"Crap, Spike." Angel blurted, as the glass of blood he had just poured shattered on the hard floor of the kitchen. "Do you knock?"
"Right, sorry. Terribly rude of me." Before Angel could reply Spike had disappeared.
"That was easy." Angel kneeled to pick up the shards of glass that now littered the floor. A knock at the door startled him and he instinctively flexed the muscles in his hands, pressing glass against the tender skin of his palm. He muttered several explicatives under his breath and dropped the glass into the trash. He grabbed a hand towel from the counter and wrapped it around his left hand, which had suffered the most damage, before opening the door.
Spike stood quietly at the door and smiled at Angel. "Gonna invite me in?"
"Oh come on, it's polite. Besides, you've got quite a mess in there, I could help."
"I think you've helped enough." Angel said, shutting the door. Spike reached out a hand to stop him, and for a second Angel felt resistance, and then just as quickly Spike's hand reached all the way through the door. Pulling the door back open, Angel stared for a second, then got out of the way and motioned for Spike to come in.
"Thanks." Spike said with a nod. He wandered the main living area for a second, finally settling at a spot near the kitchen. "Got a broom? I could, um, hold the dust pan. Maybe."
"How did you do that?" Angel said, following him into the kitchen. "You can't touch anything, or did you forget you're a ghost?"
"Learned a new trick."
"I see that, but how?"
"Pavayne." Spike answered as if it was explanation enough.
"What about him?" Angel prodded.
"Look, the soul stuffer just made some crack about being able to bend reality to his will, and I realized that if I wanted something bad enough, at least here in spooky towers, I could do the same thing."
"So you can touch now." Angel said more to himself than Spike.
"Not all the time, takes a bit out of me. Least with the reaper all locked up in the vault I'm not being sucked into hell every few hours. Take what I can get." Spike looked at the crimson stained floor. "You wanna clean this up?"
"Not now, I mean..."
"Angel, it's killing you. Just clean it up or your anal retentive ass is gonna get so worked into a knot you'll be wonky for a month."
"It'll just take a second." He went to the pantry at the far side of the kitchen and pulled out a broom.
Twenty minutes later, when the floor had been swept, vacuumed, and mopped, Angel gave it a final spray of disinfectant and joined Spike on the couch. He sank into the deep cushions, tightly gripping another glass of blood.
"So can you, ya know, drink?" He asked before taking a sip.
"Nope, I can hold the cup but not taste the wine."
"S'not so bad really. Not like I'm feeling the hunger. Kind of nice really, almost makes it easier."
"Makes what easier."
"Here here, or alive here?" Angel asked.
"Both I guess. If I was me, I mean all flesh and blood," he looked around the room for just a second before returning his gaze to Angel, "I'd want it more," he finished, with a nod towards Angel's half empty glass. "It would bother me more that I'm not supposed to touch, if I could I mean."
"But now you can touch. What's to stop you?"
"Are we still talking about the glass?"
"Um, yeah." Angel cleared his throat and set the glass on the end table beside the couch. "I better get to bed, you can let yourself out, right?" He unwound the towel from his hand and set it next to the glass, inspecting the cuts to see that they were already healing.
"Angel, wait." Spike said before Angel stood up. "Do you have to go?"
"Early meeting with Lorne, something about how many disco balls he's allowed to have at the Halloween party."
"Oh, so world in peril stuff." Spike chided.
"Not exactly, I mean I'd rather just stay in and do nothing on Halloween myself. Feels kind of wrong going out."
"Yeah, I just meant." He stopped.
"Well, Fred's asleep, Gunn has this whole attitude with me..."
"Spike, you follow a man into the bathroom one too many times and that's gonna happen."
"Oh come on, He makes it so easy. I mean have you seen his..."
"Not really looking Spike."
"Oh yeah, not you." Spike grinned. "I'm just, screw it. See you later." He gave Angel a short wave and started to fade out. Angel reached out a hand to grab at the disappearing form, and when he made contact with Spike's hand a flash of electricity jolted across his fingers. Angel pulled his hand back and placed the tingling fingers to his tongue. They had the distinct scent of Spike on them, a musty smell that he remembered as being a little more dirt than smoke, but Spike all the same.
"Wait." Angel called out just as the last traces of his childe left the couch. Spike instantly reemerged from whatever void he went to when he left, the cushions of the couch bending under his weight.
"Didn't you feel it?" Angel asked.
"The little zap, yeah. I felt it. Happened with Fred earlier."
"Oh, yeah." Angel said remembering the encounter in her lab. "I just didn't realize I could touch you too."
"Neither did I. Guess there's hope for me yet."
"That remains to be seen." Angel said, pulling up his natural reservations about Spike's new form.
"Come on, Angel. What more do I have to do to prove to you that I'm here to help?" Spike turned to face his sire. "I helped you with the necromancer, I saved Fred from the bad doctor. Haven't even asked you to call Buffy and tell her I'm here, have I? I'm playing by your rules, and you still don't trust me."
"I know you Spike. I know that as soon as this touching thing becomes a full-body affair you'll leave."
"Would think that would make you do a little dance of joy."
"I don't dance."
"Right, not you. Angelus on the other hand, now he could cut a rug."
"That's different, back then you had to dance, and that was real dancing, with rules and skill."
"You are such a prig."
"Whatever. My point is that..."
"That you don't want me to leave." Spike answered. He held Angel's gaze for a moment.
"That's, that's not what I was gonna say."
"You don't have to. You think I don't see you here? The way you act with all of them. You need me here."
"What would make you think that?"
"You're just like me Angel, as much as you'd like to think you aren't." Spike said, not allowing Angel to interrupt. "You can't talk to them about the things you've done, any more than I can. You think anyone but watcher boy wants to hear about our exploits? Of course not. I may not believe in redemption but that doesn't mean I don't feel the guilt. I looked at the things Pavayne had done and part of me just laughed. It was such amateur crap. Oh look at me, I can cut people up and send them to hell, woo ooo. Back in the day you and I would of had that guy for breakfast, literally." Angel's glare did not go unnoticed. "Oh stop brooding. I'm not reminiscing. Just saying..."
"You think I want to talk about it?" Angel broke in. "Well I don't."
"You can't just forget about it either."
"I know that."
"Do you? You just sit up here or down in your little twenty-fourth floor office pretending that you care about the bottom line and what are you really accomplishing?"
"Spike we just started. It's going to take time to...Why am I even explaining this to you?" Angel stood up and paced the room. "You don't care. You've never cared. All you do is stand around making wise cracks, that's all you've ever done."
"That's not fair." Spike said, jumping off the couch. "You have no idea what I've done because you never bothered to ask."
"Would've been a little awkward Spike."
"Like you wanted to know anyway." Spike said, lowering his eyes.
"You're right. I didn't want to know that you were banging my ex, getting to be where I couldn't. Not exactly the kind of thoughts I want filling my head, I sort of have enough going on in here as it is."
"Is that all? You're jealous? I get that okay, I know what it feels like. She's easy to love..."
"I really don't want to talk about this." Angel turned towards the bedroom, but Spike stood in his way. "Not like I can't just walk through you Spike."
"Try me." Spike held his hands out in front of him.
"Just move." Angel took a step forward and when Spike didn't move, he continued to move forward. A heat enveloped his chest when he reached Spike's hands. He tried to push against them, but there was real pressure pushing him back. Taken aback, Angel stopped his forward motion. "Okay, you made your point."
"No, I didn't." Spike said, relaxing his hands. "I'm stuck here Angel, in this building, here with you. Like it or not. I don't really feel like spending my eternity walking on eggshells because you won't talk about it."
"It," Angel emphasized, "is over. End of discussion." He quickly sidestepped Spike and headed down the hallway.
"Was it Buffy that told you?" Spike called after him.
"Told me what?" Angel asked without turning around.
"That I was dead."
Angel paused in the hall. "Yeah." He said in a whisper.
"Did she cry?"
Now, Angel turned around. "What?"
"Simple question, mate. Did you cry when she told you?" Angel remained silent. "Because I cried the last time you died, and I was evil."
"What are you talking about?"
"When she sent you to hell along with Acathla." Spike answered. "We were barely out of Sunnydale when Dru woke up screaming. She started wailing on me, crying, which makes it damned hard to drive. She was all on about how you were dead forever and such. She screamed at me for a couple hours, till we hit Mexico at least, then she slid into the back seat and fell asleep. I cried."
"You cried?" Angel asked, disbelieving.
"Yeah, I mean not they killed Old Yeller tears or anything, but part of me wished I had stayed and helped. Part of me was dancing in my seat, but that might have been the mariachi music on the radio."
"You are such an asshole." Angel said, quickly going into his bedroom. Spike was sitting on the bed waiting for him as he entered. "Get out."
"Bloody hell, I'm sorry, okay." He pulled at the blanket, testing to see if he could actually fidget in his present state, every few tries the blanket rose with his fingers.
"No, it's not okay." Angel said, unbuttoning his shirt as he spoke. "I'm tired, go away."
"No. Not until you answer my question."
"No, I didn't cry. I don't cry."
"If you already know the answer, why are you still here?" Angel asked, pulling a drawer open to take out a pair of silk pajama pants.
"I just want to hear you say it." He rose from the bed and stood beside Angel. "You act so in charge all the time. I just want to know if it's an act. Admit you cry."
"You know what I cried about Spike? I cried when I left Buffy, I cried when I returned from Hell and could barely remember my own name. I cried when Wolfram and Hart offered me the chance to give my son the life he deserved, if I would slit his throat. I cried when they put Cordelia in that hospital bed and I couldn't tell anyone the real reason she was there. That's what I cried about. You think I cried when she told me that you finally got to be done with this crap. Fuck no I didn't cry. I did a little dance, and there was no fucking mariachi in the background." He turned and slammed the drawer shut, placing his hands on top of the dresser.
"Just leave it okay."
"Can I sleep on the couch?" Angel turned a blank stare at him. "I just don't feel like wandering around the halls spooking the night janitors is all."
"Can't you just disappear?"
"Hey, just because it's not hell doesn't mean I like being there, it's still dark and, and I just don't wanna go there. 'Fraid one of these times I won't come back."
"Yeah, I guess." Angel ceded. "I'll see if we can't find a room or something you can have to yourself."
"I don't mind the couch."
"Fine." Angel shrugged his shirt off and tossed it in a hamper near the closet. As he turned to leave Spike brushed against Angel's arm, and again the heat of his touch flooded over Angel's skin, sending goose bumps up his arm.
"Sorry." Spike said stepping away. "Sometimes I can't help myself. You don't think about how much you miss being able to touch the people around you till you can't do it."
"Do it again." Angel said.
Spike reached out his hand and gingerly ran one finger up the length of Angel's arm, concentrating on each curve of muscle and joint. Angel closed his eyes and let the warmth radiate over him. Spike reached Angel's shoulder and added the rest of his fingertips to his touch. He took a step forward, sliding his hand over the tattoo he knew was there, pausing on the curve of Angel's shoulder blade before trailing his hand down Angel's spine. Spike blinked away a tear that he wasn't even sure was really there, even he didn't know if ghosts could cry.
"Don't stop." Angel ordered when the sensation of soft fingertips lingered at the small of his back.
Spike continued his exploration back up the well muscled back of his sire, reaching the nape of his neck. He ran his fingers through the short hairs that curled under ever so slightly. He took another small step forward, bringing his other hand to rest behind Angel's head. He held the brown eyes before him in a deep gaze, watching Angel's pupils widen as he pressed further, running his fingers through the dark locks.
"It's getting long." Spike muttered absently.
"You noticed." Angel said in a whisper.
Spike tightened his grip, feeling the tug of Angel's scalp. He darted his tongue out to wet his lips, never breaking the lock he held with Angel's eyes.
"How's it feel?" Angel asked.
"It's a nice trick." Angel slowly reached a hand out, testing to see if he could touch Spike's back. The first attempt failed, and he ineffectually passed through the coat that Spike didn't seem to be able to take off. On the second try he felt his fingers warm and when he curled them forward he felt the smoothness of the leather in his grasp. He let out a small gasp as Spike pulled his head forward, he didn't resist and when his own lips met Spike's and another jolt of energy filled his body. Angel clenched at the leather in his fingers, pulling it closer to him. As he did the heat filling his chest became stronger, as did the pressure on his mouth. Spike moaned into the kiss, and Angel thought he could feel the barest hint of moisture as Spike's tongue entangled with his. The fingers in his hair released and slid back down his bare skin, kneading at the muscles of his back. Angel crushed his eyes shut tight and let every twisting of flesh fill his mind with a rush of sensations. He was afraid that if he opened his eyes he'd find it was just a dream, so he held them shut as he plundered Spike's mouth.
The kiss lasted several minutes, and then the fingers on his back began to feel less like they were touching and more like they were grazing him. Just as suddenly as the first touch had sent shivers through his body Angel felt the leather disappear to nothing, and the mouth pressed against his became only a swirl of air and intermittent moans. He reluctantly opened his eyes and released his now empty grasp.
Spike took a step back, his eyes still closed. Angel watched as his lips began to quiver, and try to form words. After a second Spike's eyes flashed open, the blue irises nearly flooded with black lust and wanting. His entire body seemed to shimmer on the verge of vanishing, but after a second he regained his composure and stood before Angel, looking as real as if he were truly corporeal.
"Thank you." Spike whispered, choking back more tears.
Angel tried to find a suitable reply, but none came to him. "Do you need a pillow?" He asked lamely.
"I'm, I'm fine." Spike stammered. "Just took a bit outta me."
"Yeah, me too. Gonna take a shower." Angel grabbed the forgotten pajamas from the dresser and headed towards the bathroom.
"It is a nice trick, right?" Spike asked from the doorway.
"Yeah. It is."
"Yeah. Goodnight Spike."
Spike left the room, but turned around when Angel called after him."
"I'm glad you're back."