Title: The Red Curse
Pairing(s): Various/Spike, Fred/Wesley, others as story develops
Rating/Warnings: NC-17 (Non-con/Rape, BDSM, torture, violence, language) Previous Parts
A/N: Thanks to those who commented on the last chapter. I've been sick with the flu, so couldn't get to them yet. Also, because of that fact, I must again add extra warnings in case of any mistakes in this chapter.
And in case some didn't read it -- there will be one more chapter post next week, and then this story will be taking a 2 week hiatus while I'm on a mini-vacation and then have a work-related trip.
Again, thank you to those who are still reading!
Part 21: Helping
Angel had to stop his tales as they neared Los Angeles in order to direct Riley to Spike's mansion. But either the blood had strengthened Spike enough, or the stories of their past had a lasting impact, because the younger vampire did not revert to the whimpering or cringing of before. He was quiet, though he stared blankly forward, and every once in a while Angel would feel a flinch against his body. He kept up what he hoped was a soothing stroking motion up and down Spike's shoulder, and told himself that as long as Spike was allowing this at all, it was a good sign.
There was a peachy tinge to the sky when they entered the grounds, the sun's rays lighting the red and gold exterior of the mansion. Angel instructed Riley as close to the front doors as possible.
“You really live here?” Riley asked, staring at the mansion in amazement.
“It's in Spike's name,” Angel said. He pulled up the collar of his shirt and then drew the leather of his jacket over Spike's head. The younger vampire still seemed aware, but he muttered softly to himself, and didn't look towards Angel.
“It couldn't have been safe to abandon it,” Riley mused.
“It's warded,” Angel explained. “And we didn't leave it unattended.”
A knock on the car window made Angel jump. He turned to see Gunn standing outside. “We'll get it opened up for you. Don't be long. Looks like it's going to be a bright day.”
Angel tried to check Spike again, but was met with a hard shrug as Spike pulled his coat up. “Not a sodding invalid,” Spike muttered. “Just worry about moving yourself.”
Angel immediately reached out and grasped Spike by the forearm before he could slip away. “Don't go hiding in those damn secret passageways. Spike, look at me.” Irritated eyes tempered by resignation turned towards him. “Promise me you won't do anything stupid. I can help you, but only if you let me.”
“No one can help me,” Spike murmured. Angel released him, and Spike pushed the car door open and darted out in a whirl of leather. Angel growled, then ducked his head and rushed out after him.
Inside, Angel patted away the last dregs of burnt feeling and smoke from the back of his neck. Spike had run off, of course. He sighed and rolled his eyes ceiling-ward.
Gunn was setting an armful of weapons against a cabinet. “Kate's putting Wesley in Lindsey's old quarters,” he said. “Harmony's grabbing some clothes so he has something to wear other than cowboy plaid.”
“Harmony?” Riley asked as he walked in. He tossed Angel the keys to the car, eyes filled with a vague panic. “Tell me that's not the Harmony I think it is. Does she have a soul, too?”
“Not unless they had a sale,” Gunn said. “She's good, more or less. As long as she gets paid, anyway. Come on, I'll show you to the bedrooms.”
Angel set off for his own room, intending to shower and give himself a quick change of clothes before he returned to Spike. Though, at the moment, he really had the urge to add “go beat the shit out of Wesley” to the agenda, just to make sure there really was no way to reverse the spell.
He passed Spike's room and smelled the steam that came from the younger vampire's own shower. Briefly, he considered entering. But if Spike had spoken the truth about the curse, Angel didn't want to know what memories would be stirred by another man coming in while he showered.
Running his hand through his hair in frustration, he forced himself away from Spike's room. He silently promised that he would be back soon.
Spike muffled a scream against his forearm as hot water pelted his naked body. He was filled with such rage, frustration and despair that he felt faint. But he so desperately wanted to be clean, to wash away the scent of blood and human and demon paws on his flesh. He scrubbed and abraded his skin, steam clogging his nostrils. His eyes burned with tears. The collar remained around his neck – he'd searched for a clasp, but it seemed to have been sealed shut somehow. He would need help to have the sodding thing removed.
After the shower, he gave himself a rough towel-off and tried not to think about Fred's hands as they'd cleansed him on that bank. Of course, that was when he felt it – the slender fingers stroking up his back.
It was bloody hopeless was what it was. Soul-guilt aside, he'd managed to get by in the car when Angel had taken the storytelling wheel and traipsed him down memory lane. But when it came to himself, Spike was bloody shit at keeping his mind focused on thoughts to cause the least amount of pain.
He frowned. Actually, just at that moment, there was less pain than he'd expected. And he was fairly certain that Fred's touch hadn't ever been quite this familiar...
Spike shut his eyes as it hit him. “How the bloody hell did you get in here?”
The touch faltered and drew away. “The host was not warded against entry.”
bloody call her that,” Spike snarled. He rounded on blue eyes that stared, unblinking and unsympathetic. “Her name was Fred.”
Illyria was motionless. “Winifred Burkle.” She raised her hand, and a spark of electricity jumped between her fingers. Her voice changed, echoed Fred's desperate words of encouragement. “Spike, hold on.”
A ripple of horror ran through him and he felt a tight vice about his cock and bollocks, and chains cutting into his wrists and a burning in his arms. But it was second to the rage he felt, the total disregard Illyria had for the life she had taken. He ran at her, fist raised. He met only air, his shoulder roughly slamming into the tile wall.
Her voice came from behind him. “You weaken.”
Spike slumped his shoulders, the violence gone from him. “Why are you here?”
“I cannot leave. This form, it reeks of humanity.”
“Not so into conquering dimensions and subjugating entire races without the help of your great army, eh, pet?” Spike pushed off the wall and moved into his bedroom. He tried to ignore the persisting fire in his genitals. “So, you'd rather just get ripped to pieces in the nothingness of space with the rest of us?”
She followed him, her voice taking on an undercurrent of neediness. “The host had faith in you. Perhaps too much.”
Spike sighed. He winced as he pulled on a pair of pants. “Seems like there's a lot of that going around.”
“Yet you do not give up. Even now you ready yourself for battle.”
Spike barked out a laugh as he drew a shirt over his head. “Sorry to disappoint you, but there are no literal battles to be fought at the moment.” He sat heavily onto his bed and bent his neck tiredly. “At least for a few days.”
“You still plan to attempt to close the portal.”
“This is folly.”
Spike stared bleakly at nothing in particular. “So is sitting around for the next few years to wait for the end of the world.”
“This is also true,” Illyria agreed. “It is a situation in which there can be no victory.”
Spike raised an eyebrow. “You should really look into a career as a motivational speaker.”
“My followers were motivated by the very sight of me. I could tear my enemies to pieces with a single thought, leave their skulls open and rake through their worst fears.”
God, he needed a drink. Spike reached beneath the bed and pulled free a bottle of Jack Daniels that he'd secretly stolen from Lindsey's supply for such an occasion. He wondered if the effects of alcohol could dim the pain of the curse. With his luck, it would probably just make things worse.
He twisted off the cap and took a deep swig. Immediately, he felt a phantom bar stool beneath his arse, and a punch hard enough to blacken his eye.
“You are trapped in memory again,” Ilyria observed.
Spike tried to control his breathing and took another drink. “You really planning on sticking around?”
“I've nowhere to go. My kingdom is long dead.” Her eyes scanned the room, as if it was an oddity she could not grasp. “I must learn to walk in this world.”
Another mouthful of burning whisky ran over Spike's tongue. It didn't do anything for the physical pain, but he felt like some of his sadness seemed to ease. Or maybe that was just a bloody placebo effect. Either way, he'd take it.
He set the bottle down on the nightstand and squinted up at Illyria. “And you've settled on here.”
She stared, but didn't answer.
“Right, then we're going to have some ground rules.” Spike sucked in a steadying breath and moved to his feet. He approached Illyria until they were face to face, and tried to summon up a bit of intimidation. “You're not to slaughter any more humans. I get wind of any more killings from you, I'll throw you out on your speckled blue arse. And if I hear you're killing after that, well... I might not be able to defeat you, but I'll try until it kills me. And we both know how long that will be.”
She narrowed her gaze indignantly. “But your kind subsists on humans for nourishment.”
“You're thinking of the soulless variety of vampire,” Spike said.
Her tone grew accusing. “You fed on that male human recently. I can smell it on your breath.”
Spike winced as he was reminded of Riley's forceful offering. Now that he was out of the pain of the moment, he remembered a hint of a scent of arousal. He shuddered. Feeding from Riley was certainly going to be a one time thing.
“Not the same. Wouldn't have agreed to it if he wasn't so insistent, and I didn't have a lot of other options. The soul means that on a good day I'll feel massive poundings of guilt for partaking in human blood. With this curse, it's a bloody fucking nightmare.”
Illyria tilted her head speculatively. “Your soul... yes, it was why Winifred Burkle trusted you. The soul made you harmless to human life. Is the possession of a soul something you will require of me?”
Illyria was either very naive, or else she had a method to extract souls that Spike really did not want to know about. Especially if she was going to be in proximity to Angel. “Only two subjects in that particular data pool, pet. Not enough to make me an expert. Just stick with the no killing, and I'll be happy.”
“And this is all you require.”
“Not exactly,” Spike said. “Don't... don't do what you did before, with the bloody electrical impulse thing. S'bad enough you're walking around wearing the skin of the woman you murdered. Don't make light of her death by impersonating her. Especially if you're around Percy. If he's not already 'round the bloody bend, that will catapult him the rest of the way there.”
Illyria closed her eyes briefly. When she re-opened them, she again peered at Spike like he was a particularly interesting bug. “You have been harmed before by someone who mimicked the host.”
Spike felt white panic and a moment later the near-empty bottle was shattering against the wall. His chest heaved and he snarled in aggression borne of terror, “Just bloody leave me!”
In response, a hand clamped about his neck and lifted him, slamming his back into the bed. “You do not wish to be alone,” Illyria breathed into his face. There was almost no odor to her, save for the vague hint of death. “Even now, your body warms. I can give you what you desire.”
Spike swallowed around the grip on his throat. “Unless you have a way for me to sleep without being tormented by the hellgod living in my cranium, I sincerely doubt that.”
Her hand reached for his zipper. Spike bucked as fingers grazed his crotch. “Illyria!”
“You crave being mastered. Only then are you truly at peace.”
Spike's voice grew strained. “Think you have a bit of a twisted idea of what 'peace' means.”
Her blue lips twisted into a smile. “Yet you do not forbid me this contact.”
He had no answer for that. Maybe she was right, or maybe he had finally been worn down enough by the trials of the past weeks that fighting was just too much of an effort.
Her hand continued its ministrations, and he arched into her as she gave a firm twist. Fuck, but it did feel good. It also broke what was left of his shattered heart.
Spike shut his eyes, and waited for the memories to crowd in on him.
Angel wasn't sure what he was expecting when he entered Spike's room. Spike curled in the fetal position. Spike drinking himself sick. Maybe Spike keeping up that maddening front of stoicism because he wanted Angel to leave him alone.
Angel had known Spike a long time. He was many things, but never a loner. He needed contact. Fred had been the only one among them that could consistently get under Spike's armor, and now she was dead. Angel knew he would be a poor substitute – there was too much baggage there, too many dead bodies between them, too many fights wreathed in bitter hatred. “Healthy” was not a word he would ever use to describe their relationship.
But Angel was determined not to give up. He'd fucked up far too many times when it came to Spike, and Spike had given up so much for them. It was the least he could do to keep trying to get under that stubborn idiot's walls.
His contemplation was broken when he heard a low moan come from inside Spike's room. Angel frowned, prepared to barge in, thinking Spike was in pain from the curse. But the moan returned, and with a deepening of his frown Angel realized that there was more than agony in the voice. Angel abruptly began a second internal fight, not wanting to interrupt Spike if he was finding some sort of solace in sexual pleasure, and deep down feeling a little bit jealous that he could do so.
But then he heard the voice. Low, and feminine, and full of surety.
Angel twisted the doorknob so hard that the door splintered around it. His eyes crossed the large bedroom and immediately focused on the bed against the far wall. An armored Illyria was above Spike, her hand moving rhythmically beneath the younger vampire's pants. The air was heavy with lust. Angel thought he saw outlines of glowing blue raise to the ceiling about Illyria's body – a ghost of her true form.
Illyria turned her head and stared with piercing blue eyes, and the image faded. Beneath her, Spike's breathing hitched and he cursed.
“Bugger, Angel – Illyria, get off
, you bloody human-shaped blueberry.”
Illyria gracefully slid from him without a word, her palm glistening with moisture. She took up a stance next to the bed, her face expressionless. Spike quickly sat up, his eyes carefully averted as he zipped up his pants. Angel didn't fail to notice the heavy smell of alcohol, both on Spike and the shards of glass scattered across the floor in the corner.
Illyria looked at Angel, and then returned her gaze to Spike. “You would prefer this one to pleasure you.”
Angel let the anger overtake the other emotional responses that formed from that statement. He started forward, threateningly. “You need to get the hell out of here.”
“No,” Spike said. “She's right.” He winced, then stammered. “I mean – not about the pleasuring bit – but she was trying to help.”
Angel's disgust flared bright. Spike having sex with the evil demon that had killed Fred sparked something cruel inside of him. “By raping you. Jesus, Spike, if I'd've known that was what you wanted, I would have insisted on keeping Lindsey here.”
Spike jerked, his eyes wide and staring at Angel in shocked hurt. Then his body collapsed back against the sheets, white knuckles standing out against crabbed fingers. Spike grunted, again and again in a rhythm. Angel felt his guilt return full force as he realized that he was witnessing another attack from the curse, one for which Spike was helpless to smother his reactions.
Angel clenched his fists as his own emotions assaulted him. Fuck, what was wrong with him? He'd come in here to help
for Christ's sake, had planned on doing everything in Spike's best interests as soon as he'd realized the damage done by the Red Curse. Why was it so easy to keep adding to his suffering?
He stepped forward, but was stopped by a hard hand in the middle of his chest. Illyria glared at him. “You wish to make this better?”
Angel tried to ignore the fact that her hand smelled heavily of Spike. “God, yes,” he said, though the words were more for himself.
The hand shoved him so suddenly that he lost his balance and fell back onto his ass in the hallway outside the room.
Illyria stood in the doorway, her eyes cold and unforgiving. “Then you must leave.”
The door slam echoed heavily in Angel's ears.