Spike gritted his teeth as the nurse held out his duster to him. He slipped his left arm into the sleeve, then the right. He only felt the familiar caress of the leather once it touched his elbows and up. He started raising his hands to pull at the collar and adjust the duster over his shoulders, but realized it was useless. The nurse gave him a look and started reaching toward him. Spike scowled at her and she recoiled. He didn’t need anyone’s help, and he sure as hell didn’t want anyone’s pity.
Without another look, he strode out of the room – only to be brought to an abrupt halt when he came face to face with Angel. The bastard hadn’t deigned come by since his first visit, too busy lording over his evil minions, no doubt. He was leaning back against the wall opposite Spike’s room, arms crossed and the usual frown on his face. Spike’s scowl only deepened.
“What are you looking at?” he growled, just as the nurse hurried out of the room, a clipboard in hand
“There’s a form,” she said, handing it and a pen to Spike. “I need you to…”
She seemed to realize the words coming out of her mouth were absolutely ridiculous and fell silent, a deep blush darkening her features. Spike could feel a litany of curses rising to his mouth. He pinched his lips tightly and threw a glance at Angel. Did he know? Was that why he was there?
He had to know, because he pushed away from the wall and motioned for the nurse to give him the clipboard. Spike didn’t wait to see him sign and started walking away, striking the floor with his heels the way he wished he could strike with his fists. It was only when he reached the elevators that the absurdity of the situation struck him. He raised a hand and jabbed it at the recessed call button. After three tries, he would have torn the elevator’s doors apart – if he had only been able to use his hands.
“So where are you going, exactly?” Angel asked behind him.
Spike threw him his most poisonous glare. “Away from you and your so called doctors, that’s for sure.”
Reaching past him, Angel pressed a finger to the call button. It turned red. Spike glared a little harder.
“They did their best,” Angel said, almost idly, as though making conversation. “You’ve just got to give it time.”
Spike didn’t answer. He had given them two weeks when they had said it would take hours. And two weeks later, the only thing he could say for sure was that the stitches had barely left a mark.
The elevator pinged and Spike walked in past Angel, only to be confronted with the same problem again. This time, there were three dozens little buttons, all lined up and waiting. He would hit at least five if he tried to fling his hand at them, but it wasn’t like he had much of a choice. He started reaching toward the panel, but Angel’s hand was there before his. He pressed the topmost button, punching in a four-digit code on the security pad. The doors closed and the elevator started moving.
“You’re coming with me,” he said, a long-suffering sigh buried in his words.
Spike shouldered him away from the control panel. “Like hell I am!”
He pushed at the floor buttons, managing to light up seven random ones, but the elevator continued its ascent. Angel clasped his arm just above the elbow and squeezed – tight. Spike let out a shaky breath and looked at him.
“You are coming with me,” Angel said again, his voice as hard as his eyes as they plunged into Spike’s.
“Wanker. I could kick your ass if I wanted to.”
Angel didn’t reply. He let go of his arm and stepped back, standing in the center of the elevator with his hands clasped in front of him, his eyes looking straight ahead at the silver doors. Spike leaned back into the corner, scowling at nothing in particular. They didn’t say another word until they reached the penthouse. Angel stepped out without a look back. Spike watched him go but he didn’t move, waiting for the doors to close again. He had never cared for charity – and especially not when it was directed his way. That it was Angel offering it only added insult to injury.
The elevator pinged and the doors finally started sliding shut. Before they could meet, Angel’s hand slipped between then. The doors retracted again, and remained wide open as Angel straddled the threshold.
“Do not make me repeat myself, boy.”
Spike made himself meet his eyes, and put in that look all his contempt that Angel was resorting to this particular game. It was a dozen decades, half a dozen fights and two souls too late.
“What are you going to do?” he asked practically spitting the words out. “Clothe me? Feed me? Bathe me? Change the tv channels for me? Jerk me off?”
Angel didn’t even blink. “I’ll do what I have to.”
“Why?” Spike shook his head. “Is that one more punishment? Tired of the self-flagellation, so you’re playing Mother Theresa now?”
“Are you going to get out or do I have to make you?”
Spike kicked back at the metal panel behind him, propelling himself forward and leaving an indentation, he was sure. He walked past Angel with his head high, as though Angel were nothing but a butler holding a door for him. He stalked through the penthouse, glaring at the endless windows and their million-dollar view, scowling at the flat screen tv and the leather sofa in front of it. The cushions looked broken in just right. Bastard.
“Hungry?” Angel asked as he came up behind him.
His hands rested on Spike’s shoulders for an instant, long enough that Spike’s mouth opened to tell him where he could shove his comfort exactly, but before he could say a word Angel was tugging at the duster, pulling it off him in one fluid motion. Spike turned to him, incensed.
“Don’t you dare!”
Angel raised a questioning eyebrow at him, not even pausing as he folded the leather and laid it across a chair by the elevator. “Dare what?”
“Treat me like… like…”
“An invalid?” Angel finished for him, the same eyebrow turning almost mocking.
With a roar, Spike vamped out. He quelled his first instinct, which was to throw himself at Angel and punch his stupid face. That wouldn’t work. He couldn’t use his fists, but he still had other weapons, though. Bending his upper body low even as he spun, he kicked high, as high as he could reach – and caught Angel’s jaw. He straightened up again and jumped back, stunned that the blow had actually made contact, wary that the retaliation would be swift and less than pleasant. All Angel did, however, was touch the corner of his mouth and wipe a trace of blood there.
“Now that we’ve established you are not an invalid,” he said in his best ‘Spike is an idiot’ voice, “are you hungry?”
Spike dropped his gaze to the floor and, shifting back to his human features, muttered a defiant affirmative.
Without another word, Angel walked away, presumably to the kitchen. Spike could hear a fridge door opening, and soon the buzzing of a microwave. With a sigh, he followed the scent of blood. One more humiliation coming his way.
The mug of blood was already resting on the kitchen island when Spike reached it. Angel was on the other side of it, a second mug in his hands. Spike drew a high stool back with his foot and climbed on, contemplating the dark liquid inside the too white porcelain. The blood would stain it, in time. Blood always stained.
He sniffed once. “’S that otter?”
He looked up at Angel. “They gave me human blood in the hospital.”
The reaction he expected, frown of disgust or flash of anger in darkening eyes, did not materialize. Instead, Angel said simply, “I know.”
Spike rested his useless hands on the island on either side of the mug. He refused to ask.
“I could find a straw somewhere,” Angel offered.
The old shame rose again, choking Spike as it had years back in Sunnydale. “I’d rather starve,” he said, biting the words and meaning each of them.
Angel frowned, no doubt wondering why he would think a straw was worse than the alternative. He didn’t ask though, and Spike certainly wasn’t going to explain himself on that, not now, not any time soon.
After finishing his own dinner in one long gulp, Angel placed the mug in the sink and came to stand by Spike’s side. He picked up the other mug from the island and seemed to consider the logistics.
Spike scowled, growing impatient. “Well?”
With a small roll of his eyes, Angel raised the mug to Spike’s lips, gradually tilting it up. Spike drank as fast as he could, wanting nothing more than to be done already. The doctors had fed him through a tube, which he had thought at the time was revolting, but now he almost wished he could be back to that.
He licked his lips when Angel pulled the empty mug away, but a drop of blood had rolled too far already. He started twisting his head down to wipe his mouth against his upper arm, but Angel’s hand caught the back of his neck and held him in place.
“You were always such a messy eater,” he said, his tone almost scolding. He wiped the trail of blood with his thumb before bringing it to his mouth and sucking it clean.
Spike looked away. He pulled back from Angel’s hold, a little surprised – but not at all disappointed, no – when Angel easily let go.
“What now?” he asked, trying not to sound sulky. “Don’t you have clients to serve? More deals with the devil to make? Sully your soul some more?”
“Not today,” Angel said. “What would you like to do?”
“Wring a certain psycho Slayer’s neck comes to mind,” Spike said at once.
There was no heat to his words, though, and Angel seemed to pretend he hadn’t said anything wrong.
“Anything else? We’ve covered clothes and food. I think the next item on our list was a bath?”
Spike grimaced. Two weeks in a hospital bed with nothing but sponge baths – and those nowhere near as fun as they could have been.
“I suppose,” he muttered. “Shower would be fine. I’ll figure it out if you just…”
He couldn’t finish. He bit the inside of his cheek until he could taste his own blood.
“Come on, then,” Angel said, and led the way.
Spike followed, dragging his feet. It wasn’t like Angelus had never seen him naked, he told himself as he stood on porcelain tiles and stared straight ahead, not caring to watch Angel untie his shoelaces. It wasn’t even like he had never had to take care of him after he had been hurt.
But it was the first time Angel had. And while Spike had known why his Sire touched him or dressed his wounds – he was his, after all – he couldn’t begin to understand why Angel would want to.
The shoes came off, one after the other. Then Angel’s fingers were on his fly, and Spike’s jaw clenched at the elusive contact. It was more than he had felt from a hand that wasn’t his since regaining his body. He really couldn’t help it if his cock started hardening, so that he was half hard when Angel eased the jeans down his legs. Half hard, and just inches from Angel’s face.
Angel didn’t comment. He stood and, grabbing the bottom edge of Spike’s t-shirt, pulled it over his head. Turning away, he reached inside the shower stall and turned on the water. He moved out of the way to let Spike in.
The powerful jet of burning water was a shock and Spike let out a gasp of pleasure. He stood beneath the spray and bent his head, letting the heat seep into his flesh and loosen up the knots in his shoulders. He didn’t even look at the soaps, shower gels and shampoos lined up on a small recessed shelf. Just this, the relentless pounding of water as hot as he could bear it, was perfect.
A pity that Angel had a thing against perfection.
“I don’t need—” Spike started when Angel stepped in behind him, but he didn’t have time to finish.
“Tilt your head back,” Angel demanded.
“Tilt your head back, boy.”
Again, that word. Like it could fix a hundred years’ worth of pretending Spike didn’t exist. He turned and glared at Angel. “I said—”
“I’m going to do this with or without your help,” Angel cut in, his voice as calm and cool as a pond newly freed from winter ice. “Your choice.”
Humiliation burned in Spike’s veins. He turned away, his back and neck as stiff as though Angelus had ordered him to stand straight. He heard Angel pick up something from the shelf, then felt the coolness of the shampoo applied to his scalp. Too gentle fingers started massaging it in.
“Tilt your head back,” Angel said again, lower this time. “It’s going to get in your eyes.”
Spike didn’t move, nor did he close his eyes. When Angel’s hand at the back of his neck again pushed him under the spray, the soap did get into his eyes. It stung, and he blinked furiously, but he never made a sound or protested. Burning tears washed the soap away.
“So stubborn,” Angel sighed, so close behind him suddenly that his lips touched Spike’s earlobe – so close that his hardening cock was nestled against the crack of Spike’s ass.
Spike’s attempt to move away from the unexpected contact was thwarted by Angel’s left arm pressing around his waist and holding him close. His right hand was already curling around Spike’s cock, which treacherously jumped into the all too familiar touch.
“Don’t do that!” Spike snapped, and tried yet again to pull away. With his hands hanging like dead weights at his side, it proved all but impossible.
“Say ‘don’t’ just once more,” Angel said, his forehead pressed to the back of Spike’s head, “and I’ll believe you. One more time and I’ll find you a pretty nurse to take care of you in your apartment or wherever else you want.”
Spike’s mouth opened – and closed again with a small snap. For long seconds, they both remained immobile. The fight drained out of Spike bit by bit. At last, very slowly, he leaned back until his head rested against Angel’s shoulder. His eyes were shut tight.
“How long?” he murmured. “How long ‘til you tire of it?”
Of me, he wanted to say, but managed to save those last shreds of dignity.
“How long until you do?” Angel asked back.
His hand started moving on Spike’s cock, slow, tight and just right. Spike didn’t reply. He knew at last that he didn’t need to.