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Fumbling Towards Ecstasy by TalesofSpike
Chapter 4.11
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Note: Thanks to my beta t_geyer for her unending patience, perseverance and support.


I love the time and in between
The calm inside me
In the space where I can breathe
I believe there is a distance I have wandered
To touch upon the years of
Reaching out and reaching in
Holding out and holding in

I believe
This is heaven to no one else but me
And I'll defend it
As long as I can be
Left here to linger in silence
If I choose to
Would you try to understand?

(Sarah McLachlan, Album - Fumbling Towards Ecstasy)
Thanks also to Emma for suggesting this way back
when I started FTE, even if it did take me three
months to follow through.
Hope she's still reading.

Chapter 4.11
Sunday, May 19th, 2002

"So, who's a gal gotta sleep with around here to get a bed for the night... or day?"

Angel looked up from the sketch he'd been working on, having been totally caught off guard by the woman's approach. The first genuine smile to grace his face in several days welcomed her to his office. "I'd settle for a hug."

The woman tilted her head to one side and gave the vampire a quizzical look. "If you're gonna go all fuzzy on me maybe it's time I was movin' on already." She picked up the legal pad and looked at the likeness there. "Still jonesin' for the cheerleaders, huh?"

"We-ell, it's..."

"Chill. Just makin' conversation. It wasn't meant to be Final Jeopardy. Now, not to be pushy but d'ya think you could point me in the direction of a shower and maybe some clothes that look less like I work in a garage? Oh, and you might want to get someone to ditch the car that's parked out back. I would have caught a bus but that would have been wicked conspicuous."

"Anything else you want?" the vamp asked sarcastically.

"I could murder a Big Mac and fries, but it'd get a bit wet if I took it in the shower with me. Feel free to have one waiting when I get out, though. Heavy on the pickle."

Angel shook his head with a wry smile. "I'll see what I can do. Here." He tossed her a set of keys, the room number inscribed on the tag. "It's mine so don't go getting too comfortable. Cordy left a couple of changes of clothes in her locker in the basement. She won't mind if you borrow something... Actually, she will. She'll probably tear me a new one if... well... when she finds out."

"I won't tell her if you don't."

The woman headed for the stairs.

"Faith?" The escaped felon turned back to see what her only friend had to say. "It's good to see you again."

"Yeah, well, thanks to the heads-up you gave me it seemed like a good idea to be seen. Come nightfall I better be on the move again. It's only a matter of time before they track down my only visitor other than my lawyer, even if you have moved up in the world since the last address they have for you... but I figured you'd get all grandma if I slid through town without saying hi."

Before Angel could think of a reply she was gone, bounding upstairs with an energy the vampire envied.

"Summers Residence, Bee speaking. Everybody that actually lives here is either really busy, not here or dying so if you'd like to leave a message after the tone, I'll scribble it down and if we get five minutes and it's important and I remember I'll tell someone. Beep."


"Beep. Now have you got something to say or not? ...because I really have better things to do than answer the phone to people who don't speak English."

"Who's dying? And who are you?"

"Well who did you think you called? I really don't have time for prank callers." Bee stuck the phone back in its cradle and pulled open the back door. "Rupert? Rupert?" She looked all round the back yard and then balanced on tip-toe, trying unsuccessfully to peer into the adjoining yards. "Rupert! You better come back here now. " She looked around again, checking the area for passers-by and then once she was sure that there was no-one who could see her she gave a shiver as if someone had walked over her grave and inhaled deeply through her nose. Shaking her head as if to clear it, she swore under her breath in a particularly guttural demon tongue before turning back to the house. The open bedroom window did nothing to alleviate her suspicions even though with her eyes half-closed she could see the faint shimmer of Tara's energy barrier, just inside it.

Spike ducked from one patch of shade to another until he could make his way underground. The fact that he was fairly certain that at present lifting a manhole cover single-handed was not within his capabilities complicated matters slightly. He had to make his way to a point where a storm drain let out into the river, and he was somewhat discomfited when he finally reached the shade of the sewer system to realise that he had not one but two animals in tow. Pulling off the uncomfortably tight helmet and placing it on the tunnel floor open side up, he turned to berate the animals.

"What the bleedin' hell do you mangy beasties think this is? A casting session for The Incredible Journey? Well, newsflash, I don't think we're goin' to meet Walt Disney. Bugger off, the pair of you!"

Rogue looked guiltily up at him, as if she assumed she'd done something wrong since he was shouting at her but didn't know quite what. Rupert showed his disdain for the vampire's tirade by sitting down and licking his genitals.

The blond gave a disconsolate sigh and picked what seemed like a marginally cleaner section of "wall" to rest against while he lit a cigarette and gathered his strength for the next section of the journey. This day was getting ridiculous. Followed by a dog was one thing, but followed by a dog that was followed by a cat... If this guy actually showed up he was going to have to kill him just to stop word getting out. As he drew deeply on his cigarette he noticed how Rogue kept one paw not quite touching the ground.

Tossing the half-smoked butt aside with a guilty look, he muttered as he knelt to check the dog's leg for broken bones. "Dr William bloody Dolittle an' I don't think."

"Tara?" Bee called out to the witch as she made her way back through the ground floor of the house towards the stairs. "Tara?"

The witch emerged from the dining room where she'd been looking through her notes again. "What's up?"

"You know that nice magical barrier you put up? Is there any way to check Spike's actually inside it?"

Tara dashed for the stairs even as she argued. "But he didn't come down. We'd have seen him."

"Only if he used the stairs and don't you think if he was still in here that there would have been at least a few 'Bloody Hell's... unless that barrier does soundproofing."

Skirting past the bedroom door, Tara headed for the bathroom. The connecting door there opened outwards into the smaller room and Tara had set the barrier on that wall so that it ran just inside the confines of Buffy and Spike's room. She pulled the door open and looked around. When she saw the open window she began the invocation that would dispel the magical energy. The barrier should have prevented Spike from being able to touch the window, let alone open it. He had to have gone before the spell was even cast.

Buffy lengthened her stride to clear the pile of scattered books that lay on and near the path. She pushed her way into the hall, darting toward the stairs just as her cell phone began to ring. She pulled it out of her pocket but let it ring until she had thrown the door to her room open, finding it empty except for Tara and Bee who was in the process of shutting the window.

"I'm sorry, Buffy. I thought he was inside. I should have checked."

"He's out there? On his own? In the state he was in this morning?"

The Wiccan nodded. "Only he actually got worse almost as soon as you left."

"Stupid darn vamp... Hello?" She snapped impatiently at the caller on the other end of the line.

"Buffy? What's this about Spike and some voodoo curse?"

"Angel? Who told you about Spike? He's not-. We don't think it's a curse any more."

"Buffy, when I called before I got some madwoman. She said he was dying and then hung up. Then I spoke to his Quarnoth demon and she said he was ill but that he would be alright."

"We found out he'd been poisoned, but we don't know yet what the guy used. Except for the arrow wound, he had every symptom you had three years ago and then some. Look, Angel, he's gone AWOL and he's really not fit to be walking round, let alone heading into whatever trap the guy who poisoned him has set up, but the absolute kicker is that the spirit of Christmas past is back for a return engagement. Now's a really bad time to chat and Lily's only half Quarnoth."

"The First? ...Is after Spike?"

"I thought I just said that. Look, I've really got to go. If we don't find him before he walks into whatever this guy has planned, it might not be suicide, but it'll be close enough. I'm sorry, Angel."

"Buffy, whatever you have to do, do it. Just let me know how it comes out."

"Sure. Bye." Buffy was already dialling the number for her sister's cell before Angel had even replaced the receiver. It never occurred to her that she didn't know why Angel had called in the first place.

The more Angel went over his recent conversation in his mind, the more four words seemed to repeat in his head over and over. If there was the least chance that he was right, the last thing he wanted to do was tell Buffy under the present circumstances. On the other side of the glass that separated his office from the main reception Faith was chatting to Connor between bites of burger, getting the basics of his life from him in her usual teasing way. Angel couldn't quite work out whether she was actually flirting with his son or if she just didn't know another way to talk. At least the teenager had been on his quest to McDonald's when she walked into reception wearing nothing but a very short bath towel. As he pondered the reasonableness of his assumption, Gunn and Fred made their way back into the hotel via the garden, which meant that the car Faith had stolen had been dropped off somewhere out of the way. If it was still there in a few days, Angel would have to notify the police anonymously, but for now it was no longer a problem.

He picked up the phone on his desk and rang through to Lorne's room. He drummed his fingers on the desktop as he waited for the demon to answer. "Lorne, I need you to hold the fort. The rest of us are going on a road trip."

Lorne hung up, wiped the sleep from his eyes and opened the room's curtains, blinking in the bright light. "A road trip? In daylight?"

"You're sure that's what he said?" Buffy quizzed her sister.

"I'm not deaf, Buffy. That's what he said. 1570 Maple."

"But there isn't a Maple. I've been all round this town on patrol and there is no street called Maple."

"That doesn't change what he said."

"Buffy..." Bee interrupted.


"Not all the 'streets' in Sunnydale are on the maps. The signs are a bit more discreet as in near-invisible and they aren't in English or any other human language for that matter, but as far as Spike... or Clem are concerned they're just as much part of the town as the ones above ground."

"You're telling me that sewers have names?"

"To the right people they do. You can thank Mayor Wilkins for that."

"So where's Maple?"

"I said they have names to the guys who use them. I never said that I was a sewer rat. You want a guide to subterranean Sunnydale, talk to Clem."

Clem lay as still as possible trying not to awaken the woman in his arms. He found it difficult to believe that she had stayed. It was stranger still that he found himself pleased that they had done nothing more than talk and lie together, even though there was a not inconsiderable amount of frustration involved in being so close to an attractive female who was dressed only in her underwear. This wasn't meant to be just a one-night stand. Somehow, the more unhurried progression of their relationship promised a greater emotional intimacy and he told himself yet again that that was more important than any immediate gratification. All his efforts turned out to be in vain, however, when he noticed a gleam of amber through the darkness of her lashes and felt her stretch into wakefulness beside him.

"Hey, you." Ha Nath smiled shyly after greeting him, revealing teeth that were perhaps more pointed than those of an average human but straight and gleaming white, just the same. She ducked her head slightly in her nervousness so that she watched his face through the veil of her hair though she made no effort to move away from him.

He slid a gentle hand under her chin, tilting her head up so that he could press his lips to hers, letting her know she had nothing to be nervous about. "Morning."

Along with the uncertainty the tension left her body and Clem, all too aware of every toned but passive muscle that rested against him, had to remind himself, yet again, that while rolling them both over and screwing her senseless might seem like a reasonable idea, it wouldn't necessarily help the longevity of the relationship.

"You sleep okay?" he asked.

Her smile brightened and she nodded. "Sure. Seems like we fit together pretty good."

A small voice inside Clem muttered, 'if only.' That didn't mean that the answer he gave out loud was any less sincere. "Yeah... I think we do." This time when their mouths met, the caress was anything but chaste and as his fingers stroked the hollows between the folds of skin on her cheek he could sense her desire flare to more than match his own before she pulled back to search his face.

There was a mixture of hope and anxiety in her voice as she sought reassurance from him. "This... the talking and the dancing and the just being together. It means something to you, too? I'm not imagining it? I mean if we... if... I'm not going to look back tomorrow and think I've been some sort of incredibly naive slut. I mean I don't expect you to guarantee happy ever after or anything just-."

Clem placed a finger on her lips. "It-you mean something. I'm not planning on letting you go any time soon."

A slender yellow-skinned hand slid under his T-shirt and Clem found himself rolled onto his back, dainty white teeth nibbling at his ear and a cascade of shimmering mahogany hair smothering his senses as it surrounded him in its fragrant softness. A teasing whisper in his ear made his dick stand even more erect than before. "So, is your skin like this..." The hand under his clothes stroked softly over the folds of his stomach before reversing direction, lifting each fold one by one then letting it fall back into place. "...Everywhere?" Her gaze dropped below his waistline, her meaning, and its significance, very clear.

He gave a slow nod. "Everywhere." Her anticipatory smile was enough to drive him wild and with a growl he reversed their positions so that he could look down into her face, her hair spread across his pillows in disarray.

"Guess it's time I quit poker." He cringed inside as the thought slipped from his lips unbidden but instead of the incomprehension or the adverse reaction he more than half expected, her reply showed they were very much on the same wavelength.

"I'm feeling pretty lucky in love myself."

"So you want Clem to be guide to try find William before he meet this Robin?"

"Yeah, where's best to meet up?"

Lily concentrated on her son's half of the floor above for a few seconds. "I think best you meet me here. I take. I think Clem no need to be there."
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