Time is the Fire in Which we Burn - Chapter 6
Spike didn't want to return to any of the clubs that Sam might frequent, so he made a point of reading the paper before he went out that night. He was scanning some of the more interesting sounding places and having some food when Angel came into the kitchen. They both paused, Spike in feeding, Angel in moving. After a small nod, Angel got some food and sat at the table, watching Spike.
Spike sensed Angel had something on his mind, but he didn't want to ask what it was, fearing that he might be asked to leave. The future loomed large, dark and uncertain in front of him, and this place gave him at least an illusion of being safe. He glanced up at Angel's lowered brow, but then swiftly back to the paper.
Angel watched the inclined blond head, mulling over Wesley's advice. For all he respected the human's wisdom on some issues, relationships were not one of them. Tell him? Angel couldn't. He could not say the words that almost burst out of his body spontaneously, so great was their need to be spoken.
He sighed and took a small, very necessary breath. 'Do you want to help some tonight? We could use you.'
Spike looked up sharply. 'Me? Help you?'
Angel looked down and pouted. 'I can't pay you what you've been….'
'No! I mean… I don't want paying. Jeez, Angel….'
'Sorry. I'm not sure what you want these days, Spike. Sorry.' It was as close as Angel could come to asking if Spike wanted him, telling Spike the want was desperate on his side but, close as it was, it appeared to fall on deaf ears. Spike was too caught up with the idea of helping out with the good fight to hear the subtle plea. He rose, eager to leave, the paper forgotten on the table.
Angel inwardly cursed Spike's obtuseness but smiled openly at the new enthusiasm. 'It's only a small haunting.'
'Don't matter. Good with ghosts.'
Angel laughed and led the way into the lobby. The humans eyed Spike with dislike and antipathy when he went to choose a weapon with Angel. He felt their stares of mistrust, but did not have any way to alleviate their doubts about his motives. He kept his eyes firmly fixed on Angel instead and went out into the warm night with them as if he belonged there.
The haunting turned out to be a possession of a small child. Angel and Cordelia exchanged a look, and at the others' puzzlement, Angel said softly, 'Been here, done this, got the freaking T-shirt.'
They were invited into the house and confronted the child. Spike hovered in the background, unsure what to do or what to say. He looked at the mother intently. For the first time in his unlife, he felt a human's abject terror and hated it. He watched the father. He wanted to go over to him and say something that would take away his anger and confusion. These were profound changes to the way he had lived, thought and reacted for over a century and a half, and he became so engrossed staring thoughtfully at Angel's back, mulling over Angel's soul, that he almost missed the on-going action completely.
Suddenly, he was flung to one side of the room, and they were enveloped in pitch-darkness. All seemed confusion and chaos. Angel was lying on him. Spike grunted and tried to push him off. 'What the….'
Spike whispered, 'What?'
Angel whispered back, even quieter, 'It's pissed.'
'Duh. What are you doing about it?'
'Being quiet and hiding?'
'Tempt it in and mash it.'
Spike felt Angel's face very close to his, and although he could not see them, he sensed the dark eyes studying him intently. 'What?'
'It's a nasty frigging child-loving demon, Angel. It's a bully by definition. It'll hone in on whatever's most scared of it. Sucker it in then scare it to hell and back.'
'That's actually a good idea.'
Angel turned away, and Spike could sense some emotion wafting off his sire. It was like fear, but as he'd never experienced that from Angel, it was hard to tell. The darkness wavered as if something's hold on it was loosening, as if something else was attracting it, and then Angel began to… laugh. The sound was manic, hideous, full of malice. Spike sensed Gunn near to him and reached out. A strong hand grasped his, and he pulled away from Angel's side to the human. 'What the freak's happening, man?'
'Angel's taken the demon into him.'
'Oh. Now why didn't I think of that good idea! Jeez!'
'He'll be okay.'
'Like, yeah, Angelus is gonna kick that new demon's arse for being a bad motherfucker and send him home? I'm thinking demon reunions goin' on in there!'
Spike pouted a little. 'Angelus didn't like other demons much.'
'So, why's he laughing boy, and why's it still darker in here than a…? Shit!'
A strange howling had begun that sent shivers down spines. Spike gave Gunn a small pat on the arm and crawled back to his sire's side. He felt Angel's body, felt up to his face, felt a revolting crawling and rippling of flesh under his hand, and then hit Angel hard on the side of the his head. The laughter returned, only now it was stronger.
Gritting his teeth to the spine-tingling juddering of Angel's skin, Spike took a deep breath and leant down to Angel's lips. He kissed him. For the first time, he felt the demon himself. It tried to fight him for possession of the dark vampire. Spike fought back, opening his lips to Angel's, pushing into his mouth, cradling Angel around the back of the head and pulling him close. He straddled Angel's lap and kissed him with a passion he'd not released for a very long time. He didn't hear the howling; he didn't see the blackness in the room deepen or sense it thicken as if choking them. He concentrated on Angel: the taste of him, his scent, the shape of their mouths together, the feel of Angel's body against his, and for the first time ever, Spike allowed his most private fantasies to surface.
Spike didn't know if Angel sensed any of this and returned to tell him once more that he didn't want him, or whether the demon possessing him just got pissed and moved on. Whatever. Within a few minutes, the howling and the laughter stopped.
The kiss, however, did not. Under the cover of the darkness, Spike was seized by urgent hands. His mouth was now plundered; he was almost bent back by the force of Angel's mouth on him. He could feel them both swelling. His own erection was painful, and then the darkness began to fade as lighters were clicked, candles were lit and human voices intruded in their private world. Angel slid out from under Spike just as Gunn crawled into view. 'You back, Boss?'
Angel looked at Spike. 'Yes. When the light came back.'
Spike raised his eyes in slightly confused wonder at the lie and could not help a small complicit smile at Angel's grin.
They received their due thanks. Spike berated himself for enjoying this almost as much as being paid - almost - and then they made their way back to the car. Just before they climbed in, Angel held Spike back with a light touch to his arm. When the humans were passed, he said very softly to Spike's ear, with an amused smile, 'Remind me not to go with your plans again. Plan bad.... The save? That was kinda good. Thanks.'
Spike could taste Angel's mouth all the way home in the car. He was silent, refusing to be drawn into the excited chatter until, suddenly, just before they pulled in, he realised that was exactly what was happening: they were including him. He was ignoring them, but they were including him. He turned and looked over the small crew in the car as they climbed out. He followed them into the lobby and handed his unused weapon back.
Fantasy and reality began to merge slightly and, confused, upset, Spike shouldered his way past the others and went upstairs by himself.
He avoided Angel all the following day by the simple expedient of staying in bed. He did not sleep all that much but spent the time smoking and thinking. When darkness fell, he dressed and went out quietly, avoiding the main stairs and lobby, not wanting to be challenged or detained.
He was too depressed and confused to want company and had decided on somewhere familiar, just to find a quiet corner and drink his sorrows away. As he entered the English pub, he stopped in wonder. It was quiet but distinctly unfamiliar, as it didn't resemble any pub he'd ever been in at home. He made allowances for the century and went to the bar and ordered a pint of ale.
The beer was good and with a small smile of pleasure at the oblivion it promised, he sat at a table and got out a book. It was lame, but he kept the thought in his mind that after a century and a half of being anything but lame, he was owed a quiet drink with a good book.
'Mind if I join you?'
He looked up, annoyed. 'Sorry. I'm not really into company.'
'You're English too.'
'Very few of us actually come here. It's hideous, isn't it?'
'Don't touch it myself - stick to the harder stuff. Mind if I sit down?'
'There's a whole empty pub; pick somewhere.'
'I-I…. Okay. Sorry. I just wanted some company, and you looked less boring than anyone else here. My mistake.'
Spike sighed. 'Sit down. Can't guarantee you won't be bored, but I guess the book can wait. I've only been trying to read it for fifty years.'
'Nothing.' Spike regarded the man opposite him. He was tanned and lean. 'And you are…?'
A pair of blue eyes looked thoughtfully at him. 'John.'
'So, why the reception?'
Spike leant back and took a long swallow of his drink. 'My life's complicated at the moment, and I wanted some space.'
The man laughed. 'You've been in the States a while then. You sound like one of their bad daytime TV shows.'
'Do they have good ones?'
'Do you really want some peace? I'll bugger off if you do.'
'Nah. Stay. Want another?'
Spike got up and refreshed their drinks, watching the man from the bar. He was undeniably attractive - exceptionally so, although the signals he gave off were odd. Spike couldn't read him. He definitely wasn't saying fuck me now, as Sam had. He exuded sexuality, but it did not seem directed at him. As the man had virtually picked him up, this confused Spike. But thinking about this distracted him for a brief time from thinking about Angel, and that was a huge relief. His head ached from thinking about Angel, and he just wanted some oblivion. Talking to this man might be cheaper and less destructive than losing himself through alcohol. Spike suddenly grinned and ordered himself a chaser. Who said he couldn't have both?
When he slid back into the booth, the man smiled at him. 'You look happier.'
Spike twitched up an eyebrow. 'Decided life's too short to mope.'
'Is that what you were doing?'
'Kinda. I told you: complicated.'
'The love life?'
Spike chuckled. 'Someone else asked me that recently, and I jumped down his throat. But yeah, I can't deny it. Love.'
'Is she here? In LA?'
Spike toyed with his glass for a moment then looked up as he spoke to see the effects of his words. 'He is, yeah.'
Not a flicker changed the man's calm, friendly expression, and his rejoinder was seamless. 'But he doesn't love you?'
Spike gave him a look of frank appraisal at the acceptance then looked down at his beer. 'No.'
'I find that hard to believe.'
Spike looked up with an amused expression. 'Are you trying to chat me up? I can't decide, and that's pretty novel for me.'
'I'm just making a statement of fact. I can see you.'
'Am I irresistible then?'
'Not with that idiotic grin, no. But in dark lighting….'
Spike laughed outright. 'That's my best kind. Not one for the sun.'
'I'd never have guessed. So, this guy you love….'
'You are very curious about my love life for a complete stranger, Mate.'
The man sighed. 'I have issues myself. I thought I might be able to work them through by talking to you.'
'Not exactly. Did you argue?'
Spike folded one leg over the other and got more comfortable, the alcohol and the strange ease he felt with his man, making him feel more content than he had for many hours. He lit a cigarette and squinted at his companion through the smoke. 'Sort of, yes. I've known him a long time. I've always… wanted him. Weird, hey? But I was… sick. God, this is hard to explain. I was bad, not a nice chap - as we would say.'
Spike chuckled. 'In their bad daytime TV we would, yeah.'
'So, you were evil, and he didn't want you?'
Spike looked at him speculatively. 'Got it in one.'
'You don't seem too evil to me.'
Spike leant forward. 'All serial killers drink in pubs, catch buses and pee. Have you ever thought of that at an urinal?'
'Actually, I have. But they don't usually open up to complete strangers in pubs, do they?'
Spike waved his hand slightly, amused. 'I don't either; believe me.'
'So, why still apart?'
'Jeez, Mate, persistence your middle name or something? There's no great mystery; he just doesn't want me; that's all. I'm coming to terms with it and moving on, okay? Wanna help me move on?'
The man leant back and eyed Spike through devastatingly dark blue eyes. He blinked slowly. 'Have you just propositioned me?'
Spike pouted. 'No. Yes. No. Shit, I don't know. I just don't wanna be alone all the time. I'm not… built for it. I'm a… pack animal. I lived a long time with someone - a very long time - and I just miss the company.'
'So, in truth, you're not too hung up on this other man?'
Spike rose angrily from his seat and hissed in the man's face. 'I burn for him all the time. It won't go away. Evil, good - it hasn't made any difference. He's all I think of. When I'm awake, he's in my mind; when I sleep, he comes into my dreams. But I need someone! I can't do eternity on my own. Now, if you don't want to discover just how evil I can still be, piss off.'
He stomped angrily out of the pub and only stopped when he bent to light a very necessary cigarette. He straightened slowly. 'Don't follow me.'
'Have you told him what you just told me?'
Spike whirled angrily on the man. 'Yes! I did! I actually did! He told me to, so I did, and do you know what he said?'
'He said he'd never wanted me and that he just wanted me to grow up and leave him alone.'
'Jeez. You total pillock.'
'Hey! Fuck off….'
'Not you. Look, do you want to go somewhere else? I really do need a drink now.'
Spike gritted his teeth. 'Okay. But don't piss me off anymore.'
'Oh, I am so enjoying this.'
'You could. Your place?'
'No. That would not be a good idea.'
'Oh. You got someone there?'
'Not exactly. Let's just go to a…. Oh….'
Spike pressed his lips to the warm human ones then pulled off with an amused smile. 'Stubble. That's a first.'
The man swallowed deeply. 'This is not what I had in mind when I…. Oh….'
The second kiss was more urgent. Spike pressed the lean body back against the wall and opened his mouth. He desperately needed something and tried to find it in this man's kiss. He pulled away again. 'Are you gonna get into this a bit maybe?'
'Have you ever heard the expression playing with fire?'
'Yeah, you're hot; I'll give you that.'
'I didn't mean me. Look, I think we'd better…. Oh….'
This time, Spike cupped his hands around the warm neck and only eased him closer, keeping his gaze, giving the man the promise of a kiss if he wanted it, if he took it. He did. Rolling his eyes as if to the fates, the man bent down and kissed Spike hungrily. He reversed their positions and pushed him against the wall, holding his shoulders and pressing his whole body to the hard one against him.
They completely lost themselves to the kiss. Spike could taste the man's hot need, sense he was going rapidly down a path that he had resisted for a long time. He knew that feeling and wanted to be there at the end of the man's journey. He pulled away and stared into the dilated blue eyes. 'Room.'
The man took a step back, wiping his mouth in wonder. 'Absolutely not. I'm not that stupid.'
'Yes. I want you.'
'No, you don't. You want someone else, and I'm afraid I'd be a very poor substitute.'
Spike grabbed him and kissed him again then tore his mouth away. 'Am I supposed to spend the rest of my fucking eternity alone? HE DOESN'T WANT ME! Everything I've ever done in my sad fucking life has been about him. It has to end!'
'Tell him this.'
'Why not? What have you got to lose?'
'Hope. Frigging hope, that's what. If I speak, if I tell him this, there's nothing then, is there? He'll spell it out in words of one syllable that he doesn't want me, and I'll have nothing left.'
'Oh, Jesus Christ…. You have to tell him. Maybe he's thinking exactly the same as you, but he's an emotional retard as well!'
'Hey! I am not…. Look, I know what….'
'No. You don't. Tell him.'
'I don't want to talk about this anymore. I want to take you to a hotel room and fuck you… or maybe not, but have some fun anyway.'
'Yes, fucking fun… anything SO IT STOPS HURTING!'
The man just stood, watching Spike with a gentle look, and Spike jerked his head back sharply. Suddenly, he put his hand over his face, hiding his expression. This, more than anything that had happened that night, seemed to unhinge the human slightly. He put his hands on Spike's shoulders. 'Don't. Christ, please, don't do that as well.' Spike clenched his jaw, but couldn't stop the emotions welling up, racking his body with deep shivers. 'For God's sake, just tell him. Fuck. Come here.' He pulled Spike into his arms and held him, rubbing his dark stubble into the blond hair as Spike cried. 'I've shed so many tears recently, I thought I was immune to pain.'
Spike pulled away and pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes. With a small, weak grin he murmured, 'Did I mention that I'm really quite evil?'
'Oh, I sense it, don't worry. This is the face of a scared man.'
The man smiled. 'That's only an expletive, I hope.'
Spike chuckled. 'Yeah. I'm….' He laughed. 'I'm not at my most seductive. Sorry.'
The man gave him a penetrating stare then shook himself. 'I have to go. Are you going to tell him?'
Spike gritted his teeth. 'You are the most irritating git I've ever met - after him. Yes. All right. I will. I have nothing to lose, cus I have jack shit without him.'
With a small shake of his shoulders the man swung away and walked swiftly toward more populated streets. Spike watched him leave, wondering sadly if every one he met for the rest of his unlife would smell a little like Angel, just as that man had.
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