“Fucking hell! Will you stay down, you git!”
Pausing at the sound of the familiar voice coming from the reeking alley, Angel lifted his sword and peered into the shadows. He could just make out a dumpster and, beyond it, swift movements punctuated by snarls and howls.
A moment later something large, dark, and screaming flew past him, smashed into the windshield of a parked car and sprayed glass everywhere, setting off the alarm.
“Spike,” Angel growled by way of greeting.
“Great,” Spike answered, his eyes golden. “Had to be you, didn’t it. Couldn’t be something useful like, Oh I don’t know, a Slayer. Well, don’t just stand there, you prat! Give us a hand.”
It was tempting to leave him there, tangled in his coat and the steering wheel and looking like the world’s largest vampire bat, but Angel supposed he sort of owed Spike one after the incident with the slug.
"You want my help?" Angel asked, an amused grin on his face. "Fine."
Opening the driver's side door, Angel reached in and grabbed Spike by the shirt. With one decent tug, he yanked Spike onto the seat and then stepped back to let him unceremoniously flip over and scoot to the edge of the seat.
"Thanks bunches," Spike muttered sitting with his feet dangling out until they just touched the pavement. He scrubbed an irritated hand through his hair, shedding tiny squares of glass like an animated snowman and pushed the rest of the way out of the car. “However did I get by without you.”
"Nice coat," Angel said, turning back towards the edge of the alley that Spike had come from. "Didn’t it come in leather?"
“Ha, bloody, ha. Very funny,” Spike grumped, removing the offending article to check for damage. “What are you doing down here with the rabble anyway. Run out of futures to save?”
Ignoring him, Angel pulled out his cell-phone and dialed. “Wes? Yeah. How many did you say again?”
“There was three of the bastards,” Spike commented, still examining his duster. Only one gash he’d have to get fixed. “Emphasis on the ‘was’.”
For a second the only sound was the tinny buzz of a voice from the other end of the telephone and then; “Okay, I got that, but Wes? Next time tell me when it takes three of them to make a nest, yeah? The breeding habits of Erethidor demons weren’t on my winter reading list.”
Flipping the phone closed, Angel turned back to Spike, and said, “How many did you kill?”
"Nearly two of them," Spike mumbled as he looked around for something to use as a weapon.
"Nearly two," Angel repeated, "so that would mean all of one?"
"Yeah, one, but the other one's in real bad shape. Sawed off most of 'er tentacles or whatever. It's the mouth you gotta watch out for. Teeth that would make your mama cry."
"Well my 'mama' probably would have taken it home and given it to your mama as a present." Angel stopped in front of an abandoned car, reaching underneath to pull off the exhaust pipe. He inspected it to see that it had sufficiently jagged edges and tossed it to Spike. "Here, let's kill these things and go home."
"Sounds like a plan." Still shaking glass out of his clothing with each step, he joined Angel and they crept towards the closed end of the alley, watching the shadows for the inevitable attack, "I like that plan a lot."
The alley stank like Galway Bay on a hot summer day and the fact that Angel could still remember exactly what that smelled like was an indication of how truly rancid the stench was. It was one of those occasions when he was really glad he didn’t have to breathe, though there was no getting away from the slime underfoot. A low rumble came from down the alley followed by a narrow rivulet of what looked like bile. Angel sidestepped it quickly, grabbing Spike’s arm and dragging him to one side as well.
“Don’t touch it,” he muttered, attempting to keep as much of the smell out of his mouth as possible. “It’s corrosive.”
“Yeah, I sorta got that bit,” Spike said, holding up one foot as evidence. The tip of his boot had been eaten away, leaving his toes naked to the night air. “Must be the last one. Reckoned it was holed up further back but I couldn’t get to it without taking down the others.”
"And it never occurred to you to call for help?"
"Not really my style now is it, calling up Evil & Evil and asking for back up. Just three little..." His words were cut off when a severed tentacle came flying at them, deadly slime oozing in all directions as it hurtled through the air.
"Shit!" Spike yelled as a large glob landed on his cheek. He quickly brushed it away, which only made his hand burn as much as his cheek. He couldn't help but bend over, trying to overcome the sting of it.
"What kind of demon uses its own arms as weapons?" Angel yelled, just managing to get out of the way of another airborne tentacle as it flew at his head. Seeing that Spike wasn't as close to him as he'd expected, he turned around and saw only the top of Spike's blond head. He dashed to his side, lifting his head up with a few fingers under the chin.
"Christ," he whispered, taking in the intense red streak that covered Spike's cheek. Licking the palm of his hand, Angel wordlessly ran the saliva over the wound. He knew it wouldn't help much but had to be better than letting the goo continue to burn. "You gonna be okay?"
“Just dandy, mate. Now we gonna do this or what?”
Angel peered up the alley again, thinking hard. “Or what, I’d say. Look, Spike, I know retreat isn’t in your lexicon but this is more than we can handle alone. According to Wes, it’s the second male that produces this stuff and it’s larger than the other two put together. There’s no way…”
He was talking to thin air. Spike was already striding up the alley, brandishing the exhaust pipe as though it were Excalibur and swearing at the demon at the top of his voice. Angel sighed. He knew this mood. This was fists and fangs, this was kill or be killed, this was a pissed off Spike at his most stupid.
Lifting his sword, Angel took a deep breath, choked on the smell and followed.
Angel had only been half a minute behind Spike, but by the time he caught up with him, Spike was already knee deep in gore. The previously 'nearly-dead' female was now completely dead, and the larger of the two males was clearly not happy about it. The creature was growling at the top of its lungs and Angel could only imagine that in its language the sounds were similar to the curses Spike was shouting back. Seeing that Spike was starting to tire, Angel inched his way to the back of the alley, barely missing the two spines that shook and rattled on the back of the demon's torso.
Spike continued to jab at the beast's front, circling in an attempt to move it towards Angel's waiting sword. The demon occasionally grabbed at Spike's ankles, forcing him to jump and periodically roll through the deep coating of slime pooled at its feet. He could feel the flesh burning in several spots, his boots were a lost cause, and he wasn't sure the jeans would fair much better.
Watching for a moment of advantage, Angel finally found his chance. Spike had moved the demon against the brick wall at the edge of the alley and had three of its tentacles coiled around the exhaust pipe. Angel leapt from a nearby crate and brought his sword down in the middle of the beast's back. As he descended the rest of the way to the alley floor he held onto the sword, sending it slicing through bone and muscle. The demon fell to the ground, slipping in its own slime and blood with a disgusting slop.
“Jesus fucking Christ!” Spike cursed leaping out of the way of the disintegrating carcass only to slip in the same slime and fall flat on his ass.
The Erethidor appeared dead, so Angel turned his back on it to give Spike a hand up, only for the pair of them to be showered in the deadly bile the demon sprayed with its final dying spasm. Whereas the slime was uncomfortable, this stuff was truly lethal, even for vampires. With matching bellows, Spike and Angel took off up the alley, shedding clothing as they went and, by the time they reached the street both were buck-naked.
"Water," Angel panted, as the bile burned into his skin leaving raw trails of flesh in its wake.
Taking the lead, Spike shimmied up the nearest set of ladders and headed off across the rooftop. He knew just where he was heading. Old Mrs. Rustakov on the next block with her rooftop hothouse and passion for melons. The old duck always left out buckets and buckets of water, claiming it was better for the plants to let it warm in the morning sun. Well, tomorrow they’d have to go thirsty ‘cos right now his need was greater.
Spike reached out for the first bucket on the path, and even though his skin was on fire he couldn't resist his first impulse. He pivoted on his right foot and flung the entire bucket of water into Angel's face, watching the water mingle with the sickly orange of the bile and slime. Satisfied that Angel was more concerned with grabbing another bucket than decapitating him, Spike grabbed the next and drenched his own head, sighing as the water took away the initial burn.
By the third bucket Angel was no longer gasping from the pain, he was however, freezing. The night air had been chill enough when he was fully clothed, now that he was wet and naked it was nearly unbearable. He looked back towards the alley and could barely make out the rear of his car. A long walk naked, since there was no way the cops hadn't been called, what with all the racket of killing the Erethidor demons, the noise he and Spike had made once their clothes started disintegrating and the sight of two naked men having a water fight in a melon patch.
A shower of frigid drops spattered over him and Angel turned ready to tear a strip off the perpetrator, only to be brought up short by the fallen angel who had joined him on the roof. Haloed by the lights of the adjoining building, Spike was temptation incarnate. His skin glowed like a winter moon, every hollow shadowed, every angle radiant. Slim, lean, unchanged in a century. And his face, limned with pre-Raphaelite curls, eyes glowing with mischief above a sinfully smiling mouth, had Angel pining for simpler times when a single command would send William to his knees.
For his part, Spike was equally entranced. Expecting a mouthful of invectives and prepared to return them with interest, he found an Angel he had never seen before. Yes, it was the same body - long powerful limbs, sculpted chest, shoulders that could protect or smash at will - but it was the expression of deep longing on Angel’s face that undid him. So far removed from the usual one Angel turned on him, all cynical suspicion and barely masked hatred, this was open, innocent, boyish, and brimming with unexpressed want and need.
For a long moment the former lovers stared at each other across the melon patch, neither able to bridge the yawning chasm of time and mutual wrongs that divided them. Then Angel blinked and looked away, clearing his throat and saying, "You’d better hope that was the last bucket." The words were threatening, the eyes weren't.
"Yeah, that's it. Just wanted to be sure you weren't gonna go and melt on me," Spike said with a laugh. "This is just bloody perfect isn't it?"
"At least the demons are dead." Angel leaned his hands on the low wall that made up the roof's edge and stared back down the side of the building and into the alley, where all traces of the trio had disappeared into the pavement. Without turning around he added, "It is fucking cold up here."
“There’re towels in the hot house. Don’t s’pose she’ll mind if we borrow them, seeing as how I chased half a dozen vamps outta the building for her last week.”
There were towels, or more accurately scraps of toweling, but it was enough to dry off the worst of the water. As he rubbed, Angel kept his back turned, Spike's intense perusal making the skin between his shoulder blades itch.
“It’s wrong, innit.”
“What?!” Angel squeaked, clutching his towel to his privates and spinning round in a guilty panic.
“You and me. Looking the same as all those years ago.”
"Not much we can do about it." Angel fidgeted for a moment, half turning, deciding not to, turning again, and finally concluding that looking at Spike's face as they spoke was preferable to wondering if Spike was staring at his ass. "We're always going to look the same, haircut, little bit of weight, who we are doesn't ever really change."
"Guess not." Spike ran his fingers through his still-damp hair, paying no attention to his own nudity other than an occasional brush with the towel over dripping water running down his hips and legs. After tossing the scrap of towel onto the potting bench that lined the greenhouse, Spike sat down, legs sprawling open as he rested his head against the mildew covered plastic wall. "So, how long you reckon we oughta wait for those sirens to stop blaring?"
"Half an hour maybe, not much for them to find now. Except of course what's left of our clothes." Angel gave a pained rub to his arms, trying to warm them up and stimulate the healing process. "Cell phone, keys, fuck," he muttered. This was going to be a long night.
“S’all right for you,” Spike grouched back. “Quick chat with the flunkies and voila! New kit, new gadgets. Unlike some of us working class blokes. Everything I bloody owned was in that duster.”
“Tell you what,” Angel replied. “How about I get you a new one. Or better yet one that actually fits. Something from the men's department.”
“I thought so.”
Grabbing one of the dryer bits of towel, Angel continued his rub down, ignoring Spike who was stretching out on the bench.
“Chilly?” Spike asked eventually when Angel looked in danger of scouring his skin completely down to the bone.
“Nah. Wall’s warm. Come sit down.” Spike patted the bench next to him. For a second Angel hesitated and then shrugged. What was the point in standing on ceremony? They were stuck there for a while, there was no reason for him to freeze his ass off in the meantime.
Using the toweling as a shield - he wasn’t feeling quite as blasé about his current state of nakedness as Spike - he wandered over and sat down, leaning back on the wall and giving out a loud groan as the warm plastic hit his skin.
They sat in silence for a moment, taking in their surroundings, a myriad of black plastic pots, trays of seedlings, several more watering buckets, gloves, and miscellaneous growth chemicals and seed packets. It was considerably warmer against the wall, the greenhouse seeming not to mind the fact that winter was barely over. It was almost peaceful, high above the city, the distant sirens now little more than a hum over the sounds of the building's inhabitants below.
Never one to sit around, Spike reached over to grab something to play with, snagged a pair of leather gloves and sank back, only to leap into Angel’s lap with a yelp.
"Bugger!" he swore, flailing at some unseen assailant.
"Think I got a splinter in m' ass. Sodding useless towel."
"Spike," Angel said in a bored voice, hoping Spike wouldn't notice the effect his lap full of vampire was having on his dick, "get off of me."
Rolling off into a standing position instead of sitting back down Spike turned around in circles, desperately trying to see the offending shard of wood to no avail. After several rotations he stopped, dropped his arms to his side and stared at Angel with pleading eyes.
“Oh, come on. It’s not like you haven’t seen it all before.”
“Spike, I am not…” Angel’s words trailed off as Spike turned around, treating Angel to his ass, up close and personal. Perfect, Angel groaned silently, absolutely fucking perfect. Except for the large splinter driven right into the skin just under the left buttock. Not a scrap of wood remained on the outside, there was no way in hell Angel was getting that out easily. Suddenly, the towel covering Angel’s crotch was totally inadequate, becoming little more than a half-raised flag proclaiming his interest. Fuck.
Heaving a heavy sigh, Angel put a hand on the small of Spike’s back and pushed gently, saying, “Bend over. This is gonna hurt.”
Spike complied but had a hard time stifling his laughter as he braced one arm on the table in front of him and the other on his knee.
"Stop laughing, I can't get a grip on it," Angel said with an exasperated growl.
This of course sent Spike into a further fit. "God honey, you haven't said that to me in years." He continued to shake with laughter, tears welling in his eyes.
"SHIT!" Spike stood up and whipped around to see Angel holding the blood soaked splinter between his fingers.
"I told you it would hurt."
"Yeah, but usually when you say that it's a good hurt, y'know?"
The awkward silence returned, made worse when Spike’s gaze lowered towards Angel’s obvious erection and his own dick started hardening in response. “Been a while,” he said quietly, averting his eyes from Angel's lap.
“Uhuh,” Angel responded.
“Want it to be longer?”
Angel raised his eyebrows and smirked.
“Time, you git. I know for a fact it doesn’t get any longer than that.” Reaching out, Spike swiped the toweling square off Angel’s lap and then qualified, “or not much anyway.”
"Well it is pretty cold in here, it's an issue," Angel said, chancing a look at his own erection.
Spike laughed, "We should all be so lucky to have such issues."
Both men shared in the joke, laughing heartily. Spike sat down next to Angel once again, carefully leaning to the right, hoping to alleviate the pain still throbbing through his left buttock. His eyes wandered over Angel's every muscle. Most of the red blotches from their earlier excitement were already fading to a pinkish hue, although the large purple bruise left by the Selminth parasite the previous day still covered a fair portion of his chest. Even marred to the extreme though, Angel had a gorgeous body, and as his eyes came to rest once again on Angel's arousal Spike let out a long sigh.
"So, reckon we've got a few minutes before the coast'll be clear down there, yeah?"
"Yeah," Angel answered back slowly,
“Fancy a quickie then?” Spike asked and then added rapidly, “Just in the interests of staying warm, of course. Nothing… poofy.”
Bemused, Angel stared at him. If someone had said that he would spend tonight naked in a greenhouse getting propositioned by an equally naked Spike, he would have had them fired for being stoned. And yet here they were. His soul was in no danger. That regrettable experience with Eve had proven that, along with the fact that she was definitely sleeping with someone else. So the question simply became, did he want a ‘quickie’ or not?
The longer Angel took to answer, the more uncomfortable Spike became. His offer, like everything else he said, had been a spur of the moment thing and, as the silence stretched and Angel’s face remained totally unreadable, Spike was beginning to wish he’d never opened his mouth. “Well?” he bristled eventually. “Not like I’ve got the bloody pox.”
"No, you don't," pausing for words, Angel looked around the hothouse for the hundredth time. "We've already had one injury since coming in here, and we tend to get a bit..."
"Dangerous," Spike finished, "that's what makes it good you sod." He slapped a hand on Angel's knee, delighting in the shiver that the simple touch sent up Angel's spine. "Tell you what, we'll move all sharp objects out of the way first."
"Fine," Angel said, a pleased smile on his face when Spike was clearly taken aback by his agreement, "but none of that poofy stuff."
"Right," Spike drawled, leaning over to thrust his tongue between Angel's lips in a maneuver that was more an attack than a kiss.
Finger’s tugging hard on Angel’s hair, Spike felt he was starting to win until Angel used the underhanded tactic of slipping his arm around Spike’s back and yanking him forwards so he was straddling Angel’s lap. As their cocks brushed together, Spike knew he was lost. It had been so long - the aborted shag with Harmony notwithstanding - since he’d felt something other than his own hand that all he could do was thrust helplessly and allow Angel to devour his mouth.
Angel twisted beneath him, reclining back on the bench and Spike followed him down, writhing against him until Angel was moving just as uncontrollably. Below them, the bench rocked dangerously, lending their movement an accompaniment of creaking worn wood and rusty nails. They didn’t care. Desperate hands alternately pressed their erections together and raced between nipples, hair, cheeks, every touch pushing them closer to their much needed completions. As Angel's moans grew deeper and his skin started to tingle with every new sensation, he pulled Spike's hips closer, pressing their bodies so tight they felt as one. Precome and the last remnants of water helped glide their cocks in a primal dance, trapped between solid ridges of muscle, rubbing flesh against flesh, foreskins catching, tugging, pulling.
Spike locked his fingers around Angel's arms, aiding in the motion that swayed them ever closer to oblivion, crying his pleasure into his lover's ear, moaning dirty secrets and words of encouragement. When he could wait no longer he arched his body against Angel's, slowing to a grind and demanding Angel came with him. It worked. Nails dug into his hips and, as Spike lifted his head to watch his lover’s face, Angel gasped, thrusting upwards fitfully, pushing faster and harder. Spike crashed his lips down, swallowing Angel’s cry and his own, fucking Angel’s mouth as their release flooded out between them leaving them shuddering with the aftershocks of pleasure.
For a second neither of them moved, and then Angel twitched his shoulder, encouraging Spike to shift over. Spike grinned up at him, “Well at least it didn’t get poofy.”
Angel opened his mouth to speak and the bench chose that moment to give an ominous groan and collapse.
"SHIT!" Angel yelled, mimicking Spike's earlier cry.
Spike, having benefited from being on top, stood a few paces away, panting as he came down from his orgasm, both hands braced on the potting table as he laughed at their current predicament. Once he had found a modicum of control he reached a hand out to Angel, helping him up off the ground and out of the rubble that now lay where the bench had been.
"Splinters?" Spike asked, surveying Angel's backside.
"Yeah, several." Angel pulled out the ones he could reach, wincing at each onslaught of pain.
"Bend over, I'll grab hold of em."
"That's what started this whole mess," Angel said, the very thought of the past few minutes making him flush with excitement. "I'll just have them taken out back at the office."
"That'll be fun to explain to the kiddies," Spike laughed.
"Yeah, well, I think now would be a good time to make a break for the car."
“Look, at least let me get the big ones,” argued Spike. “Another couple of minutes isn’t gonna make any difference.”
Angel looked at him suspiciously and Spike raised his hand in a salute and said, “Scout’s honor. Just the splinters, promise.”
“Okay,” Angel conceded and leaned against the bench, “but you’re paying the ticket if my car gets towed.”
Spike squatted down behind him, bending closer to search amongst the scratches and…
*Thwap Thwap Thwap*
The sound of the approaching helicopter saw Angel spring upright, his ass bumping Spike in the face and making Spike grab Angel’s hips to avoid being knocked over.
Suddenly, daylight level illumination hit the greenhouse and a mechanically enhanced voice echoed through the night, “Mr. Angel, sir! We’ve been sent to-” The words broke off and then, equally loudly, came again, horrified and horribly clear. “Y’know, when they said kissing the boss’ ass was a sho’in for getting ahead, I never realized they meant literally.”
Both men looked up through the hothouse's clear windows at the hovering chopper, and sighed at the same time...