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Time is the Fire in Which we Burn

Episode 5 - Chapter 4

Angel caught him before he'd even managed to turn the water on, and he pressed him into the cool tiles. 'Come back to bed, please.'

Spike groaned. 'God, I'm such a sucker for you when you beg.'

'I'll beg more then.' He fell to his knees and took Spike's soft penis in his mouth. Spike put his hands down and held onto the dark hair, easing the generous mouth up and down. He felt fairly sure he wouldn't come, but then he felt a hand exploring around his hips. He grinned and opened his legs obediently, and a finger found its mark, circling around the edge of his hole, teasing the lips and stroking over the soft, sensitive skin.

He hardened to anticipation of entry and then cried out in disbelief at the pleasure of having Angel's finger inside him. He was so wet, so slippery and so ready to be brought off again. Angel's strong, large finger reached high into his rectum and played with him like a cock never could. It stretched back his walls and scratched gently at them; it made his knees shake when it probed his pleasure spot. Spike withstood it all until Angel turned his hand and pressed his mouth fully onto him and then tried to scratch his own nose through the soft wiry curls. 'OH! Fuck!' Spike jerked over at the waist. Angel just flattened him back, splaying the fingers of his other hand over Spike's chest and did it again.

Spike erupted cum against the back of Angel's throat. Powerful swallowing only made him cry out again, and his cock jumped and twitched to the spasms in Angel's muscles.

When there was no more fluid to swallow, Angel eased his mouth off but left his finger embedded. Gracefully, he rose to his feet and sighed unnecessarily, running a tongue over his lips. 'Didn't you have something to do tonight?'

Spike spread his arms out on the wall with delight. 'Not sure as I can walk now.'

Angel suddenly jerked out his finger and began to hum tunelessly as he turned on the water. Spike slid his hands around Angel's waist and pulled him in for a kiss. 'I love you.'

Angel stopped humming and a serious look returned to his face. He nodded. 'We don't say it enough, do we? I love you, too. I've never loved you more - I don't think I can.'

'I'm sorry I've been….'

Angel put a finger to his lips and shook his head. 'What we're trying to do isn't easy. You make mistakes; I make mistakes.'

Spike nodded gratefully. 'These damn souls should come with a manual or something.'

Angel grinned. 'You've never read an instruction manual in your life. Now, let me wash you and get you looking respectable for tonight.'

'Since when have I ever wanted to look… actually, good idea, Luv.' He turned obediently under Angel's hands, his mind drifting back to his meeting with the priest.

Spike couldn't help a small smile of satisfaction when he saw the pleasure on Nate's face when he arrived at their agreed meeting place. Instead of berating him for being well over an hour late, the priest only touched him lightly on the shoulder and said, 'I've been thinking.'

Spike raised an eyebrow. ''Bout me?' Almost immediately, he regretted the flirty tone he'd adopted by default and said more soberly, 'That's good, cus I've been thinking about how you can help me.'

Nate didn't seem to take offence and said equally seriously, 'I know. I've thought about your problem all day, and I've decided that I need to see this woman for myself - meet her, talk to her. I can't find a way forward for her until I see her in person. Is that possible?'

Spike pouted for a moment. 'I guess. Won't be easy. I'll have to set it….'

'No, tonight. I want to see her tonight. I feel things… slipping away from us somehow. I know that sounds almost superstitious, and you'll laugh at me….'

'Hey, vampire… writer here, Pet. I thrive on supersticion.'

'Do you feel it? I wonder if she's into something right now….'

A small flash of a naked Wesley crossed Spike's mind, but he rigorously repressed it, only murmuring, 'Actually, I do know where she is tonight. We could ambush her on the way back.'

Nate smiled. 'I think we'll drop the term ambush, maybe.'

Spike began to walk back the way he'd come, waiting briefly for the man. 'What are you going to say?'

'I don't know. God will put the words into my mouth when I need them.'

'Jeez, let's hope he's not in a pissy mood then.'

Nate only gave him a disapproving look, and they paced happily together back the way Spike had just come.

Spike calculated the way Lilah would walk home once she'd left Wesley's, and they sat down on a bench in a small park.

Nate declined the offer of a cigarette with another disapproving look and said, slightly puzzled, 'How do you know… what's her name, by the way?'


'How do you know Lilah will come past here? Have you seen her already tonight?'

'Nah, I smelt… I mean, I heard her - with a mate of mine.'

'A lover?'

For one minute, Spike almost replied, "Not yet," but then realised the man was talking about Lilah. He nodded. 'Yeah. She'll be in the best mood she's likely to be in, I'm thinking. Unless he's told her about this.'

Nate leant back and spread his arms along the top of the seat. 'Isn't it gorgeous out tonight?'

Spike decided to let the gorgeous go seeing as Nate was celibate and that probably gave him the right to use any poofy words he chose to, so he murmured his agreement. 'I miss the stars.'

'Living in a city has its disadvantages.'

'When I was a kiddie, we didn't have good street lighting, and on nights when we didn't have smog, you could fancy you'd seen God.'

Nate turned to him. 'How long have you lived in America?'

Spike tried to work out a realistic time, couldn't remember what lies he'd told the man, so said dismissively, 'Sometimes, I think too long.'

'Will you go home someday?'

'Dunno… there's not just me now. I'm not a free agent.'

'Ah, I know how that feels.'

Spike looked puzzled. 'I thought you were a eunuch.'

Nate clearly didn't find this particularly provocative and only laughed. 'I meant God, Spike. I'm God's agent, and he rewards my obedience.'

'Huh.' He debated saying it but couldn't resist. 'I get rewarded for that too.' He squirmed on the bench slightly and lit another cigarette.

At last, Spike sensed Lilah approaching the park. He stood up. 'She's coming.'

Nate looked puzzled, but seemed to close in on himself, concentrating. Spike realised with a jolt that he was watching someone praying and looked away, confused by his reaction to something so profoundly alienating.

When he saw Lilah, he stepped out in her path. Her hand shot into her pocket, but she quickly recognised him, and it stayed there, her arm tense, but not moving. 'Spike.'


'What… who's that?'

Nate stepped forward. 'Hello, Lilah. May we walk with you for a while?'


'Then perhaps you'd like to sit here with me for….'

'Who are you?'

'My name is Father Ignatius.'

'You're a priest? What the fuck do I want to stop and yap with a priest for? Get out of my way.'

Spike frowned. 'Lilah, he's here to help you.'

'I've just got off, Spike, twice - once on, once off - what the fuck is he gonna do to top that?'

'Listen… what we went through… what you saw… it had an affect on you - don't deny it.'

She stood a little more warily, staring at Spike incredulously. 'Go on.'

'When you saw me burning, you wanted to rescue me because that was you burning - or how you think you'll burn in hell.'

'Is that so? Jeez, I'm glad I stopped now, this is fun.'

'No, it's not fun, Lilah. It's your future. You're going to burn in hell, and you are terrified. You are eaten up inside about it, and you'll do anything to stop it happening; I know you will.'

She began to shake her head. She put a hand to her mouth. An explosive giggle escaped her. 'Oh, Spike, that's not me… that's you!'

Spike jerked his head back a little. 'Don't try and twist this….'

'Don't you see? I KNOW I'm going to hell - fuck, I'm planning a takeover. But you didn't believe it until those flames got you, did you? You'd not made the connection - maybe that soul's too damn new. Perhaps, like me, it never frightened you when you were the Big Bad, but now it DOES. Oh, Spike, you're the one who's going to burn forever. You're the one who'll never escape those flames.'

Nate saw Spike's expression and took a step closer. He put a hand on his arm. 'Spike, don't let her words alter your purpose here; the devil speaks through her. You have no reason to fear your eternity… what?'

Lilah looked between them. 'Oh, yesss… so much pleasure in one little evening. He doesn't know, does he Spike? You've not told your new little disciple….'

'No. Don't Lilah, please. For what we've shared….'

'We've shared nothing, Spike.'

'Don't, please. Don't tell him.'

'Oh, I'm not… no fun in that; I'm going to show him.'

Spike saw the gun emerge from her pocket. He flinched, but she didn't point it at him. He turned, horrified as the flash went off. He used all his preternatural speed and strength to beat the bullet to Nate. He flattened him to the ground as the lead drove into his duster. He lay on the priest and watched the horror creeping over the man's face. He heard someone he recognised shouting his name in panic. He tried to return to human form, but the bullets continued to thud into his back, his blood flowing freely out and over the supine human. His last thought, before unconsciousness took him away from so much sadness, was that it seemed wrong that his chip was not firing off, given how much pain his demon form seemed to be causing his friend.

Spike came to with the soft sound of voices around him. He knew Angel was there and stretched out his hand. It was immediately grasped and squeezed gently. He heard Wesley, too, and felt the human's hands on him. For a moment, he had the bizarre thought that this was another dream, his whole body on fire with a kind of pain that had become his nightly visitor.

He tried to open his eyes, but it hurt too much, so he allowed himself to drift back to pain-free unconsciousness.

The next time he regained consciousness, there was less pain. He risked opening his eyes and found Angel leaning over him. Immediately, a blood bag was pressed to his lips, and although he wanted to refuse it - refuse what he was - nevertheless, he drank greedily.

Satisfied, Angel sat back and replaced the empty bag on the table. 'How do you feel?'

Spike blinked. 'Is he dead?'

'No. You saved him.'

'I nearly got him killed.'

'And you.'

Spike swallowed at this thought, and Angel pulled him gently into his arms. 'The priest doesn't know everything, Spike. We are mysteries - we are unique; who knows where we go when we're finally dead.'

Spike pulled back. 'You were there?'

Angel nodded. 'I followed you. I was worried. I had a feeling this was more about you than it was Lilah.'

'So, I cock up again, and you're there to rescue me.' Angel ignored the bitter tone and held Spike's face squarely to him.

'Yes. I was. This time. Next time it might be you there for me - as you've been so many times recently. Hey!' Angel frowned and pulled Spike back into his arms. 'Don't Spike, please; it tears me apart.'

'I don't want to burn like that forever, Angel. I can't bear thinking about it… and I can't stand being so scared.'

As Angel had no answers that would ease Spike's pain, he offered the only thing his could: his comforting, intense presence.

Eventually, worn out by pain and tears, Spike fell back into an uneasy sleep, and Angel laid him gently back on the pillow.

He turned his head as Wesley came in, carrying another blood bag. The human sat softly on the bed behind Angel and put a reassuring hand on his arm. 'He's okay.'

Angel ran his thumb over Spike's cheekbone, drying the faint tear he could still see there. 'Can you believe he's a demon, Wes, when he lies there like that?'

Wesley murmured a reply, took a small breath then added hesitantly, 'I don't believe either of you will burn, Angel - if I believe that anyone will, really. You've come too far for that.'

Angel put a hand behind him and rested it on Wesley's leg. 'But he does. It's his fear that's been driving him, making him so unpredictable, so confused.'

'Yes. Trust Lilah to point that out. I wonder why she did save him.'

'Maybe she thought he was more useful to her alive.'

'Possibly. I'm just glad she did.'

Angel shivered. 'I don't need the flames of hell, Wesley; I feel them every time I remember that tape.'

'Don't, Angel. All is well now. Spike will get over this. I'll try to find some more modern thinking on the afterlife, I think. I don't think someone with a brand new soul should take his first few tentative steps with a Jesuit.'

'Possibly an ex-one now.'

'Oh, Angel, was that a note of satisfaction in your voice?'

Angel turned to Wesley and made no attempt to suppress his grin. 'Do you think the priest will now think there are more things in heaven and earth…?'

'Well, as his philosophy was rather narrow in my opinion, I don't doubt he's had a severe shock. I remember the first time I saw a vampire, and I was brought up believing in them.'

'Yeah, I remember the first time I saw one too. Then she bit me.'

Wesley shivered. 'I do wish you wouldn't say that word with such glee when your mouth is merely… inches… from… my…. Angel! Stop teasing me.'

Angel took his mouth off Wesley's neck with a grin. 'We were talking about turning you tonight… idle speculation, of course.'

'Of course. You wouldn't want to meet a vampire me, Angel - remember: I'd have no soul; I'd know you and Spike and all your weaknesses intimately; and I've have the knowledge of thirty years of studying the black arts behind me. ' He grinned at Angel's expression and rose. 'Let me know when he comes round again; I'd like to talk to him - see if I can help.'

He turned away and only let his smile out when Angel couldn't see it - he was beginning to lose his resentment at Angel's uncanny knack to turn to him whenever Spike was upsetting him. He was even beginning to enjoy his role as Angel's distraction fuck, but the thing that made him really smile was the thought of Angel's face when he eventually took him up on one of these, frequent, ill-timed offers.

The priest lay in considerable discomfort in the uncomfortable hospital bed. It was too hot, and he could not move to relieve the pressure in his back and buttocks. He was wired up to some fluids, as the doctors had ignored his contention that he was not in shock and not hurt.

When they'd washed the pints and pints of blood off him, they'd agreed he was not badly hurt, but nevertheless, a few bullets had lodged just under the surface of his skin. As he shivered and ranted, however, they'd plugged him into fluids and recorded a case of deep, traumatic shock.

He closed his eyes once more to the memory of the face, but it was only more vivid in his private darkness.

He opened them and immediately cried out softly at the dark shadow that detached itself from the wall and came over to the bed. 'Are you death?'

The figure chuckled. 'I've thought about it, yeah; I can't deny that, Priest.'

'Who are you?'

'I'm a friend of Spike's.'

The Priest fumbled under his covers and held out his crucifix. 'Go to hell, Fiend.'

'Well, I've kinda been there, done that, sent a postcard… can we move on?'

'Are you a…?'

'I'm not here to talk about me. I want to talk about Spike.'

There was a very long moment when two sets of dark eyes stared at each other. Then Nate stretched out his hand and caught at the emergency pull, holding it down urgently. 'Get out.'

Angel bowed elegantly, nodded politely at the man and left before the staff arrived.

Wesley was waiting for him in the car park, leaning against the car, anxiously scanning the front of the hospital. 'Well?'

Angel gave him a look and smiled. 'He wants to see him.'

Wesley visibly relaxed. 'I owe him an apology; I didn't think he'd be so generous.'

Angel kept his expression hidden by climbing into the drivers' seat.

Wesley slid thoughtfully in alongside him. 'How are you going to get him here? I know Spike almost as well… I mean… not as well as you, obviously, but I do know….'

'Wesley. It's simple. I'll trick him.'

Spike lay idly flicking the pages of one of the magazines Angel had brought him. It was hard to be depressed when you were being waited on hand and foot by your sire, when every whim was indulged, and when he only had to call and Angel would be at his side with kisses and petting until he was teased out of his mood. He tried to listen for Angel in the shower and fancied he could actually hear the water running over that cool flesh.

Lost in these thoughts, he was a little disconcerted to see Angel suddenly fly into the room and rip open the closet door. He flung his cell phone on the bed. 'Wesley's been attacked.'

Spike sat up.

'Lie down.'

'What do you mean? And I'm fine, Angel; I have been for hours.'

'He was working on a case alone because I was here with… I mean… anyway, it went wrong.'

'Is he okay?'

'He's concussed and can't drive. I need to go get him.'

'I'm coming too.'

'No, you're not. Lie down.'

'Angel!' Spike pushed past him and went to the closet where he hung his spare clothes. He grabbed some jeans and a shirt at random, pulling them on.

Keeping his back turned to Spike, Angel continued to protest while he dressed, then appeared to capitulate and allow Spike to precede him through door.

They drove to the hospital, and Angel led the way in, Spike following innocently behind. Angel got to the darkened room and then, once more, allowed Spike to precede him.

Spike stopped in the doorway. 'No.'


'No.' He tried to flee, but Angel barred his way.

'I'll be right here, Spike.' He cupped Spike's face and leant into him. 'I need you… happy, childe of mine. Do this for me, please.'

Spike's face creased up, but he turned and went hesitantly toward the bed. 'I didn't know you'd be here, or I'd not have come.'

'Why not?'

'Why not?' Spike went closer. 'Why not? Now you know what I… I mean… it all went so wrong… and you got hurt….'

'I'm fine, Spike. Look.' He put out his hand and rested it lightly on Spike's arm. Spike drew back with a hiss.

'Don't! Don't touch me! You KNOW what I am!'

'Yes. I do now. But, Spike, do you think so little of me? God's mysteries are infinite - who am I to question his works?'

Spike moaned. 'No. I'm no part of God's….'

'Spike, William… you have a soul. She said you had a soul, and I've been lying here thinking about that because I think that's what I saw in you from the first. God speaks to me through it, William. You are his vessel, and his love surrounds you. Come closer.'

Spike went even more hesitantly up to the bed, and the human shuffled over slightly so he could sit. He put his hand on Spike's face and drew the perfect lines. He cupped Spike's cheek, staring into his eyes. 'I have so much to learn - will you be my teacher?' Spike could not speak and bowed his head. With a sigh of satisfaction, the man closed his eyes trustingly but held tightly onto Spike's hand so he could not leave.

Unseen from the occupants of the room, Angel tried to unclench his fist. The blood from nails driven viciously into his palm dripped onto the stark, white hospital floor. His plan had gone badly wrong; Spike now more firmly entrenched with this dangerous man than before. He did not know exactly what he feared, but as he listened to the soft murmured words from the room, he wished he'd killed the priest when he'd had the chance.


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