the Fire in Which we Burn
Episode 4 - Chapter 1
'Have you finished?'
'Uh huh. Cus - like - I kinda have.'
'Just keep going, Baby, you said you'd pose any time for me.'
'Yeah, pervert, but this ain't exactly what I had in mind.'
'Stop talking. Even you can't do it when your yabbering.'
'Angel! I'm gonna look like a fucking guppy here in a minute.'
'Okay. Here. What do you think?'
Spike crawled up and collapsed theatrically next to Angel on the pillow. He went still. 'Bloody hell.'
'Is that a good bloody hell?'
'Bloody hell.' Spike looked wonderingly at the sketch of his face contorted in a way Angel had never caught before. Keep that one in the safe, hey Pet?'
Angel chuckled. 'I should have added more of me - so we can see who you're blowing.'
They looked at the picture for a while until Angel said expectantly, 'Well….'
Spike shook his head. 'No way.'
'Spike! You can't leave me like this!'
'It's my turn to lie here and just watch.'
Angel sighed but took his erection and began to work it gently. 'I never thought we'd be back to being like this.'
Spike grinned and turned slightly so his chin was propped up on Angel's chest. 'Nah. Me neither. It's better even.'
Angel pouted and didn't reply. Spike poked him in the ribs. 'You know you love having all this new fun.'
'I'm only doing it under protest.'
Spike let this go but smiled when Angel added softly, 'So, what are we doing later?'
Spike was about to suggest something but groaned instead. 'Sorry. I've gotta work.'
Angel wasn't really listening. He'd closed his eyes and was arching slightly on the bed, clearly close to orgasm. Spike sighed and took pity, taking over with his mouth once more. One touch from his eager lips, and Angel cried out, spilling thick strings of cum.
He groaned as he came, running strong fingers through Spike's hair. Spike lay on Angel's softening penis, enjoying the smell and the intimacy.
He was tapped on the head.
'I kinda thought I heard the w word.'
'You've got a new job?'
Spike sat up and glared. 'Well, for some reason, I didn't get paid the fifty thousand dollars I was owed for my last job.'
Angel looked smug. 'That's because you didn't kill her.'
'Yeah. I wonder why… duh! Some anally retentive killjoy talked me out of it.'
'That's no way to talk about yourself, Spike. You should be pleased your soul is functioning so well.'
'Whatever. I need an injection of cash.'
'What's the job?'
The knocking had been familiar, but he hadn't been able to place it. Fresh from a shower, wearing only his old, torn jeans, he answered, rubbing his hair. 'Jeez! Bitch! Wha'd' you want?'
'As your best client to date, an invite would be appropriate.'
'Well, I'm kinda busy here.'
She pushed past regardless and went into the kitchen.
'Have you got the right apartment, Bitch? Cus Wesley's is….'
'I need you, not him.'
Spike glanced at her face and resisted the obvious. He went back into the bedroom and pulled on a T-shirt then padded back to join her in the kitchen.
'Got any coffee?'
'Tea or nothing.'
'What's the job?'
Lilah began to play with the teabags, taking them out and arranging them in a line on the counter.
Spike narrowed his eyes. 'Come on, who do you want me to murder for you now?'
She looked up. 'I need for you to keep someone safe.'
'Oh. Babysitting. Who?'
'Me. Stop laughing, Vampire.'
'You! Who the fuck is gonna get it on with you? You're bloody scary.'
'Thank you. I'm feeling better already.'
'Are you serious about this?'
'In case you've forgotten, Bitch, I'm not much use come sun up.'
'Neither is he.'
'You've got a vampire trying to kill you?'
Lilah indicated the more comfortable office. They sat facing each other, and after tasting her tea with obvious disgust, she said, 'He's not trying to kill me; I'm his lawyer - the two aren't always connected. I need to have a meeting with him at his place, and I feel… vulnerable.'
'Vulnerable? Not a word I'd associate with you, Bitch.'
'Let's just say I'm an ascending star. He might see himself as next on my list of conquests.'
'Victims, you mean.'
'Whatever, semantics were never my forte. Look, I need you to come with me, attend the meeting, watch my back, and leave - both of us nicely alive. So to speak.'
'Jesus, why me?'
She leant forward and rearranged a lock of blond hair. 'Because you are the most powerful vampire I know. He's insignificant compared to you.'
He caught at the slim wrist and fingers. She saw his look and said defensively, 'What?'
Spike grinned. 'Are you trying - in your own stone-hearted way - to flirt with me?'
'Fuck you, Demon. Yes or no - will you take the job?'
'Two thousand! I could get more from….'
'Yes? Tell me your other sources of income; I'm fascinated.'
'How come when you're hiring me to kill people for you, you pay like the devil himself, but when it's to protect you, the value seems to… drop. Do you have issues, Pet?'
'Fuck off. Two thousand - is it a deal?'
'Where is this meeting?'
Lilah told him, and Spike groaned. 'That's fucking miles into the desert. How we gonna get there?'
'Drive by night.'
'And by day?'
'It's only one night's drive, and then we'll lie up - best hotel, of course. Good expenses.'
'Okay. One condition.'
'I don't do conditions.'
'Don't tell Wesley.'
'Sure. Sharing pillow talk has taken a nose-dive recently.'
''K then. When?'
'We leave tomorrow night.'
'Do it before you leave - won't be any where we're going.'
Spike increased the thoroughness of his soaping, running his hands across Angel's belly, dipping lower.
'Spike… tell me. This won't… fuck… distract me.'
'I've gotta baby-sit someone, that's all.'
'Why didn't you want to… Jesus… tell me.'
'Wussy? I'm a vampire….'
'Assassin. Yeah, I know. Don't stop.'
'Don't you ever have enough, Angel?'
'Since I've discovered all the perks of having a male childe? No. If tonight's out, then what do you want to do tomorrow?'
Angel eased Spike off. 'What?'
'I'll be back Saturday. It's a two day job.'
Angel pulled Spike to his feet. 'What am I supposed to do without…?'
'What you did for the first hundred and fifty years when you didn't make the best use of me?'
''Sides, Pet, it'll give you a chance to see something of your friends - try to remember their names again. Do some work.'
Angel stepped out of the shower and snatched at the towel morosely. 'Saturday seems a long way away.'
Spike eyed the car appreciatively.
Lilah smirked. 'Company benefits.' She tossed him the keys and slid elegantly into the passenger seat. 'Okay, Ted, let's get this road trip on the move.'
Spike threw his coat and bag on the back seat and climbed in behind the wheel. 'How long to the hotel?'
'We should be there by five. Thirty minutes before sunrise.'
'Cutting it a bit fine, aren't you… and what the fuck are those?'
Lilah gave him a look. 'They're called CDs? Invented in…?'
'I know what the fuck they are, no way you're putting your music… oh… okay… that's cool. Turn it up.'
Lilah looked amused at their shared taste in music, turned it up and leant back, staring out of the side window. They drove in surprisingly companionable silence whilst Spike negotiated the city traffic until, as the last of the evening rush fell away, Lilah said softly as she lit a cigarette, 'Don't you miss the evil sometimes?'
Spike didn't reply at first but bummed a cigarette off her. She shrugged and bent to light it for him from the tip of hers. Spike watched her eyes cautiously and when they pulled apart said evenly, 'Yeah. I do. I wouldn't admit it to anyone else, but I do. Not the effect but the act.'
Lilah tipped her head to one side slightly and took a long drag. 'Is there a difference?'
Spike glanced at her. 'I like killing people - the chase, the crunching, the feeding. But I don't want the consequences of my pleasure anymore.'
Spike laughed. 'No, you very strange bint, the fear, the pain - the death. My actions have consequences that I care about.'
She raised her eyebrow as if this concept amused her and turned back to watch the suburbs slide by.
Spike chuckled at her expression. 'Let me know if I can provide more comic relief for the trip.'
Without turning back she murmured, 'I've heard you're good at relief.'
Spike chose to ignore this, and Lilah turned and added, 'So… if your victims enjoyed it, you wouldn't have any compulsion about hurting them?'
Spike flicked his butt out of the window. 'Someone once begged me to bite him.'
'I've heard Angel begs very prettily.'
Unable to ignore that, Spike gave her a look. 'You hear a lot. I'll have to be more careful. This wasn't Angel, by the way; he never has to beg. This was a kid with a death wish - wanted to be an immortal.'
'Did you bite him?'
'You don't seem too upset by the memory. In fact… I'd say - without wanting to be too obvious - that you were actually enjoying it.'
Spike resisted the temptation to readjust himself and replied nonchalantly, 'Can't help what I was.'
'You are very different from him.'
Spike glanced over and shrugged, unwilling to take the bait and discuss Angel with her.
The drove the rest of the night in comfortable silence except for the occasional discussion about directions and swapping the driving when Lilah grew too bored to remain a passenger.
During one of her sessions behind the wheel, Spike was prodded awake from a light, boredom-induced doze. 'We've got to find the hotel, only an hour before sunrise now.'
Spike nodded and sat up, looking around. 'It'd better be comfy; this is a bleak bloody place.'
Lilah nodded then grinned. 'You could always spend the day in the trunk.'
Staring ahead at something, Spike cursed softly. 'I may have to.'
Lilah followed his look and saw a soft haze of twinkling lights. 'What's that?'
'Something big burning.'
The sped up only to discover a burnt out building, its shell still smoking and being damped down by various fire appliances. 'Fuck.'
Lilah dragged a map out. 'There's a motel about forty minutes further on. We can make it easily.'
Spike gritted his teeth and stared at the blackened ruins. He really didn't fancy digging himself into that dark mess for the day. He nodded. 'Let's go.'
He was smoking slightly as they dashed for the office. Slightly breathless from excitement she didn't want to examine, Lilah hailed the desk clerk. 'Two rooms for the day.'
The clerk eyed them up and down and lazily passed over one key. 'It's all we got. Thank the Lord for fires.'
Lilah gritted her teeth. 'We need two rooms.'
'I need a new life, Lady. What ya gonna do?'
'Take the fucking room, or I won't be able to get there.' Without waiting, Spike grabbed the key and headed back out under his coat.
Lilah paid and followed slowly, stretching in the early morning, warming sun. She pushed open the door with her toe. 'Oh, no way.'
Spike sat morosely on the end of the double bed. 'My fee for this fucking job has just gone up. Sharing a bed with you was not on the….'
Lilah ignored him and threw her bag on a chair. 'You don't have to. I'm going out to catch some rays. Very non-PC, but what can I say? I'm evil.'
She spun on her heel and slammed the door after her.
Angel spent an equally boring first few hours of the night. He hung around the lobby trying to talk to his friends, but his mind was on Spike, and he knew he wasn't very good company. Gradually, they all drifted away, except Wesley who was working on a theory that their recent cases were all connected and was attempting to prove this by placing pins in a large map of LA. Angel wandered into the office and watched the human as he squatted on the floor, deep in thought. 'Wanna do something?'
'I think the connection must be this place, Angel. If you draw a line….'
'They all interconnect here - I wonder what this building….'
'It could be a warehouse - it's near the docks.'
'But that seems unlikely given the demon infestations were all….'
'I'll suck you off, if you want.'
'No, I think I need to plot further back. What did you just say?'
'Theatre. I said would you like to go to the theatre - see a show.'
'Oh. What time is it? Christ! Yes, that would be very nice. It's been so long….'
'Too long. Drink first?'
Wesley climbed to his feet and reached past Angel for his jacket. He frowned slightly as if his brain were catching up with the earlier conversation but shook his head. Angel smiled and patted him on the arm. 'I'm buying. Let's go.'
The bar was warm, intimate and the music was soft and fitted their mood. They found themselves slipping back into old ways of talking, a friendship that they had not explored for far too long. Any thought of the theatre was forgotten in the warm intimacy of their talk. Angel leant back in his seat and poured them another drink from the fifth bottle he'd bought.
Wesley held the deep red wine to the light and clinked Angel's glass lightly. 'I've never seen you drink so much, Angel.'
Angel shrugged. 'I've been mixing in bad company recently.'
Wesley laughed and tipped his drink toward Angel once more. 'To Spike.'
Angel pursed his lips and a little reluctantly rejoined, 'To Spike.' He drained the glass. 'How come you're free tonight?'
'I've been deserted as well.'
'We've both been rejected.'
Angel flashed him a glance but realised with a small chuckle that Spike was having more affect on him than he had realised. He poured them both some more wine.
'What did you do to the old man, Wes?'
Wesley started and spilt his wine slightly. He flushed and looked away. 'That was a low blow, Angel. Get me drunk and ask me that.'
'Are you drunk?'
'You know I am. We've drunk far too much.'
'So, you're drunk; I'm drunk. Tell me, and then it'll be forgotten.'
'You know what I did. I couldn't have him doing that again - he nearly destroyed you, Angel.'
'Inadvertently. He was trying to destroy Spike.'
'When did you become so… ambiguous?'
Wesley chuckled, despite his annoyance at being hijacked. 'When I met an intriguing vampire, I think.'
Angel dipped his head slightly and leant forward. 'We've been good for each other.'
'You don't need me, Angel. Not now.'
Angel jerked his head up. 'Where the fuck did that come from?'
Wesley pouted slightly but didn't retreat. 'You're… bloody hell, I can't even think of the word… fulfilled?'
'If I am, it's the whole package. Spike. You. The others, of course.'
'What is Spike's agenda for us?'
Once more Angel jerked back, not liking the way the conversation was being re-hijacked by the softly spoken human.
Wesley smiled at his expression. 'Don't tell me you haven't discussed it while you've been… otherwise occupied.'
Responding before he'd fully thought it though, Angel snapped back, 'Don't tell me you two haven't discussed it as well over those cosy cups of tea.'
Wesley leant back with a small smile. 'Actually, the English very rarely discuss sex when they drink tea. It's not the done thing.'
They were both silent for a while, lost in their own thoughts. Rising to visit the bathroom, Wesley chuckled. 'Have we just obliquely discussed having sex, Angel?'
He walked a few feet away and then murmured over his shoulder, 'Again, of course.'
Leaving Angel with that thought, he grinned privately all the way through his ablutions.
Spike was dreaming about Angel.
They were lying in his crypt before the destruction. He was puzzled in the dream that this was so, for Angel had never lain there, and Spike was trying to explain that they should be in LA. Angel was trying to tell him that he would always dream of the crypt because he was still there, and that his life in LA was just an illusion brought on by madness. Spike was countering this by proving that certain parts of him were very real, and Angel was gradually losing the argument.
When he felt Angel's hand on his thigh, he turned onto his belly, pleased. They were then in his bed in the apartment, and the sheets were rumpled and warm beneath them. Angel's hand was warm and explored him, stroking over his naked back and buttocks. Angel's face was annoyed though, and he was trying to tell Spike that he ought to be more alert, that he could be in danger. Spike opened his legs to allow the hand to dip in and replied lazily that if there were slightest danger, he would wake long before it could harm him. 'BLOODY BLEEDING FUCK! What the hell are you doing, Bitch?'
Spike sat up, utterly disoriented, clutching the sheet to his chest.
Lilah stretched. 'I got hot.'
'Well… not with me you're not!'
Lilah shrugged and rose from the bed. 'Your loss. I'm going for a shower. Join me, if you want.'
Spike gritted his teeth. 'There's no water. I tried already.'
For the first time, Lilah lost some of her composure and went angrily into the bathroom to check the assertion. Spike called out after her, smirking, 'Don't worry, Pet; you don't smell that bad.'
She came back out, grabbed some fresh clothes from her bag and stomped back in. Spike stretched and closed his eyes, trying to return to his dream.
Angel watched Wesley's return through narrowed eyes. He was trying to see him though new eyes - not as someone he knew, but as a stranger coming toward him. The effect was strangely unsettling, and he shuffled slightly on the seat as Wesley sat down.
'Penny for them.'
Angel shook himself and realised he'd been staring. 'Let's move on somewhere.'
'I like it here.'
'It's too hot.'
Wesley reached out and took Angel's hand. 'You're still cool, Angel. Always so cool.'
Angel left his hand longer than common politeness allowed, but as he withdrew said meaningfully, 'You've lied to me. You're not over it at all.'
Wesley stroked his finger over the place where he'd held Angel and said softly, 'I don't think you can ever get over something like that. All experiences change us, and that was a very… intense experience.'
'I was confused, Wes - coming back like that to my body, finding myself in… you.'
Wesley looked up sharply. 'I wasn't talking about that, Angel! I meant when you came to me afterwards. There was no confusion then, was there? For either of us.'
Angel stood up angrily and extremely unsteadily and knocked the table, sending the wine bottle toppling into Wesley's lap, bright red, like blood, spilling and soaking into the pale chinos. He immediately tried to dab at the mess he'd caused with a napkin, but Wesley grabbed his wrist with a small groan. 'Not a good idea, Angel.'
Angel stepped back, confused.
Wesley slid out of the booth but was equally unsteady. Folding his jacket over the stain, he made a drunken man's very steady, very careful way out of the bar.
The dream proved elusive. When he tried to recall Angel's cool hands on him, they were annoyingly warm. When he tried to remember Angel's soft, easy manner with him, a more caustic tone intruded like a challenge he longed to confront. He lay more awake than asleep, small sounds from the bathroom distracting him.
He felt the look she gave him when she emerged, even though he had his eyes closed and his back turned.
The mattress depressed.
'No way! I'm the one trapped in this room. The bed's mine.'
'Think again, Vampire. It's a hundred and twenty in the shade, and there isn't any. We're both trapped. Thank God for air conditioning.'
As if on cue, there was an odd noise and then silence - the kind of silence that makes you notice the absence of something you'd not even realised was there.
Spike turned over with a small smirk. 'Hmm. Heat. I love it.'
Lilah was sitting against the headboard, listening to see if the AC was returning. She grimaced and angrily rummaged in a bag, producing a book. Spike watched her for a minute then said cagily, 'I'm going back to sleep now. Stay on your side, yeah?'
She didn't dignify this with a direct response but murmured, 'You don't know what you're missing.'
Spike propped himself up on his elbow and huffed incredulously. 'You think you're God's gift, don't you? Remember, Bint, I've had the eternal and the magically endowed, superpower slayer. Can't see what a lawyer bitch would have to offer.'
She just raised an eyebrow and turned her page.
'Cus, ya know, you'd break; you'd not bend well - I've kinda got used to the hard, make-the-old-dead-heart-beat-again kind of sex recently. So, sorry, I'm going back to sleep.'
She yawned and stretched slightly, crossing her legs.
Spike sat up. 'And you're not even that pretty - or young. Kinda worn around the edges - Dorian without his damn portrait to keep it all at bay. Little squidgy bits of evil creeping around the edges of that face, I'm thinking. So, Lady, vampire going back to sleep here.'
Lilah smiled and shrugged her agreement.
'Hey! Supercilious Bitch! I've told you, nothing to offer, yeah?'
At that, she turned and gave him a long, slow, very frank appraisal. When she was done, she leaned in close. 'But, Spike, I've got the one thing no one else can give you, the one thing you want more than anything.'
Spike jerked back. He turned his back and lay down. He kept utterly still and utterly silent, but however much he knew he'd beat himself up for it later, however much he'd probably regret it, he just could not prevent himself from asking. 'Fuck you. What?'
She came very close to his ear and whispered. 'Wesley. I can show you what he wants. I can give him to you.'
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