Harlequin's Slash Fic

Involved

Title: Involved
Author: Harlequin
Universe: The Guardian and Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Characters featured: Nick Fallin/Spike
Category, Word count: Short story; 7819 words
Rating: NC17
Summary, Notes: A cross–universe story – featuring Spike, a vampire who’s in love with the slayer, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer – and Nick Fallin, a corporate lawyer doing community service as a child advocate, from The Guardian. I figured that Spike might have the preternatural patience and insight and sheer bloody cussed–mindedness to at least see through and maybe even get through some of Nick’s barriers.
Warnings: Please be advised that some of the sex depicted, while consensual, flirts with violence.
First published: 1 January 2007 on Harlequin’s Slash Site 

 

Involved

 

Never Get Involved, that was the rule. He’d broken it time and again, though, as man and as vampire. Broken it despite Drusilla’s nuttily sane advice. Broken it with Buffy – in fact, broken it with all the Summers women. Broken it with almost every member of Buffy’s dread Scooby Gang. And now look at him, running away from one tangle of involvement, and promptly getting caught up in another. It never ended well, getting involved. Never well at all. Story of his life, though.

 

Spike broke cover as the sun finally set, and made it to the lawyers’ offices just as they were closing for the day.

‘Sorry,’ said the careworn man who was trying to usher Spike back into the lift along with a gaggle of lawyers and clients and clerical staff, ‘you’ll have to come back tomorrow. We’re open nine till six.’

But Spike was sure the guy he wanted hadn’t left yet. He neatly sidestepped the outstretched arms, poked his head around searching. Jabbed his finger towards a tiny office when he saw the golden–curled head he was looking for bowed over a briefcase, the man’s expensive suit immaculate amidst mops and tattered files. ‘That’s him,’ Spike announced. ‘He’s expecting me.’

‘Nick Fallin?’ the man asked, with something like glee. ‘Sure, go right ahead.’

Spike had barely taken another two steps inside when the said Nick Fallin, briefcase in hand, strode past towards the lift, not even glancing at him.

The other man chuckled – not nicely – and indicated Spike. ‘Nick, this one’s for you.’

‘Alvin, you know that I can’t.’

‘He said you’re expecting him,’ Alvin explained as he squeezed into the lift. ‘You can’t run out on a client, Nick.’

Alvin.’ But the lift doors closed with a tinny chime, and it was too late. Fallin’s head dropped for a moment, and his free hand shifted from stabbing the lift call button to making a fist on his hip. He turned to look at Spike. Swept a brief search over him, but already knew – ‘I wasn’t expecting you.’

‘Ah. No. Pardon the ruse. We haven’t met.’ Spike offered his hand.

Fallin shook it – once, firmly and briefly – and they each introduced themselves. The lawyer gave the impression that it would take a lot more than Spike’s singular name to throw him. He simply asked, ‘What do you need?’

‘It’s not for me, it’s for a friend.’

Underlying Fallin’s handsome and immaculately professional demeanour, the world–weariness of his expression abruptly edged up a notch, though Spike couldn’t quite pin down what betrayed the man. Fascinating.

‘I’ve been sleeping rough near the AIDS hospice,’ Spike explained. ‘Went to say goodbye to a friend there. Too late, though. Too far gone. The bloody Queen of England could have been there, and he wouldn’t have known.’

‘I’m sorry.’ Cool tones, but you knew that he did actually mean it in some small way.

Spike nodded acknowledgment. ‘That’s where I first saw you. You’ve got a client out there, right? On probation? Doing community service?’

‘No.’ Fallin shifted slightly. ‘So, what does your friend need? Is he on life support?’

‘No. No, it’s not that friend. Like I said, I’ve been sleeping in a squat nearby. And there’s a kid there, in all kinds of trouble, or close to it. And I figured he needs someone like you to see him through –’

‘There’s no smoking here,’ Fallin cut in.

Spike looked at him. Looked at the cigarette and the lighter he’d barely been aware of palming. Slid them back into his coat pocket, though he muttered, ‘You’re slumming it here, they make you share an office with the janitor, and you care whether I pollute the air.’

‘What sort of trouble?’ Fallin persisted.

The two of them were still standing there near the lift, as if Fallin would bolt at the first opportunity. Spike sighed. ‘He’s just a kid with nowhere to live, and you know as well as I do what he’ll end up doing to earn a buck if someone don’t give him some options.’

‘And your interest?’

‘I’m a friend. That’s all. Any nasty assumptions are your own.’

‘If I got him a place in a shelter, would he stay there? Could he stay clean?’

‘Worth a shot, isn’t it?’

‘Bring him here tomorrow morning. I’ll make some calls.’ And Fallin was punching the down button again, even though it was already lit.

Spike stood his ground. ‘I can’t in the morning. It’ll have to be at night.’

‘We close at six.’ Mentally Fallin had already moved on to the next thing, whatever it was.

‘I can’t,’ Spike repeated. ‘The sun. I can’t be out in the sun.’

‘Why not?’ Fallin looked at him, curiosity momentarily snagged. The empty lift finally arrived, however, and Fallin stepped in, so Spike had little choice but to get in, too. ‘What’s wrong with you?’

Spike lit up a cigarette, despite Fallin’s understated glare, and took a long drag. Considered the man carefully as he blew out the smoke. ‘I can’t be in sunlight. You know, like the kids in that Nicole Kidman movie.’

You have Xeroderma Pigmentosum?’ Unfortunately Fallin could name it exactly. And he was very sceptical.

You go to the movies?’ Spike asked, trying to divert him. ‘What’s on at the moment? I haven’t been for ages. Maybe we should, you know, go. Together. Doesn’t have to be, like, a date.’

Of course Fallin immediately dismissed the notion. ‘I don’t think so.’ They were outside now, and Fallin paused for a moment. ‘Bring him here as soon as you can after six, then. Tell him to bring his things.’

‘Right. See you –’

Even while Spike was still speaking, Fallin nodded a farewell and strode off towards his sleek silver–grey car.

‘– tomorrow. Oh, be like that then,’ Spike muttered. ‘What do I care?’ He shrugged, took another drag on the cigarette, and headed off into the dark streetscape.

 

In his wanderings that night, Spike happened to glance in the window of a certain bar, happened to spy a golden–curled head that looked familiar. He paused, decided to wait – but within moments the head turned towards the entrance, and it was indeed Nick Fallin. The lawyer must have been waiting for someone who hadn’t shown, because after a quick but careful sweep of the other patrons, he looked at his watch yet again, and then tilted his head back just a fraction as if swallowing something unpalatable. There was the briefest flicker of anxiety on that handsome face, a flicker which deadened to despair, and then was gone so quickly that Spike was left wondering whether he’d imagined it. The bland all–business demeanour was firmly back in place as Fallin picked up his briefcase, handed some dollar bills to the barman, and headed for the door.

‘Hey,’ Spike said once the man had walked past him.

Fallin turned, a hint of hope already lost in his eyes. ‘What are you doing here?’

‘The Incline, eh?’ It was the name of the bar. ‘The old slippery slope?’

‘Are you following me?’

‘In your dreams,’ Spike scoffed. ‘Nah, I just happened to be passing. Figured if you don’t have anything better to do you could come meet Dylan now.’

‘Dylan? That’s the kid?’

‘Yeah.’

Fallin’s gaze dropped to the sidewalk as he considered. ‘All right.’

Moments later Spike was in the passenger seat of the sleek car. ‘Nice,’ he commented, quite sincerely.

Fallin didn’t acknowledge the compliment, and he didn’t ask for directions. Well, he knew where the hospice was.

They sped smoothly through the streets of Pittsburgh in all their shabby glory. Still, it was a damned sight better than it used to be. ‘Last time I was through here,’ Spike said, ‘the steelworks were pumping out so much smoke they turned day into night. Real convenient for a … for someone like me. The streetlamps were on twenty–four/seven.’

A brief silence greeted this, and a suspicious glance from Fallin. ‘The skies have been clear since the fifties.’

‘Oh.’ Of course he wasn’t mean to be that old.

‘The steel industry went bust, and almost took Pittsburgh with it. But it meant that the skies cleared.’

Spike nodded. ‘Must have just heard about it from someone. Made me think of home. Smoggy old London. You know.’

‘Yes.’ Fallin, of course, wasn’t interested enough to pursue it.

‘Best thing you’ve done since I was here last is build that cathedral. You know the one – all black glass and gothic. Now, that’s what I’m talking about! Churches got real boring for a while there, nothing but bricks, little better than big houses.’

Silence, and another quick glance. Fallin wasn’t much for conversation, obviously. Pity, really.

They got to the squat, and Spike showed Fallin the way in round the back of the house. Despite the expensive suit, Fallin simply disregarded the dirt and the rough edges, and disdained to take Spike’s proffered hand to help him up and over the boarded–up doorway. ‘Home sweet home,’ Spike muttered. There wasn’t anyone in the dark, dysfunctional kitchen, so Spike led Fallin through to the front room.

A couple of young fellows were making out by candlelight on the ramshackle old sofa. Making out quite ardently, with much baring of skin. Neither of them Dylan. ‘Come on, guys, give it a rest,’ Spike said, though without any real conviction. ‘We’ve got company.’

One of them cast a glance at Fallin, and abruptly froze, as if fearing police, immigration, taxation, his father, whatever. The other asked Spike with some belligerence, ‘Who’s the suit?’

‘Lawyer. Thought he could help Dylan. You seen Dylan tonight?’

‘No, man, he’s not here. Anyway, it was Social Services got him into this mess.’

Spike shrugged. ‘Reckon this guy can help.’

‘What’s a lawyer gonna do? The system failed, man.’

This guy’s different,’ Spike avowed.

The pair of them shrugged in turn, and then picked up where they left off, not caring one way or the other about spectators. And they were ardent indeed. There was real passion there, the intensely involved kind of passion usually only felt by teenagers. Spike snuck a look at Fallin to see how he was taking it, expecting to see, well, maybe not shock but distaste – and was surprised to spy instead something of loneliness. Poor fellow had been stood up at that bar, though presumably by a woman, and was now being reminded of what he was missing out on. Not that most people, Spike figured, would manage to read or even see the subtle, fleeting reactions behind Fallin’s otherwise stoical expression. Most people would perhaps assume that he was indifferent to the passionate tangle on the sofa.

‘Bring Dylan to the offices,’ Fallin said, before turning and walking out. ‘With his things,’ he added over his shoulder.

Spike immediately followed, wanting more, wanting – ‘You aren’t gonna wait? I’m sure he’ll show.’

‘No.’

They were outside now, Fallin striding back round the side of the house, and Spike jogging along behind. Don’t leave already, Spike mentally implored.

Almost as if he’d heard him, Fallin turned suddenly, and Spike only just managed to stop in time. Only just prevented himself from crashing into the other man. He stayed where he was, precariously balanced on the balls of his feet, closer than was proper. Not withdrawing. Almost falling, and surely he’d be caught in those strong arms. Preternaturally aware of this handsome, gym–built, masculine body only inches from his own. Conscious of one length of warm solid flesh in the cool night air matched and faced by another length.

But all Fallin said was, ‘How did Social Services fail him?’

‘Oh. Uh, that’s who’d have placed him with his foster parents, right? He ran away from his foster parents.’

‘Why?’

‘I don’t know the whole story. Ask him yourself tomorrow.’

‘All right.’ Fallin swept another brief search over him, assessing Spike, looking for … what, exactly? But then he turned and strode away again, heading for his car.

Spike chased after the man. Honestly, like a forlorn little puppy with his tongue hanging out, desperate for … wanting only …

Fallin got into the safety of his car, shut the door – hell, locked it, for all Spike knew. Turned the ignition. But then he glanced up through the side window at Spike the Pathetic standing there bereft, hands shoved into his coat pockets. The window purred down, and Fallin considered him carefully for a moment. Then he said, ‘They’re right. I can’t do anything for Dylan outside the system.’

‘I know.’

‘So, why do you think I’m different?’

‘I saw you at the hospice. No, the point is, I heard you at the hospice. Your client, or whoever – he was in trouble, he was being an idiot, but you were honest with him. Straightforward. You knew the impact, but you said what needed saying. Carefully, but you weren’t patronising, either. Cut right through the bullshit to the heart of it. And that’s rare.’ Spike offered a grin. ‘Especially in a lawyer.’

And, amazingly, Fallin was looking at him through all this. Not avoiding him, not ducking his head. Looking at him, unembarrassed. At the end a silence stretched, and Spike wasn’t fool enough to break it. Fallin’s gaze was enigmatic. And yet … there was that intriguing hint of loneliness again. A flicker, even, of yearning.

In response to which a veritable flame of yearning leapt up within Spike. All right, now he knew what he wanted. And he knew that Fallin knew it, too. And Fallin was still there. Waiting. Spike could hardly invite him back in for coffee, but instead he could suggest any one of a number of scenarios. He wasn’t above inviting himself over to Fallin’s place, for a start.

But Spike decided he needn’t take advantage. Not yet. He didn’t need to risk a ‘No’, an ‘I don’t think so’, at this early stage. There was time. Plenty of time. Fallin was halfway to agreeing already, but Spike would take it slow and steady with this one. ‘So, tomorrow,’ he said. And he stepped back, just a pace.

Fallin nodded farewell. ‘Tomorrow.’ If he was disappointed, it didn’t show. He drove away.

Spike watched until the sleek silver–grey car disappeared into the darkness. And then he stood there and watched some more as the stars spun slowly overhead.

 

Spike waited with Dylan at his side and a grocery bag containing Dylan’s few belongings at his feet, until the sun finally set. Then Spike collected the bag, and they left the shadows, crossed towards the run–down old office building, headed inside against the flood of escapees. He caught another sardonic glance as he passed the careworn Alvin, who was obviously still gleeful that Fallin was under siege.

Dylan punched the call button, and they rode the empty lift up to find Fallin waiting there with a slim woman beside him, the two of them not talking, but not uncomfortable together either. God, she looked as old and worn as Alvin. Was Fallin doomed to age gracelessly, too? Or maybe, Spike thought, Fallin’s privileged life, with his clothes and his grooming and his fitness, would be enough to stave off the tragedy of this place.

Fallin took a step closer as Spike and Dylan walked up to them. ‘Hey,’ he said, with the smallest hint of friendliness.

Spike found himself smiling in response. ‘Hey. This is Dylan.’

‘Nick Fallin,’ the lawyer introduced himself, shaking Dylan’s hand. ‘This is Laurie Solt from Social Services.’

‘Hello, Dylan.’ She had a kind smile. ‘And you must be – Spike,’ she said with less kindness. ‘I’m still not quite sure where you fit in.’

Spike glanced at Fallin, who looked away – but the man’s lips were quirking, as he tried to repress a real smile, hand propped on his hip as if reminding himself to be severe. ‘Hey, I’m the good guy here,’ Spike protested. ‘Just trying to help.’ Solt didn’t believe a word, of course. ‘Don’t get me wrong,’ Spike continued. ‘We could have done with more of a clue back in the bad old days. But the pendulum’s swung too far the other way now. No point in outlawing friendship.’

‘Social workers’ blinders,’ Nick offered, deadpan and serious once more. ‘If abuse is pretty much all you see, day in and day out, then you tend to suspect anything that looks close.’

‘Speak for yourself,’ Solt muttered. But she’d relaxed a bit.

Spike and Dylan were ushered into a meeting room, where they all sat in rickety old mismatched chairs. Real classy place, this. Spike noted that the kid stuck close by him.

‘Dylan,’ Solt said, ‘what’s your last name?’

The boy grimaced. ‘Do I have to say?’

‘Yes, please.’

‘Thomas,’ he said resentfully.

Spike was the only one who laughed. ‘No wonder you never told me,’ he joshed, playfully punching Dylan’s shoulder. The kid smiled at him, just once, quickly, but he was pretty nervous about this whole thing, even if he seemed to accept it as inevitable.

Fallin said, ‘You were living with foster parents, Dylan?’

‘Yeah.’

‘But you ran away?’

‘Yeah.’ Dylan let out an exasperated sigh, not looking at any of them.

‘Why?’ asked Solt.

But Dylan just crossed his arms.

‘Come on,’ Spike said, nudging him with an elbow. ‘You can tell them. You can tell them anything. They’re on your side.’ And the amazing thing was, he did actually believe that about Fallin.

‘If I become your advocate,’ Fallin explained, ‘then it’s my job to act in your interests.’

‘Well,’ Dylan finally said, ‘they split up, see?’

‘Your foster parents?’ Solt clarified.

‘Yeah. And it got real nasty. And it was, like, they both had enough of me.’

‘I’m sure it wasn’t your fault, Dylan.’

‘Guess not,’ he said, suddenly blinking back tears. ‘But neither of them wanted me, not once they’d split.’

The lawyer and the social worker exchanged glances. ‘They’ll need to be reassessed,’ Fallin said, ‘given the change in circumstances, but would you want to stay with one of them if you could?’

‘Well, Barbara, I guess. If she isn’t still all “Men are evil”. Ever since the split it’s been “I hate men”, “Men are useless”, “No man was ever worth anything”. Then she’d say “Oh, not you, honey”, but she never sounded like she really meant it. Things got dire, you know?’

‘It’s not unusual,’ Solt said, ‘to be so negative after a painful break. It will pass.’

Dylan shrugged. ‘If I have to go back, I guess that’s all right.’ Then he looked at Fallin with a sudden idea. ‘Can you make it a rule, that she doesn’t go on like that all the time?’

‘Maybe,’ Fallin said, absolutely straight–faced, though Spike could have sworn he saw a glint of humour buried deep. ‘I could talk to her about it.’

‘For tonight, at least,’ Solt said, ‘I have a place for you at a shelter. Shall we go there now?’

‘I can’t stay with Spike? Until we get this sorted? You said – reassessed. That could take a while, yeah?’

‘It’s not appropriate,’ Fallin replied. ‘Where you were living, I mean. There’s no power, for a start, and it’s not clean.’

‘But Spike can look after me.’

‘He didn’t even know where you were late last night,’ Fallin said, just as direct and easy and non–judgemental as such a statement could be. Even so, Spike winced. ‘There’s no one else who could take you in?’

Dylan shook his head. ‘Not any more.’

Solt said, ‘I can take you to the shelter now, Dylan. It’s a nice place, and there’s books, games to play, kids your own age.’

Dylan cast a doubtful look at Spike, who said, ‘Go on with Laurie. Has to be better than where we’ve been. Maybe even a TV, eh? And I’ll come visit you.’ He glanced at the lawyer for confirmation, and Fallin nodded. ‘I’ll get Nick to bring me tomorrow night, all right?’

‘OK,’ the kid grudgingly agreed.

‘All right, then,’ Spike echoed, with a trifle more optimism and satisfaction than he actually felt. It seemed that no option was perfect – as if any option could be in this world – but this was at least better for Dylan, and the kid seemed more resigned to the system than scared of it. He didn’t even seem resentful.

The four of them headed back to the lift, and Spike handed Dylan his bag of worldly chattels. But just as the lift arrived, Fallin said to Spike, ‘Can I have a word with you?’

‘Oh. Uh, sure.’

Solt was holding the lift doors open, smiling reassuringly at Dylan – ‘I’ll take you from here’ – then casting a narrow–eyed glance at Fallin behind the kid’s back.

Spike reached to ruffle Dylan’s hair. ‘See you tomorrow, yeah?’

‘Yeah, OK.’ A look of mixed feelings, and then the kid was gone, and Spike and Fallin were alone in the empty offices.

‘Well, that went fine,’ Spike said, palming a cigarette before remembering he shouldn’t.

‘That was just the first step,’ Fallin replied. ‘Come into my office.’

Spike followed him. ‘So, what’s next, then? What d’you have to do to become his advocate or whatever? Jeez,’ he exclaimed as he looked around Fallin’s tiny office. ‘It really is the janitor’s closet, isn’t it?’ Not just mops, but an industrial–sized sink, and shelves of cleaning stuff – and a door. Fallin reached an arm past him to shove the door shut, and suddenly Spike was pressed back against it and his arms were full of lawyer, his mouth was being ravaged thoroughly, methodically, ardently. ‘Bloody hell,’ Spike muttered when he was finally freed. He didn’t let Fallin pull away, though. ‘Where did that come from?’ So much for taking it slow and steady. ‘I wasn’t wrong about you, was I? You don’t do this. With men, I mean.’

‘No.’ Fallin sounded half surprised, half thoughtful. He stepped back, one hand on his hip again, another raised to his brow, as if only now trying to figure this out.

That wasn’t right. Spike hadn’t wanted to remind him of why not, for god’s sake. ‘Hey, come on,’ Spike softly pleaded. ‘There was a second reason I came found you, yeah?’ He waited until Fallin’s gaze lifted to his again. ‘You’re pretty bloody gorgeous. For a lawyer, I mean.’

Fallin just let out a ‘huh’ of breath, which was almost a laugh. But his gaze had dropped again, and he was receding fast. It was the only time Spike had seen Fallin uncertain, not smooth – troubled, even.

Spike stepped towards him, and the gaze shot back to meet his. ‘Look, I’m not one to insist where I’m not wanted. If I used to be, I learned my lesson.’ Another step, and Fallin didn’t back away. ‘But I think, deep down, there’s a part of you that does actually want me.’ Another step, and they were closer than was proper once more. ‘Even if I’m not the sort of person you usually do.’ Spike lifted his hands to Fallin’s waist. ‘Even if you just want, and I’ll do.’ He closed his eyes for a moment, let his forehead come to rest against Fallin’s. Let an ounce of doubt creep into his voice. ‘I will do, won’t I?’

‘Yes,’ Fallin breathed, and they were kissing again, and already fumbling with each other’s belts and buttons and zippers. All urgency and no finesse, this one. A hand slipped down to shape itself to Spike’s rear. To take possessive hold. Fallin broke away for a moment, his eyes asking the question.

‘Go on, then,’ Spike said, gruff with need.

‘You sure?’ Fallin said, even as he was turning Spike and pushing him face–first against the door, dragging Spike’s jeans and boxers down to his thighs.

‘Sure.’ Even so, there was a halt in proceedings. Spike glanced back over his shoulder, and spied Fallin rolling a condom onto something quite impressive. He growled, impatient at the delay, and wanting nothing to get in the way. ‘That’s not necessary.’ But even as he said it, Spike realised that Fallin would expect to use the thing for both their sakes, and Spike couldn’t explain why it wasn’t needed, so he said, ‘Sod it. Just get on with it.’ And Nick did so.

Ah … god … the feeling of being filled, pressured, possessed. It had been decades, but the memories came rushing vividly back. For a moment London fog swirled about him, Marrakesh spice, Vienna blood. He reached a hand down to grip himself, and found Nick’s hand there already keeping strong, sure time, so he plunged lower to drag roughly on his own balls the way he liked best. The percale shirt–tail, the expensive aftershave, the subtly American timbre of Nick’s barely–voiced groans, recalled him to the present – and he spent against the door of the janitor’s closet in the low–rent offices of a legal firm in Pittsburgh. And Nick powered into him, crushing him, keeping a shudder under control, once, twice, thrice, and he was done, too.

They stayed there, leaning heavily against the door, for a long moment. But then Nick was gone, and Spike turned to find him shucking off the condom, putting his suit back in order, grabbing a handful of tissues and wiping down the door. Spike hauled up his jeans, propped his butt on the edge of the desk. Lit that cigarette he’d been hankering for and took a long drag, not bothering to be defiant about it.

Nick was all ready to leave, briefcase in hand, polite ‘You’re just about to overstay your welcome’ expression on his face, and clothes as neat as if the two of them had never even touched. But Spike wasn’t gonna let him go that easy. ‘Wanna go get a drink? Could do with a drink.’

‘No.’ Nick looked elsewhere. ‘I’m meeting someone.’

‘Same someone that stood you up last night?’

Fallin didn’t respond – didn’t even react. There weren’t a whole lot of humans Spike had met who could simply not react in the ways that Fallin did. Especially not when talking about their own special someone.

‘All right,’ Spike muttered, standing up, relenting. ‘But we’re gonna go see Dylan tomorrow night. I promised the kid.’

‘Meet me at The Incline at seven–thirty.’

‘Sure. It’s a date, then.’ And Spike followed him out of the offices, out of the building. Walked off into the night, alone. Nothing much new there. He didn’t look back.

 

Dylan seemed fine, if a bit dispirited. ‘How are you doing here?’ Spike asked him. ‘They treating you all right?’

‘Yeah, it’s OK.’

‘You sure? What’s with the glum, then?’

The kid grimaced as if wrestling with conflicting instincts. Glanced warily at Fallin before looking back at Spike. ‘It’s just, you know … I’ve been thinking about Barbara.’

‘What about her, pet?’

‘She’s OK, really. She used to be, anyway. But –’ A big sigh, and he leaned in closer. ‘But custody battles are meant to be about both of them wanting you, yeah? Not both of them not wanting you.’

‘Oh, Dylan,’ Spike blurted, and he caught the poor kid up in a hug, not giving a damn about what was proper or not. ‘I don’t believe that for a moment. You’re a great kid. None of this is your fault.’ He held Dylan away at arm’s length again. Ruffled his hair, looked at him directly. ‘Hell, I’d adopt you, if I could. But I can’t.’ He snuck a look back at Nick, and in a passable imitation of the lawyer’s blunt, dry manner said, ‘It would hardly be appropriate.’

Dylan chuckled, and they both looked guiltily at Nick to find him smiling with genuine humour. ‘OK,’ said Dylan, ‘I can see what you mean now, Spike.’

‘What?’ Spike was dumb enough to ask.

‘He is kinda cute, yeah.’

Spike tried to shrug this off, tempted to blush for the first time in about a hundred years – but Nick took it all right, suppressing a grin and modestly looking elsewhere as if they couldn’t possibly be talking about him. ‘Yeah, ain’t he?’ Spike agreed.

But Dylan’s dispirited manner soon returned, and he said, ‘I’m gonna go back and watch TV now.’

Spike wasn’t gonna push it. ‘All right. See you soon, yeah?’

‘Yeah.’ And the kid trailed away.

As they walked back through the shelter Spike himself was sunk in the glum, but as they hit the night air heading for the car Spike became aware of Nick striding purposefully along beside him, a certain gleam in his eye. It seemed that Nick was wanting – no, expecting to get laid that night.

Spike grinned to himself. He wasn’t above taking it where he could get it, that was for sure. He followed Nick to the silver–grey car, and got into the passenger seat without waiting for an invitation. It was simply understood between them. ‘But not the office again,’ Spike said.

Nick, about to pull the car away from the kerb, paused. Just sat there looking through the windscreen, not commenting, not offering or asking.

‘Your place,’ Spike said. ‘Your bed, unless you have a particular thing for doing it against doors.’

A smile tugged at the corner of Nick’s mouth and then was gone. He didn’t acknowledge Spike’s suggestion in any way, except that he smoothly drove towards the less needy part of town.

 

When they got to Nick’s townhouse, Spike was amazed at how cold and empty and grey it was. No plants, no pictures or photos, no knick–knacks. No colour. ‘God, this is worse than my crypt!’ he blurted, wandering from room to room on the ground floor. ‘Uh, crib,’ he amended. ‘English term.’

But once he’d circled back to Nick in the foyer again, Spike saw that the man was annoyed. Perhaps Nick felt somewhat under siege.

‘It’s nice, though,’ Spike offered lamely. ‘Understated, sure, but nice.’ Which wasn’t enough to mollify the man. ‘Bedroom’s up here?’ Spike asked, indicating the stairs. And without waiting for an answer he began climbing them.

Their encounter was rather generic this time, definitely no–frills. Just hands and a bit of frotting. Both naked, but no kissing. More like what Spike expected from hitherto–straight guys. Pleasant enough, and on sinfully luxurious sheets, but nothing as passionate as their first time.

Afterwards Nick said, ‘I’ve got to get some sleep.’

But Spike wasn’t gonna offer to leave. ‘Well, I’ll sit up for a while, if that’s all right. Watch TV. I’ll be quiet.’

‘Sure.’ And Fallin turned away, stretched himself out under the doona, his broad back as eloquently dismissive as his stoical face must be.

Spike watched him for a moment, before stooping to regather his scattered clothes. Something inside him ached with longing. Wanting only … wanting … Well, if he was looking for affection, he’d come to the wrong place. But he’d guessed that going in. Spike headed downstairs.

 

It was maybe three in the morning, and Spike decided on a cigarette before joining Fallin in bed. No prizes for guessing that the house rules began with no smoking indoors, though. He was about to head out onto the back steps, but caught a glimpse of a tiny balcony jutting out above him, so he padded upstairs in bare feet, and went looking for it. A glass door led out there from the first floor landing, moonlight falling through onto the polished floorboards. He tried the doorhandle, but it was shut fast. A lock and two bolts later – flicking them open as quietly as he could – and he was outside in the frosty night, smoking contentedly, gazing across the Pittsburgh skyline under a full moon.

Into his second cigarette, and a presence loomed behind him – and he should have picked up on that far sooner, but he knew it was Nick so he wasn’t worried. He stayed on high alert, though. There were no words, just hands reaching around to unfasten his jeans, to push them down out of the way, and then a prick so hard and so immense within him and so hot – literally radiating heat despite the night air – that Spike let out a ragged groan ‘oh dear christ …’ before losing the very last of his cool.

 

That was more like it, Spike thought complacently. They sat up for a while together, drinking whisky, companionable though not saying very much, before tumbling back into bed and falling asleep in a tangled embrace.

 

An admirably filthy curse from Nick woke Spike. The dull grey of daylight in a curtained room. The lawyer was hauling on fresh shorts, a fresh shirt, yesterday’s suit, grabbing a tie, leaving a wake of haphazardly opened drawers and doors. ‘Should be in a meeting,’ he tersely explained.

‘Oh.’ So they’d slept in. Spike didn’t bother apologising. He wrapped a sheet round his waist, and trailed Nick downstairs.

‘I don’t have time to drop you anywhere. Not safely, anyway.’ Nick grimaced at him.

‘Oh yeah, sunlight. Suppose there’s no convenient trapdoor in the basement?’

‘No.’ Nick looked curious, but had no time to ask. He grabbed up his briefcase, and headed for the door. ‘Just stay here, all right? Call me if you need anything. I can come by at lunchtime.’

‘Sure,’ Spike agreed with a shrug. Couldn’t have arranged it any better if he’d tried. ‘Bye, then!’

A farewell nod, a last searching glance thrown at him, and Nick was gone.

Spike looked around. Amazing how quiet the house seemed now, in the aftermath of Nick’s flurry. The day stretched ahead of him, long and lazy. A bit lonely. He considered his options for a moment or two, and then turned back to where the bed waited invitingly.

 

Nick didn’t come home until late that night, and there was a flicker of surprise and a lick of anger under the implacable expression when he saw that Spike was still there. Hell, Spike himself was surprised that he had hung around for over thirteen hours waiting for this guy. But there was a third reason he’d persisted with Nick, and that was partly about Nick being intriguing, and partly about Spike actually almost understanding him, when surely very few people could even read let alone get such an enigmatic sod. And that was flattering all round. So he’d waited in the hopes that he was – Knowing that few would have been able to see the anger didn’t really make up for the fact that – He wasn’t wanted.

‘Hey,’ Spike said lamely. ‘I was just, uh –’

Apparently determined to take this in his stride, Nick said, ‘Sure. You want to know about Dylan.’ God, there was something absolutely furious deep inside the man. He was unpacking a bag of groceries into the fridge and various cupboards, his every movement containing barely restrained rage. ‘There’s been a development. Have you eaten?’

‘No. I mean, yes, I’m fine. Thanks. What development? You’ve reassessed the foster parents?’

Nick began fixing himself a sandwich, as if on automatic pilot. ‘Laurie Solt was doing that. I haven’t heard from her.’ He paused for a moment, looked at Spike, then pushed the sandwich makings aside as if only now realising he had no appetite. ‘I found Dylan’s original file. There was an older brother, Rowley.’ Nick wrenched off his tie.

‘Rowley Thomas.’ It took Spike a moment, but then he snorted with laughter. ‘Thomas Rowley. Oh, Chatterton, that marvellous boy.’ His companion remained blank. ‘Never mind. More poetry. We Brits are known for it.’

‘He was only sixteen when their parents died, but he’s eighteen now, so he can take custody of Dylan, if he’s deemed fit.’

‘That’s great! Dylan’ll be rapt.’

‘We have to find Rowley first. He could be anywhere.’ Nick went to pour himself a whisky. Drank it down in a gulp, poured himself another one, and then one for Spike, too.

‘What’s wrong?’ Spike quietly asked. ‘Stood up again?’

This was met with – not a shrug, but an impatient attempt to stretch his spine and resettle his shoulders. Which didn’t work. The man’s internal fury only seemed to edge up another notch.

‘Or maybe she showed for once,’ Spike speculated, ‘but it didn’t go well, and that’s even worse.’

Nick shot him the most emotional look that Spike had ever seen on him. It was pure anger. Then he turned away again, as if desperately trying to collect himself. Poured another drink.

‘Hey, if you want me to, uh –’

But Spike’s offer died on his lips as Nick strode towards him, grabbed him, dragged him roughly towards the foyer. They didn’t make it to the bedroom. They didn’t even make it past the first few steps. Nick was on him, pushing him down, mouth devouring his with no mercy, voracious as any vampire. Hands brutally exposing him, turning him over. Then Nick’s weight covering him, crushing him, and the man was biting into his nape, biting and sucking and none too gentle about it.

Spike almost laughed, delighted, thrilled, surrendering to it. Wondering if he dared bite into Nick, for real, and taste a little of his blood … Oh, it was so damned tempting. Dangerous, too, which was quite the added incentive. Nick gnawing now across to the junction between neck and shoulder, and Spike remembered once when Angelus had …

But, no, his damned grandsire could go back to hell again before Spike would indulge himself with such memories. Instead he reached behind to feel the man’s rock–hard prick through the fine cloth, rubbed and squeezed it. ‘Come on, Fallin,’ he cried. ‘Come on, fuck me, damn you!’

And Nick was fumbling with his trouser fastenings, shaking now with need or anger or some such. God, all those ruthlessly quashed feelings, all that fury at the world. Finally his flesh was freed, dug into Spike’s rear hard enough to leave a bruise, instinct insisting it find its home and press inside – And yet Nick forced himself away with a gut–wrenching groan, found his wallet. Gold cards and fifty–dollar bills scattering as he snagged a condom.

‘Oh for god’s sake,’ Spike whimpered, wishing he could explain why they needn’t wait for such niceties. ‘Get on with it, for god’s sake, just get the hell on with it …’

Finally he was filled with cock, Nick pounding into him, the stairs surprisingly perfectly placed for elbows and knees, but Spike was too busy withstanding the assault to free a hand for his own release, so he rode it out, and only a few thrusts later Nick lost all civilisation as he came, silently imploding.

A moment of taking Nick’s full weight, stairs sharply digging in, and then Nick withdrew, Spike was empty, Spike was roughly turned over and that voracious mouth was devouring his over–sensitive cock, hand dragging on his balls the way he liked best, Spike crying out as he was triggered too soon, damn it, too soon – with just enough presence of mind to push Nick out of the way in time, not because he had to but because even at his most fraught Nick wanted to be safe. His own semen splattering his stomach, warm at first and then quickly cooling as the world resettled around them.

Nick had disappeared, but he came back with paper towelling, wiped Spike down, helped him to his feet. They made it to the bedroom, shucked off their clothes, collapsed across the bed, touching or not as fate or gravity decided.

‘You all right?’ Nick murmured.

‘Yeah,’ Spike replied. He offered a smile in the dimness. ‘Never better, actually.’

They lay there for a while, both wide awake though neither stirring a muscle.

Spike was pondering all the pent–up aggression beneath Nick’s imperturbability. He could empathise, sure enough, but there was only so much he could do about it. So he may as well at least offer that much. ‘You know,’ he whispered, ‘you can’t hurt me, Nick.’

‘I can’t?’

‘Well, I heal fast, anyway. And I can’t lift a bloody finger against you, I can’t tell you why. That’s not the point. The point is, you can do – whatever it is you need to do. And no matter how bad it gets, it’ll be safe.’

But when he looked at Nick lying there looking at him, Spike saw that this notion only troubled the man. He sighed. Nick wasn’t going to take him up on it. Not really. Not beyond the bit of rough you could have with any man. Nick was just going to keep struggling, suffering, alone and in silence.

 

A while later, Nick went to fetch a glass of water, which they shared. And then they shifted into a more comfortable embrace. ‘You’re really all right?’ Nick asked.

‘I really am, mate.’

And still they lay there, neither sleepy.

‘Spike. How long will you be in Pittsburgh?’

He thought about the motivation behind that question for a moment, wondering whether Nick wanted to move on now, or wanted to know how long he had left to take advantage. ‘I don’t know. I guess I’ll see Dylan settled, then I’ll head off.’

‘Where?’

‘Well, I’ve been drifting east. I suppose I’m heading home. Haven’t figured that out yet.’

‘England?’

‘Yeah.’ He sighed. ‘Except, you know what they say – home is where the heart is.’

Nick was silent again.

But it was quite welcoming as silences go, so Spike confessed, ‘There’s this girl, see. Back in California.’

Nick let out a cynical ‘heh’.

‘What?’ Spike asked defensively.

‘And you love her?’

‘Yeah. Oh, yeah, I do.’

‘So, what’s this, then? Being with a guy doesn’t count?’

Spike blustered, feeling more confused than he had done since he first fell in love with her. ‘I wasn’t – Sure, it counts – But I didn’t –’

‘You don’t have to justify yourself to me.’

‘Well, stop making unjustified assumptions, then! Bloody lawyers,’ he muttered. ‘Presumed innocent until proven otherwise, my arse.’

Nick looked as if he were struggling not to, but eventually he couldn’t help himself. He smiled.

‘Anyway, who are you to talk? What’s your story?’ Spike asked, more and more interested. ‘There’s this girl, right …?’

The smile vanished. Nick closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them again and brusquely replied, ‘Woman. Yes.’

‘And you think it doesn’t count with me?’

‘No.’ But Nick had betrayed himself. Even in the dimness there was a hint of colour on his cheeks.

Spike was never one not to push. ‘So, what’s she like?’

‘Married.’

‘Ah …’ That explained a lot. Spike waited, but nothing more was said, so he took his turn. ‘Mine, she –’

Nick cut him off. ‘You don’t really do this getting–to–know–you stuff.’

‘Don’t I?’ Spike laughed. ‘Sometimes I do. When I get the chance. Too often, perhaps. You mean that you don’t, right?’

‘Come here,’ Nick said, and kissed him. Not a devouring kiss this time, but very nice. And definitely a good enough substitute for conversation. It seemed that Nick intended to distract Spike from further questioning with another of his wordless sex acts. But even as Nick arranged them both into a delightfully snug fit, the man drifted away into sleep. Spike chuckled soundlessly, and wondered if that was more flattering than insulting. He had to conclude that it was.

 

Spike woke about half an hour before dawn, which gave him enough time to get out of there and some place safe, which he figured Nick would prefer. He stirred, carefully slipped out from under Nick’s possessive arm, got up and started collecting items of clothing. But he’d hardly even pulled his boxers on before Nick woke enough to murmur, ‘Where you going?’

‘Thought I’d make myself scarce. Get out of your hair. Just for today.’

‘No need. Stay here.’

‘You sure?’

‘Sure.’ A yawn, and a sleepy wave. ‘Come back to bed.’

Spike never needed asking twice.

 

Before he went to work that morning, Nick gave him a few phone numbers so that Spike could try to track down Dylan’s brother, starting with Rowley’s former foster parents. In the end, it didn’t take him more than an hour. Rowley was working as a mechanic, and studying part time. They didn’t talk for long, but once Rowley had gotten past the guilt trip for not staying in touch with Dylan, he seemed pleased enough to be given an opportunity to put that right. Spike organised for himself and Nick to take Rowley to meet Dylan at the shelter that night. And then Spike called Dylan, and broke the news to him.

A silence stretched, before Dylan asked, ‘You sure he wants to see me?’

‘Of course he does, pet. Brothers are brothers, come hell or high water.’

‘It’s just – I haven’t seen him for years. I figured he’d – he’d just gone forever, you know?’

‘Yeah, I know. But I swear he wants to see you, and Nick says there’s even a chance that Rowley can be your guardian now.’

‘Really?’ Breathless tones, as if this was way too good to be true.

‘Really. And Nick’s not just a pretty face, you know, so if anyone can make it happen, he can.’ That won him a chuckle, but Dylan was still too young and easily flustered for a comeback. ‘I’ll see you tonight, yeah?’

‘Yeah. And, Spike – thanks. I really mean it. Thanks.’

‘Hey, it’s all part of the service.’

 

And that was pretty much the end of the story. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house that night – well, except for Nick’s, but even he did not scruple to smile with satisfaction – when Rowley just strode right up to Dylan and wrapped him up in a big, fierce, brotherly hug.

Then Nick took Spike back home, but only for one last pleasant all–very–proper round of farewell sex. Spike was getting dressed again by midnight, while Nick lay there naked on those expensive sheets, watching him.

‘I’m off, then,’ Spike announced.

‘England?’

‘Home.’

Nick was still smiling a little. Must be an after–shock. ‘California, then.’

Spike laughed. ‘Yeah. Straight home. No more detours for lost boys or pretty lawyers. Never Get Involved, that’s my rule. It never ends well, getting involved.’

‘Never?’

‘Oh, all right, maybe just occasionally it does. Maybe even twice now. I don’t really know. Jury’s still out.’ Spike smiled at the man, who had returned to the safety of imperturbability. Spike wasn’t entirely sure whether that was a good thing or a bad, but he knew that it was Nick’s business and not his own. Not any more. So he nodded goodbye, and walked right out of there. And he didn’t look back, not once. Story of his life.

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2 responses to “Involved”

  1. avatar Noor says:

    Great fic! Nick Fallin, the gorgeous & angsty lawyer is always a lovely thing to watch :)

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      Noor – Thank you so much! I am just fascinated by Nick Fallin, so it’s an extra delight to know that this story worked for you. Thanks for commenting! :-)

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