Time is the Fire in Which we Burn - Chapter 3
Spike woke to a world of unhappiness. He was so stiff he could hardly turn over, and when he managed to, promptly fell off the edge of the bed. When he crawled back on, he got tangled in the tails of his duster and realised he'd slept in his stale clothes all night. He could smell vomit and human cum all over himself. His head still ached, and he still felt sick. On top of all this, the feeling of being rather pleased with events had vanished with sleep. Now, what had seemed witty and clever when he'd said it made him feel like a fool. What had been intended as a subtle winding Angel up came over now like a blatant, childish whine for attention. He cursed loudly and turned onto his back. He saw the blood and tore into it ravenously, ignoring the disgusting, stale, lukewarm pig taste.
When he'd drunk his fill, he rose off the bed and violently stripped off all his clothes. Regardless of the fact that it was Angel's bathroom, he took a shower, scrubbing at his hair and skin until he stung. He used most of Angel's odd smelling things, not reading what they were or where they were for, but making a satisfying amount of suds and bubbles in the rapidly steam filling room.
When he lifted his face to the streaming water, he felt more himself than he had since…. He creased his face, puzzled. There were no voices. Good or bad, his ever present friends seemed all absent. He grinned and took this as a good sign that he was on the right track to being totally evil and rubbed some more body lotion into his hair.
When he climbed out, he wrapped a vast, warm, fluffy, soft, totally poofy towel around his waist and sauntered around the large splash of drying vomit and out into the bedroom.
Angel was sitting on the bed, thoughtfully studying his nails. He looked up when Spike came in and reeled back slightly. 'Is there anything left?'
'Banana and melon facial scrub, Angel? I say no more.'
'Smells like you enjoyed it.'
'Ah, but I didn't scrub my face with it. What d'ya want?'
Angel chuckled. 'My bedroom back.'
'Oh. Okay.' He paused and looked around. 'Where's me clothes?'
'I'm having them burnt.'
'What? No! Angel, there're the only…. Okay, tosser, where are they?'
'Being washed. Borrow something if you want.'
'Well, Fred lives here too sometimes, but I'm thinking they wouldn't suit you. Who knows though? After last night, maybe they would.'
Spike gave Angel a bitter, withering look. 'It takes one to know one.'
Angel's delighted laugher followed Spike down the hallway.
Having made a satisfactory start to his plan by getting himself under Angel's roof, Spike felt that he ought to bring it to fruition - trap him, hand him over, wash his hands of him forever - but something held him back. Angel was so distant with him at the moment that some large part of the satisfaction he'd anticipated at handing him over to the woman just wasn't there. He needed Angel more involved. He needed Angel more vulnerable.
Spike slept the day away, but his sleep was disturbed by dreams and voices and bloody endless crying that pissed him off and brought back all his anger. When he woke, he sensed he was in his demonic form and was tempted to stay like that, but reason made him revert to the more acceptable shape. He sat up, rubbing his hair and saw his clothes laid neatly over the bed.
That someone had entered his room unnoticed while he slept unnerved him. That it was probably Angel infuriated him. He dressed and went down into the lobby. When he saw the thin girl he said brusquely, 'Food?'
'Where's the bleedin' poof keep his blood? I'm hungry.'
'Oh. In there.'
Spike wandered into the kitchen and selected a number of bags, putting them into the microwave to heat. He was puzzling over the keypad when a large hand appeared and pressed the numbers for him. He gritted his teeth, more at the knowledge that he'd not sensed Angel than at the assumption that he couldn't work the damn machine.
'Feeling just peachy.'
'You gonna tell me why you're here now?'
Spike turned. 'I told you. I want some action; I want to kill things and get paid for it. Simple enough.'
At this reply, Angel sat down at the table with a paper and appeared to ignore him.
Spike snatched his blood bags out without waiting for the allotted time and ripped into one as he straddled a chair.
He watched Angel as he drank. He wanted to take a bag and force it into his throat, plastic wrapper and all. He wanted to hold Angel down and choke him as if he were human. He pictured himself straddling Angel's body, felt the intense muscles flexing and straining beneath him. He was well into this fantasy - Angel groaning and begging for relief from the pain - when his victim looked up and caught his gaze. 'What?'
Spike swallowed. 'I'm going out.'
Angel held his look. 'No.'
Spike jerked his head back a little. 'Okay. I wasn't, but now I am.' He stood up and began to stomp toward the lobby. Angel caught at his arm.
'I told you, Spike; this is my city, and you're disturbing things. I don't like it. You stay here until I've decided… ugh.' Angel seemed to have forgotten how powerful a fellow master vampire could be. The knee in his balls this time split his sac open slightly, and the pain made him pale even more than usual, and he fell to his knees. Impressed with himself, Spike grinned and leant down to Angel's ear. 'Don't follow me, Luv. You cramp my action.'
He sauntered out of the hotel and headed to a part of town Sam had told him about the previous night.
The volume of music in the club made Spike's bones shudder when he first got in. Everything was blue - a sea of blue bodies writhing to the intense beat. The place reeked of male sweat and cum, and Spike felt himself tightening and swelling with anticipation of release.
He bought a drink and leant on the bar, watching the dancers. He hadn't even finished that first beer when he felt Angel's presence somewhere in the dark. He couldn't see him, but he knew he was there. With a grin, Spike made his way toward the bathrooms and hung around outside for a while until the inevitable offer and exchanges were made. They were red this time, and capsules not pills, but he swallowed them all anyway and went back to the bar for another drink. Someone pressed into him. 'Sorry.'
The man leant on the bar next to him, watching the floor. 'This place is great.'
Spike went back to his drink, remembered he was being watched and turned back. 'Yeah. It is.'
'You're English? Jeez, I….'
'Love the accent? Yeah, I know.'
'No, I was gonna say I fucked an English guy once. First skin I'd seen. Cool.'
Spike blanched a little. 'Say what you mean; don't be shy there.'
The man chuckled. 'You come here expecting shy? You're in the wrong place. My name's Glen.'
'So, Will. You wanna dance?'
Spike choked slightly on his drink. 'What do you think I am? A fucking poof? Sod off, Mate. I don't dance with bleeding women if I can help it and…. What? Stop laughing! An' stop that…. Okay, don't stop that.' The man had pressed himself lightly, but intimately, to Spike and was just swaying to the music. Spike felt the beat in his head now; he felt as blue and mellow as the light on him. He began to wonder if he glowed. He felt illuminated by the man's warmth and soft pressure. He allowed himself to be pushed gradually into the swaying mass of bodies. He felt hands on his backside, hands cupping his balls, hands inside his shirt: everywhere warm hands that wanted him and affirmed his desirability. Then lips joined in the intense play: lips on his neck, his hair, his lips.
He couldn't see who was kissing him, who was holding him, but was aware they were changing: new tastes, new sensations. It was all body, his soul unable to pain him in this utterly soulless place.
After a long while, he recognised one of the mouths on his and opened his eyes to a pair of dark, smiling ones. 'Hello, Will.'
He grinned and raised an eyebrow. 'You were right. 'S good place this.'
'I know all the good places. You been here long?'
'Long enough. You been looking for me?'
'High opinion of yourself and, yes, of course - I've been looking for you all night.'
'Good.' Spike couldn't focus his eyes, but he leant into Sam's warm body and swayed to the thudding beat.
'He's here again, watching you.'
'Spooky. He a stalker?'
'Serial killer, yeah.'
'Jesus, Will, don't joke about shit like that.'
'I'm not. Wanna get out of here?'
'Sure. Your place this time?'
Spike, not really focusing on the words, leant back and rolled his head slightly to the thought. 'My place?'
'Do you have one in LA?'
'I'm… staying in a hotel.'
'Oh, cool! Love the room service. Let's go.'
Spike protested in his head. When they got out into the cool night air, he began to protest out loud, but when he sensed Angel's dark presence behind them, he chuckled instead and nodded. ''K'.
Early hours of the morning, no one was in the lobby. Sam entered warily and looked around. 'This is a shit hotel.'
'It's disused. Come on. Let's fuck.'
'You live here?'
'In a manner of speaking. I'm staying with an old…. He owns….'
'Okay... not dark and menacing one?'
'Huh? Oh, yeah.'
'You live with him, and you're bringing me…. Shit.'
Spike followed Sam's gaze to find Angel leaning thoughtfully in the doorway. He grinned and looked from one to the other. He'd seen the similarity the first night he'd met Sam, but here in the light, it was unmistakable. Angel said nothing, just watched them. Spike took hold of Sam's arm and began to march him cheerily toward the stairs. Sam wrenched away, shaking his head. 'You've gotta be kidding.'
Angel pushed off the doorway. 'Do as you like. I don't care what he does.'
Sam looked between them and suddenly began to laugh. He backed toward the door holding his hands up in mock apology. 'Like, yeah, that's real believable. See you around, Will.'
It was very quiet when he'd left. Angel didn't catch Spike's eyes but went into the kitchen. He sensed Spike come in after him.
'You had no right.'
Angel turned. 'I had every right, but in case you're too zoned to notice, I invited him to stay.'
'Yeah, and you were SO fucking accommodating, weren't you?'
Suddenly, Angel whirled on Spike and pushed him back against the wall. 'I told them I'd go along with this, but if you push me too far….'
Angel suddenly bit back what he had been about to say and stepped away, running a hand distractedly through his hair.
'Fuck off, Spike. Literally. Go find your little playmate and fuck him - just leave me alone.'
The drink and drugs spoke before he could order his thoughts. 'I can't. Sodding chip.'
Angel turned. 'You can't?'
Spike pouted and studied his nail. ''S like the fighting, ain't it? Can't do it with humans.'
As if being dragged into a conversation he really didn't want, Angel shook himself slightly and waved a dismissive hand. 'Just be out of my face for a while. Go GET fucked; I don't care.'
Spike gave him a bitter look and turned to leave. 'Can't do that either.' He angrily climbed the stairs, aware Angel was still watching him, just not able to work out why.
Spike bounced off the walls with pent up energy and frustration. He flung his door back and stomped over to the bed, ran back out into the hallway, threw himself spread-eagled onto the faded wallpaper, ran back into the room: anything and anywhere to escape from himself, but he was always there, and no escape seemed possible.
Death. He needed death - something else's long and painful death. Unsteadily, he made his way back down the hallway and toward the stairs, but before he could negotiate their alarmingly tilting descent, Angel appeared quietly from his own room and stood leaning on the wall. Spike ignored him and began on the first step. Angel came around and stood in front of him, lower, their eyes level. 'Turn around, and go back upstairs.'
Spike gave him a look. 'Get out of my way.'
'No. If you want me to say do as you are told, I'll say it.'
'I'm laying down the law, Spike - if that's what you want.'
'What I want! Fuck off, Angel, you patronising git! Move out of the way; I'm going hunting.'
'You'd last about ten minutes in LA in your state. Drunk, high, stupid and chipped. Go to bed.'
Spike suddenly appeared to capitulate and, with a small rueful shrug, turned back to mount the stair. When he sensed a slight shift of position from Angel, he instantly whirled around and shoved him forcibly backwards. Before he fell, Angel caught Spike's eye for the briefest of moments, and then grabbed Spike's coat as he began to tumble down the long flight of stairs. They fell together, arms flailing - inelegant, hard and painful tumbling to the bottom where they lay, not winded in any human sense, nevertheless, unwilling to rise too quickly, needing a short horizontal time.
Angel turned his head and realised Spike lay only inches from him. His attacker's eyes appeared no less focused than they'd been before the fall - if anything, it seemed to have sobered him slightly. He looked deeply into the blue eyes. 'Stop this now, Childe. We don't need to play this out if you don't want to. You're falling apart.'
Spike sat up and rubbed at some blood that was trickling into his eyes. He looked down at Angel. 'I've just begun to find pieces of myself that got torn off years ago. I'm my own man, Angelus. I don't answer to anyone. Now, if you've done, I'm going out.'
Angel watched him climb slowly to his feet, shake out his duster and wobble slightly toward the door. After a long pause, sitting on the floor, contemplating a small cut on his hand, Angel rose and went up the stairs to his room.
Spike knew he wasn't being followed this time. Although he wanted release through mind-numbing pain, he knew he might not have a better opportunity to find what he needed. He went to some demon bars, asked questions, paid some money and, eventually, found just what he was looking for. The tunnel he was shown ran toward the heart the city, joining the main sewer system further on. Here, it was dry and dark and, most importantly, had a large chamber with a vaulted, beamed ceiling. It was the perfect place: somewhere he could bring Angel without suspicion and trap him until he could be handed over. He sat down on the low wall that ran around the edge of the chamber and lit a cigarette. It was very quiet, and Spike wondered if it was soundproof. That thought stirred an idea in his mind, and he mulled it over for a while as he enjoyed his cigarette.
Finally, unable to work out how to get back underground, he was forced to leave before it got light and make his way back to the hotel along the streets. He arrived just before the humans and sat, amused, as they walked warily around him. 'Where's Angel?'
He squinted up at the tall black man. 'Dunno.'
'Angel?' Cordelia's voice ran through the lobby, and after a moment, a slightly rumpled, half-dressed Angel appeared above.
'I'm sleeping. I'm fine.'
Spike was tired and befuddled and still coming down from his high, but something about this small exchange confused him. He looked up at Angel, and they stared at each other for a moment across the gap that separated them, then Angel spun on his heel and went back into his own room.
Spike pouted then went up too, stripped and climbed onto his bed, falling into a deep sleep. He dreamt again of screams; this time they weren't his, but for some odd reason, these only confused and hurt him more.
Spike woke with the knowledge that this could possibly be the last night he had a sire, the last night that any link held him to the past. It was revelatory, and he almost became hard on the sense of heady freedom. It then occurred to him that he might need some supplies - things to restrain Angel - and that he needed another night at least to get everything ready. He pursed his lips at the annoying thought that he was prevaricating and rolled out of bed to shower and dress. As he stood naked and wet, rubbing his hair, he looked at his clothes in their small heap on the floor. They smelt even from where he was standing, and he didn't want to put them back on. It seemed he had little choice but to take Angel up on his offer to borrow something. Spike grinned. The fucker would have little need for clothes in hell, so it was only Christian to get the most use out of them now.
He wrapped the towel around his waist and padded to Angel's room, pushing the door open and going in nonchalantly. He froze. Angel was standing alongside his bed, also naked and also rubbing his wet hair and, bizarrely, also looking down at some clothes. It was such an uncanny mirror of Spike's own wake up that, for a brief flash, Spike saw Angel, not as the hated, mythical figure who always let him down, but as someone with a life, personality and habits of his own. He thought all this, and then thought that he was staring at Angel's naked body. He backed out but collided with the door. Angel tied the towel around his waist and said neutrally, 'And…?'
Spike recovered enough to nod at the closet. 'Take you up on your offer then. Clothes.'
Angel nodded and came over. He smelt totally clean: no poofy products, not even soap - just clean, sweet-smelling skin. Spike realised with a small jolt that it was how Angelus had always smelt. He backed away a little with a frown. Angel rummaged in his clothes and, as he did, he murmured quietly, 'You're finding this harder than you thought, aren't you?'
Spike hesitated with a puzzled tilt of his head then said cautiously, 'What?'
Angel turned with a disingenuous look. 'Asking me to lend you anything.'
Spike jerked his head back, relieved. 'Oh yeah. Course. But I figure you kinda owe me, so, no.'
Angel smiled. 'You don't have to go through with it, Spike; just remember that, won't you - when it's all going down.'
Again, Spike frowned. Angel chuckled and added, 'You could buy some new clothes; you don't need to do this.'
Wordlessly, Spike took the clothes and nodded. 'I will then.' He watched Angel turn and walk away. Slowly and deliberately, he said, 'Why am I here, Angel?'
Angel turned, surprised but with a small smile. 'You're here because you need to be your own man. Why else?'
Spike nodded. ''K then. Just so we've got that straight. I'm going out.'
Angel laughed outright. 'I'd check the look before you do any serious fucking.'
Spike realised what Angel meant when he put the clothes on. A white, heavy cotton shirt, crisp to the point of sharpness, hung three inches over his wrists and half way down his thighs. Black pants had to be belted to his body for fear they would slip off, and then rolled up. He sat on the edge of the bed, running his fingers through his still damp hair and reasoned, with a shrug, that where he was going and with what he had to do, it didn't really matter how he looked.
It was still too early to meet the people he needed, so he went downstairs to feed. The humans were still at work, and one by one they looked up as he came down. He was surprised there were no snickers or repressed jibes at his appearance but went into the kitchen, hearing them in his head anyway. Angel was at the table, drinking and reading the paper. He looked up casually when Spike came in then jerked his head back. 'Fucking hell.'
Spike stopped and pouted a little, and Angel held up a hand theatrically, 'Shit, Spike, don't add a pout as well.'
Angel chuckled and looked down, but added under his breath, 'You look like a freaking porn star. I'd fuck you myself.'
Spike found it difficult to move after this comment. He stood where he'd come in, staring at Angel's lowered head.
Angel looked up. 'I'm thinking you won't need the Dutch courage tonight. Leave off the drugs maybe? Give them a fighting chance.'
'Are you taking the piss, Mate?'
Angel looked wounded. 'Would I lie?'
'You've spent our whole acquaintance lying to me, Angelus; why should things change now?'
Spike honestly expected Angel to rise to this. He always had in the past: denials, explanations, rationalisations, discussions about the meaning of a soul and other boring shit like that. He was more than a little floored when Angel looked him straight in the eye and said calmly, 'I think you may be right. I am now anyway. Have a great night, Spike. See if you can find something I wouldn't do, and let me know. I like novelty.'
Spike watched Angel's back as he went back into the lobby. If he'd been thinking of capturing Angel and just handing him over, he surely wasn't now. Now, he had a much better plan for his sire. That cold, soulless bitch could wait a few more days for her prize. Spike wanted to have some fun now. See if he couldn't find something Angel wouldn't do.
He went out, met with the men he needed to, and made the purchases he wanted. He set up the small chamber and grinned at the effect of all his equipment.
When he was sure all was ready, he found a bar that, while it didn't have visible swastikas, probably had quite a few of them somewhere out of sight. He grinned and decided to find out, waiting until a particularly large skinhead got up to visit the bathroom. Spike followed and asked to see his tattoo. He got the beating he'd expected, impressed when the man used knuckle-dusters on him, despite the fact that he could not raise a hand in self-defence.
He walked unsteadily back to the hotel and, as he'd hoped, Angel was lurking. He made as if trying to reach the stairs unseen but knew Angel would be able to smell the blood. He did. He came out of his office and grabbed hold of Spike's arm.
As Angel put a hand tenderly to a crushed cheekbone, a hideous flaw in his plan suddenly occurred to Spike. Why would Angel demand revenge and follow him out when Angel (as Spike knew only too well) didn't give a shit about him? He hadn't cared after he'd turned him. He hadn't cared after he'd been cursed with a soul and seemed to care about everyone else. He hadn't cared when Spike had been chipped, and now, he didn't appear to care that his childe had a soul of his own. An unlifetime's worth of not caring. Spike inwardly cursed his stupidity and tried to pull away from the gentle touch.
'How do you friggin' think, Angel? Chip, remember? I met some Girl Guides and asked to see their toggles. They beat me up. Average age about ten.'
'I don't know what kind of Girl Guides you fed on in England, but in LA they don't carry knuckle dusters. Tell me.'
'I was in a bar; I upset a Nazi.'
Angel turned Spike's face from left to right, inspecting the damage to his eye. 'What were you doing in a…? Jeez, don't answer that. Let's go.'
'Go where?' Spike puzzlement was utterly genuine.
'I want to say hi to who ever did this.'
Spike shook his head, disbelieving that he was about to argue Angel out of his own brilliant plan. 'You don't give a shit about me, why?'
Angel shook his head. 'Okay, Spike, let's agree on something. Let's play our allotted roles for a little longer. I promised them I would. You're right; I don't. Now, let's go. Time burns me, and I need to rest from its heat.'
'You been raiding my stash there, poof? Cus you aint' making much sense.'
'On the contrary, contrary little demon of mine; I make a lot of sense; you've just never understood me. Now. Bar. Where. Shut up and walk.'
Having been unable to delay the very thing he was in LA to bring about, Spike seemed to have no choice but to lead Angel back out into the night and into the trap that he had set for him.
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