Notes: Backup fic for the Puppet!Angel ficathon. itsabigrock wanted the line "Haven't had to put this many stitches in you since Bucharest" and no violation of Angel's puppet-hole. I loved that last phrase so much I stole it.
Spike raised his eyebrows in a parody of innocence. One hand hovered midair for a moment, as if he was wondering whether pressing it to his heart would be just too much of the drama queen, then it dropped back to the couch. It landed just a bit too close to Angel's leg for his liking and he glared, shuffling away. Spike's hands hadn't looked quite so big before. His whole body hadn't looked so big as it did right now, and Angel had had Spike kneeling on the floor in front of him plenty of times.
Two more days of this, if Fred was right (please, God, he thought fervently, let Fred be right, I don't care if she spends a whole year's budget on particle… studying… things, just make her right about this).
"Shut. Up. Spike."
"What?" Spike protested. "Didn't say a thing."
"You were going to. I know what you were thinking."
He scoffed, neatly biting off another length of thread. "Oh, not allowed to think, now? Not all of us can switch it off as easy as you." Frown of concentration as he joined thread and needle. "Not that there's a lot to be switched off, in your case."
Angel remembered - not without nostalgia - the days when one well-chosen insult would cut right across William's face like a whiplash. Those days had lasted maybe the grand total of three weeks, before the boy had learned to give as good as he got, if possible before he got it, even if that earned him a thrashing, or worse.
He would have thought up something really clever and cruel to shoot back, but his concentration span had decreased along with his size and he found himself distracted by the needle. It was so shiny. And headed towards his felt skin-substitute and hey!
"Stop being an old woman," Spike complained. "Gimme the arm back."
"This was a bad idea. Lorne or Wes will be here in the morning, they can sew it back." He looked forlornly at his shoulder. "Till then, I'll just stay like this."
"And what if you turn back ahead of schedule?" He broke into a grin. "Come to think of it, that'd be funny. Could have us a remake of The Fugitive."
Reluctantly, and not admitting even to himself that Spike was right, he handed over his arm. Seeing it like that, detached from his body, was strange and upsetting. Even if it was tiny with stuffing hanging fluffily from the popped seam at the top, it was his arm.
"D'you think it'd make much of a difference if I sewed it on back to front?"
"Just wondering." He held the arm up against Angel's body, looking at it critically. "This'll be easier if you take your clothes off."
Of all the lines Spike had used to get him naked over the years, that was… a fairly typical one. Angel had his suspicions - he wouldn't rule out any sexual kink when dealing with Spike - but he had to admit that sewing his arm back to his body would be easier than trying to sew through body and shirt and leather coat.
He was going to miss that coat, he thought, right until the point where he tried to take it off one-handed, and then he decided he'd be happy to never see it again. Spike had to help him, and that was humiliating enough before they got the shirt open, and then Spike was close to hysterical with laughter.
"Yes, I have nipples," Angel growled, adding his second and third prayer of the night in quick succession: that Spike would restrain himself from the phrase "wee little puppet nipples" and that he wouldn't take an interest in what was beneath the rest of his clothes.
He got part of his wish.
"They're buttons," Spike said, as if this was some delightful and awe-inspiring discovery, and then something even more interesting seemed to strike him. "Hey, bend forward."
Angel's eyebrows went up so far and so fast that the Velcro sticking them in place came loose. "What?! No!"
Spike rolled his eyes. "I want to see if you've still got your tattoo, you git. Trust me, your wee little puppet hole is safe from me."
Angel's lapsed Catholicism lapsed another few notches downwards.
"You want the arm back, show me the tat," Spike said, waggling the arm. A wisp of stuffing drifted to the floor.
With the long-suffering sigh of a puppet under severe pressure, Angel twisted around and dropped forward enough to let Spike see over his shoulder.
"The gryphon's still there," Spike reported. "S'got little cherub wings. And it's grinning."
His own tattoo was laughing at him. That officially made it everybody in the world. Except Nina, and after that thing with the dog, he wouldn't blame her. What the hell was it about being this shape that made him a target for canines? He couldn't even get breakfast without some goddamn mongrel ripping off one of his limbs. Just because he'd been holding bacon in his mouth because he didn't want to confess that he had no way of swallowing it… In the retelling, the terrier had become a Dobermann, and the bacon had been left out entirely. It was still hardly an epic tale of a champion's battle.
Spike's curiosity was apparently satisfied by the show and tell, because he set to with the needle. Angel winced at every in and out; it didn't hurt, exactly, but he could feel it puncture what he was stubbornly thinking of as his skin.
"Haven't had to put this many stitches in you since Bucharest," Spike murmured, tiny pink triangle of tongue sticking out the side of his month.
Angel gave him a cautious look, keeping as still as he could. No jokes, no sexual innuendo, just a straightforward statement of fact. That was worrying.
"Bucharest," he said. "That was right before I got the soul."
"Right after the run-in with that vampire hunter. Should've really seen that coming."
"How were we supposed to know Van Helsing was a real guy?" Angel protested, but he was thinking about that fight, how they'd barely escaped with their heads still attached. The girls had had a chance to run and they'd taken it - of course they had, so would he if it'd been one of the others in that damn trap. Spike had stayed, dragged him out of there before sunrise. Called him names all the way home. Angelus had given him a bloody lip for it. Compared to all their other fights, barely a love-tap.
There was a tingling coming back into his fingers.
"Almost done," Spike said.
"You're pretty good at this," he admitted, telling himself that he could claim later his puppet state had gone to his head.
Spike's expression didn't even flicker. "Used to be a toymaker, old little fella, worked out of a cabin in this village in Czechoslovakia. Did the whole Disney stereotype. Stories to kiddies, puppets all over the place. Brilliant work. Dru loved the dolls he made her."
"So maybe you picked up some of his genius when you ate him," Angel finished, unable to work up the energy to be truly disgusted.
"Yeah, probably," he agreed amiably. "There."
He flexed his four short fingers. Good as new. Huh.
"So," Spike said, bestowing him with a filthy leer, "what's inside the puppet pants?"
Two more days.