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”Wes? Wesley – oi, wake up!” The lack of response had Spike wincing, and forcing himself to be quiet he listened hard through the darkness that seemed to have it's own scary personality. Now he was quiet he could hear the laboured breathing that told him Wesley was still with him and he breathed a sigh of relief. “OI!! Don't be telling me you're gonna get beat by a bloody Mummy's curse mate! You survived getting your throat cut – I would have thought this was a piece of piss!”

“Huh? Wha - “ Although slurred and obviously disorientated, he was pleased that the other man was responding at all. The stupid thing was, a few seconds later and it would have been Spike or Angel wrapped up in the booby trap and it would have had zero effect. Instead, one misstep, and Wes was caught tight in magical bonds, unable to escape, the life slowly being squeezed out of him. Worse than that, he had had to waste precious breath explaining to Angel exactly what he needed to bring back to break the curse in order to free Wesley. How ironic that the one man who could break the curse without effort was the one caught in it and therefore unable to do anything but wait. And suffer. And slowly die. Not that Spike was going to let that happen – not by a long stretch.

“Was just saying – you're tougher than this aren't you? Not gonna let something like this beat you down.” He knew he had to keep Wesley alert and distracted until Angel could get back and wracked his brains trying to think of something to say. A further irony – he could run his mouth off about anything and everything, but when he needed to talk the words were getting stuck. “Did I tell you about that time I faced off against a group of Millwall fans?? Went to the pub after a footy match and there they were, mouthing off and acting like the big I-AM. Course, I had to show them there were much scarier things than them in the pub didn't I? So, I picked up this pool cue and some darts and - “

He embellished the story shamelessly, exaggerating the amount of resistance he met and how many he fought. He kept an ear open for Wes' life signs whilst also craning for the noise of Angel returning. How long did it take for God's sake? He tried very hard not to think how long it had taken them to get here because he refused to dwell on it.

A harsh cough dragged his attention back to Wesley, and once more he wished that it was a bit lighter in the room. When Wesley had triggered the Mummy's trap, everything had shut down including all of the lights – he couldn't even see his own hands in front of his face, let alone get a good look at how Wes was doing. The cough turned into a rattle deep in Wes' chest and he knew it was getting just that bit too close. The other man's responses had been getting weaker and weaker, and Spike was really starting to think that if Angel didn't get his fat arse in gear, things were going to get ugly. But he could do something about that – he knew one topic of conversation that was bound to distract Wes from his predicament and who knew, maybe even give him a little something more to live for...

“Hey Wes, did you go to Boarding School?”

“Whu - “

“Just wondered if you got the same sort of education I got while I was in school. First time I ever took an interest in another bloke but not the last. What about you – get your first crush did you?”

“Spike - “ The voice was low and weak but at least he was still responding. Spike could hold onto that as something positive – Wes was still responding.

“Just wondered if you ever looked at blokes like that, if you know what I mean. You're a good looking bloke – bet you were kinda cute when you were younger. Did any of them bend you over and teach you anything?” The grunt from the vicinity of where Wes' head had been was encouraging – not many words anymore, but responding nevertheless. He would take what he could get. “You're a good looking bloke you are – not as good looking as me, but not bad, not bad at all. Don't mind telling you that I've been looking. You ever think about it – about ditching the birds and going for the weaker sex?”

“Wea - “

“Yeah, I said the weaker sex. You look at the women we surround ourselves with – believe me, we are the weaker sex when it comes to this lot. And sometimes you want hard, lean muscle instead of hot curves, know what I mean. Would enjoy seeing you all stretched out for me – see if your skin is as soft as I think it might be, if you like a firmer touch. I think you would – I think you've been looking too haven't you? Strange really, being a vamp we don't tend to think about gender but I've stuck mainly to the birds. But there is something about you – all that strength, all those brains, but you're such a good laugh an' all. Could enjoy pillow talk with you I reckon. Of course, we might be a bit too tired for chat the first few times but that's okay too. What do you think eh Wes? Stop beating around the bush and face this thing we've been building kinda by accident? Didn't set out for it but maybe that's the best thing. Everything else has been so in your face and full on from the get-go – kinda liking this slow build. Always thought slow build meant that the passion wasn't there, but I've kinda changed my mind now. Cos the passion is there – well, for me anyway. Spent a good few nights getting hot and bothered thinking about you. An' a few times woke up from some pretty interesting dreams. Got the feeling a few times you've been looking at me – or am I talking out of my arse? I don't think I am – I think you know exactly what I'm talking about, exactly what I mean.” He shuffled to try to get comfortable – another problem with the lack of lighting was not being able to see where they had come from or where he was going. He didn't want to make the wrong move and trigger another curse - not when this one was doing such a stellar job. “Do you know what I mean?”

“C-c-c-ccold.” That set off another wave of fear. Shifting carefully, he pulled off his duster and using touch managed to wrap it carefully around Wes' shoulders. And if he lingered just a few moments too long on the feel of the hard muscles of Wes' shoulder to reassure himself of the other man's solidity, there was no one else there to judge him for it.

“S'that better mate?? Not long now, yeah. You just hold on for me – Angel will be back, we'll knock out that spell and we'll get you home okay? You gotta hold on Wes – don't you wanna know what I can do with my tongue? I tell you something, Dru was always well happy in that department and the only other bloke I went with got really wound up when - “

He had no idea how long Spike had been talking. Long enough that his voice was a little bit raw. It was so hard to breathe but if he concentrated really hard, it happened automatically as he listened with everything within him to that voice. He wasn't sure just when the guttural cockney accent disappeared and instead he was listening to a voice that reminded him of his childhood, the cultured tones caressing his ears, keeping him aware and listening, intrigued. Spike wasn't wrong – there had been a young gentleman at his boarding school with whom he had shared an interesting relationship. Too repressed to actually do anything, they had enjoyed spending time together and in a different time, perhaps knowing what he knew now, Wesley would not have hesitated to act on his feelings.

He wondered whether he would get the opportunity to act on his feelings for Spike? For perhaps the last six months they seemed to have drifted rather lazily into spending time together. Visits to a British themed pub that served decent beer, had a darts board and a pool table. With Gunn and Fred often off together, Angel brooding in the corner and the loss of Cordelia, they all seemed to have moved apart. But Spike was surprisingly good company, able to debate on such a huge range of topics that sometimes Wesley completely forgot about his history with Angelus, Drusilla and Darla. At other times, they would talk about history and Spike was fascinating with his viewpoints on some pivotal points in time – if he ever decided to teach, his students would be extremely lucky. He shifted uncomfortably and felt the metaphysical bonds tighten infinitesimally, constricting his breathing just that little bit more.

“ - so you've got to hold on for me, okay? Come on, say something you bastard!” The anger in Spike's voice dragged him back and he wondered how long he had drifted off for. It was so difficult staying present when all he wanted to do was accept his fate and move away from all the pain. He was vaguely aware of a glaring light, seeing the panic and fear on Spike's face through his eyelashes before he took what felt like his final hiccuping breath, dragging in the comforting scent of Spike from the leather duster wrapped around him and drifted away.....

His colour was better. Mind you, anything was better than seeing how grey his skin tone had appeared beneath the glaring light of the torches Angel had brought back with him. Spike didn't think he would ever forget seeing Wes looking like that – the mystical bonds invisible to the naked eye but evident by the twisted form his body was forced to take. There had been something mildly satisfying in seeing him wrapped in Spike's duster – that and the fact that when Angel clumsily spoke the words of the spell, even in his semi-conscious state Wesley had grabbed hold of the jacket and held it close to him. It fed something in Spike to see Wesley took comfort in it. He'd even consider letting Wes keep it although, Christ, that made him sound like a lovesick teenager. He would dearly love to see Wesley wearing just the duster though – that hadn't been one of his previous fantasies but he could see it featuring quite prominently now.

Angel hadn't said anything when Spike insisted on staying with Wesley in the medical centre – had merely lifted his eyebrows for a brief moment, then nodded once and patted Spike on the shoulder. He wasn't particularly comfortable with that moment of understanding but he wasn't going to knock it when it meant he could stay where he was. Angel had even sent someone with some blood, a cot had been wheeled in so Spike could sleep relatively comfortably, and the nursing staff seemed to have been informed to work around him. It was – nice. Nice to have his interest acknowledged and accepted without arguing or fighting. Perhaps he and Wesley had been the last to see what others had seen long ago? Gunn had stuck his head around the door, enquired about Wes' health and simply told Spike to keep his boy safe. Fred had waved from behind him and he would have blushed if at all possible at the sweet look on her face as she took in the hand he was holding. He'd actually tried to let it go when the door opened but even asleep, Wes seemed to have a decent grip. And it was nice to have someone wanting him around, holding onto him instead of him trying to hold onto them.

A slight prickling sensation made him aware he was being watched and he looked up from their joined hands to Wesley's face, smiling at seeing those gorgeous eyes were watching him blearily.

“Hey.” He'd have to get Wesley some ice chips but at the moment he didn't want to move away. He kinda wanted to soak up the way Wes was looking at him, the way his hand was being held just that bit tighter. It had been scary – Angel had made it back barely in time with Wes having to be resuscitated once the spell had been cast. The silence lengthened and he realised he hadn't responded and that Wes was looking down at their joined hands, his brows raised enquiringly. Oh God, what if he had misunderstood? He didn't think he could stand to once again be chasing someone who didn't really want him – his heart just wouldn't take it. He sat up slightly, trying to pull his hand away gently without disturbing any of the medical paraphernalia. Perhaps it would be better if he just went away now before things got any more uncomfortable.

“How you doing? Anything you need? Sorry about this – I know we didn't talk about any of it and I don't want you think that I'm assuming - “


“Is there anything you want?” He didn't want to assume anything from Wes' speech although a tiny flicker of hope was there – he couldn't help it. Wes wasn't pulling away, wasn't beginning a speech about how Spike had misunderstood his friendship, how he wasn't interesting in anything like that or if he was, it wouldn't be with Spike. But still - what the hell had made him think that Wesley would return his interest? He needed to go – he needed to go now. A whisper of sound and he looked into Wes' face. “Didn't catch that – what do you need mate?”

“Need to feel that thing you do with your tongue.” Halting, quiet but the words were quite, quite clear and as he translated what Wesley had said in his head, Spike felt the smile bloom across his face. And for a moment, it felt like the Mummy's curse was wrapped around his chest as his breath caught.

“I can do that love. Soon as you're out of here, I can do that.”