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Time is the Fire in Which we Burn

Episode 4- Chapter 2

Wesley turned and tried to remember the way to his apartment. Angel caught at his arm and herded him toward the hotel. Wesley tried to protest, but Angel wouldn't let go, and eventually he walked alongside the vampire, glad of the supporting arm.

'Why am I coming back here?'

'Closer and you can change.'

'Ah. Then what?'

'Stop thinking so much.'

'It's what I do, Angel; you know that.'

'Well it's not what I do; you know that too.'

'Yes. I suppose you're right. I'll leave it as a surprise then, shall I?'

'It'll be a surprise for both of us in that case.' Wesley stumbled slightly, and Angel hauled him up, putting a strong arm around his waist. Wesley leant in slightly, his hair brushing Angel's cheek. Angel murmured, 'Don't,' with a slight hiss.

'I shouldn't drink. It's too liberating.'

'Uninhibiting, you mean.'

'That's not a real word.'

'Yes it is.'

'And they're one and the same thing.'

'No, they're entirely different. If you were being liberated, you would escape from something. Uninhibited is just… out of control.'

'Ah. This is all about control, isn't it? - your control.'

Angel gritted his teeth. 'You'll regret this in the morning, Wes.'

'Possibly, but I'm thinking that will depend on what the surprise is.'

Angel suddenly whirled him around and pushed him against a wall in a shadowy section of an alley. 'Is this what you want?' He bent and took Wesley's face in his hands, tipping him up.

The kiss was hot and hard. Their mouths tasted of wine and need. Wesley caught Angel around the waist and pulled him in closer. Their bodies betrayed them, and Angel jerked his head back for a moment before returning to the swollen, waiting lips. 'What are we doing?' He kissed into Wesley's hair and around his face, laying the back of his hand over the warm flesh.

'What we've wanted to do since you came to my apartment to get my help about Spike.'

He realised his mistake as the name left his lips. He tried to take it back, tried to hold Angel so tightly that he would never pull away. For a moment, he thought he'd succeeded; Angel leant in even closer, pressing his mouth to Wesley's neck.

Finally though, he tensed and stood up, straightening his clothes slightly. 'We'd better go.'

Wesley caught at his sleeve. 'He wants this; you know he does.'

To his utter astonishment, Angel said softly, 'I know.'

Wesley began to press his advantage, pulling Angel back toward his body, almost desperate to feel the solidness against him once more. Angel resisted, and at Wesley's small sound of protest, he said with some puzzlement in his voice, 'I want him here, Wes. He has to be here, too.'

He eased Wesley's hand off his arm and turned, walking slowly away. Somewhat floored by the comment, Wesley followed as best he could with his head spinning and his eyes refusing to focus. Angel, however, waited for him and put his arm back around to steady him again.

Wesley murmured his thanks and glanced up. He jerked his head back at the expression on the usually rigidly controlled features. 'What's wrong, Angel?'

Angel turned to him, his eyes wide, his face working as if to try to get words out. 'I need him here.'

'Well, yes, you've said that. I think you're probably….'

'No… I mean, I need him. I need him. Jesus, Wesley, I need Spike.'

'And this is a revelation to you? Now - after everything we've all gone through the last month or so. Well, it's very nice, I'm sure, but….'

'No! You're not getting it.' Angel's eyes were so full of fear that Wesley felt a large part of his inebriation slipping away.

'What? Angel! For Christ's sake, you're just in love, that's all!'

Angel almost shook him. 'I CAN'T AFFORD TO BE IN LOVE AGAIN! Fuck, Wesley, I can't afford to need anyone. Not like this! I'm so close. I didn't see it until I was… with you… and the kiss thing… and I wanted him there too so we could both… and then it was the thought of him….'

'Angel! It's only natural….'

'I felt near perfect happiness! When I thought of Saturday, I was - for one fraction of a second - almost perfectly happy.'

'OH. Shit. Are you…?'

'No. There was so much missing him in there too… but, Wes, so close! I was so close! I can't let this happen.'

Angel pulled away and began to turn as if he could flee his fear, but Wesley took a firmer hold on his arm. 'NO! If I'm anything to you, Angel, I'm your best friend, and you DO NOT turn your back on me when you're afraid or in trouble. We'll work this through together. I'm not afraid.'

'You should be! Shit, Wesley, you were there the last time. Angelus was insane - wouldn't you be if you'd been inside me all that time?'

Wesley tried to suppress the smile that flicked onto his face at this odd thought, but Angel saw it. He sagged slightly in Wesley's arms. 'Okay. Maybe I'll rephrase that.'

Wesley grinned, glad to see Angel almost calm again. 'Oh, I don't know. I rather like the imagery. Come on, let's get back to the hotel and put our thinking caps on - or I will, and you can pace around looking handsome and brooding.'

Angel even attempted a small smile, but Wesley could see that his heart wasn't in it, and he put his arm across the silent vampire's shoulders and increased their pace.

'Did you say Saturday? And try to answer that without thinking about Spike coming back, yeah?'

Angel didn't even smile at that; he just nodded but then added, 'Why?'

'Oh, nothing, it was just a bit of a coincidence, that's all. She-who-should-never-be-obeyed returns then too.'

'Huh. Maybe they're off somewhere together.'

This cheered them both up considerably, and they laughed at the utter impossibility of Angel's small joke.

Spike felt the warm hand once more on his cool skin but did not turn. An even warmer tongue eased from his hairline down his spine, firing off intense shivers of pleasure in its path. He hunched his shoulders and buried his face into the pillow, trying so hard to resist. A soft whisper brushed past his defences. 'He always wants to be in control.' She eased over his and took his wrists, pinning them down. 'He's afraid to let go - to admit what he needs and wants.' He kissed the back of his neck and whispered almost too softly to hear, 'He can't say the words, Spike. Could you teach him?'

Lilah shifted down until she sat on Spike's buttocks. His skin was cool between her hot thighs, just the thin strip of her panties separating them. She began to rock gently. 'Start slowly with him, Vampire. Make him think he's controlling everything - that there's nothing to fear. Then pounce….' She raked her nails down Spike's flawless back, and he arched up with a cry of pleasure. 'He wants pain.' She leant behind her and pushed a hand between Spike's legs, taking hold of his scrotum roughly. 'He wants you to give him pain, so you dominate him.' She eased off to one side and lifted Spike's thigh slightly, giving her access to the place she wanted. 'He needs to subjugate himself to you, Spike.' She bent down and whispered to the red, leaking tip, 'He wants you to make him yours, so he'll never be lost again.' She took the soft, fleshy end of Spike's erection into her mouth. Spike rolled onto his back. She grinned inwardly and began to work him with her mouth, but she sensed the moment that she began to lose him, the effects of her seductive words wearing off.

Rising up, she straddled him once more. She was sweating heavily in the stifling heat. Provocatively, she unbuttoned her shirt, revealing deep red silk underwear. Spike's eyes widened at the appearance of the crimson on her pale flesh, and his hand crept up to catch and fondle the cupped nipple. She arched back at his participation, triumph making her whole body a tight spring begging release. Before he could stop her, she reached down, pulled aside her panties and impaled herself on his thick, hard shaft. They both moaned and arched.

There was no more seduction or hesitation after that.

Spike flung her down and rose over her, ripping the rest of her underwear off. Bracing himself on one hand, he began to work himself in fully, watching warily for a wince of pain. She dug her nails into his hips and hissed for more.

Spike began to work in and out, revelling in her slick warmth. He put his other hand to the crimson silk and closed his eyes as if enjoying a particularly poignant memory. Fingers found nipple and pinched it up, hard, as if they too remembered other times. She cried out in pain. Spike howled, dropping away from her, cradling his head. She crawled up to the headboard, watching him with a mixture of horror and delight. He curled up, waiting. The agony would go - it always went - but there was nothing he could do to hasten it.

He didn't even hear her get off the bed. He vaguely heard some sounds in the bathroom, but by the time he was able to sit up, he heard her opening the door very clearly. He turned and saw her triumphant expression. She smoothed her skirt and raised an eyebrow at him. 'That really didn't take all that long, did it, Vampire? And now I know exactly what your buttons are.' She mimed pressing something and made a small ping sound. 'We'll be leaving soon as it's dark. Be ready.'

Spike winced at the sound of the door and sat for a long time trying to work out where he'd gone so badly wrong.

'You can't, Angel. It will kill you.' Wesley carried his much needed tea over to the table and sat down opposite the brooding vampire.

'I gave up Buffy. I thought that would kill me, but it didn't.'

'Is this the same? Do you feel the same for Spike as you did for her?'

Angel glanced up but didn't hold Wesley's gaze for long. 'No.'

'There you go. Giving him up would kill you. I saw you when you thought he didn't want you… after you'd….'

'Raped him?'

'I've told you, Angel, that wasn't your….'

'Sorry. I know that really. I was there, remember?'

'There you go then. After that, when you were so bitterly estranged, I saw you. You were eating yourself up inside with need for him. You can't just cut him out of your life now. You need him.'

'I know. That's the problem. That need has become out of control - something dangerous.' He finally looked up. 'I think about him all the time. I hadn't realised I was doing it until I kissed you. I think about him when I'm asleep, and I think about him when I'm awake. There is no time in my life when I'm not thinking about him.'

'And you fear that is happiness?'

'Jesus, Wes, I don't know! What do I know about happiness? I was cursed by those fucking gypsies with something I'd never really felt. What the fuck is happiness for God's sake? Do you feel it ever? Perfect happiness? Cus, I sure as hell don't know what it looks like. Maybe it's different things to different people.'

'You may be right. I feel happiest when I'm buried in a fascinating book, but I don't think that would be your….'

'Exactly. I'd hardly had a chance to find out what made me happy before Darla took me. I was a drunken bully, Wes. Seducing women and drinking were the only things I enjoyed. Is that what's supposed to turn me back?'

'I doubt it. I think the gypsies were thinking more along the lines of loving. The perfect love.'

'Thanks. That's just what I need to hear.'

'Maybe you don't have to worry too much. Maybe because Spike is a demon too, you can't feel perfect love for him by definition. It would be like pure good having a small, evil flaw; it's a contradiction in terms. After all, you didn't turn after fucking Darla.' Wesley leant back and waited for the impact of his words to hit home. They'd never discussed Darla between them - Angel's fury and maniacal hatred following the staking had put paid to that.

He looked up now into Wesley's deep blue eyes. 'I didn't have time to feel happy, Wes; you took her from me.'

'I know I did.'

'Will you take Spike from me like that?'

Wesley leant forward. 'What? Choose between you? Lose him or you?'

'Yes. Who would you choose, Wesley? Would you allow Angelus to return to keep Spike? You remember Angelus, don't you?'



'Would you sacrifice Spike, Angel, if the Powers required it of you?'

Angel jerked back, angry at being hijacked by the human yet again. 'That's a dumb question.'

Wesley gave him an incredulous look then chuckled. He rose from the table to pour some more tea but suddenly bent down and kissed Angel's head. 'I couldn't lose either of you. I'd use my incredible brain and find a way, like I always do.'

Angel caught at his arm and pulled him down to his face. He closed his eyes for a moment as if to find the strength to say it, then murmured, 'You did the right thing, Wes. I was wrong to want her, and I was wrong to blame you for what happened.'

Wesley almost melted with gratitude into Angel's lap, but a sudden tightening of the hand on his arm made him concentrate once more. Angel made sure this concentration was total and then said distinctly, 'But don't ever stake Spike.'

Wesley pulled away thoughtfully. He had not realised the extent of Angel's obsession until he had seen the look that had just flashed through his eyes.

As if sensing that he'd overstepped the mark, Angel leant back and tried to looked nonchalant, running a hand over the back of his neck in a disarming fashion.

Wesley went to the counter and began to fiddle with the tea makings. 'Angel. I think I was wrong.' He turned. 'I think it might be better if you did ease up with Spike. At least you would both stay alive that way.'

Angel rose angrily, knocking over his chair. He tried to say something, but the words would not come. With a last anguished look at Wesley, he turned and left.

Spike was furious with himself.

His erection wept slowly into the sheet, mocking him with its need. The heat suddenly seemed unbearable, even to his cool body. He tossed and turned angrily then snatched up his jeans, rummaging, trying not to think. He punched the memorised number into the small cell and lay back with an arm draped over his eyes.


'Huh, what kinda way is that to answer the phone?'

'It's you.'


'What's wrong?'

'Nothin'. Can't I just be calling you? Angel?'

'I'm here.'

'What's wrong?'

'Like you, then, nothing. Are you okay?'

'Yes, Angel, I'm okay.'

'Are you… enjoying yourself?'

'What the friggin' hell do you mean by that, Tosser? I'm working. I told you that!'

'Jesus, don't jump down my throat. I only meant we shouldn't be too… possessive with each other. I don't need to know what you're doing. You need other… outlets. You can enjoy yourself and work at the same time - meeting people. People you might want. More than me. Like more than me.'

'Well, I'm SO glad I made this phonecall. Angel?'


'What the fuck are you going on about?'

'I've been thinking, that's all. We're too… intense… too happy even. Yeah, too happy - it's not what I want. Spike? Are you still there?'

'Yeah, can't you hear the brain cells whirring around? Angel? Are you missing me?'

'I've just told you….'

'Are you missing me so much that you've finally realised you need me?'

'Spike, shut up; I'm trying to tell you….'

'Oh, Pet, did you think you'd almost had a moment of true happiness? Tell me you didn't think that….'

Angel held the handset out and looked at the pricking of his self-induced-angst balloon. He wanted to smile but felt that was inappropriate, given the gravity of his previous fears. ''Fuck off, Spike! You think you know every damn thing! And how the hell did you know?'

'Give me strength. Let me get this straight… I'm to go off and shag my heart out so you won't love me so much…. Is that your little plan?'

'Spike! This is not a LITTLE thing I just thought up because I was drunk and missing you! This is deadly serious!'

'I'll never make you that happy anyway, Angel. I'm… not worth this.'

'Spike? Something is wrong. What is it? Where are you?'

'I'm a bad man, Angel. I'm sorry.'

'You have fucked someone!'

'Not exactly.'

'But close enough.'

'Yeah. Close enough. Angel? Shit. Angel? Talk to me…? Angel!'


'I could say cus I was missing you.'

'Would that be the truth?'


'What's the other reason?'

'Cus I wanted to.'

'It's nice you don't lie to me then.'

'Just cheat on you.'

'Jesus, Spike, you're a vampire. I'm a vampire.'

'Angel…? You sound… pleased? Fuck you! Are you laughing?'

'I'm sorry. Only, I'm suddenly thinking maybe I don't have to give you up.'

'Angel! Stop friggin' laughing! I called you cus I was…. Angel! Right, fuck you!'

He hung up and clenched his jaw, Angel's lack of concern only making his guilt worse. The phone rang, but he looked at it for a while before he answered.


'I'm sorry. Only… I've spent the whole day thinking of ways to push you away from me, and now all I want is for you to come home.'

'I can't take all this lovey-dovey forgiveness, Angel! I wanted you to scream and shout and do the Angel thing!'

'Sorry to disappoint. I'll shout at you when you get back.'

'Yeah. Okay then. How about hitting me a bit too.'

'Fuck, promises, promises…. What are you doing now?'

Spike finally chuckled. 'Looking at the result of the almost fuck.'

'Jesus, I can taste you.'

Spike rolled over onto his side with a grin, tucking the phone under his ear. 'What do I taste like?'

'Like sex itself. Like salt in the ocean. Like sweat after tumbling together in a hot bed.'

'It's all over my hand now. Do you want me to put it to my tongue?'

'Yesss. My mouth is watering, Spike! I want to take you in, suck you.'

'Take yourself out.'

'I can't; I'm in the office.'

'Oh. So what? Do it anyway.'

'Wesley is just outside.'

'Never stopped you getting hard before.'

'If he comes in, you're dead meat.'

'Did you kiss him?'

'What! Fuck! Way t'go to ruin a mood, Spike!'


'Yes, you brat. How do you know all this? Are you spying on me?'

'Tell me what he was like….'

'He was strong, Spike - not like a human at all. It was like kissing you, only warmer.'

'And not as good…?'

'Well, obviously, I meant that.'

'Good. What are you doing?'

'Pretending it's your mouth around me, not my fist.'

'Mmm. Am I good?'

'Yeah… am I?'

'Hmm… run your lips over my tip… suck in the flow, Angel.'

'I can see your face, Spike. Just like my sketch…. Fuck, I needed this after….'

'Oh, yeah? After what?'

'He was so ready for it, Spike. I could have taken him against the wall - like I did with you all those years ago.'

'You ripped my throat out and drank all my blood, Luv - bit different.'

'No, it's the same. For us. Christ, I'm gonna come! Where? For fuck's sake…. Yesss…. Shit!'

'Spike? Spike?'


'Speak maybe?'



'Yess. Okay. Fuck, that was… intense.'

'Yeah. I'm not going to be filing that invoice.'

Spike spread-eagled himself on the bed and basked in the afterglow of the orgasm. 'I'm thinking of binning this job and just coming back.'

'Do it.'

'Maybe I will. Kinda need the money though.'

'Tomorrow night then.'




'Keep it… almost shagging, yeah? I don't need to feel less happy now.'

''K, Pet. Keep it to just kissing 'til I'm there too?'

Angel chuckled. 'Wesley and I have both sobered considerably. We're drinking tea together instead.'

'Good. Gotta go.'


Spike looked down at the cum all over his hands, belly and chest. 'OH , fuck! Gotta go! Might have to do some serious licking here! Bye….'

He clicked the phone shut and went into the bathroom hoping that the fates would forgive a traitorous vampire just enough for there to be some water.

Apparently not - he gritted his teeth and dressed in some clean clothes, hoping the bitch would smell too bad now for his more earthy smell to be discovered.

Angel put the offending invoice to the bottom of his wastebasket then stood and rearranged his clothes. He went softly into the outer office and looked at the back of the dark head fondly. He felt fond of everything now - his raging headache and sick stomach not able to depress his spirits one bit.

Wesley was on the telephone but put it down when he sensed Angel watching him. Angel went over and perched. 'Who you calling?'


Angel jerked back a little. ' Willow. Sunnydale Willow?'

'None other.'

'You know, whatever that was last night - and I think it was just maudlin drunken missing him - I'm over….'

'I thought what you said was very profound, Angel - well, when I was drunk I did; after I'd vomited a few times this morning it was… anyway…. I think you may be right. There are different interpretations of what is perfect happi….'

'Wes, I'm trying to tell you I don't care about that any….'

'But it's so fascinating, Angel! Your soul isn't the one the gypsies cursed you with - well, it is, but I don't think the curse came attached in quite the same way when Willow replaced it for you.'

Angel smiled at his friend fondly and, despite being perfectly content where he stood in his relationship with Spike, allowed him to have his own moment of true happiness: relating the conclusions of his research. 'What did you call her for?'

'I wanted to ask her what her definition of perfect happiness was. Don't you see? If she tried to recreate the spell the gypsies did, whatever she had in her mind at the time would be the trigger for you to lose your soul.'

Despite himself, Angel felt a pinprick of excitement at this thought. He shifted on the desk and gave Wesley a frank stare. 'Are you saying that my soul may be more anchored than it was - that the state of true happiness will be harder for me to attain.'

Wesley leant back in his chair. 'I'm not sure, Angel. It's difficult - knowing what I know of you.'

'Wes! What did she say?'

Wesley kept his grin inside and replied as seriously as he could. 'Do you ever have lesbian feelings toward Spike?'

Angel took a while to register this then he slapped Wesley playfully across the head. Wesley laughed at his expression. 'I'm glad that was all nugatory work, Angel, and that your rather grunty call with Spike just now did the trick anyway.'

Angel hung his head as if embarrassed, caught out, but then he raised his eyes to Wesley's face. 'He'll be here tomorrow night.'

Wesley didn't falter, but they both sensed his heart speed up slightly. 'I was very drunk last night. I don't remember much of what happened, and if you do, then I suspect you are remembering it through a haze of alcohol confusion.'

'You remember enough to feel the need to assert that.'

'It's complex, Angel - more so than you think. For me. I-I value what I have. You accused me of thinking too much; well, thinking is important to me. I need my sanity, and I'm very afraid that a step in the wrong direction now will tip me over the edge of a precipice where reason won't help me and where thought will be banished. You fear a moment of true happiness? I fear a lifetime of unhappiness that might follow the choices I make about this.'

'I would never hurt you; you know that.'

'Not intentionally, but - God, how can I explain this to you? - you and Spike are like lightning. You've crashed down into my little world; you illuminate me - Christ, you make my bloody hair stand on end - but how can I get close?'

Angel put his hand to Wesley's face. 'You said I'd come a long way, that I could kiss you but restrain.'

'I'm not talking about the physical.' He gave Angel a glance through lowered lids. 'I could match you there - be very sure of that. I'm talking about my soul, Angel - me: my heart perhaps. I'm not… easy. I don't… let people in easily.'

'I can't come in without an invite; you know that.' Angel softened his words by bending low to Wesley's mouth and just teasing him with the promise of a kiss. He pulled back. 'I promised I'd wait.'

'For Spike?'


'Oh, God help me.'

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