Who Can I Turn To? - 9
Cordelia brushed the ash off her table and straightened a cushion, discovered the crushed beer cans and tutted. She ignored Denis' lifting of a stray butt from between two other cushions, but when he went to open the curtains said, 'I know, I know.'
She went to the bedroom and looked in at the sleeping vampire. She couldn't help it - she grinned. She was actually becoming fond of him. Almost. He was... growing on her. Angel and Wesley came into her mind once more, and she almost stomped in fury at them. How dare they play stupid mind games with him? She smiled: theirs was a much more fun game. She'd show the men some real acting.
'What ya smiling at, bint? Ya made me wear these bloody skivies; so it can't be at anything interesting.'
Cordelia huffed and sat on the edge of the bed. 'You wish, vampire. What's wrong with you? Sleep much?'
Spike didn't feel like sitting up, much less talking, and turned his back to her. She looked at the muscular, slim figure on her bed and could not help making the contrast with Xander. She laid him along side Spike in her mind and looked from one to the other. She shivered slightly at the strange contrast and felt she ought to prefer the warm human more. Not one to have anyone turn his back on her however, she thumped Spike on the shoulder. He didn't move, but said 'Bitch' in an annoyed tone.
Cordelia leant over and whispered in his ear. 'Babe in total control of herself'.
She smirked when Spike turned over. 'Err… and what? And I really don't care!'
'B-I-T-C-H. Babe in total control of herself. Thanks.'
'That would be B-I-T C-O-H. Bit coh.' He smirked, too, as he pronounced the 'h' in the hard, English way.
Cordelia bristled. 'Cock-you, blondie.'
Spike looked dramatically wounded for a moment, then turned his back away and said quite genuinely, 'Leave me alone, please.'
Cordelia made to leave, but for some reason, Denis laid a cool, strong presence on her arm. She recoiled slightly. 'Whoa - I'm not a vampire-in-a-sulk counsellor! He'll get over it.'
Spike turned back once more and looked around nervously. 'Is that that bleedin' ghost again?'
'Don't talk about Denis like that, and haven't you Brits got some expression about calling kettles black?'
Spike was about to retort not to call him a Brit, but he felt he'd be wasting his breath to explain. 'Yes, and I'm not a ghost; I'm very real.' He put a hand on the very top of her thigh to demonstrate this immutable fact.
'Move it, soul-boy.'
'Please, Cordy, just leave me be. I'm thinking 'bout stuff.'
'Uh huh. And this stuff would be about six-three, dressed in black leather and buns to die for?'
'Thanks, that really makes me feel like a total fucking poof. Yeah, really feeling good now.'
'Get over yourself, Spike.'
She couldn't known that these very words had been said to him so recently and in a much more vicious context. Spike blinked slowly, his back still to her, but something in his unconscious body language made her stretch out a hand to his shoulder. 'Hello! Need some feedback here - what's up?'
'I nearly told him that I knew. I couldn't stand it any longer, and that makes me feel like shit. Why have I become such a wuss? I should enjoy hurtin' him.'
'Can you be more sad, Brian? It's called humanity - get used to it. I had to.'
Spike turned back to her thoughtfully, and she recoiled slightly at the faint trace of tears in his eyes. Crying vampires were scary… and needy… she gritted her teeth and resisted the temptation to pull him closer. He propped himself up on one elbow and plucked restlessly at a small thread in the bedcovers. 'The Judge said 'e could feel the humanity in me 'fore I even had me chip.'
'Oh, remind me of your attempts to end the world, Spike. Good move when I'm sharing this apartment with you. And why did he say that?'
'Said I could feel love and jealousy.'
Cordelia beamed. 'Well, there ya go! Blue-boy knew better than he… knew.'
'And I've been chipped and given a soul since then.'
'Again - there ya go. Triple-wammy-humanity! Tell you what, Brian, we'll have a small prayer gathering tonight, shall we?'
Spike laughed, 'You, me, and the ghost?'
'An unholy trinity.'
Spike resisted the temptation to glance up nervously at the blasphemy but shivered and sat up. 'Bleedin' hell! Don't joke around like that.'
Cordelia gave him one of her most practiced withering stares and said slowly and distinctly, 'God is not watching you specifically, Spike, every moment of every day. Once more - get - over - your - self!' She flounced out to make some coffee.
She was pleased when Spike roused himself enough to follow her to the kitchen and hop up on the counter.
She batted at him. 'Off - pants on if you're sitting there. Thin cotton no way enough.'
He ignored her and picked at some bread, lying by the stove.
'So… why we doing this again?'
Cordelia turned. 'I'll go through it one more time, Spike. Are you listening? I understand that gesture, by the way. Angel is a love-doofus; Wesley is just a doofus. Angel needs to get with the programme that he wants you. He's all focused on you, but he can't see you're way ahead of him.' She paused. 'Are you still with me?'
'Yeah, unfortunately. But I don't get why.…'
'Angel is trying to make you jealous. God knows why, in his vast experience of life, sex and you, he decided to choose Wesley to make you jealous. That, blond annoyance, is still a mystery.'
'Maybe cus it's working - cus I am jealous?'
'Not as jealous as you're gonna make Angel.'
'And I want to hurt him, why? That's the bit I don't get. Don't like either - but that's this stinking soul talking, an' not me by the way.'
'Because he needs to believe it, Spike. He wants the long-term? He wants love… well, I'll let you in on a secret… WE ALL DO! Why should he suffer less than the rest of us?'
'Uh huh. Good reason. You aren't getting any, so make Angel jealous over me. That's real impressive logic, BINT!'
Cordelia came over very close to Spike. He would have backed away, but was held fast by his seat on the tiled surface. 'What? Fucking too close. Personal space here!'
'Spike! Yes or no! Did you get some yesterday?'
'Whoa! Intrusive or what?'
'Fuck you, yes!'
'Was it good?'
'Oh God! Bloody hell, girl!'
'YES! Yes it was - do you want a bleedin' picture?'
'So! My plan - you get good groiny with Angel! Err… success, much?'
'All right. All right.'
She smiled sweetly. 'Good, get dressed. Leather pants, white shirt - ironed. Err… NOW! Oh, and lose the boxers - NOT HERE!'
Spike grinned and began to slide off the counter. 'What's with the dress up?'
Cordelia turned away to hide her grin. 'We're going on a double date. Get moving.'
When Spike arrived in the bar, he wondered for a moment if he'd got the time wrong. Cordelia and Wesley were already there and seemed deep in conversation. They pulled apart when he came over to the booth and slid in next to Cordelia. 'Where's the poof?'
As if summoned by the enquiry, Angel came in. Spike could immediately see from his expression that he had not been told of the double nature of the date, for he looked from Cordelia to Spike with an annoyed expression, before sliding in next to Wesley.
Cordelia beamed at everyone. 'Great, hey? Gee, don't you just love doubling it up? Wesley! Get the drinks in.'
Wesley seemed slightly stunned and meekly agreed, sliding past Angel and patting his pocket as he made his way to the bar, asking hopefully, 'Err... are you still off the demon drink, Spike?'
Spike didn't look up. 'No.'
Angel made a small noise in the back of his throat, but before anyone commented on this, Cordelia stood up, pushed past Spike and said. 'Shift, buddy. Call of nature.'
The vampires found themselves alone in the booth, and the silence was acutely embarrassing. Finally, Angel said between gritted teeth, 'Was this your idea, Spike? Because it's not funny.'
Spike looked up mutinously, 'No, it bloody wasn't. Last thing I'd want to do is double date with you, Angel! Fucked-up weird or what?'
Wesley returned with a large pitcher and glasses and was about to slide past Angel once more when Cordelia appeared from nowhere, tugged him down to sitting on the far side of Angel and slid in next to Spike, saying cheerily, 'Move up.'
Within minutes of arriving therefore, Spike and Angel were crushed together between their respective dates.
Cordelia, still beaming happily, poured them all drinks and then said brightly, 'So, where we going? Eating? Food always good!'
'NO!' Spike and Angel chorused together and then, embarrassed that they'd admitted having anything in common, refused to speak again.
Wesley only mumbled on Angel's behalf, 'Haute Cuisine - rather wasted on the undead, Cordelia.'
Cordelia raised one eyebrow at the bluntness but not deterred said, 'Okay, movie then?'
The three men looked down at the table, looked up at Cordelia's determined face and all said at once. 'No.'
Cordy pouted. 'Hello! I can watch something non-girlie! Okay then - theatre?'
Angel and Wesley looked pleased and nodded. They ignored Spike's expression, and as he'd decided not to speak again in case Angel thought he was contributing to this awful date, he couldn't make his protest that forcibly.
Cordelia grinned around at the men. ' "A World I Never Made".'
Wesley looked puzzled, and she raised one eyebrow to him. 'It's a drama about love and obsession.'
They all heard a small squeak from Spike, but Cordelia only slid an arm over his shoulder and nuzzled into his ear. 'You'll love it.'
Spike shook her off. Angel noted this. Spike noted Angel noting and immediately turned to her with a lazy, seductive look and a small, amused glance back at Angel. 'You gonna be there?'
He put in a pregnant pause and knew he'd timed it to perfection. 'Then I'll love it.'
Simpering wasn't one of Cordelia's best acting achievements, but she pulled it off credibly. Spike continued to sit twisted away from Angel, playing his hand mischievously over Cordelia's thigh and bare belly. Angel wanted to retaliate with Wesley, but knew that Spike knew he wouldn't in public. A small, evil smile played over his lips, and he turned to Wesley, nevertheless, and began an intimate, complex conversation about philosophy and the meaning of the soul.
Wesley looked as though he was floundering slightly and tried to ignore the furious looks Cordelia was giving him, but he couldn't resist the temptation of such a chat with Angel and found himself drawn in beyond his own volition. Angel could feel Spike tensing. He felt him lose interest in Cordelia's skin tone. He felt him turn towards them and half listen. He deliberately drew Spike in then said, as if unaware of his childe's interest, 'What would I do without you, Wes? I thought Buffy was the love of my life, but hell - she probably couldn't spell philosophy. Now I have you, and life's just... pretty damn perfect.'
'Are we goin' to this soddin' show, or what?' Spike got up, pushed past Cordelia and went to the bar to get himself something stronger to take in under his coat. Angel smiled and stretched his arms behind his head.
'Get the car, Angel.'
He looked at Cordelia's fuming expression and assumed she was annoyed about Spike's desertion. He got up and pushed past Wesley.
Wesley wished he had somewhere else to be. He tried not to look at her, but eventually gave a weak shrug and said, 'Hardly my fault.'
'I told you to resist any vampire smoochies and get Angel's focus on Brian!'
'What about you? Least Angel didn't have his hand on my belly all evening!'
'And you are so relieved about that, aren't you Wes? Not!'
'What?' Wesley lowered his voice. 'What?'
'Yeah, don't think I haven't noticed, buddy... those kisses getting drawn out a little too long for the old 'let's make Spike jealous' game, I'm thinking.'
'I notice you're wearing a new outfit - if you can call that elastoplast of a skirt an outfit, and did you forget to wear a top completely, Cordy? Oh no! You've a new fashion look - called a brassiere! I think someone's a little too impressed with someone's blue eyes and flawless skin.'
'Flawless skin? My, my, Wesley, aren't we giving up all our little secrets tonight.'
'I utterly refuse to be drawn into your foolishness, Cordelia. And, if I may say so, I entirely disagree with your methods and would have told you so if Spike hadn't arrived so early.'
Cordelia became serious, and took his arm gently. 'We've got to get them together, Wes. They need each other, and in case you've forgotten, we both need Angel.'
'Well, why don't we just bang their heads together and lock them in a room together for the night?'
Cordelia gave a long, slow smile of satisfaction. 'Good plan, Wesley.'
'Oh. So, why this ghastly, embarrassing double-date first?'
Cordelia leant in. She smiled. 'One hundred dollars a day, Wesley. That's why.'
Angel suddenly appeared back at the table. 'What's the delay?'
Wesley stood up and put a hand conspiratorially on his arm. 'Angel, in a few days, when things have resolved themselves one way or another, will you just remember that I reminded you tonight that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned?'
Angel nodded and said, 'Yeah, she's real pissed about Spike. Come on.'
Spike had taken the opportunity to smuggle alcohol into the theatre inside his body as well, having drunk half of the bottle of whisky and stashed the remainder under his duster. Wesley slid into the row first; Angel immediately followed him with a small grin at Spike. Cordelia dropped her purse and while rummaging in the dark for it, pushed Spike in next. She sat down happily, trapping the vampires together once again.
The seats were incredibly small and both Wesley and Angel groaned at the lack of legroom. Spike refused to have any part of his body touching Angel's but spread himself comfortably over both arm rests. Angel put up with this for about a second, and then put his hand on top of Spike's arm, crushing him slowly. Spike refused to submit, but eventually had to and jerked his arm away, rubbing at the slightly bruised bone. 'Prick.'
Angel slid down in his seat and prepared to hate the evening. Spike rummaged under his duster and proceeded to continue his flight to alcoholic oblivion.
After an hour of forced silence, under the cover of the performance, Angel said conversationally to Spike, 'So, just what change has your miraculous ensoulment made to you then, Spike? Can't say as I'm seeing the difference.'
Spike slid down until he was on Angel's level and just held his hand up for inspection.
Angel looked at it. 'And I supposed to be seeing what?'
'Silver, Angel. They're silver. Black was too evil. See? Huge difference.'
'You should take it more seriously, Spike.'
'I did. Didn't notice you liking that either.'
'Self-righteous prig is not what I had in mind.'
'Well, I came to LA to study how you coped, so I guess I learnt my lessons well.'
There was a pause. Spike cursed inwardly and wondered if it was too late to cover with some throwaway banter, decided it was best left alone and cursed again when Angel immediately began to pick at it like a scab.
'You came to LA to see me? Spike?'
'Shut up you two; I can't hear.'
Angel lowered his voice, knowing Spike would still hear him. 'Spike. I want to know. Did you come to LA for my help?'
'What if I did? Don't change the price of fish.'
Angel was silent for a while, and when he spoke again, the change in tone made Spike glance at him perplexed. 'I am the worse possible example for you.'
Spike felt he ought to take advantage of this sad statement, but when he tried to say something cutting, could only come out with, 'I wouldn't say that, mate; you've got lots of people who love you, and you've done good, I guess.'
Angel turned to look at him and blinked slowly. 'Go out for a cigarette.'
Spike nodded as if an automaton.
He dropped the bottle and pushed past Cordelia, much to her annoyance.
After a few moments, Angel said to no one in particular 'Drinks?' and followed Spike out.
Cordelia turned to Wesley and raised one eyebrow; he kept his gaze determinedly on the stage, but a small smile played about his lips.
Spike was leaning against the wall by the entrance when Angel caught up with him. Angel didn't speak, only took the car keys out of his pocket and walked away to where they'd parked. Spike threw his cigarette away and trailed after him.
Angel climbed in. Spike did the same. Angel drove about a hundred feet into an alley, skidded to a halt and dragged Spike's mouth to his.
They kissed again as if they were starved: their mouths, tongues and lips the food.
Angel tried to push his hand down the front of Spike's jeans, but there was no room. He groaned in frustration and only increased the pressure on Spike's mouth. Finally, Spike pushed him off. 'I need to tell you something... 'fore we, I mean, if we...'
'No, I want to tell you, Spike; I've thought about it, and I understand you can't change your nature... you want to have them all... I get that, I do, honestly.' He looked down, made a small nod as if urging himself on to something he'd rehearsed a number of times. 'But I want you to fit me in as well. Somewhere.'
Spike winced with confusion. 'Err….'
'No, listen.' Angel cupped Spike's face in his hands. 'I only got it after....' He gritted his teeth 'after I took you in the training room. Spike, I understand that you need to have other people. I can accept it and, you know, if you stay in LA, we'll....' Once more the teeth were gritted, 'We'll fuck, too, yes?'
Angel sat back, confused now also. 'Love.'
'Yes, Angel. We could have done this when I first got here. What's changed?'
'No, Spike, I've not changed. I can't, remember? You told me that.'
'And how bloody wrong I was, hey?'
'Maybe, but I've not changed my mind, only my... tolerance level, I suppose.'
'Hmm. So I skank around as much as I like?'
Angel winced. 'Yes.'
'But I come back to you?'
Angel shrugged. 'If you want.'
'And you smell them on me?'
Angel grimaced. 'You could try showering first.'
'And we just fuck?'
Angel pouted. 'I guess.'
'And we don't feel any love?'
Angel blinked slowly. 'No.'
'And you're a total pillock?'
Angel did nothing.
He stared pointedly at Spike.
Spike mirrored the blankness and waited for Angel to get there in his own time.
Finally, Angel twitched his lips - a tiny fraction of a muscle twitch, but Spike saw it. 'I thought Cordelia was an odd choice for you.'
Spike relaxed back into the corner of the seat. 'I don't know, Angel; she's all girl.'
Spike gave him an incredulous look, then tipped his head back and laughed. 'Yeah, Wesley was definitely the more successful weapon.'
'You were jealous - for a while, weren't you?'
'I'm jealous now, Angel.'
'Was I jealous? Yes Angel, I was jealous enough to kill him, you, myself, everyone. I wanted everyone dead, but then that made me feel even worse. But I'm still jealous.'
Angel suddenly pulled Spike to him, very close, and ran a hand down the side of his face. He said very slowly, 'You have nothing to be jealous of - you get that now? All a play act, Spike.'
Spike looked intently at him. 'He loves you enough to let you use him, Angel. You love him enough to trust him to be used. I'd say I had cause to be jealous on both counts.'
Angel let him go and sat back, looking at him thoughtfully. 'More change than the silver polish, I'm thinking.'
Spike grinned shyly. 'I don't know, Angel. I have no reference points for what I feel anymore. But yeah, it's made a difference. I didn't even try to fuck the bint... well, except... and as I was saying that must be the soul, yes?'
'Wesley's worried about my soul.'
Spike looked confused at the abrupt change of subject. Angel only looked down, studying a nail intently. 'He's worried I might be happy with you... too happy, if you get my drift.'
'Uh huh. Because I have....'
Angel looked up. 'Because you have a soul. If I love someone who loves me back... you get the drift... You could argue that you're closer to Buffy now than a demon. And that came out so badly.'
Spike just laughed. 'Moment of true happiness in my ass, hey, Angel. Now that I'd like to see.'
Angel smiled back, but an air of doubt still lingered, and they both knew he was not totally convinced. Spike suddenly dug him in the ribs. 'Hey! Brood-boy.'
Angel reluctantly tried to smile. 'What?'
'You got a different soul this time.'
Angel pursed his lips. 'I really don't want to ask, but I'm going to anyway… and that means?'
Spike looked pained and spoke very slowly. 'First time round it was gypsies, luv, hell-bent on vengeance… and you just KNOW how those Romanies can curse! Second time round it was Red, an' she's like as sweet as they come… so I'm betting that soul you got now ain't there to plague and punish you as much… knowing Red, it's there to make it easier for you to love.' He grinned at Angel's attempt to look incredulous and impressed at the same time. He lifted one leg and put his foot in Angels' lap. 'Maybe we should experiment, ya know: I'll fuck you and see if that brings Angelus out to play, then I'll make love to you... compare notes on the two.'
'You can vary your technique then?'
Spike gave him an amused pout at that remark then suddenly jumped out of the car. 'C'll be missing me, an' I feel like embarrassing her with some snogging. Ya coming? Oh, guess you nearly were.... ' He ran back over the street with a small, cheeky wave of his hand and was glad Angel could not see the rising panic in his face or the confusion he felt would be evident in his eyes.
By the time he sat down in his seat again, he'd regained control. He could love. He could. Something would come out of the cold bleakness he felt. He had to pretend; he had to bluff - he was good at bluffing - it sort of came as second nature now.
The humans didn't comment on Spike's reappearance. They looked at Angel, though, as he sat down, and Cordelia hissed, 'Drinks?'
Angel mumbled an apology and looked pointedly at his watch and then studied the programme to see how much longer he had to endure. Spike leant over and studied it casually with him. Angel elbowed him slightly, so Spike only leant closer. Their faces were almost touching. Angel could smell the faint scent of tobacco; Spike could smell something sweet, like fruit. He longed to lean in further and feel Angel's smooth skin. He wanted to touch his hair. He wanted Angel to touch him. Spike sat back and looked at Angel's profile.
He wanted to love Angel.
Angel in a wheelchair?
Spike played with the scenario that he could love Angel even without sex. He pictured them just being together - the life Angel had told him of. It was better than being alone, and if he felt nothing? Nothing was better than fear and confusion. He closed his eyes, took a deep, unnecessary breath and brought the Big Bad back out to play.