So… finally have a bit of time to pull a few chapters together, if anyone remembers the story that is??

 

 

Summary: Secrets and lies, and Spike has a plan…

Warning: Strong language and a touch of religion, if it’s going to offend please don’t read.

Feedback: Please let me know what you think…

Disclaimer: Nope, not mine. Joss’s, ME’s etc.

A/N: Thanks to *Stars* for her fantastic support and the beta, all mistakes due to after-beta tinkering!

 

Part 9

 

Wesley and Fred were alerted by the sound of shattering glass as it broke and crashed to the sidewalk, and glancing up they could just make out a shadow of a figure flying through the air, holding tight to his irritating, annoying, occasionally violent and incredibly precious bundle. They raced towards the source of the noise, but Angel had hit the ground running, scenting the air for water, relieved to find that the man hadn’t been lying.  Angel smashed his way through, following the scent of chlorinated, humid air, whilst Spike clung to him, face buried in his Sire’s shoulder to silence his cries of agony.  They were finally swallowed by the welcoming coolness and relief washed over them like the cool water that bathed their reddened, smoking skin.

 

Stripping off his own coat and shirt and throwing them to the side of the pool, Angel finally released Spike, who reluctantly relaxed his own grip and let the depths of the pool receive his bloodied offering, until Angel pulled him back, silvery droplets spraying around him, as he crashed through the surface.

 

Angel was turning him, examining him, assessing the damage and weighing up the debt that Mede would sometime pay. Letters flamed livid across Spike’s skin.

 

Spike heard the low growl and, blinking blearily, feared the worst.

 

“Jesus, the little sod’s disfigured me, ain’t he?”

 

Angel’s emotions towards his Childe were vacillating between anger and relief, and his answer fell between comfort, anger and concern.

 

“He could have killed you! What the hell were you thinking? I’m not having his name carved into my childe, so if you are scarred, I’ll flay the damned thing off and douse the whole lot with holy water.”

 

Seemed that Angel was a tad upset, so much for being grateful.

 

“Cheers. Remind me never to come to you for reassura... Ow!”

 

Water sluiced over the scored skin, where supernatural healing was already working its miracle on the deeply damaged tissue. Angel frowned. It was too soon, the cuts needed to be cleansed first.

 

“Hang on to the side. I’m going to open up the wounds.”

 

Preternatural nails, designed for ripping into victims, sliced into already torn flesh and set the blood flowing again, washing out any remnants of holy water from the gashes. Spike clenched his teeth and gripped the poolside as advised; convinced that Angel was punishing him by deliberately making it more painful than necessary.

 

Then he felt the soft tongue working its way into cuts, probing for the burn that indicated any lingering traces of holy water.  Gradually, he relaxed into the soothing motion of tongue on skin, resting his cheek on his hands and closing his eyes. The trauma was over for the night and he was right where he wanted to be. Back with Angel.

 

Angel appeared to sense the change in the body beneath his mouth and, even though the initial fiery taste had been cleansed away, he continued his ministrations, delighting in the purity of blood as it rolled slowly over his tongue, enervating each cell. He had the urge to tear a gaping wound and bury his face in the bloody morass, swallow it, coat his face and body, like some tribal warrior absorbing the spirit of a slain lion, so Angel would absorb into himself everything that was Spike, steal it all, blood, heart and soul, drenching himself in blood and satisfying his demon need to take and own.

 

He watched eyes drift shut and felt Spike relax to his touch, a hint of a purr in his breath.

 

Leaning back he surveyed his handiwork, satisfied to see that the skin was once again pale with only the scarlet slashes, standing stark against their pale canvas. His jaw clenched in anger.

 

“Where did he take the strip of skin from?”

 

Spike opened his eyes.

 

“Chest.”

 

“Turn around.”

 

Spike obediently turned, to reveal the missing ribbon of skin.

 

Blue eyes flickered to his.  “Well?”

 

Turning his thoughts from imagining what he’d eventually do to Mede, Angel began examining the wounds, peering closely before tracing along the raw, bleeding flesh with his tongue.

 

Spike watched the delicate gesture, fascinated by the odd gentleness he exhibited, despite the anger he was clearly feeling. There was so much to still learn about his Sire and for the first time in a long time, he looked to the future with anticipation, regretting none of the night’s activities or decisions if it helped ensure that they actually had a future to look forward to.

 

Angel was satisfied the cuts were uncontaminated.

 

“It’s clean. It’ll heal as normal.”

 

His face lifted from the chest and they both seemed to realise how close they were. Almost nose to nose.  Lips nearly brushing skin. Burning intensity in their eyes.

 

Spike caught his breath. It almost hurt to realise how much he loved this man, he suddenly felt incredibly vulnerable. What did he know of love, except jealousy, suffering, ridicule and derision? He knew his faults and this was one of them; he didn’t know how to love by halves. Recollection of previous loves stoked the embers of his memory back to scorching brightness. The glare pained him and he shrank away from them.

 

Angel watched the changing expressions, the uncertainty and the subsequent retreat, and guessed some of what was passing through his head.

 

“The difference is that I love you too.”

 

And Spike was Mulder and Scully rolled into one, desperately wanting to believe, but a cynical edge told him such a thing was impossible.

 

“Yeah, cus I’m so bloody loveable, ain’t I?”

 

“Yes, you are.”

 

Spike closed his eyes in denial, but Angel was insistent, placing soft kisses on delicate eyelids.

 

“Ghan said that you thought you had no choice. I’m the only one available to you. You said it too.”

 

“You’re irritating. You’re belligerent. But you’re also brave, funny and clever. Actually, you’re kind of beautiful. So, maybe it’s true, I don’t have a whole lot of choice, but it just so happens that I love you.”

 

Spike pouted.

 

“He said that if you had a choice, you wouldn’t choose me.”

 

Suddenly his wrists were caught in an iron grip. Angel stroked them gently with his thumbs before pinioning them, holding Spike immobilised against the side of the pool, moving closer, until Spike’s smaller body was trapped by 182 pounds of wet, muscular vampire.

 

“What the hell does he know? He’s just jealous… Jesus, Spike. Why did you do it? Why did you go to him?”

 

The breath of the words breezed against Spike’s skin, but he still somehow found the strength to raise his eyes defiantly.

 

“Lotsa reasons.”

 

It was Angel’s turn to grit his teeth.

 

“Try one.”

 

The truth was blurted out before he had time to think of a convincing lie.

 

“You were in danger, you weren’t gonna listen to me and time was running out.”

 

“So you just decided…”

 

Spike had found that sometimes attack was the only form of defence.

 

“Yeah, Angel, I just decided. S’wot I do, ok? You still see yourself as the almighty Sire and me as your little fledgling, leaping to your commands. Do you know how long I’ve been by myself? Not just me, but me and my insane Dru. You know how we survived? Gut instinct, yeah? And me, fighting for our lives every single night. I’m not a fledge; haven’t been one for a long time. Master vampire, right? And sometimes I’ll have to make decisions that you’re not gonna agree with, but maybe eventually you’ll trust me enough just to go with it.”

 

Angel frowned.

 

“When did you ever leap to obey my commands?”

 

“What?”

 

“You said….”

 

“I know what I bloody well said! Ain’t yer kinda missing the point of my little speech?”

 

“I don’t think so. I’m just pointing out, it’s all bullshit. You never obeyed a single word I said, unless it suited you.”

 

“Well….”

 

“One occasion? Name just one occasion.”

 

Spike thought for a second and then shook his head.

 

“And this is so far from the point. I was just saying I was sorry.”

 

“No, you weren’t, you were telling me why everything is my fault. As usual.”

 

Angel’s body was now leaning heavily over the slighter figure, but Spike refused to give an inch.

 

“Yeah, I was wasn’t I? Well, it is your fault…”

 

A small explosive sound issued from Angel’s mouth and the emotion and warmth that had been riding high transfigured into frustration and anger.

 

“I wasn’t the one playing baseball with my head and a freaking cat goddess!”

 

Contrition didn’t sit well with Spike, but there it was anyway, pulling up a seat and making itself at home. There was no question that hitting Angel over the head was clearly justified, but he was kinda uncomfortable with having to keep secrets and the problem was, he had no idea how to pass vital information to Angel without informing those who watched.

 

“Believe me if there had been another way….”

 

“You’d probably still have hit me over the freaking head!”

 

But despite the words, the anger was dissipating. Undoubtedly Spike had meant well, and he looked so injured and so damned sorry for himself. Even though Angel knew it was probably just a pose to deflect any harsh words, he couldn’t prevent his eyes softening as Spike tilted his head slightly, which was all the invitation needed to move forward and claim his mouth, pressing his lips against Spike’s, tasting the nicotine that lingered, together with an undercurrent of…  whiskey and onions?

 

What the hell? His eyes narrowed in suspicion.

 

“What exactly happened tonight?”

 

Spike froze. Was Angel a mind reader? Had he been sussed already? He aimed for an expression of wounded innocence and immediately regretted it. His Sire hadn’t fallen for that one in aeons, and by the look on his face he wasn’t going to start now. Fortunately, he was saved from answering.

 

“Angel? Are you there?” The voice rang out over the water.

 

Angel grimaced, reluctantly allowing Spike his freedom.

 

“We’ll talk later,” he warned.

 

Spike rolled his eyes. Wasn’t that just what he needed, a suspicious Angel badgering him.

 

“Yeah? I’m really looking forward to that. Not.”

 

They levered themselves out of the water like pale seals, as though they didn’t have the weight of the water dragging them down. Angel grabbed his discarded clothes.

 

“Wes! Fred! We’re here.”

 

The words echoed in the cavernous space.

 

“Is Spike…? Oh thank God! Spike, are you alright?”

 

“Angel. We have to go. The building’s alarm has been triggered.”

 

Spike seemed to be reeling slightly. Fred had been about to hug him, but as she touched his back he gasped in pain and she realised her hand was sticky with his blood. 

 

“Oh Lord! What’s happened to you? Are you alright? Can you walk?”

 

He’d lost a large amount of blood.  “I guess.”

 

Angel nodded, then swept him up anyway and began to jog back to the car.

 

“Hey! I said….”

 

“I know what you said, but you know? I’ve survived 300 years and sometimes I just have to make my own decisions. It’s what I do, ok?”

 

Spike’s eyes widened.

 

“You taking the piss out of me, Mate?”

 

“You bet.”

 

Wesley and Fred were running alongside.

 

“Really! Don’t you two ever stop with the violence and the arguments?” Wesley demanded.

 

“Uh huh. There was a period. It lasted about twenty-four hours.” Angel nodded.

 

“Back in 1880, before I knew him properly.” Spike confirmed.

 

“Leave them be, Wes. There’s more than one way of flirting…”

 

“Flirting…!”

 

“No way…!”

 

She hastily cut through their sputtering indignation.

 

“Sorry. I meant relating. There’s more than one way for people to relate.”

 

She looked particularly wide-eyed and innocent as she explained her mistake, and Wesley was hard put to hide his smile.

 

They reached the car and piled in, with Fred and Wes in the back, Angel driving and Spike riding shotgun.

 

“You are a mischievous minx.” Wes whispered to Fred, who merely blinked and returned her most ingenuous look. Wesley shook his head in mock condemnation. “I recognise that look… you, my girl, have been spending far too much time with Spike.”

 

Spike was looking increasingly pained and Angel’s concern was voiced by the car as it screeched through the night. Spike glanced at his forbidding features and sought to lighten the atmosphere.

 

“So is the bint right? You bin flirting with me for the past one hundred years?” he whispered.

 

Angel played along, hoping to distract Spike from the pain.

 

“Let’s see… who knocked who out this evening? Who ran who through with hot pokers, and isn’t that looking more and more Freudian? Who always has to argue with every word I say?”

 

“Dunno… but someone obviously fancies you a lot to be flirting that much….”

 

Angel almost grinned at the thought of Spike fancying him, but then realised that his manipulative childe was probably just trying too soften him up.

 

“Maybe, but we’re still gonna have that talk later.”

 

Spike sank into his seat, feeling crushed by the weight of his secrets

 

oooo

 

He’d been washed, trussed up in bandages and was now allowing Fred to fuss over him. Wesley brought him blood. Angel stood silently watching.

 

“I ain’t comfortable,” he complained petulantly.

 

“Well no wonder! Y’all messed up back and front. Maybe if you tried lying on your side. Here I’ll get a couple more pillows to support you.” Fred grabbed them from Angel’s side of the bed.

 

Angel still said nothing.

 

“Are you ok?” Wesley approached the brooding figure.

 

A small nod was the only answer. Wesley found himself feeling immensely sorry for him.

 

“He’s ok now,” he softly reassured.

 

“Yes,” Angel replied, his voice husky and strained. “He is.”

 

“But you thought he was gone.”

 

The bleakness in his dark eyes was the only reply his friend needed.

 

Wesley put a comforting hand to his arm. “You’re probably feeling it more now that the immediate threat is over. It’s normal, you realise?”

 

Wes’s sympathy encouraged Angel to speak aloud his turbulent thoughts.

 

“Part of me wants to lock him away so that he’s never in danger again but another part wants to beat him senseless.”

 

“Again, I’m sure that’s a normal reaction.” Wesley smiled slightly. “I don’t hold out much hope of anyone keeping him out of trouble.”

 

It occurred to Angel that he could ensure precisely that by incarcerating him next to Pavayne. The idea held some appeal, except that would isolate Spike and the idea was quickly trashed when Angel realised that it would prevent him holding his childe ever again.

 

“So you think I should go for the beating senseless option?”

 

Angel’s face remained serious, but after all these years, Wesley was discovering an uncanny ability to read this taciturn vampire and kept his own face similarly bland, merely nodding.

 

“You’re generous.”

 

Angel raised his eyebrows in query.

 

“In assuming that there’s some sense in there to beat out.”

 

Angel’s mouth twitched in response and his shoulders relaxed slightly.  They stood in silence for a minute, as though mourning those already lost. Angel finally broke it.

 

“Thanks, Wes.”

 

Wesley gently smiled. Angel asked for so little, it felt good to be able to give something to him, even if it was nothing more than a speck of understanding and a smidgeon of sympathy.

 

“You’re very welcome.”

 

Fred took the empty mug away to wash, whilst Spike wriggled restlessly, trying to find a way to lie that didn’t exacerbate his injuries. As he watched, Angel could feel that strange warmth filling his body, heating him almost to humanity.  Spike turned and caught his gaze as though he knew what Angel was feeling and then grinned.

 

“You look like a drowned rat, Luv.”

 

Angel glanced down self-consciously. One hand plucked miserably at his Armani pants, now reduced to a wet shapeless rag, whilst the other flew to his hair. Spike watched his predictable reaction with swelling affection.

 

“Go shower, yeah?”

 

 Angel hesitated for a moment, but Spike read his concern.

 

“I’ll be here, I ain’t going anywhere,”

 

A small nod and Angel reluctantly left.

 

Spike watched his retreating back and felt a nagging guilt that he’d caused his Sire so much anxiety. No. Balls to that. He’d done the right thing and he wasn’t going to regret it. He searched around for a distraction and glanced at Wesley speculatively. 

 

“Oy, Percy. You know a lot of stuff.”

 

Wesley pulled himself up to his full height and gave a self-effacing smile.

 

“Well, I wouldn’t say ‘a lot’.  Although I do like to think that I…” he began modestly.

 

“’Xactly. You like to think. So, why holy water?”

 

“I beg your pardon?” Wes moved across to the bed.

 

“Well vampires, bin around forever, yeah? Christianity, only two thousand years old… so why crosses and holy water?”

 

“Actually, that’s an interesting point.” Wesley looked thoughtful. “Vampires have a strong culture of mysticism, I’m sure they’d be attracted to such an influential figure. My personal guess would be that a vampire attempted to taste the blood of Christ, possibly at the crucifixion itself. The mixture of blood and power must have been an irresistible combination.”

 

“All those bloody vampires who claim to have been there, I suppose it makes sense that one of the wankers really was…. So your theory is that a vampire maybe tried to take a bite out of the wrong person and cursed us all?”

 

“It must be something like that for vampires to be so closely connected to the symbols of Christianity.”

 

Spike nodded thoughtfully.

 

“I’ve got another idea….”

 

“Really?”

 

Wesley was curious. He couldn’t recall ever having such a sensible discussion with Spike before.

 

“Yeah. It’s obvious, innit? He was a vampire.”

 

And clearly, he wasn’t going to have one now.

 

“You’re seriously suggesting that Jesus was a vampire?”

 

“Uh huh. That explains the obsession with blood and flesh. Oh, and the resurrection. Raising Lazerus from the dead? And healing the crippled?”

 

“So let me get this right. Not only was he a vampire, he was also turning everyone he met?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“The disciples?”

 

“Vampires, obviously.”

 

Wesley shook his head and Spike sensed he was losing the vote in this debate.

 

“Why would he be preaching love and turning the other cheek if he were a vampire? You and Angel are good, but you’re still rather attached to bloody violence and vengeance.”

 

Spike refused to be daunted.

 

“Perhaps he was subtle. A new religion naturally means new things to fight about. New wars, violence and mayhem.”

 

“No, that argument really doesn’t hold water. If it wasn’t religion we’d find something else to fight about.”

 

Spike nodded, acknowledging the point.

 

“Such as which end of a soft boiled egg should be cracked open?”

 

“Exactly.”

 

Wesley smiled at the literary reference. He shouldn’t be surprised by Spike. He knew by now that there was more to him than met the eye… well hit the eye and punched it black and blue. Yet still somehow he couldn’t help subconsciously classing him as a non-educated delinquent and was consistently startled when Spike proved he was actually an educated delinquent.

 

“Still think there’s something in it.” Spike obstinately stuck to his bizarre theory.

 

“Well, it’s certainly an interesting and original idea. Maybe even worth investigating further.”

 

Spike frowned. He’d only thought of it to wind up his fellow Englishman by way of a distraction.

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Certainly.”

 

There was a hint of a smile on the man’s face and Spike was left uncertainly considering who was winding up whom….

 

They both looked around as the door opened.

 

“Ah, Fred. I think it’s time we left. Can I give you a ride back to your apartment?”

 

“Sure,” she smiled and then turned to Spike. “Anything else before we leave?”

 

“Nah, but thanks for everything, Pet. You kiddies run on home. I’ll catch yer both later.”

 

When Angel emerged, Spike was frowning and deep in thought.

 

“Peaches?”

 

“Yes?”

 

Spike wanted to talk? Maybe they were finally going to get to the truth about the night, without having to go through the whole interrogation thing.

 

“Was Jesus a vampire?”

 

Oh. He guessed it was too much to have hoped for.

 

“Jeez, Spike. Just go to sleep!”

 

Spike obediently shut his eyes, but everything else shouted a troubled mind, his fingers were tapping, and the covers were continually twitched.

 

Angel sighed.

 

“No. Ok?”

 

Eyes peeked open once more.

 

“How do you know?”

 

“Sermon on the Mount, Palm Sunday, crucifixion? All happened in sunlight.”

 

“But maybe….”

 

“No. A day on the cross? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t remember the story of the good centurion who shaded him from the sun.”

 

“Maybe it was cloudy….” He tailed off, reluctant to let go of a good theory, but had to admit it had been blown out of the water.

 

Silence filled the room and they became aware that they were finally alone. Spike wondered whether to feign sleep. He was hurt and tired and confused. Maybe the best tactic would be to play the sympathy card. He moved, as if trying to get comfortable, winced and groaned.

 

“It ain’t healing properly, is it? I’m gonna be friggin’ scarred for unlife.” His voice rose querulously from the nest he’d made.

 

Angel came forward, sitting on the side of the bed and running his hand over bandages that were showing signs of seeping blood.

 

“Maybe.”

 

“Shit.” 

 

Not the reassurance and comfort he’d been angling for.

 

Angel finished drying himself and slipped under the covers. Spike turned and threw him the pillows that Fred had so carefully arranged around him. Now there was nothing between their naked bodies, which Spike would normally have found rather interesting, and it was an indication of just how distracted and weary he was that not a single salacious thought entered his head.

 

Angel indicated the pillows. “You don’t want them?”

 

“Nah.”

 

“Then why…?”

 

“You know how it is? Bint likes to feel useful.”

 

“Huh. So what happened with Mede?”

 

“I’m knackered, Pet. We’ll talk about it tomorrow, yeah?”

 

“At least tell me, is he still threatening us?”

 

“No. You heard him. We’re quits. Nothing to worry about, his report to the Senior Partners will be gen.”

 

He sensed that Angel wasn’t ready to give in and wondered if perhaps he could be sidetracked, Wesley had been fairly easy to draw in, even if he did end up turning the tables on him.

 

Angel settled back, certain that Spike was hiding something, and then became distracted as he felt Spike lay a pale, cold hand on his chest, nail bitten fingers splayed across the perfect skin.

 

Angel frowned. It didn’t feel like seduction, Spike appeared to be considering something.

 

“Now what?”

 

“How come you’re unscarred?”

 

“I had no cuts when I picked you up.”

 

“No. I mean that time we captured you, and Dru played out her little games with the knives and holy water.”

 

Angel glanced down at his unmarred chest.

 

“Huh. I’m not sure….”

 

“You know what I think?”

 

 “No, but I’m guessing I’m going to.”

 

“I think it was your soul. It made you something other than demon, yeah?”

 

Angel found the comment remarkably perceptive.

 

“You think the Powers recognised something good in me?”

 

“Makes sense don’t it? Part demon, part human. Perhaps the first reaction to our demon bodies is to burn, but then as it works it way in, it discovers our souls….”

 

The thought of such fundamental recognition of his underlying humanity, was strangely comforting. To be seen as something other than demonic after all he’d done in his life made him feel remarkably humble.

 

He returned his gaze to his pale Childe, wanting to talk some more about the night, what they’d done, what they felt… wanting to hold him again. He tentatively reached out, but felt Spike’s muscles tensed to his touch. Angel apologised, thinking he’d grazed one of his injuries.

 

Spike felt drained, having already lost a night and a half to Angel’s few hours. Then there was the responsibility Ghan had placed on his shoulders. He felt kind of lost. Course, nothing he couldn’t handle, but even so, what the hell was he supposed to do with all this knowledge?

 

The brush of Angel’s hand melted him and made him feel peculiarly defenceless. It was too pathetic, he was the Big Bad and here he was, wanting nothing more than to curl up with his Sire and blurt out all his secrets… which made this situation all the more dangerous. Angel could cut through his defences like a hot knife through butter. So when Angel touched him he could neither refuse him nor allow himself to respond, resulting in him laying stiffly, cold body as motionless as a stone effigy, carved on the lid of a tomb.

 

“Hey, I’m sorry.”

 

Why was Angel apologising? Of course, he ought to be apologising because whatever it was, it was definitely his fault…

 

“What?”

 

“I…” Angel wanted the easy intimacy they’d had that evening, before it had all turned upside down. He wanted to feel that he could just reach out and hold his Childe, but something in Spike’s attitude held him back.

 

“I forgot you were hurt.”

 

Spike shut his eyes. This was more difficult than he ever imagined. How could he keep secrets if Angel was touching him, loving him, trusting him, and reading every little lie, or worse, swallowing every untruth that Spike told? He’d just have to try to keep his distance, which was the last thing he wanted to do.

 

“Yeah well, I haven’t forgotten. Just don’t touch me, ok?” The strain made him sound harsh and cross.

 

A confused frown stamped itself on Angel’s features. Maybe Spike was anxious and this was making him defensive. The more he thought about it the more certain he became that Spike was merely trying to deflect anger with his own surliness. Hw took a breath.   He stared at the ceiling for inspiration and took a breath.

 

“I admit, I’m angry with you. You make it damned difficult for anyone to love you… but you know I do, don’t you? I know that you thought you were doing what was right. I understand that you’ve been making decisions for yourself and that life has been tough. But you’re not by yourself anymore. I’m here and I’m not going anywhere. You can trust me, Spike. Do you want to tell me what happened tonight?”

 

There was no reply. Angel glanced across to find that Spike had drawn a veil over the day and was sleeping like the dead.  The frown dug its way deep into the muscles of his face and settled in for the night.

 

 

oooo

 

 

Angel’s sleep was troubled and he awoke a few short hours later. He looked to the other side of the bed, where the first thing he didn’t see was Spike. His guts clenched in fear.

 

“Hey. I’m here.”

 

Spike was sitting on the floor, unwinding the bandage from his torso.

 

“Couldn’t sleep… you know what it’s like with the healing, makes yer skin crawl, like you’re being eaten alive by midges.” He turned his back. “Whaddya think?”

 

“Ummm….” Angel was lost in a morning fog and couldn’t quite figure out what Spike was asking as he stared at him.  He licked his lips. “You look good.”

 

“So I won’t be wearing this name permanently then? Cus I ‘ave to say, if I were making a fashion statement I’d rather have a piercing.”

 

Angel’s mind, which was running along a slightly different track, was immediately taken with this image, but needed more detail to complete the picture that was coalescing in his imagination.

 

“Where?”

 

Spike twisted around, his dissatisfied pout now curled into amusement.

 

“Ohhh! Hit a kink have I?”

 

“I…. Uhhh…..” Angel almost blushed.

 

“Never mind, Luv. We’ll explore it later, yeah? But how’s me back looking?””

 

Angel finally caught on to the question. Truthfully, it was still looking a bit raw around the edges.

 

“Well, we’ll know by the end of the day. Turn around, let’s see your chest.”

 

“That’s not a problem.” 

 

It shouldn’t be. Ghan had wussed out half way through and had been in danger of making a right pig’s ear of it, so it ended up with Spike finishing the job himself.

 

It had faded to a pale, pink line and Angel agreed with the prognosis.

 

He began moving around the room, picking out and discarding clothes before finally deciding on dark slacks, dark jacket and dark shirt. He turned and glared challengingly at Spike, daring him to criticise his morning ritual.  Spike merely rolled his eyes but refrained from commenting, and Angel relaxed once more.

 

“What are you doing today? Are you going to stay here and rest?”

 

Spike had been thinking all night what he should do next and had come up with a plan of attack. It seemed to him that Cyvus Vail could be a weak link. He would almost certainly have judged Angel as deeply flawed, having already successfully manipulated Angel, using his son as leverage.

 

Spike remembered when he’d first heard about Angel and his son. Rumours had been springing up around the Company like wildfire. Naturally he’d thought it was all bullshit, until he’d finally gotten the whole story out of Fred, and frankly, at the time, it had merely fuelled his resentment of Angel.

 

First a soul, then the love of the Slayer and now a child.

 

A suggestion of jealousy had reared its ugly head. Spike had fought and struggled for everything he had gained, whilst Angel was handed it all on a plate… even a child. He’d never heard of vampires producing a human child, it was something that Spike had never thought of aspiring to, and acknowledged that it was the one place he could never follow. So there it was. Bloody typical. Angel got the prize. Again. Quite what all these rewards were for he never could figure out.

 

Yet it seemed a backhanded kind of accolade. To see eternity reflected in the eyes of his baby and then lose it all, to have all hopes and dreams ripped away and returned to him in the form of a twisted nightmare…. Gradually Spike realised he didn’t envy his Sire quite so much. He was nothing more than a pawn being tossed around by the gods. Whereas Spike had forged his own destiny, fought the world and made it meet him on his own terms.

 

Jealousy was long gone and now all that was left was a determination that Angel wasn’t going to be used up and swallowed down in some eternal balancing act between good and evil. Let someone else feed that particular monster. His Sire had done enough. Lost enough.

 

“Spike?”

 

“Nah. Got stuff I want to do.”

 

“Like what?” Again suspicion was clear in Angel’s voice.

 

“Got a new job, important to settle in, innit? Anyway, got a plan forming.” He tapped the side of his head. “Just need to work out the details.”

 

Spike had a plan. God forbid…

 

“You’re not by yourself, Spike. We’re a team. Maybe we can help.”

 

But Spike knew this was exactly it. He was by himself, thanks to Ghan and his secrets. Besides which, Angel was a fine one to talk about anyone acting on their own, considering the deals he was currently attempting to broker.

 

Angel read the denial, Spike did still feel alone.

 

“Why won’t you trust me? I thought things had changed between us?” Angel’s voice was hesitant, wondering if the night before had been nothing more than an insane dream.

 

Spike couldn’t afford to dwell on such things.

 

“I dunno… it all happened a bit sudden like….”

 

“Sudden!” A bleak laugh followed this and Spike actually blushed. “So? What was it? All lies? You thought you’d play me?”

 

The hurt was carried in every painful syllable.

 

“And sod you! You think I’d lie about stuff like that?”

 

“You did what you thought you had to, and now we’re safe, everything should be easy. Instead….What’s going on? What did that man do? What did he say? Don’t shut me out, Will.”

 

The look in those eyes was damned near breaking Spike’s heart and he didn’t know what to do or say.

 

“I can’t do this now.”

 

He turned away and entered the elevator, where he was joined before the doors could shut. Angel stared at his expressionless face.

 

“I will find out what’s going on.”

 

Spike was determined that he’d find a way to share with Angel, he couldn’t live with this barrier between them.

 

“I’m counting on it, Pet.”

 

On this enigmatic note he left.

 

 

oooo

 

 

Angel was sitting quietly in his office, his head bowed and his eyes blank. He looked up as Spike came through the door.

 

“What do you want?”

 

“Can I borrow a car?”

 

“Why?”

 

“Uh. Cus I need to go out?”

 

Angel had a thought.

 

“Sure, no problem.”

 

Spike looked stunned by the unexpected acquiescence.

 

“Ok then. I’ll be off.”

 

He seemed to be lingering, probably had his stupid reasons all prepared, well Angel wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction. He merely nodded and returned to work.

 

Spike was deeply confused. He’d been subtly trying to raise his Sire’s suspicions, maybe tempt him into following and that way let him discover what was going down without appearing to be in league with him.

 

Except he refused to rise to the bait - typical, just when Spike thought he knew him, Angel would throw him a googly.

 

As soon as he’d left, Angel switched on the computer and logged on to the shared drive, quickly finding the program and clicking into it.

 

Yes! Fred’s program was still running. There was the little blip, speeding out of the garage. He couldn’t help the smugness that suffused him. Spike had been so anxious to avoid talking about the previous night that he’d forgotten to ask how they had managed to find him.

 

He watched for a while and started to grasp where Spike was heading. What the hell was he up to?

 

There was only one way to find out.

 

He told Harmony to cancel his afternoon meeting, grabbed himself a car and headed out to Cyvus Vail’s mansion.

 

Next   Index   Feedback

 

1