the Fire in Which we Burn
Episode 1 - Chapter 1
Spike rolled over and found Angel's face only inches from his on the pillow. He studied the dark eyes, the slightly furrowed brow - as if its owner were perplexed - the sticking up hair. It was all so familiar. He grinned. 'Nice try, Mate. Still ain't gonna fuck you though.'
Jordan groaned and shifted back. 'How do you know every time?'
Spike ran his hands through his hair and pulled the sheet higher. 'Top secret info, Luv. Now, piss off, and let me get back to sleep.'
The young demon rolled off the bed and, with a stomp, went back into the office.
Spike lay awake for some time, listening to the sounds in the small apartment. He often did this: passing the daylight hours in the back whilst the others talked, ate, drank, or argued. It was utterly novel. Occasionally, he was tempted out by the sounds of their soft talk and would wrap a sheet around his waist, slouching out, abusing them for making too much noise and waking him, but then usually sitting with them for some time. His colleagues. His friends. His lovers if he would let them. Jordan was more upfront with his demands; Sam reserved, but their shared desire for Spike kept them loyal, kept them his.
And then there was Wesley.
The quiet human visited less often, but he spent more time with Spike than he spent in his own apartment. He seemed to prefer the times when it was just the two of them. Then he would sit, tipped back in one of the office chairs, studying his companion, feet up on the desk, relaxed. Spike always knew he was being watched, but he always enjoyed it, so allowed the human this silent scrutiny, only occasionally looking up and holding the penetrating gaze, returning the frank appraisal. Wesley sometimes held his gaze, sometimes looked away with a small, rueful pout at being caught so easily, but tea always smoothed over the moment: endless mugs of the hot, evocative liquid being consumed by them both, preferred to the alcohol drunk when the others were there. This small, shared intimacy bonded them almost as much as the emotion that passed between them in those candid glances.
It was after one of these small, revealing moments that Wesley chose to comment softly, 'You've not seen Angel for a while.' He lowered his chair to the floor and went into the kitchen for the ritual boiling of the kettle.
Spike watched the small, familiar movements. 'No. I haven't.'
'Any reason in particular?'
'We've been busy.'
'He certainly has.'
'I'm busy, Watcher; I'm just stealthier about it.'
'You'll need to take something on soon. I'm not subbing you for this apartment just to watch you watching TV all day.'
'But you like watching me.'
Wesley turned and brought Spike his drink, ignoring this last. 'Why not go and see him? He might have some work for you. Some cases he doesn't have time for.'
'He knows where I am, Human. He's been busy. He'll be here when he's here, yeah?'
'Maybe when you happen to be in… oh, silly me, what am I saying? You're always in these days. Coincidence, or what?'
Spike chose to ignore this, so they went back to their mutual inactivity, until Spike said slightly petulantly, 'Anyone would think you had an ulterior motive, Mate. Always digging and probing about my love life.'
'I never probe, Spike. The very thought in conjunction with anything related to your sex life with Angel sends shivers down my spine. And I have no motive other than seeing you both productive and working. It's good for you. Both.'
Spike got up and went into the kitchen himself, rummaging through the cupboards to find something to snack on. He kept his back to Wesley. 'Angel's working. He's being very fucking productive.'
'And you sit and wait for him to spare you some….'
'Let it drop now. You've made your point.'
'I'm not sure that I….'
'Let's go out.'
'Out? You? I mean me? Or rather us?'
'I'm not asking you on a date, Watcher. A drink. Get out of this fucking apartment.'
'Don't uh huh me. I'm the expert on the sceptical uh huh.'
'What if Angel comes over when we're out?'
'Now, that's a hard one…. Maybe he'll find us… out?'
'And waste all that waiting in you've been doing?'
Spike gave him the finger as he passed to get his coat and strode out of the apartment, not waiting to see if Wesley was following.
He was surprised by Spike's choice of bar: some way from the centre of town, unwholesome exterior. It didn't bode well for a pleasant drink between colleagues. Nevertheless, he followed Spike to the bar, then turned and casually watched the other patrons.
Wesley spotted him straight away. He was sitting at a table in the shadows, talking intently to a demon. Wesley looked twice, just to confirm he wasn't conjuring ghosts from their recent conversation, then turned to Spike. 'Very funny.'
Spike gave him an innocent look and handed him a beer. Wesley shook his head wearily. 'Are you intending to throw yourself at his feet, or just bump into him by coincidence?'
Wesley spotted a table come free and elbowed his way through the throng to claim it, deliberately sitting with his back to the rest of the room. Spike joined him and straddled the chair, leaning his arms on the back and looking around casually. 'Nice place this.'
'It's hideous. Angel said he needed to speak to his contacts. I should have known this is the sort of place he would come.'
'Fuck off, Spike. You're not funny.'
Spike raised an eyebrow, seemed about to continue the pretence, but instead, trailed his finger through a small spill of beer on the table. 'Yeah, well. Mountains and all that.'
'How did you know he was here?'
Before Spike could reply, a dark figure brushed past them and went to the bar. Spike gave the retreating back a small smile, but Wesley watched this pleased look fade slowly so turned to follow Spike's gaze. Angel was leaning back against the bar, scanning the room. He looked directly at them both, through them, and then on, his gaze restless and agitated. Spike opened his mouth as if to speak then shut it with an audible snap. He frowned then said quietly, as if more to himself than his companion, 'He's not faking.'
Wesley didn't reply for a moment and watched once more as Angel's gaze raked them without the slightest sign of recognition. Eventually, he was forced to agree with Spike's assessment. Angel did not appear to recognise either of them. Distracted, he asked, 'How did you know he was coming here?'
Also preoccupied, Spike answered half-heartedly, 'Got the bint to look in his diary for me.'
Wesley nodded then suddenly stood and made his way to the bar. 'Angel.'
Angel did not turn until Wesley laid a hand on his arm and repeated his hail. He stared at the human and said cautiously, 'Hello.'
Wesley pouted. 'Angel?'
Angel smiled. 'Well, yeah. Good.'
Wesley smiled as if relieved but turned slightly to Spike to catch his eye, and then said deceptively pleasantly, 'Yes, good. In that case, who am I?'
Angel laughed but there was no humour in the sound. He bent his head and brushed a speck of dirt off his shirt. 'Don't play games with me.'
'Oh, believe me; I'm not playing at all. I repeat: who am I, Angel?'
He reeled at the blow to his jaw, staggered and was therefore slow to follow the blurs of dark and blond out of the bar. When he hit the night air in the alley however, Spike was facing Angel down, blocking his exit to the road. Angel was staring at him curiously. 'I do know you.'
Spike scratched idly at something on his cheek and glanced very briefly at Wesley.
Angel came closer. 'My blood rises. You are family.'
'In one of those kinky, vampire, don't-let's-talk-about-who's-fucking-who type of families, yeah….' He trailed off at Angel's expression.
Spike frowned. 'Angelus?'
Angel shook his head. 'No, Angel. But… William, how are you here and like this…?' He waved distractedly at Spike, taking in the hair and clothes in the one gesture. 'You are so…. I did not recognise you. My childe and so changed?'
'I'm….' Spike looked to Wesley for support. The human stepped out of the shadows.
'When do you think this is, Angel?'
Angel didn't turn to the voice but kept his gaze fixed on Spike. Nevertheless, he answered distractedly, 'What do you mean?'
Wesley moved into his line of sight, blocking the view of Spike, so both vampires shifted slightly to continue their mutual staring session. 'Where do you think you are? When do you think this is? What year?'
'Who is this, William?'
'Just answer the question, yeah. You're the one who's all wrong here, not us.'
Angel finally tore his gaze away from Spike and looked briefly at Wesley. There was a pause, a further lowering of the already perplexed brow, and then Angel said softly, 'Wesley?'
Wesley glanced swiftly back at Spike and, at the look, Angel said, equally surprised, 'Spike?'
Spike came forward and laid a hand on his arm. 'Something's going on, Angel. Let's get out of here. Questions later.'
Angel made as if to argue, took a look at both their faces and nodded, following them out into the better lit street and over to Wesley's car.
Angel climbed silently into the passenger seat, and Spike sat in the back. Wesley drove for a while but then suddenly pulled violently over to the side of the road and twisted around in his seat. 'Do you remember what happened back there, Angel?'
'I was going to ask you the same thing. I was talking to one of my informants, and then I was in that alley staring at….' He turned and for the first time looked at Spike. He ducked his head slightly. 'Hi, by the way.'
'I was gonna say recovering, but busy sounds better….' He cast a look up at Spike through lowered lids, and a memory of their last, intense meeting flashed between them. Spike grinned shyly and looked out of the side window.
Wesley coughed. 'Can we concentrate and think with organs above the waist please? This is serious.'
Without turning from his contemplation of Spike, Angel said, 'What happened from your point of view, Wes?'
'I think we met you.'
'Well, yeah, but I don't….'
'Not you, you. Another you. A previous you.'
At that, Angel dragged his gaze reluctantly from Spike and looked at the human. 'Angelus?'
'He said not.'
'Whatever that was, wasn't me.'
At this soft interjection, Angel turned back to Spike. Spike didn't look up and seemed to find something particularly interesting in a small wound on his hand. 'You said your blood recognised me. Well, mine did you. That was you.'
'So I was… what? Possessed by myself…?' Angel turned helplessly to Wesley for support, but the human was looking no more confident.
'It could have been some form of time flaw.'
Angel narrowed his eyes slightly. 'I'm not liking the sound of this.'
Spike smiled for the first time since his brief, private exchange of looks with Angel. 'You don't wanna fuck with the space-time continuum.' He hadn't meant this to be anything more than a jibe at Angel's lack of modern reference points, but when Angel began to reply that he didn't want to fuck with anything, his angry tone dried up. Badly. Once more, they exchanged swift glances through lowered eyes. Once more, they looked quickly away, but this time, Wesley shifted in his seat and began to tug his sweater away from his neck, small beads of perspiration glistening on his forehead.
He rolled down his window and then said as steadily as he could, 'If Spike asserts that that was you then I think a time shift is the only credible explanation. I need to get back to the hotel and find some references to this.'
Angel nodded, keeping his gaze on Spike's lowered head. 'Good idea, Wes. Drive fast, yeah?'
Gritting his teeth, Wesley swung the car back into the stream of traffic. He kept his eyes fixed ahead, but said distinctly, 'Concentrate for a little longer, Angel.'
Angel appeared to shiver slightly, but he turned his back on Spike and joined the human staring out of the windscreen. 'Tell me exactly what you saw and what you heard. Everything.'
'We both saw you sitting at the table. Spike knew you would be there of course; he'd come to see you….'
'Thanks, Mate. I'll remember that.'
'You're welcome, Spike. Damn, is that heater on Angel?'
Angel made no move to check for him and said, very slowly and very carefully as if he was losing the ability to string rational thought together, 'Go on.'
'Then you swept past us. Spike was watching you….'
'Will you fucking SHUT UP!'
'Spike was coincidently looking in your direction, but when you looked at us, you clearly didn't recognise us. I got up to challenge you. You answered to your name but couldn't give mine. Then you ran out.'
'Well, I don't… run out of places… I… sweep….'
'God help me. Swept out then. Fast. Spike followed….'
'You've forgotten the best bit, Mate. When he clocked you one.'
'My jaw hasn't forgotten.'
'I hit you?'
'The other you did, yes.'
'So, by the time I got out, you and Spike were staring at each…. Oh, bloody hell….' At his words, Angel had turned in his seat and appeared to be re-enacting this small scene. Wesley leant over to check the heating controls for himself, swearing quietly under his breath when he found them working just as they should.
'What happened between us?' Angel watched Spike's expression carefully as he waited for his answer.
Spike shrugged dismissively. 'Not a lot… considering. You finally recognised me. Called me fucking William though. Said your blood knew me or some shit - like I said.'
'I called you William?
'And I hit you?' Wesley nodded at Angel's glance to him. 'That kind of dates which Angel it might have been.'
At Wesley's small frown, Angel added, 'Souled, because I claimed to be me not Angelus; hardly recognising Spike, so some considerable time after the last time I saw William; but kinda angsty, so before I met Buffy.'
This was met by silence, and after a moment, Angel sighed. 'So that didn't make sense to you guys either?'
Wesley smiled faintly. 'There are rather too many you's, Angel. It's rather hard to work it all out.'
'Try being inside me then.'
Once more, a throwaway comment sparked something between the vampires. Wesley groaned and ran his hand repetitively over his thigh.
Still looking out of the side window, Spike said softly, 'Why don't you pull over, Mate, and let us out.'
Angel laid a hand on Wesley's arm. 'No. It's not far now. Keep driving.' He gave Spike's profile a look and, with a small sound, turned resolutely back, not speaking again until they reached the hotel.
Angel climbed out and went swiftly into the lobby. He didn't pause but went on up the stairs. Spike only said, 'Hit the books, Pet. I don't want that Angel,' and he too went up the stairs.
Angel was waiting for him around the corner and flattened him against the wall. They kissed as if grinding, biting and desperate tearing at hair and clothes could relieve the agony of need that had overtaken them in the car. They kissed until their lips bled from the intensity of the desire. They kissed until Angel dragged Spike into his room, ripping clothes off them both. He backed him to the bed. Spike fell, laughing. Angel came down, lifting one slim thigh, easing a finger into him. Spike arched back and hissed with pleasure. They kissed again, Angel raining hard kisses onto Spike's face and neck, and down onto his nipples and the soft flesh inside his arms - everywhere, anywhere, just for the familiar feel and scent of Spike's skin. He made Spike writhe with pleasure, stretching and playing with him - one finger, then another, strong strokes working over his prostate.
He entered Spike without speaking, the look he saw in Spike's face the only permission and encouragement he needed.
Only when he felt the tight resistance of Spike's muscles clamping on his shaft did he make a sound. He looked down at an erection so swollen with neglected need that it tore Spike as it went in. He hissed at the scent of the blood and at the intoxicating sight of the glistening redness of the joining.
Angel's eyes glazed over with pleasure as he began to move inside Spike's body. He felt his brain shutting down, thoughts emanating only from the place in his body giving him so much pleasure. Before he lost his rational self inside the tight, hot wetness that was Spike, he heard a low, urgent murmur. 'Just use me, Luv. Fuck me like an animal.'
Angel howled, tipped his head back and released his need into Spike. He tore and thrust, and rode high on the hard, slim body. He raked nails down flesh but did not stop to see welling blood. He cried out his unearthly desire: high-pitched moans when he crested near to completion and a long, drawn out groan of satisfaction as he sated demonic need deep into the receptive body beneath him. He barely felt himself pushed away, was insensible to slipping out, unresisting to hands that parted his cheeks. Only his body responded to the deep, painful intrusion of a male shaft piercing him, but even then only to buck in response, quiver to the pleasure, and match the urgent thrusting inside him with tight, clamping spasms on the solid coldness.
He heard sound and tried to focus, tried to draw some sense back from his loins to animate even a small fraction of his brain. His eyes focused on a face drawn with need, cords strained and prominent on a neck stretched back in anticipation of pleasure. There was no awareness of him in the blank, blue eyes. Just need - just a desperate will to jettison seed and find relief. With a jolt, Spike finally came, shuddering his load into Angel, clawing at his belly to find more purchase on their slippery, sweat-soaked skin.
As if a racing pulse in his body, Angel felt the sperm course through him like blood. Shot after shot of the cold fluid left Spike's body and found a willing host in his. He clenched his muscles, trying to hold it in, but it slipped away with the spent shaft as Spike eased himself down to lie by his side.
Angel felt a hand on his belly; he thought he stretched one to Spike's damp hair, and then he knew no more.
The sound of a lighter woke him. He turned to find Spike, smoking alongside him. When Spike saw that Angel was awake, he tossed the cigarette to the floor and stretched out his arm. They came together once more but saw in the other's eyes that this was to be no empty fuck. With total focus and clarity, they kissed, each savouring the unique taste of the other. Hands roamed restlessly over smooth, cool skin, seeking pleasure spots, drawing out cries of pleasure and soft laughter from their passage.
Angel slid down Spike's body and fastened on a nipple, his soft biting causing Spike to arch back and shudder with swelling need. He slid lower and nibbled into that need instead, pushing back a soft foreskin with his tongue before laying the sharp edges of his teeth to the soft, slick plum beneath. Spike raked his fingers into Angel's hair, urging him on, encouraging him lower, and Angel dipped to take the still soft column in his mouth. He smiled around Spike's flesh as it swelled to the touch of his tongue and the warmth inside his mouth. He could feel the cock pulse and knew the pleasure he would be giving Spike, felt it vicariously in his own groin as desire flared from his balls to his slit hole.
He withdrew and played once more with the enticing glans, following the cleft with his tongue, probing into it, sucking hard with strong lips fastened under its mushroom-shaped head.
He raised gracefully back up the slim, pale body and took Spike's tongue into his mouth once more, sharing his as freely. He kissed over Spike's eyes and into his hair, groaned and kissed into the hollows of his neck. He found himself being rolled, cupped behind the neck and dragged up for kisses that almost took sense away once more. When Spike left his mouth to kiss into his neck, Angel whispered, 'Why so long?'
Spike murmured into the familiar scent of the strong neck, 'Cus we're stupid.'
Angel smiled and kissed into Spike's hair. 'I need you.'
'Just as well you've got me then.' Spike smiled and rose up to Angel's eye line. 'I wanted to come over. Didn't want to push, yeah?'
'I meant to drop by. Ya know?'
'Seems like forever.'
'It's only been… two weeks?'
Spike grinned and captured Angel's erection in one hand. 'Feels like a lot longer.'
'I'd gotten used to more.'
'Take more now?'
It was Angel's turn to grin. He rolled them and lay heavy over Spike, holding his wrists, pinning him down. He bent swiftly for a kiss and then began to ease himself into the stretched, slick hole. Spike lifted his legs and draped them over the strong shoulders. Angel's eyes widened at the unexpectedness of the pleasure he felt seeing Spike supine and obedient beneath him. Spike saw the furtive flash of dominance and grinned wickedly. 'Want me to struggle?'
Angel's eyes belied a sharp rebuttal. Spike raised an eyebrow and began to strain, subtly at first, against his restraint. Angel held the strong wrists more forcibly, so Spike struggled some more. They both felt the swell of Angel's cock deep inside Spike's body. It lengthened and thickened, stretching the tight walls. Spike arched his back, tipping his head back as if to escape from an unwelcome intrusion. Angel groaned in sheer pleasure at the position and then began to take the body that pretended not to want him. The resistance was exquisite. The sense of taking once more so welcome that he came before he wanted to, before he had drawn out every moment of delight from Spike's writhing protest.
He cried out as he filled his victim, closing his eyes to Spike's sudden gasp of pleasure, maintaining the fiction of this rape for just one moment longer.
Hands roaming lovingly over his damp skin completely destroyed the illusion, but it was a fair swap, and he dipped in delight as his back was stroked and teased. He smiled and heard Spike chuckle in response. When Angel opened his eyes, they were kissed closed again, and Spike whispered, 'Feelin' better?'
Angel nodded. 'I'm thinking regular abstinence should become a major feature of our relationship from now on.'
Spike only rolled them once more and lay on Angel's broad chest as if listening for the heartbeat that only he could hear. He reached for his cigarettes once more, and they lay in companionable silence, Angel watching the streaks of light from the street as they illuminated the delicate, pale wisps of Spike's hair. He began to play with the irresistible strands, twisting them around his finger until they curled then watching them slowly return to their preferred, spiky shape. 'Tell me what happened again. Slowly. What you saw. What you thought.'
Spike glanced up then rolled off Angel and propped himself up on one elbow. 'I saw you at that table talking. Wesley pointed you out. I was kinda surprised at the coincidence of you being there, ya know?'
Angel raised an eyebrow at the blatant lie, but let it go. Spike gave him an amused look and took another drag on his cigarette. Then you walked past us to go to the bar. And something was just wrong. It was you, but… nothing. It's hard to explain.'
'I felt nothing from you. Saw nothing there when you looked at me. At first, I kinda thought you were on one of your caped avenger missions - being all cryptic and stealthy. But you weren't faking it. Then you punched Wes and ran… swept out. I followed, and you tried to get away. I stopped you and then you began to look at me funny. Not like that, Wanker. Then you called me William.'
Angel pouted and suddenly held Spike tight by the jaw, forcing his childe to look directly at him. 'Spike. Are you listening?' He made Spike's head nod and answered for him in a falsetto voice. 'Yes, Angel, I am.' Ignoring Spike's look of total derision, Angel said very distinctly, 'I am this Angel now. This Angel loves you. It doesn't matter what he thought, what he called you; I'm here now. He's in the past, and he's not coming back. Get it?' He nodded Spike again and then bent in to kiss him.
Spike allowed himself some comforting for a while but then said deceptively casually, 'He might.'
Angel pulled away and looked at him. He surprised Spike by chuckling softly, 'He's gonna find your cum leaking out of his arse kinda hard to explain if he does.'
Spike hissed with glee at the image and rolled onto his back, laughing.
Angel slid over him and folded his arms on Spike's chest, staring down at him. 'Wes'll find out what that demon did. Don't worry.'
Spike frowned. 'You think it was him? Why? Thought you knew 'im.'
Angel shook his head. 'Someone put me onto him.'
'What did he say? Do?'
'We hadn't been there very long, and I don't remember much before I go blank on it all. He bought me a drink….'
'Bloody hell, Angel! You let him buy you a drink?'
Angel looked puzzled. 'And?'
'Jeez, mate, every teenage girl knows not to let anyone buy her a drink these days 'less she opens it herself and keeps her bloody thumb over the top.'
'You think he drugged me?'
'I don't know. He could have. It's happened before.'
'Yeah? What happened? Fun Angel for once?'
'Oh. Bummer. Not much fun then.'
'Maybe different drugs….'
'Could be. I didn't taste anything though.'
'You didn't before presumably….'
Angel looked slightly shifty. 'I wasn't as… alert… as I usually am.'
'Ah. Brain-in-dick syndrome again.'
'So, we find that demon, torture him until he tells us what he used and find out if it's going to happen again.'
'Good plan. Without the torture though. Souled now, remember?'
'I'm not. Oh. Bummer. I am.'
'Wanna go and see what Wesley's found out?'
'He'll be long gone, Pet. It's… jeez, nearly dawn.'
'He'll still be here; trust me.'
Spike narrowed his eyes at Angel. 'He needs to get a life.'
'I think he would think that he has one.'
'Being our shared toy.'
'Is that what he is to you?'
'Sometimes. He amuses me.'
'He gets you hard, you mean.'
Spike tried a small, but reliably winning pout. He'd been practicing them on his friends and had been pleased to find that his soul had not affected his ability to play the hurt innocent one bit. Angel only laughed and cuffed him. 'Don't bother; I'm immune.'
'No, I'm not sharing you with Wesley.'
'I wasn't going to suggest that.'
'Oh, this'll be good. What were you going to suggest then?'
'I was thinking more along the lines of us sharing him.'
Angel stilled, but however calm his outward appearance, he'd not been able to hide a flicker that betrayed his desire. He rolled off Spike, ignoring the annoying chuckling. 'Shower.'
Spike rolled off the bed and followed him out, still casting him amused glances out of the corner of one eye. They lolled against the shower wall together, lazily letting the water wash over them. Pleasantly spent, feeling a closeness that they'd not realised just how much they'd missed, Spike was caught off-guard when Angel said softly, 'Move in here with me again.' He swallowed and added, 'Please.'
Spike turned his head and regarded Angel's profile. The water flattened his hair and ran streaming off his aquiline nose. He didn't think he'd ever seen Angel looking so beautiful. 'Why don't you move in with me?'
Angel turned too and blinked slowly. He studied the frank gaze for a long time then nodded at the truth of what Spike had subtly pointed out: they both needed their own space. Suddenly he grinned and grabbed the bar of soap, rubbing it furiously into Spike's hair. Spike grabbed his wrist and fought back, and they slipped and fought, played and kissed under the scalding water until, with mock surrender, Angel escaped. He wrapped a towel around his waist and threw Spike another. 'At least you could leave some clothes here.'
Spike looked pleased. 'Okay. You leave some at mine, too.' He gave Angel a disbelieving punch as he watched the brow immediately lower, knowing full well that Angel was already angsting over which he should leave and what statement he should make with that selection.
When they got down to the office, just as Angel had predicted, Wesley was bent engrossed over his books. He hardly looked up, did not greet them, but immediately said, 'There is a huge volume of work on time travel; I had no idea.'
Angel perched on the edge of the desk and watched Spike roam around fiddling with things. After a moment, Wesley looked up. 'Angel?'
Angel shook himself. 'Sorry, did you say something?'
'Give me strength. Are you two ready for anything approaching a sensible discussion yet?'
Spike flashed Angel a look. 'Yeah, we are, Pet. All nicely relieved. How 'bout you?'
Wesley clenched his jaw. 'I find my relief in other ways. NOT THAT! Good grief. Go and make some tea or something, horrid vampire.'
They drifted naturally into the kitchen together, Wesley taking over the role of tea maker, speculating on the problem, going over it once more.
Spike lit up and watched him through the smoke. Listening to the calm, familiar voice, he felt something he didn't feel very often stab at him: guilt. He felt guilty that he had already discussed this with Angel, and that they had lain sated, sharing intimacy to defeat the fear, love to banish the confusion. He glanced at Angel and was surprised, and not a little intrigued, to see that very similar thoughts appeared to be crossing his sire's mind. He waited until Angel looked at him then raised an eyebrow suggestively. Without taking his gaze off Angel, he said amused, 'Anyone for a sandwich? Wes?'
Wesley frowned briefly but appeared to take the question at face value, for he nodded, turned and began to rummage for the makings of a snack.
When the human's back was turned, Angel swatted Spike across the head then stood to fetch more suitable food for them from the fridge. When they all had supplies, they went back into Angel's office to see what progress Wesley had made with the research.
Angel watched his back for a while then said, 'All I'm concerned about is stopping it from happening again.'
Wesley turned. 'I'm afraid I can't guarantee…. Angel?'
At his tone, Spike put down his mug of blood and followed Wesley's look. Angel had an odd expression on his face and was staring at Wesley. Suddenly, he turned on his heel and ran out of the office. He appeared to be looking for an exit, but suddenly skidded to a halt and began to look around him. Spike and Wesley stood warily to one side, watching him. Tentatively, Spike said, 'Hey. Angel.'
Angel turned. 'How can I be here?'
Wesley suddenly stepped forward. 'This is the Hyperion, Angel.'
Angel looked at him bitterly. He seemed to be trying to restrain himself from something, but appeared to lose the battle, for he glanced up at the upper landing with a shudder.'
'You remember what happened here, don't you?'
Angel glared at Wesley again. 'Ain't much remembering to it, human. Only fucking hanged me yesterday. Where is everyone? Where's Thesulac?'
Wesley took a deep breath. 'Look around you, Angel. Look at us. This is not the nineteen fifties. You are in a… spell. This is your… future.'
Angel did as Wesley had asked and looked around thoughtfully, his gaze resting longest on Spike. Finally, he shuddered. 'Jeez. Some future. When?'
Wesley expected Spike to answer this, but the blond vampire was uncharacteristically silent. He replied for them both. 'Two thousand and three.'
Angel cocked an eyebrow. 'Didn't think I'd last that long. So, where's two thousand and three me?'
'If I'm here, where's….' He frowned.
Wesley nodded in sympathy. 'I know. We don't understand it any more than you. As far as I can ascertain, you can't both exist. So, when you were there, you were the only one. Now you're here, you're also… the only one.' He turned, surprised when Spike suddenly spun and went into the kitchen, slamming the door.
Angel looked at Wesley then at the door. 'Times have changed. Don't mind me, human, but I've some manners to remind my childe of.'
'I wouldn't do that, if I were you.'
Angel halted and looked thoughtfully at Wesley. 'Okay, I'll go along with this. This is your pad. Why?'
'Because that is not the William you remember. That is Spike - a very powerful, very pissed off Spike, I suspect, and a Spike you do not want to play vampire dominance games with… well, unless they were games and you were playing that is… and I think that's possibly too much information for you just now.'
Angel nodded. 'Thanks. I appreciate the advice.' The blow knocked Wesley into the wall. 'But remember, Human: now, then, forever - he belongs to me.' With that, he strode to the door and wrenched it open.
Spike was sitting on the counter, casually swinging his legs, sitting on his hands. Angel let his gaze rake over the slim figure. 'What the hell did you do to your hair?'
Spike smiled but didn't reply. Angel came closer. 'You know better than to turn your back on me in that childish manner.'
'I did once. Things between us are different here, Angel. But if I offended you, I'm sorry.' Spike heard a small, surprised gasp from somewhere just outside the office, but kept his grin to himself. Angel seemed to hear it too, but only gave it a flicker of one eye. He nodded and sat at the table, rubbing his neck distractedly.
'Who is the human?'
Knowing they were being overheard, Spike answered cheerfully, 'Spare food.'
Wesley tipped into the kitchen and went sternly to Angel. 'I'm Wesley Wyndham-Pryce. In this time, I'm your… colleague. Friend.'
Angel frowned deeply. 'Human friends? And colleagues at what?'
Wesley glanced over at Spike. 'I have no idea how any thing we tell him will affect the time line.'
'You've been watching too much Star Trek, Luv.'
'Thank you for that helpful comment.'
''S okay; any time.'
Wesley heard the light banter. He almost took it at face value but something - something he could not even name - made him look more closely. His shoulders sagged, and he came up to Spike. He leant both hands on the vampire's thighs and said very softly, 'We'll get him back. Trust me.'
Spike clenched his jaw, but swallowed and turned, frowning to study something interesting on the wall. Wesley patted him and turned back to Angel. His eyes widened at the expression on Angel's face and slowly, deliberately, he moved away from Spike. He coughed and said slightly nervously, 'You run a private detective agency. And you have many human friends. Well, some. You once had a human lover. You've come a long way, Angel. You had an epiphany a few years ago. Started to enjoy your soul. Got less brooding…. Well, okay, maybe that's not strictly accurate….'
Angel had risen and without bothering to hear Wesley out, had wandered into the lobby once more. Wesley turned swiftly to Spike. 'Keep it together. He needs you more than ever now he's not here to fight for himself. Be his champion, Spike. You're all he's got.'
Spike turned back to face the anxious human and ground the heel of one hand in his eyes. He nodded, but before Wesley could turn to follow Angel, Spike grabbed his face. He bent swiftly and kissed him. 'He's got you too, Pet.'
Closing his eyes to the aftermath of the kiss, they both knew that Wesley had tasted Angel on the sweet, cool lips. His tongue flicked out slightly to moisten and revive the flavour then he opened his eyes and nodded, too. 'You both have me, Spike. Now, come on. I think your sire awaits us.'
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