Who Can I Turn To? - 2
Angel swallowed and stood up, coming around the front
of the desk. 'Leave us.'
Cordelia looked at Wesley; Wesley returned the look. 'No way.' They weren't going to miss this for the world.
Angel hung his head slightly, seemed to go into himself then said distinctly, 'Stay then' and launched himself towards Spike.
Spike was propelled out into the lobby; they both tumbled over a couch and Angel, straddling Spike, raised his arm for a hard blow. Wesley caught Angel's hand and held it back - fairly ineffectually - until a large drawer, swung at his head by Cordelia, knocked Angel out cold. He slumped off Spike onto the cool marble floor.
The silence and stillness after this attack left the other three stunned for a moment. Wesley recovered first and put a hand out to Spike almost unconsciously. He suddenly realised what he was doing, snatched it back, thought better of this and put it out again. Spike took it and stood shakily to his feet. He looked down at the cigarette in his hand, seemingly amused that it had survived in tact. Cordelia sat heavily on the couch. 'He won't stay out long. What are we going to do?'
Spike looked down at Angel, an unreadable look on his face, then gathered what remained of his dignity and walked back toward the sewer entrance.
Wesley barred his way.
'Move human. I don't have a chip now; I'll drop you where you stand.'
'No, you won't, Spike. I've been following you for six months - Italy, France, Germany, England - everywhere you've been, everyone you've talked to - so I can say, categorically, that you won't hurt me.'
Spike knocked him out cold and continued slowly out of the hotel.
He stopped at the familiar voice, but didn't turn around.
Spike turned at that and looked at Angel.
Angel repeated his accusation. 'Six months.'
Spike walked slowly and rather warily back into the lobby, ignoring Wesley who was sitting holding his jaw. Cordelia had retrieved a large stake from her desk and was hovering unhappily between both vampires.
'Why did you take six months, Spike, to think of coming to me?'
Spike laughed disbelievingly. 'I had no money, wanker. You try getting' from soddin' Africa to here, travelling only at night with no pissing money, and see how long it takes you!'
Angel looked annoyed. 'You went to see her - had enough money to get to Devon - not exactly A to B, was it?'
Spike shrugged but said no more.
Wesley climbed slowly to his feet, and Angel seemed to notice him for the first time. 'What happened to you?'
Wesley looked at Spike but said to Angel, 'You fell on me.'
Spike squinted thoughtfully at the man and gave him a tiny nod of thanks. Angel rubbed the side of his head and looked mutinously at Cordelia. Cordelia stood her ground. As if wanting to be anywhere but there, Angel glanced at Spike. 'Drink?'
Spike glanced at the daylight and raised an eyebrow. Angel nodded towards the stairs. 'No, my room.'
Spike was surprised, but as Angel had already turned, assuming he was following, he had little choice but to do just that.
'Angel.' Wesley's voice was curt, but no one missed the deep underlying concern in it.
Angel only gave him a small, reassuring wave of one hand.
Spike stayed in the doorway until Angel actually handed him the glass of whisky. He laughed. 'Bit early, innit?'
Angel shrugged. 'I was about to go to bed. This is evening for me.'
'Well, come in then. Don't hover.'
Spike took the arm of a chair and shrugged off his coat. Angel sank into another chair and tented his hands, resting his lips precisely on their manicured tips.
Spike sipped his drink. 'How ya been, peaches?'
'I should ask you that.'
'I'm good. Glad to be rid of that fucking chip at last.'
Angel stared at him, dumbfounded. 'Spike - your soul! There must be more to it than "I'm good".' If he thought jealously of his own battle - ongoing, never ending, exhausting - he did not show it.
Spike shrugged again. 'Not really. 'S okay. I feel pretty normal - look, I'm even getting fat like you.'
Angel looked at Spike's too lean, toned body and sharp features, and shook his head. 'So, that's it? You regain your soul, and you say you're okay. What about some guilt, Spike?'
'What guilt? Weren't my fault, any of it!'
Angel almost spluttered. 'I doubt Buffy would see it that way!'
Spike looked genuinely puzzled. 'The Slayer? What's she got to do with it?'
'Spike! You tried to rape her!'
'What? When? I bloody didn't.'
Angel stood up. 'She told me… in her bathroom… when she was injured.'
Spike tried to cast his mind back and pursed his lips slightly with the effort of thinking. 'Is that what she said?'
'You attacked her; she tried to say no…'
'But she always said no. That's what we did. She said no; I carried on… then …' He shrugged, unwilling to go further in the present company.
'Spike, that's no excuse. When she said no, you should have…'
Spike's eyes widened theatrically. 'Fuck, mate, I daren't stop … she'd have had me guts for garters if I'd ever actually stopped. So you're saying she's a bit angsty about that.'
'Duh. Yes, Spike.'
'Oh. Well, consider me feeling suitably guilty then.' He sipped his drink complacently. 'Good stuff this.'
Angel sat down again, rather deflated. 'Spike, why did you come here? I thought you needed my help - my counsel.'
'Oh, no. Sorry, mate. I didn't come 'ere at all really - only I saw the bint, and she said you were kinda looking for me, and I wanted to ask you if you knew where Dru was.'
'Drusilla?' Angel couldn't catch up - felt almost dizzy with confusion. 'No, I don't know where she is.'
Spike stood up. 'Oh, well, I'll be on me way then.'
'No! I mean, don't. Not yet. Stay a few days at least. I have a lot of questions … only I can't think of them right now. Please, Spike, stay.'
He stood and put a hand on Spike's arm. Spike looked down but shook it off quickly. 'Okay, few days be good. Beats sleeping in a storm drain. 'Fact, might have a small kip now. Which room?'
Angel waved vaguely at the room adjoining his and opened the internal door between them. Spike followed him through with an amused smirk. 'Bit close, innit? Not scared you might fall victim to temptation in the night?'
Angel turned to look at him. 'That would never happen, Spike. I don't … I can't … I have no feelings like that for you anymore.'
Spike laughed delightedly. 'I meant to stake me, Angel. Sorry, I should 'ave made that a bit clearer.'
Angel turned away, annoyed at himself and Spike for the … nothingness of this momentous reunion. He turned and tried one more time. 'We are the only two souled vampires in the world, Spike. Just us. No one else.'
Spike threw his coat onto the bed and crawled on after it. 'Yeah, pisser, hey?' With that, he spread-eagled himself and shut his eyes. Angel stood watching him for a while, aware Spike knew he was being watched, but whether asleep or not, he did not move or encourage any more interaction. Angel went back to his own room and, leaving the door open between them, undressed and threw his clothes into the laundry basket. He pulled on some sweat pants and climbed into bed feeling… flat. Nothing. From Cordelia's vision of the ensoulment… to this: six months of searching, obsessing, longing, hating - and he was here; he was unscathed; he was … exactly the same.
Angel fell into a light doze, his senses alert for danger from the other room.
He must have been more deeply asleep than he'd planned; for when the scream tore him awake, he was initially too disoriented to realise that it had come from Spike's room.
It was a scream of abject horror; it sent shivers up Angel's spine and made his balls contract automatically in a fearful, fight-or-flight response. He cursed and flung himself through the adjoining door.
A second scream brought him up abruptly by the end of the bed. Wesley and Cordelia crashed in through the door, stakes in hand, panting at the speed of their flight up the stairs.
Angel waved them quiet, and all three looked down at the figure on the bed. The sheets were shredded and lay like long strings of confetti around the huddled body. Gouge marks and tears crisscrossed the mattress, and the headboard was covered in splatters of blood and one or two strands of blond hair. Spike's face was a mask of blood, his fingernails ripped from their beds on some fingers, but he was still deeply, deeply asleep.
He screamed again and began to bite savagely at his own arms.
Angel made to stop him; Wesley interceded. 'No, Angel, this could be like sleepwalking in humans; you shouldn't wake him and bring all this to the surface too suddenly.'
Angel shook him off. 'I don't care.'
He crawled onto the bed and held Spike's head. Spike began to thrash at the contact and screamed once more. Angel had a hard time holding him, and blood began to make his hold slipperier. Suddenly, Cordelia joined him on the bed, avoiding Spike's flying kicks.
'Angel! The chains. Carry him to your bed.'
Angel nodded grimly and swept Spike up in his arms. Spike arched his back as Angel was carrying him and would have fallen, but Wesley took him, too: together they manoeuvred him through the doorframe and onto Angel's bed. Wesley and Cordelia fastened the manacles as Angel pinned him down, and finally satisfied he couldn't hurt any of them or himself, Angel sat up.
They looked around at each other as if in the eye of a storm. The humans realised they were still panting and stopped. Cordelia perched unsteadily on the arm of a chair. 'Why I was sent the vision, but didn't see this?'
Angel pursed his lips and had no answer to this. He wouldn't have gone as far as to say he was pleased by this turn of events, but it was so much better than… nothingness.
Wesley suddenly nodded at Spike, his eyes wide. 'Good God. Look at that.'
Spike was twisting his head from side-to-side rapidly. Nothing odd in this - he was thrashing to some subconscious demons of his own. What shocked them all, was that on each rapid flick of his head, he changed from demon to human, human to demon until the effect was like turning the corners of a child's animated book: the changes blended together until they looked like a seamless flowing of his soul into his demon and back again. At last, Angel could bear it no longer, and looking despairingly at his friends, he swung a hard uppercut to Spike's jaw and sent him into what could pass as a deeper, more restful sleep.
Assured he was out for a while, Angel returned to the end of the bed and sat with his hands dangling uselessly between his thighs. He suddenly seemed to notice he was half naked and got up to fetch a tee shirt. No one spoke as he did this, but when he'd poured them all a drink, he looked at Wesley and said, 'What the hell is happening here, Wesley? It wasn't like that for me. I did this… I mean… I fought my demons awake. Sure, I have, I had, bad dreams, but not like this. I'd never have survived.' He looked at Spike. 'Can you imagine that amount of blood, scenting his soul to every lowlife demon around while he slept?'
'I know. It's amazing he's survived six months.'
'Maybe he's not done this until now.' The men turned to Cordelia. 'Maybe it was being here with you, Angel; it made him feel… I don't know… safe enough to dream?' She trailed off weakly aware she'd made an uncharacteristically thoughtful, albeit slightly girlie, comment.
Surprisingly, Wesley nodded his agreement. 'I think you may be right. There was no evidence of injury in any of the accounts we read, was there? And he was unmarked when he arrived, so maybe that's it. He clearly wasn't getting any answers to any of these questions from the people he asked, so perhaps it's all been bottled up. Being here, seeing you, talking to you, set this all off. After all, you did know him reasonably well, didn't you?'
Angel did not look up and only confirmed rather quietly, 'Yeah, a little. For a while.' He frowned, and then added, 'But I still don't get why he's not like this awake.'
'Well, I'm only guessing here - we have absolutely no research, of course, to back this up, but I would say it's the difference in the way the soul was obtained.'
Angel looked at him thoughtfully. 'I was cursed; he asked for it?'
'Well, I doubt Spike would say he asked for a soul, no. But he wasn't given it to curse him, to punish him… maybe it's different. Maybe they are just different. I mean, we are all different, aren't we… some people good, some people bad; maybe it's the same for you - different sensitivities in the soul.'
'Nah, it's the chip.' Again, both men turned slowly to Cordelia. She bluffed nonchalance, but added quietly, 'Angel! Hello! He was practically human when he got that soul.'
Wesley looked annoyed that he had not thought of this. 'You're quite right, Cordelia. Thank you for seeing that.' He turned to Angel with a more friendly voice. 'He's had a technological soul for years. Goodness - to the extent that he could ... err ... interact with a slayer. I suppose the descent was much easier for him to make.'
'Descent, Wesley?' Angel managed a smile, despite his despair.
Wesley almost did a double take and saw both of them looking at him with amused faces. 'Well, no, obviously not, descent, ascent... of course; you are better off with souls, we all are...'
Cordelia ignored his confused rambling, as usual, and interrupted, 'Do you think he'll know in the morning?'
Angel turned around and suddenly began to undo the manacles. 'No, he won't. Fetch a cloth, Cordy. I want to put him back. This is going to take some thinking about.'
Wesley came over to help him. 'I think this is wise, Angel. As I said, there is a huge amount being repressed somewhere in this body, and if it's brought into his conscious mind it may be too much for him to cope with all at once.'
Angel looked at Wesley carefully. He could sense that Wesley was holding something back. He filed this knowledge away to think about later and only answered neutrally, 'He needs ninety years, Wesley.'
'He won't have them, Angel. I'm sorry, but we're going to have to find some way to help him quicker than that, if you don't want to lose another member of your dysfunctional family. Sorry, that was a bit harsh.'
'No, you're right. We are. Were.' Angel looked down. 'And there's the most dysfunctional member, lying right there.'
Angel carried a clean, patched-up Spike back to a freshly made bed and sat by him for the rest of the day. When Spike thrashed, he held him still; when he flung his head toward the wall, Angel put his body in between as a buffer.
Gradually, the fading light woke Spike, as the hunting hour drew near. He sat up slowly, holding his head and groaning, saw Angel and slid back down under the covers. 'Why are you sitting there? Repressed or what, Angel? You ain't been doing anything… funny, 'ave you, while you've been watching me?'
'No, Spike. I've been waiting for you to get up.'
'Oh. Personal alarm clocks in this 'ere hotel. Very cosy. So, we going hunting then? Like the old days? Angelus and his star pupil?'
'How do you feel?'
'Feel? Why? Okay. Head hurts a bit. How do you think that fucking demon got me chip out? It's been worrying me like…' He got out of bed and began to pace around. 'What if 'e tore it out and did a bit of damage? Don't wanna be soddin' brain damaged or nothing. What do you think?'
'Maybe he beamed it out. Anything is possible.'
Spike turned and caught Angel's small smile. 'Wanker. Never took you for an anorak. Well, anyway, I'm off hunting. Come if you want - or do you want me to bring you something back? Nice bit of LA take-away… '
'You can't hunt, Spike; you have a soul.'
'Well, duh, Angel… a soul ain't gonna make me all weepy-fuckin'-no-hunt. That's your problem. I'm pretending to be human - killing and maiming exactly what I like.'
'You've been feeding on murderers and rapists, like I did.'
Spike sat down and scratched his head thoughtfully, looked puzzled at his missing nails for a moment, then shrugged and said, 'And how do you know that?'
'You know how I know. I've had you followed.'
'So that bloke meant it yesterday… 'fore I… 'fore you fell on him… he'd been following me?'
'Uh huh. So what? Yeah, okay, I'm more choosey who I feed off… but it's just cus they're more fun to eat: they squeal more at the injustice, Angel, it's funny.'
Angel winced. 'You don't have the right to judge these things, Spike.'
Spike got up furiously. 'Don't come all righteous-on-high with me, Angel. They're fuckers with their kindness and their blessings and their "he sees all". He don't see shit - how can 'e? He made me bloody invisible, so that shows how much 'e thinks of me!'
The door warped slightly in its frame at the power of Spike's slam. Angel blinked slowly and sighed. He was… utterly delighted, and could hardly suppress a smile of glee.
Spike knew Angel was following him so, after a while, he slowed down and let his sire catch him up. They walked along together in silence but eventually Angel said, 'Time for a drink first?'
'Not really, but I guess if you're paying…. That'll be a one off: so I'd better take 'vantage of it. Hey, look! A bar for poofs - let's go in there.'
Angel trailed after Spike into the harmless wine bar and sat at the bar hoping his childe wouldn't embarrass him further. He was aware he embarrassed far too easily, but Spike had always taken extreme pleasure in publicly overacting the fuck-up he liked to pretend he was.
He ordered two drinks, paid and carried them over to the booth where Spike was reading a menu. 'Can you believe the prices in here, mate? No wonder I eat for free.'
'What? Join me or shut the fuck up, Angel.'
'What if I bought you human blood?'
'Can you make it wriggle and scream and wet itself when I bite through?'
'Fuck off, Spike.'
'Oh, come on, Angel; are you seriously trying to get me to go back to bags of bleedin' blood? Have you forgotten the feel of skin, puncturing in your mouth? Have you forgotten the tendons and the sinews as they twang apart to slicing? Have you…'
'I'll pay you.'
Spike opened his mouth to laugh but took a drink instead. 'How much?'
'How much would make you stop?'
'Stop all feeding?'
'Other than blood bags, yes.'
'Uh huh. I'll have to think about this.'
'Well… I mean, how's it going to work? How long for? I mean, I'm only here for a day or two. I've got things to do, places to go.'
'For as long as you stay. I can't stop you when you aren't here, but in my city, you don't feed.'
'The room, does that stay free?'
'Spike! Of course it does; you're my….'
'Yeah, I know; I'm your bleedin' responsibility. So, free room, that'll alter me rates.'
'Christ, Spike, when did you become so mercenary?'
'When I tried to get back from Africa without any money, Angel. You had the reports; you know what I had to do for money.'
Angel suddenly realised that he may not have been given all the reports Wesley had obtained, and thought back to the feeling he had had in the bedroom that Wesley had been hiding something from him. Spike saw this in his face and reared back a little thoughtfully. 'Oh.'
'No bloody way.'
'I'll get them from Wesley.'
'Not if I kill him first, you won't.'
Angel reached across the table and pulled Spike in close to his face. 'You will not hurt my friends. I will make you suffer, Spike, in ways you cannot even imagine if you do that. Remember, I took lessons from the devil for five hundred years. I am the world's living expert on pain.'
'Don't ask him for those accounts then, Angel. Deal?'
'No, there is no deal. I won't ask for them, but that is nothing to do with any deal. You won't hurt them - period. Get it?'
'But you won't ask for them.'
Angel gave up. 'No. I won't ask for them. Okay?' He determined to call on Wesley that night.
'So, money. I want…' Spike took a stab at a figure, watching Angel closely '… a hundred dollars a day.'
Angel spluttered. 'That's more than I pay myself.'
'You pay yourself? Hey, good job. Well, that's what it's going to take.'
'Okay, but I charge for the room and food then. Fifty dollars a day, unlimited blood and the room.'
'Cleaning all done? Clothes and shit?'
'Spike! I don't have servants! Who do you think is going to do that?'
'The bint? She's a girl, ain't she?'
'Okay… cleaning and washing done by Cordelia, but you have to ask her yourself.'
Spike let a small smile slip. 'Yeah… I'd want more than fifty to risk that. Okay. You give me fifty dollars a day - cash; I get free food and a room, and I'll sort me own washing… but I want human food, too, and a minibar.'
'Like you've got… in case I want to entertain like.'
'Fifty dollars, blood, snacks - I assume that's what you meant by human food, not fruit and vegetables? Thought not. So, room, blood, cash, snacks, alcohol… but no entertaining.'
'Hey! What if I meet some fuck-me-easy meat? It's a hotel, innit?'
'No, it's my home, and I don't want you bringing anyone back there.'
'Jees. You never let me have any bloody fun, did you, Angelus? Didn't matter where we were, what we did, I was never allowed to shag in the house.'
'Never call me Angelus, Spike. Is it a deal?'
'How you gonna know whether I feed or not?'
Angel only looked scathingly at him. Spike realised what he'd said. 'Okay, so you'd know. Hey! Maybe I could just hunt and kill and not feed… only joking, Angel, only joking.'
Angel knew he hadn't been and wondered how this was going to work. 'Day time: you stay in the hotel, sleeping… resting… hell, you can even read and improve your mind if you want. Night: you come out with me.'
'Fuck… change the rules when the deal's done, or what! Daytime: I do what I like… in the hotel… but not spied on by you. Night: I'll come with you - if you do what I want sometimes.'
'And that would be what?'
'I don't know… a movie maybe… a drink… hell - you can show me the sights, mate; this is LA.'
'Oh.' This surprised Angel and unnerved him for some reason, but he agreed. Spike agreed, and they shook on the deal. Spike leant back and lit a cigarette.
'Okay, where's me first day's pay then?'
'I'm not paying you in advance to be good. You have to earn it!'
'I'm not being good 'til I've been paid.'
'Half first, half when you've...'
Spike couldn't stop his small grin returning. '...when I've been good?'
Angel smiled, too, and leant back, pleased. 'Yes, when you've been good.'
There was a pause as they sipped drinks and thought back over the compromises and concessions, the winning and the losing. Angel was about to take another drink when a quiet voice made him look up. 'You used to pay me differently, remember?'
Angel paused before he replied, very unwilling to go down this road. 'That was for a different kind of good though, wasn't it?'
'Payments were fun though.' Spike twitched up his eyebrow and regarded Angel through lowered lids as he sipped his drink.
'I can't afford those sorts of payments these days. I don't want to afford them.'
Angel frowned. 'Do you really mean that?'
'Hey, Angel, I've lost me chip - not me bloody eyesight.'
Angel sat back abruptly. 'You've gained a soul, Spike. You seem to keep forgetting that.'
Spike frowned too. 'That supposed to stop me wanting to fuck?'
'Yes? You're kidding?'
'You are not just demon anymore, Spike; you have a soul. What you do has consequences to you and to others. Like me, I can't just... fuck anymore. It would destroy me and any ... partner. It has to mean more. I would want it to mean more.'
Spike looked slowly around the bar. It surprised him when he looked up that he had been so engrossed with Angel it was as if they had sat there alone. He saw the same thought cross Angel's face. 'Look, Angel; look at them. Look at that bloke over there. Do you think he cares about his soul? All he wants to do is take someone home to fuck tonight. Wanna bet I could make him take me?'
'Why not? 'S nothing. Means nothing. Everything is meaningless, Angel.'
'Don't try that nihilistic shit with me, Spike. Everything is meaningful; we just can't understand it sometimes.' He looked over at the man Spike was eying so thoughtfully. 'He may not know it now, but he might regret it one day.'
Spike laughed, but there was very little humour in the sound. 'What? Regret me?'
'Yes. Regret you.'
Spike paused. 'Ah. We're not talking about him, are we, Angel?'
'No. We're not.'
Spike covered by laughing again, taking a drink, lighting a cigarette and squinting slightly at Angel through the smoke. 'So... fifty dollars as far as it goes then? No more interesting payments from you.'
'No. I'm sorry.'
'Never no mind. I'll find other ... outlets easily enough.' He went back to studying the man, sucking in long breaths of tar-laden smoke and letting them slowly out in long streams of white.
Angel fidgeted with his glass. 'I can't stop you.'
'What?' Spike reluctantly withdrew his gaze. 'Was that a question or a statement, Angel?'
'Were you bowing to the inevitable or asking me not to?'
'You wouldn't do what I wanted anyway.'
'Another fifty dollars a day, and I'll not skank around while I'm here - in the hotel, or out of it.'
'A hundred dollars?'
'Yep, that's me fee.'
It had not escaped Angel's notice that Spike had gotten back neatly to his original sum.
Spike put his hand out. 'Fifty now then.'
Angel handed it over with an annoyed huff. Spike counted it carefully and tucked it in his jeans.
He rose to leave. Angel put a hand on his arm. 'Remember, Spike - like the feeding - I will know: I'd smell it on you.'
Spike gave him an impenetrable look. 'I've made a deal, Angel. If there's one thing you should remember about me, I always follow through.'
Angel blinked slowly and nodded. 'Yes, I do remember. I'm sorry.'
Spike nodded and sauntered over to the bar to begin drinking his pay. With his back to Angel, he allowed a huge grin to illuminate his face. A hundred dollars a day for not doing what he had no intention of doing in LA anyway - what a wuss!
Spike's back to him, Angel also let a grin illuminate his features. A hundred dollars? It was a lot less than he'd been willing to pay to bind Spike to him.