing thick between them.
Spike took a small breath, and when he sensed they were near the access to the school, where he might lose this opportunity, he murmured, 'What are you thinking about?'
Angel pursed his lips and put a hand on Spike's arm, stopping him. He stood with his head down for a moment longer and then turned and replied, 'This.' He bent in and kissed Spike.
For a moment, it was cool: no more than a brush of lips. Then the realisation hit them what they were doing. Then came sharp, stabbing awareness that they'd always wanted to try this. Mouths opened, and it was cool no longer.
They had no need of pretence. Raw, dirty need ripped through them. When they sensed matching desire, wanton lust stabbed at their guts, flushing their bodies with ripeness and the need to spill.
Spike felt his whole body shaking and wondered if just the touch of Angel's mouth had made him come. Angel shook, too, but was discovering Spike's saliva and didn't care.
Suddenly, they pulled apart as the gut-wrenching shaking began to pull plaster from the ceiling. Angel's eyes widened theatrically, and he shouted, 'Quake!' then all went dark and all was noise and the churning of the earth.
They flattened themselves against the inadequate protection of the walls, watching the earth split and disgorge its hot walls beneath them.
Suddenly, Angel peered across the widening gap and whispered, 'No!'
Spike saw the dim outline of a figure. Angel took a step forward, his hand outstretched as if to prevent her movement.
Spike suddenly screamed, 'No!' and leapt forward, pushing Angel to one side. It wasn't clear why he'd done this, until the earth split some more, and where Angel had been standing was left a gaping hole.
Spike gave Angel an agonized look, seemed to say something, but his words were lost as he fell in Angel's place, a small, black figure, twisting and twirling in the red glow that issued from the obscenity that was now the earth.
Angel howled and stood unsteadily on the edge. The figure on the other side came forward and became more distinct. Angel straightened and gazed at her. She smiled hesitantly, glad Angel had not fallen. She softly breathed his name.
Angel studied her. She was moist and ripe and soft. He glanced down into the burning pit. It was hot and hard; it made his guts wrench with fear to think on it. She was simple and pure. Down there was hell.
He swallowed deeply, spread his arms as if to embrace her then dove, his choice made, elegant, into the earth.
The taste of Angel's mouth had been in Spike as he'd fallen. For the rest of his life, whenever he felt such heat, he would taste Angel's tongue exploring his mouth. He tasted it now as he lifted his head from Angel's shoulder. It was still there, sweet and subtle as he turned and found Angel staring thoughtfully at the handset. They were back in the apartment, the game he had been playing flickering uneasily on the TV.
He kept his eyes fixed on Angel, willing him to speak, to explain why they were there, how they had survived. We kissed.
He ventured a soft, 'We've won?'
The dark eyes clouded over. 'Seems so.'
'What did you do?'
'I made a choice.'
Spike desperately wanted to ask me? but fear kept him silent.
He didn't need to ask; dark eyes turned on him thoughtfully. 'Wolfram and Hart. I chose it-- this time. Gee. I must be a champion after all.' He rose and stretched. 'Time to go home.'
Spike swallowed and stood up. 'I'll come too, then?' He hadn't meant to make this a question and cursed at the sound of his own vulnerability.
He saw he wasn't being listened too anyway, and tagged along behind the strangely focused figure.
No one seemed to have been surprised by their absence, and Spike concluded that time had run differently for them in the game.
He watched the dark, brooding figure go into his office and sit in his chair, spreading his hands on the desk, as if checking for its solidity.
He hovered, feeling truly incorporeal for the first time.
Fred came over to him and murmured some concern about his arms, and he did not even notice her holding them and touching the very faint join lines.
Harmony was summoned to the inner office, and she gave him a significant look as she brushed past, a look that he supposed he ought to rise to, but it held no interest for him.
He watched as Harmony sat in the chair opposite the large desk. Watched her talking to him. Watched as they stood up together. He was still watching when they disappeared out of sight toward Angel's private elevator.
Spike remembered that he still didn't have any cigarettes and decided it was time to go and get some. He got down to the main entrance, swore, and rode back up, biting back some other emotion.
He stepped hesitantly into the elevator and pressed the button for Angel's suite.
He heard them before he saw them: grunting, high-pitched gasps of surprise and pleasure.
He stood watching them for a while and then said, 'Harm….'
Harmony twisted around looking pleased and guilty as only she could. She giggled and slipped off the large, purplish member she'd been enjoying. 'Woops. This isn't what it looks like, Spikey. You know you're my one and only….'
'Come over here.'
Harmony frowned, but grabbed her clothes to her chest and slipped past him to the living room.
Spike nodded pleasantly. 'Hello.'
'I go by Spike now, but you know that Angelus.'
Angelus swung his legs off the bed with a chuckle and glanced annoyed at his erection. He stood up and walked to the closet, his cock wavering parallel to the floor. 'I know what you're thinking about this, now, don't I Spikey? Always wondered, ya know?'
'Gone.' Angelus shrugged. 'Who'd have thought it? He had the great…' He made theatrical airquotes at Spike. 'Love of his life, and finally got it that he'd lost him for good.'
Him. Spike came a little closer, something Angelus noted with an amused smile, making no particular effort to dress quickly. 'What do you mean?'
Angelus raised an eyebrow. 'Connor?'
Spike knew the minute he heard the name that this was something he did not want to hear.
'The love of his life.' Angelus's face darkened. 'Holding him, touching his skin, smelling into his freaking hair! I'm heartsick from the memory of that damn smell!'
'Angel's already had a man…?'
Angelus stared at Spike curiously, thoughts clearly tumbling rapidly in his head. Suddenly, he smiled and said, amused, 'He told you he was afraid to try…. He told you it was all too new, didn't he? Said he didn't trust his feelings.'
'I don't believe you. If Angel had had a male lover, someone would have told me. Everyone would know….'
'Oh, they all knew Connor. Connor lived with Angel the hotel. Angel stole their memories to protect him.'
'That was the deal, see? Angel got Connor protected for life; he got to run this place; everyone else got suckered in with no memory or choice.'
'I still don't believe you. You're not…. I mean…. I'd know. He'd have told me.'
A memory of Angel's intense emotion as they shared the mattress the previous night flashed into Spike's mind. The look on Angel's face consumed him. He saw now that dark passion for what it was: passion for a man called Connor. He saw it all: the first arousal in Wesley's bedroom; the way Angel had held him in that tight spoon; his spill into the sheets. It was all memory of this first lover and grief for his loss: Connor.
Spike turned on this heel and went into the main room.
Angelus dragged on his pants and followed, chuckling quietly at this unexpected delight. 'So, are you going to tell Wesley about my spectacular return?'
Spike turned, puzzled. 'I don't care one way or the other. I don't care about them, and I don't care about you.'
Angelus's eyes darkened, but he said pleasantly enough, 'Because I kinda thought I'd play boss for a while…. My unique talents should do well here.'
Angelus came closer. 'What are you going to do?'
Spike wrapped his arms around his chest tightly, as if cold. 'I don't know. I have nothing left.'
'Ah, Willie, my boy. Don't be despondent. Can't lose what you never had. This is LA! Lot's of other little faggots for you to play with…. Don't!'
Spike snatched back his hand, and Angelus smiled approvingly. 'He let you toy with him; I won't. We fight? You know who'll win. Don't you…? William, answer me….'
'Yes, Angelus. I know who would win.'
Angelus beamed and put his arm around Spike's shoulders. 'Good. Now, come down, and let's play nicely with Angel's humans. What d'ya say? I'm thinking I'll eat Wesley first, because he wants it the most. That little Fred-thing will be a spiffing appetiser for you, hey? Come, Sweet William, let us reap the whirlwind of Angel's mistakes.'
Spike watched from the shadows as Angelus played his games. He called a meeting: Fred, Wesley, Gunn, Lorne. He sat at the end of the long, shinning conference table and put his feet up on the desk, crossing them lazily at the ankles.
He watched as Angelus sat smirking at his victims, enjoying them as a cat enjoys a mouse's antics: letting them arouse him.
He watched as Angelus singled Wesley out for a private meeting, followed as he led the trusting human away, stood to one side as he groomed him and readied him for the taking: listening to him, flattering him.
He still needed cigarettes, but now Angel was dead and would never buy them for him as he had promised.
He was so cold. He was so tired.
He was glad Angel was dead. He didn't want to see Angel's dark eyes cloud with confusion and know that the confusion was not for him. It had always been for him, long decades of confusion about each other, washed away in that kiss. We kissed.
He didn't want to hear the tiredness in Angel's voice and know that Angel was thinking about him. Angel had been his one constant, and now that certainty was gone. Him.
He was glad Angel was dead.
Angel was dead.
For the first time, the realisation hit him that Angel was gone. Even this, though, had been taken away from him: this like-death that he wanted to mourn. None of it had been real. What he had thought was beginning between them had been an illusion-- his delusion.
Had he really done it? Had he kissed Angel? Had he opened his mouth to those soft lips and let the hate and bitterness go at last? He felt so cold and so empty now that he knew that he had. There was nothing left. No hate, no love. Him. He was there, poisoning even his memories of Angel.
If Angel had wanted a lover, it should have been him. When Angel's hand had strayed over male flesh at last - deviant - it should have been his.
By the time he had reached the lobby he'd decided to rain death and destruction on L.A. By the time he'd reached the quiet street, he'd limited this small holocaust to the employees of Wolfram and Hart. As he crossed the street, he'd decided it was just Angelus he wanted to kill. He spun on his heel and jogged back into the building.
As he rode back up in the elevator, he kept his mind in neutral. It was safer. If he thought, then the thoughts were hot and painful, filled with the taste of Angel's saliva and the feel of Angel's hands roaming over his body, which was not his body but another's: another man he would never know but would kill if he could to bend Angel back to him-- his constant.
He alternated between stark terror at the thought that Angel was gone to glee that he was gone at last: his enemy.
His mind was moving so fast over these thoughts that he told himself he wasn't thinking; so, when the doors slid noiselessly open, he stood for some time completely unable to move forward. He didn't want to kill Angelus; he wanted to bring Angel back. He didn't want to bring Angel back; he wanted to kill Angel. It was a strange bewildering dilemma, not helped by the taste of that damn mouth on his and the memory of a tongue finding his after a century of seeking it.
He only moved because the doors slid shut on him again. He punched them open and strode out. He'd decided: kill Angelus. No, he'd try and force his soul back in and then kill Angel. No, he'd let Angelus kill everyone then bring Angel back to suffer. No, he'd kill himself and let Angel suffer that way.
By the time he reached Angel's office, he'd decided to let Angelus kill him and was just working around to his first thought once more - kill Angelus - when he heard a muffled scream.
It was Wesley.
He would not care. Angel was dead; there was nothing left to care about: no hate, nothing to take its place-- all delusion.
He pushed into the office and found Angelus perched on the edge of the conference table, swinging one leather-clad leg. He was holding a letter opener under his nose, sniffing the blood on it with delight. Wesley was strapped into one of the chairs, his back to Spike.
Spike hesitated over the scene then shrugged and went in.
Angelus looked over at him and grinned then licked along the blade of the knife, sucking as blood from his own tongue mingled with that of the human's.
Spike came to stand in front of Angelus and they eyed each other up for a while, weighing the other in the balance. Spike did not let his eyes stray to the man at his side.
He would not care.
Angelus waved the knife at Spike and raised an eyebrow.
Spike frowned and smelt the blood on the knife. He looked wildly around the room and began to laugh.
When Angelus rose, angry, Spike nodded and said pleasantly, 'You always were a bloody moron, 'Gelus.' When Angelus stepped up to him, Spike stood his ground. 'I've just got it, see? This - is - not - real! And do you know what? Neither are you! Sunnydale? Slayers? Bloody Drusilla? And you! Always you! It's all bloody irrelevant; I saved the soddin' world, Mate, and I'll be buggered if I'm gonna have a two-bit, poofy-arsed, soulless fuck push me around!' He put his finger to Angelus's chest, said 'Sod off,' and pushed.
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