From the body of one guilty deed a thousand ghostly fears and haunting thoughts proceed. --William Wordsworth Mistakes There are mistakes, and then there are mistakes. There are mistakes like 'Oops, I got 2% milk instead of nonfat.' Or, 'Damn, I meant to spell 'hear' and spelled 'here' instead.' But sometimes, mistakes are more painful. Mistakes like, 'I got drunk and operated a motor vehicle, conversely killing an innocent driver in another car.' Or, 'I drank the blood of a young, tender gypsy girl.' Yeah, that one was quite a mistake. But last night -- Last night, I made a mistake that thoughtlessly wounded the two other parties involved. One of the parties in particular. And myself, of course, because for a mistake that I make to go without guilt is absurd. In any case, it was far past midnight when I heard the key fumbling in the lock of the office door. Wesley, maybe, I think, rising from the comforting familiarity of my desk where neat stacks of papers are in towers. He comes back sometimes to finish -- Nope, not Wesley. Cordelia, bright-eyed and grinning and slightly mussed. Her perfect brows raise in surprise when she sees me come out of my office and lean against the doorjamb. A small 'o' transforms her lips. "Angel," she says, slurring the last syllable of my name. She doesn't drink often. Very rarely, in fact. So it's a surprise to me to see her this way, her lipstick rubbed off, her hair tucked carelessly behind one ear. When she left earlier in the evening with a girlfriend, both of them shiny and perfumed, she had given me an admonishment not to work too late and then wrinkled her nose at Spike who sat lounging in a swivel chair. "Bye, *Sprite*," she called over her shoulder, delighting in the childish new nickname she'd devised for him. He growled after her, making a halfhearted attempt to get up, but she wasn't fazed. "Bring it on, gelding," she taunted, much to the amusement of her friend, who tittered. "Let's go," she commanded with a wave of her hand toward the door. "Who are those guys?" drifted back up the stairs, and I blinked at Cordelia's answering reply. "My boss and his...companion..." She blinks owlishly at me in the darkness. "I left my house keys," she explains, looking about her as if they would be perhaps lying on the floor. "I need my house keys. To get in my house." She nods her head to punctuate her knowledge of this fact. "Dennis is home," I say, and she giggles. "You're right, Angel! Dennis is home! Dennis is always home. Good Dennis. Nice, good Dennis," she laughs, as she drops into the same swivel chair Spike had been sitting in when she left. "Oof, I need a drink." "How were you going to get home? How did you get *here*?" I ask, wondering if her friend had also been drunk. "I hitched," she says seriously, then laughs at the horrified expression that must cross my face. You don't hitchhike in Los Angeles unless you like being dead. "No, I didn't. There was a cab. A pretty yellow one. Now another pretty yellow one has to come and take me home." "Just stay here," I sigh, already crossing the floor to help her. "I can get up," she insists, but when she tries, the chair rolls away from under her and she winds up on her slim rear end. "Huh," she says, puzzled. "Why are there moving objects attached to that seat?" "Beats me," I say, humoring her. "Makes it hard for drunks to sit down, doesn't it?" We head toward the elevator, her arm firmly tucked in mine. "Yeah," she says absently, moving into the elevator and leaning back against the wall. "This thing is going too fast." "It's not going anywhere yet," I inform her, sliding the cage door closed and pressing the button. We descend in silence. Reaching the apartment, she follows me obediently to the couch and sits down. She kicks off her high-heeled sandals and looks around, licking her lips. "Got anything to eat? 'Sides blood." "Do I ever have anything to eat?" I ask dryly, glancing toward the darkened bedroom where I know Spike is sleeping. With the short attention span that only the intoxicated have, she forgets about food and begins to unbutton her blouse. "Tired," she yawns, fumbling with the buttons. "And why did I wear a shirt that's so hard to open?" I try to avert my eyes as I sit next to her and finish undoing her buttons. Thankfully, she wears a silky white camisole top underneath, but I still can't help seeing her full breasts push against the flimsy material. I've made love to Cordelia, lifetimes ago. Actually, it was just before Spike came, so only a few years past. It was passionate and it was tender and it was warm and it was fulfilling, but it was a poor substitute for the other woman that I was dreaming of the entire time. I tried more than once to see only Cordy, to know that it was Cordy I was touching and it was Cordy who clutched at me and whimpered when I entered her, I tried my damnedest to want her and need her. I tried my damnedest to love her. I failed at all of those things, and Cordelia is far from stupid. So it ended as easily as it began, our little time together, and though Cordelia Chase might be conceited and thoughtless and selfish, she has grace and dignity and self-respect. We're friends, Cordelia and I, and while I love her the best I know how, I was not and never will be in love with her. When Spike came, and Cordelia unwittingly discovered the nature of our relationship, it was a giant credit to her that she did not question me about it or demand to know why Spike can share my bed when she can't. She just arched a fine black brow at me when he marched naked into the living room and snatched a beer from the refrigerator. "Hullo, princess," he winked, and disappeared again. I could only shrug, and blush. She looks up at me now, her eyes bright with alcohol and her skin luminous from the tiny light over the stove. The rest of the apartment is dark and still. We're very close to each other. "Angel," she murmurs, and then her perfectly shaped lips are touching mine, and I can taste the rum and pineapple juice she consumed earlier. The mistake begins there, not started by me but perpetuated all the same, and it grows. It grows when I, startled by the realization that I miss human warmth, put my hand to her cheek and let her nuzzle me with soft kisses. It grows further when she deepens the kiss and I let her, making my mouth go pliant against hers and allowing her access to my tongue. And it grows to gigantic proportions when I hear her sigh into my mouth and settle against me, and I do nothing to stop her. Until, that is, I snap back to reality with a jerk. We've been down this road before, and while I would give a thousand lifetimes to make it different, I know it will never be. And I also know that if Cordelia were sober, this situation would be an impossibility. Not to mention the single most important reason why this is not something I want, why it's something that I don't think I'll *ever* want. The reason is sleeping soundly in my bed, most likely with his Docs on, a still-burning cigarette probably dangling from his black-nailed fingertips. Her mouth is still soft on mine as I start to put my hands on her shoulders. Before I can push her gently, however, a cough from the darkness startles me and I break away from Cordelia. She opens her enormous child-woman eyes and blinks once. "Oh," she says. "Oh." And bites her bottom lip in embarrassment. I purposely don't look toward the doorway of the bedroom. I soften her chagrin with a kiss to her forehead. "Get some sleep," I whisper, and she nods. "Angel, I --" "No," I cut her off firmly. "No, it's all right. Good night, Cordy." "'Night," she murmurs, already fading off to sleep, turning her back to me and nestling into the cushions of the couch. Tomorrow it will be only a blurry memory, and I'm glad for both of us. I pause to lay her shirt over the back of a chair and drape a light blanket over her still form. Then I turn toward the bedroom, unexplainably sad, and wanting the comfort of Spike and his lean hardness. He stands in the doorway, bare-chested, black jeans slung low. I can see the cut line of his hips as his abdominal muscles meld into pelvic bones. He stares at Cordelia, then accusingly at me. In the morning, he is gone.
He returns home in two days, beaten and bloody. Straight to the refrigerator, rips open a fat plastic bag of blood. Drains it while leaning one forearm heavily against the tile counter. Never mind the fact that I have paced a groove into the wood floor. Never mind the fact that for forty-eight hours, I did not sleep and went to the roof six times to look out over the twinkling city. Never mind the fact that Cordelia avoided my gaze and looked guiltily at Spike's duster, which lay on the floor of the office where he had last discarded it. Never mind all that, because he's home now, though every fiber of his body radiates stiffness and pride. Another bag of blood, this one only half-done, and he leaves it to drip on the counter. Into the bedroom, kicks the door closed. Mistakes will be the death of me. Again. I feel sick at the thought of what's happened, what he saw, what he obviously misunderstood. I feel sick that his anger has gotten the best of him, because I know it's tormenting for him to even admit he cares that much. I feel sick that I made such a mistake, that I hurt Cordelia and myself and especially Spike in the whole terrible process. It's been a difficult year for the two of us, adjusting to a new kind of life together. He's disrespectful and messy and fidgety and loud. He calls me nasty names and makes fun of the products I keep in the bathroom. '...why the fuck is there facial scrub in here, angelus...you don't even fucking have dead skin cells to ex...exfol...' 'exfoliate.' 'what the fuck ever.' He torments Wesley, who remains stoic and martyr-like under Spike's onslaught. 'you fit in well with us, watcher. two gelded vampires and a puss.' He leers at Cordelia, who most of the time puts on her best I-can-ignore-you-forever face, unless she catches him trying to sniff her clothes or cop a feel if she walks too close to him. 'try that again, you moral equivalent of a diseased leech, and i'll put holy water in your bags of blood.' He doesn't remember that you can't put metal in the microwave and so far I've had to replace two of them. There are two cigarette burns on the underside of one of the sofa cushions. I turned it over, but I know they're there. He steals money for beer and doesn't wash a single dish and left an empty bottle of peroxide overturned on my best towel so it dripped out and left a nice yellow-white stain. He is annoying and insufferable and attention-getting. And sometimes, his eyes are so blue that I have to stop and blink and look at them again because I could swear that someone took a piece of sky and painted his eyes with it, then framed the whole picture with thick black lashes. His eyes glimmer at me and they laugh at me and most often, they haunt me, and this is why Spike is allowed to leave his dirty dishes on the counter and burning cigarettes on the table and empty bags of reheated blood in the sink instead of in the trash. His eyes, which would be the windows to his soul if he ever had one, follow me around the apartment and then glance quickly away when I try to catch him looking. The eyes that two nights ago were accusing and stormy, and then shuttered and dark. Those shuttered and dark eyes were the ones that used to watch with anguish when Drusilla would run to me rather than him. Those shuttered eyes would watch, and turn away, and it was so damn amusing to me that William the fucking Bloody was in pain over a wraith of a girl who was convinced that the flowers were telling her jokes. I compounded on Spike's pain, first with Drusilla, then eventually with Buffy. My soul returned to me or not, it didn't matter to Spike, because to him I was a demon simply by my actions. And I was, it seems, and still am, and both of us dance around the plain fact that I had left him all those years ago and didn't return. And then when the laughable thing that is fate brought our paths together again, I still did not belong to him and he knew damn well I didn't want him to belong to me. So, he hated me even more than he had ever known how to before. And then Buffy died. When a little piece of the tremulous soul I have went with her, Spike sensed the loss immediately. It angered him even further. He has never had that piece of me, and for a killer of our kind to possess something he wants, well... So now I stare at the closed door of the bedroom and consider how to make reparations. Reparations for allowing him to see me kissing a tipsy Cordelia on the couch of the apartment we share. Reparations for showing him that, once again, there is a part of me that he doesn't have and most likely never will. The door isn't locked, which makes me hopeful. I'm hoping that he left it open on purpose, rather than accidentally. Looking in, I see him lying stiffly on his back on the bed. Blood is already staining the forest-green sheets. "Are you hurt?" Moron, of course he is. "Nope." "There's blood, Spike. Yours." He glances down at himself. "Huh. So there is." I cross the room and stand at the foot of the bed. "Do you want me to help you get your clothes off?" I'm an idiot. Why am I asking him questions that he can say 'no' to? "No." "All right." Not knowing what else to do, I leave the room. ^*^*^*^* Returning to the bedroom an hour later finds Spike huddled underneath the covers and his dirty clothes in a ball on the floor. I do a quick scan of the sheets to see if there is any more blood, and it seems that he is healing. I could sleep on the couch, I guess... Discarding that idea, I shuck my clothes and climb in with him, noting how far over toward the edge of the bed he is. He was always an expert at creating invisible barriers. I know he isn't asleep because he's fidgeting, but I let him pretend. I lie and stare at the ceiling, my hands steepled on my stomach. Why do I feel like the childe? I am the sire, I have power and authority and dominance. I'm Angelus, childe of Darla, sire of Penn and Drusilla and William, the Scourge of Europe -- "D'ya still miss the git, Angelus? Is that it?" His soft voice startles me out of my thoughts. I turn my head to look at him. He rests his blonde head on the green-sheeted pillow, studying me. "Buffy, you mean?" A barely perceptible nod. "I'll always miss her," I say truthfully. "But she isn't...she doesn't..." Pausing, I search for the right thing to say that will encompass both truth and comfort. "I know she ain't here," he says slowly, "but she is. She's here. You look for her everywhere. Why the soddin' hell do you keep that useless brat Cordelia, if she don't remind you of the slayer?" There's truth in that, and he knows it. "I ain't enough for you," is his next comment. "I never was. You left, and found yourself a fucking soul, and now all your goodness and light is enough to keep you content." It's so ridiculous that I laugh, and his eyes narrow. He hates to be laughed at. But really, content? Is he blind? No. I am. Acceptance and tolerance and forgiveness are not things that Spike wants, not things that he has ever wanted. He wants my love, and I've been reluctant to give it for fear of his retribution, for fear that he will take the love that I give him and he will leave me. As I left him. His head still lies on the pillow, watching me, a small furrow appearing between his brow. His eyes begin to take on that empty appearance as the emotion drains from them, and suddenly I couldn't bear it if his eyes are ever empty again. A kiss is what he wants, and he asked me as plainly as if he'd said it with words. Such a small wish to grant. So I rise up and over him and at once the light rushes back into those sky-eyes and his lips begin to form a rude grin and I don't look anymore because I have to kiss him and let the reassurance wash over him and make things better, because that's what I do. He kisses with passion, my boy does, throwing his entire body into the small movement of lips and tongue, pressing up against me and letting the whole of his lean hardness melt into me. I don't know where he learned how to kiss that way, only that he's been kissing me like that for a century and I hope he continues for centuries more. I look down and see that his cock is straining already, the tip a beautiful shade of purple, his soft pubic hair creating friction against my own stiff member, and suddenly I must taste it, I have to lavish attention on it, on him. The hiss he lets out is music. He brings in a breath of air again between his clenched teeth and murmurs my name when he feels me nudging his cock with my cheek, then suddenly all at once taking the entire length of him into my mouth and rubbing the sides with my tongue, nipping the tip with fangs that I didn't even know had descended, and sucking the ruby drop of blood that appears at the cut. More, I give him more, cupping his sensitive balls with one hand and bobbing my head smoothly over his cock, bringing him up and up and up until his ass begins to clench and his fingers grip my hair, up and up and up until he starts to quiver with the tension and is groaning my name uncontrollably. "...angelangelangel...." And then, surprising me completely, he pulls out of my mouth and slides out from under me and uses his whipcord strength to push me down flat on my stomach on the bed. "Hey," I question, "don't you want me to finish..? "Oh, you'll finish," he chuckles. "Next time around, you'll finish. Now shut yer mouth because you talk too damn much." So I do. And hooooooly Jesus, he's sliding right inside me, using a bit of blood and a lot of pre-fluid for lube. It's not often that he fucks me, not because I won't let him, but because he's still got preconceived notions of sire and childe bullshit, and who should fuck who and domination and submission and blah blah blah. So even though there have been countless times when I've presented him with the opportunity to do it, I can count on one hand the times he's actually taken the chance. Those times are usually when he's angry. He must still be angry. And oh, my fucking God, I don't care, because now he's eased one hand in between me and the sheet and found my weeping cock and he's squeezing it as expertly as he knows how, rocking against my back with furious thrusts and I can feel him so deep, so hard inside, and I move against his hand because if I don't come right now I think I might cry. And then I do, a tear finding its way out from my tightly closed eyes and quickly becoming lost among the fabric of the pillow because this feels like heaven and it's no different from any other time with Spike, it always feels this marvelous and emotional and angry and hurtful and...alive. I feel alive, with him. With Buffy, with Cordelia, with the thousands of other mortal women that came eons before, I was attuned to the difference in our bodies. I was dead, and they lived. But with Spike...I'm never dead. And he is as alive as he can be also, which is never as evident as it is when we fight and wrestle and roll around and fuck, like right now. And as he gasps above me and stiffens, I can feel the life pour from him into me, and then I'm pouring my own life into his strong hand below and I can't think because it feels too good and too much like home. He lies atop me for a while, his limbs languid and his torso heavy. Then he rolls to the side and away, banging open the drawer of the nightstand and finally giving a triumphant "Ha!" when he discovers a cigarette. The only light in the room is the tiny glowing tip, and I watch as his face is illuminated briefly when he takes a drag. All angles and sharp planes. "Want a hit?" he chuckles, knowing I'll glare disapprovingly. "Sure," I say, and take it from him. "Hey," he protests, watching with horror as I take a long drag of the cigarette, the ash at the end taunting him. I hand it back and expel a stream of smoke into the darkness. Thinking that maybe I should finally apologize for what he saw with Cordelia, I turn to face him. Immediately he shakes his head. "Just be quiet, cantcha, Angel? Why do you have to fucking talk all the bloody damn time?" I nod, and turn back to stare at the ceiling. I'm forgiven. ~End