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     Spike awakened slowly, somewhat dazed from the long night of dominance and passion. He found that he was alone in Angel's large bed; the sun was up; and his arms were no longer chained. He stretched languorously, feeling every twitch and ache remaining from his all too active night. A slight rattle brought a smile of indulgent amusement to his otherwise relaxed face: Angel had once again chained his ankle to the bed. His Sire's ardent voice echoed in his memory: "I just like the look of yerself chained to me bed," and he felt a comforting satisfaction at that idea. A sense of presence drew his eyes to the door, as Angel strode though it carrying mugs of what proved to be warmed blood.

"Mornin', William." Angel said softly. The hair at the back of Spike's neck rose at the sound of that name.

"Morning, Sire," he replied carefully. The chain on his leg suddenly seemed less comforting.

Angel had noted the tension caused by the use of Spike's given name and the caution it invoked. He allowed the pleasure he felt at that response to show and was pleased to see Spike relax a few degrees. He knew he had to be careful this morning, or all the work he had accomplished the previous night would be for naught.

"Are ye hungry, Lad?" He asked with more than a hint of innuendo, as Spike looked down to hide his reaction.

Spike was trying to still the sense of panic rising from deep pits of memory. Whenever Angelus had been this quietly attentive, it had been the worst of a long list of very bad signs. He tried to tell himself that Angel was different, but the instincts of a chastened childe were riding roughshod over his logical protestations. Suddenly coming to the realization that Angel was patiently, even amusedly, waiting for an answer; he forced himself to meet his eyes.

"Hungry?" He repeated in a dazed tone. Shaking himself mentally and physically, he replied, "Yes. I'm hungry, Sire." Almost without his control, an answering edge of flirtation entered his reply.

Angel smiled approvingly, sat on the bed, and handed Spike his favorite "Bite Me" mug.
Gratefully turning his attention to the meal, Spike drank as if he were starving. All too soon the blood was gone, and he had no choice but to return his attention to his Sire.

Taking Spike's mug, Angel set it, as well as his own, on the nightstand then slowly crawled over Spike, forcing him to lay down rather than be run into. Once he was pinned down, Angel stroked Spike's cheek, relishing the shiver that wracked his childe's body in reaction. Sighing with evident delectation, Angel lowered his body to Spike's and molded against him comfortably, staring into his bewildered, blue eyes.

"Sire?" Spike finally asked, unable to be still under the protracted scrutiny any longer.

"Aye, William." Angel lazily drawled. This time, with such extensive body contact between them, Spike's flinch at the use of that name was undeniably obvious.
"Don't ye like to be called William, lad?" Angel asked mockingly. Spike's initial impulse was to deny everything, but at the last moment recalled this was Angel, not Angelus and with a resigned air replied, "No, Sire. I don't like it." His body language eloquently added, "As you bloody well know," but his brain, for a change, managed to keep his tongue from joining it. Angel patted his head approvingly.

"Good lad. Ye remember yer lessons o' last night."
Spike nodded tentatively.
"Then ye will know from now on that if I call ye William, ye stand in danger of swift retribution. Will ye not?" Angel observed, and after a slight pause to allow Spike a nod of agreement, he continued. "Now if I call ye Will . . . well, consider it a fond warning, Lad. Mend yer ways while ye still have time, boyo. -- Otherwise, it's Spike and Angel, and no one's the wiser." He ran his fingers through Spike tousled hair and turned a meaningful eye towards him. "Do we understand one another, Childe?" he asked gravely.

It had been over one hundred years since Spike had, had the law laid down in this manner, and to his distress, he reacted to it in just the same way as always: his muscles trembled under his Sire's strength; his mind shut down in the face of his Sire's gravity; his cock grew hard, and his blood lit afire from the knowledge that his Sire's power and will not only could but would enforce his commands.
Breathlessly, he uttered the only reply possible. "Yes, Sire. I understand."

Angel smiled brightly then proceeded to kiss Spike. Spike felt like the rest of his body had gone numb, so involved in the oral sensations was he. Angel broke away and sat up.

"Good," he said briskly, all trace of his brogue gone. "I have to go down to the office. Clean up, and we can have another snack when you come down." To Spike's bemusement, Angel unlocked the remaining manacle and blithely swept from the room.

Spike tried not to think throughout his morning ablutions. He succeeded intermittently, but found his mind returning to last night and this morning over and over again. He felt that he should somehow be indignant over Angel's highhanded treatment of him, that he should be angry, or at the very least plotting his revenge, but the fact of the matter was, he was happy: happier than he had been in as long as he could remember. He tried to isolate what it was about having his Sire back that made him feel all was right with his corner of unlife, but it seemed so basic, instinctive even, that it evaded explanation in mere words.

He had come to the conclusion that accepting Angel's authority, particularly in their bedroom, was an unavoidable matter now. He knew --as sure as he knew sunlight was to be avoided and in much the same way-- that Angel would not just allow him to retreat to Sunnydale or anywhere else for that matter. He had come seeking something from Angel, and Angel, having given it, would not let him change his mind after the fact. It was also clear to Spike that Angel was willing to go much farther than he would have thought in order to reign in his wayward childe. That had not been Angelus throwing him around the lobby last night --the end would have been much different if it were-- but as far as the willingness to cause pain and the artistry with which it was applied, the difference between was little enough as to be meaningless.

Spike felt he should be more concerned about the similarities between Angel and Angelus; however, the differences were all to the good, and the realistic part of Spike begrudgingly admitted that the similarities were arguably necessary. Shaking out of his less than ego-soothing conclusions, he saw that he had dressed on autopilot and was standing staring at his shirts, hanging in the closet in the space Angel had provided for them. He started to reach for Cordelia's blue and then paused considering the potential impact of it. He knew that it was only a matter of time before he stepped over one of Angel's boundaries, and he didn't bother to deceive himself that those boundaries would be any less closely watched than Angelus'. In fact, probably a great deal more attention would be paid, since Angelus had been an uneven taskmaster at best, and Angel tended towards hyper-vigilance.

Therefore, the initial impact of the blue shirt offsetting his eyes and hair should be saved until it could be used to its maximum advantage. He just hoped the offense wouldn't be so heinous that the shirt wouldn't survive the aftermath, because he knew Cordelia was right: he would look so good in it, and Angel, no matter how angry, would notice. He snorted at how quickly his manipulative nature had adjusted to this change in his situation; it was all too easy to fall back on the knowledge that his looks were one of his best defenses where Angel was concerned. Shrugging off his introspection, he pulled the brightest of the reds out and slipped the shirt on. Regardless, it seemed a day for bright colours.



     Wesley was struggling to avoid theorizing on what specifically happened last night, after he dropped Spike off, to put Angel in such a good mood. Especially since, when he arrived that morning, it had been to find the lobby trashed to the extent of blood smears on the floors, walls, and stairs. He had started to clean up the worst of it when Angel joined him and silently began to help. The distressing part had been when Angel began to whistle tunelessly in a relentlessly cheerful manner.

Wesley knew what had happened at his home: he had lain awake haunted by memories of Spike's animated facial expressions and body language. It hadn't really registered whilst they were at Caritas, because he had been so involved in obtaining information about the chip that Spike didn't really know he knew, but once that pursuit had been put on the back burner, his brain had been flooded with images of the relaxed, comparatively unguarded vampire he had spent the evening with.

Even when he had finally fallen asleep, his dreams had been so erotically disturbing that what little rest he attained felt like none at all. The dreams had included Angel, too: a happenstance that was not unusual in Wesley's dreams, but they had taken a decidedly graphic turn that had not been there prior to Spike's entry into their lives. Wesley was a deeply troubled man.

He was used to hiding his desires from Angel and knew that Angel assumed that he was still a little bit in love with Cordelia; a misunderstanding of the situation that Wesley had gratefully encouraged. It just never seemed to occur to Angel that he was the object of all that stoically repressed lust. Wesley's theory on the matter was that such incredible obtuseness could only be explained by the fact that Angel had not been able to look in a mirror for almost three centuries, and it had dimmed his grasp of the sheer visual impact he presented.

Adding insult to injury was the reality that a happy Angel, radiating contentment, was even more difficult to avoid drooling over than a brooding Angel. It wasn't so much that Angel appeared sated --he had had that look in varying degrees ever since Spike had began living at the Hyperion-- but this morning he looked vindicated somehow, triumphant even: at home in his own skin in a way that Wesley had never known him to be, and it was clearly a direct result of whatever Angel and Spike had done last night whilst Wesley tossed and turned in his stark and desolate bed.

Unable to stand Angel's relentless self-possession, Wesley left the office to him and Cordelia, retreating into the kitchen and putting a kettle on to provide an excuse. No one ever questioned an English person's propensity to have a brew even under the most extraordinary circumstances. He idly wondered how many brews were made because of genuine thirst, compared with the amount that had been made and drunk as emotional camouflage. Musing idly whist waiting for the water to boil, he suspected the latter won out, hands down.

Spike was not avoiding Angel, exactly, but he wouldn't have denied that their unwashed mugs by the bed were a welcome distraction. As he came down the stairs into the lobby, he could clearly see and hear Angel and Cordelia embroiled in one of their amiable but interminable discussions about billing the clients, so he gratefully headed into the kitchen to take care of the washing up.

Wesley looked up, expecting to see Angel; his meaningless tea commentary all prepared. However, the long night with little rest conspired with his guiltily erotic dreams and the remnants of his hangover to make his brain freeze at the unanticipated entry of Spike looking as insufferably pleased as Angel, albeit in a more muted manner.

This left Spike with the interesting experience of seeing Wesley's carefully constructed fašade freeze and then crumble. His greeting died before it reached his lips as he watched a series of raw emotions cross Wesley's face: beginning with surprise and ending in shock, there were all sorts of interesting things in between. Still basking in the smug afterglow of last night's reconciliation, Spike elected to give his fellow Englishman a break. Walking past Wes as if he had noticed nothing amiss, Spike turned on the water and rinsed the mugs out in the sink; allowing the human time to collect himself whilst trying to sort thorough what he had just seen.

Panic, certainly, and humiliation but also longing, shame, despair and a fleeting bit of wicked jealousy were Spike's basic conclusions. It made him wonder just what sort of night Wesley had had after leaving him at the Hyperion's door. He very slowly, soundlessly took a breath, tasting for Wesley's scent on the air. The pungent mixture of arousal and self-loathing hit Spike hard enough to make it difficult not to flinch. It was a combination that he was personally quite familiar with. The scent of arousal was underlain with aged, stale echoes of itself, too.

Wesley had either had some very vivid dreams last night, or his thoughts had kept him up and fantasizing. Yesterday, even last night, Spike would have said the ex-Watcher had a crush, was morbidly curious maybe, but right now, the fuck-me pheromones were pouring off him as if Spike were stripped and displayed instead of rinsing mugs fully clothed. If there were only a touch of bitter hopelessness in the mix then Spike would have called it classic "Eau de Angel," but he knew you probably had to have had him at least once and then had that taken away to reach the critical blend for that fell perfume. He remembered how intoxicating and distracting it had been when the Slayer gave off that scent; but she was young and human; and eventually, she healed enough to go on with her life.

Spike doubted whether Wesley would ever allow himself to heal that much. Too familiar with the pain to let it go by now was Spike's bet; the human was as surely marked as if he bore a scar. Wesley's kettle started whistling, and as he automatically began to make a pot of tea, Spike settled at the table with his back to the door, so he could watch Wesley's movements.

"Did that do it for you last night, Mate?" Spike asked slyly.

Wesley winced, remembering more than one occasion during the never-ending night when just the thought of Spike had indeed "done it for him." Each time it had been relief enough to let him drift off to sleep in the aftermath, but each time it had led to increasingly erotic, shamefully graphic dreams, which finally had culminated in him writhing helplessly between the attentions of both vampires just before his alarm woke him, and he reluctantly forced himself to face the day. Wesley snapped out of the seductive memory, bemused that Spike was patiently awaiting an answer.

"What are you talking about, Spike?" he stalled dazedly.

"The chip, mate. What else? D'yer get wot you needed?" Spike calmly reminded him of the underlying purpose of their pub night.

Wesley blinked owlishly. "What? Yes, quite. You gave me a bit more information than I had hoped for. You're very observant."

"Right, Mate. Not much passes me by." Spike commented.

Wesley spent a moment trying to decide if there was innuendo couched in that statement, but concluding that discretion was the better part, chose to ignore it regardless.
"I have a lead on some new information that I'm hoping will shed some light on the matter," Wesley pushed on. "At any rate, I hope to be ready to do some small experiments by the week's end, if you are willing."

Spike paused long enough to make sure that he had Wesley's full attention.
"Oh, I'm always willing, Luv. Surely you've read that about me."

Wesley had, in point of fact, read many things about Spike, and most of them led him to the conclusion that even for a vampire, Spike's libido was extraordinarily active. It wasn't quite to the stage of if-it-moves-I'll-shag-it but he was infamous for developing intense obsessions, which in all the records Wesley had access to, he had never failed to achieve. There was even a Watcher's journal that vividly detailed the author's decent into a kind of sexual addiction which ended in him taking his own life rather than trusting his ability to withstand Spike's repeated offer to turn him, so he could feel the true depth of vampiric passion. Granted the Watcher in question was probably not all that sane in the first place --the tradition of recruiting from Watcher's families did not always prove to be the wisest of choices-- but his gradual buckling under from the intense pressure of Spike's seduction was now required reading for Watchers that were destined for the field. Vampires are seductive creatures by nature and often by inclination: that was the lesson the Watchers' Council hoped to drive home.

When Wesley had occasion to mention it in passing to Giles, the older Watcher had remarked that he thought the practice was similarly as successful as the drug education classes in American schools: it intrigued about as many as it dissuaded, and the majority remained unaffected but thankfully disinterested.

Spike didn't know exactly what Wesley was thinking about, but the scent of his arousal had grown to the extent that, had it not been for the chip (and the fact that Angel would have beaten him well-nigh to death over it) Spike would have considered taking him right there on the kitchen floor, willing or no. It was clear that the human had it bad for someone.

". . . but was it just Angel," Spike wondered, "or is Wesley beginning to crave being spiked?"
He raised the pressure another level.
"So Wes . . . How long have you fancied Peaches?"

To Spike's clandestine delight, Wesley immediately became nearly pale enough to pass as a vampire and folded in, swaying slightly as the blood rushed from his head. Then the color rose like the memory of a sunrise: across his cheeks and then outward, down his neck, past his collarbones, and out of sight. Wesley raised his face, ready to bluff gamely. The knowing look of recognition and shared sympathy in Spike's too blue eyes stopped him cold.

"Are you jealous, pet, or just envious? 'Cause I might do summat 'bout one; you'll just have to chew t'other like cud though. I'm not going anywhere . . . even if I wanted to." Spike favored him with a matter-of-fact but alluring smile.

Wesley felt another wave of heat flush his body; he reflected that Spike was looking at him as if he were a fabled treasure. It produced quite an overwhelming sensation. He had the nagging feeling that he had just missed some important scrap of information, but his mind simply wouldn't settle on it.

"Whatever do you mean, Spike? I feel nothing of the sort," Wesley belatedly defended himself.

Spike smirked expansively.
"Tell it to a demon who can't smell it rolling off ya --like Angel fer instance, the thick git." He added sarcastically. As Wesley's shocked but impulsive recognition left a faint smile registering on his face, a look of implied solidarity answered from Spike's. Spike nodded knowingly.
"Amazing how intuitive the great pouf can be and still not see summat under his nose, innit? You can deny all you want, Watcher; doesn't change the fact of it, does it now? You fancy 'im summat fierce." Spike paused and let the import of his words sink in, knowing that Wesley had lived with the secret of this long enough to drive a confession out of his mouth if only in order to share the hopelessness of it with someone: even if that someone was not only dead but also arguably his greatest rival.

Wesley shuddered slightly, as if someone in the far distant future were walking over his grave. He looked at Spike like a man who had just seen either his last, best hope die or possibly his worst nightmare be reborn. He exhaled shakily.

"It's not been easy, you know. He thinks . . ." Wesley's voice broke raggedly, "he thinks I'm still in love with Cordelia. Can you imagine? Cordelia." Wesley laughed hollowly.
"I admit there was a time --back in Sunnydale-- but that ended long ago, another lifetime seemingly. Useful subterfuge though. It's not that he believes, I suspect, as much as I let him . . . no, urge him to believe."

Wesley closed his eyes, and the tension eased in his lanky frame. His forearms pressed against the table with his fingers spread wide as if to keep his body from curling in on its self. Spike slowly reached his hand out and ensnared Wesley's, entwining their fingers, and nodded his understanding.

"'S alright, Mate. He does it to all of us, one way or another. You're not alone, Luv."

The simple reassurance caused Wesley's hand to clutch reflexively at Spike's. His eyes rising hopefully to lock onto the vampire's unflinching regard. Spike moved his thumb under and ran languid circles on Wesley's palm whilst holding his fingers entrapped; his tongue wetted his lips in intermittent rhythm with his wandering thumb. He observed, on some detached level, that Wesley's breathing had sped up, and the scent of arousal rose again past all previous levels. Spike thought, with some pleasure, that apparently more than just Angel had caught the Englishman's fancy. He hummed low in his throat in satisfaction. It was good to be wanted.

Angel watched from the shadows of the kitchen doorway; eventually the level of pheromones had risen so much that even he, in the office with Cordelia, had noticed. On one level, it was a pleasure to watch his childe at work --Angelus had loved to watch Spike seduce a meal before taking it, despite chastising him about preferring the technique over violence-- but on the other hand, the deeply possessive part of his nature said that Wesley was his as much as Spike was, and neither had asked permission. Wesley was ignorant of his trespass, but for Spike, it was a transgression that could not be overlooked if Angel was to continue controlling his impulsive childe, particularly where the help were concerned.

Wesley's eyes had inexorably faded shut, all his senses dwindling down to the touch of one thumb on one palm, and Spike, after a moment more, raised their joined hands and deliberately licked the center of that sensitized circle. A whimper escaped Wesley's tightly compressed lips; his hand clamped down on Spike's fingers as if on a lifeline. He looked to be in either agony or ecstasy, and Angel, at that moment, was afraid to distinguish the difference. He stepped into the room to make his presence known.

"Spike."
When he got no reaction, not even a twitch, he spoke louder,
"Will, me boyo. Are ye listenin'?"

"Mm-hmm?" Spike murmured affirmatively without taking his mouth off of Wesley's hand.

"Let go of Wesley, Lad. Now." The resolve in Angel's voice was implacable.

Spike looked up, clearly annoyed at the interruption.
"Hang on, just one kiss." He leaned towards Wesley who was still enrapt in a kind of light hypnotic trance.

Angel watched the pretty picture of his Childe seducing his employee, trying to remain focused on why this was a bad, if visually pleasing, idea. Spike's lips lightly brushed Wesley's, and Wesley artlessly began to respond. Angel, with fury and dominion, snapped, "William."

Spike froze as he heard his Sire's voice, and Wesley's eyes opened, wide with fear at the sound of what seemed to be Angelus' tone and manner. Angel's voice softened but in a way which made it seem more deadly rather than less.

"Don't make it worse, Lad," he simultaneously warned and threatened.

Spike carefully disengaged from the bewildered human, and turning to face Angel, sank to his knees in deference, head bowed. He suspected what Angel's displeasure centered around but was unsure enough to refrain from immediately attempting to defend his acts.

"Sire?" He asked, abjectly.

"Childe, you forget your place. My fault for not sufficiently reminding you."

"I didn't hurt him, Sire." Spike offered.

"That would be why you are still conscious, William." Angel observed. "Tell me, whose are you?" He asked off-handedly.

Spike swallowed heavily, and a chill ran visibly down his spine.
"Yours, Sire." He replied with heated passion.

"I'm so glad you're clear on that." Angel countered bitingly. "Go to my room and wait."

"But, Sire. . . ." Spike started, never letting his eyes leave the floor.

"Now." Angel interrupted. "Or you will wish that I had staked you where you kneel."

Spike rose to his feet and, daring one piercing glance at Wesley, obediently left the room.

Wesley shook his head as if awakening from a profound sleep. Whatever message Spike had been trying to pass him missed entirely. It felt like he had been taking an afternoon nap in a pool of sunlight: relaxed, torpid and slightly muzzy. He was unsure what exactly had passed between Spike and Angel; for that matter, he was unsure what exactly had passed between Spike and him. The palm of his hand, oddly enough, still felt like it was radiating heat, and he cradled it in his other hand and rubbed it distractedly. He became aware that Angel was looking down at him intently and mustered up a reassuring smile.

"Spike . . ." he began.
Angel cut him off immediately.

"I know precisely what Spike was doing, Wes. This doesn't have anything to do with you. It's a private matter."

Wesley flushed with indignation and surged to his feet.
"I beg to differ. If you're angry at him for . . ." Wesley's nerve flagged momentarily but running a hand through his hair, he pushed on, ". . . for importuning me, it damn well is my business. I can defend myself, Angel, but there was no need . . . . He wasn't . . . . It may have seemed he was . . . disturbing me, but his intentions were, at least partially, honorable."

Angel smiled at the furious and embarrassed human in front of him.
"It also seemed that his attentions were, at least partially, welcome. I'm not blind, Wesley, merely accommodating, but what I am telling you is that Spike crossed lines that had nothing to do with you and everything to do with me. No matter who it might have been, he had no permission to trade with what is mine by right."

The full import of what Angel was saying hit Wesley, and he sank back into his chair. Spike belonged to Angel. Obviously Spike agreed with Angel's viewpoint, or he would not have meekly vacated the kitchen: that meant that the relationship between the two vampires had taken a drastic turn last night. Suddenly, Wesley's mind fixed on the words that had been battering at his consciousness like a moth against glass since he had heard them in his earlier daze: "I'm not going anywhere . . . even if I wanted to." Wesley looked at Angel warily from behind his newly acquired knowledge. Angel smiled reassuringly.

"I see you understand. Don't worry, Wesley. I won't do anything to Spike that he hasn't been asking for. He'll heal. Besides," Angel reached out and ran the back of his hand along the opposite side of Wesley's face, "it's not like I can blame him."

An astonished and shaken Wesley was the recipient of an amused but solemn wink, then Angel was out the door and already up the stairs before Wesley managed to dazedly place fingertips on the skin where Angel had caressed him.

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