Chapter 3 - Hiding in the Closet

"So, have you got an action plan yet?" Buffy asked and sipped from her glass of mineral water. She squinted a little against the bright sunlight that lit up the outdoor ice cream shop.

Willow sighed and swallowed a spoonful of chocolate chip ice cream. "You won't give this up, will you?"


"I'm terribly bad at hitting on guys; you know that." Willow squirmed. "I should get some kind of disability assistance. Some free Cyrano de Bergerac guy. Like picture phones for the blind, and guide dogs for the... um, blind"

"You could hit on him, like, gradually," Buffy said cheerfully. “Ease him into a realization of your coolness. You could do some buddy stuff first."

"Like what?" Willow looked skeptical.

"Well, you could watch a movie or something," Buffy smiled. "Buddies do that all the time."

"Well... maybe. Oh... you could be there too," Willow said happily. "That would definitely raise the casual factor."

"Well, sure. Anything to help your love life," Buffy grinned. "So, what should we watch?"

"He said he loved werewolf movies!"

"Ookay... Not 'You've Got Mail', then." Buffy thought for a moment. "Underworld, maybe? It's got werewolves."

"Well, ok." Willow looked nervous. "I'll call him. You're free tomorrow night, right?" Willow swallowed another spoonful of ice cream.

"Yup," Buffy said, and looked longingly at the frozen dessert.

"You want some?" Willow scooped up some more ice cream and reached out the spoon. "That mineral water doesn't look so yummy."

"Nope. No ice cream for Buffy." She shook her head. "Need to get into the right weight class for the competition next week. And ice cream isn't a part of the boxer's diet."

Buffy had been training in boxing since she was twelve. At first it was all about a boy. The neighbor's kid had been going to boxing practice once a week, and Buffy had been hanging about in the boxing club after school as often as she could, ogling him. One day the trainer had gotten tired of her constant company and had handed her a couple of gloves, telling her that only people who trained were allowed on the premises. The result, however, was a different one than he had anticipated. She had loved it since the first time her tiny glove-covered fists had hit the sandbag.

It took her parents almost half a year to find out what she was doing when they thought she was taking swimming lessons. Hank had been furious. Boxing was no sport for a girl, especially not a Summers girl. Luckily, Joyce had understood how much it mattered to her daughter and had decided to overcome her distaste for a sport that meant punching one another as hard as possible. And since Joyce had been her primary caretaker after the unpleasant divorce, Hank had to cave in.

"Ooh... I hope that you win this time!" Willow said. "You've been training a lot since the last championship."

"That was what I'm planning on," Buffy said, sipping from her water. "I'm so gonna kick their asses." Buffy gritted her teeth when she thought about the bitch who had beat her during the competition in San Francisco three month ago. After two tough rounds of sweat and raging adrenaline, Buffy was knocked out. She vaguely remembered the judge holding up the other woman's arm and announcing her the winner. Then she bent over Buffy with a condescending smile. "You're such a fucking loser, B," she whispered. "I'll look forward to beating you again."

Yeah, Buffy thought to herself. She definitely had some ass kicking to deliver.

* * * * * *

"As this picture shows, the success rate of our cases is up 12% compared to last year." The reflection from the projected pie chart colored Angels face in several unnatural shades. He clicked on a button and the picture changed to a series of numbers and abbreviations. "As you can see, this has significantly affected our income."

The small audience in the conference room was listening closely to Angel's presentation. As always, a number of jealous glances followed his every move. He walked confidently behind the podium, a self-assured smile playing on his lips. Angel was the type of person who could sell freezers to Eskimos and convince nuns to pose for Playboy. He was the lawyer that the men wanted to be and the women wanted to fuck. Everything he touched turned to gold. Or at least to substantial numbers of dollars.

Not that any one of his co-workers actually knew anything about him. He never joined them for drinks after work and he never talked about his private life. Angel was the untouchable success story. And he loved it.

He casually put a hand in his pocket. "Our client-related income is up 15%..." For a split second Angel froze. Outside the conference room, on the other side of the glass wall, he saw Spike. He was leaning against the opposite wall with his arms crossed and an amused grin on his lips. Angel clenched his teeth and then quickly resumed his presentation before anybody noticed the pause. "Which means a financial improvement of around 3 million dollars." Angel looked out over the other lawyers at the table. "Any questions?" He waited for a brief moment. "Well, in that case, we're off for the day."

As chatter gradually filled the room, he turned off the overhead and threw one more look out the window. Spike was still outside, watching him. Angel threw him a cold glare and started gathering his papers.

"Wow, you look like such an adult when you're workin'," Spike said as Angel exited the conference room. "Have you got one of those laser pointers? I love those." Angel didn't answer; he just passed Spike, looking straight ahead. Spike followed, knowing all too well that that look didn't bode well. "Um... so what do you wanna eat?" Spike said tentatively.

"Italian," Angel answered shortly.

In silence, they walked down to the garage. The car ride was tense. Spike knew that he had been a bad boy since he had obviously managed to get Angel into one of his moods.

It wasn't until they had gotten to the restaurant and had ordered that Angel finally spoke up. He leaned over the table, glaring at Spike. "What the hell were you thinking?!" he asked in aggravated whispers.

"Well, we had a dinner date." Spike was irritated. "And I wanted to see you in your natural habitat. Is that such a crime?"

"Jesus, Spike," Angel continued in an even sharper tone. "What if they find out!"

"They won't. They'll just think I'm your pal." Spike crossed his arms. "And besides, what if they do? What are they gonna do? Fire you?"

"No, they wouldn't, but you don't get it," Angel said, waving a threatening finger in Spike's face. "It's not like at your job. The people at Wolfram & Hart wouldn't understand. I'll be persona non grata in no time."

Spike was quiet for a moment. "You know, I'm kind of tired of bein' your dirty little secret."

"And that gives you the right to risk screwing up my life?" Angel's eyes were blazing. "God, you can be such a fucking idiot sometimes!"

Spike twitched. "Hey!"

"Yeah, sometimes you're such an incompetent child!" Angel punctuated the last word by slapping the table. "No sense of responsibility. You couldn't take a direction if it hit you in the head!"

"You're such a drama queen, Angel!" Spike said defensively.

"Oh, am I? At least I'm not a stupid, mindless bartender!" Their voices were no longer whispers.

In that time the waiter had walked up to their table and was now looking down at them with an expression of strained professionalism. "Enjoy your dinners," he said as he placed the plates in front of the bickering men and left with his nose in the air.

They finished their meal in silence. Angel was eating with a stern expression and refused to look up, even for a second, to meet Spike's eyes. Spike, on the other hand, was throwing occasional glances at Angel. There was hurt in Spike's eyes. His jaws twitched as he tried to convert it to anger but he couldn’t really pull it off. It was still there, simmering in his gut, and it wouldn't leave him alone. He was looking closely at Angel, wanting to understand why he could be such an asshole sometimes. But the epiphanies were illusive.

Angel was something of a mystery to Spike. And, yes, that was a part of what he liked about him, his intriguing personality, hidden in the shadows. He wished that Angel would open up to him, that he would share those sides with him as well. But, of course, Angel would never do anything to leave himself vulnerable and exposed. Not even to his lover. Or maybe, especially not to his lover.

Often Spike felt that he wasn't good enough to fit into Angel's world. He had a lame job (not that Angel hadn't told him to quit since he could support them both), he wore cheap clothes (not that Angel hadn't bought suits for him and futilely tried to make him wear them), and he was living in a small, non-classy apartment (not that Angel hadn't offered to pay for a better one). He knew nothing about classic literature and refused to go to the opera. He drank beer, not martinis.

Of course, Angel would never actually let Spike into the world that he lived in when they weren't shagging like rabbits in Spike's apartment. What would the neighbors/parents/co-workers/upper-class friends say? Spike wasn't so sure that Angel wouldn't cave into that world one day and dump him in favor of a nice picket-fenced house and a trophy wife he could show off to all his family-man business acquaintances. Not that Angel had a heterosexual bone in his body, but such details wouldn't be important if they came in the way of his goals.

Spike sighed and looked down at the pink meat on his plate. He wasn't really feeling hungry anymore.

"Hey, Spike." Angel's voice was soft. As Spike raised his head an apologetic face met him. This was Angel in a nutshell. There was never much distance between hot and cold. "I know that I was a bit harsh. I'm sorry." After quickly scanning the restaurant, he took Spike’s hand. "You know I say a lot of things that I don't mean when I'm upset."

"Well, don't say them, then," Spike said with an angry voice.

"I could follow you home and make it up to you," Angel smiled.

"Dou you think that sex will make everything all right?" Spike asked, yanking away his hand.

Who the hell was he kidding? Of course it would.

Twenty minutes later they were standing in Spike's entryway. They were struggling to remove their jackets while kissing, and Spike managed to push the door shut with his foot before they stumbled into the bedroom. For several minutes they remained tangled in the middle of the room, kissing passionately. Spike could still taste rosemary on Angel's tongue. The smell of fancy cologne tickled his nose. It made him feel high, almost dizzy. Angel flooded his senses, took him over. It was like a drug. Angel wasn't the perfect man, but Spike couldn't be without him.

"I love you," Angel gasped against Spike's lips.

Spike's heart skipped in his chest and warmth quickly spread through his body. "I love you too," he said as he pulled Angel closer. "So much." Spike's hand tugged at Angel's shirt and slid under the thin material. Spike enjoyed the feeling of the muscles that were moving slightly under his fingertips. His hands played over the subtle ridges on the abdomen, feeling a rush of arousal when he felt Angel responding to his touch. Spike's lips left Angel's mouth and traveled down his neck. He closed his eyes. "You're everything to me," Spike whispered against the soft skin. He hadn't meant to sound needy but he couldn't help it.

Spike trailed one hands over Angel's broad back, loosening his tie with the other. Angel's hands joined him at the knot, untying it with proficient hands; then he bent down to capture Spike's lips again. Their tongues played around each other at a leisurely pace. Angel's hands trailed over Spike's flushing body, tugging at the hem of his t-shirt. Spike pulled away for a moment, lifting his arms to allow Angel to remove his sweater. His hand continued to the belt buckle and Spike's pants soon fell in a pile at the floor.

Angel took a step back and watched Spike's naked figure, painted pale blue by the moonlight. "You're beautiful," he said as his eyes raked over the sculpted body in front of him. Angel reached out and let his fingertips play lightly over Spike's skin. Spike responded by closing his eyes.

With the other hand, Angel unbuttoned his shirt, letting it flutter to the floor. As he leaned in and placed small kisses on Spike's chest he freed himself of his pants and underwear. The moment Angel was naked he closed the distance between them. Spike gasped when their hard cocks rubbed together. "Nobody makes me feel like you do," Angel said before he reached out his tongue and started licking irregular patterns on Spike's torso.

Spike was in heaven. It usually wasn't like this. Usually Angel fucked him, touched him in rapture and burning lust. It wasn't like Spike was complaining, but many times he craved more. Wanted intimacy, not just body and sweat.

Angel's hand started trailing Spike's hipbone and continued to softly caress his inner thigh. His fingertips played over Spike's sac and brushed over the area near his ass where it met his body. He moved his hand back and trailed a finger up the length of Spike's cock before encircling it with his fingers. He stroked it with agonizing slowness, matching the pace of his tongue against Spike's skin. His thumb grazed the ridge of the smooth head and Spike gasped.

They started moving in the direction of the bed and soon Spike felt himself being lowered into the tangled nest of bedding. As he looked down he moaned by the sight of Angel sticking out his tongue to lick a wet trail along the length of his cock. "Angel!" he breathed as their eyes met. Without breaking the eye contact, Angel crawled up over Spike's body and reached for the lube in the bedside table. Hovering over him while reaching out his arm, he leaned down for a short kiss, their lips brushing softly against each other. Spike felt boneless. Every nerve in his body was tingling with the entrancing touches of skin sliding against skin.

Angel nudged at Spike's legs, carefully pushing them up in the air. As Spike felt Angel's slick cock nudging at his entrance he gasped. He reached out, desperately touching every inch of Angel's skin that he could find. Angel replied by pushing all the way in with one swift move; both of them moaned loudly. Spike's fingers bored themselves into Angel's back from the sudden sensation. For a moment they stayed like that, relishing in the feeling of being joined. They were breathing heavily, their hands clinging to flushed skin, glistening with a thin coating of sweat.

Spike looked into Angel's eyes, feeling shivers down his spine from the feverish gaze that met him. To his surprise, Angel reached out and pulled an unruly lock of bleached hair that had fallen out of the hold of the hair gel. Spike watched, entranced, as Angel moved in to capture Spike's lips, leaning Spike's legs against his shoulders. As he slowly started moving, Spike moaned into Angel's mouth and kissed him with growing intensity. With every stroke Spike's body writhed and he pushed back, trying to bury Angel's member even deeper into him. Wanting more of all those feelings that rushed through his body. Wanting more of Angel.

Angel continued his slow thrusts, their tongues playing, their bodies gliding together, damp limbs tangled, loud gasps slipping out between swollen lips. As Angel felt himself getting close, he pulled away from the kiss and grasped the hard cock that was bobbing between them. He stroked it firmly as he sped up his trusts. Within moments, Spike arched his body and shouted as he spilled a stream of semen over Angel's hand. Not long after, Angel howled and came hard, filling Spike's ass with the same milky fluid. They soon fell into a sticky heap, somehow managing not to crush any limbs in the process.

For a moment they just lay there, their breaths echoing through the dark room. Then Angel snaked an arm over Spike's waist and placed a soft kiss on his chest. "Nobody will ever love you like I do," he whispered. "Nobody. Remember that."

"I will," Spike breathed.

After a few minutes Spike suddenly grunted and got up to scramble through the pockets of his pants. "Dammit!" he said as he read "3 missed calls" on the display of his cell phone, currently set to vibrate. "I was supposed to hang out with Xander tonight."

"Can't you 'hang out' with Xander some other time?" Angel grunted. "We don't spend enough time together." Spike glanced at Angel, who was looking at him with big, pleading eyes. "I love you, baby. I need you," he said as he reached out his hand. "Come back to bed."

Spike's hesitation melted away as he looked at Angel's pleading face. "Ok," he said as he pushed the digits on the cell phone.

* * * * * *

I was past midnight, but Spike was still awake. He was tired, but he didn't want to go to sleep just yet. Angel was lying next to him, tangled in the sheets. He had curled up on his side, almost in a fetal position, looking peaceful and relaxed. Spike loved watching him like this, and he wished that Angel would stay the night more often. Usually he dashed away, getting back to his own apartment, sleeping between his silk sheets in his big, expensive bed. Not that he had seen it that many times. Angel always came to Spike's place. It was just the way it was.

Spike studied Angel's face. In his serene condition there was nothing harsh resting beneath the surface. Nothing but warmth and softness. Spike reached out and touched Angel's cheek lightly. He loved him so much that it ached. Sometimes he felt like he was consumed. That his love was bordering on something dark and deep. But he wanted it desperately. Needed it.

He carefully moved closer and lifted Angel's arm to get next to his body. Angel mumbled in his sleep, and snaked his arm around Spike's waist. Spike sighed and closed his eyes. He snuggled against Angel's chest and inhaled his scent. He felt warmth spreading inside of him.

The harsh words from the restaurant were already long forgotten.

* * * * * *

Many years earlier

William fumbled with his books while he struggled to open his locker. Unruly locks of hair fell into his eyes as he yanked on the stubborn door. He felt annoyed and tired. He didn't have the energy for this. He wished that something could work out right for him. That fate would smile at him just a little. But even his locker was against him.

He felt his face turning a light red color from the effort. Suddenly the door snapped open and he stumbled back, dropping his books in a heap on the floor. As if on cue, several people who were passing by laughed and cynical applause echoed between the rows of lockers. William stared at the books, trying not to listen to the taunting voices. He felt like crying, but he had done enough of that the last month, and he wouldn't give his schoolmates the pleasure of seeing him turn on the water works. It felt like a big effort to reach down and pick up his books. He just wanted to go home and hide in his bed underneath the covers.

Suddenly a hand slapped him on the back of the head and his glasses jumped askew. "Nice work, English boy," someone said.

Mark Chapman, William thought as he turned and pushed his glasses back up. Of course.

The beefy, tall guy smiled down at him condescendingly. "Having a clumsy streak, huh?"

William didn't answer; he just reached down to pick up his books. Suddenly, Mark kicked at the pile and a couple of the books tumbled across the floor. "Oops," he said.

A girl walked up behind Mark and tugged on his arm. "Come on, leave him alone. We've got history class in five minutes." William sighed. How come those assholes always had lots of girls swarming around them? And how come nobody ever looked twice at him? He knew that he wasn't exactly god's gift to women, but maybe someone could like him just a little if they looked away from the popular assholes for a moment. Then again: not exactly god's gift to women...

Mark grinned at William as he started walking away. "I'll se you later, geek."

William sighed and gathered the books. As he threw them into the locker and closed the door, he felt Xander's hand on his shoulder. "How's it going, buddy?"

William didn't say anything; he just turned and fell back against the locker with a thump.

"That bad, huh?" Xander looked sympathetic.

"Went to dad's grave again this mornin'." William stared down at the floor. "It still looked like they had dug it yesterday."

"I'm sorry," Xander said.

"I just had a run in with Mark Chapman." William put his hands in his pockets. "And it doesn't help that we've got gym class in an hour. Dodge ball nonetheless."

"Oh, I'm double sorry," Xander said with an emphatic grimace. "But I've got something that might cheer you up a little. Come on!" He tugged at William's sleeve. They walked to the gym locker room and sat down in a secluded area. Xander pulled a couple of magazines out of his backpack. William blushed as he noticed that they were adult magazines.

"I got them from my cousin. He's got a big stack in his wardrobe." Xander opened one of them, and a picture of a naked, big-chested lady fell out from the centerfold. Both boys gaped. Neither of them had, with the exception of their mothers, ever actually seen a naked girl in real life and rarely even in pictures.

"Wow," Xander said.

"Wow," William echoed, feeling another blush creeping across his face.

They stared in silence for a moment. "She's hot," Xander said.

William wouldn't know what to compare with, but his lower regions definitely agreed. "Yeah..." he said.

Xander tucked the fold-out back into the magazine and turned the page. A blond woman, her legs spread wide, was looking seductively at them.

Suddenly, William heard the sound of voices and peeked out around the wall they were sitting behind. His eyes quickly locked on one of the guys who entered the locker room. Johnny Silverman. He never used to change when William did, but now they were an hour early.

Johnny was the baseball player who had helped their high school to more victories than William could count. William had gotten in the habit of sitting in on their games. For the sport, of course. William loved baseball. Ok, maybe he didn't exactly know any of the rules, or watch any games that didn't include their school team. He also hadn't been in the crowd once for the two months Johnny was recovering from his injury. But he wasn't going to consider any ulterior motives.

William watched closely as Johnny pulled off his baseball jersey. Beads of sweat covered his tanned skin and pronounced muscles were playing underneath. For some reason William couldn't make himself look away. As Johnny shook his sweat-soaked hair and reached for the waistband of his pants, William gulped.

"Hey, stop staring," Xander whispered, jolting William out of his embarrassing thoughts. "You don't want people think you’re a faggot, do you?"

"Um... no! I was just. Just... Oh, she's really hot," William said quickly and pointed at a tall redhead in the magazine..

Xander started making comments but William zoned out almost immediately. While seemingly looking at the magazine he leaned forward so that he had a view of the shower out of the corner of his eye. With rising pulse, he noticed that Johnny now was naked and standing in the shower. He reached for the soap and let lathered hands slide over his bare skin. William felt a heat rising inside of him. As Johnny's hands reached down to wash his flaccid member, William's breath hitched in his throat.

"I... I have to get something in my locker," William said, trying not to stutter.

"Hmhm... " Xander mumbled, not looking up from the glossy pages.

Five minutes later William stood in a booth in the boy's bathroom, staring down at the semen swimming in the toilet in front of him. He zipped up his pants with shaking hands. Had he just done... that, thinking of another guy? He liked girls, he knew that he did. Not to mention, he had really liked those pictures in Xander's magazine.

William closed his eyes, and felt Xander's words of warning echo through his head. And what would his mother say if she knew? He clenched his teeth. Nope, he would never think those thoughts again.

As he exited the stall he froze as he saw Mark Chapman throwing the bathroom door open, entering with a small posse. "Well, well, what have we here?" he said, striking a cocky pose as he spotted William. "Isn't it the English geek again?" Mark walked up to him and snapped him on the nose with his finger. "Did the peeing go well? After all, you seem to have a problem holding on to your things?"

"I... I..." William stuttered.

"Heard that your loser librarian dad died, by the way," Mark said, smirking. "Must have felt like he really had accomplished something in his life, huh? Sorting books at the high school library for years and years. Yeah, doesn't get any lamer than that."

William suddenly felt something rising inside of him. Something that emanated from a part of him that he never had acknowledged, something big, dark, and engulfing. Within seconds he had pinned Mark against the wall, burning with fury. "Don't. Trash. My. Dad," he hissed through clenched teeth, his face only inches from Mark's.

William saw fear in Mark's eyes. That was a look he usually sported, not caused. He felt a rush of power. In that one moment, William was the one in charge. He felt strong and he liked it.

It took Mark's friend a few moments to grasp the situation and come to his rescue. As they pulled William away, he glared at Mark, and shook them off, heading for the door.

"I'll tell everyone at this school what a fucking looser you are!" Mark shouted after him. "You'll be an outcast when I'm done with you!"

"I don't care!" William hollered as he pushed the door open with more force than was necessary. "Fuck you!"

As William headed out of the school, the feelings finally hit him in the gut like a wrecking ball. The grief he had been holding back flooded his mind, mingling with the realization that Mark most definitely would stick to his promise to make his existence at their high school even harder than it already was. And with a wave of nausea, he recalled what he had been doing in the bathroom before Mark came. God, what was wrong with him?

William was fighting his tears. He felt like he was in a dark daze. Like he was bleeding on the inside. Bugger this, he thought. Bugger crying. Bugger his troubling feelings. Bugger his non-existent reputation. Bugger everything. He walked for what seemed like an eternity, heading nowhere. He felt like everything around him was empty and pale. Like he was walking in a ghost town.

Suddenly, a drop of rain hit his forehead. Within seconds it was pouring. William stopped, and for a while he just stood there, letting the hard rain wash over him. But as his cold clothes started feeling increasingly uncomfortable and he started to shiver, he unenthusiastically began looking around for shelter. A bit down the street he spotted a convenience store and started walking its way.

As William passed through the aisles, he felt misplaced among all the colorful products shouting out their promises of a cleaner, yummier, or healthier life. Actually, he felt altogether misplaced. Everything was wrong. He was wrong.

Suddenly his eyes fell on a box on one of the shelves. He picked it up and looked at it. Then he headed for the register.

An hour later, William was standing by the sink in a public restroom, staring with a motionless expression at himself in the mirror. The wet, bleached hair looked almost fluorescent. He narrowed his eyes. No more crying.

As he entered his home it was almost half past two. He had walked through half the town, then hung around in a late-night café, sipping on coffee after coffee until they closed. As he felt himself buzzing on the inside, more than could be expected from his emotional state, he swore to stick to sodas in the future. The non-caffeinated types.

He tried his best not to make any noise as he walked through the dark entryway, but soon the light in his mother's bedroom came on and she dashed out. "William! Where have you been?! " Jenny was looking at him with a distressed expression. "How dare you make me worried, after Rupert..." She choked on her tears. "And..." She suddenly noticed William 's bleached hair through the darkness in the entryway. "And what have you done to your hair?!" She walked up to him, and touched his hair. "It's... all white!"

"Stop it, mum!" William hollered, yanking his head away from her touch. "I'm not a bloody child anymore! I'm goin' wherever I want and I’ll do whatever I want with my own damn hair!"

"William! What's wrong with you?" Jenny asked, sobbing.

"Nothin'!" He stalked up the stairs with determined steps.

"We only have each other now, William!" Jenny shouted after him.

"Well, that not much, now is it?!" he said as he slammed the door shut and locked it behind him.

William fell back on the bed, limp like a straw-filled scarecrow. As he stared up at the ceiling he felt the painful knots of distress and confusion once more tightening in his stomach. He closed his eyes and swallowed the pain.

Fuck everything.


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