the Fire in Which we Burn
Episode 1, Chapter 3
Spike needed some space from Angel but did not want to let him out of his sight. Once more, he suggested going out, but this time, Angel refused. He was watching Wesley reading and seemed to find this everyday, routine activity fascinating. If Wesley found it disconcerting to be watched so closely, he didn't comment. When Angel finally lost interest in the lowered head and began to examine his office, Spike leant over and wrote on Wesley's paper, 'Where are the others?'
Wesley did not react at all but calmly wrote, 'I called them and told them to stay away. It was too risky.'
He let Spike read it then screwed it up and dropped it casually in the wastebasket.
Spike stood and stretched, aware Angel was watching him now. He went to the outer office and sat at one of the desks, punching a number on the phone.
It was answered on the third ring. 'What? I'm busy; call back.'
'Jeez, has everyone gone exercise mad? Climb off, stop panting, and listen.'
'Spike! Jesus! I've got someone here! Fuck off!'
'Oh. I heard grunting… thought it was a stairmaster….'
'Fuck off…. I'll call you back….'
'NO! Don't hang up!'
'Oh, shit. Okay. Call me in one minute. Please. Let me…. Shit, pull out?'
'Oh, Christ, too much information.'
Spike slammed the phone down, counted to sixty and redialled. 'Don't piss me off.'
'It's okay; I'm in the kitchen. So, what's the emergency? I was really, really into something there, ya know?'
'Yeah. Someone. Look, I need to know how much money I've got left.'
There was a very long silence. 'You call me up in the middle of the night to ask me that?'
'It's lunchtime, you sad fuck. You're my money man, and I owe the little git.'
'Ah. And... like... you don't like being in debt to Jordan. Not.'
'Are you jealous, Pet?'
'Oh, totally, I want you to take me for granted and use and abuse my unique skills. Oh, wait… you already do.'
'Oh, shut up, poof, and tell me how much I can pay him.'
'Anything within reason. You have a very healthy balance.'
'You could even afford to pay Wesley back for the rent.'
'Nah, he enjoys making me his bitch too much.'
'Don't, Spike. I'm naked, I'm hard, and I'm not a saint.'
'No one's ever taken you for one.'
'Okay. You're not biting in that unique Spike-like way. What's wrong?'
Spike sighed at how easily his friends seemed to be able to read him. 'Nothing. Nothing's wrong.'
'I'm coming over.'
'Jesus, Sam! I said nothing's wrong.'
'I'll be there in ten.'
'I'm not at home. I'm at…. Hold on. That's my cell.' He pulled out the small phone, but the association was almost too much to bear, and he waited a moment to collect himself before answering. 'Yeah? What'd'ya find out?'
'I've found the fucker. I'm meeting him here in two hours.'
Spike felt a surge of hope at Jordan's voice. ''K. I'll be there. Sam? Finish your fuck for me, yeah? I'm okay. Good news.'
Sam clearly didn't believe him, but he hung up nevertheless. Spike snapped the cover of his phone down and made to stand. It was only then that he saw the dark figure leaning in the doorway watching him. He hesitated and looked anywhere but at the perceptive eyes.
'I've gotta go out, but I think I'll find out what's happening.'
'You'll be okay here?'
''K then. Stop looking at me like that.'
'Looking at you how?'
'Like you could do something to me that was slow and painful.'
'I already did that some considerable time ago.'
'Oh, yeah. Well, just stay here, and don't even think of going anywhere. Sire. Sorry.'
'Apology accepted. I won't move from this spot. Got everything I need right here.'
'Right.' Spike was distracted, and this last was lost on a sea of worry about what he would find out from Jordan's captive.
He went swiftly down to the basement and into the sewers, glad to be in their relative peace and calm. He had two hours to kill, and he knew exactly whom he wanted to kill in them. Whether this demon was involved or not, he had a feeling that someone far more powerful might be controlling him.
Angel watched him leave and then stretched. He looked at one immaculate nail for a while, thinking things through, and then he went back into the office.
'Wes. It's me. How long was I gone that time?'
The woman didn't look all that powerful as Spike watched her smoking furtively in the alley behind Wolfram and Hart. She looked vulnerable in her thin city suit and her heels, bravado not covering the anxious glances of feminine fear she cast at the dark corners.
'Don't worry, Luv, there's not a man brave enough to rape you.'
She jumped, and much to Spike's amusement tried to hide the cigarette. He made a show of lighting one too, and for a while, they smoked companionably together. Eventually she turned and gave him a long, slow appraisal. 'Jeez, how low can you stoop, needing the dead to keep you company for a fucking cigarette.'
'Been banned from the office?'
'Bummer. You should come and work for me.'
'You couldn't afford me.'
'Couldn't pay you, either.' He gave her a small cheeky look, and she smiled.
'To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit from the dead?'
'I wanna know if you're fucking with Angel again… in a non-fucking way, obviously.'
'I wouldn't tell you if we were.' She threw her cigarette away and immediately lit another.
'It'll kill you, ya know.'
'I'll be dead long before cancer gets me.'
'You should get yourself turned. Imagine: eternal, always young and beautiful.'
'You think I'm beautiful?'
He chuckled. 'I was talking 'bout me.'
'Bastard. And… becoming a vampire? I'm really not seeing myself having to be so goody goody all day, ya know? Evil here.'
Spike laughed. 'That used to be my line. I'm thinking of reusing it if I find you fucking Angel around.'
'Is something interrupting your fucking, Spike?'
'Funnily enough, no. You and Wes still doing the dirty?'
He saw by her flush that they were not. He filed this interesting piece of information away and looked her over carefully. 'If you are doing anything to Angel, I will kill you. I don't have a problem with my soul over that.'
'Your chip might disagree.'
'Jeez, woman, I'll pay someone else. I'll get Jordan to do it for me - do you wanna be on guard against every single you person you ever meet? He can be anyone; you know that.'
She pouted and looked at him evenly. 'Whatever is happening has nothing to do with Wolfram and Hart.'
At Angel's quiet words, Wesley looked up, relieved. 'I'm not exactly sure; you were you when you got here. You were upstairs for an hour or so and came down him again.'
'There's something I need to show you upstairs. I found something.'
'I don't know. That's why I need you to come and see it.'
'Oh. Well, where's Spike?'
'He went out.'
'Maybe he had a lead. All right, show me.'
Wesley followed him trustingly up the stairs, thinking about Spike, thinking about his research and wondering whether his cover story to the others had been believable.
When they got into the bedroom, Angel shut the door carefully. 'It's over by the bed.'
Wesley grimaced. 'And you've tidied up just for me. Not....'
Angel ignored him and pointed to something by the nightstand. Wesley bent to look, surprised that it looked like nothing more than a sock, and then something very hard and very heavy hit him on the back on the head.
When he came to, he was in a world of pain. He opened his eyes and tried to rub his head, but his wrists were firmly secured to the head rail. He looked at Angel. 'Good one.'
Angel nodded. 'Nothing seems that much changed - you didn't even know it wasn't him.'
'No, I didn't. That doesn't mean you are him. Don't flatter yourself.'
'I don't want to be him.'
'Oh. You will one day.'
'Maybe… not now though. Or maybe he is just still me, only he hides it better.'
'Spike will be back soon. I think you should stop this foolishness and let me go.'
'Do you? I don't.'
Angel crawled onto the bed and parted Wesley's legs to kneel between them. 'I broke an eighty year habit tonight.'
'Oh. What? Smiled?'
Angel ignored the provocation and began to unbutton Wesley's jeans. The human tried to roll onto his side, but the attempt was utterly futile. 'Don't do this.'
Wesley couldn't think of a single reason why Angel shouldn't do it. Angel smiled. 'I may not be here if Spike finds what he's looking for, so I'm thinking I'll make the most of it while I am.'
Wesley bit his lip. He had not felt so vulnerable and helpless for a long time, and the sick, subtle logic of the situation floored him. He was helpless to stop Angel lifting his hips to strip him fully. He was helpless when his legs were pushed wide and when the shaft was pressed to his hole, he was helpless to do anything but plead that the vampire would stop. Wesley thought for one moment that Angel had heeded him, for there was no more pressure. He opened eyes he had not realised were closed and looked down. The sight that greeted him made his bowels twist suddenly in fear; vomit rose in his throat. He could not reach the edge of the bed so retched harshly into the mattress.
Angel was looking at his erection and at Wesley's hole. He shook his head, and there was both pleasure and annoyance in his voice. 'It's too big, and you are too weak. I had forgotten how soft a human body was. You would tear like tissue.'
Wesley felt relief flood his body, and he nodded weakly. 'Thank you.'
Angel looked up and smiled. 'What for? I haven't given it to you yet,' and with that, he stabbed it in anyway, using the freely flowing blood for lubrication once it had pooled enough to make his entry pleasurable.
The shock that he'd felt on finding Spike deep in his body was gone. It had been an orgasm, and the why and the wherefore suddenly seemed immaterial. Long repressed memories of days and nights of drawn out, demonic rapes flooded back to his mind.
He'd tried to be good.
The humans had fucked with him.
He'd tried to be a man, but they had hanged him like cattle and left him to die.
Well, fuck them now. Fuck them hard. Fuck them on their own blood. Fuck them so the screaming rang in his ears once more - music he had missed more than blood.
He knew he didn't have long, but then he wasn't in any state to draw this out, and once the human became loose, there was little pleasure in the fucking anyway.
He felt his balls swell and harden to the point of bursting. He began to grunt at the pleasure of the imminent release. He opened his eyes so he could watch his victim as he was filled and claimed. He fixed on blue eyes so dull that he wondered if the human was still conscious.
Wesley was conscious - just. He knew he was being watched and tried to give back a challenging, unforgiving stare. Then he looked more closely. He felt the vampire still and saw utter confusion cross his face. Angel shook his head and blinked. Brown eyes softened a tiny fraction and held his gaze, and for a long moment, they looked at each other.
Spike found Jordan sitting companionably with another demon, playing cards and drinking beer. 'Hi. Where is the fucker?'
Jordan looked up. 'Spike, this is Mike. He says he was….' Spike began to recognise the face and grabbed the creature round the throat. 'What did you use, and where's the friggin' antidote.' Jordan tried to pull him off; the demon struggled feebly and then went limp.
'Let him go! He's harmless, Spike.'
Spike let the creature go but only because he was unconscious and unable to give information. He slapped it around the face until it came to. 'Speak.'
'I don't know anything. I was sitting here talking to him. He was asking a load of stuff; I saw some really good crack for me outta it, and then he went all funny. Honest.'
'Yeah. Blabbering about shit. Nonsense. Said it was a curse. Said he was being cursed for killing them, and then he just got up and went to the bar.'
Jordan put a hand on Spike's arm. 'He's okay, Spike. He's known here.'
Spike gritted his teeth. The disappointment, after his wasted visit to Lilah, was too much. He knocked Jordan's arm off and went to the bar, ordering a beer. When Jordan joined him, he gave him a look, but ordered another. 'What am I going to do now?'
'Answer your cell maybe?'
Spike tried to focus. 'What? Oh, yeah.' He pulled it out with a sigh. 'What do you want?'
'I'm worried. Did you get what you wanted?'
Spike held the phone out so Jordan could hear Sam too and said softly, 'No.'
'Oh. Well, I'm coming over then. Ten minutes.'
Spike sighed wearily once more. 'I'm not at home. I'm going back to the hotel now.'
There was a long pause and then Sam said irritably, 'Well, you're on your own then, lover boy. I'm not going in that freaky, spooky place again. The dead boy's welcome to it.'
Spike narrowed his eyes and looked at the small phone. He looked at Jordan as if for help then he said distinctly. 'Say that again.'
Sam sounded puzzled but said, 'I'm not going in that place again. It gave me the heebies....' Spike snapped the phone shut and turned to Jordan.
'He comes when we've been there for any time.'
'Angel's been coming back from the past. Taking over this Angel.'
'Yeah. I thought it was….' He glanced thoughtfully at the demon now playing solitaire at the table. 'But it's all to do with that place still. Where they tried to kill him. Where he got so angry - so angry he nearly bit my head off fifty years later when I asked him about it.'
Spike stabbed urgently at the phone and listened in disbelief as it rang and rang. 'Where the fuck are they? This ain't good.'
'Just as well you can run like the fucking wind then, isn't it?'
Spike didn't even bother to reply. He took off toward the basement and, as Jordan said, almost flew back to the hotel.
Wesley was in the kitchen when he got back, making tea, his back to the room. Angel was sitting in his office at his desk.
Spike leant on the counter for a moment to recover - all safe, all well.
He glanced in to the office. 'Angel? You're back.'
Angel nodded but did not speak.
Spike shouted to Wesley. 'Come here a min, Mate.' When the human didn't respond, Spike went into the kitchen. 'Make me one too, hey? I'm parched. Have you cut yourself? I smell blood.'
'Yes. I dropped a glass. It's nothing.'
''K. Look, Wes, it's this place.'
At that, Wesley turned. Spike jerked his head back. 'Shit, what happened to you?'
Wesley said carefully. 'Nothing. Why?'
'Dunno, you just look weird. So… what'd'ya reckon? Some enthusiasm for the super sleuth here would be nice.'
'Enthusiasm. Yes. I must try to remember what that is. Okay. Tell me what you think.'
Spike outlined his theory, and Wesley did seem to reanimate for a while. But then Angel came in, and he turned back and did not speak again. Spike frowned at the tense, defensive posture, but told Angel what he suspected. Angel too seemed distracted, but he did summon a little more enthusiasm and said suddenly, 'Good work, Spike.'
Wesley turned, but he didn't look at Angel. He said woodenly, 'I'll get someone who'll know.'
Angel nodded and said formally. 'Thank you, Wesley.'
At that, Wesley finally turned to him. 'I think saying you are welcome is a little unnecessary.' He passed by slowly and went to the telephones.
Spike narrowed his eyes at Angel. 'What's up with you two?'
Angel sat and kicked a chair out for Spike. 'He - the other Angel - raped him.'
Spike stopped halfway to sitting and then dropped like the stone the rest of the way. 'Oh, shit. I left them together. I thought… he seemed….'
'What happened when I left, Spike?'
Spike suddenly looked guilty but said calmly. 'I finished off in him. It seemed the thing to do, ya know?'
For some reason, the reaction Spike expected to this did not come. Angel was angry; he could see that, but this recitation of faithlessness didn't seem to be the cause.
'It wasn't you, Angel. Don't blame….'
'It was. At the end. I came back.'
Wesley came back and stood in the doorway. 'I've summoned a witch. If there are evil forces here other than you, then she'll find them and eradicate them.'
Spike heard the bitterness; he felt the waves of antipathy, but felt helpless to deal with a new crisis until the current one was over. They sat morosely in their own separate pain until the woman arrived. She followed them around the hotel, casting small handfuls of dust in likely dark places. When she went into the bedroom though, she hissed and put her dust back in its small bag. 'It's in here.'
'You can tell?'
Neither Angel nor Wesley had spoken at all since she had arrived, and Spike had taken on the unwilling role of spokesman. She nodded, looked around and then down at the floor. 'Under there.'
Suddenly, Angel said, 'We ripped up the old boards last month.'
He hesitated but shrugged. 'They were soaked in blood.'
She hissed again. 'You disturbed it, fed it, and then tried to destroy it. No wonder it's taken its revenge.'
Spike glanced at Wesley; the human did not catch his eye, but Spike felt, nevertheless, that the man agreed with him that the revenge had somewhat hurt the wrong person.
He turned back to the witch. 'How long?'
She took out another bag, placed some small leaves on the tiles and sprinkled them with some liquid from a flask. A murmured spell later, and she looked up, relieved. 'All gone. I'll send my bill.'
They were left alone. Angel made toward the bed but turned sharply away. Wesley had started for the door, and they bumped. They drew back with annoyed looks. Spike looked at them both and a sense of deep despondency sank over him. 'I'm going home.'
Wesley nodded. 'I'm going to call a cab. We can share.'
'Sun's still up; I'll have to go underground. And I don't feel much like sharing now.'
Not caring much whether either of them understood the underlying significance of this last comment, he was just glad to get away from the stiff formality.
When Angel came by some evenings later, Spike saw no reason to just dismiss his friends, so made no move to ask them to leave. Besides, he was watching them play strip poker, and it was amusing him to see Sam's reaction to Jordan's incredible Brad Pitt impression. The frustration on the human's face at not being able to get his opponent's boxers off - even with cheating - was priceless.
Angel watched the small scene and then sat quietly on one of the office chairs, staring at nothing.
Spike let him suffer for a long two hours but then nodded at the others to leave.
Angel even waited a few moments more but then said, 'Am I permitted to speak to you yet?'
Spike stood. 'No.' He started to unbutton his shirt. 'Not until I'm sure that it is you.' He turned and went into the bedroom, not turning back to see if Angel was following.
Angel lay soft and pliant on the bed as Spike kissed and licked and nuzzled into every inch of his skin. Spike held him as he lay silent and stiff. He let him have as much space as he needed and then said softly, 'I couldn't pull out, Angel. I just couldn't. I wanted it. He wanted it, and he was you - 's not like I've cheated or something.'
Angel looked surprised as if he'd been thinking about something else entirely. 'I know. You didn't do anything wrong, Spike. It's just that….'
'Hah! There ya go!' Spike sat up, triumphant at the success of his tactics. 'Can't say that to me and not apply it to yourself as well. You couldn't have done anything different, Luv - coming back in the middle like that. You're a vampire. Hell, you're a man. You've gotta finish - 's not your fault any more than mine….'
Angel didn't seem to find this much comfort. He rolled on his side, facing away from Spike. 'I didn't.'
Spike frowned. 'What?'
'I didn't finish. I pulled out and stopped.'
'Oh.' There was a significant pause while Spike processed this and regrouped. 'And that's good too… isn't it?'
'I looked into his eyes, and I saw that he knew it was me, and then I pulled out and left him.'
'Guess he was kinda glad, Pet. Being fucked by a vampire ain't easy….'
'And that's why he won't take my calls? That's why he's not been at work? Because he's glad?' He rolled back and looked at Spike. 'He wanted me, and he knew I saw that need in his eyes. He wanted me to cum inside him. But I pulled out and I left him.'
'Oh. That could be good too….' Spike gave up trying to find something positive in the situation and suddenly slid under the sheet, pulling it up and turning his back on Angel. 'Get dressed.'
'You're going up to see him.'
'No, I'm not.'
'In that case, just get dressed and bugger off.'
'You're kicking me out of your bed?
Spike didn't reply but pulled the sheet up over his head.
Angel sat for a long time before he got dressed, his head lowered, his hands running through his hair. He got no sympathy from the silent lump in the bed, so eventually rose and pulled on his jeans and sweater.
Without looking back, he left, slamming the door, enjoying the satisfactory reverberation of the internal walls.
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