No Place Like Home

No Place Like Home

White-throated lily.

He pauses to admire the slender column of her neck and the image comes to him. A flower: graceful, fragile. He wonders what it would be like to rest his fingertips against the milky skin, to touch her living pulse. He watches as she arches back, her head pressed against the brick wall, an invitation. But not to him. She can’t possibly know he is there, hidden by shadows.

She crooks a finger and someone steps out of the alcove across the alley.

Finally.

“Be careful what you wish for,” the girl says.

“I could say the same to you, pet.”

Angel watches Spike cross the short distance to where the girl stands- arms stretched out against the crumbling brick. Her breasts are insubstantial and Angel thinks that Spike always did like a little boy in his girl.

Spike has braced his hands on either side of the girl’s head; they are almost eye-to-eye.

“You are quite fetching,” Spike says. “I could just eat you up.”

The girl smiles, revealing even white teeth.

Angel scrapes his boot heel along the ground and Spike goes still.

“I think we have company, love,” he says, twisting his head toward the sound.

Angel steps out of his hiding place just as the girl pulls a stake from her waistband.

“Spike!” He yells and Spike sidesteps the danger a fraction of a second too late: the stake digs into the flesh just below his shoulder.

“Jesus!” Spike yells. He lifts a hand and rips the stake from the muscle, just as the girl lands a foot in his belly, knocking him back. The stake clatters to the ground.

“Wait!” Angel yells, grabbing the girl’s arm and pushing her back against the wall, hard.

“I must be losing my touch. I used to be able to spot a Slayer at a hundred paces,” Spike says, standing and pressing the heel of his hand against the wound in his shoulder. “You bloody ruined my jacket.”

“Are you okay?” Angel asks Spike.

Spike clenches his jaw and nods.

Angel lets go of the girl and says: “We’re on the same side.”

“I can see that. Why else would you help him?”

“Not him and me,” Spike scoffs. “Us and you. Call Buffy. She’ll tell you.”

The girl narrows her eyes and Angel sees something like recognition bloom there. It’s quickly replaced by wariness.

“Call her,” he says.

*

Buffy is older. She has the sinewy build of someone who trains hard and often. There are faint lines around her mouth, but Angel doesn’t think she earned them by smiling. Her eyes are the same, though: moss green and expectant.

He and Spike stand in the room and wait for an invitation to sit. It doesn’t appear they are going to get one. The Slayer who’d tried to stake Spike is pacing back and forth like a little girl who has to pee.

Spike breaks the silence.

“Would you sit down, you’re making me dizzy.”

“You may as well go, Claire,” Buffy says.

“And leave you alone?” Claire says. “With them?” She adds in a theatrical whisper.

Buffy nods. “Go on. Go tell Giles they’re here.”

“He won’t be happy,” Claire says.

“Probably not, but tell him anyway.”

Claire risks one more glance at them and heads out the door, closing it carefully behind her.

“What were you gonna do, Spike? Bite her?”

Spike shrugs.

“I was right there, Buffy. Nothing would have happened.”

“How many other girls--”

“That was no bleedin’ girl,” Spike says. “She’s a Slayer. There’s no end to you lot.”

“You didn’t answer my question,” Buffy says.

“None. I haven’t fed off anyone since---forever.”

“So what were you doing--” Buffy pauses. “Oh.”

“Yeah, that’s right: getting a leg over. Not all of me’s broken,” Spike says with a smirk. “You should know that, pet. Although I guess some things never change.” He lifts his uninjured shoulder towards Angel. “Mr. Broody is still skulking in the shadows.”

Angel smiles politely. Whatever.

“You missed me, didn’t you?”

“Can we not do this tonight,” Buffy asks. “Or actually at all. You guys never change.”

“Um. Vampires,” Spike says, smiling brightly.

Even Angel has to acknowledge that, yes, at this very moment he did miss Spike. Just a little.

*

“So, what have you been doing?”

It’s small talk of the most awkward kind. It’s not like he can say: A few rounds of golf. Some traveling. You know, this and that.

He smiles and hopes that’ll be enough.

“Don’t want to talk about it?”

When had being with her gotten so hard?

“It’s just—well, you know what I’ve been doing, Buffy.”

“Same as me, I guess.”

“Yeah.”

“I’m tired of it, Angel,” she says and he suddenly knows where the worried lines around her mouth have come from. “I mean, I just really want--” She pauses and looks out the window. “I don’t know anything else, though. I mean this is who I am.”

“It’s not everything that you are, Buffy.” He doesn’t know what else to say and this lie seems harmless enough.

She turns back to him and suddenly she seems ten years younger: sixteen again.

“Who am I?”

He crosses the room to stand next to her. She’s humming with power; she’s lived longer than any Slayer in history, but it’s cost her.

“I don’t even feel real anymore,” she says looking up at him.

“You’re real,” he says.

*

It should be safe, he thinks, just before he kisses her. After all, almost a decade has gone by. But she tastes the same and her mouth, though not tentative anymore, yields against his just as it has done every other time he has ever kissed her: in graveyards and schoolyards and at bedroom windows and in tombs and on beds and dance floors.

When he feels her hands at the buttons on his shirt, he grasps her thin wrists and murmurs: “Buffy.”

She steps back, pressing her fingers to her mouth.

“No, don’t,” he says reaching for her.

She seems about to say something and then she doesn’t. Instead, she pulls off her shirt, unhooks her bra and stands there, silently.

There is a small, raised scar across her ribs, just below her left breast and Angel drops to his knees to place his mouth against it. He holds her securely with his hands, feels the current of electricity shudder along her skin, sparking under his touch. She rests one hand in his hair as he kisses up the length of the scar, up the slight curve of her breast, his lips finding her nipple.

“Angel,” Buffy says. Her voice is not quite steady.

His fingers find the snap on her jeans. It’s hard to miss the sharpness of her hipbones as he pulls down her jeans and panties. She lifts her bare feet, one at a time, and he pushes her clothing to the side.

Then he settles back to look.

As thin as she is she should look frail, but she doesn’t. Her skin is soft, buttery to the touch, but the muscles underneath are ropey and obvious. She could knock him flat on his ass. He takes his time, looking for evidence of previous injuries. There is a bruise, yellow now, just above her right knee. He leans in to kiss it, feels her shiver against his mouth. His hands find a knob of bone at her elbow; something didn’t heal just right. He puts his hands on her waist and turns her around. Her shoulder blades are like folded wings bracketing the ladder of her spine. Her ass is muscular, feels good in his hands.

She has held herself perfectly still, but now she spins around to face him, dropping to her knees so they are on more equal ground. She presses against him, arms around his neck and kisses him, hard.

This time when her hands fumble at his buttons he stays silent. He groans when she sweeps aside his shirt and brushes her breasts against him. She helps him out of his shoes and socks, pants and boxers.

Her skin is so hot. So is her tongue. Her hands hold his head still and he feels her, flame-like, igniting something he’d thought was long dead.

“Buffy,” he manages.

She pulls away and looks at him. Her mouth is stained with the efforts of her kisses.

“Don’t,” she cautions.

He doesn’t know why she thinks he’d protest. This is, after all, the stuff of his dreams. He shakes his head a little: don’t worry.

Then he pulls her closer, slides his hands down to cup her ass and then stands, as if she were made of air. He surveys the room, considers the desk and then dismisses the idea of having her there. The couch?

She is shifting against him and suddenly the choice is made; he is in her slick heat, high up and she is using his shoulders as leverage to move against him.

“Sorry,” she murmurs, “I couldn’t wait.”

He nods and pulls her tighter against him. Now that they are here, at this place, in this moment, he wants to fuck her. He wants to blot out the past, obliterate the dark losses and loneliness, replace it with her light.

He buries his face in the hollow between her neck and shoulder, scenting her, tasting her pulse beneath the papery skin. He feels the heels of her feet knotted in the small of his back, but she is too small and he is too large for this to work and so he lifts his eyes and searches the room once more.

“Through there,” Buffy says.

There is a bed and Angel lowers Buffy down without losing the feeling of her. He pulls her to the edge and slides out, kneeling to kiss the open mouth of her cunt. She tastes of salt and cock and clover-honey. He pushes her thighs wide, keeping her still with his hands and when she surges against him, he holds her still with blunt teeth until she steadies herself and relaxes against his tongue. He keeps her from coming for a long time.

When he slides into her again, he does it with force, watching her eyes widen and then roll, her hands on his biceps, squeezing. She is so beautiful when she comes, Angel almost has to look away.

*

When he wakes up, she is watching him. And across the room, Spike is watching them both.

“You had a party and didn’t think to invite me,” he says. “Bloody rude.”

Angel looks at Buffy. She hasn’t bothered to pull the sheet over her naked body. He has an overwhelming urge to take one soft nipple into his mouth, suck it hard. Spike being in the room doesn’t squick him nearly as much as it probably should.

“Look,” Spike says, standing. “We’ve been apart for years. I, myself, have managed just fine, but you two are clearly miserable.” He pauses, wagging a finger at them. “Don’t bother to deny it. I’ve been watching you for the last hour. When was the last time either of you slept so well?”

“Spike,” Angel says. “It’s inappropriate for you to be in here.”

Spike snorts laughter. “I’ve been in Buffy’s boudoir before, mate.” He pulls off his T-shirt and saunters, a predator, towards the bed. “In fact, wasn’t that long ago that I was just about where you are now, ‘cept, you know, more between her legs.”

Now Buffy speaks. “Spike,” she says. Her voice tight. “You said you wouldn’t do this.”

“Did I?” He shrugs and unsnaps his jeans, pulling them down over his lean thighs, revealing his hard cock. He strokes it casually. “Can’t recall.”

Angel watches as Spike crawls up the bed and does exactly what he’d been thinking about only moments ago: takes Buffy’s pebbled nipple into his mouth. Angel can’t see, but he’s sure Spike’s fingers are pushing into Buffy, his thumb pressed just so against her clit.

And this should be abhorrent. But it’s not. His own cock is hard against his belly.

“Tell him what you want, love,” he hears Spike whisper to Buffy. “Tell him what I want.”

Buffy twists her head to look at Angel.

“I don’t want to be alone anymore,” she says.

Angel closes his eyes. He considers the possibilities of having a family again; dismisses the notion because two vampires and a Slayer do not make a family. They make some impossibly fucked up incongruent triangle.

He works alone.

The bed shifts and he risks opening his eyes.

Spike’s mouth is buried in Buffy’s crotch. His eyes are smiling and he lifts his head to say: “She tastes like you.”

“Kiss me,” Buffy says to him.

This wouldn’t be the most depraved thing he’s ever done. So he kisses her, kisses away the breathy moan she makes as Spike makes her come.

The next kiss belongs to Spike. His mouth is slippery and the mossy taste of him makes Angel impossibly hard.

“You like that, don’t you?” Spike says, wrapping his hand around Angel, squeezing hard. “You like knowing I was there after you. You like thinking about the dirty things we’ve done to each other. You want to watch, don’t you?”

All of it’s true. And none of it. Angel twists out of Spike’s embrace and presses him down onto the bed. He spits into his hand and rubs his cock and then presses forward, stretching Spike carefully because she is watching, rapt. He wouldn’t have been so careful if they were alone. He would have hurt Spike and Spike would have liked it.

And he thinks about doing this to her.

And that thought and Spike beneath him and Buffy’s fingers buried deep in her own body makes him jerk forward as he comes.

“There,” Spike says. “That’s out of the way.”

*

“Did you set me up?” Angel asks.

Spike is smoking on the balcony. Buffy is in the tub.

“We’re a family, Angel,” he says, dropping his spent butt over the railing and tracking the dying ember as it floats down into the darkness. “You don’t want to admit it, but it’s true. You want to think that you had something special, something no one could touch, the great love--” and here, Spike draws a heart in the air with his two index fingers, “of all time, but I love her, too.”

“It’s not the same,” Angel says.

“It never is,” Spike sighs. “And if you weren’t so bleedin’ morose all the time, I could love you a little, as well.”

Angel looks away.

“We’re better together,” Spike says. “All of us.”

Spike sounds so positive, like he has some sort of insider information.

“What does she think about all this?”

“Why don’t you ask me?” Buffy says from the door.

*

Her hair is damp and her skin is flushed. The little cotton robe is open to reveal the smooth skin of her neck and the tuft of hair between her legs is visible because of the light coming from the room behind her.

God he loves her.

Spike gives Angel a conspiratorial nod and stops to kiss Buffy’s forehead as he passes by her and disappears through the balcony door.

“So,” she says.

When Angel doesn’t respond she says: “I feel good.”

“You and Spike?”

Buffy smiles. “If memory serves there was a little you and Spike back there, too.”

“Yeah well, we go back a long ways.”

“Angel,” Buffy says and she’s close enough now that his fingers have begun to tingle with the urge to touch her. “I know it’s not what you’d imagined, but it’s--” She pauses, searching for the right word. “possible that we could be for each other what nobody else could ever be for any one of us.”

Angel lifts his hand and traces the line of Buffy’s throat.

“It’s not what I wanted for you,” he whispers.

“You’ve really gotta stop with the ‘Me Tarzan, you Jane’ routine,” Buffy says taking his hand and sliding it down inside her robe, down to cup her breast. “I’m all grown up now. I’ve got my cake and I want to eat it, too.” She offers him a dazzling smile.

“Still,” he says. Her nipple is puckering against his palm and his cock is swelling in his pants.

She steps back and shrugs off her robe. The breeze snaps it up and it drifts over the railing, floats out and out.

He kisses her then because he has to.

He has no choice.

And when Spike appears at the door, smiling, he has no choice but to follow them both inside.

*

Spike is on one side of Buffy and Angel is on the other.

She is asleep and they are awake.

“Sooner or later this will be too much,” Angel says.

Spike twists his head and lifts a speculative eyebrow.

“She’s tougher than you give her credit for, mate.”

“I know,” Angel agrees.

“So am I.”

This makes Angel smile. “I know that, too.”

Angel rolls over onto his side, slides his hand down Buffy’s flat belly, his fingers dipping into the tangle of hair between her legs. She is wet, ready. He meets Spike’s eyes.

“I love her,” he says to Spike.

“I know,” Spike replies. “So do I.”

Angel nods. Spike moves up onto one elbow and leans across Buffy. His mouth is soft against Angel’s and for the first time in a long time, Angel remembers what home feels like.

THE END

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