Time is the Fire in Which we Burn
1, Chapter 2
Angel was making his way up the stairs when they came out into the lobby. Spike gave Wesley a look and jogged up after him. He watched as Angel leant on the rail, staring thoughtfully at empty space and then followed him as he inspected bedrooms.
'Not much changed.'
Spike didn't comment and watched morosely as Angel discovered the rooms that had changed. He wandered around looking at things that would one day be his. He went through to the bedroom and then stopped still, just staring. Spike blinked and felt time slow down. He moved his head as if through thick fog to stare at the rumpled, stained bed that reeked of their sex. Angel turned and stared at him. Spike perched on the arm of a chair and tried to light a cigarette.
'I was wrong. It seems a lot has changed.'
'I have a soul too.' Spike jerked his head back as he tried to prevent himself blurting this out. He looked up, confused to Angel. 'It's all different. Is that so wrong?'
Angel seemed not to know whether to stare at Spike or at the sheets and made a half-hearted attempt to do both at the same time. Eventually, he sat heavily on the edge of the bed and ran his fingers distractedly though his hair.
'Why is this happening?'
'I don't know. I wish it wasn't.'
Angel pouted and glanced down at the sheet under him. 'I guess you do.'
'We need to find someone who may have the answers. I need to go home and contact a mate.'
'You don't live here with him? Me?'
Spike shook his head fractionally.
'This is a big place. Why not?'
'We haven't entirely lost our sire and childe roles, despite….' He glanced briefly at the bed behind Angel. 'When I was here, it was harder to be… me.'
'Is Drusilla with you?'
'Dru?' Spike shocked himself at how bizarre he found this thought. 'No, that was another lifetime. She's long gone. We need to go before it gets light. We'll take your car. Angel's car. I mean….'
'I should stay here.'
Spike didn't want to admit to himself that the thought of Wesley, alone and unprotected with this version of Angel worried him. That level of anxiety did not entirely fit with their master vampire, human minion relationship. Dredging up forgotten tactics therefore, he said deceptively evenly, ''K then. You can help with the research.'
'Yeah. Always so many books.... Angel spends all day… Latin, Greek…. Ya know.'
'How far is your pad?'
Keeping his face averted, Spike started toward the door, not commenting, just letting Angel feel that it was his decision to follow.
The dark vampire was utterly silent in the car, staring in apparent disbelief at the passing nightlife. He seemed very relieved to reach the apartment block and accepted Spike's invitation to enter with uncharacteristic haste. Once inside, he began to wander around examining things. Spike threw his coat on his desk and took the phone into the bedroom, shutting the door.
It was answered on the first ring. 'I'm kinda in the middle of something here. Call back, yeah?'
'Don't hang up; it's me.'
'Oh, hang on.'
'Jesus, Jordan, are you gonna make me wait and listen to you spilling your fucking seed?'
'I'm on a freaking stairmaster, Spike! What did you think I was doing?'
'Oh. There was grunting. I heard sweat.'
'In your dreams gorgeous one.'
'I've told you; you have to stop using that word.'
'What do you actually want?'
'Oh, yeah. Huh. You know that bloody impression you do - the one that REALLY pisses me off…?'
'Hmm, tall dark and well-endowed one?'
'Yeah, him. I need you to go to this bar. Be him for a while and see if anyone remembered you - him - there last night. Find out who he was talking to.'
'Err…. This exclusive gym don't come free, lover.'
'I'm not your…. Anyway, just find this demon, and we'll settle later. You know I'm good for it.'
'Maybe we could come to the same arrangement as you have with him. Being paid in kind is my favourite kind of fee. Spike? Spike?'
Spike studied his nail for a moment before saying softly, 'I'm still here.'
'Yeah, like I'm hearing that.'
'Angel's…. It's kinda complex.'
'Okay. Leave this with me. Few hours, you'll have anyone and everyone he spoke to within the last year. Where's this bar?'
Spike sat studying the phone for a while after he hung up, reluctant to go back out. Finally, he sighed, shook himself slightly and opened the door.
Angel turned to look at him when he came out. 'Your television isn't working.'
'Don't hit my computer please.'
Angel gave it another annoyed tap on the side then sighed and leant back in his seat. 'Nice pad.'
Spike winced slightly. 'I know you've worked real hard to fit into every changing fashion, Mate. I did it too. Shit, I even wore flares once. But please. Drop that word maybe?'
Angel didn't appear to be listening; he had wandered into the kitchen and was inspecting the contents of Spike's fridge. With a pleased look, he pulled out a beer and waved it at Spike. 'Back to thinking things haven't changed much.'
Spike raised an eyebrow, found a bag of popcorn and put it in the microwave. He watched Angel's face as the bag rose and swelled, turning in the bright light. He watched the brow lowering, the beer being forgotten, saw Angel dip his head and then lift it again, his eyes bright with fear. 'Shit! Angel?'
'How long was I gone?' Angel put the beer down and turned, expecting Spike to answer. He was surprised when Spike jerked away and went swiftly into the bedroom, shutting the door. Without knocking, Angel followed him in to find the slim figure leaning on the wall, head bowed. 'Spike?'
Spike shook his head and began to light a cigarette, the actions keeping his head lowered. Angel came closer and took the cigarette from him. He just stood there, until Spike came to him, burying his face into his shoulder, silent and cold. Angel stroked his hair, sliding his other hand under Spike's T-shirt to rub his back. After a few moments, Spike pulled away with an embarrassed smile. 'You've gotta get a grip, Angel. Can't have you breaking down like this every time you come back.'
Angel nodded as if taking in these wise words and said softly, 'I'm sorry, Spike. I wouldn't leave if I had a choice in this.'
Spike nodded. ''S okay, Pet. Really. He's a kind of cool, hip dude in his own way.'
Angel smiled. 'So, how long?'
'Has Wesley turned up anything yet?'
'I don't know. We've been kinda on different paths with this.'
'Let's get back.'
''K. Have to be tunnels.'
Angel nodded, and they made their way together into the basement.
'Tell me what he… you were like, Angel. You recognised the hotel and said they'd hanged you yesterday, and then you asked for someone called Thesulac…. Wes seemed to understand…. Angel? What? Does any of that mean anything?'
Angel bit his lip then continued striding through the sewer. 'Yeah. Like it was fucking yesterday. Nineteen fifty two.'
'That's kinda what Wes said.'
'He knows the story.' Angel took a look at Spike's face and, with a sigh, outlined his association with the Hyperion hotel.
Spike listened and smoked and kept pace with Angel, glancing at him every time he halted in his story or found something hard to express.
'So, there you go. My sad, sorry history.'
'Jeez. What did you do the next day? What were you thinking?'
Suddenly, Angel rounded on Spike and pressed him to the wall. 'Remember one thing, Spike. Whatever he says to you, whatever he does, inside, all the time, gnawing at him, he's terrified. I was terrified. I was scared all the time, Spike. Shut off because I couldn't connect to anyone. I had no one to talk to, no one who wanted me, no aim, no point to my life. I was a hollow man, a straw man, and that's the most frightening thing in the world. I had the same powerful soul I have now, with all this capacity for love, but I was totally alone.'
'No shagging then?'
Angel recognised this for the nervous reaction to fear that it really was, so smiled. 'This isn't about sex, Spike. It's something else. It's what we have now - what we've only had since that night I finally came to you here. It's connection and the kind of love that strips you bare, makes you vulnerable, makes you love everyone because you love one person. I felt its lack all those years, and I was very, very scared that I would stay that way forever. Ignore the anger, ignore anything else he says or does, and remember that he is very afraid.'
Spike eased him off and began to walk again. 'Okay, Pet, I'll be nice to you next time….'
Angel grabbed his arm and whirled him around painfully. 'NO! Jesus, Spike. That's not what I meant at all. Frightened animals turn, and it's then they're at their most dangerous. Unpredictable. I murdered everyone in that hotel… condemned them to a hideous, slow, agonising death, and I could do it again to….' Angel suddenly turned and began to pace quickly through the tunnels.
Spike jogged to catch him up. 'I'll be careful; I promise.'
Angel sighed and nodded as if he accepted that this would have to be enough, that there was little else he could do. 'Wes…. He's more… vulnerable. Watch him too. However much the other one appears to be me, whatever he says, he can't be me. He doesn't think like me, and he won't react like me. He has another fifty years to go before he'll become this freaking wonderful.'
Spike chuckled and ran a hand fondly over Angel's back, leaving it there as they walked along. Suddenly, he said proactively, 'He's more like you than you remember. He's quite… entertaining.'
'I think that's the first time I've ever been called that - even though you did only mean it in a humorous spectacle way.'
'He's been okay with me… and everything. Seemed to like the hair.'
Angel stopped. 'I think maybe he wants to fuck you.'
Spike turned back incredulously. 'You weren't into men….'
'Spike. I hadn't had sex for over eighty years. You've just had the benefit of me after only two weeks' abstinence… what do you fucking think I thought about all day? I used to picture doing it with…. Never mind.'
'Jeez. No wonder he took us so well.'
It was Angel's turn to look incredulous. 'You freaking told him about us?'
'Angel! We kinda left a few pints of bodily fluid in your bed!'
'Oh. Yeah. And hey, I've meaning to ask you. Do you think Mrs V'll want some extra hours? I've kinda liked how she does your place.'
'Oh… okay, I'll ask her. Guess she'll love another place where her boss….' He put on a croaky, slightly unfair impression of his housekeeper. 'Has particular bodily functions.' He grinned at Angel's mystified expression. 'I don't use the bog, Mate, yeah?'
Angel nodded distractedly, suddenly aware that they'd lost sight of the momentous in the domestic. 'What's triggering it, Spike? I was in the office. I was talking to Wesley. I was drinking… fuck. The blood was spiked, like the drink last night.'
Spike stopped again, considering this, but then caught him up. ''S not very likely. They were sealed bags.'
'What was he doing when I came back just now?'
'Not much. Mooching around looking surly.'
'Huh. That was me all right.'
'No, Angel. That was when you got back.'
Angel stopped and looked at him then tried to relax his expression. 'Sorry. Only… what if we can't stop it? What if I go completely? What if…?'
'DON'T! Fuck, Angel, don't.'
Spike knew he ought to be stronger - more Angel's champion.
Angel knew that he should be taking it better - more like a sire.
They came together in a hard, fearful hug, finally admitting the possibility of a kind of separation they'd never imagined: one of them gone but still there, one of them alone but left with the shell of the other.
Angel kissed into Spike's hair, rubbing his damp eyes in its softness. 'Do you sometimes feel that life was simpler before? Before we... loved like this.'
Spike's voice was barely more than a whisper. 'Simpler, but not better.'
'You've always revelled in the dance of life, haven't you? I prefer a stealthy, silent walk.'
'You're dancing just fine, Angel.'
As if illustrating his words, Spike began to kiss Angel, holding his face between strong hands. Need and desire flowed between their open mouths. Suddenly pulling away, Angel said urgently, 'I don't fuck in sewers.'
Spike nodded, and together they began to run. They pounded up the stairs from the basement, not waiting to see if Wesley was in. They fell onto the bed, fumbling urgently with the belts, zips, shoes, and boots that prevented them touching the skin that they craved. At last, naked, aroused, they came together with fear driving them into each other; desperation making each touch seem like a knife wound. They spilled and, for a moment, both felt that they were inside, both felt penetrated, so closely did they share the other's orgasm.
Angel was the first to come back to a more rational self. He rolled onto his back and made a small, amused sound. 'I kinda like the idea of dipping in and out of my life just doing the parts when I'm fucking you.'
Spike slapped him but then grinned and slid seductively down the hard body, licking at a salty mixture of sweat and cum that coated its smooth surface. He pushed Angel's legs wide and, with a satisfied smile, began to work on his hole. Rewarded by a gasp and a feel of the whole body trembling to his soft touch, Spike eased his tongue in through the resistant muscle. He could feel the ring clenching around him, spasming slightly with the sensation of being plundered. The feel of Angel's body responding involuntarily to him made Spike moan in pleasure, and this small vibration from his lips made Angel arch off the bed. 'Oh, fuck, Spike… that's good.'
Spike murmured his agreement, and they both laughed at the effect on Angel's body. He sat up, propped on his elbows. 'God, I love to watch you doing that.' Spike glanced up with a self-satisfied look and plunged a little further in. Angel gave in. He tugged at Spike's hair, hissing urgently, 'Now, with your cock.'
Spike knelt up and introduced his solid shaft slowly into the slick, waiting hole. Angel stretched his neck back, the cords standing out in stark relief against his pale, smooth skin - but he wanted to watch and brought an unfocused gaze back to where the blood-flushed shaft slid wetly into his body. He drew his knees back as far as they would go, allowing Spike to shuffle a little further forward. Wiry curls met and brushed together, a matching darkness, proof of the depth of their joining.
Angel let out a deep breath and whispered, 'Let's stay like this.'
'Not a little move then. Just like… this?'
Angel hissed. 'Do it again.'
Spike smiled, leant forward and eased Angel onto his back, splaying his hands on Angel's chest. 'Again then, Pet.' He pulled out until Angel's anus fitted neatly under the ridge of his cockhead then thumped back in. Angel flung his arms up and grabbed the headrail. 'Fuck.'
Spike slid out again and entered, increasing the tempo. Sweat slicked their bodies; a pungent scent filled the air. Spike glanced down; Angel's slit was open wide, spilling a thick river of fluid onto his belly. He groaned. 'Play with yourself.' Angel's hand peeled off the rail with difficultly, but he brought it sure and ready to his cock. 'Let me see you.'
Angel eased his foreskin back, exposing the soft, fleshy plum underneath. Spike shivered with need, and his smooth working in Angel's rectum became more frenzied. He watched Angel's finger sliding in and out of the clear fluid, then watched, entranced as the finger was lifted agonisingly slowly to his mouth. Angel smeared the cool, thick fluid over Spike's lips, marking them with the taste of his sex.
Spike tried to capture the finger, felt himself near release and groaned, 'Come with me.' He wanted to see Angel bringing himself off; he wanted to see thick ropey strands of cum shoot out and wet this body he loved to distraction.
Instead, Angel grabbed his upper arms. 'What the fucking hell…?'
Spike looked down.
But he couldn't stop.
Not so close.
He kept thrusting. He watched confused, furious eyes waver, watched them become obscured by pure lust and need for physical release.
Spike nodded and brought them off together; him and this stranger who was experiencing his first orgasm in over eighty years whilst being impaled on an erupting cock; this familiar stranger who was feeling that orgasm whilst cool cum coated his hot insides; and whilst this child of his blood lay shuddering upon him.
Angel took his completion, his face showing the ecstasy of the release. When the final drop left his twitching penis however, he roared a huge bellow of fury and pushed Spike so hard that, totally unprepared, still embedded, he fell so hard and so awkwardly that his wrist snapped cleanly in two.
Before Spike could say anything, Angel was off the bed. He made it to the door before he snatched around, his hand flying to his thigh. He brought a trail of cum away and looked with mounting horror at Spike. Then ignoring his leaking anus, he stormed out. Spike found him in the shower, scrubbing violently.
Wary from his earlier conversation with his Angel, thinking this Angel now had some considerable cause to react unpredictably, Spike hung close to the wall, just watching, rubbing his wrist.
Angel glared at him, deliberately washing his body everywhere they'd touched and joined.
Spike ignored the provocation and shrugged. 'Leave some water maybe?'
Angel stepped out and came toward him. Spike said deceptively calmly, 'If you start, Angel, I will finish it. The last time you saw me I'd just eaten a slayer . Well, I've killed another since then and fucked one too. I'm stronger than you. Look into my eyes, Angel, see who I am now and don't start this, for I will beat you down and then there is nowhere for you to go.'
They stood a few feet apart, naked, raw maleness, sizing each other up.
Spike suddenly remembered Angel's words more clearly, and although the sound of that loved voice in his head almost unmanned him in this critical movement, he forced himself to remember and say more contritely, 'I meant no disrespect again. I started fucking my Angel. I didn't know you were gonna make a guest appearance.'
'You call him yours?'
Despite the expression on the face, despite the angry stance, Spike heard the longing in the question.
'Yes. He is. All mine.'
'He lets you….' Angel clenched his jaw. 'Unman him like that?'
'Well, he ain't a man to start with, and he don't let me - he begs me.'
'When I smelt the sheets, I assumed….'
'Let me guess: manacles, pain, and me lying like a stuck pig on your erection...?'
Angel had the grace to smile faintly at this. 'Something along those lines. I never thought….'
'That we were lovers?'
Angel suddenly shook himself. 'Shower. Dress. I have much to ask you, and I'm hungry now.'
'You're not gonna try and stake me if I take my back off this wall, are you?'
Angel smiled broadly at that. 'Seems you're the one who does the staking in this time… year… fuck, millennium.'
Spike nodded, but still eased himself carefully around the solid figure toward the water. Angel took a towel and went distractedly toward the bedroom, murmuring millennium quietly to himself.
Spike eyed his cast off clothes with his usual distaste but dressed nevertheless. He turned to find Angel rummaging with some considerable pleasure through an extensive closet. 'Hah! I still like leather then.'
Spike shook his head at the expression of glee. 'Less whipping over the back and more encasing the thighs, but yeah, you're still pretty weird.'
Angel pulled the pants on with evident pleasure and chose a matching black shirt. Spike glanced at the effect.
It was a mistake.
Desire to close the gap between them washed over him - desire and guilt, for he did not feel this to be Angel, as much as his eyes told him different. Angel sensed his look and turned. That too seemed a mistake, for he was clearly not sated, an evident erection lying long into the top of one tight, leather-clad thigh. Spike frowned deeply. Angel, also frowning, opened his mouth to speak, but then snapped it shut and appeared to change his mind what he was going to say. 'Does he always play the bitch for you?'
Spike shook himself. 'What?'
'Does he ever... take you?'
The pause was so long that it almost seemed as if time stood still in the room. Spike blinked, but that slow closing of his eyes seemed only to draw time out further. Eventually, knowing it was a step from which there would be no turning back, he said softly, 'Yes.'
Angel bit his lip. He looked down at the tiles. He looked up at Spike.
'I think we ought to get out of here.'
Spike nodded but did not move. Eventually, Angel came toward him slowly, brushed his shoulder lightly in passing, but went out of the door.
Spike felt all the air sucked out of the room at his departure, turned in a daze and followed him.
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