Time is the Fire in Which we Burn - Chapter 16
The deposit and first two months rent hardly made a dent in twenty-five thousand dollars. A new computer and some furniture took a hefty slice of the remainder, but Spike was still left with a pleasing stash of greenbacks in his desk drawer.
Wesley sprawled in the second office chair, watching Spike closely. Spike knew he was being watched but enjoyed the attention, so didn't comment on it.
'You need to advertise.'
'Nah. Word gets out.'
'Maybe they'll have heard the shouting.'
'What makes you think there was shouting?'
Wesley didn't bother to reply, and Spike just shrugged lightly, looking at his nails. 'Common politeness got put to one side for a while, yeah.'
'He's not come out of his room since you told him.'
'Just as well he don't need to pee then.'
'But you don't regret it?'
They were interrupted by a hesitant knock on the door. Spike raised his eyebrow at Wesley, and the human shrugged and said, 'Come in.'
An elderly woman entered, hovering in the doorway. 'Is this…?'
Wesley smiled, reassuringly. 'Yes. What have you got? Demon? Ghost?'
She looked at Wesley with an expression that made him shrink. 'I've come about the job, dear.'
Spike let his chair fall to the ground. 'Oh, yeah. Hi.' He tried not to catch Wesley's eye.
Nevertheless the human said incredulously, 'Job?'
Spike looked shifty but began to show the woman around. Over his shoulder, he mouthed, 'Housekeeper,' then shrugged and said cheekily, 'Housework sucks.'
The woman turned. 'Does your mother allow you talk like that young man?'
Spike went visibly paler and looked to Wesley for support. He got none, so said feebly, 'She's dead.'
She immediately softened. 'Aye, well, that'll explain it. Right. You can call me Mrs V, and this place needs a good sorting out.'
Spike resumed his seat. Then he folded his hands neatly. Wesley watched his expression for a while then threw a pen at him. 'If you want a break from her, send her up to me.'
There was another knock. This time, it opened before either of them could speak. Spike rolled his eyes and shouted to the grey hair he could just see in the kitchen, 'Someone's dragged some shit in. Any chance you could…?'
Fortunately, Mrs V didn't hear, and Lilah totally ignored him, exploring with an amused smile into his bedroom, his new TV room and bathroom. Spike twisted in his chair and watched her progress. 'Don't steal anything.'
'As I paid for it all, that's kinda rich, Blondie. Bed's not had much use.'
'Wanna give it a try? I can fuck the dead without pain.'
'Here I am, bearing gifts, and all I get is insulted.'
Wesley shifted from his comfortable position and lowered his chair to the ground. 'We're not doing Wolfram and Hart's dirty work, Lilah. Your problem was a one off.'
Spike gave him a small, pleased glance. 'We? I'm seeing more shouting on the horizon....'
'I'll moonlight for a while.'
'Boys… I am still here!'
Spike gave Wesley a private look but pushed out another chair for Lilah with his foot. 'What sort of work did you have in mind? I'm not as picky as the Headboy over there.'
'Balances of power in the firm have shifted recently.... A small incident with one of the senior partners.... Most unfortunate. They still haven't found his car.'
'There are promotions to be had.'
'No, Lilah. He's not going to murder your way to the top for you.'
'Shut up, human. Demon's a demon, yeah? Why do you care?'
Wesley frowned, not sure that he did, but pretty sure someone else would. 'It's not… ethical.'
'Ethical? Ethical! I'm a fucking vampire assassin, Mate, not a poofy investigat…. Did I just say that out loud?' He could see by their expressions that he had. He sighed. 'Shit. Anyone want a drink?'
They were well into the third bottle of something strong when Wesley said with a slight slur, 'So, who's gonna get killed then?'
Lilah tapped him on the arm knowingly. 'Everyone.'
Spike chuckled. 'Let's just start with your friends. Who is it, and how much is he worth to you?'
'It's a her - bitch - and same as the last.'
Spike raised his eyebrow. 'Excellent.'
'She needs to be out of the way. I get her job, and next step I'm on the Board.'
'And she actually needs to die?' Spike gave her a penetrating look.
She flushed slightly. 'I was hoping she'd get religion and join a freaking nunnery. Yes, she needs to die.'
'How about twenty years at Her Majesty's Pleasure?'
Lilah stared at him then at Wesley, 'Is that a demon thing?'
Spike gritted his teeth. 'Prison! How's about she just goes to prison, you stupid bint. I've still got the car.'
Lilah sobered instantly. 'It wouldn't work.'
'Tip off. They find the car in her garage. I'm thinking it might.'
'There's no witness.'
'He'll reappear. In a way.'
'Why would he collaborate our story?'
'Cus I'll pay him well, and it won't be him.'
'It's not worth twenty-five.'
'Outcome's the same. Fee's the same.'
'Souless, murdering bitch.'
'Thanks. Wesley, why don't you compliment me like that?'
'Because I'm too busy jumping your bones, as you so charmingly put it, and I didn't notice you needing compliments then.'
She grinned and stood up. 'Get it done… and before the office meeting on Wednesday.'
The job was easier than Spike expected. Jordan did as good an impression of the driver, as he did eight-year old girl. They counted the money together in the office - this time, Spike giving him half.
They poured the inevitable drink, and Jordan eyed him thoughtfully over the rim of his glass. 'Are you too depressed to have some fun on that gorgeous bed?'
'Only poofs use the word gorgeous.'
'If I call it something manly, can we fuck?'
'Okay. See ya 'round, Spike.'
Spike roused from his slump. 'Where are you staying?'
'I've moved here. I can't stay away from you.'
'Yeah. I like money too, Mate. I'll be in touch.'
'I can do a cool impression of a certain vampire, if you want….'
Spike narrowed his eyes and looked at him closely. 'You should have more respect for yourself.'
Jordan pouted. 'I'm just a freak.'
Spike got up with a sigh. 'Welcome to the home of lost freaks, Luv. And… thanks.'
Jordan grinned and waved his money. Spike rolled his eyes and opened the door for him. He went back and sat at his desk and put his head into his hands slowly. He stayed that way for some time but eventually roused with a small sigh. He eyed the money on the desk and opened the drawer to put it away. Other notes almost filled it, and he had to squeeze the new pile in. He pouted and pulled some out again. He looked thoughtfully at the money, and a small smile began to play around his lips.
He knocked loudly. He didn't have to wait long; Sam answered, wet, a towel around his waist. 'Hi… come…. You?'
'Who you expecting?'
'Don't know his name. Not you though.'
'Uh huh. Gonna invite me in?'
'You gonna play girlie virgin on me and run off screaming again?'
Spike chuckled. 'Dunno. You gonna play desperate homo and sell yourself short again?'
Sam blinked and then stepped to one side. 'You have a real weird line in chat up, Will.'
'Yeah, about that… it's Spike, not Will, and I'm not here to chat you up.'
'Uh huh. I don't wanna be rude, but I've got someone coming….'
'Or not. Tell him to piss off. I need to talk to you.'
With a sigh, Sam indicated for Spike to go into the living room, and he went to his room to dress. When he came back, Spike was standing by the window, looking out over the city.
'Why are you here, Will? Spike….'
'I'm not good with money.'
Sam sighed an almost imperceptible breath of disappointment. 'You want me professionally….'
'Yeah. Kinda. It's complicated.'
'Look, I can recommend someone. I don't think professionally I should represent you now.'
'I need someone I can trust with my life.'
That got the silence Spike expected. He turned to Sam. 'We know where we stand, don't we? I know you want me, and I need that kind of affirmation from the humans that work for me.'
Before this bemused human could reply, Spike came very close and said softly, 'There are things I have to tell you, Pet. It's gonna sink me big time in yer estimation maybe; so I need someone I'm kinda high up with to start with.'
This close, Spike could see that he was on a fairly safe bet with just how high he currently stood with Sam. He put a hand on his arm, smiled and said lightly, 'So, Pet, have you ever heard of Bram Stoker?'
Spike leant back in his chair and watched his minions amuse themselves. Then he sternly berated himself and watched his new colleagues instead. Sam had the expression of a man who had woken to his worst nightmare, only to find that nightmare actually more seductive than reality. He sat with the same bemused expression he'd worn since Spike had told him of his unique tax status. Wesley watched the dynamic between them with amusement, every so often giving Spike a small nod in Sam's direction as another flicker of shock passed over his face.
Jordan's arrival had not helped at all. Travelling in his eight-year-old guise to save on bus fares, he'd shuddered and changed to his favourite look on arrival.
Recovering from that, Sam had watched Lilah's arrival with great interest, seemingly expecting her to pull a similar trick.
As always, alcohol got produced.
They drank to past success; future success; destruction of the world - but that was only Lilah - death to the enemy - but as she was sitting there drinking with them, they made this a small one; life, with all due consideration for the dead status of their boss; and love.
It was on this last toast, when very little alcohol remained anyway, that Jordan looked around, highly amused and said, slightly slurred, 'Hey, Spike! Guess what we've all got in common?'
Spike gave him a don't-push-your-luck look.
He grinned and said cheekily, 'You. Either been there, or want to.'
Lilah gave him a glare and immediately tried to deny this. She came to an embarrassed halt when she realised she was the only one talking. She glared at Spike. 'At least I'm a fucking woman! You're all….'
Spike raised an eyebrow lazily. 'Your balls are bigger than any of ours.'
Jordan ignored her outrage and sat on the desk in front of Spike. He put his foot into Spike's lap and gave Lilah a look. 'Come on, girlie, don't tell me you haven't dreamt of these cheekbones.'
Spike watched him, amused as he leant in and ran his finger over their prominent edges. Lilah tried to suppress a smile. 'And look at that mouth, woman; you can't tell me you've not wanted one little taste.'
He leant closer and kissed Spike to the laughter of the two men watching.
Angel didn't knock; he just came in. It was a particularly bad time for him to arrive. Jordan snatched his mouth and foot back and stood warily, but also distinctly amused at Angel's expression. Wesley paled and also stood, putting a hand on Sam's arm to keep him still and silent. Lilah looked as though she preferred this to having Angel hanging in chains. She looked between the two vampires with glee. Spike put his chair to the floor and frowned slightly.
Angel just stared at them all and then around the room, taking in the small office set-up. He looked at Spike then opened his mouth as if to say something. Lilah raised an eyebrow expectantly and murmured, 'Oh, this'll be good….'
So, without speaking, Angel spun on his heel and left.
Spike clenched his jaw and said to Wesley, 'Lock up, yeah? This may take some time.' Wesley nodded with a sympathetic look, and Spike ran out after Angel. He came back almost immediately and pointed to Lilah. 'Do not fuck her in my bed.'
He caught up with Angel fairly easily, because he was leaning against the wall just to one side of the entrance, staring up into the overcast night sky. Spike gave him some personal space and just lit up, waiting. Eventually, he ventured softly, 'Did you like it?'
Angel nodded. 'Nice set up.' He began to walk. Spike kept pace with him. 'I bought you a house warming present. Didn't feel like giving it to you in there.'
'She's a client, Angel. Nothing more.'
Angel shrugged and handed him a box. Spike frowned. 'It's very small.'
Angel couldn't help a smile. 'It cost a lot; you'll love it.'
With a look, Spike pulled out a cellphone, so tiny it fitted into the hollow of his palm. With a look of intense pleasure, he flipped up the front and held it to his lips. 'Beam me up, Scotty.'
Angel looked bemused, and Spike rolled his eyes. 'It's cool. Thanks.'
'You'll need it.'
'Now that I'm working?'
Angel gritted his teeth. 'Yes.'
'I'm not always working, Angel. Like you, I tend to have long days to fill.'
'Fortunate then you've got employees willing to give you foot jobs at work.'
Spike narrowed his eyes. 'Are you trying to provoke an argument, Angel? Cus, you know, there's no real need. We can argue without much provocation these days.'
'Does this threaten you? Does this make you feel inadequate in some way? What am I doing that is so wrong but taking your advice? You said….'
'I KNOW what I freaking said. Why does everyone repeat what I fucking say all the time? What do I fucking know?'
'Stop it, Angel. We don't need….'
'There is no we.'
'Uh huh. At the risk of repeating what you say…. no we?'
'That's right. You heard.'
'Okay. I'm gonna play along with this argument, cus, hell, I want to be punished for my sins just like you do. Why the fuck are you doing this?'
'I don't like your new friends.'
'Yes. Lilah. She's evil; she's repeatedly tried to kill me and everyone I hold dear. She'll turn like a snake on you and Wesley, and I'll lose….' Angel strode faster, as if by leaving Spike physically behind, he was starting the process of leaving him emotionally.
Spike jogged to catch him up and caught at his arm. 'Do what you want, Angel. Only… go back home and think about why you're doing it, yeah? I need for you to think about this. About what I need. About what you need.'
Angel shook his arm off angrily, too distracted by echoes to form an immediate rebuttal. If he expected Spike to argue, whine or plead against his rejection, Angel was sadly disappointed. Spike held up the cellphone. 'Thanks for this. I really appreciate the thought. I'll see you around, okay?' With that, he turned and walked slowly away.
When he got back, the apartment was dark. He sighed and went into the kitchen to get some food.
A presence, almost dark as the shadows, moved imperceptibly. He was leaning up against the counter, drinking tea. Spike looked at him. He went to the offered arm and just leant against the warm body, silent.
Wesley ran his fingers through Spike's hair but did not speak. After some minutes, Spike sighed and pushed away, going to the fridge for some food. Wesley looked at the slim form. 'Regrets yet?'
Spike shook his head.
Wesley nodded, pleased and made to leave. Before he got to the door, he went back and laid a hand on Spike's arm. 'There's nothing more you can do. You are… extraordinary. Almost perfect.'
Spike blinked and gave him a small, grateful look for the loving lie, and they both knew that, in this case, even such a miraculous transformation might not be enough.
It was incredibly quiet when Wesley left. Spike switched on the computer, but this small act held too many painful memories, so he got up and sat on the bed instead.
He tried to read.
He wandered aimlessly into the small room that held his beloved TV.
In the end, he watched the lights of the city, smoking quietly.
Nothing seemed to help. He was about to get his coat and go out when there was a small knock on the door. He opened it to a young couple that looked at him anxiously.
'Is this the place for…?' The woman looked at her companion for support, and he finished hopefully, 'Ghosts?'
Spike sighed and stood to one side to let them in.
It was something.
He hadn't realised how lucrative his new life in LA would be. There seemed to be no end to demons or other nasties that needed killing. The day after he'd dealt with the ghost, there was another knock at the door. When he'd shouted, 'Come in,' a man stood in the doorway. Spike eyed him speculatively and invited him in. That had been an extremely profitable case. The following week another knock had brought in a group of college boys, the next day, a priest. Each had need for Spike's services, and he dispatched death on demand with dispassion honed to perfection by his own despair.
The following week, as he was heating some blood, there was another knock. He sighed, the effort to speak to anyone almost becoming too much. He shouted and leant on the counter, watching as a man entered warily.
Spike put the mug of blood down carefully and watched as the man wandered over to the desk. Eventually, he looked up at Spike. 'I need help.'
Spike raised his eyebrow. 'Why me?'
The man eyed him speculatively. 'I've heard you deal with this kind of problem.'
'Maybe. What is it?'
'I'm being haunted.'
'No. A demon.'
'In my dreams when I sleep. In my thoughts when I'm awake. Talking, eating, working… it doesn't matter.'
Spike picked up the mug and said very quietly, 'And don't you just hate that, I'm thinking. Fucking exorcise it yourself.'
The man perched on Spike's desk and looked up at him through lowered lids. 'On the contrary.' When he saw Spike's look, he continued, with the faintest of smiles, 'You misunderstand me.'
Spike shrugged and tapped the side of his head. 'Guess I do. Thick, yeah? Why don't you try and explain it to me a bit better.'
The man rose and came into the kitchen. 'I don't want haunting. I did haunting with someone else. This time, I want the real thing. I've tasted it, and I want it back.'
'You want me to make this demon materialise for you?'
'Uh huh. An' how you gonna suggest I do…. Oh.'
'He's feeling more solid already.'
'I haven't told you my rates yet.'
'I'll owe you.'
Spike shook his head. 'I don't take credit. I'm thinking I may let you pay in kind.' He watched the dark eyes dilate slightly and smiled. 'I've a new bed an' it's not been christened yet.'
The man frowned. 'I thought….'
'I know what you thought. You're wrong. Just me.'
'And now you…. Us?'
'You're taking my case?'
'This case is a bit vague, Mate. How do I know when the job's done?'
'I'll let you know when I think he's around enough for me.'
'Uh huh. This likely to be some time soon? Cus, I'm a busy man these days.'
'Being a vampire assassin?' The man chuckled and began to pull on Spike's shirt, walking backwards toward the bed. 'I have a feeling this is going to be a long case. On going… ya know?'
'How about forever?'
Spike smiled and fell on the hard, cool body. 'Forever works for me, Luv.'
With no hesitation or particular emphasis in his voice, Angel said naturally, 'I love you.'
He watched Spike's calm acceptance of this and added sadly, 'But you will never fully trust me again.'
Spike turned them so they were side-by-side and said very carefully, 'You just walked right in, Angel, when you first came here. No invite. Straight in.'
Angel propped himself up on one elbow and frowned slightly. Spike glanced away. 'I think you've always had a permanent pass to my heart. You just finally exercised your prerogative to use it.'
Angel dipped his head and blinked slowly. He seemed to know what he was being offered. Complete affirmation and forgiveness came so rarely to him, that when he looked back up at Spike there was a faint glistening in his eyes. Spike wiped it away with the heel of his hand.
After that, there was no question who took and who gave. They both understood and accepted that only one of them was finally surrendering something he'd clung onto fearfully until this time. Spike slid into Angel as if they'd had an eternity of such easy entries before. As his shaft parted the tight ring, Spike felt for the first time that this was more to do with their future than their past.
They didn't feel the need to thrust and reach peaks of sexual intensity. This was not about proving themselves. With this new, total certainty, time and space could be given to soft touch and loving intimacy.
Spike rose up on Angel's belly and kissed him. Keeping his eyes locked on Spike's, Angel opened his mouth and breathed gently as Spike's lips brushed his. They kissed so deeply, so lost to the feel of the other's pleasure that the sex was forgotten. Spike slipped out, and they did not break apart to notice. Angel rolled them until he lay over Spike, and still their lips met and parted, found soft skin and came back to find welcome, willing lips once more. They continued to roll, covering Spike's bed with a tangle of pale, cool limbs. The only sounds were the soft groans of pleasure from the delight of sharing and finding this elusive intimacy.
Spike dug his fingers into Angel's hair, cupped him around the neck, held his face between his strong hands - anything just to intensify the kiss. Angel met every movement of Spike's mouth, matched every touch of his tongue, until everything coalesced into the tiny space their joined mouths occupied.
He did not notice the new swellings until, almost too late, he cried out and looked down between them. Reluctant to lose Angel's mouth, Spike pulled him back but, resting his forehead on Angel's for a moment, glanced down too. Together, they watched their shafts, untouched, jump in unison and shoot out strings of milky cum to wet their shirts.
It was just a distraction from what they really wanted, and they returned with renewed fervour to the kiss, only now using traces of the thick fluid to tempt and tease lips that were bruising and swelling under this intensive assault.
Spike woke and could not work out when the kiss had finished. It was light, but he had no memory of it ending. Angel opened his eyes and seemed to find the same puzzle, for he put a finger to his lips and frowned. Spike looked down. They were still dressed; Angel's jeans were still half-mast; their penises lay soft and neglected, exposed to the soft morning light. He blinked and looked at Angel with a smile, and without pause they returned to the kiss.
In the morning light, it was even more erotic. They could watch every nuance of the other's expression, every move that gave pleasure, every thought that led to an expression of this incredible feeling between them.
They only broke off when a soft knocking sounded on the door. Spike pulled away and ran a hand through his hair, seeming to find it hard to come back to reality. Angel didn't even make that effort; he just pulled Spike back to his lips and rolled them once more, groaning as his tongue slipped between the swollen warmth of Spike's lips.
The knocking got louder. Spike broke off once more and called out, 'Yeah?'
There was a discreet cough. 'Angel's needed back at the Hyperion. Cordelia's had a vision.'
Spike blinked as if he could not work this out, and once more Angel captured his mouth. After a few moments though, Spike held him off and replied evenly, 'Give us ten minutes, Wes.'
Angel began to rearrange his clothes. Spike passed him to go to the office, but Angel caught at his arm. 'Can you tell me what this is in ten minutes? How are we going to work?'
Spike sat down on the bed. 'Like everyone else, Luv? As we go along….'
'You're staying here? This is what you want?'
Spike looked at him through narrowed eyes. 'What do you think about that then?'
Angel dipped his head in pleasure at hearing the soft need for approval after all that had gone between them. He smiled. 'I think this is incredible. You're incredible…. I question your choice of colleagues, and I want mine back… but… I approve.'
Spike jerked his head back. 'Say that again.'
Angel knew what he wanted and needed to hear. 'I approve, Spike. After all this time, I approve.'
Spike stood up with so much energy and enthusiasm for the day that he could hardly contain himself. He almost bounced. 'Can I come on this vision thingy?'
Angel shook his head in weary adoration. 'Can I afford your exorbitant rates?'
Spike shrugged on his duster. 'I told you, Pet. Special rates for you… in kind every time.'
Angel opened the door, held it for Spike, and they went out together to fight the good fight.
The End - Feedback is always
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This story is the pilot for a new series, which is continued in eight further episodes:
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8
or use the main Spike/Angel index.