Rating ~ R
Timeline ~ Spoilers to end s3
Author's notes ~ Thanks to Wesleysgirl for the beta. This fic is mild 'dark'-fic. There are references to BDSM themes. British spelling is used throughout, and as the narrator is a Brit, a fair amount of Brit phraseology too ;-). Written for Stakebait in the Angel Book of Days Summer 2003 challenge. http://www.moracle.co.uk/angelbod/archives/sum03/.
you come and close in me.
Just like the snow in summer.
Just like the snow in summer as it melts into the sea."
'Snow in Summer' - the Cure
Shouldn't be alone. Not since.
I've been standing outside the ex-Watcher's door for far too long. He's not here. Out getting himself shagged for the night maybe. Or perhaps he just doesn't wanna come home. Can understand that. Fuck, can I. Not like he knows I'm waiting anyway.
Wesley Wyndam-Pryce -- that's what the card says. He's probably just gonna tell me to piss off. That's his right. Least it would be words; a few moments of company with someone corporeal -- someone with breath and bone and blood.
If I had someone to natter with -- someone *real* -- I'd be ok. Being alone's the killer.
Or no... that'd be me.
I hear them first -- her tone belligerent, his calm and cold. It's time to look sane; make out like I don't taste the blood; don't hear the screams. I stand up and smooth my hair back. Bleached it in Entebbe before the flight. Got myself all orderly, 'cause it's all about the show. Always has been.
They come round the corner, hands clasped tightly, and he looks at me with dark blue eyes. "Can I help you?"
Don't look much like a Watcher. Got the accent, sure, but not the look. Instead, he's got the hollow-man gaze of someone who can't be hurt... 'cause he's already been hurt way above the plimsoll line. Long fresh scar on his neck might explain something of that.
He and the redheaded bint stink of the sea.
"Lookin' for Angel," I explain.
The woman barks out a laugh, then cries a wordless complaint as the bloke's hand tightens around hers, his knuckles whitening. That's kinda interesting. His face shows nothing of what's happening below decks. "Why?" he asks me.
No point in lying. "Need help. Weren't anyone at the hotel 'cept some brat who tried to..." stake me. Barely got away -- boy was stupidly strong and fast. "Found your card blowin' in the trash."
Wyndam-Pryce studies me, making no attempt to hide it. His eyes go up and down my body, and I get worried he's seeing below the show. Like he can see the blood, sodding rivers of it. The ex-Watcher looks at all the fag butts littering around my feet and frowns. I'm about to... I dunno, apologise for the mess or something, when he takes a sudden breath, like a gasp that isn't, and asks,
"William the Bloody?"
Feel myself twitch, then I snort. Ducking my head, I run my hand through my hair. Nervous mannerism really. Shouldn't do it. "Yeah. 'S me. You know where he is then?"
His eyes give nothing away. "If I did, why on earth should I tell you?"
"I'm no threat. Not anymore."
He laughs at me; it's a cold sound. The woman stirs beside him, and he tightens his grip again, as if in warning. She looks sulkily at the floor. "I heard about the chip," he acknowledges. It doesn't surprise me. "I would hardly say that made you safe."
Feel myself twitch again, and I rake my fingers up through my hair. "Not just that. Not just the chip. Got the... spark now. Got it for her. Ain't gonna hurt you or your girl."
Said girl cackles; I don't like it. Makes me think of Darla. Makes me think of myself, once was.
The bloke corrects me mildly. "She's not my 'girl'. Not in the sense you mean anyway." He stares some more, and I get to feeling opened, like a can of bloody worms. Then he says, "Right then. You better come in."
Wasn't expecting that.
The ex-Watcher knows what I am, who I am, yet invites me in. The bint protests; she seems to realise I'm a vamp, but he shuts her up with a single ice-cold glance. Strange bloody relationship he has with this not-his-girl, but it's not my business. Gotta admit though, the cold masterful thing he's got going for him does something for me too, even now. Especially now.
I'm a sick bastard. Sick to bloody death.
There's not enough punishment in this world for what I've done.
Door opened, we go inside. "Make yourself at home," Wyndam-Pryce says, dryly amused. "I'll be back when I've put my things away." He drags the woman off someplace, and I catch a glint of metal around the wrists of their linked hands. Looks like they take their bondage games seriously.
The few minutes he's gone are long enough that I'm lost in nightmarish scenes of chains and broken flesh by the time he reappears, bint-free.
"Do you drink tea?" he asks.
I shake my head empty of the screaming. "Can do."
His eyes narrow slightly, as if he's judging something. Then, "Accompany me to the kitchen, and we'll talk."
So I follow like the mongrel I am, desperate for scraps of humanity to be thrown my way.
"You're not at all what I would have imagined," he remarks, his back to me as he farts about with a teapot and loose leaves. What the hell's wrong with teabags, I don't know. Like it's part of Watcher training never to use the bags. Stuck up gits, the lot of them. He glances around at me. "Had I given you any thought at all, that is."
Don't begrudge him his rudeness. He's a right to it, and I know I'm worthless. Now. "Yeah? What did you not bother to expect then? All fangs and attitude?"
While the water boils, he turns to face me, leaning back against the counter. "From what I've heard about you, yes," he acknowledges. "I assume the behaviour modification implant is to blame for this..." Have to give him his due; he seems to be at least trying to find a nice way of putting it. "Quieting."
"Don't feel quiet," I reply. Feel bloody deafened. So much noise in my brain that my own voice just gives up trying to compete, I guess.
He's doing that staring thing again; his eyes are like bleeding scalpels. "What makes you think Angel could, or indeed would, help you? What I know of your mutual history strongly suggests otherwise."
I shrug. "He's family. Counts for somethin' and we both know it. Reason we've not killed each other yet, see. Hard to kill one of your own, no matter how big the hate. Don't matter what you do to each other, blood's still blood."
"Most murders take place *within* the family," he points out, then winces. Bloke's got some history; that much is obvious.
I shrug again, then rub at my arms; not sure why. "No one else can help. Not like I had a choice 'bout where to come. No one else knows what it's like; how to cope with the faces... Every-bloody-one of 'em. Think I would've forgotten, wouldn't you? So many. How can I remember so many?"
I'm raving again; can hear myself. I bite my tongue. Suck on my own blood to keep myself quiet.
Coldly curious, the ex-Watcher takes a step closer. "What precisely *have* you done, Spike?"
Told him already once. "Got the spark back." Bloke still looks blank, so I grimace and tap my sternum with taut fingers. "You know. What I lost when she bit me. I got it back." Dunno why I'm having so much trouble saying the actual word. Shame, I guess. Fuck that.
Now he's staring at me like I pissed on the carpet or something. "Your *soul*?"
"Yeah, my soul. Went to Africa. Back now, obviously. "
The razor gaze is only removed from me when the kettle boils.
Don't think he believes me, but that doesn't matter. Just need to know where Angel is and then... and then something. He pours water from kettle to pot, then stares at me again. "Why on earth would a soulless demon choose to become... otherwise?"
I meet his gaze. "For love. Why else?"
"Love requires a soul," he says flatly, then frowns. "Unselfish love, anyway."
I roll my eyes. "You Watchers don't know a damn thing about us, for all your soddin' books. I can love; always have done. C'mon, you must've read about me an' Dru."
"Yes, a remarkably long-lasting relationship, although far from unique amongst your kind. I agree you can know a kind of love, but without a soul--"
"You don't know fuck." I'm pissed off. "Sacrificed everythin' for the love of her."
The icy gaze continues to appraise me. His eyes'd be pretty if they weren't so sodding merciless. Suddenly he looks away, and I sag in release, like my strings have been cut. "Angel's lost," he says. "I'm trying to find him."
"Lost?" I ask, almost plaintively. That wasn't part of the plan, such as was.
"He was buried at sea by... by people seeking revenge. I'm spending my nights on a boat, searching."
I'm shocked. Really fucking shocked. "Bloody awful thing to do to a vamp. Endless torture." I think of Angel like that and shiver. Don't care what we've done to each other; this is worse.
"Indeed." His face is utterly frozen. I'm guessing strong emotions. He... cares for Angel. "I'm searching methodically; I'll find him."
"You know where he is roughly? How long's he been gone?"
He looks down, showing the first signs of vulnerability I've seen since I got here. He sounds almost ashamed. "Almost three months now. We know approximately where to look. There's sonar equipment, and we're searching one grid square at a time."
"Your, er... you and that girl lookin' together?"
"It's her boat." His tone migrates back to the Antarctic. He pours the tea.
I hesitate, head tipped to one side. This human is dangerous, of that I'm sure, but what the fuck do I care if he stakes me? Easy way out for me; deserve so much worse. I understand Angel much better now. Know why he broods; know why he wears the hairshirt.
He probably believes he deserves to be sunk and starving too. But I don't like the thought of him down there. Not that I'd ever admit to the bastard that I gave a toss.
"Wesley." I say, and wait to be told I can't call him that. But he just puts a mug of tea in front of me and waits for more. The silence-that-isn't draws out.
The screams are getting loud again, so many voices pleading. Too late to give them what they want now. God, I would if I could. Let them all go, bind their wounds and send them home. Make them shut the fuck up. But there's nothing I can do to appease the ghosts but suffer; let them get their revenge. I'm trying. Trying hard to suffer good for them.
I clamp my hands over my ears, not that it helps. Just traps me in with them. Feel like I'm lost in a rookery, black screaming birds mobbing me. But underneath the murder of crows, there's a rhythm, steady and relentless, almost mechanical. And I clutch onto it, an anchor in the insanity. It gives me structure. Gives me a rope.
Slowly but surely, his heartbeat grows louder than the screams.
I bare my neck to the dagger gaze and say, "Can I help?"
He breathes deeply before replying. "There are some things we could try, using your connection to Angel. They may speed the process along." Emotion, insufficiently quickly repressed, flickers on the Watcher's face. He's got a lot invested in this rescue. "You could stay here," he offers.
This bloke got a deathwish or what? Inviting a crazy vamp to stay in your flat ain't exactly a sign of joie de vivre. Ah, what the hell; not like I got anywhere else I'm needed. Can't go back. Not to her. Realise that all too well now, but it took the spark to show me. Can't return, not after...
And company's not to be sniffed at. Even this cold, deadly man is like calamine to what ails me.
I dip my head to him. "Yeah. I'll stay. Help if I can."
Sometime later, I'm huddled on his sofa watching cable soaps and wondering why the characters keep facing the camera and accusing me of bloody rape and murder. Bit much when a bloke can't even lose himself in mindless melodrama without becoming part of it.
Wesley is sitting at a table by the window, playing the serious Watcher. Lots of old musty tomes cracked open in front of him while he looks for ways in which he can use me as Angel-bait in the big game of Go Fish.
There's a large glass of neat single malt beside him. It's already been refilled at least once. Myself? -- I got given blood bought for Angel, but about to pass its use-by date. Angel's cast-offs -- all I've ever had. It's pig, of course. Thank fucking Christ.
Some tanned blond tosser on the telly starts screaming at me about how he'll do anything if I just don't kill him. Offers me his girl, his arse, the lot. I'm sorry, mate. So bleeding sorry.
I turn the damn box off and look at the ex-Watcher. "Can I ask a question?"
He doesn't look up from his books. "I'd rather you didn't."
"Right." That's no bloody help. Need to talk. Need *him* to talk. "They're a right laugh riot tonight."
"What?" He glances over at me, irritated.
"All of 'em. Big cosmic joke on me, eh? Reckon it's like this for Angel?"
He rubs at his eyes. "Making a wild guess at what you could conceivably be referring to, I'd say that Angel has had considerably longer to reconcile his conscience with the things he did without it."
"Yeah. Don't remember him being like this when he first got it though."
"You were there?" Wesley suddenly seems interested in talking.
"Not at the actual moment, like, but soon after. Mostly he seemed shit-scared -- all wide-eyed and kicked puppy. Cried a lot. Darla treated him like shit. I mean literal shit -- like he smelled bad and looked worse."
"And you? How did you treat him?"
I shrug. "Didn't really. Tried to speak to him a couple of times when Darla wasn't about. She wouldn't let him close, you see, but he kept followin' like a sad git. But anyhow, he just kept apologising to me when we spoke. Wouldn't answer any of my questions. Just 'sorry William' this, 'sorry William' that -- was a bit sickenin', truth to tell." Frowning, I remember how bloody disturbing the whole thing had been. "Got poor Dru really upset, the way he was. Turned our evil little world on its head. Darla was a total harridan, of course. But that weren't exactly somethin' new."
"Fascinating," Wesley says, and he seems to mean it. But nonetheless, he looks back at his books. Need him to keep talking.
"He ever speak to you about those days?"
"Not in any detail, no. The occasional story perhaps."
"Yeah? Like what?"
"Later maybe, Spike. I'd like to concentrate now, if you don't mind."
But I do mind, mind a lot. "Maybe I could help you with that. Done it before, back in Sunnydale. For Rupert Giles? You know him, right?"
That gets him looking my way again. Hard, curious eyes like cabochoned lapis lazuli. "You've done what for him precisely?"
"Um, helped research? What'd you...? Oh." Bloke don't think much of anybody, does he? Or maybe I'm reading too much into his question. "Well, Rupes is kinda into bondage where I'm concerned." I chuckle, then hold my head and groan as I think about what the Watcher will do to me if he ever sees me again. He must know by now. What I did.
"Is there any point in me asking what the matter is?" Wesley's tone is one of cool scientific detachment. The look I give him is clearly answer enough, as back he goes to his books. I don't try to stop him this time.
I curl up for a few and rock. But these days, my short attention span's a blessing. Bored of the screaming now -- heh, like I've a right to be anything of the sort -- I get up and start to poke around the place, looking at his books and knickknacks.
"Do you mind?" he asks pointedly after a while. Reckon he doesn’t care for me playing jacks with a handful of his chess pieces and a signed cricket ball.
"Vamp dexterity, mate. Your bits and bobs are not in any danger."
"Be that as it may, put them back." When I hesitate, he adds, "*Now*" Word's rock hard, like Giles when he's in a Ripper mood. Sends a shiver through me. Makes me wanna say 'make me', just so he will.
I put his stuff back, tail all between my legs properly like. But I'm wondering what I can do next to make him sound like that again. Voice like that? It could make all the rest shut up for a while.
"Now sit down and try to be quiet." He kinda glares at me, but he's not really paying attention anymore. His mind is elsewhere. Bottom of the ocean, perhaps.
"So where's your bint?" I ask. If he won't make with the chatter, maybe she will.
He rubs his eyes. "Her name's Justine. I've put her away for the night."
"What's that involve then?"
I'm expecting to be asked what the hell business that is of mine. Instead, he stands up abruptly. There's a sly twist to his lips, like he thinks he's taking up a challenge he's sure to win. "Come with me," he instructs, and walks out the room.
I follow. Not gonna miss this. We go into his bedroom. Interesting smells in here -- some hints of a strong perfume, recent sex from the bed, something human and unpleasant from behind the cupboard door he's now standing beside.
He takes a key from his back pocket and opens it up.
Bloody hell. Fucking bloody arsing hell.
The girl's in the dark of the closet, behind thick bars. She's kneeling, chained and gagged. Big eyes looking up at us. I back away. Stare at him. Think I might be whimpering.
"Oh, come now," he says, exasperated. "I will not suffer this reaction from such a notorious killer."
So it's real then? She's really in there? I'm not seeing dead people? He's still looking cross at me so I try to pull myself together. "Guess she must've done somethin' pretty bloody naughty to deserve this then." As if I see girls chained in cupboards every day. Don't actually think I've seen it ever. We were never so... discreet.
"She's one of the two responsible for Angel's current whereabouts." He eyes her coldly. She tries to meet his gaze and fails.
"Oh. Right." I look at her, head tipped, my perspectives changing. "So why'd she do that to the old ponce?"
"Because a charismatic man asked her to, I believe." Wesley's hand is around his own neck, squeezing, leaving red finger marks. "She's very easily... trained. With the right level of discipline, of course."
"Which you provided." I've no doubt he did. His expression is positively sadistic.
"I called on past experiences." He looks seriously at me. "Believe me, she's safer here than out there. There's powerful organised evil in LA that would rape her mind and body for a chance to get their hands on Angel."
She doesn't exactly seem unabused, kneeling there like that, but I keep my trap shut. I crouch down; look at her up close. She glares back at me; ain't scared by my eyes the way she is his. He's broken her. Wonder what it involved. Did she scream?
"You can play with her if you like," he offers, coldly amused. "Within my prescribed limits, of course."
Girl squawks loudly in objection to the idea from behind her gag. I look up at Wesley, and he seems to wince slightly at what he sees in my face. "No ta, mate," I say, sickened by the idea. "Not fancying any more trips down memory lane than I can help."
"Very well." He starts to shut the door again. I stare at the girl's huge eyes until they're blocked from my view. The lock clicks into place and I shiver; can't help it. Run my fingers across the surface of the door, feeling her presence beyond it. Her heart is racing.
My head tips forward and rests on the faux-wood. "You Watchers scare me shitless. Hearts of fuckin' stone, the lot of you."
"Thank you," he says very dryly. "Coming from you, that's quite a compliment."
Standing up, I stare at him. "Only..." I hesitate, self-preservation instincts warning me to keep schtum.
"Only?" He takes a step closer to me, daring me to say it.
Ah, to hell with caring. There's a taunt in my voice when I say, "Only like vampires, Watchers *can* love, can't they, Wesley?" We both know what -- who -- I'm talking about.
He scowls at me. "I'm human."
My eyebrow raises, almost of its own volition, and I glance pointedly at the cupboard. "Soul feeling a bit heavy then, is it?"
"Not as heavy as yours, one would imagine," he replies waspishly. He's got a point. My little burst of bravado dies almost stillborn, and I look down. Without another word, he turns and heads back for the living room.
I lean back against the cupboard door, tipping my head back, counting Justine's heartbeats like sheep while I try to relax.
That's a joke.
Have to wonder -- what the fuck good does a soul do? And why does mine hurt so much about things I knew no better than to do, whereas he can lock a kneeling girl in his closet night after night and apparently feel nothing.
Christ, I want that nothing.
This soul's the biggest mistake I ever made. It even makes me feel sodding guilty for thinking that. Bastard thing. One of these days I'm gonna cut it out of me.
I'd do it now, for the pain if nothing else. But Wesley seems a bit house-proud and 'just so' about things. Might get miffed about blood on the carpet. Idea of pain is good though. So fucking good. Makes me harden. Makes me long for it. Vamps like pain generally -- giving it, receiving it, it's much of a muchness. But this need is different.
Learnt in Africa how it could help. Terrible sunshine there; much worse than California even in high summer like it is now. I'd stick my mitt out in it and let my skin burn 'til the only screaming I could hear was my own.
Wonder how much pain Justine is in. She can't stay kneeling all the time; that'd be bloody agony. Guess he's got her trained to get onto her knees whenever she hears the door opening. That's some training, 'cause I can tell by the wild look in her eye how bleeding angry she is.
Suddenly, I have to know the details. I march back into the living room, where he's back at his desk, not looking up. "What'd you do to her? To tame her?" I ask.
"She's not tame," he says, turning a page.
"Didn't hear any screamin' when you 'put her away for the night'. You telling me she likes being in there?"
"I really couldn't care less how she feels about it." Oo, studied disinterest. Pull the other one, it's got Pavlov's bells on it.
"Bollocks," I tell him, fairly mildly all things considered. He glares up at me, and I meet his gaze, enjoying how it sears me. "You want her to suffer," I tell him. "You wish you had the guts to make her suffer more. But your Watcher ethics only allow for just enough cruelty to get the job done and no more. Go on, tell me I'm wrong."
"You're wrong." Oh, he's angry now. Can hear it. Turns me on. "I'm not a Watcher, and I do not share their moral code. I need Justine alive until we find Angel, and I need her free of visible wounds. That's all you need to know."
"Free of wounds, full stop. The only blood on that girl is old."
"So how d'you keep her in line then? Sex?"
"Absolutely not." He looks disgusted by the idea. "There are many more subtle methods of mind control. I imagine that they would have been more Angelus' style than your own." He seems almost proud to be emulating my wanker of a grand-sire.
Think he meant it as a dig, but far as I'm concerned, it's a compliment. "Yeah, Angel's always preferred the poofy approach. Such a sodding waste of time. While he's all softly softly catchee monkey, going all round the houses, I'm already walking out the front door licking my lips."
"I'm beginning to understand why Angel talks quite so disparagingly of you, Spike. Do shut up now."
"Don't like me insulting him, do you?" I smirk. "How long have you and he been bum-buddies then?"
And the iceberg meets the Titanic. Unfortunately, that makes me the Titanic so I guess I'm in for it now. But nonetheless, it's good old-fashioned vamp fun to watch the emotions flicker across that normally frozen face.
"Angel and I are not, and never have been, lovers," he says, and his glacier tones have a burning edge to them.
"Aww, that must be very distressing for you," I say, my completely false sympathy covering up what I distressingly suspect might be the real sodding emotion.
"Get out." He's furious; can smell it. But he doesn't even rise from his chair. Bastard goes back to his bloody books again.
"Could go," I agree. "Or we could play a little game."
He rubs his eyes and brow, his knuckles whitening as he pushes into his temples. I'm getting to him. *Really* getting to him. Odd thing is? Don't feel the slightest bit guilty for it.
Shutting his book with a snap, he stands up and faces me. "And what would this 'game' involve?" he asks sarcastically.
I take a step forward. "Easing pressure," I tell him. "For both of us."
"Well, you're clearly full of nasty shit you can't adequately release, your bint being human and all. You need a demon to take it out on; know how it is. Been there myself. So... take it out on me."
He gives me a look of disbelief and steps closer to me. "You want me to... what? Hit you?"
I shrug. "Whatever the fuck you fancy, mate. Make me scream. Work out all that anger you're broodin' on."
"I'm not angry."
"Oh, come *on*!" I start counting off his reasons to be ireful with my fingers. "You're pissed off with Justine and whoever her partner in marine dumping was. And you're *really* bloody irate at Angel for not wanting a taste of your arse. And if I know him, and I do, and better than you ever soddin' well will, a lot of other crap from the git as well. And there's whoever put that pretty line on your neck. And there's the reason you're searchin' for the prat alone, bar your scrubber in the cupboard -- where's the rest of his little play-pals then? And there's--"
"That's quite enough!" Think he's gonna hit me... but he just glares.
"Oh look, and now you're fucked off with me an' all. So how's about it then?" I step close enough to feel his breath. "You want to make me bleed? Wanna make me pay the price for all their sins? Come on, Wes. You know you wanna hear a souled vamp scream."
He stares at me so long, I'd think he'd fallen asleep standing up with his eyes open, if it weren't for the heavy heartbeat calling to me. I meet his gaze patiently, not challenging so much as inviting. Letting him know that it's alright, it really is. He can do this.
And he does. "Very well, but understand, this *will* involve sex."
"Never thought otherwise." I smirk at him. "Make the voices stop for me, Wes, and you can take as much of this tasty arse as you want." I pat my left buttock.
"You're talking too much," he tells me. "I didn't give you permission to speak."
So I shut up, and instantly my head fills with the plaintive cries, begging me for mercy. I give him a pained look, and with an almost sympathetic expression, he raises a hand to stroke my face...
Before hitting me hard enough to knock me to the floor.
For a fraction of a second, the voices stop. I look up at him and see a promise of shipwrecks in his dark blue eyes. I shiver, as if cold, and smile gleefully up at him.
This is gonna be much better than calamine. This is gonna be ice on the razor-cut. Snow at midsummer.
I'm not looking for the thaw.