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Colours Of Red

Part I, Chapter 1

It was unnerving being watched—stalked, almost.

Angel didn’t like it, but he wasn’t going to intervene—not just yet, anyway. He wanted to know what the man wanted, so allowed the human’s eyes to roam over him whenever he stepped from his office to speak to Harmony, allowed the young man to hover near him when he entered an elevator—and at the last moment dash inside with him.

Unnerved turned to intensely curious, so Angel continued to let it go. He felt no threat, which he knew was possibly a mistake. He was tempted to take Wesley into his confidence, but the words “I’m being followed by a guy from Accounts” didn’t have the air of menace and authority he usually went for. So he waited until the man made a move. He would eventually. They always did.

He had other things on his mind anyway. He always had other things on his mind these days.

By coincidence, they had discovered that the drug Calendula protected minds from Lorne’s psychic abilities. They could no longer trust the readings they had done of the staff. They were planning to redo them all—drugs’ test first, then a reading. He divided the departments up between them: his inner circle—the people he trusted.

‘Why don’t you get Spike to take a few departments?’ Wesley turned the page of his list, frowning.

Angel looked up. ‘Spike.’

‘Well… yes. He could do a slack handful of mine, if you like.’


Wesley looked up. ‘Yes! Spike! He’s capable of running a simple drug test, isn’t he? Blood… right up his alley, so to speak.’

‘Spi—.’ Angel’s saw Wesley’s warning look and did not repeat the name again. ‘I don’t….’ Did he? Did he trust Spike? It was a hard concept to get his head around. Trust had never been a feature of their relationship. Fear had—Spike had sometimes feared him and done what he had been told to do. Power had—he had sometimes held so great a sway over his family that they had all obeyed him. Self-interest certainly had—Spike had often appeared at his side, his trusted lieutenant, because at that very moment, what his sire wanted had coincided with what Spike wanted. But trust?  ‘I don’t think he’d want to help.’ ‘Help with what, Mate?’

Angel winced. He didn’t want to be proved wrong. Or maybe right. Spike would agree to help because he wanted to appear helpful—self-interest, as ever.

Wesley seemed oblivious to Angel’s dilemma and replied happily, ‘We need some help with the drug testing programme.’

Spike flung himself into the couch. ‘I’m not watching people wee.’

‘Er… I’m sorry?’

‘Piss. I’m not watching….’

‘I know what weeing is; I meant….’

‘On the other hand…. Could be fun. You have to pay to see that on the net, like.’

Wesley nodded to himself and turned back to Angel. ‘So, as you were saying: no help from Spike.’


Angel smiled inwardly and chalked one up to him. Much to his annoyance, Spike sighed and sat up. ‘I’m only joking! Bloody hell, can’t you people take a joke anymore? I know it’s blood testing. I’ve been helping Fred get the pointy things ready! Happy?’

Wesley picked up his list. ‘Right, if you are serious about helping, you can take some of the departments.  The motor pool; Special Ops… what else…?’



Spike got up and peered over the man’s shoulder. ‘I could do those last two: Accounts and Typing.’

Angel tented his fingers under his chin. Three hundred years of reading people (and one hundred of those reading this smallish one) set alarm buzzers tingling in his spine. ‘Why those?’

Spike lifted his eyebrows innocently. ‘Why what?’

‘Why those?’

‘Those what?’

Angel narrowed his eyes, and Spike sighed again. As a gesture of martyred innocence, it was losing its veracity.  ‘I don’t care which ones I do!’ Angel heard something, but he couldn’t identify what the something was. Spike staring at him with innocent eyes distracted him.

So it was agreed.

Angel continued to sit at his desk long after the building emptied. He was trying to fathom Spike’s angle—why he wanted to help. Nothing came to him, and with a groan of stiffness, he levered himself up from the chair. He needed some physicality. He felt like killing something. L.A. was good for that.

Carefully selecting a weapon, he headed to the elevators.

He felt eyes on him again.

Accounts. Connections tickled his mind, but before he could scratch and work out the link, a very nervous voice coughed and said, ‘Sir?’

Angel turned cautiously, the sword heavy and reassuring in his hand. If Spike was involved in this, it would probably be bad.


His young stalker came closer.

Angel didn’t even try to put him at his ease. ‘Talk.’

The man seemed confused then waved his hand and tried to explain, but he was so nervous he was incoherent. Angel held up his hand. ‘Slower, maybe?’

The man nodded and managed to say, ‘I stayed late. I wanted to speak with you.’

‘You could have spoken to me any time over the last three days you’ve been following me.’

A deep blush followed this, and Angel almost felt guilty being harsh to something so lovely. The blush enhanced the man’s intense prettiness, but that only provoked Angel more. ‘What do you want?’ He kept the tone harsh. Experience had taught him that very bad things could come from very pretty, very innocent-seeming things.

‘Well, here’s the thing, see. I need some advice, and you seemed the best person to ask. But he says you’re…. I mean, not that he doesn’t say nice things about you sometimes, too. Well, not actually about you. But he could! He says nice things about the people you know!’

‘I’ve just lost a very valuable slice of my eternity. You’ve got one more chance before I either behead you or fire you, and I’m not sure which I’d enjoy more.’

‘Yes. Sorry. Only, here’s the… sorry. It’s Spike.’

‘Spike.’ He seemed doomed today to have conversations where he repeated that name inanely.

‘You’ve known him longer than anyone.’

‘Spike.’ Damn.

‘And I wanted to ask you…. See, here’s…. sorry. Okay! It’s his Birthday, and I want to buy him a present, and I thought I’d ask you what he’d like! Don’t cut my head off!’

Angel wasn’t sure he could have coordinated a hiccup let alone a beheading. ‘You want to…. I’m sorry. I don’t think I heard right.’

Having gotten over his initial fear, the man almost warmed to his theme. ‘See, it’s next week, and I just don’t know what he’d like. What do you buy someone who could just steal anything he wanted anyway? But then I remembered… well, actually, he was talking about you, and I thought—but only good things! Well, not as bad as he sometimes says—so, anyway, when he was telling me about the time you two… and I thought: the boss would know what to buy him! Did anyone ever tell you that you aren’t very… approachable?’

‘Birthday.’ It was an improvement on Spike, anyway.

‘Well, yeah. Didn’t you know?’

Angel shook his head slowly. ‘Human birthday?’

‘Er…. Oh, right, well, yeah, I guess. He didn’t say. But he wouldn’t want to celebrate becoming a vampire, would he? He said some huge horny beast turned him. Wouldn’t want to celebrate that.’

‘Horny beast!’

‘Or horned, maybe. We were kinda… busy… at the time, so I don’t….’

‘Busy.’ Whoa. Busy? Accounts? I’ll do accounts. Spike was doing accounts? Angel blinked and held the man with a gaze that was able to hold considerably more powerful creatures than he. ‘Why do you want to buy Spike a present?’


‘Why do you want to buy Spike a present? It’s a very simple question.’

‘Because…. I don’t get what you mean. Why wouldn’t I want to buy him a present?’

‘I don’t want to.’

‘But you don’t love him.’

There were a number of replies to this, but Angel didn’t make any of them. He processed things in his mind rapidly then asked softly, ‘Does he know this?’ Busy?

The man blushed prettily and shrugged. ‘I tell him, but he’s… ya know.’

Angel nodded as if he did. ‘You and Spike.’

There was nowhere for the blush to go. Angel watched it stay constant, but he heard the man’s pulse rise as he nodded in confirmation.

Angel suddenly lifted his arm and swung the sword, its whooshing sound and the speed of his movement making the man stumble back. ‘I don’t have time for this now. I’m going….’ To kill something. Someone. Move away from me now.

The man held up his hands defensively and backed away. Only when Angel was in the elevator did the human remember the whole point of the conversation. He saw from Angel’s expression, however, that asking again would not be good for his health.

Angel ran his fingers down the edge of his sword, liking the feel of the cold steel. He concentrated on the coolness of the metal for as long as he could, but other thoughts clamoured to be let in.

Spike and a man? Since when? Why? And where? How? Shit no!—kick that thought into touch.

But Spike? And another man? Since when? The elevator murmured softly to a halt two floors above where Angel wanted to get off. Still deep in thought, he hardly noticed.

‘Evenin’, Mate. Whoa, big sword!’ Spike lit a cigarette, leant across Angel to push the button. ‘You on overtime or something? Do you never actually leave this bloody place?’ He blew some smoke out on his inconsequential questions.

‘When did I turn you?’

Spike’s cigarette hovered. ‘Huh?’

‘What month did I turn you?’

‘How the hell should I—August. Why? An’ is that the first bloody time you’ve ever voluntarily mentioned…?’

‘It’s October now.’

‘Oh my God! Have we fallen through a time dimension? Oh, no, it was October when I stepped in! I kinda know what month it is, wanker!’

‘You were born in October?’

‘Are you on something? Ohhh! You’ve been sampling the blood testing! You bugger!’

‘It’s your Birthday this month?’

Spike tipped his head to one side and pursed his lips. ‘You’ve spoken to Ben.’

Ben? Something surged through Angel’s body. It felt like the constant need he had to kill and hurt things—but not quite. Those feelings he controlled. This one overpowered him, and he leant on the sword for a moment. ‘What’s going on, Spike?’

‘Nothing that I’m thinking is your business.’

‘Everything to do with… this firm… is my business.’

‘Not my personal bloody life!’

‘What’s going on?’

‘Nothing! Jesus!’

 ‘Nothing! I’m collared in my own damn firm by your…!’

‘My… what? My what, Angel? Finish what you were going to say.’

‘Your… friend.’

Spike laughed unpleasantly. ‘Yeah. He is that. My stop.’

Angel looked puzzled; Spike sighed and clarified. ‘My stop—I get off here.’ He waited until the doors slid open then cast softly over his shoulder, ‘I’ve bin getting off a lot recently.’ Laughing at his own joke, he sauntered off with a small wave of his hand.

Part I Chapter 2

‘You’ve got to stop this, Mate.’ Spike didn’t fling himself into Angel’s chair in his usual irritating way. He sat carefully, leaning forward purposefully, elbows on knees.

Angel signed another letter, not looking up.  ‘I’m busy.’

‘I know. You’ve been a very busy boy the last two nights. You’re following him—stalking him—and it’s got to stop.’

‘You’re delusional.’ The ink ran out in his pen. Angel tutted softly and rummaged in a drawer for a new bottle.

Spike watched the elaborate filling of the fountain pen for a while then said calmly, ‘You sat on the roof opposite the apartment and watched all last night and the night before.’

‘You are mistaken. And I’m really not interested in whatever this game is you’re playing.’

‘I saw you. I watched you watching him.’

Angel looked up sharply, a small drip from the pen staining the paper he’d been studying. ‘You think I’m going to believe that you have the skill to watch me without me knowing it? Me?’

Spike leant back and lit a cigarette. ‘I do it all the time.’ He frowned for a moment, as if he’d admitted more than he’d intended and added, ‘Occasionally.’ Still not liking the taste of that, he said less convincingly, ‘Well, I did last night, anyway.’

‘What’s going on, Spike? I know you. This is something you want me to think is one thing, but which is actually something quite different. But I won’t see what it really is until it comes up and hits me hard from behind—crowbar-like.’

‘Huh? Just run that past me again.’

‘What are you up to?’ He snorted faintly. ‘Do you seriously want me to believe that you’ve suddenly become…?’

Spike leant forward accusingly. ‘I know what you were gonna say.’

Angel looked pained and lowered his eyes.

Spike grinned and said slyly, ‘Happy.’

Angel looked up, his face for one moment rippling with confusion and guilt in equal measure. Before he saw the trap—admitting that his thought was far less generous than that—he said sharply, ‘No, I wasn’t.’

Spike chuckled and stood up. His tone did not match the small laugh. ‘No, I know you weren’t. Just fuck off and leave us alone, Angel. We don’t need your self-hatred and twisted angst messing with what we’ve found.’  He sauntered out and headed, Angel noticed, to Accounts.

* * *

Wesley was reading, and he looked up, always pleased to see Angel.

Angel went to the bookcase and feigned interest in something.

Wesley sighed. These sorts of visits from Angel weren’t so enjoyable. He got up and poured them both a drink. ‘What’s he done now?’


‘Spike. I assume this little chat is going to be about Spike. Obliquely or not.’

Angel didn’t bother to give this foolishness credibility by acknowledging it. ‘I want to review our policy on inter-staff relationships.’

Wesley took a sip of whisky, slightly nervously. ‘Oh. Do we have one of those? I haven’t read it—not that if I had I’d stop trying to…. Well, not that you could call it trying, exactly. Hoping, certainly—.’


‘Oh, yes, policy.’

‘Relationships between colleagues—I want to… ban them.’

‘Ah. May I ask why? Or even how….’

‘How is the easy part.’ Angel fingered an imaginary sword and felt it cut through human flesh. Feeling better, he said in a lighter tone, ‘I’m just trying to establish the right level of professionalism, Wes. It’s a pretty standard clause in most offices, isn’t it?’

‘I have no idea. This is hardly a standard office.’

‘All the more reason to ensure that we are utterly professional at all times!’

‘So, Cordelia…?’

Angel ignored this as easily as he ignored the fact he didn’t show up in mirrors: centuries of practice tuning out the unpalatable. ‘Good. We’re in agreement. I’ll have Gunn review the policy then.’ He sauntered out, very pleased with the way the discussion had gone.

* * *

Discovering from Gunn that he was CEO but that he couldn’t bring in such a policy without being sued by most of the lawyers in the firm angered Angel on some fundamental level.  He brooded about it for a number of days. One option, which had occurred to him in the dark hours of the night when he couldn’t sleep for some reason, was to make Spike leave: set him up somewhere else. Then he wouldn’t have to think about Spike being… busy. Angel’s eyes flew open. That was worse! Then Spike would be free to be… busy… all day! All day, being… busy! No, keep him here and keep him really busy—day and night! Or he could ki—sack—the human. He folded his arms under his head and saw the scene play out very satisfactorily. ‘You’re what?’

‘I’m firing you.’

‘But why? I’ve only ever wanted to serve you.’

‘You’re a thief.’

‘I’m a what?’

He’s a what? Angel frowned and began again.

‘You’re what?’

‘I’m firing you.’

‘But why? I’ve only ever looked up to you and wanted to do your will.’

‘You stole something from me, and I want it ba….’ Whoa. One last go….

‘You’re what?’

‘You’re dead.’ The axe, slicing through the man’s—Ben, what a dumb fucking name—neck actually brought a small, evil surge of life to Angel’s penis. He lifted the sheet and peered down.  He sliced again and again and again—a constant falling of that pretty head, blood welling up, spouting…. No! Hurting the man first. Laying hands on flesh where flesh of his flesh had lain: touching what Spike had touched. Hurting what he loved and wanted. Oh, even better… making Spike watch. Forcing him to see the pain his sire could cause. Make Spike cry. Make Spike beg. Hurt Spike. Touch Spike. Lay hands on that flesh of his flesh. Blood, their blood, welling, spouting…. By the time Angel had Spike writhing in his own blood, he was coming, and in his mind the sperm was blood and the blood, sperm.

He lifted his hand and studied the opaque sludge.

It depressed him deeply.

Was all this jealousy because Spike had someone else to do this for him but he hadn’t? Is that what was gnawing away at him? Spike had found someone to love and he hadn’t.

He wiped his hand on the sheet, deliberate and slow, and only then did the real depression begin—now, in the quiet after a lonely orgasm. Where was soft touch on his body? Where was sensual, meaningless conversation? Where was laughter?

Even straining his ears, he could hear nothing.

He might as well still be buried.

He should have stayed that way.

He turned his head on the pillow, looked out at the lights of the city, and anger and jealousy began to burn.

Part I Chapter 3

The results of the drugs’ tests were in. Angel summoned his team to the conference room and watched passively as they filed in, his hands tented under his chin. They seemed cheerful, but he allowed that his spirits may have exaggerated theirs in contrast.

They took a stack of papers each and began to weed them into piles: guilty; innocent.

Spike reached out to take some, and as he did, his sleeve rode up.

Angel’s eyes flicked with the speed of a predator to the thin strip of white that was exposed. Hanging delicately on the paleness was an utterly incongruous gold chain. It was so delicate that it looked almost fluid. It was new. At the same time as Angel’s eyes fixed upon it, Spike seemed to see it, too. He pulled his arm back and put a finger to it, his face slightly puzzled. Then he smiled softly and ran a finger of his other hand around inside, watching the way it slid over his nail. Then his look became self-deprecating and with the faintest of wry snorts, he shrugged it higher out of sight and began to sort his paperwork.

Angel continued to watch Spike’s wrist though. It seemed to him that the gift, on which his advice had been sought, had finally been decided. The perfect gift for someone who could steal whatever he wanted was something he would never think to steal in the first place: something that he would never think to want until he had it and saw that it was perfect. It took someone else to see that. New eyes. Angel felt he was seeing things with new eyes, too—things he could have taken at any time, but hadn’t, for he had not appreciated how well they suited him.

Spike’s wrist looked so strong. When had it become so strong? He didn’t remember it being strong when he held it fragile and beating like a desperate bird in his hand.  But that was over a century ago, and he had taken that beat away.  Perhaps it was the juxtaposition of the fragile chain making the bones so prominent. It was just a wrist joining hand to arm. That was all. He didn’t need to think anything else about it. But everything Spike had done in his long life had been done with that wrist as witness. And when had he begun to think about Spike having a life separate to his? Spike came into his face for a few decades, occasional years, on and off over months, days here or there, hours of irritation. But when he wasn’t in his face, Angel gave Spike no more thought than he did a car, which he left in a garage after using it. So why begin to wonder now where Spike went, what he did, what he thought and said outside of this life that they shared together between glass and chrome and recycled air.  Had Spike’s life ever felt as empty as his did now? Perhaps it had. Perhaps that’s why he’d filled it. Busy. Angel couldn’t get that image out of his head. When had he been given the gift? In bed, in that quiet time after orgasm, which had seemed so empty to him last night? Or over a shared meal in an expensive restaurant? Conversation and being human—Spike had moved into a different world, a place he could not follow. It didn’t make it any easier to realise that the humans were chatting about a party. Spike’s party. Spike’s birthday party—the one they must have assumed he’d been invited to. Or perhaps they didn’t think he’d be interested, or sensitive to the fact that he hadn’t. Spike, he noticed, wasn’t joining in. He seemed deep in his own thoughts, and try as Angel might, he could not read what those thoughts were.

He wasn’t sure whether not being invited to this party pleased or annoyed him. He could see why he wouldn’t be asked— there were a number of possible explanations for that. What he couldn’t see so clearly was why he would, and as he hadn’t, he was annoyed that he would be unable to put any suppositions to the test.

* * *

When the meeting broke up, Angel waited until they had almost all drifted out before saying casually, ‘Spike…?’

Spike turned back with a quick, interested expression, as if he wanted something to distract him as desperately as Angel did. ‘New case? Something juicy, I ‘ope.’ He flung himself in his careless yet studied manner on the couch and lit a cigarette.

Angel perched on the edge of the desk and watched the occasional glint from the wrist.  ‘When’s the party?’


Spike actually flushed slightly and mumbled around the cigarette, ‘Yeah, sorry ‘bout that. They were kinda… thoughtless.’

‘So, you deliberately didn’t invite me?’

Spike looked surprised. ‘Course. Don’t want you there.’

‘Oh.’  It seemed like an impasse. He broke it. ‘Why not?’

‘Cus I don’t like you, and I don’t want you ruining it with some big scene.’

‘Scene. I’m known for those, am I?’

Spike had the grace to smile faintly. ‘Well, okay, I’ll give you that: no. But don’t mean you can’t start a whole new character flaw.’

‘What’s the real reason you didn’t ask me?’

‘Told you: don’t like you.’

‘Besides that.’

Spike stood up. ‘Because it’s my life.’

Angel wondered idly what the it was. ‘I’d like to come.’

Spike sighed. ‘Sure. Do what you want. But I warn you, if you make a….’

‘I’ll try to behave in my usual taciturn and broody way.’

‘And that bodes well for the party spirit.’

‘What’s the address?’

Spike gave him a pointed look. ‘You know the address.’

Angel did. He cast a glance up at the vantage point he’d used on the opposite apartment block and entered through the elegant lobby. The quality of the place surprised him. He was either paying his employees too much, or other sources of funding were supporting the lifestyle.

A few young people joined him in the elevator, gave him appraising looks and muted their high spirits. He closed his eyes and tried to wish away a few hundred years.

The group made his entrance less conspicuous, for which he was grateful. He headed straight for a corner and merged with a shadow, watching and thinking.

The rooms were as elegant as the foyer: spacious, well appointed and richly furnished. There was an incongruity in the place though: traditional, expensive, made-to-last furniture mixing with a much younger, tackier style. The apartment was lit by candles and soft, muted lamps. The illumination cast flickering shadows over the wall facing Angel—a wall entirely covered with pictures of his host. The young man from Accounts clearly had aspirations as a model. His surly, pouting, come-on, amused, detached, sad, wistful, ebullient expressions dominated the room. His body, a study of perfect skin and muscle tone, held the eye, until the observer had to look away from weariness at such perfection. Angel didn’t look away. After three hundred years and counting you altered definitions of perfection.

Still, he needed a drink and shifted his eyes from the pictures to the bar. Wesley was talking softly to Fred, and with a sense of relief that surprised and pleased Angel, he went to join his friends.

‘Angel!’ Angel couldn’t tell whether Wesley was surprised by his presence or not, and gave him the benefit of the doubt that his friend would not have openly discussed the party if he’d known of the deliberate exclusion.

Fred beamed at him. ‘Isn’t this amazing?’

Angel nodded. ‘Expensive.’

‘I think his father is something in the City.’ Angel nodded. He’d worked that out for himself. Wesley offered him some ice and said conversationally, ‘So, how old is Spike today?’

Angel gripped his glass a little tighter and ignored the man’s question. Fred, however, picked it up and added excitedly, ‘I tried to pry it out of him! He’s closer than a clam on steroids. But he said he’s skipping all the dead years—as he put it—and starting again from the last real one. Isn’t that sweet?’

Angel looked casually into his whisky. ‘Very.’

‘So? How old was he when you first met him, Angel? When he was alive.’

The liquid swirled in the glass, a tiny whirlpool of his own making. Whirlpools within whirlpools, sucking him down. ‘Twenty six.’

Fred giggled and sang softly, ‘Happy twenty-seventh birthday; happy birthday to Spike.’

‘Did you know about,’ what could he call it? He settled for, ‘this?’

Wesley took a handful of nuts and tossed one into his mouth. ‘About what?’

Angel closed his eyes. ‘This man.’

‘Ben? Everyone knows they’re friends.’


Wesley hesitated, a nut poised for the toss. ‘What? You think this… you think there’s more to it than that?’

Like a drowning man supposedly sees a flashing reconstruction of his life, Angel saw the last few days flicker in his mind: Buy a gift; you know him; busy; I love him; nothing that I’m thinking is your business. ‘Yeah, I do.’

Wesley lowered the nuts and replaced them in the bowl. ‘Oh.’ He glanced at Fred, but she was blushing into her drink. ‘It’s hardly likely, Angel. Spike? I mean….’ Not sure what he meant, Wesley trailed off. After a few moments of mutual silence, he said with more confidence, ‘Of course, with Spike it could just be… fun: something to relieve the boredom. I wouldn’t put it past him.’


Sensing that Angel’s very casual question was anything but casual, Wesley backtracked swiftly. ‘Loneliness then. Being so entirely different from everyone else. Vampire, souled, no one else he can turn to or talk to about that—can’t be easy.’

Angel didn’t see the thump Fred gave Wesley’s arm behind his back, but he heard it and smiled bitterly. He was saved from commenting by the appearance of the host. He emerged from the hallway with his arm around another equally pretty young man and began to do the rounds of the room.

Angel pushed off from the bar. ‘I need some air.’  He worked his way through the throng of beautiful people dancing and went to some large glass doors that lead out onto a stone balcony. It was cool, and he breathed in the air as if he needed it, filling stiff, unused lungs. The sudden, familiar smell of cigarette smoke made something deep inside ache, as if it too were stretching with unfamiliar sensations.  He leant on the balustrade. ‘Good party.’

Spike, leaning on the wall to one side of the doors with his leg bent up, tossed his cigarette into a small pile of similar butt ends in one corner. ‘Not allowed to smoke in the house. How pathetic is that?’

A muscle in Angel’s neck twitched. ‘You live here, too?’

‘Figure of speech.’

‘Shouldn’t you be inside? Birthday boy?’

‘Nah. Don’t know anyone ‘cept your pathetic friends, and I can see ‘nough of them during the day.’ He hopped up on the wall next to Angel. ‘Told you you shouldn’t have come.’

‘No. You didn’t invite me.’

‘Same thing. I knew you’d hate it.’

‘No. You hate me.’

Spike grinned and nudged him. ‘You shouldn’t be such an easy target.’

Angel pulled his arm away. ‘You’re drunk.’

‘You would be, too.’ Spike dug out another cigarette and didn’t elaborate on this odd comment.

Wanting the conversation to continue, afraid they were going to be interrupted, Angel said almost too eagerly, ‘Nice place.’

Spike turned to him, blowing a small stream of smoke into the crisp October air. ‘You like it?’ It was clear by his tone that he didn’t.

Angel frowned and turned around so he was leaning on the wall, facing back into the softly illuminated room. ‘Some of those pieces are antiques.’

‘’Xactly. Who wants a pile of old crap cluttering up your space?’

The delicious familiarity of this old, old, debate between them made Angel relax a little. He took up his usual position and countered, ‘It’s history, Spike. History is all we have sometimes. It defines the present and gives hope for the future.

‘Bollocks.’ Spike, Angel was delighted to see, had not forgotten his usual stance, either. ‘That’s total bollocks, and you know it. ‘S much better to have new things. They don’t come with a pile of old baggage; you’re set free to live as you want, and no one can bloody tell you what your damn future is going to pan out like! ‘Sides, the place is… dark. I can’t bloody stand all that gloomy… confinement.’

‘So, what? What would you have? Great towers of God-awful glass and chrome?’

‘Absolutely! Sunlight all day! Nothing older than the time it took you to bloody place it there!’

Angel smiled and dipped his head about to bring Spike’s crypt in to support his argument, when an animated voice from inside said, ‘There you are!’

Suddenly, they were three. Angel couldn’t tell who was more disconcerted. The boy flushed, a pretty blush that sat high on his cheekbones and emphasised his bone structure. Angel wondered if he’d still manage to look pretty contorted in death, and concluded, morosely, that he probably would. Spike slid off the wall and folded his arms over his chest, silent.

‘Mr Angel.’

Angel narrowed his eyes. ‘It’s just Angel.’

The young man nodded and turned to Spike, the blush deepening. ‘Coming in to meet people?’

Spike nodded, a small smile hovering on his lips.

Angel was left in the darkness, trying to interpret that smile.

After a few moments, he went closer and leant in the doorway, watching the room.

Spike was not being trailed around the floor, as he had envisioned; he was leaning in a doorway, and people were being brought eagerly to him. If the thought ‘homage’ crossed Angel’s mind, he suppressed it angrily. It pissed Angel off to the extent that he wanted to shout, “Spike is my fuck-up mistake! Spike is this pathetic nemesis that haunts me! Spike is a moron!” He didn’t want to see calm, or old, or wise, or serene, or enigmatic, or any of the other Goddamned things Spike seemed to be tonight, in this place, surrounded by these fawning children. His childe had grown up, and somewhere, somehow, he had missed it. A second child grown without his help.

Or, perhaps, in spite of it.

As no one took any notice of him, Angel spent most of the party on the balcony, drinking. When he was joined by some smokers, he went back inside and, on a whim, decided to explore.

The hallway was wide and high ceilinged and had a number of other doors leading off it. Checking them all out, Angel discovered two bathrooms, a kitchen, a study and then one, large bedroom.

As soon as he stepped inside, Angel knew this place was the whole reason for him coming to the party. This is what he had wanted to see.

He regarded the rumpled sheets, the clothes strewn over the floor, the careless mess. A book lay open: reading interrupted.

Closing the door, he went closer and brushed his hand over still body-warm silk, smoothing out a crease or two, denying the activity that seemed to have disturbed them. Then he straightened and folded his arms tightly around his body. So prepared was he to find what he had come here to find that not finding it threw him entirely: there was not one trace of Spike anywhere in the room. The bed, smelling as it did of other’s secretions, did not smell of Spike’s. Angel would have known that release anywhere. He had licked it out of Drusilla, and in nighttime fantasies of her, Spike’s taste still resonated on his tongue.

He backed out and went blindly to the main room, angry now, pushing dancers away with some force.  Back out into the cool darkness beyond the glass doors, he calmed. Nothing was as he’d thought, and his feelings, stirred up by that mistake, swirled uneasily in his gut, sickening him.

A match struck; light flared. ‘So, what do you think, Mate?’

Part I Chapter 4

Angel’s entire body clenched in response to Spike’s soft question, and he turned. ‘Do you really want to know?’

Taken aback by the force of the response to his friendly enquiry, Spike said uncertainly, ‘I know you don’t like parties, so all these….’ He waved vaguely at the beautiful young people who filled the room.

Angel nodded his head. ‘Yeah. I get that that is what I’m supposed to be seeing—an innocent party.’


‘Shall I tell you what I think this really is?’

Spike eyes flashed slightly at the challenge evident in Angel’s voice, and he said in a deceptively casual tone, ‘Yeah, why don’t you do that.’

‘I think that you’re a sap. I think that you’re being taken in by something far cleverer and more evil than you are.’

They both seemed surprised at this totally unexpected comment, but Angel recovered first and realised that although he had not consciously thought it until the moment the words had left his mouth, unconsciously, he had thought it from the start, and nothing he’d seen subsequently had changed his mind.

Spike clearly didn’t know whether to laugh or get really angry. He settled for something in the middle. ‘Ben? Evil? Ancient, demonic evil?’

‘I didn’t say ancient or demonic. Know something I don’t?’

‘No, Angel. I don’t know anything anymore. I was asking you what you thought of my birthday party—which, I notice, you haven’t brought a pressie to—and you come out with this load of bloody shite!’

‘He fawns on you. He flatters you, and you can’t see him for what he is.’

Spike’s jaw dropped slightly, and he jerked his head back. ‘If someone fawns on me they have to be evil? And he doesn’t, by the way—fawn. Jesus. Look, maybe you’d better just leave.’

‘He’s trying to get to me through you.’ Once more, Angel was startled by his words, but once more, they seemed eminently sensible once he’d said them. He told himself that as soon as he’d felt the stalker watching him, he’d sensed the evil intent. Why else would all this have upset him so much?

Spike’s eyes seemed to have lost the very faint glimmer of amusement they’d worn in reaction to Angel’s assertions. He came up very close and said distinctly, ‘Your ego is beyond belief. Not everything in this world is about you.’

‘Everything in your world is.’ That, Angel wished he had not said.

Spike enjoyed it though. He began to laugh. Something came into his eyes, something that was painfully incongruous with his laughter, and he suddenly turned his head and shouted, ‘Ben?’ into the room.

Angel couldn’t leave without pushing past Spike or the young man coming smiling out onto the balcony. ‘Guess what Angel says about you?’

The man was not so blasé with the dark figure as Spike. He gave them both a nervous, pretty smile. ‘What?’

‘He says….’ Angel’s hand came down on Spike’s wrist so hard that a bone cracked.

‘Say nothing.’

Spike swallowed and pulled his arm away, bead of pain-induced sweat breaking out on his forehead.

Angel didn’t relent. He held Spike prisoner of his gaze. ‘Say nothing to anyone. Don’t cross me in this.’ Then he pushed past them both and left.

It was only as he entered the elevator that he realised he had a delicate bracelet broken and dripping between his fingers like golden blood.

* * *

Spike showed no sign of injury the following day—not physical anyway. Angel quickly got that he was not flavour of the month by the occasional glare that was sent his way, but as currying favour wasn’t his style, this didn’t bother him much. It bothered him slightly more when he discovered that Spike intended to join him on a case.

Just as he was about to pull out of the garage, the passenger door opened, and Spike slid in. Angel slammed on the brakes. ‘No way. Get out.’

Spike pointedly put down the lock.

‘Spike! Get out. There’s no reason why you….’

‘I want to talk to you. Away from this place.’

‘Seems like we did all our talking last night.’

‘Seems like you did a lot of talking, yeah.’

Angel had to concede this. His memory of the whole evening was at best embarrassing, at worst painful.

Another car came up behind them, waiting to leave the garage. It was easier to continue than not, so Angel shoved the car into drive, and they emerged into the sunshine.

‘What’s the case then?’

‘You’re not interested, so why ask?’

Spike sighed. ‘I’m here now; I’m making myself interested. More stalking?’

Angel gave him a sideward glance but rose no further to the provocation. ‘What do you want to talk about?’

‘What do you think?’

‘I’m not sitting here discussing your love life, Spike.’

‘My…?’ Spike twisted sideward in his seat and regarded Angel’s profile steadily. ‘Why did you say those things about Ben? Other than blinding jealousy, of course.’

‘Jealousy? You think I’m jealous? Of whom? Him? You?’

‘Well, okay then, why the evil incarnate speech?’

‘Because he is!’

‘No! He’s not!’

‘He wants to bring me down.’

‘What? Bloody hell. How? By shagging me?’

Angel turned, and their eyes locked. ‘So you are…?’

You think I am.’

Angel was saved a response because they hit the car in front. Neither wearing belts, they shot forward and collided with the dash, blood spurting from foreheads and noses.

Angel levered himself slowly back into the seat, holding his head. ‘Shit.’

Spike put a hand to the door. ‘Do you think they’re hurt?’

Angel leant over and banged Spike’s arm away. ‘Sunlight?’

Spike looked anxiously at the car in front. Angel twisted around to look out of the rear. ‘We’d better get out of here.’

‘You can’t hit ‘em and run off!’

‘Call Wesley.’

Reluctantly, Spike called in and reported the incident whilst Angel reversed and manoeuvred away from the scene.

The car was not running well, and he decided to postpone the case, swinging into the other side of the street and heading back to the office.

Spike turned in his seat, trying to look back at the stricken car. He swivelled back and said tensely, ‘Maybe not go this way? I think we’re being… reported.’

Angel swore and pulled off abruptly into an alley.

They made it for another mile and had both begun to relax slightly when there was a bang, a sort of metallic groan, and steam began to pour from the front of the car. Another few feet and power died, despite how hopefully Angel stomped on the pedal. ‘Fuck!’

Spike bit his lip.

He turned his head away.

Angel saw the movement and barked, ‘What?’

Spike shook his head, but a slight snicker escaped.

To his utmost surprise, Angel began to laugh, too. He hadn’t though he had any humour left.

Spike wiped his eyes with the back of his hand and tried to say between hiccups, ‘I’m sorry.’

Angel tipped his head back on the seat. ‘What for?’

‘I feel kinda responsible.’

‘Good, because I was kinda blaming you.’

That set them off again, and it felt so good to be laughing together instead of fighting that they did not have the heart to return to the argument.

Spike ran his hands over his thighs and sighed. ‘Do you think in another hundred years we’ll be sittin’ in a car somewhere—still together?’

Angel adjusted the mirror and said softly, ‘We probably won’t have cars in a hundred years.’

Spike nodded as if this were the answer he’d been expecting. He rolled his head on the seat rest and regarded Angel’s profile. ‘Let it drop, Angel, yeah? No harm will come of it.’

‘I believe that it will, and I can’t let that go. It endangers everything.’

‘Careful. You’ll make me feel all important.’

If it was a cue for Angel to say that he was important, it was not taken. Angel finished fiddling with the mirror and said distractedly, ‘We’d better take the sewers—leave the car.’

Spike’s hand shot out and fastened, vice-like, on Angel’s thigh. ‘Give me one good reason why I should listen to you. One good reason to stop doing something that affects no one but me.’

Angel looked down at the fingers then up at Spike. His gaze was dark and unreadable, but for a moment it appeared to weaken, a glimmer making the steady look seem much more vulnerable, but it was quickly gone. Very precisely, he said, ‘I can’t even give you a bad one.’  Without waiting further, he pushed open the door, heaved his coat over his head and ran for the shelter of the nearest shade.

Part I Chapter 5

Angel used the power he had as CEO of the most influential law firm in the demon world: he set Wesley to work investigating the human he now feared as much as he hated.

And the hunter became the hunted. Angel watched the man relentlessly. He followed him day and night, although this time he was a great deal more cautious and knew that this observation was not… observed.

Everything he saw about this young man convinced him that he was right, convinced him that he was saving some catastrophe by his constant vigil. What he learnt about the boy’s relationship with Spike by his… stalking… was less certain. There was intensity. There was closeness—they spent most of their off-duty time together—but he could not have rightly said it was… intimate.  But then he knew so little of this concept he did not trust himself to judge. His new obsession kept him busy, at least, for the inordinately long time that Wesley seemed to take to do his job. It didn’t even make a difference sweeping into the office every few hours and demanding a progress report: Wesley only raised an eyebrow and told him he was on the case.

The tenseness in his gut tightened and tightened. He found it hard to eat, impossible to sleep. All he could think about was the boy and what he might do—might be doing—to Spike. Or not to Spike…. Angel had to constantly remind himself that this boy represented evil far deeper and more dangerous than a mere threat to one small vampire. He was a threat to all of them—by definition, a threat to the whole concept of Right.

* * *

Three days after he’d set Wesley the task, he collared him late one night coming back from the canteen, coffee and doughnuts balanced precariously on a large book. Angel stared, astounded, at the snack. Wesley caught the look and put the book carefully down on his desk. ‘Sorry. Would you like one?’

Angel’s eyes widened. ‘You’re supposed to be working on this! You have time to….’ He waved imperiously at the food.

Wesley didn’t bristle, but he did sit deliberately and pull his coffee toward him, taking a very long time to enjoy the first sip. He debated pointing out that it was now eleven o’clock at night, that he had worked since six that morning, and that he was now existing almost totally on sugar for his sustenance, but saw Angel’s expression and didn’t bother. He only said with a lurch of deep affection in his gut, ‘You were right, by the way.’

Angel didn’t appear to hear, or understand, for he repeated, puzzled, ‘Right?’

‘Hmm. Ben Jervis. His father, Leyland, is one of the biggest players in this city. Just about as evil as they come. Sold out to the Devil some years ago and, as luck would have it, let Wolfram and Hart broker the best deal for him. We have the contract.’

Angel sank heavily into the chair opposite and said in a small, wondering voice, ‘He’s evil?’

Wesley nodded. ‘And not just by association with his father. It appears that he’s looking to make a similar deal—started working here to get access to our influence with the Senior Partners.’

‘He’s evil. That… kid?’

Wesley nodded once more and bit his doughnut.

Angel suddenly snapped his head up. ‘Why didn’t Lorne read this?’

Wesley raised his eyebrows and let Angel work it out for himself—and not just because he had a mouthful of sugar.

Angel lunged to his feet and slammed his fist on the desk. ‘Spike did the blood test!’

He’d got good value from nodding, so Wesley did it again, swallowed and added, ‘He was rather eager, if you remember.’

‘Shit! Shit!’

‘What are you going to do?’

‘Do you think Spike is in on this? What would he have to gain?’

‘I don’t know, Angel. Powerful friends?’

Angel pouted and almost countered that Spike had powerful friends, but he wondered whether Spike felt they had been his… friends. ‘I can’t believe he’d do this.’

‘Don’t jump to conclusions. Perhaps he hasn’t. Ben Jervis is intensely pretty. I’m not attracted to men, but I wouldn’t push him out of my bed.’

‘Huh?’ Angel suddenly heard what Wesley said and jerked his head back.

Wesley gave him a wry smile. ‘I’m only joking, Angel—I think. Whatever. He is extremely attractive, and Spike, I should think, is extremely lonely. Not a good combination.’

‘You think he’s been duped?’

‘I don’t know! You know him best. What do you think? Malice or mistake?’

Angel pouted. A few years ago he wouldn’t have had any difficultly answering that question. He had a few scars to prove it. But now? Malice? He found it hard to believe. He found it unpleasant to believe. But unpleasant had never stopped him before. He’d do what he had to do.

‘What are you going to do?’

Angel narrowed his eyes. ‘I have no idea.’

* * *

When he’d thought it through, there didn’t seem to be much doubt what he had to do. He had to confront the human and find the truth behind the black and white evidence. He spent the rest of the night reading Wesley’s report for himself. He scanned everything, then went back and read it in detail. The family were so deep in the mire of evil that he was amazed some of it hadn’t stuck visibly on the child. Perhaps that’s what they were all seeing: a clever mask that evil had thrown up to hide its true face. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t seen that before. He could still conjure Jasmine’s beauty in his mind and flip it with her true face, creating an almost painful ripple of confusion. Maybe this Ben had learnt to create just such a front. Angel particularly liked this idea because he had some vague notion of shooting Spike to enable him see the true evil behind the face of his lover. He didn’t think it was just the idea of shooting Spike that was attracting him…. He wanted to free him…. He did!

The first thing was to confront the man without Spike’s interference. He didn’t want to put his accusations to them both, anticipating Spike’s response—actually hearing the derision (and fury) in his mind.

Wesley was given the task of distracting Spike, and Angel waited outside the apartment block for the human.

When he saw the slim figure climb out of a ludicrously expensive car, Angel peeled off from the wall where he’d waited and slipped into the foyer just as the elevator doors were closing. He took the stairs and was waiting around the corner when he heard the key pushed into the lock.

By the time the man had bent to retrieve his mail, Angel had a hand in the door to prevent it closing. ‘Hi.’

Ben dropped the mail with a start that pleased Angel, but instead of going further into the apartment, as most people might do for protection, he stepped back, backing away from the dark vampire down the hallway. ‘What do you want? Where’s Spike?’

‘Why do you ask where Spike is?’

‘He said I shouldn’t talk to you.’

‘Did he? Why?’

Ben was backed about as far as he could go, until he suddenly spun around, ripped open a door and dashed into the stairwell.  Angel grinned and lazily walked to the door, pulling it open. He was halfway down to the street when he realised, with a laugh at his own distraction, that the man had gone up, not down. He jogged up, too, and exited onto a flat roof that gave him an impressive view of the roof opposite, (where he had spent a few too many nights recently). Ben was scrabbling in a box that was partially concealed behind an air vent. He suddenly straightened, clutching a large, expensive-looking crossbow.

‘That another of Spike’s ideas?’ This though disturbed Angel more than the actual weapon did.

Ben looked surprised. ‘No. I just—. My father said—.’ He saw that this wasn’t doing his cause any good and held the bow pointed at Angel’s chest. ‘Don’t come any closer.’

Angel ignored him and began to walk slowly forward. ‘Tell me why you picked on Spike.’


‘If you wanted access to the power of the firm, why him? He’s nothing.’

‘You fucking bastard! That’s what you always say about him! Why are you so mean to him? Why do you do that?’

‘Huh?’ Angel was momentarily stumped. ‘Just answer the damn question. What do you want at Wolfram and Hart?’

‘How did you find out? What have you done to Spike?’

‘I’m asking the damn questions here!’

Ben was still backing off.  His hold on the weapon did not waver; he just seemed to forget it was there and backed away as if he had no protection. Which he didn’t really: Angel knew he could reach out and pluck the bolt from the air, if need be. But he’d learnt not to show his hand too soon and still approached with the appearance of caution. ‘Tell me about your father.’

Ben’s eyes widened, and for the first time, Angel saw real fear. He was a little annoyed that this had come now and not when he’d appeared, but he suppressed this thought. ‘You don’t know what he’s like.’

‘No. I don’t. Not sure I want to.’

Ben had nowhere to go. His legs were now pressing firmly against the low parapet that ran around the roof. He peered over, and Angel quickly guessed that the balcony of the apartment was now directly below them. He knew the man would not, could not jump: they were thirty feet up, and all his senses told him that the boy was human, despite that unnaturally pretty face.

‘Tell me about him.’

Ben glanced behind again and threatened with the weapon. ‘Get back. Please!

Angel held out his hands to pacify the situation, and if he heard something incongruous in that desperate please, he didn’t examine it—he couldn’t afford to: he needed just the right level of fear to get the answers to his questions.  ‘Okay. I’m standing just here. Now, tell me.’

‘I can’t—.’ One more glance then the man stumbled up onto the wall. ‘Get back.’

Angel sighed and took a step forward. It was only one step, and he’d only meant to assert his control of the situation. Ben, however, gripped the crossbow harder with a small hiss of fear and squeezed the trigger. He had clearly never fired the weapon before. The kickback made it rear up in his hands and hit his face. He cried out. The cry was matched by another behind Angel, more poignant and far more fearful, and then the human fell. He just toppled off backward, scrabbling frantically for something that was not there to save him.

It almost was.

A blur of black and blond tore past Angel and almost caught the falling human. Spike’s fingers almost touched the warmer ones, but the momentum of the fall just carried the boy backwards.

He screamed and disappeared from sight.

Without hesitation, Spike dove off the roof, as if even now he could somehow defy gravity and fall faster than Ben and catch him.

They fell together. Angel never knew if they watched each other in that final fall; he heard them hit the edge of the balcony below, a sickening thud, and then more falling. By the time he reached the street, only one was rising. The other one wasn’t, for he was lying with his pretty face smashed on the unforgiving ground.

Part I Chapter 6

Even as he jumped, Angel could only repeat in his mind, ‘He was evil; he was evil.’ It did nothing to salve his conscience, but it was better than nothing. He’d only wanted to question the boy. He’d only wanted…. What had he wanted? Angel didn’t care to have his motives in this debacle examined too minutely.

He landed with the litheness and grace of a cat, but lost some of this adroitness when he saw the scene that greeted him, and put his hand to the wall for a moment. He couldn’t tell how badly injured Spike was for he was covered in the red, sticky blood of the human. It was the first time he’d seen Spike with human blood that his childe hadn’t caused and wasn’t enjoying, but Spike clearly wasn’t enjoying this blood at all. His face was hidden, and he was rocking the broken figure. Before he could stop the thought, Angel realised that he’d been wrong: Ben did not look so pretty contorted in death.

He came up close and squatted down—just out of reach of a fist. ‘I’m sorry, Spike. This wasn’t supposed to go down like this. But I was right about him. He was evil. His father is one of the biggest—.’

‘I know that! You bastard! You fucking bastard! I knew that! What did you think this was? He came to me for help—he was trying to resist. He was trying to live his own life! I was helping him!’

Angel could not find words of his own, so he repeated some of Spike’s. ‘Helping him?’

Spike buried his face in the boy’s hair, which then squashed into the shattered skull, grey matter welling out and sticking to the pale features. ‘I needed something. I missed the girls—helping them. Being in the centre of things, being needed. I wanted to help.’

‘You weren’t…’ he could hardly bring himself to say the word, but he forced it out, ‘lovers?’

Spike’s eyes blazed with a strange, dark light. ‘Is that bloody relevant? What does it matter?  NO! We weren’t bloody lovers—but do you know what? I let you go on believing that cus it gave me a perverse kick—thinking about how it niggled at you, how you’d be up in that lonely bed, beating off, worrying about what we did, how we did it….’ There was only so much Angel would tolerate—despite how much latitude he felt he ought to give Spike just now. He stood up and came closer, slightly menacingly. He was completely floored when tears began to flow, large and luminous down Spike’s cheeks, washing the blood into faint steaks of pink. ‘So, I killed ‘im just as surely as you did. I played my games with you, and it got him killed. I promised I’d help ‘im. He trusted me!’ This last was too much, and Spike began to sob, burying this weakness into the human’s body.

Angel heard sirens and was snapped back to the moment. With a curse, he went into the shadows and dialed Special Ops. When he was satisfied, he returned to the figure on the pavement. ‘Spike.’ He put his hand on Spike’s shoulder but was not surprised when Spike wrenched away and sprung to his feet.  Spike stepped back from the body, now surrounded by a considerable amount of blood, shining blackly like spilt ink in the darkness. He bowed his head for a moment over the remains of his friend. ‘You poor sod. You came to the wrong person.’  Turning on his heel, he tipped his head up to the night as if seeking something in the darkness. Then he ran fingers through his blood-sticky hair and began to walk slowly away. Angel watched him go and wondered why the death of this human had made tears form in his eyes, too.

Angel wasn’t naïve enough to expect that his part in this fiasco would remain unknown in the demon community. He fully expected retribution, and he occupied his mind for the next few hours ensuring that his friends were apprised of the situation. He told Eve, obliquely, what had happened, leaving out Spike’s part, and told her to broker favour with the Senior Partners.

As soon as Eve left, Wesley appeared. Angel had never been so pleased to see him. He only nodded though and kept his need for absolution to himself.

‘Spike smelt a rat as soon as he arrived. Sorry, but bar staking him, I couldn’t think of a way to restrain him. What happened? You didn’t say much on the phone.’

Angel outlined the sad events of the evening, once more leaving out most of the details about Spike.

When he’d heard Angel out, Wesley immediately rose and came over to him. He didn’t attempt anything like a hug, but he put one hand on his arm, which was, in some ways, the equivalent between them anyway. ‘I am very sorry, Angel. But it was not your fault—he tried to shoot you, after all.’

Angel nodded, but they both knew he felt no absolution whatsoever—that he probably never would.

Life had to go on though. Angel was still concerned about fallout to the firm, and he outlined the additional security measures he wanted put in place. It was only when they’d completed these arrangements, long into the night, that whisky was produced. It was only then, after they had shared half a bottle, that Wesley asked the question Angel had been expecting all evening. ‘Where’s Spike now?’

Angel leant his head onto the back of the couch. ‘I don’t know. He left.’

‘He was…?’ Angel had been so reserved about Spike’s role in the affair that Wesley had very little idea what to think about the state of the blond vampire’s mind.

‘He was… upset.’

‘Ah. So they were more than friends.’

Angel closed his eyes wearily. His behaviour did not hold up to too much scrutiny on these matters, but to punish himself he refused to change the subject. ‘No. He said not. They were just friends.’

‘Oh. Well, that changes things then. He’ll recover quicker?’

Angel pouted. ‘You don’t know him. He holds things inside. Feels them deeply.’

Wesley turned his head to study Angel’s profile. These words alarmed and depressed him deeply. He’d never heard Angel say something complimentary or thoughtful about Spike before—he barely acknowledged him as a person most of the time. Angel could not afford to take on guilt for Spike, too—he was clearly guilty enough about the human. He put his hand on Angel’s thigh and patted it fondly.

Angel glanced down then swung his leg away. No absolution, no comfort: he didn’t deserve them.

‘Do you think we’d better go and look for him?’


‘Well, we could try his apartment, I suppose.’

‘You know where he lives?’

‘Well, yes. Don’t you?’ He winced as he said it. Angel didn’t need his omissions concerning Spike pointed out, either.

Angel pushed to his feet. ‘Let’s go.’

* * *

Neither of them expected Spike to be there, nor to actually answer the door, but a few moments after Wesley’s knock, it swung open.

Spike had clearly just showered: his hair still wet, just a pair of damp sweatpants clinging to his legs.

Angel had so not expected to find him that he had nothing prepared to say—had no idea what he could say.

Given what he had probably just showered off his body, Spike seemed oddly calm and only stepped away from the door, picking up a towel to rub his hair.

Wesley looked at Angel, blew out his cheeks slightly and stepped in. ‘How are you?’

Spike didn’t reply. He opened the fridge and seemed to be deep in contemplation of its contents. Eventually, he pulled out a bloodbag, but before he tore into it, he hesitated. He held it up to the light with a slight frown then shuddered and let it drop to the counter. ‘What do you want?’

‘To see if you are all right, I suppose.’

‘I wasn’t talking to you.’ Wesley recoiled slightly at the uncharacteristically vicious comment and turned helplessly to Angel, saying softly, ‘Maybe you’d like to have some time alone with—.’

‘No!’ Angel lowered his tone and repeated, ‘No, you’re okay.’

Ignoring this small exchange, Spike lifted his head and caught Angel in a very direct stare. ‘Well?’

Angel pouted and rearranged something on the coffee table. ‘Same reason—I came to see if you were okay.’

‘Uh huh. Well, as you can see, I’m fine.’

Wesley nodded, pleased. ‘We’ve upped the security, Spike. Give me a call when you get in tomorrow, and I’ll give you all the new codes.’

Spike shrugged.

Angel moved the things he’d tidied back to their original position and asked casually, ‘So… you are coming in—tomorrow?’

Spike took a sudden step forward, and Angel jumped back. It surprised them both, and Spike laughed. ‘Maybe you could both go now. I’m kinda tired.’

* * *

Angel was oddly quiet on the way back—he let Wesley drive, which was uncharacteristic enough. The human kept glancing at him obliquely, until unable to stand the silence any longer, he said cheerfully, ‘He seemed to be holding up quite well… considering.’

Angel turned, and Wesley felt a shiver course down his spine at the strange intensity of the vampire’s look.

Not giving his opinion on Spike’s state of mind, Angel turned back to stare out of the side window.

* * *

The next day, Angel was occupied by scotching rumours about the death. By nine, everyone in the firm seemed to know that he’d thrown the broken, tortured body of the boy off the roof because he’d been jealous of his beauty. By ten, the fact that the body had been totally drained of blood had been added to the account. By lunchtime, Ben had died bound and gagged with whip marks scoring his flesh. Sometime in the afternoon, he’d been raped, and then by home time he’d been turned and made into Angel’s demonic childe.

Angel enjoyed Harmony’s frequent updates. They exactly suited his mood that day, and he wondered if things could get any worse.

Spike, he noted, had not made an appearance.

He wanted to go back to the dark little apartment and see him, but he could not make words emerge when he imagined the scene. Perhaps that’s exactly what Spike needed—his silence for once. He felt he’d said enough to Spike recently for more than one lifetime. But wallowing in silence, allowing Spike to speak, would be intolerable: Angel did not think he could bear to hear what Spike had to say about him just now.

As if mirroring his thoughts, Wesley appeared just as Angel was about to go up to his apartment. ‘Have you seen Spike?’

Angel shook his head.

Wesley made a small face. ‘That’s odd then. He did come in, because he’s signed for all his new codes.’

Angel frowned. ‘Where is he then?’

‘Shall I have security do a sweep?’

Angel hesitated. ‘No. I don’t want to… upset… him any more than I already—.’ He snapped his jaw shut. ‘Anything else?’

Wesley went through a mental checklist. ‘No, I don’t think so.’  Angel nodded and punched the code for his elevator.

He tapped his foot and cursed in annoyance.

‘Something wrong?’

‘Where the hell is it?’

Wesley came closer. ‘Oh, well, you’ll need the new code.’

Angel sighed. ‘Sure. Show me where to sign.’

Wesley swore uncharacteristically. ‘You signed for them this morning. All of them! Angel! You have access to everywhere in the building!’

Angel didn’t hesitate. He punched security and told them to change the codes once more.  When this was done, he turned to Wesley. ‘Damage limitation. Now!’

‘You’re thinking what I’m thinking, aren’t you?’


‘Oh, dear. You are.’

‘What would he want access to? Think, Wes!’

‘I have no idea. He was fine last ni—.’

‘He wasn’t fucking fine! He was bleeding grief and guilt out from the inside. Shit! Shit!’ He punched the wall. ‘Do a sweep for him—vampire sensor.’

Wesley nodded and made the call. They waited anxiously for the reply.

When the phone rang, Angel snatched it up. ‘Yes?’

‘He’s nowhere in the building, Sir.’

‘But he was here?’

‘We last have a trace of him two hours ago.’

‘Two hours? Where?’

‘He used the code for the White Room.’

Angel slammed the phone down. ‘What the…?’

‘He can’t enter there!’

‘I know! But he has! Get Gunn in—and Eve. But keep them down here until I get back.’

‘Angel, this is—.’

‘I know! But this is Spike! This is Spike, Wes!’ He began to run.

Part I Chapter 7

The room was calm and still and white. He saw it stretching far away in all directions, and right in the middle, arms stretched out as if embracing a huge wind, Spike stood naked.

Angel opened his mouth to speak, but he had no idea what he was seeing so kept mute, only approaching cautiously.

Spike was talking quietly to himself. As he came closer, Angel heard Latin, but it was so long since he’d used the language, he couldn’t work out more than one word in ten.

The slim, naked vampire was standing in a ring of candles, each one of which had been placed strategically on the corners of a design.

Angel’s first thought was resurrection: Spike was trying to resurrect the human.

He wasn’t sure whether to just storm in and kick the circle apart, grab Spike, or extinguish the candles. He wished he’d brought Wesley.

Suddenly, his vision of Spike flickered, and he lifted his eyes to the non-existent roof. The whole place was starting to darken. His hair ruffled on a slight wind, which quickly grew into something so powerful he had to lean into it to stay on his feet. With the candles out, the only light seemed to be coming from Spike: he glowed with an eerie brightness.

Angel had had enough. Experience had taught him that sometimes you just had to blunder in and do what seemed right at the time.

He ran over to the figure and stepped into the circle. Spike acknowledged his presence by the flick of a glance but continued his chant. The words seemed more familiar to Angel now, but he was busy kicking the candles away, so didn’t try to translate them more.

The wind howled around them. The light from Spike changed to a deep blood red.

Angel shouted, ‘Spike! Stop it!’ but he was ignored.

He tried to take Spike’s arm, but the red flesh burnt him. He stepped back, licking his fingers, and tripped over something.

He whirled around, half-expecting to see Ben’s crushed body rising eerily alive in the red light, only to find a small vessel.

Suddenly, Angel got what was happening.

He screamed his denial and picked up the jar to smash it, but it was too late. Before he could hurl the object from him, Spike’s body gave a huge jerk, spasms wracked the thin frame, and then the light shot out of him and into the jar.

The lid snapped shut, and all went very still and very quiet.

Except for the laughing.

When Angel’s eyes recovered from the intensity of the light, he saw Spike standing in the calm, white room, dressing and chuckling.  He nodded at the jar. ‘You need to give that to me now.’ Angel glanced down in dismay at the vessel that now contained Spike’s soul and said helplessly, ‘Why? For fuck’s sake, why?’

Spike shrugged. ‘Why not? Didn’t do me any good. Give it to me.’

Angel held the vase behind his back and shook his head, too shocked to speak.

Spike nodded, wearily. ‘I’m thinking you can’t stop me leaving and hold onto that jar, Angel. What’s your choice?’

Catching Angel totally off-guard, Spike attacked, launching himself across the space between them.

Angel had never protected something so precious. He knew that if Spike got the jar, he would smash it, and something in this thought plumbed a level of violence in him that he’d not discovered for a very long time. But Spike matched him, move for move, viciousness for viciousness.

Angel had not seen how far Spike had come with his soul until he was faced once more with the soulless version of his childe.

He knew he could not win. Spike was too intent on destroying the thing that had caused him so much pain. Angel knew. This was all so tragically familiar. He could not let his burden go: it felt like hope—tiny, crying in a wilderness of pain, but hope, nevertheless.

Blood pouring into his eyes from a bite on his scalp, hands almost too slick with blood to hold the precious container, Angel was backed into the elevator. Contained, they fought like wild animals, any memory of Angel’s soul being equally forgotten. Angel could feel Spike’s desperation to destroy the last remaining thing that tied him to the memories of his pain. Angel could not afford to let him do that.

The elevator was moving, although neither of them noticed. They hardly noticed when the doors slid open.

Only then was there a pause in their vicious struggle when men in black uniforms piled into the small, blood-splattered enclosure. Angel shouted commands; men shouted back, and through it all, Angel held onto the jar.

Finally, everything went quiet. Angel pushed one of the men in black out of the way. ‘Where is he?’

His head snapped around to the stairwell door. ‘Fuck!’ He ran; his hands slipped on the door handle, leaving a red, sticky streak.

He felt a hand on his arm and whirled around to see Wesley, pale with beads of sweat on his forehead. ‘Angel. You have to… stop.’

Angel knew he was bleeding badly. It was pooling around his feet. But he couldn’t afford to stop now.

‘Get them all in, Wesley: Fred, Gunn, Lorne—no one leaves this building. He’ll go straight for them. I want this building locked up tight. No one gets in after them. Do you understand?’

‘What do you mean?’

Angel held out the jar, but it was too much. Showing it to Wesley made it true, and his frame wracked with one huge sob. Wesley turned him from the prurient view of the Special Ops Team and began to walk him down the hallway, murmuring calming words about inconsequential things—anything not to have to talk about Spike. He knew what that container held. He knew what it portended. Until that moment, he had never hated anyone. He hated Spike now for what he was doing to Angel. The feeling lasted until they reached Angel’s office. By then, overwhelming sadness and pity for the blond vampire had taken its place.

‘Make the calls, Wesley.’

Wesley nodded and did as he was asked.  Angel sank into the couch, hugging the jar, his eyes blank. When the calls were done, Wesley jogged down to his office and fetched some bandages, tape and towels. He dropped to his knees in front of the silent vampire. ‘Angel.’

Angel jerked, looked wildly at him and then nodded.

‘You need to put that down; I can’t—. Okay. Hold it then… but could you just move it to one side….’

‘Are they coming in?’

‘Yes. They’ll be here soon. Do you really think he’ll stick around in L.A. though? I’d have thought he would—.’

Angel ripped out of Wesley’s gentle hands and staggered to the phone.  He began to dial a number then stopped and turned to the man with anguish in his eyes. ‘How can I tell her he’s alive but lost his soul all in one call?’

‘Buffy? Angel, she knows. She knows he’s back. She’s known for a while.’

Angel replaced the handset. ‘You must be mistaken. She’d come—if she knew. He died for her, Wesley. He died for her. She’d come—if she knew.’

Wesley felt like a shit, but he put his hand on Angel’s arm and said gently, ‘Spike called her a few weeks back. Do you remember that week he was rather… down?’ He saw that Angel did not and said more brightly, ‘When he kept coming in with black eyes?’ At Angel’s slow nod, Wesley added, ‘Well, I think Buffy’s response to his phone call could have been at the root of those… fights.’

Angel reluctantly made the call but, Wesley noted, kept it very short, business-like and impersonal.

A sense of eerie calm descended.

Wesley started to move toward Angel with the tape and scissors, but Angel waved him off.

‘What are you going to do now?’

Angel looked down at the jar. ‘I’m going to find him and put it back.’

‘I was rather afraid you’d say something like that.’

‘It is possible.’

‘Oh, I know in theory it is. I’ve never seen it done though. The soul is released; an incantation offered, and if it’s done at precisely the same time, then the soul will shoot back into its host. I’ve always been led to believe that you required an Orb of Thesulah, but perhaps the White Room operated as an even more powerful conduit. I just wish I could see it done one day.’

Angel cast him a sidelong glance and did not point out that he already had, only he was not being allowed to remember it.

‘Find the incantation for me, Wes.’

‘With the resources we have available to us, that won’t be hard.’

Angel heard something in the human’s voice. ‘What?’

‘Well…. I’ll find it first, and we’ll see then.’  Wesley left, hurrying to his office.  He found what he needed fairly easily, but as he suspected, it was long, in Latin and… long. He frowned and took it back to Angel. ‘I shall come with you and do the—.’


‘You can’t learn all this….’ Angel snatched the book from him and placed it on the desk. He lowered carefully into his chair, placed the jar on the desk next to the book and began to read.

At the sight of the lowered, dark head, Wesley felt his own soul almost break from pity. ‘Let me at least attempt a backup.’

Angel hardly heard him. He was trying to stop his eyes blurring over the words he so desperately wanted to learn.

Part I Chapter 8

‘Where will you look for him?’

‘I’ll find him.’

‘I’ve made a list of places he… mentioned—places he liked.’

Angel nodded and took the offered list. He shifted the vase to his other arm, not wanting to release the thing he held tightly in one fist. He held up the object. ‘Thank you.’

Wesley looked away for a moment. ‘You’re so weak. He’ll—.’

‘He was badly injured, too. And hey….’ Angel nudged him. ‘He’s not had you patching him up!’

It was too much for Wesley. He bit his lip and looked stern.  ‘At least feed before you go—and rest for a couple of hours. Two hours can’t make any difference.’

‘I don’t have time. Every moment I delay, he will be feeding. And I don’t want him to have that guilt when I get him back.’

Hearing, but ignoring the slightly odd choice of words, Wesley took Angel’s arm and said firmly, ‘If you catch up with him and he defeats you, what good will that do any of us? You are the only thing standing between us and William the Bloody. Please, Angel, feed and rest before you go.’

Angel sighed but relented. He wanted a shower and change of clothes anyway.

He rode up in the elevator, reading Wesley’s list—places Spike liked. He saw with a sense of deep despondency that he did not recognise a single one of the places. What would his list consist of? He had not voluntarily gone to a bar, a club, the theatre—anywhere—since…. Since when? Since Connor. Since Cordelia. Since he had someone to go with. Since he wasn’t alone.

By the time he stepped out of the elevator, his eyes were misted with something that almost felt like self pity, and he rubbed them with the heel of his clenched fist.

It was the main reason he didn’t see the gun—although he wouldn’t have been able to avoid the darts even if he had seen it.  He felt them thud into his chest. He looked up with a sense of lurching sickness, and helplessly relinquished the jar to Spike as the blond vampire calmly took it from his falling body. 

* * *

He came to naked and face down on the bed, someone stroking his hair.

With a jolt of memory, he hissed and tried to rise, but found his wrists and ankles fastened, stretched out to the corners of the bed.

‘That’s better. Almost started talking to meself then!’ Spike tucked a strand of Angel’s hair behind one ear and stood lazily.

‘Someone will come up for me if I don’t go down soon.’

‘Nope, they won’t. Two hours, Angel. I’ve got, oh, maybe an hour and forty minutes left.’ He saw Angel’s slightly puzzled look and smiled. ‘I haunted this place. I know every duct, every unused lift shaft. I know all the dirty little secrets this place has to offer. And I hear and see things…. Where do you think I found the gun?’ He sat back down and began to play with Angel’s hair once more. ‘In Wesley’s desk. Why would your so-called best friend have a tranquilliser gun, Angel? I wonder what he sees in his nightmares…. And these?’ He rattled Angel’s wrist chain. ‘I saw them in that box in your closet while I was hanging out up here. Thought I’d found your porn stash, but what d’ya know? You don’t have one. You had these instead though. Enhanced, too. He doesn’t trust you, and you don’t trust yourself. It’s as if this little scene we’re going to play out was pre-ordained.’

‘What? You torturing me? You staking me? Jesus, Spike, haven’t we already played this scene too many times already? You strut your fearsome persona on a stage entirely of your own making, and then you inevitably fail.’

Spike laughed. ‘Yeah. It’s happened that way a few times, I do have to agree with you there. But, see, there’s a big difference now. I got my soul back by myself, because I wanted it, and that made me a better man than you, Angel. Now I’ve gotten rid of it by myself, and that makes me a better demon—better than I was as William the Bloody or Spike, and do you know what? Better than Angelus. I’m pure demon, Angel. When you took my soul, when Darla took yours, when the Master took hers, we all clung to the memory, the need, the habit of having one, and somewhere, in those demonic bodies of ours, were tendrils of soul. But I pushed mine out consciously. It’s in there now.’ He let Angel’s eyes travel over to the jar on the chest of drawers.

‘You’re full of shit, Spike; last time you employed a minion. You didn’t even dare to lay your hands on me.’

Spike nodded and stood up. ‘I know. But this time, my hands will just be the start.’ He began to unbutton his shirt.

Angel felt an involuntary tightening in his gut. ‘Spike, think how much you’ve liked being souled—how hard you fought for it. You can have all that back again. You’re a good man now. Don’t throw it all away.’

Spike paused, his shirt open to his pale, smooth chest. ‘I’m a good man?’

‘Yes! Jesus, you know you are! Everyone says so.’

‘But do you say so?’

‘Yes! For fuck’s sake! I sometimes hardly recognise you as the demon I once knew.’

Spike nodded thoughtfully. ‘Pity you couldn’t have told me that a bit earlier.’ He began to unbutton his jeans.

Angel watched the deft fingers begin on the buttons and exploded with fury, testing his muscles against the restraints. ‘You are so fucking self-absorbed! It’s always about you! What about me? I can’t say things easily. You know that. What? Do I have to change and become a whole new person just because you need a pat on the head?’

Spike sat back on the bed, his jeans undone, a few wisps of hair just teasing out of the gap. ‘But, Angel, you didn’t just not tell me, you deliberately went out of your way to belittle, humiliate and put me down—every chance you got.’ He looked pleased at Angel’s expression. ‘One word—one kind word was all it would have taken.’  He stood up and held the waistband of his jeans. Suddenly, he glanced at Angel’s naked backside and laughed ruefully. ‘I’ve never done this before.’

Angel said exceptionally calmly, ‘You’re not doing it now. I know you. This is your revenge on me—and I get that. But this is as far as you’ll go. Ingrained habits, Spike. You can’t do this to me.’ He had meant for the stress to be on can’t, but knew it had ended up on me instead.

Spike smiled through lowered lids, and for the first time, Angel saw the demon Spike had now become. It peeked out of the blue eyes that had seemed so familiar only a moment ago. ‘On the contrary, Angel. I can.’ He suddenly crawled onto the bed and straddled Angel’s hips, lying down over the broad back and whispering, ‘I’m going to take you. You’re gonna be my woman tonight. I’m gonna open you up and look at you first, then I’m gonna use you till I’m through. I’m gonna put my spunk up your arse—deep in it so it’ll be up there for days. My spunk, Angel—inside you. And if I can, I’ll make it hurt so much and be so humiliating that every time you even think about sex you’ll wilt from the memory of me. I’ll make you cry if I can. I’ll make you beg for it to stop. I’ll debase you, and I’ll make you feel less of a man. I’ll bring you down.’

At this, Angel felt the tension and fear drain from his body. He heard the bluff behind the intense hatred. He relaxed his muscles into the soft mattress. Spike was all talk. Soul or not, he would not do this to—‘Christ! No! Oh! Jesus! Spike! No!’ Spike chuckled and rammed home as hard as he could.

No lubrication, first time, a ring of muscle that had not opened for any other reason for over three hundred years—Angel nearly died on the pain. The humiliation was even worse. He felt unconsciousness hovering and welcomed it with an extended, silent scream.

Spike pulled out and climbed off.

Angel jerked back to awareness of everything.

Spike turned and said mockingly reassuringly, ‘Don’t worry, pet. I’m coming back. I’m just getting rid of these things.’ He shed his jeans and turned around.

Angel then saw what had been inside him.

Spike grinned. ‘Cock…. How’d it feel? Wouldn’t know meself—never been a cunt for anyone like you have now. Buffy enjoyed it though. An’ you’re kinda like her—hot and wanting it.  Must be all that repression….’ He climbed back on. ‘So, tell me, Angel, did you picture me and Ben doing this?’ He rammed in once more, and the tension in Angel’s body this time, knowing what was coming, turned pain to agony. ‘When he was crying in my arms, begging me to help him resist and stay strong, did you imagine us fucking like this? Who did you picture on top? Tops and bottoms—what a laugh. Buffy liked to top me. Rode me like a frigging horse—told me you wouldn’t let ‘er.’ He giggled but then had to get back into his rhythm. ‘Said you weren’t confident enough to be taken. So, how d’ya like it now? Being taken by a man? And such a pretty arse, too. Why you been hiding it? I’m thinking if you ever get bored with this CEO business you could make a few bob on the side selling this.’ He climbed off again and stretched. ‘I need a fag. Hey! I’ve got one!’ He snickered and slapped Angel’s backside cheerfully then sat alongside him once more companionably. ‘Ain’t life grand? Just you and me again.’ He poked Angel in the eye. ‘You’re not much of a talker suddenly. You got tired of your own voice finally? Tellin’ us lesser beings where to get off. If you did less talkin’ and more listening, you might not be here now. Bloody hell, I wish I had a camera. Do you have a camera? Love to take some pictures of you spread open and bleeding like that—put ‘em up on the web maybe.’ He put a finger to the torn hole and shoved it in. ‘Hey! You’re supposed to be enjoying this! Spoil sport.’ He shrugged. ‘Oh, well, one of us is.’

He wandered around for a while, smoking and drinking Angel’s alcohol, looking at his things as if really interested. After three cigarettes, he came back to the bed, and it was then clear what he’d been waiting for. ‘You ready for another go? Healed a bit? Let’s see….’ He climbed on once more. ‘Oh, yeah, tight as before. Good boy! You wanna be my boy, Angel? My fuck-boy?’ He slapped him. ‘You listening to me down there? Come on—do something! Don’t just lie there!’

He rode Angel for a while, smacking him and commenting on the way he performed, or didn’t, until he seemed to get bored of it. Once more, he pulled out and slid off. ‘You know what? I’m tired of looking at your back—pretty as it is. I’m gonna turn you over.’ He saw Angel’s muscles tense and chuckled. ‘You ain’t gonna escape—sorry to disappoint you.’ He put a second manacle around the right hand post of the bed and cautiously released Angel’s left ankle. Angel immediately lashed out, but Spike dodged nimbly. ‘There ya go! You’re more fun already!’ He put the kicking leg into the new restraint and quickly swapped the right leg over as well. Angel lay twisted painfully, his arms still outstretched. ‘Now I’m gonna do the same up top, Mate. Don’t be dumb, yeah?’

When he released the first wrist, he was seized in a death-like grip and jerked down. Angel head-butted him so hard he reeled, a two inch split appearing in his scalp, just into his hairline.

He stepped back, holding his forehead. ‘Ow. That was uncalled for.’

Swiftly, he reattached the loose arm to the other side then finished the final arm.  For some reason, Angel did not attempt to grab him again, but kept that fist tightly clenched, as if in pain. Spike stood back to admire his handiwork.  ‘Huh.’ He tipped his head to one side, regarding the stretched, flat figure. ‘How’m I gonna get in that nice hole now?’ He climbed back on the bed and straddled Angel’s waist, lighting a cigarette and occasionally putting the burning tip to Angel’s nipples. Blood poured out of the wound, his face a mask of dark crimson. ‘I’m gonna have to release one leg.’ He stubbed his cigarette out on Angel’s belly and slithered back. ‘Now, you’re not to kick at me, cus I’m a little cross about me head right about now.’ Stretched back, he clicked one of the ankle bracelets open.

Angel immediately kicked and struggled as much as he was able, arching off the bed with a wince of pain and trying to wrap his leg around Spike.

Spike only laughed. He dodged and caught and play-wrestled the leg, pretending to get hurt, until he got bored and, grabbing the strong thigh with both hands, began to push it up. Angel struggled like a man fighting for his life, but Spike lay on the bent leg, holding it down with his weight. ‘Play nice now, baby. Christ, look how nicely you open up! Like a fucking whore.’

Their faces now only inches apart, the pushing in took on a whole new significance. Angel closed his eyes. Spike prized them open again but then grimaced and let them drop. ‘Don’t bother me none. In the darkness of your own mind, this’ll only be more humiliating. If you faced me, you’d face some of that away.’

Angel immediately opened his eyes, which only seemed to amuse Spike more. ‘That’s good, too. You get to watch now—either way, I win. Wanna watch me get off now, Angel?.’

He began to work hard, holding the leg up high, beads of sweat and blood dripping from his forehead. The muscles in his arms swelled, blue veins prominent. He grunted, panting, his eyes screwed shut, concentrating.

Angel had never witnessed another man’s orgasm before. Too sick to really take in what was happening by now, he felt it first—a jerking to a halt, a tight bow of tension from the body on him, spasms from the hard thing inside him. Then a flood of squirting liquid shot high into him. Before the horror and humiliation could sink in, Spike pulled out, held his spurting cock like an offering and shot the rest of his load over Angel’s face.

When he finished, he hung limp and spent over the defeated form. Slowly, he raised one hand and systematically ground his release around Angel’s face: into his eyes and over his lips, laughing in mock fear at the risible attempt to bite him.

He crawled up Angel’s body and lay on the strong chest on folded arms, staring at him. Finally, he bent his head and licked slowly up the smooth skin. Lifting his face, he mouthed, ‘Bitch,’ then grinned and climbed off.

‘Well, now. What to do about this….’

Angel’s eyes followed Spike’s to the jar.

For one second, he thought about not speaking the ritual incantation. For one second, he thought about letting Spike destroy the soul. For one second, he saw himself let Spike stay a soulless demon. For one second, he saw himself free to kill him with equanimity. In that one second, Angel acknowledged that now he wanted nothing more than to kill the man who had just done this thing to him. One second took a long time to pass, but it did pass. He gritted his teeth and began to rehearse the litany in his head in preparation.

Spike suddenly slid his gaze slyly around. He came back over theatrically slowly. ‘Angel’s got a pla-n; Angel’s got a pla-n. I know you concocted something with the watcher. I know you. Come on, tell me. What is it? You’re waiting for me to smash it! What? Don’t tell me you’re gonna try to replace it. That’s it, isn’t it? You’ve gone and learnt yourself some Latin at last! Way to go, Angel! Took you three hundred years, you dumb lug.’ He saw Angel’s expression and leant in closer. ‘You not only forgot I was a good man, you forgot I was a smart man.’

Quickly, he jabbed his hands out and laid them hard on Angel’s forehead, preventing him moving. He carefully lifted one leg and straddled Angel’s chest.

Angel felt panic rise in his throat. It surprised him that it came now—fighting for Spike’s soul—and not before, facing his own humiliation.  Spike silently slipped into his demon face and flicked his head slightly, like a predator ripping meat.  Very slowly, he lowered his mouth wide over Angel’s. Angel didn’t think.  He tried to bite back. It was exactly what Spike wanted.

The razor-sharp fangs sliced into Angel’s tongue; blood filled his mouth.

With a moan of fear, Angel realised that Spike was trying to bite his tongue off to silence him.

Suddenly, the bite stopped. Spike paused with their mouths together. Slowly, hesitantly, a tongue slipped in and danced around the bleeding cuts. Spike moaned and shifted, his hands now cupping Angel’s cheeks. He began to suck and delve into the bloodied mouth. Very slowly, he pulled his mouth away until his lips lay soft on Angel’s. ‘I loved you.’  He lifted his eyes to see how this had been received. ‘When I had my soul—working with you these last months—I really loved you. I’d have made a go of it with you if you’d wanted it. What a waste this all is. So much love gone to waste. Did it fly out with my soul?’ He turned his head as if in slow motion and whispered at the jar, ‘Do you hold my love for Angel?’ He shuddered and rested his forehead on the broader one for a moment. ‘I see devils dancing round me now, and there’s no love. Flames lick at me, and there’s no love. I am alone in the dark, and it’s so… sublime. I will revel in my evil, Angel. But… ohhh, I remember loving you. Was it only yesterday? Seems longer; seems I watched you in another lifetime.’ He grinned shyly. ‘I let that slip, didn’t I? Watching you, always watching you—couldn’t get enough of you sometimes. Wanted to burst in and save you, have you call my name like you were pleased to see me, like you wanted me, like you were glad you’d taken me and given me your eternity. But I might as well ‘ave stayed a ghost for all the notice you ever took of me.’

He ran a finger down Angel’s cheek, then reached onto the floor and retrieved his discarded T-shirt. ‘Think on this, Angel.’ Despite Angel’s attempt to thrash his head from side-to-side, Spike began to systematically stuff the material into the bloodied mouth. Angel swallowed his own blood, and felt hope flood from him. ‘Think on this: You lost your chance for the one companion who would have walked with you every step of your way. Who knew you better than you know yourself—loved you better than you love yourself, that’s for sure. No excess, no desire of yours would have pushed me away.’ He was finished and sat up. ‘I want your loneliness to burn.’

‘Now, I’ve done ‘nough talking. I’ve gotta go. Another few minutes and I reckon old Wes’ll be up here to see what’s happening. And, just so you know, I’m not going after your pathetic friends. I want your hatred of me pure: undiluted by thoughts of revenge for them. What you will feel for the rest of your sorry life will be unadulterated hatred for the man who made you his bitch for the night. That soul’s never gonna let you forget. You’re gonna suffer, Angel. Suffer!

At this, which was more of a command than an observation, he climbed off for the last time and pulled on his jeans.  Making a show of wondering where his T-shirt was, he rummaged and pulled one out of Angel’s closet. ‘Don’t mind, do you? I’ll wash it and send it back, don’t worry.’ Then he picked up the jar. He stared at it in wonder for a moment then shrugged and hurled it at the wall.

It smashed.

A bright light sprung from it and filled the room.

Angel heard a flicker of thought in his head let him suffer, too and squeezed his fist on the small recording device he’d held safe in his hand throughout his ordeal.

The light heard the quiet incantation, recorded in dulcet English tones.

Spike heard it too and screamed in denial, trying to wrench the device from Angel’s hand.

Angel was implacable. He’d been unable to prevent his own violation, but he could prevent this.

The light formed into a dart and struck deep at Spike, entering his eyes and mouth, drowning him in pure goodness and mercy and forgiveness… and pain and regret.  It pushed aside the devils that danced in his fevered imagination, dampened the flames that licked his pale flesh, but it seemed to burn him more than they did: he began to scream—one long note, ‘Noooo!’ and did not stop even when the light diminished, for then he was looking at what lay on the bed. He crashed back against the wall, cowering from thoughts he could not prevent, and still the voice continued, anchoring this powerful soul into the small, shuddering body.

Angel couldn’t speak for the gag.

He told himself that if he could speak, he would say something to make all this right.

But he didn’t try to work it loose: he wasn’t that sure he had anything to say that either of them wanted to hear.

Spike began to cry.

A stream of tears washed down his bloodied cheeks, but they both knew there weren’t enough tears in the world to make this better.

They heard the elevator descend: summoned from the office. Spike turned his head, but other than that small gesture, he seemed utterly lost.

The elevator began to ascend.

Very slowly, as if in a trance, Spike came to the side of the bed.  He bent down. Angel flinched away.

Spike made a small choked sound of distress and denial and only pulled the sheet up, hurriedly covering the evidence of Angel’s shame from his rescuer.

He did not look at Angel until the very last moment, when he raised his soulful eyes. They held some silent communion for a moment then he walked to the elevator and leant on the wall to one side, a hand over his face.

The doors slid open. Wesley stepped out. He ran toward the bed. Spike stepped into the elevator and was gone.

 Part II Chapter 1

‘It’ll be Christmas soon. Doesn’t seem possible somehow. Do we celebrate Christmas in the edifice of evil?’ Speaking more to himself than his companion, Wesley sighed and pushed off the glass where he’d been leaning, watching the rain.

Angel was behind his desk, his hands tented under his chin, deep in thought.

It seemed to Wesley that Angel had been deep in thought for weeks. He sometimes wondered what it was Angel thought about.

‘Well, I’ll be off then. I need to catch the box-office before the queues get too bad.’

Angel lifted his eyes. ‘Going out?’

‘Well, actually, tomorrow. But I have a spare ticket to return. Fred said…. Well, she didn’t want to come, anyway.’

Angel’s dark eyes held Wesley’s, unwavering. ‘What are you seeing?’

‘A Christmas Carol. It’s supposed to be a rather good interpretation.’

‘Could you stand some company?’

‘Do you know someone who would like the ticket? I’m sure….’

‘I’d like to come.’

Wesley’s mouth opened in surprise. Very hesitantly, he said, ‘That would be very nice.’ A frown flickered over his forehead. ‘It’s been a while.’ Since you went out, since you had a life, since you walked and talked like a man…

Angel nodded as if he heard some of these added thoughts. ‘I know. Too long.’

Wesley actually felt nervous. It was so long since he and Angel had talked about anything but work that he couldn’t remember what it was they had spent long hours into the night in the Hyperion talking about.

Angel picked him up, and Wesley was struck with how different his friend looked out of his workday suit. He seemed relaxed—still quiet, but softer and surprisingly easy to be with.

The traffic was bad, and they crawled along, looking at the lights, which had gone up for the season. Wesley sighed. ‘I used to enjoy this time of year.’

Angel nodded. ‘So did I—probably for different reasons.’

Wesley looked interested. ‘Irish Christmas?’

Angel smiled. ‘I meant Angelus. It brings more people out onto the streets at night.’


‘January sales were good for that, too.’


‘February could be hell though.’

Wesley felt distinctly unnerved until he heard a faint snort and turned to find himself under observation. Suddenly, he laughed and shook his head ruefully. Angel smiled and turned back to watch the road.

‘Tell me about Fred.’

Angel teasing him had been shocking enough. This floored Wesley completely, and he looked sharply out of the side window. ‘There’s very little to tell.’

‘You love her.’

It was startling to hear that word come from Angel’s lips. Wesley turned back to study the vampire’s profile to see if there was something fundamental he had missed somewhere along the way—like this not actually being Angel. Angel only turned and said softly, ‘Talk to me, Wes. I feel you don’t talk to me like you used to.’ After a moment, when his face clouded over at some private memory, he added, ‘Or maybe I stopped listening. Tell me about Fred. From the beginning.’

So Wesley found himself telling Angel about Fred: about her nose and how it wrinkled, and how her laugh made him feel that the world was all right, and how the sun followed her around a room, wanting to illuminate only her.

He did not think he made a very good narrator when it came to the story of Fred; his tale seemed like one of her equations scrawled on the walls at the Hyperion: confusing and intensely personal.  Angel did not appear to hear any flaws in the telling. He nodded once or twice and asked apposite questions that kept Wesley talking, and by the time they’d reached the theatre, Wesley felt laid bare, all his secrets lying at Angel’s feet. Angel turned in his seat. ‘You need to tell her. You will regret it for the rest of your life if you don’t say something while you have the chance.’

Wesley frowned. ‘Have the chance? Is she… going away?’

Angel’s eyes flickered with some deep emotion for a moment. ‘Losing people is easy in our kind of work.’

Wesley felt the time was right to ask a question he’d been wanting to ask for six weeks—that he’d been wanting to ask since he’d found Angel bound and gagged on the bed. ‘Have you heard from...?’

‘We’ll be late. Come on.’ It was an uncharacteristically gentle interjection. Angel smiled. ‘I hate missing the trailers.’

Wesley dipped his head and gave Angel his privacy. Joining in the spirit of the moment though, he said pompously, ‘There are no trailers: this is the theatre, Angel—the English version, where real people actually have to act.’

Angel nodded, pleased with his friend and climbed out, waiting so they could walk in together.

* * *

After that first night, the trips out together became a regular event that they both looked forward to. They slipped back into old habits and ways of being with each other that they’d forgotten: Angel was quiet and attentive; Wesley talked about the many subjects that interested them both.

Driving to something Angel had planned for a change, Wesley driving for once, Angel suddenly craned his neck around and said, ‘This is it. Pull over.’


Angel jumped out of the car and waited until Wesley got out before saying, ‘What do you think?’

Wesley didn’t know what to think. It was a new apartment block—an extremely expensive one, but an apartment block, all the same.

Angel pulled a leaflet out of his pocket and handed it to him. ‘One is for sale. I thought I’d take a look.’

‘You’re going to buy an apartment? Why? You have one?’ As soon as he said it, he knew why. He only wondered why Angel hadn’t left that hideous place before this. Totally enthused by the idea now, he scanned the paper. ‘Come on, then. Let’s go see.’

Grinning, fired up by an enthusiasm neither had felt for a long time, they pressed the entry bell and were ushered in by a uniformed doorman.

* * *

‘It’s rather large.’ Just how rich is he?

‘I like space.’ Didn’t used to.

‘But you’ll rattle around in it.’ You’ll be lonely.

‘I’ll spread out.’ I’m planning to fill the space one day.

‘It’s very modern.’ Not really your taste.

‘Yeah.’ I know.

‘Not that you couldn’t get some nice antiques.’

‘I might.’ Or not.

‘Can you afford it?’

‘Sure. I guess.’

‘Oh, well. I’ll have to start thinking about house-warming presents.’

‘I’ll drop some hints to Harmony.’ You can’t buy me what I want.

* * *

By Christmas, Angel had bought it.

The space was immense. The apartments had been built each over two floors, but the middle floors had been removed except for a gallery bedroom. Windows stretched from floor to ceiling over thirty feet. The gallery had a rail for safety. Angel had it removed. He liked the sheer drop off, although he didn’t actually use it. He preferred the raw bricks that had been used as stairs, pushed into one sidewall, winding up.

He had the windows replaced by the firm so he could walk around in the sun. He had the floor stripped and left bare wood. He walked around in bare feet in the sun and felt himself changing, opening up somehow like a flower tentatively seeking the spring.

Wesley visited and stopped in the centre of the living room, admiring the floor-to-ceiling walls of glass, the wood, the amazing view over the hills.  ‘That’s a big…. You have a TV?’ He wandered into the area beneath the bedroom that had been set up as a den: plasma-screen TV, computer, comfortable pullout couch…. Angel did not reply, but a soft smile crept over his features.

‘I might just catch the headlines. Where’s the remote?’

‘Hmm? Oh, I’ve probably not unpacked it yet. I don’t watch TV.’

‘Ah. I like it, Angel. I think this place will be very good for you. Bad associations at the other one….’ It was the perfect cue, and Wesley found himself saying, ‘I had a Christmas card from Rupert Giles today.’

Angel padded over to the kitchen area and began to make them some coffee. ‘Is he well?’

Wesley sat on the couch in the living area, strategically placed for the best view of the hills, and nodded. ‘He sounded very well.’

‘Has he seen anything of Buffy?’

‘No. She’s still in Rome. But he’s seen Spike.’ He could not turn his head and stared resolutely at the view. When he felt the time was right, he continued, ‘Only briefly. At a pub in the West End—of all places.’ There was no reply, but the sounds of the coffee making had stopped.

‘Did they speak?’

Wesley felt a wash of relief and continued more normally, ‘Hmm. They had a drink together. Giles was rather reticent, but then I suppose he would be.’


Wesley turned, then stood up and came closer, perching on a barstool. Angel appeared as calm as he ever did. No emotion escaped his habitual control except for slight concern about the coffee. ‘You do know Giles tried to have Spike killed—in Sunnydale.’

Angel’s hand poised over one of the cups. ‘I didn’t. He told you this?’

‘Giles? No—Spike did, some time ago. I think Giles was surprised that he agreed to have the drink. Spike can be very forgiving—in his own way.’ He left as much pause as his rapidly beating heart allowed and added, ‘I think it’s important—being forgiving.’

Angel lifted his eyes.

Wesley held the intense look.

Angel was the first to look away.

Angel began to spend less time in the office. He didn’t arrive until seven and often left by six—a very short day for him.  Other things changed, too. One day, just after New Year, he called Wesley in and pushed a stack of paper at him. ‘These are the employees who failed the drugs’ test.’ Wesley’s eyebrows rose, and he began to leaf through them. ‘All sacked.’

‘I know. I want them found.’

Wesley looked up sharply. ‘I’m not sure it’s ethical to kill members of staff after they’ve—.’

‘I don’t intend to kill them. I want you to contact them and offer them their old jobs back—if they repent.’

‘Re—. I’m not sure what you’re getting at.’

‘I didn’t give them a chance to change, Wes. They’d lied on the test; they were evil or planning evil, and I sacked them. What if they only needed some help? Some encouragement? Some motivation to try and walk on the side of Right. Harmony’s done it.’

‘Yes. I suppose so. It’s risky. What if they…?’

‘Life is risky. But you can’t shut yourself off to the possibilities it offers.’

Wesley took the papers. ‘All right. As you wish.’

Angel tented his hands under his chin and went back to planning where he was going to put his books in the new apartment.

* * *

He looked up when Harmony came in. ‘Your eleven o’clock is here, Boss.’

Angel sighed and straightened. She ushered in a man, made a face of pure lust behind his back and left, smirking.

Angel stood up and shook the man’s hand. ‘Mr—?’

‘Adam Taylor.’

‘Mr Taylor.’

‘Please, Adam.’


The man sat down. ‘I have a problem that I’ve been told you can help me with.’ He folded his hands in his lap and waited patiently.

Angel could play the waiting game, too. He played it real well.

He studied the man while they sized off. Thirtyish, well-groomed, extraordinarily handsome. Closed-off, though. This, Angel noted with particular interest—he made such people his interest: they held secrets.

Suddenly, with a small smile as if getting the gamesmanship they were indulging in but not caring that he was about to lose, the man said, ‘I own a club, Angel. Before the holidays we had a fire. Fortunately, it was only in a storeroom, and nothing of value was lost. A few days ago, I had a visitor. He told me that such occurrences were quite frequent in my kind of establishment, but that he had a sure-fire way of me preventing further incidences.’

‘Paying him.’


‘Did you?’

‘No. I told him I’d think about it. He’s returning tomorrow night for his answer.’

Angel pursed his lips and leant back in his chair. ‘Why come to me? Why not just go to the police?’

‘Oh, I did. They were still… laughing… when I left.’

‘Laughing. It’s not the usual reaction of the L.A.P.D. to a protection scam.’

‘No. But here’s the thing—the reason why I’m here.’ Adam looked down at an elegant nail then back up, and Angel saw pride, defiance, fear and hope in that one small glance. ‘My visitor was invisible. One of the cops—when he’d stopped laughing at me—suggested I come here.’

‘What time is it coming tomorrow?’

Adam suddenly sank back into his chair. He ran a hand through perfect dark hair. ‘Thank you.’

Part II Chapter 2

Angel jogged up the steps of the club.

He stopped just inside and looked around in wonder. It wasn’t what he’d been expecting. Elegant, quiet: it exuded quality.  The patrons did, too. It was only when Angel was halfway to the bar that something about the place nagged at him, but he didn’t have time to work out what because Adam was coming toward him with two drinks. ‘Hi. I’m very glad to see you.’ Angel continued to look around at the other drinkers.

He wasn’t sure he’d have gotten it even then if one young man hadn’t leant forward and playfully kissed the man sitting opposite him.

Adam was studying Angel’s eyes very carefully.

Angel flicked them over questioningly. Adam nodded. ‘We’re a gay club. Does that matter?’

‘Not to the case, no.’ He held out his hand for the drink, but Adam held on to it.

‘That kinda implies that it does for other reasons.’

Angel suddenly looked down, and if this were gamesmanship now, he knew he’d have lost. ‘No. It doesn’t. It’s just—.’ He looked up, held the man’s eyes and said honestly, ‘It’s new to me. I feel awkward. I’m sorry.’

Adam flashed him a grin and handed him the glass. ‘It’s not compulsory.’

Angel laughed, and they knew it was not a problem between them.  ‘Let’s go kill a demon.’

* * *

Although he’d been tempted to make more of the killing than had been strictly necessary, Angel couldn’t deny, when asked, that it had not been his most difficult case. That led to him to accepting another drink and telling stories about those that had been—difficult. He stayed later than he’d meant, and when he stood to leave, he could not work out where the time had gone.

He put out his hand, and it was taken warmly. ‘Thank you—again.’

Angel looked embarrassed. ‘It really was nothing.’

Adam smiled and watched him leave.

* * *

Angel stepped into his empty, high-ceilinged apartment and knew that what he was looking for was not there—yet.  He wished himself back in the quiet intimacy of the club, with Adam. Confused, he went to the office and worked the rest of the night through. If Wolfram and Hart was good for nothing else, it was good for putting his problems into perspective.

* * *

‘Hullo. Didn’t think you’d come here again.’ Adam rose from one of the comfortable chairs and came over, hand extended.

Angel took the hand and felt its warmth. ‘I don’t know why I have.’

Adam picked up his glass. ‘Because the drinks are always free to you?’

Angel smiled, and they took a bottle of finest Irish malt to the corner booth. Adam poured them both a drink. He watched Angel take a long swallow then reached into a breast pocket. ‘I want you to see something.’  He laid a photograph on the table and pushed it over. Angel studied the face of a beautiful, smiling man. ‘So?’

Adam sat back, clearly slightly surprised. ‘You don’t go to movies?’

Angel shrugged.

‘Or read magazines?’

Angel shook his head.

‘Uh huh. I guess TV is out, too?’

Angel smiled wanly.

Adam nodded more to himself than to his companion. ‘Okay, this is a first. Well, if you did do any of those things you would recognise him. Anyway, that’s not the point—he’s my partner. Lover. Boyfriend….’

Angel’s eye flickered slightly.

Watching this carefully, Adam leant forward and said, ‘I’m telling you so there will be no… misunderstandings… here.’

Angel rose and pushed his face close to the man’s, hissing, ‘You think that something is happening here that needed me to be told this?’ Suddenly, he jerked his head back as if listening to something—someone—and then sat back down. ‘I’m sorry. I’m trying not to jump to conclusions. I’m trying to listen to people. But it’s so fucking… hard!’

Adam chuckled and clinked his glass. ‘To not jumping to conclusions. And just so I don’t… why are you here?’

Angel leant back and ran his fingers through his hair. ‘Something happened to me a while back. It’s not something I can ever tell anyone.’ He looked up at the friendly, encouraging eyes and added with an amused smile, ‘And I’m not gonna tell you either, but,’ he toyed with his glass, ‘I feel with you that I don’t need to tell you—that you get it anyhow, and I’m still okay.’  He suddenly stood up again. ‘I need to get out of here. This is too hard. I can’t do it.’

Adam put a hand on his arm. ‘I thought I was going insane, Angel—my invisible visitor? But then I told you, and you understood. You didn’t judge me. I thought I was alone, and then you were there, and I wasn’t.’

Angel sank down again. Eventually, he picked up his glass. Adam topped him up. Under the influence of the alcohol or perhaps the gentle company, Angel managed to say, ‘I was… closed off. This… thing… changed me, and now I can’t work it all out in my head. I have no reference points.’

Adam chuckled. ‘You should try coming out to a Republican Senator father if you want to hear about losing reference points.’

Angel pursed his lips and gave in to temptation. ‘You should try eating your father. That’s really breaking the ties that bind.’

Adam gave him a quick appraisal, then nodded and laughed as if some joke were on him.  ‘Ahhh. I think I’m getting the not-shocked-at-the-invisible-demon thing now.’ He slapped at the side of his head with a mock, ‘Duh!’

Angel looked down, pleased. ‘Does it matter? What I am?’

‘No. It doesn’t. It’s just—.’ He looked up, held Angel’s eyes, and repeated, ‘It’s new to me. I feel awkward. I’m sorry.’

Angel jerked his head back and laughed a short, sharp laugh. He lifted his glass. ‘Touché.’ After another refill for both of them, Angel said carefully, ‘I’m glad I came tonight.’

‘As am I. Listen….’ He swirled his drink for a moment then said hesitantly, ‘Why don’t you come to dinner sometime and meet Jensen.’


‘He’s my….’

‘I got that. But… Jensen?’

Adam blushed. ‘It was Brian Crompton. Now it’s Jensen Travis. Same person though—just sells better… Angel.’

Angel almost blushed, but he laughed instead. ‘Yeah, names are important.’

‘So, will you?‘

‘I’d like that.’

‘Bring someone.’

‘There is no one.’

‘That’s a shame. And a waste.’

Is he flirting with me? Angel did blush this time and let something escape from his habitual lock-down. ‘Someone else told me that once.’

‘Then he was right.’

Angel’s hand paused over his glass. ‘You assume it was a man.’

‘Angel, you’re… here.’

Angel’s expression chilled the air between them. ‘I’m not gay.’

Adam didn’t seem to feel the cold. In a voice as soft as the candlelight, he murmured, ‘I know.’ He looked up and held Angel’s angry, defensive look. ‘Life is never black and white. I didn’t believe in the supernatural, but something happened to me. I’m not going to run around with a T-shirt on saying I believe, because I’m not sure that I do. I’m not sure what has happened to me—but I am open to the possibility that there is more to this life than I had understood. But, Angel, I’ve not really changed: I’m still who I ever was.’

Angel blinked slowly and saw what this human was trying show him.  He nodded slowly and then very hesitantly laid his hand over the warmer one. ‘I’m trying to be… open… too.’ Adam smiled and returned the photograph of the beautiful man to his pocket. As he withdrew his hand, he pushed a card into Angel’s. ‘Our address. Tomorrow. Dinner.’

It was not a question, but Angel allowed the command.

Part II Chapter 3

He arrived on time, despite spending a depressing hour with clothes.

Adam met him at the door and took the offered bottle with a raised, impressed eyebrow. ‘You know wine.’

Angel shrugged and tried to work out what the strange churning in his belly was. Fear seemed unlikely, although that’s what it felt like.

He was ushered into an impressive apartment, following Adam to a softly lit living room, which had a magnificent view over the city.  Two men turned from their conversation to greet him. ‘J? This is Angel. Angel—J. And this is Sean. Sean’s in L.A., making a movie with J.’ He turned with an innocent look and added, ‘He’s playing a demon—great part.’

The man introduced as Jensen was even better looking than in his photograph, and he had clearly heard the story of Angel’s lack of recognition. He appeared to find it amusing.

The other man looked slightly more nervous than his hosts, and this puzzled Angel until Adam said, ‘Dinner’s ready. Sit down.’

‘Is it just us?’ Angel lowered his voice and watched with mounting horror as the three sat at a cosy table in the corner of the room, leaving one space—beside Sean.

At Angel’s hesitation, Adam caught his eye. Angel gave him a look that had made men forget their courage, but Adam only widened his eyes and smirked slightly.

The look totally undid Angel. For a moment, it was someone else staring out of those guiltily innocent eyes. Unaware what he did, churning in memories, he sat down.  Sean looked slightly concerned at his pale features and under the excuse of the other two chatting said quietly, ‘They set you up, didn’t they?’

The voice didn’t help Angel’s composure. He turned and blurted out, ‘You’re English?’

Sean faltered. ‘Something wrong with being English?’

Angel just shook his head.

He was served something green that had leaves.

Everyone else began to eat.

He turned it over with his fork and then put it in his mouth, trying to chew.

‘So, what do you do?’

Angel swallowed. ‘I—.’ What did he do? ‘I run a law firm.’

‘A lawyer?’

‘No!’ He drank his wine in one go. It helped take the taste of leaves away.

Jensen leant forward and said, ‘Adam tells me you’re interested in demons.’

Angel looked up sharply. He couldn’t tell whether he was being made fun of. Surely Adam would have told his… told this man what he was. Or perhaps he hadn’t. Adam’s face gave nothing away. He merely watched Angel with an amused look. Angel nodded. ‘In a way.’

Sean laughed. ‘I’m playing this really cool vampire guy. The vampires are in a war with werewolves.’

Angel laid down his fork. ‘Werewolves? Fighting with vampires?’ He snorted. ‘Not much of a battle there then.’

Adam leant forward and said with a small gesture of his wrist that Angel had never seen him use before, ‘You should see Sean in leather.’

Angel tried another death stare, but he only got the same deviously guileless look he had been sent before.

At this, a huge wave of regret, guilt and sadness washed over Angel. He wanted the one who defined that look back. Barriers in his mind opened, and he saw things clearly for the first time. He saw why he’d accepted this invitation, why he’d come to see these men. He’d wanted to find them derisory; he’d wanted to be able to dismiss them, revile them, and by doing that dismiss his own feelings and revile his own need. But he couldn’t. He looked around the table and saw something he wanted. But he saw something he might never have now. He saw the thing he’d given away—the thing he’d thrown away.

Admitting all this to himself, in one long drink of wine, he saw he had nothing to fear from these men.

He poured Sean some more wine and began to talk to him of vampires.

Life held no promise for him, but it still had to be lived.

* * *

The evening got late, but no one seemed in a hurry to leave the table. Angel felt unexpectedly comfortable in the company of these intelligent, amusing men, only he felt guilty wishing one of them… exchanged. Then he plummeted into a pit of despondency at the thought of Spike here: what he’d say; the embarrassing things he might do; his view of these new friends…. Then he felt euphoric at the memory of Spike at his Birthday party: so cool, so damn sex….

‘You don’t eat much, do you?’

Angel jumped at the sound of Sean’s voice, his thoughts so intently on Spike, that he heard him in that familiar accent.


Sean pointed down at the bowl now in front of Angel.  Angel groaned inwardly but picked up the spoon. …. Spike would like this. Chocolate. He loves….
A hand came to rest on his thigh.

Angel’s blood left his extremities.

It flowed inward.  It rushed into a too tight constriction of tubes, inflating them, hardening everything in its path. The spoon bent in his fingers, the stem rising.

Then a thumb began to stroke.

He bit his tongue.

The hand slid up his leg.

‘Do you like it?’

Angel stared at Adam then followed his eyes down to the chocolate. The hand stilled for a moment.

He had to say something. He summoned words from where most of his brain functions had retreated and mumbled, ‘I don’t remember.’

The hand began to progress, but then stopped at an obstruction: an iron bar of need that lay heavy down the top of Angel’s leg. Sean put his spoon down carefully with his other hand and said with a slight edge of wonder, ‘How long has it been?’

Jensen looked between the other three and said tentatively, ‘Are we talking about chocolate?’

Adam exploded and half-rolled from his chair, choking on mousse.

Sean removed his hand and looked slightly guilty.

Angel dropped his napkin over his lap and drank some more wine.

* * *

Sean was the first to say, much later into the night, that he had to leave. He made the excuse of shooting schedules and said pointedly, ‘Call me a taxi, Adam?’

Angel folded his arms and said to no one in particular. ‘I have my car. I could—.’

Sean stood up. ‘Thanks. Won’t I be out of your way though?’

Angel shook his head, although they all knew that he didn’t know where Sean was staying. 

* * *

Sean’s eyes lit up when he saw the car. ‘Wow. This is amazing.’

Angel looked nonchalant. ‘It kinda goes with the job.’

The leather felt good, and he could not resist glancing over to confirm the effect on the slim thighs climbing in alongside him. Then he frowned and slammed the car into drive.


Sean glanced over. ‘You don’t have to do this. I can still call a taxi.’

‘No, it’s okay. I’m sorry.’

Sean told him the address, and Angel pulled out into the near-empty street.

‘They are a great couple, aren’t they?’

Angel nodded.

‘Have you known them long?’

‘I met Adam on Monday.’

‘Oh. I got the impression you’d known him a long time.’

‘He’s easy to know.’

‘So, he said you were single….’

‘Did he.’

‘He said you….’

‘He talks too much.’

It killed the conversation for a while until Angel said softly, ‘I’m sorry. Again. I’m not very good at—. I’m not—.’ He turned and watched the striking profile. ‘I’m not single.’ He wasn’t sure why he’d said it, but once he had, he realised it was true.

Sean turned. He almost smiled. ‘I’d sort of guessed that during the exploration. You kinda have taken stamped all over you.’

Taken? Angel’s hands gripped the wheel tightly. He had been taken. He’d been brutally taken and still woke in the night reliving the sense of helplessness.

Something flicked inside him: a switch from no to yes. Why shouldn’t he do what he wanted to do with this man?

He swung into the curb by the entrance to the hotel and gripped the wheel tighter.

‘Do you want to come…?’

‘Yes.’ I do. I want to come.

He got as far as climbing out of the car. He was crossing the pavement when the cool night air struck him. The predator in him growled and stretched lazily, wanting to hunt.

He closed his eyes. He didn’t just miss Spike’s company; he didn’t just miss the man; he missed his companion of the hunt, too.

Sean laid a hand on his arm. ‘It’s okay, Angel.’

Angel’s jaw tingled with regret, and he said sadly, ‘No. It’s not. It’s not okay at all.’

* * *

The apartment seemed incredibly empty when he returned home. He didn’t regret leaving the man outside the hotel, not even when he showered alone or climbed into bed alone. The effect the man had on him was still evident. It throbbed painfully on his belly.

Taken. He had been taken, and he was now entirely lost.

* * *

A few days later, he was still in bed when there was a hammering on the door.

Groggy, dressed only in a pair of thin, black, drawstring pants, he jogged down from his eerie and opened it a crack. Adam grinned at him. ‘Hi.’

‘How the hell did you get my address?’

‘I checked out your pockets the other night. Great stake, by the way: big, thick. I like them like that.’

Angel opened the door wider but held his bare arm across it. ‘This is a fag-free zone.’

Adam looked down at his feet, pouting a little then dropped the act. ‘Okay. Sorry.’

Angel removed his arm. ‘Coffee?’

When Adam nodded enthusiastically, Angel grunted, ‘Make me one, too.’

He showered and dressed, listening to the sounds of another person in the empty space. It almost broke his heart.

When he came down, the man was turning in the sunlight, staring up into the cavernous roof. ‘This place is stunning. Big though. Kinda em—.’

‘Don’t say it.’

Adam handed over the coffee, still staring around. ‘You gonna decorate maybe?’

Angel frowned. ‘I did.’ He looked at the pale walls, the neutral wood floor, the cream coloured furniture. ‘I like plain.’

‘Amish is plain, Buddy. This is… dead. Hey…. I’m gonna buy you a house-warming gift. What are you doing today?’


‘Working? It’s Saturday.’


‘Jeez. That’s just plain dull.’

‘What did you have in mind? And you need to remember my… unique status here.’ He waved at the huge windows letting the sun stream in.

‘It’s cool. What I have in mind is inside.’


‘Wait here.’ With a chuckle, Adam let himself out then returned with some bags.

‘Where’s Jensen?’

‘He had to go away—on location.’

‘Ah. What’s in the bags?’

‘Stand up.’

Angel ignored him and sipped his coffee. Adam wasn’t put off and pulled a T-shirt out of one of the bags. It was the grey-green colour of the ocean after a storm. He held it over Angel. ‘Perfect. I kinda knew I wasn’t buying this for me, somehow.’ He fished some more and pulled out some pants—old army fatigues in a darker green. ‘Oh, yeah.’

Angel drained his coffee and walked back to the kitchen area, ignoring the fashion show. He was followed. ‘Come on; just try them on. They’re perfect for where we’re going.’

Angel whirled around and caught the man standing too close. ‘Adam?’


‘Are you trying to gay me up?’

Adam grinned. ‘Actually… I’m trying to straighten you out….’

Angel suddenly laughed and shook his head. ‘You remind me so much of—.’ He stopped abruptly. To cover and give his hands something to do, he took the clothes.

* * *

Feeling incredibly self-conscious and hitching the T-shirt down to try and make it reach the low-slung waistband of the pants, he took Adam down to the underground garage.

He had the unnerving impression that the man was watching his butt, so folded his arms protectively around his torso, as if this could help.

They climbed in. ‘So?’

‘Take a left toward the beach.’

Angel sighed but complied.

* * *

He cheered up considerably when they pulled up outside a gallery.  He was even happier when, after a frantic dash, they entered and found a huge, high-ceilinged room, the walls of which were covered in bold canvasses of modern art. Smaller works were displayed on screens, which turned the room into a maze of colour. They began to wander around but quickly got separated in the crowd. Angel almost purred with pleasure and forgot the strip of hard abdomen showing. He could envision his walls dripping with these colours.

He was particularly taken with a huge, twenty-foot high mural of reds, which dominated the wall at the end of the gallery.

He walked toward it slowly, watching details emerge. Another man was studying it too, his back to Angel. His neck was craned to one side, as if trying to gauge the painting from a different angle. He straightened and shook his dark head slightly.  Angel smiled, and on a whim, feeling uncharacteristically pleasant, said, ‘I don’t get it either; I just like it.’ The man whirled around and stumbled back.

Angel cried out: a soft, sharp sound of distress.

Spike stared back at him as if burnt by mere presence alone.

Angel held out a hand for someone to steady him then snatched it back.

They stared at each other in mutual horror until Angel said, ‘What the fuck have you done to your hair?’

In all his imagined meetings with Spike he had been eloquent, refined, aloof, clever, hurtful, noble—anything but inane. He actually blushed and folded his arms around his body tightly.

Spike ran a hand over his shaved stubble but did not reply. He looked down at his feet and then made to move away.

Angel took a step forward. ‘Don’t….’

Spike flinched and stepped back.

Angel gritted his teeth. He wanted to crush Spike. He wanted to hurt him. He wanted to take him. He wanted to keep him—forever.

‘What are you doing here?’

Spike seemed to be looking for traps in the simple words. He licked his lips. ‘I’m with someone.’

Angel saw all his past mistakes play out in his mind. He actually heard all the accusations he would once have made; he twisted Spike’s words until they made him drown in bitter jealously. But he couldn’t afford to do that this time. He only had this one chance. Swallowing the bitterness, he said carefully, ‘Anyone I know?’

Spike’s eyes widened fractionally. He tipped his head, studying Angel with as much concentration as he had the picture. He seemed to hear the effort it had cost Angel not to rise to his comment. In a similar spirit of contrition, he clarified, ‘No. My employer.’

‘So, you’re back in L.A.?’ He cursed the sound of desperation in his voice.

Spike nodded. ‘For a few days.’

‘What are you doing?’

‘This and that.’

‘Can we—? I’d like to talk with you, Spike.’

‘I don’t think that’s a—.’


He could see Spike weakening and about to reply when he felt a hand on his shoulder. Adam looked quizzically at the painting. ‘It’s very red.’ He felt some tension in Angel and glanced at him and then at Spike. He straightened and said, ‘Hi.’

Spike turned his cool blue gaze over to Adam, but on the way, it rested very briefly on the hand. He nodded.

Angel felt something hot and satisfying deep in his gut. He’d not missed that little look to the possessive hand on his shoulder.

He turned to Adam, their faces very close and murmured, ‘I want it.’

Adam laughed. ‘Thought you might. I’ll go see if we can afford it.’

Angel flicked his gaze back to Spike. The we, he noticed, had not been missed either.

‘Friend of yours?’ Spike bent to light a cigarette, ignoring the no-smoking signs. Angel almost laughed at the casual nonchalance. He wondered if Spike had forgotten just how much things had changed between them. He wondered if Spike had forgotten that in those two hours of rape and torment, there had also been confessions—of love.

‘Yeah, he is. Adam.’

Spike snorted. ‘First man. How appropriate.’

Angel shuffled his foot and said softly, ‘Or not.’

There was so much ambiguity in this denial—their recent history; Adam’s status—that Spike flushed and dropped his newly lit cigarette. ‘I have to go.’

‘Please. You said we could talk.’

‘Why? What could we possibly have to say to each other?’

‘I was thinking of saying that I’m sorry.’

Spike’s mouth opened slightly in surprise, but he snapped it shut.

‘Please, Spike. One drink.’

Spike appeared to hesitate then he nodded. ‘Tonight. One drink.’

Angel nodded in relief. 

* * *

He knew Spike would arrive just after dark. He’d felt the tension between them that could not be assuaged: the need to confront something, the fear to face something else.

He lit candles. He opened some wine. He glanced around his almost perfect, beautiful, empty house and knew it would soon be complete.

He paced, barefoot on the sun-warmed wood.

He drank the bottle of wine, waiting.

Darkness got deeper, and all he could see was his lack of reflection in the glass.

At midnight, he threw his glass against a wall and watched the red stain spread.

There was a knock—an angry, impatient one.

Angel’s head snapped sharply around. He felt anger surge.

He wrenched the door open. ‘It’s gone fucking midnight!’

Spike flung his arms up. ‘I went to your bloody apartment, you total tosser! You didn’t tell me you’d…. Wow….’

Angel felt everything drain from him except longing.


Gravely, he invited Spike home.


Part II Chapter 4

Spike stood as if awed, dead centre of the room, turning in place. He spotted the TV and went over, running his hand around it, as Angel would have to a beautiful antique. He eyed the sleek chrome fixtures in the kitchen area; he tested a cushion lightly as he passed the couch. He stood in the window, staring out at the dark hills, seemingly oblivious to his lack of reflection.  ‘Drink?’

Spike nodded without turning around.

Angel poured him a glass of wine and padded over, handing it to him. ‘Do you like it?’

Spike shrugged. ‘Thought you preferred dark and old.’

‘I’ve changed.’

The blue eyes flicked to his for a moment.  The gallery caught his eye.

‘Want to take a look?’

Spike clearly wanted to resist, but curiosity got the better of him. He followed Angel up the strange stairs to the bedroom. He stood looking down over the edge. ‘Long way to fall if you got a bit over-ambitious in the bed.’

Angel came and stood alongside him. ‘That depends.’

Spike flicked his eyes to the huge, low bed and back to the drop. If he got the statement that Angel was making with the unprotected edge—that it wasn’t safe for humans to be in his bed—he didn’t comment on it. He wandered back into the bathroom behind the bedroom and examined the sleek modern fitments here as well.

Angel was sitting on the edge of the drop-off when he came out, swinging his legs fractionally. He handed Spike his glass, and Spike grudgingly sat next to him. ‘So, what do you want to talk about?’

‘I told you. I want to say I’m sorry.’

‘Who’s Adam?’

The abrupt change of subject startled Angel. ‘Don’t you want to hear my apology?’

Spike shook his head. ‘Nope.’

‘Why not?’

He shrugged. ‘It’s just words.’ When he sensed Angel tensing, he added quickly, ‘I know you’re sorry, Angel; I don’t need to hear it.’ He turned, licked his lips and said softly, ‘I’m sorry, too, but no words I say could ever be enough to make up for what I did.’ He shrugged. ‘So, I’d kinda planned not to ever try.’

‘You came back to L.A. though.’

‘I know.’ He looked down into his glass. ‘I think I actually missed it.’

‘If we hadn’t met today, would you have come to me?’

‘I don’t know. I don’t think so—I don’t know.’

Angel let it drop. ‘Hungry?’

Spike shook his head.

‘I am.’ He stood up then gracefully stepped off the high drop, landing softly and walking nonchalantly over to the kitchen. Spike, he noted with amusement, came down the long way.

Despite his avowed lack of hunger, Spike accepted some blood, and they took it back to the couch.

‘So, who is he?’



Angel’s blood surged almost as hot as that which he held in his hands from the simple sound of his name purring over Spike’s lips. ‘He’s a friend.’

‘Uh huh. He seemed… nice.’

‘He is.’

‘Known him long?’

Ignoring the a few days in his head, he replied ambiguously, ‘For a while.’

Spike finished his blood and put the mug down on the floor. ‘I’ll be off then.’ He stood up and began to walk toward the door.

Angel suddenly said raggedly, ‘If you can’t tell me, you could show me.’

Spike turned. ‘Huh?’

He stood up and faced Spike. ‘You need to show me that you’re sorry, Spike. I want to see some evidence of your contrition. I want to see how what you did makes you suffer—in here.’ He thumped his chest.

Spike strode back over. ‘It tears me up inside, Angel! I think about nothing else day and night. What do you want me to say? What do you want me to do?’

‘Come back to work—alongside me. Make amends by the good you do.’

‘Back together?’ He sounded aghast.

Angel clenched his jaw but held his peace.

Spike rubbed his hand over his cropped head agitatedly. ‘I can’t. I can’t go back to all that…. We need…. I need….’

Angel’s hand whipped out and caught his arm. ‘I need for you to atone.’

Spike looked down at the fingers on him and seemed to sag in acquiescence.

Angel grinned but wiped the expression off before Spike lifted his head.

He let Spike’s arm drop. After a small hesitation, Spike left. The apartment didn’t seem empty when he’d gone: for the first time, it was filled with the anticipation of his return.

* * *

A very groggy human answered the door to Angel’s insistent knocking.


‘Get up.’




‘I need to you come into the office with me today.’


‘You need to settle your account—for the demon killing?’

Adam hugged his bare chest, refusing coffee. ‘What account? I haven’t been billed yet!’

Angel waved his hand imperiously. ‘Consider this the personal touch.’

‘I have people to take care of this kind of thing—.’

Angel grabbed his arm. ‘Shower.’ He eyed the sleep-rumpled hair and stubble, and countered, ‘Or maybe… don’t.’  Humming happily, he rummaged in Adam’s closet. ‘Oh, yeah.’

Adam took the chosen shirt. ‘This is my fuck-‘em-to-death shirt.’

Angel smirked and pulled out some pants. ‘Those are my fuck-me-to-death pants.’

A complacent nod and another grand wave was all he got for these protests.

It was only when he was in the car, sipping from a cup of coffee, that the man got it. He leant back in the seat with a snort of comprehension. ‘The little pretty with the rent-boy hair and the to-die-for cheekbones.’

‘Don’t know what you mean.’

‘I wondered why I got the death stare.’

Angel glanced over. ‘You did?’

‘I did. Green-eyed-monster-death-stare. So much jealousy tucked up in that tight little package.’ He studied his cooling coffee for a moment and said quietly, ‘He was the one who hurt you.’

Angel pouted then nodded.

‘And you want to use me to hurt him.’

‘No!’ Angel looked at him square on then, remembering the outcome of another tense conversation in a car when he hadn’t been concentrating, cursed and pulled over. ‘No! I don’t want to hurt him. I want him to see… I want him to see that I’ve changed—that things can be different between us.’

Adam didn’t look convinced.

Angel didn’t feel convinced—somewhere, a worm of doubt wriggled uncomfortably, disturbing his purer motives.

‘Will you help me?’

Adam yawned. ‘Now he wants my gay-boy impression.’

Angel grinned, and they swung back out into the early morning traffic.

* * *

He gave Adam a tour and hoped that Spike would find them wandering together.

He made Adam coffee and hoped Spike would come in and find them sharing it companionably.

It was even better than he could have planned. Adam admired Angel’s sword. After an initial confusion, Angel got that he meant a weapon and demonstrated a few moves. The human wanted to try. Angel stood close behind, guiding his position, holding his hand over the hilt. He looked up, and Spike was standing in the doorway, watching the action with some interest.

However, instead of hamming it up as he was there to do, Adam moved swiftly out of Angel’s proximity. It only increased the sense of guilt between them though, and, therefore, seemed to do nothing to lessen Spike’s intent study.

Nevertheless, as if punishing himself for something, Spike came forward and nodded pleasantly at the human.

Adam looked between them for a moment and then said softly, more to himself than to the vampires, ‘Yeah, right.’ He stood in front of Spike but turned his head and said quietly to Angel, ‘Sorry, Buddy.’ He turned back to make sure he had Spike’s full attention. ‘This isn’t what it seems.’ He heard a soft sound of dismay from Angel but ignored it. ‘You guys need to work this out by yourselves without dumb games.’ He gave Angel a final apologetic but very fond glance and left.

Spike twisted his head around, watching the human go.

Angel, feeling vulnerable and foolish, busied himself returning the sword where it belonged.

When he turned back, Spike was watching him with a look that made him flush hot inside. To cover his discomposure, he asked, ‘Did you work it with your employer?’

Spike shrugged.

‘So… you’re staying in L.A.?’

Another shrug, and Spike walked into the conference room, running a finger over the polished wood.

‘Where are you staying—and, please, don’t shrug.’

‘What games?’

Wrong-footed as ever by Spike’s rapid change of subject, Angel only grunted his confusion, and Spike clarified, ‘That bloke said you were playing games.’

Angel perched on the edge of the desk and stared morosely at the carpet. ‘I wanted you to see that I’ve changed. I was kinda using him to do that.’

‘Changed in what way?’ Spike edged the blind apart on the window as if the view actually interested him.

‘Well, he’s human, and smart, and…. He likes me.’

‘Is that an answer?’

‘No, I guess not. I’m not sure, Spike. I don’t know all the answers to your questions. I wanted you to see that I’m… listening, that I’m able to have friends like that.’


‘Because it’s what you wanted!’

Spike nodded. ‘Exactly.’


Wanted—past tense, Angel.’

‘I don’t—. What are you saying?’

‘That I killed anything else I could ever feel for you.’

‘No, that’s not true!’

Suddenly, Spike turned from the window and came close to Angel—very close, almost standing between his thighs. ‘What do you think about Giles?’

‘Giles? I never think about him.’

‘If you met him, what would you think?’

‘What is this? You met him, not me.’

‘Will you answer my sodding question?’

‘I’d—.’ Angel looked down, disconcerted. ‘I’d feel—.’ Jenny ‘Jenny would always be between us.’ Suddenly getting Spike’s point, he looked up and snaked out a hand, snagging Spike’s sleeve. ‘That is nothing like this.’

‘Yes, Angel. It’s exactly like this. I’ve destroyed anything there was or could be between us. Don’t matter how much you like Rupert Giles; don’t matter how much he likes you, she lies between you, and you can’t ever change that.’

‘So… you do like me?’

It was Spike’s turn to look disconcerted by the almost flirtatious question. He faltered in his certainty for the first time and mumbled, ‘Can’t change that.’

Angel shook his arm. ‘What if Giles forgot? Or forgave?’


‘Spike, I forgave you a long time ago. You’d lost your soul because of something I did. Where does the blame lie between us? We got ourselves into this shit—together. But I heard you! I heard you tell me that you loved me. I’m not gonna forget that.’

Spike folded his arms tightly, but he didn’t step away. ‘It’s not as easy as that.’

‘Yes! Yes it is.’

‘Even if Rupert forgives you, you haven’t forgiven yourself. You’d create the barrier.’

Angel pushed off the desk, grabbing Spike’s shoulders. ‘Stop talking about him! This is about us!’

Okay! I haven’t forgiven myself, Angel! I can’t let myself love you! There! Is that what you wanted to hear?’

‘Yeah. It is.’ He pulled Spike’s mouth to his, a rapid, demanding kiss that he refused to stop even when Spike’s hands came up to ward him off. He moaned, and his tongue responded with a life of its own, seeking Spike’s, wanting the companionship of another hot sliver of flesh to entwine and fold around. Finally, he held Spike’s head and breathed onto his bruised lips, ‘I’ll make you love me again. I’ll show you the meaning of forgiveness. And, yeah, Spike, I’ll forgive myself for Jenny, too, while I’m at it.’ He shook Spike’s head, punctuating his words. ‘We – were – without - souls.’ Gripping him tighter, he drilled his dark gaze into the blue one. ‘If we don’t accept that, then these we have now are meaningless; they can’t make a difference. And they do, Spike, they do.’ He released the blond figure tentatively, like releasing a wild creature, fearful that he would bolt.

Spike seemed too defeated to make such a powerful move. He hung his head, and Angel’s heart wept to see him so.  ‘Come over tonight, Spike. We can talk properly.’ Spike shook his head.

Angel put his hands back to Spike’s face, more like a blessing now than a lover’s hold.  ‘Please.’ Spike looked up, his eyes limpid, and Angel saw his acquiescence in those revelatory pools.


Part II Chapter 5

He cleaned; he lit candles; he opened wine; he put soft music on. He would not have consciously used the term seduction, but it hovered un-thought on the periphery of his consciousness.

Spike arrived on time. Barefoot, Angel padded across to the door and opened it. Spike had not made an effort to dress: no leather, no jewellery, no duster—just old jeans and a shirt. Angel could not have been more delighted. This was the man beneath the trappings of a demon. This is what it was all now about.

Spike was clearly ill at ease, and whilst not exactly dodging Angel, nevertheless skirted neatly around him. He went to stand under the newly hung painting.

Angel smiled inwardly and poured them both some wine. He came silently up behind the smaller vampire, and a jolt of memory sizzled through him. Very quietly, he said, ‘I still don’t get it, but I still like it.’ Spike grunted, and it could have been recognition of a shared memory, or agreement that he didn’t get it either.

To prolong the moment, sharing memory if nothing else, Angel added, amused, ‘So… what the fuck did you do to your hair?’

Spike’s hand flew to his scalp, and he rasped the stubble, a gesture that Angel felt in his own palm. He swallowed and tried to get the graphic picture he’d just conjured out of his head.

Spike took his wine to the couch by the huge windows and sat down. Angel joined him but on the strategically placed second couch.

‘Tell me about meeting Giles.’


‘In London at Christmas.’

‘How did you know?’

‘He told Wesley.’

‘Bloody watchers.’ Spike toyed with his glass. ‘Bet I was the last person you wanted to hear about.’

‘Not at all.’

He raised his eyes quickly as if to see if he was being made fun of. Angel held his gaze steady, knowing Spike would see the truth held there.

He seemed to, for he huffed slightly in surprise and drank his wine in one.

As Angel got up to refresh them, he repeated, ‘Giles?’

‘Oh, yeah. Well, we got talking—you know.’

‘Anything in particular?’

‘Why d’ya say that—as if there would be something?’

‘I know, Spike. I have no idea why you didn’t tell me yourself, but I know he tried to have you killed. Why didn’t you tell me, by the way?’

Spike took his glass back, now refilled. ‘I’d have thought that was pretty obvious.’

‘Indulge me.’

‘Jesus, Angel! Work it out for yourself, yeah!’ At Angel’s neutral look, he added exasperated, ‘Look, you’d either get all riled up and kill him or….’


‘Or you wouldn’t—get riled up. Cus you didn’t care. So, I figured I didn’t want to find out which it was—didn’t want old Giles hurt; didn’t want—.’

‘You hurt?’

Looking confused by Angel’s quick perception, Spike finished off his glass of wine again. This time, he waved Angel back to sitting at his small move to rise and went to fetch the remainder of the bottle with a new one.

When they were topped up, Spike sat down, closer to Angel than he was before so they could share the wine without having to move more.  Angel waited until more alcohol lubricated the moment and said casually, ‘Okay, I get why the not telling me about Giles, but why didn’t you tell me that Buffy knew you were back?’

‘Remind me to have a little talk with Wesley sometime soon ‘bout mouths and the size of them.’


‘Because! I was embarrassed, okay? I thought—. I confused sacrificing my life for her with love. If she’d loved me, she’d have sent for me… come here… I don’t know. Not this….’ He narrowed his eyes. ‘How about you spilling some of your little secrets then. Did you...? That last time you saw her… after the humungous snog, did you… make love?’

Angel shook his head.

‘Because it would be a moment of perfect happiness, and you’d lose your soul, right?’

Angel snorted. ‘I don’t think a farewell roll in a cemetery with Buffy would count as a moment of true happiness, do you?’

Spike was clearly wrong-footed, but he covered by saying dismissively, ‘Our shags usually ended up with me being beaten, battered or bruised, so I’m hardly the best person to ask.’

‘Have we just discussed Buffy like two rational men?’

Spike was saved a reply by a knock on the door. For a moment, his eyes were full of disappointment, as though he felt Angel had let him down by inviting someone else.

Angel crowed inwardly and wanted to punch the air, but he just rose and jogged over to the door, opening it to a deliveryman staggering under a number of boxes.

Spike watched from the couch, and Angel didn’t need to actually see his expression to know he was as pleased as he was surprised.

When the paying was done, Angel took the food to the den and placed it on a low table. ‘Wanna watch a movie?’

Spike appeared even more surprised. ‘You hate movies.’

‘I’ve changed.’

‘Yeah—so you keep sayin’.’ The note of fond scepticism was not lost on Angel.

Despite his apparent reluctance, Spike went to the DVDs and began to look through them. He held one up questioningly; Angel shrugged, and as there was only one couch, they sat at opposite ends. Neither could reach the food, so they slid without comment into the middle and began to eat.

With a mouth full, Spike murmured, ‘Thought you didn’t eat.’

‘I’ve changed.’

A small smile crept across Spike’s lips that tasted better to Angel than the hot slice of pizza he was enjoying.

The film was a good and bad choice in equal measure: lonely road, group of campers; cannibals, lots of blood and people being eaten. Those were the good parts: the parts that allowed them to vicariously enjoy their favourite hobby. The bad part was that it encouraged them to want their second favourite hobby, too.  The blood on the screen worked on them as watching porn would work on other men. Increasing the danger, Angel plied them both with wine, inhibitions gradually fading along with their focus on the action.

* * *

By the time the credits rolled, the air between them sparked with need.

Desperate for him to stay, desperate not to hear, ‘I’d better go,’ which he could hear, ominous and painful in his mind, Angel fished out another movie. ‘Try this one? Someone gave it to me—to improve my education.’

Without even looking at the box, Spike paled. ‘Gay porn?’

Angel paled, too. ‘No! Jesus, Spike!’ He handed it over. ‘Hang on.’ He snatched it back and checked it then handed it back with a noticeable sigh of relief. ‘Just put it on, will you?’

As the film began, he said, watching Spike’s reaction from the corner of one eye, ‘I know him.’

Spike turned, and Angel averted his eyes innocently.

‘Know him. You know Jensen Travis. Oh, I get it! He’s a bloody demon, and you’ve—.’

‘He’s Adam’s boyfriend.’

The character on the screen was opening his mouth wide to the painted lips of a young woman as Angel spoke. Spike seemed to find Angel’s words hard to process. Angel watched him with an unwavering intensity, willing him to get why he’d told him—to get that the games were now over.

‘What do you think he feels having to… pretend… like that—so he can fit in?’

This, Angel was not expecting, but he answered truthfully, ‘He’s playing a role, that’s all. It’s his job.’

‘Could you live a lie, Angel? Or would you—?’ He drank his wine very quickly, seeming to shrink from saying the words.

Angel said them for him. ‘Come out?’

Spike winced and shrank some more. ‘Wish I needed to go take a piss or something.’

‘Spike, I won’t live a lie. If I love someone—a man—I’d be open and honest about it.’

Spike stood up with a rapidity that surprised both of them. ‘How can you say this? Jesus, Angel, I just don’t believe this epiphany you seem to have had! Three hundred years of being an aggressive heterosexual—you defined the meaning of straight—then I go away for a couple of months, and I come back to find you doing an impression of Brian Kinney! I’m not falling for it!’

Angel peered deeply into his wine and said in a low tone, ‘It’s not that sudden, Spike. You’ve been my favourite jack-off fantasy since you came to L.A.—they weren’t always romantic fantasies; but it was always you.’

‘You’re lying! This is such crap, Angel! You’ve never—.’

‘And you knew it!’ He proved he could stand just as swiftly as Spike—quicker. He seized the front of Spike’s shirt. ‘You knew! Every night, Spike, hard for your body, for your touch. And you knew it! You teased me with that Goddamned boy, Ben! Why did you do that, Spike, if you didn’t know how I felt? Well, you brought it out into the open. You took me! And wherever I was taken, I’m still there! What I am now is because of you. You took me there!’

He fell to Spike’s lips, crushing them together, raping him with his tongue, until the body against him yielded willingly. Then Angel allowed his tongue to dance and play, seeking out the warmth and eagerness of Spike’s mouth. His hands roamed over the hard body, separated from flesh by thin layers that he longed to rip and tear. Spike’s body seemed to come alive in his hands, squirming to increase the pressure of the kiss, his hands hard and urgent, giving Angel pleasure.

Spike pulled apart and stepped back. His hands went to his shirt. Slowly, he undid the first button.

Angel winced at the painful memory of this simple action. He tried to cover by reaching once more for Spike, but he saw in Spike’s eyes that the same memory had ruined the moment for him, too.

Spike hung his head and said in a pitifully plaintive voice, ‘I’m so sorry.’

Angel hesitated but pulled him into a hug—just an embrace of someone older and bigger: someone able to give comfort. ‘I still wake up from nightmares of it, Spike, but not really for what you did—how you did it, I guess. So… soullessly.’

Spike nodded, his face pressed to Angel’s broad chest. ‘My nightmares always end with me staking you.’

It was an amazingly honest confession—both that he dreamt of Angel and that Angel’s death would upset him so. Angel held the pale face away and said calmly, ‘Stay here tonight—on the couch.’

Spike shook his head, but Angel added sternly, ‘You’ve had a lot to drink, and it’s very, very late.’

Spike’s eyes widened fractionally, but then he laughed and took Angel’s hands from his face. ‘Okay. Seein’ as it’s so late, and I’m so… vulnerable at night.’

Angel kept his face stern and nodded as if agreeing.   Before his childe could change his mind, Angel jogged up to his bedroom and brought down a couple of blankets. ‘You’ll be okay?’

Spike gave him a look that managed to be withering and fond at the same time and threw himself onto the couch.  Just as Angel made to return upstairs, he heard a soft, ‘Sleep well,’ and knew that sleeping, well or otherwise, would be the very last thing he was going to do that night.

Part II Chapter 6

He was proved right. Sleep didn’t come. When he had made the offer to Spike, he had not seen it in his mind as a physical reality. Now, lying in his large comfortable bed, it was very much a reality: Spike beneath him. It didn’t matter what position he adopted—belly, back, side, strange combination of these as if he were recovering from drowning—Spike still lay beneath him.

He always thought a lot about Spike; he’d allowed him to increasingly worm into his consciousness since releasing him from the necklace. But this was new. This was painful. Spike’s body drew his thoughts out as if someone sucked him, emptied him, until he had no other thoughts to take their place and fill the void. If he didn’t think about Spike, the void was painful, so he thought about Spike, and sleep did not come.

He had to admit that not all his thoughts were good, either. That tiny flinch, when remembered, led his thoughts down painful paths: horror and humiliation at the rape returning. He could see Wesley’s fearful expression taking the bloody gag from his mouth. He remembered the man’s automatic hand to covers to pull down and see where hurt lay. Then he relived his own snarl, felt his face change into its fearful aspect, saw Wesley backing off, alarmed. Days of pain, weeks of disgrace condensed and flashed through his mind in a few moments, making him flush with different emotions, harden with different need.

Some of his thoughts, crawling in on the tail of these hurtful ones, were deeply anxious. Fear of what he wanted; fear of where it would take him—fear whether he could do it at all. He wanted to possess Spike—body and soul—but the actual physical acts frightened him, and he wasn’t used to fear. It made him angry to be fearful: angry at Spike. And if he did possess Spike. What then? He’d said he wouldn’t live a lie. He’d said he’d step out from behind his masks. He’d not done that for three hundred years, so revealing himself now didn’t appeal all that much.

Then his anger at Spike made him feel deep, abiding pity for the man he had killed and stripped of his soul—pity that he should have been so desperate as to personally remove his soul once more. He had driven Spike to that act: his distrust, his jealousy.

Jealousy of Spike rose up in his throat again, hot and painful. But he knew what it was this time and did not confuse it for other emotions. He’d made that mistake for too long.

And then, at the end of all these painful thoughts, he remembered that Spike was now with him… so close… just a few feet below him… just a few more tender moments away from surrendering to him.

And it would be tender. He would make sure of that. Not like his… Angel’s thoughts spun wildly out of control once more: the remembrance of pain that had made him cry internally, unable or unwilling to let that anguish out; his first time, driven into on pain and hatred. Nothing could give that moment, that sanctity, back to him. But it wasn’t Spike’s fault. He had driven Spike to drive into him thus, and so it went on… all night… no resolution… no peace. And through it all—the remembrance and fear, anger and confusion—one part of Angel’s body throbbed thick and heavy, trying to tell him that here, at least, there was no confusion; here there was no fear.

He only half-sensed the dawn approaching, drifting in and out of troubled, disturbed half-dreams.

He thought he smelt coffee and heard the soft rattle of china, but these domestic sounds merged into the fearful sounds of manacles restraining him as he was taken.

He only fully awakened when he sensed Spike standing next to him.

His eyes flicked open. Spike gave a small, troubled smile and put down a cup of coffee for him. ‘I have something I need to do today. Thanks for the bed. I’ll see you later, yeah?’

He turned to go.

Angel’s hand shot out and caught his wrist.

Spike half-turned and was pulled the rest of the way. He fell as if he’d waited for this falling all night, too.

At first it was all saliva and moaning and frantic hands with no control.

Angel couldn’t get enough of Spike’s body, couldn’t strip him fast enough. He knew there was so much baggage in the bed with them that it would be hard to find the space they needed.

He forced Spike over onto his belly, jeans still around his ankles, T-shirt ripped aside. He straddled him and leant low, crushing him down with his weight, wanting to obliterate everything: nihilism his only defence against powerful feelings he could not control.

Then Spike arched and breathed a soft sound of need. ‘Hurt me. Please.’

And, at that, Angel knew that he couldn’t. As much as he’d thought that hurt was what this was about, he knew it wasn’t. He didn’t want to play games with Spike any longer: tit for tat acts of revenge that escalated over the decades until finer feelings were ground to nothing. He leant down to the back of Spike’s neck and laid his cheek on the soft, downy stubble. ‘No. I’m not gonna hurt you. This isn’t about ending something. It’s about beginning something else.’ He pushed the side of his hand into the cleft between Spike’s buttocks and pressed hard. ‘There’s just gonna be us in this bed, Spike.’

He slid down the hard, slim spine with one long, erotic lick. Hands clasping the firm cheeks, he eased them open for his tongue. Spike’s hand fluttered uselessly on the bed, perhaps in denial at this intimacy. Angel didn’t care. He intended to get a great deal more intimate than this.  His tongue dipped into the dark well in the centre of Spike’s paleness and tasted him. It was good, so he probed deeper, pushing in past resistance, a sensation that reminded him of human flesh parting to a different probing. Hard already, he felt a rush of imminent orgasm at the thought of where he was and what he was doing, so withdrew, just lapping softly around the edges until the pressure subsided.

Slowly, he disentangled Spike’s jeans and freed his ankles. Spike turned over, and Angel heard once more an agonised plea, ‘Punish me!’

It would have been so easy to do so. Spike lay open and vulnerable, legs spread wide, saliva glistening on the place that he knew from experience could so easily be hurt.

Easy, yet the hardest thing, too.

As he stared at the defenceless entrance twitching slightly in anticipation of the pain that was to come, he knew that something within him had gone—what had plagued him during the night had passed for good. This act—this pushing in slowly and gently, this great giving of pleasure—defeated the demon that had peeked out of those pain-filled blue eyes. It was the triumph of good over evil. It was the triumph of his soul—of Spike’s soul. It was the closest thing he’d felt to redemption for a very long time. And on the forgiveness he sensed being given to him, he forgave himself: he forgave himself for that one thought, wrung from him on pain and degradation: Let him suffer. He now saw that he had not replaced Spike’s soul to make him suffer at all, but to bring him here—to this time and this place and this act of love.

As he began to move with tiny, exploratory twitches in the soft rectum, Spike began to cry.

Bone-shaking sobs were torn from his thin body. Angel couldn’t tell if they were a continuation of tears cried like a river over the last few months, or whether they were new: perhaps only here in this bed could Spike finally release the guilt he had carried for so long.  Angel let him cry, only bending low to kiss the tear-streaked cheeks and murmur hushed words of comfort, knowing Spike would understand the import if not the meaning. And through the storm of Spike’s remorse, he kept up his gradual possession of the shaking body.   The pleasure Spike felt only seemed to upset him more. He’d asked for pain; he’d asked for the blessing of forgiveness through punishment, yet he was being offered this act of love. Love was not a currency they usually traded in. It seemed to overwhelm him, and to an observer, his painful crying would have seemed incongruous with the loving movements Angel made over the slim form. Spike’s body could not mask its pleasure, though. That betrayed truer feelings trapped beneath the tears of remorse. As Angel slid in and out, he played with Spike’s telling erection. For the first time, he touched another man’s penis with his hand—and he didn’t drop into a pit of hellfire. He burnt, but it was an entirely different kind of heat. The beads of juice trickling down the hard cock made his mouth water, like the first sniff of blood on a would-be victim. Memories and sensations made him stiffen more, and he heard a faint grunt under the choked distress.

Three hundred years of orgasms concentrated on, drawn out by wild fantasies, yet he came now at the sound of one small grunt.

He cried out and felt the first shivery waves of the well-known pleasure. They built in intensity, and his vision greyed out as everything went south. Jerking, crying out in harsh, guttural shouts of pleasure, he filled Spike’s body with his seed as he had once filled him with his blood. It seemed no less a taking.

Just before he was done, pulling back slightly to rub his spurting cockhead inside Spike’s tight ring, he saw Spike’s erection lift from the tight belly and shoot. The sperm arched over Spike, missed the bed entirely and fell silently to the floor: two, three, long shots of fluid, each as pressured as the last. Without a doubt, Angel knew this was the first release Spike had allowed himself since that fateful night. That thought, and the sight of Spike’s flushed cockhead opening and shooting so wildly, brought Angel a second orgasm. Only half-embedded, he allowed his shaft to jerk free of its confinement and unload its cargo over the dark hair and pale flesh that had so aroused it.

Sticky and wet, Angel fell into the space that Spike occupied. Neither seemed to mind this new merging, quivering as they were from the first. Angel sighed a long sigh of relief and pleasure against Spike’s neck. Almost unconsciously, he trailed his fingers through some of the stickiness on Spike’s body, scratching through the short wiry curls and stroking over soft, sensitive flesh.

The crying appeared to have stopped. He lay unsure what to say or do next. He felt as if he could conquer kingdoms—wanted to make some wild, grand gesture that would go some way to assuage the way he felt about this man in his arms. He contented himself with a grin of pleasure into the sweaty neck and an increasing tightness on the arms pinning Spike to his body.

‘I love you.’

The words fell more startling into the air than anything Angel had been planning to say. He propped himself up on his elbow so he could see the tear-streaked profile.

As if talking more to himself than Angel, Spike continued in a slightly husky-from-crying voice. ‘I always felt huge things for you, Angel—ya know? Ever since you turned me. Big emotions that I couldn’t contain: hate, passion, fury. It was only when I got my soul, after Sunnydale, that I learnt to control them—see them for what they were. Even then it took a while. I didn’t pop out of that bloody necklace loving you. I couldn’t connect physically with you, and that totally threw us off-balance: what we had always used as language wasn’t possible. I only really started to want you after I got solid. And if anyone asks me when it began, I’m not sure I could say. Maybe it was a look. Maybe it was something you said once. Maybe it wasn’t anything more than the way you frowned at me one day. Whatever. One day, I woke up looking forward to getting into work to see you—fight with you, I admit; piss you off, for sure; have you yammer on to me ‘bout some rubbish, I know. But it was you. Suddenly it was all about you—everything: what I did, what I thought, what I wanted. Even then, I didn’t get it. I’d do the usual—in bed—and when you came into the fantasy, I shoved you out. Bloody hell, did I! Didn’t help none. The shoving you out only got me more excited and before I knew it, I was coming all over meself to thoughts of you not being there—which were just thoughts of you, of course.

‘Then I began following you, watching you. And I meant what I said back… then. I wanted to rush in and save you from something—so you’d want me. Wanted to be this big hero. An’ that’s when it hit me—what these feelings really were—cus I’d felt them before: I’d wanted to be a hero for someone before. I got my sodding soul to make Buffy want me like I wanted her.

‘Once I knew what I felt, it kinda freaked me out, cus ‘though I don’t think of you like a man, you clearly are. I tried tellin’ meself it was a vampire thing—we’re only demons inhabiting these bodies, or so they tell us. Then I tried to turn it into something almost courtly and noble—some kind of bloody Greek brotherhood: you and me ‘gainst the world and declaring undying, chaste love. But the amount of come I spilt thinking about it kinda blew that theory out of the water.

‘I tried to fight it. I went out with Harmony; I went to strip clubs and got laid. I even took a vow of chastity one night—but it lasted till the next time you handled your sword, or shouted at me, or just sat doin’ nothing like a lump.

‘I was kinda losing it—thought I might have to go away and get you out of my mind somehow. But then there was Ben.’

For the first time, he turned and faced Angel. ‘He was irresistible, Angel: weak, needy, pretty, vulnerable… easy. I played the great hero with him cus I couldn’t play it with you. I teased him with my body cus I couldn’t tease you with it. I led him on to think there was going to be more between us. And then one night I was going to find him, and I stepped into an elevator with you. And that was it—that was the night I found out that you felt the same ‘bout me—only you didn’t know it yet. And what did I do? Did I help you out? Did I really treat you like I loved you? Nope: I had my fun with you, Angel, cus I didn’t want to be the only one so sodding confused! Why shouldn’t you lie in bed wondering why you wanted to fuck a man, too! Why shouldn’t you toy with images of my body and be sickened, just like I was sickened by what I wanted to do with you!

‘When it all… went down: Ben, the soul… what I did to you… I—.’ He put an arm over his eyes and shook his head, as if saying silently that he couldn’t continue. Angel nuzzled into his ear and remained silent. Silence just now was the greatest proof of his love that he could think of.

Eventually, Spike continued, ‘I didn’t get rid of my soul because I didn’t want it anymore. I got rid of it to punish myself—cus I loved being so like a man, so able to love like a real man. But I’d used Ben to play my games with you, and it got him killed. So, I took the one thing I could, the one thing that truly belonged to me and destroyed it. And it wasn’t just cus I wouldn’t be able to love anymore—that wouldn’t have been enough punishment. You know me: never do anything by halves. I did it cus I knew how you felt about me by then. I’d smelt your jealousy; I’d tasted your need, and I wanted it. I wanted you so much, but I deliberately went up to that white room and pushed it all away from me. I wanted to be damned and punished and have no love.

‘Course, once I’d done it, it didn’t matter anyway, cus I was soulless and didn’t feel anything of these things. Weren’t no punishment at all, cus I liked being free. So, what I’m trying to say is that I’ve not been punished—I don’t deserve this; I don’t deserve you; and it don’t matter how much I want you, I haven’t earned it.’ To his obvious embarrassment, tears welled once more, but this time he dashed them away angrily. ‘Bloody hell! I feel eviscerated!’

Angel put a finger to one blue eye and closed it, pressing gently to make a tear roll out. ‘You’ve suffered enough for a thousand demons, Spike. We both have. I don’t know when my obsession with you began either. One day, just your name made me break out in a demonic rash, the next I was looking up from my desk to catch a glimpse of you. But I told myself they were both the same thing—that you were the irritant that obsessed me because I couldn’t scratch you away.

‘I’m not sure that I knew why I hated Ben so much—or feared him. I didn’t fear the devil when I met him in hell, but I feared that pretty boy. Then things got kinda messed up for a while, and I’m not gonna pretend to you that what you did wasn’t—. You raped me, and for a while, any feelings I had for you were pretty much what you wanted them to be. But do you know, Spike? Through it all—the hatred, the fury… all those big emotions that I have just the same as you—through it all, I could hear you telling me how much you’d loved me. I’m not saying that suddenly I had this big epiphany, waking up loving you, either. I didn’t. I just wanted things to change. I wanted me to change. I wanted to be someone who could entertain the possibility of loving you.

‘Then one day I went to Adam’s; I looked around, and I wanted what he had. I wanted you to be there with me, and there was no doubt why I wanted you there anymore. If you’re not going to be there, all this change will mean nothing.’

He turned his head to find that he was being watched with unnerving intensity. In a soft voice, he reiterated, ‘It will mean nothing without you.’ Then he looked down and after a small pause back up through lowered lids. ‘Now, I think we’ve both talked enough.’ He put a hand to Spike’s cheek, caressed it for a moment, then pulled him down.

For the first time, they met as equals—both equally laid bare and vulnerable. The earlier lust-driven urgency had gone. Now they wanted to explore, perhaps to find in the body of the other the secret of their obsession: was it this piece of skin or this blue vein; did it lie in the curve of a hip or in the lines and planes of muscle?

The warm sun streaked into the gallery, heating the bed in other ways until sweat stung eyes and flesh slipped on slippery flesh.  Angel found words still running through his head. Perhaps the unusual amount of words they’d spilled that morning had opened previously sealed reservoirs of things he wanted to say to Spike. He wanted to ask him what he liked—whether this piece of almost translucent skin felt as good from the inside, whether the dark stubble on his scalp made him swell too when it was rubbed—he wanted to ask him what he wanted. He wanted to ask Spike if he wanted him. The urgency to say these things grew; the impossibility of saying they made him frantic, and so the physical became desperate again—two men using their bodies for wont of being able to say how they felt or what they really needed. As he kissed Spike, as his tongue was sucked and entwined, Angel pushed fingers in and out of a hot hole that tightened and gripped around them. He felt something slipping away from him: a moment in time when he could have reached out and made this man his. Spike was like the beam of sunlight that illuminated their flesh: intangible, transient. How could you capture the elusive beauty of sunlight? He tried. He pushed his body into Spike’s. He rose over him and took him. Shouldn’t taking mean possession? But the more he pushed, the more he felt Spike retreating. The more he took, the less he had. Oh, the slim figure rose up to meet each thrust; the perfect face contorted with pleasure; unused lungs strained with unaccustomed panting, but Angel couldn’t say the things he wanted, and this was nothing but sweat and skin and bone, muscle and sticky fluid, and not the truly tangible things: avowals that could carry you through life; promises that took and kept safe what was important.

Before he knew it, his body was experiencing an intense, exhausting orgasm. This time, his was not the only harsh, shouting cry. Spike arched and twisted and shot again—not to the floor, but onto Angel’s lowered torso, where the tacky fluid hung for a moment then dripped away, diluted by sweat.

Angel fell heavily onto the body beneath him, his fingers grasping wildly for Spike’s, and they were given freely. Something had been decided in that bed. Angel just had no idea what it was.

A part of his body was still deep inside Spike. Now the flush of passion was over, he wondered that he’d ever thought to speak. What could he say about those eight inches joining them? He twitched them slightly, and Spike grunted faintly. Angel grinned evilly and did it again and again until he coaxed a laugh out of Spike. But on that laugh came words he didn’t want to hear: ‘I really do have something I have to do today. I need to go do it.’

‘So, the coffee and wake-up call wasn’t a devious ruse to spend the day in bed with me?’

Spike snorted and pushed at Angel, easing himself off the impalement. ‘Can I—?’ He nodded at the bathroom.

Angel pouted slightly. ‘Want some company?’

Spike hesitated. ‘I’m not sure I could go another round.’

Pleased and dismayed in equal measure, Angel twitched the sheet over his still hard erection. ‘Sure.’

Spike climbed off the bed cautiously and bent even more cautiously to retrieve his clothes. If he glanced back at the enticing scene in the bed, it was a very quick glance and not one that diverted him from his intent.

Part II Chapter 7

There was no humming. Angel distinctly remembered to remember that he did not hum, or whistle, or jog up the stairs to the office instead of taking the elevator. Okay, he did that last—but no humming. He was too confused, after all, to give in to the euphoric feeling that had suddenly assailed him in the car. Wasn’t he? Elusive? Transient? Intangible? He remembered thinking all those things about Spike, but once the enticing presence had left, they were just… words. There was nothing elusive about the memory of penetrating Spike—he lay in bed after Spike’s departure for an hour or so enjoying it (and other things). There was nothing transient about the bruises and bite marks that covered his body—they would be there for some hours, reminding him. Intangible hardly described the damp sheet he pressed to his face, nor the intense aroma of fresh come that he took deep into his lungs.

He wondered if he was pumped on some kind of vampire endorphins, which only released in the presence of another male vampire… who was souled… and who shared his blood…. In three hundred years he’d had a lot of sex, but none that had made him sing along to the radio.

Not that he’d done that either. Of course.

* * *

Still making a soft noise that wasn’t humming, he rode up in elevator to his old apartment to fetch some things he had left there. The place held no ghosts now—they’d been banished by the feel of Spike’s anus clenching willingly around him.

He stepped out and immediately sensed another presence. Thinking about ghosts—or their absence—he tensed and went cautiously into the bedroom.

Wesley was on his hands and knees beside the bed.

For one bizarre moment, Angel thought that he was praying. When the human snapped his head around they both jumped slightly, although Angel recovered first. ‘What the hell are you doing?’

Wesley climbed to his feet, holding out a small shard of something. ‘Retrieving this.’ The sound of his voice almost made Angel revise his previous thoughts about ghosts: it was lifeless.

Wesley handed the thing over, and Angel saw that it was a piece of broken crockery.

‘It’s the vessel that contained Spike’s soul—or a fragment of it. I need it to run some tests… check the….’ Suddenly, as if punched, Wesley’s legs folded, and he sat on the bed.

He hung his head for a moment then lifted his face to Angel. ‘I’m so sorry. I didn’t want to have to tell you like this.’

Angel folded his arms tightly around his body as if this could defend him from the pain that he sensed was coming.

‘Spike never got his soul back. It was a trick. It was all a trick to fool us. Oh, Angel, I’m so very, very sorry.’

Part III Chapter 1

‘The only good thing about all of this, I suppose, is that he’s not had a chance to use his wiles on any of us: I’ve hardly seen him, and you only at that gallery and here the other day. I believe his plan was to try and work his way back into your good graces somehow—to make your guard drop.’ If Wesley noticed that Angel had neither moved from the spot he was in, nor contributed to the conversation, he didn’t show it. He took off his glasses and rubbed them on his sleeve. ‘I’m just glad I found all this out before he had a chance to fool any of us.’

‘How did you find out?’

Wesley’s head came up sharply. The voice had been so low he had to ask hesitantly, ‘I’m sorry; what did you say?’

‘Tell me how you found this out.’

‘Oh, yes, well…. When I was busy investigating Ben Jervis for you—in those few spare moments I had in between lazing around and eating doughnuts—I made some contacts in the father’s inner circle. We had a little dispute about payment, which has rumbled on over the last few months. I finally decided to agree to their terms, just to shut them up I suppose, and at that meeting they said they had some other information that might interest me. Apparently, Spike has been working for Jervis—the father—for some months. It’s whom he came to L.A. with. Believe it or not, Leyland Jervis, amongst being a devil worshiper and generally all-round unpleasant person, is an art collector. He came here to see that exhibition you were at, and presumably brought Spike with him. Spike has become something of a favourite. They said—.’ He stopped and stood up, brushing his thighs as if the creases in his trousers offended him. ‘I don’t believe everything these scum tell me.’

‘What did they say?’

Once more, Wesley wanted to escape from that voice. He blinked anxiously and started toward the elevator. A hand stopped him. He took off his glasses once more. ‘They said his… excesses… amused even their boss. That he revelled in his evil.’

I will revel in my evil, Angel.

Angel let the arm drop. Wesley nodded in a more business-like manner. ‘We must take some simple precautions now. Make sure you aren’t followed on your way home. He mustn’t know where you live. I’m rather regretting that you moved out of here now. At least you were safe….’ He glanced at the bed and changed the subject. ‘He can’t get in to the building; I’ve changed the codes, yet again. Fred has gone home on a visit. Gunn and Lorne are making similar arrangements. I thought I might stay up here for a few days, if that’s all right with you.  I’ve done everything I can think of.’ Angel turned and began to walk back to the elevator. Wesley didn’t like the set of his back and said in a worried tone, ‘Where are you going?’

Angel was about to say home, but the word sounded wrong in his head.

* * *

He took off his suit and hung it carefully on a hanger. He dressed in loose sweatpants. Averting his eyes from the still rumpled bed, stepping around a faint stain on the floor, he went down and, although it was not yet noon, opened a bottle of whisky.

Spike returned when there were about two swallows left in it. He opened the door with a spare key Angel had had cut at Christmas—a small gesture of hope over experience.

He was smiling shyly and let the key drop loudly onto the kitchen counter. ‘Hi.’

Angel took the bottle over to the window, squinting at the sunlight. Arms slipped around his waist, and Spike leant on him, rubbing a thumb over the naked belly. ‘I’ve been looking forward to this all day.’

Angel nodded. ‘So have I.’

Spike kissed his sun-warm back, saying an intimate hello to the tattoo. ‘It still feels funny being able to do this.’

‘Still feels funny letting you do it.’

‘What’s wrong?’ Spike slipped around to the front, his arms still entwined around Angel, leaning back slightly so he could see the other’s expression.

Angel smiled down at him. ‘Wrong?’

‘You’re tense.’ He took Angel’s glass and helped himself—as lovers do—to the drink.  Angel took it back and set it down on step by the window. He turned back to Spike and put his hands onto the strong biceps.

‘I told you that I’d changed.’

Spike blushed and squirmed slightly. ‘Yeah. I kinda got the benefit of that this mornin’. Couldn’t sit down till coffee time—didn’t do me Big Bad image much good.’

‘I said it to you. I said it to myself. But it didn’t matter how much I said it—it didn’t really make it true.’

Spike frowned and looked down at the fingers increasing their grip on his arms. He pulled free. ‘What are you saying?’ High-pitched, he lowered his voice. ‘What the bloody hell are you…?’

‘It was all just words, Spike: changed; listening; trying not to judge—just words. Until today.’ He brought his face closer to Spike’s and kissed him on the forehead reverentially, then in a rush, booking no interruption, he said urgently, ‘Wesley told me about Leyland Jervis. I know he’s the employer you came back to L.A. with. You’ve been working for him for months. But I know you now, Spike. I took you last night and made you mine. So when he told me that you were still soulless, I trusted to my heart. For the first time, Spike, with you, I trusted what my heart told me. I know you are not evil. I felt you last night—from the inside.’

He grabbed hold of Spike’s arms and began to shake him gently. ‘I think you’re playing a dangerous game with the father to revenge the son’s death. That’s what I think, and I think it’s gonna get you killed.’ He snagged the smaller figure into his arms. ‘I’m gonna lose you, Spike. I’ve been able to think of nothing else since I found Wesley in my apartment.’

They didn’t speak for a long time, just rocking together in the sunlight. Angel ran his thumb erotically over Spike’s scalp. Spike stroked Angel’s naked back, occasionally dipping below the waistband and cupping the hard cheeks to pull them even closer. Finally, Angel whispered, ‘What are you thinking?’

Spike lifted his face and with a small smile replied, ‘I was thinkin’ ‘bout testing that change thing again—seein’ as it does appear you’ve had an epiphany….’

Angel hissed slightly and pushed Spike back onto the couch. ‘I could be staking you another way—if I’d believed Wesley.’

Spike grinned. ‘I think I like this way best.’ Angel ripped open the jeans and pulled them down around Spike’s thighs. He moaned with anticipation and slid down the willing body. Spike rubbed his fingers through the dark hair as Angel pulled Spike’s penis deep into his mouth, rolling it around until it hardened and stopped his game. It was still fun hard. He pulled off with tight lips, stretching the foreskin until Spike cried out with amused displeasure and dug nails into Angel’s scalp. Angel smiled and came up again, lying on Spike’s chest, watching him.

Spike flushed and looked away. ‘What? Poof.’

‘I’m glad I didn’t believe Wesley.’

‘Are you sure?’

‘Well, yeah. If I had, I wouldn’t be….’

‘No. I meant: are you sure—about me. Do you trust me?’

Angel quirked up an eyebrow. ‘I don’t know.’ He snaked out a hand and grabbed Spike between the legs. ‘I just don’t know. What could I do to extract a confession?’ He twisted and Spike, between laughing and suppressing a scream, tried to roll off the couch. Angel tutted and began to pull. ‘Would you confess under torture, demon?’ Spike retaliated the only way he could: he shoved a hand inside Angel’s pants and fastened onto something harder but just as vulnerable as Angel’s prize.

When Angel twisted, so did Spike. Neither wanted to admit defeat. Tears rolled down their faces with pain. Finally, Spike’s hand slipped on the copious stream of pre-come wetting Angel’s cock, and Angel pinned him down on the floor, leaning over him. ‘Confess.’



‘Ow! No!’


‘Bloody hell! I love you! There! That confession do? Happy?’

Angel lowered to Spike’s lips so slowly that their bodies had time to surge and swell in anticipation of the kiss. By the time their mouths joined, the air stank of sweat and need. Rolling on the sun-warmed wood, they kissed wetly and noisily, biting and nuzzling as much as they pushed lips to lips, sucked and licked and tasted. In the middle of a deep tongue exploration, Angel murmured, ‘I am,’ and felt Spike grin around the delayed reply.

Coming up for unnecessary air, legs entwined around each other, clothes strewn somewhere back by the couch, Spike pulled Angel’s hair and said hoarsely, ‘You stink of whisky. ‘S weird—kissin’, like.’

‘You stink of cigarettes. I’ve never kissed someone who smoked.’

‘Oh! No! I really am evil!’

Angel grinned. ‘Yeah,’ and they went back to kissing.

Men, their thoughts soon turned from foreplay to play, and Angel began to explore areas for fun: probing into Spike with his thumb, then two fingers, then heaving him up to his mouth to spread and examine him that way. Spike crawled free then turned on Angel, kissing him to the floor. With his face buried into Angel’s neck, his hands trembling on the hard flesh of Angel’s torso, he whispered, ‘I want you.’ He looked up, his eyes full of doubt and guilt and fear.

Angel caught him around the back of the neck, swirling his thumb over the seductive stubble, staring into the deeply troubled eyes. He nodded and felt some great emotion shudder through the slim form. Angel put his other hand up and held Spike’s face. ‘I’m yours already. When I think back to that night, all I remember is you telling me that you loved me.’

Angel knew that Spike knew he was lying—or bending the truth. But he also knew that Spike knew why. He saw gratitude for the lie in the blue eyes, some dissolution of guilt that even now haunted their perfect beauty. As Spike positioned himself over Angel, guiding his erection down between the strong legs, he whispered, ‘I do love you. I didn’t know how much until it all came flooding back in with my soul. It was like tasting it all again—in a rush. Overwhelming.’

Angel shifted slightly and put his hand down to help. ‘Slow!’

Spike nodded and slowed down, just pressing his cockhead against Angel’s tightly sealed anus. He looked up anxiously. ‘Maybe some lubrication or something?’  Angel jerked his hands out and caught him round the waist. ‘You’re not going anywhere.’

Spike smiled and dipped his head at the need in Angel’s voice, and on a small surge of courage, breeched his sire’s defences. They both made low rumbling sounds of intense pleasure in their throats. Spike stared down at the light brown ring stretched and smooth around him. ‘Oh.’

Angel lifted his hips and stretched back his neck, his eyes tightly closed. He was lost somewhere between fear and passion. And then Spike began to glide in and out with feather-light movements, more like a blessing than a fucking. Angel opened his eyes and the fear had gone. Breeched, he surrendered. He scrabbled on Spike’s back. ‘Faster.’

Spike grunted, seemingly lost in his own wonder at the tightness. He looked up at Angel’s ragged request and said softly, ‘Bloody hell, you’re so….’ He dipped his head, laughing. ‘You’re so beautiful.’

Angel pulled him down, wrapping his arms tightly around Spike’s back. They stared at each other without blinking for a long time until Angel flicked up an eyebrow. ‘Are you gonna….’

Spike nodded. ‘Patience. I want to do it right—.’ Angel heard the snapped off end and completed it for him.

‘This time?’

Spike nodded, swallowing a bad memory.

Angel smiled, lifted his legs and wrapped them around Spike’s back. ‘Seems to me you’re doing just fine.’ He tightened his legs, jerking Spike deep into his body. Spike hissed with pleasure and ground them together, hair and skin and leaking wetness rubbing between them. He put his immensely strong arms either side of Angel’s head. ‘How long you gonna be able to stand lying on the floor?’

‘As long as it takes.’

Spike nodded.

* * *

It took a very long time. The afternoon slipped away as Spike pleasured them both. Flooded in sunlight from the south-facing windows, the experience was bathed in light and warmth. Whenever Angel remembered this first time when someone else made love to him, he remembered it as a magical experience of bright, hot intensity.

Unbelievably to him, they talked quietly throughout. The things he’d wanted to say earlier, but had seemed incongruous, now seemed like oil to their slow lovemaking. This time, he did ask Spike what he liked, and touched where the sweating vampire wanted to be touched, licking and nuzzling where he wanted those soft kisses. These words, even more than the sex, decided something between them: something that would resonate down their eternities.

Spike’s arms flushed red as blood flooded into his aching muscles, but he lowered them only to kiss Angel’s mouth, keeping them otherwise taut and hard, flexing them to push his cock deep into Angel’s body.

It was not the first time, being men, that they had held back orgasms. It was the first time they’d delayed them for their own pleasure though. It made them laugh, watching the other for signs of weakness, competing even in this.

Finally, Angel surrendered the day as he had surrendered his body. He lifted himself up to Spike and said raggedly against his ear, ‘I need to come.’

Spike hissed and nodded, rubbing his face against Angel’s as he sped up. His muscles twitched with spasms of effort as he lifted and lowered and dipped into Angel’s body. Angel arched up to meet every thrust, and it stopped being a loving game between them. Now they were just men, pumped on testosterone and the aching need to release their seed. Spike began to pant, a harsh cry let out on every breath. Angel stretched his neck back, staring up into the high spaces, hearing Spike’s sexual energy releasing into every corner of their apartment. Then that energy released another way and filled more than just their home. All the empty spaces inside Angel filled with Spike.

They clasped each other, clawing red welts down pale, sweating flesh as their orgasms ripped through them. Harsh sounds of male ejaculation blended until they were one ragged scream, one jerking body, one flood of sperm.

Spike held out until the last drop left him, then his arms gave way. He crashed onto Angel’s solid body, splashing in the pool of sperm and sweat, tiny droplets flying from them and catching the last of the evening light.

Angel let his legs fall to the floor, and they thumped with a finality that made him wonder whether he would rise again.

He could almost feel their hearts pounding together in their chests, so disbelieving was he that that vestige of life had departed.  Something else pounded. Nothing in his body had ever throbbed after sex before. It was very pleasant. Different, but distinctly enjoyable.

Spike didn’t move, but he said in a lazy voice, ‘What’s so funny?’

‘How long did you say it took you to be able to sit down?’

Spike lifted his head and smiled shyly. Angel flicked his eyes toward the kitchen. ‘Hungry?’

Spike nodded and with some effort, rose to his feet. He offered Angel his hand. Angel put his out, and they danced their fingers together for a moment before clasping firmly.

Naked, covered in each other, they came together for a languid kiss. Angel could feel a trickle on his thighs: another unique sensation. He smiled into the kiss, and this time, Spike did not seem to need an explanation. He just put his hands down to the source of the trickle and stopped it.

There was a faint glimmer of interest from both of them, but Angel groaned and shook his head.  ‘I am well and truly….’ With a grin, not needing to complete his description, he bent and retrieved their pants. Spike accepted his jeans and held them loosely in one hand, watching Angel dress. ‘Are we gonna have the fight now or after the shower then?’

Angel straightened. ‘The fight about you and Leyland Jervis? And that you’re gonna get yourself killed?’

‘Yeah. That one.’

Angel went slowly toward the kitchen. ‘Hungry?’


Angel put two mugs on the counter then stopped and leant on it, his head lowered. ‘No. It’s your decision, Spike. I’m not your… keeper or your conscience. I tried that, and it nearly got us both killed.’

Spike came closer, close enough to touch Angel if he stretched out his hand. ‘You’re—. What? Going to just let me do this thing?’

Angel nodded.

Before Spike could speak again, Angel darted out one arm and pulled him into a hug. ‘Just be careful.’ Then he went back to making them something to eat.

Part III Chapter 2

Angel knew Spike was watching him. He could almost hear the gears grinding in his childe’s brain. Spike pulled on his jeans; he fiddled with the keys he’d dropped earlier. Angel heated blood and poured it into the mugs. He handed Spike one and took his to the den, sitting extremely cautiously on the couch. He stretched his legs onto the coffee table and tipped his head back, cupping the warm blood loosely in his lap.

He sensed Spike come closer, felt the couch depress, and heard the television switch on. Very slowly, Angel rose and fetched his cell phone, then settled back down, cross-legged on the couch and phoned Wesley. From the position he’d chosen, he could see Spike’s profile in the periphery of his vision without actually giving away that he was watching him. The face was troubled, thoughtful, and that suited Angel just fine.


‘It’s me.’

‘Where are you?’


‘Have you…?’

‘He’s here.’

‘Bloody hell! Are you…?’

‘It’s fine, Wes. He’s fine. I’ll explain tomorrow, but call the others and tell them he’s… fine.’

‘All right. Are you…?’

‘Yeah, I’m sure.’

‘I was going to say okay.’

‘I’m that, too. I’m….’ He allowed his heart to wallow in Spike’s presence, concentrated on some delightful throbbing and added, ‘I’m more than okay. I’ll see you tomorrow.’  He clicked off the phone and dropped it onto the couch, stretching out his legs. He watched the channels being flicked randomly.

He sipped his blood; he dwelt on very pleasant thoughts. It took longer than he’d expected, but finally, he heard a forced, ‘So, if I, like, asked for some help—.’

Spike didn’t get to finish: it was too hard to laugh and kiss and talk at the same time, so one out of the three had to go.  Angel stretched back, and Spike lay on him, their lips aching from earlier swelling as they ground them together. ‘You bastard.’

Angel nodded and kissed him some more.

‘How long would you have held out?’

Angel grinned and talked with his tongue deep in Spike’s mouth. ‘As long as it took.’

Spike sank his head resignedly on Angel’s chest. ‘I’d met Leyland a few times—with Ben. He liked me—thought I was good for the kid, which I was, but not in the way he thought. I think he liked the idea that an infamous vampire, William the Bloody, was consorting with his son. He never got the souled thing. I guess humans can’t. He had a soul, but he was evil, so I guess it’s kinda understandable he didn’t get mine. He thought I was helping make Ben evil. So, when Ben died, it was easy to go to him.’

‘You told him you were unsouled, and he just believe you?’ Wesley’s story of Spike’s excesses flicked through Angel’s mind and here, lying on this couch with Spike in his arms, Angel didn’t feel quite so bold hearing about them.

Spike nodded and lifted his head, propping it on one hand. Idly, not unnoticed by Angel, he played with Angel’s right nipple. He lowered his eyes. ‘I was a bit of a mess anyway. You know, with the….’ Frowning deeply, he managed to say the word for the first time, ‘Rape.’

Angel put his hand to where Spike’s fingers were pleasuring him and joined in. Spike smiled and continued, ‘So, it wasn’t hard to act a little crazy.’

‘Did you… do anything you regret now?’ Please, say no.

‘Nah.’ Spike didn’t seem to feel the immediate easing of tension throughout Angel’s body. ‘All his associates are as evil as he is, so some of the things I did I see as my civic duty. Sort of. Do we really have to talk about this?’

Angel shook his head. ‘Tell me what you’re planning to do.’

‘Well, that’s the problem. That’s what’s been puzzling at me since I got back to L.A.’

‘How to kill him?’

Spike raised his eyes. ‘No. How not to.’

Angel’s fingers stilled, but after a moment, he trailed them up Spike’s bare arm. ‘Not to?’

‘Yeah. See, I kinda got to thinking about redemption….’


Spike sped up, now clearly having no problem sensing Angel’s tension. ‘Well, yeah, sure. I mean you didn’t give up on me, did you, even though I hurt you—.’


Even faster now, ‘An’ it occurred to me that he’s only sold his soul—promised it to the devil when he’s dead. He still has it, and it can be bought back.’ Desperate now, seeing the darkness in Angel’s expression, ‘Cus it’s not right! If he dies, he burns for all eternity, Angel. Why? That can’t be right in any notion of goodness. Everyone should have the chance to change. Like I did. It took me a hundred years, Angel, but I did. I wanted to be a good man again. He could. He could be like me, only he’s not got a hundred years.’

Angel finally got a word in and thought he’d chosen some effective ones. ‘You are unique, Spike—a one-off.’

The genuine smile Spike flashed him gave Angel as much pleasure as anything else they’d done that day. He cuffed the smaller vampire affectionately. ‘Wanna take this to the bed? It’s kinda uncomfortable here.’

‘I’m okay. I’m lying on something very soft and comfy.

Never having been called comfy, and not sure he liked it (despite the changes he purported to be undergoing), Angel grunted and flipped Spike to the floor. ‘Bed.’

‘It’s only eight!’

‘I’m an early riser.’ Leaving this floating ambiguously in the air, Angel began to climb up to the bedroom.

By the time Spike joined him, he was sitting naked on the side of the bed.

Spike frowned at the flaking on the smooth skin. ‘Shower, maybe?’

Angel lay back and twitched the sheet up. ‘Nah. I like it. What?’

‘You have bloody changed.’

Angel began to laugh. ‘You say that now? After I let you inside my body for about four hours, you say that now. Just get in, will you?’

Whether this had been a neat tactic to smooth over the potential awkwardness of climbing into bed together, Angel didn’t let on. It worked that way, coincidentally or not. Spike kicked off his jeans and climbed into the same bed as if they’d been doing it all their lives. He even picked up his tale, as Angel had intended, without seeming to find it incongruous that he was speaking now only to the top of Angel’s head. Unable to comment on Spike’s recitation, his mouth otherwise occupied, Angel contented himself with the occasional nod, or a squeeze of his hand on a smooth thigh while he sucked.

With only a slight hitch in his voice, Spike continued, ‘I want to help him, Angel. Like I was trying to help Ben. For Ben, I guess, in some weird….’ Swallowing deeply, he paused. Angel eased off the intensity of his sucking, and Spike continued a little shakily, ‘In some weird way, I feel I’m helping Ben again. He would have liked the idea of his old man being saved, I think. He sort of loved him, in his own way. Despite the things that bastard did to him….’

Angel thought Spike had just paused, but when he did not continue, he eased his mouth off the shining cock, watching with avid fascination as a trail of his saliva mixed with a far more potent bead of fluid from the red tip and hung like a delicate chain between them. He licked his lips and said distractedly, ‘Why not just leave him be, Spike. Give him the same chance as the rest of us to repent. That’s kinda how it’s supposed to work, ya know? Repent or go to hell.’

Spike cupped him round the back of the neck and replaced him. ‘I know. I thought about that. But, see, it’s got a bit more complicated since we came back to L.A.’

Angel pulled off and sat up.

Spike held his gaze.


Spike nodded. ‘He wants you. He knows ‘bout your part in Ben’s death. Some of it. See… I’m the only one standing between you and him now. Well, me an’ a healthy fear of Wolfram and Hart. You’re CEO of the evil empire, Angel—that still means something even to someone like Jervis.’

‘You’re still involved with him because of me? To protect me?’

Spike nodded.

‘I can take care of myself, Spike. You know that.’

‘I know I do—in my head. But the knowing isn’t important now. I need to feel it—in my heart. In my heart, I don’t know it at all. In my heart, I’m scared for you.’

As Angel felt exactly the same about Spike, he couldn’t really argue this. He watched his thumb slide over the exposed tip of Spike’s penis, dipping it inside the soft foreskin. He had the bizarre image of them both climbing in there somehow and staying safe together, away from all the endless horror of their lives.  Spike put both hands to the back of Angel’s neck and shook him slightly. ‘If he threatens a hair on your head, Angel, I’ll kill him—even if that sends him to hell and suffering for eternity.’

‘What about a hair somewhere else?’

Spike snorted. ‘There, too. More so, maybe. I’m getting kinda fond of all your parts.’

Distracting themselves with kissing was too new a delight to be dismissed lightly. Angel could still not take in that not only could he make himself feel better by doing this, but that he was doing this with Spike, who was usually the one he needed to make himself feel better from. Kissing in the bed was a great deal more fun than doing it on the hard floor. They rolled and fought for mastery, laughing and cursing when the fighting hurt.

It was clear from Spike’s expression what he wanted, where his fight was going, but when Angel winced at the touch of the hard cockhead, Spike sighed and very slowly turned himself around. The invitation—the stretched pale cheeks, the darker centre—almost made Angel lose the load that stiffened his cock and made his balls stretched and heavy. He wrapped an arm around Spike’s waist and slid into his body. ‘Uhhh.’ It was incoherent, but it was heartfelt, and Spike smiled, clearly pleased by Angel’s response to the feel of his body.

This time, neither of them wanted it slow and gentle. Angel lay heavily over Spike’s back, humping his need deep into the slim body until it began to quiver. When Angel felt that deep internal orgasm wrap around him like vibrating steel, his kicked in with a rush that made him cry out in ecstasy. They bucked and shuddered and drained their bodies until, spent, Angel grunted softly, extracted his cock and lay exhausted to one side of the motionless body. When nothing interesting was forthcoming from Spike, Angel said gently, ‘Sleep on it. Problems will still be there in the morning.’

Spike snorted with faint amusement. ‘That’s not how it’s supposed to go.’

Angel sighed and heaved him into a loose embrace for sleeping. ‘It always seems to in my world.’

Part III Chapter 3

‘You asleep?’

Angel nodded against the warm shoulder.

‘’S bit weird, innit?’

Angel made good on his claim, staying silent, until he was nudged in the ribs. ‘Innit?’



‘We are not cuddling.’

‘Uh huh.’

‘So, what do y’call it then? If it’s not cuddling. Angel? What do you…?’

‘We’re vampires.’

‘Since when?’

‘Go to sleep.’


‘Why not?’

‘Cus. It’s too… weird.’

‘Do you want to sleep on the couch, maybe?’

When no reply was forthcoming, Angel grinned evilly into the smooth body, pulled it closer and began to fall back into the dream he’d been on verge of exploring.

Silent restlessness now began with an inordinate amount of thrashing and kicking.



Angel sighed. ‘You’re not gonna lose me, Spike. You’ve not been able to do it for the last hundred years, so why now? He can’t hurt me. Relax and go to sleep.’

* * *

‘What are we doing, Angel?’

‘I’m sleeping and you’re being irritating.’

‘Why does this feel weird but so… totally right?’

Angel gave in, released Spike from his embrace and turned onto his back, folding his arms under his head.

Spike gave him a small glance. ‘It does, yeah? Feel right to you….’

Angel smiled into the moon-streaked darkness. ‘Yeah.’

After a few moments of silent contemplation of this enormity, he added, ‘I didn’t do this with Buffy.’

‘Well, bloody hell. I should hope not!’

‘I didn’t mean… that! I mean… this… lying afterwards, talking. I fell asleep. Next thing I knew, I was Angelus.’

Spike turned onto his side, his back a rigid barrier between them. ‘Being as she was the only true love of your life.’

Angel turned him back. Forcibly. ‘She was. But she was only that, Spike.’ He propped himself up on his elbow. ‘I didn’t talk afterwards because I couldn’t… talk. Had nothing much to say. A hundred thousand fucks compared to her one. Not much in common there. This feels right because you’re so much more than she could ever be—for either of us. I turned you to have a companion… a mirror, perhaps. Despite his darkness, Angelus had this almost human need to just have a… buddy.’

‘Tendrils of soul. I told you.’

Angel fell back onto the bed. ‘I know. I’ve been thinking about that since you said it: Dru with her dolls; Darla with her passion for life. You. Me. We were a pretty human demonic family in many ways.’

‘Remind me never to meet Angelus when he’s being all demon then, Mate.’

Angel hesitated then confessed, ‘I did. In another dimension—Lorne’s home. Pylea. I was pure demon there, despite my soul… to spite it, it felt like.’ He turned onto his side, his back to Spike and said gruffly, ‘Go to sleep now.’

He felt Spike hesitate, but then strong arms wrapped protectively around him, one snaking across his chest, one under his waist. ‘Don’t worry, Pet. Only demon I’m gonna let you turn into is that sex-fiend I enjoyed a while back. Go to sleep, and stop all this late night yammering. Ain’t good for ya.’

Angel felt the dark despondency of his memories lift from him, and instead of tumbling into fearful nightmares, he carried a grin into bright dreams full of nonsense and sunshine. 

* * *

Waking was novel. For the first time in over a hundred years, Angel woke with an erection he didn’t have to take care of himself. It was as quick as that—this thought that dashed rapier-like into his otherwise sleepy brain—I’m hard: Spike’s here.

They had turned in the night, and he was now wrapped around Spike’s bony backbone. Spike was still deeply asleep in the warm hollow they had made of the bed.

Angel slid his hand down to where the bones ended, then further into the warm, smooth crevice. There was no evidence that he’d been there before: no slack or moistness. It was as tight and inviolate as it would be every morning and every night and all the times in between. He licked a finger slowly, wetting it in his mouth, easing it over his lips and back down to Spike’s hole. Closing his eyes, he massaged the entrance in small circles. Images seeped up from deep recesses, given freedom by the warmth and comfort and the dreamlike quality of this waking. He took Spike in offices, over desks, pressed to walls, with an audience, till he cried out, till he came. Then he took him outside and fucked him in alleyways and parking lots and over the hood of the car. His finger slipped inside, and he took him on his back in the rain. He swirled it around hot walls and thumped into him naked in the sunshine. Sometimes, Spike responded, and Angel filled his mind with that well-known voice; sometimes, he was silent and obedient, and Angel liked that just as well.  He withdrew his finger and made Spike beg for it: had him crawl, had him cry.

He fumbled a hold on his cock, his hand shaking with need. A stream of fluid ran from him as it had three hundred years ago: a teenager waking with raging need.

Spreading one hand on Spike’s hard belly, he pressed in. Fantasies merged: a rain-slick hood, crying, being watched.

Spike shifted, half-waking, saying something incoherent. Angel tied him down in the rain, and that was even better.

Sleep departed on the hardness of the entry, on the slickness of Spike’s ass, on the warmth of the waking movements beneath him. He levered over the slim figure, panting as he dipped his dick in the tight depths of Spike’s body.

Spike thrashed against the bindings and opened his mouth to pouring rain.

He had felt nothing like it. He bounced them both on the new mattress as he plunged and rocked, plunged and rocked and then there was nothing but where they were: their apartment, their bed—them. He opened his eyes and reality was better than fantasy. Spike bowed his supple back. His legs spread wide, inviting Angel into his body. His face was contorted with the pleasure of the thick, hard invasion. Angel put a hand to the back of Spike’s head, caressing the soft, downy hair. Spike’s hand flew back. He grabbed Angel’s wrist, and gently, but inexorably pulled him down, bare chest meeting naked back, skin shivering with the delight of touching familial skin.

Angel’s breath now brushed the hair at the back of Spike’s neck. His lips hovered, wanting to bite and carry this prize back to his lair.  Hard, downward thumps became long, dipped upward slides of ecstasy. Each slide rubbed his nipples against Spike’s back; nerves flared and sizzled with pleasure: tiny pinpricks of delight compared to the explosive power building in his loins. His movements almost stopped. He hung, just jerking tiny rigid quivers into the tight rectum. Walls gripped his cockhead, teasing to the very end, until his entire groin flooded with uncontrollable pleasure. He arched back, neck stretched, hand trembling on Spike’s neck, as if he tried to hold onto something for fear of slipping entirely away on the intensity of this ejaculation.

Dimly, somewhere in the bright fireworks of Angel’s mind, he felt Spike shuddering beneath him, smelt a release that could not be his: implanted as his was so deep in Spike’s body that neither of them would ever forget where the true possession lay.

Spike was still quivering when Angel lay heavily on him. He slid his hand around to a soaking patch on the sheet, coating his fingers in its potency. Very carefully, he eased his dick out of Spike and replaced it with the sticky fingers. If he pushed high, he could mingle their seed.

Spike felt good from the inside, wet and stretched, so Angel left his fingers there and drifted back to sleep.

Spike, he knew, had already returned to that welcoming realm, and Angel’s only regret as he tipped over the brink was that he could not join Spike in his dreams.

* * *

Most of the morning passed them by. So entangled, so warm, neither made the effort required to actually wake up. There seemed little motivation, given that that had all they wanted exactly where they were.

At lunchtime, the phone began to ring. It went on longer than Angel stayed awake to listen to it, so when he woke a couple of hours later and it was still ringing, he assumed it had not stopped in between. Suddenly worried, he turned from the other sleeping figure, stared at freed fingers for a moment then fumbled for the phone. ‘Yuh?’



‘Are you…? I was wondering if you were coming in. We’ve cancelled a couple of meetings already….’

‘I—. Yeah. I’m on my way.’

‘All right then. Sorry to disturb you.’

Angel replaced the handset and rolled onto his back.

‘You going in?’

He turned at the enquiry and found a pair of blue eyes fixed on him. He nodded his reply. Spike sat up. ‘I’ve got stuff to do, too.’


Spike stared ahead at nothing for a while then said softly, ‘You were right: problem’s still there.’ He swung his legs out of bed and stood up.

Angel lunged and caught his wrist.

Spike laughed. ‘If we don’t get up….’


‘Angel! I’m feelin’ kinda overused….’

Angel pulled him closer and, staring up through lowered lids, examined this claim with one insistent finger. Spike hissed and tipped his head back.

Angel pulled his finger out. ‘You’re… fine.’


‘Please….’ Spike relented with a little too much eagerness to give his earlier denial any weight. They kissed for a while as Angel worked himself to full hardness, then with a firm grip eased back into Spike. He closed his eyes on the intense pleasure and breathed a soft, ‘Oh, yeah.’

Spike stretched his arms on the bed, then pushed up, arching his back, tensing the muscles in his buttocks, flexing them to Angel’s thrusting. Angel knew it wouldn’t take long. He was bursting with need to come once more in this slim body. He stroked over the bony spine, ran his hands across the prominent shoulder blades, trickled his fingers over hard biceps then held firm to hipbones and humped, lifting them off the bed with the power of his fucking.

Spike came before he did, nosily into the sheets, his neck stretched so far back that the tendons vibrated with the cry.

Angel tipped his face to the sunlight and let his seed flood into the hot, trembling body, urging it out with tiny, jerky movements that rubbed his cockhead against Spike’s insides and squashed his balls to the stretched, bruised perineum.

With a final grunt of satisfaction, Angel lay down on Spike and felt arms come back and wrap awkwardly around his waist. He slid his hands up to clasp Spike’s head and twisted him around for a kiss. It was too uncomfortable, so with a groan of reluctance, he pulled out and allowed Spike to turn over.

Spike blinked slowly, his eyelashes fanning his cheekbones. ‘I don’t ever want to leave this bed.’

Angel smiled and propped his head up on one hand. He played idly with Spike’s closest nipple. ‘I think Wesley might have something to say about that.’

‘He’s not your conscience.’

‘That’s exactly what he is.’

‘Bummer. How come you get an uptight, virgin Head Boy as your conscience?’

Angel flicked his eyes up briefly then lowered them once more to his game.

‘What?’ Spike prodded him. ‘What?’

‘I was going to say that I love you.’

‘Oh. And you didn’t cus…?’

‘What would you have said if I did say it?’

‘I’m not sure.’

‘That’s why then. I have to shower.’

‘Might be good before you hit the office, yeah.’

Angel slapped him affectionately and clambered off. It felt strange to be upright, but he put it down to being considerably lighter then when he’d gone to bed.

Spike was eyeing the sheets and said casually, ‘Just as well you’re a poof and like laundry.’

Angel, staring at the clock and trying to work out where he’d lost an hour since Wesley’s call, only half-heard this. Later, in the car driving into the office, something about it nagged distractingly at him, but he couldn’t pin down what it was. Pinning Spike down was such an easy reach from that thought that he was soon distracted again and occupied himself pleasantly with thoughts of Spike, helpless and wriggling beneath him, until he reached the office.

As he lowered into his chair, he buzzed through to Wesley. ‘Leyland Jervis. I want everything we have on him. Now.’

Part III Chapter 4

Fred eyed the contract that lay on the conference table and wrinkled her nose. Gunn slid it back, closer to the folder he’d just extracted it from, but it was clear from his expression that he felt much the same about it as she did.

Wesley sat quietly with his hands tented under his chin, watching his colleagues.

Angel had Spike stretched and willing in front of a softly crackling fire, so he wasn’t doing anything much.

Fred sighed. ‘How insane would you have to be to promise yourself to fire and damnation for all eternity for a few shiny baubles in the here and now?’

‘Hardly a few shiny baubles.’

Gunn nodded at Wesley’s soft comment. ‘He has a business empire stretching across three continents.’

Angel suddenly looked up. He kept Spike interested with a judiciously placed finger but said with the other half of his brain, ‘What did you just say?’

Gunn began to repeat his comment, but Angel shook his head. ‘No. Fred. You said something about being insane….’

Wesley’s head turned sharply to him, and a spark of familiar understanding passed between them. He shot a look at Gunn. ‘Legal precedence for a plea of insanity to void a previously blinding contract.’

Gunn tapped his fingers on the desk. ‘To sign away his soul, he must be insane. If he’s insane, he can’t….’

‘Be held to a contract.’ Angel slammed his hand onto the table. ‘We drew up the damn contract, Gunn. See if you can find a precedent and apply it.’

Gunn was out of the door before Angel could finish. Angel nodded at Fred. ‘Good work.’ She blushed and followed after Gunn.

Wesley pulled the contract toward him thoughtfully.

Angel watched the expression in his eyes. ‘You’re not convinced?’

‘It’s not that so much as—. You do know, of course, that when we loosely talk of the devil, we’re applying a childish terminology to something we can’t comprehend. There’s no red, scaly figure with horns and a pitchfork—that’s our way of trying to make sense of the concept of ultimate evil.’

‘I was there, Wes. You’re kinda preaching to the converted.’

‘Quite. Well, you see, we didn’t just broker the best deal for Jervis. We—.’


‘Represented the other side as well—so to speak.’

‘We’re the devil’s lawyers?’

‘As I said: not in such simplistic terms. But, yes, we also represent the forces with which Jervis signed his contract.’


‘So, they… stir. I have recorded a significant increase in dark energy since Gunn signed this out of records.’

‘Is it a threat?’

‘Not yet. But I suspect they will attempt to fight us if we try to queer their pitch.’

‘Let them.’

‘Just so you are aware.’ He nodded at his friend and followed the other two out.

* * *

Angel sat for a long time at the table.

He hated it: the legalese, the shenanigans—as his mother would have termed them. This wasn’t the way of heroes: this easing around truths, bending morality, being… lawyers. He worked from fixed truths, concepts of right and wrong that had enabled him to survive this long century: an anachronism in a world of fluid morality.

He wanted what he once had—certainty.

He wanted what he had once been—a champion.

Suddenly, he thrust to his feet, the chair falling to the ground. He thumped the table. Pumped on the excessive testosterone that his body had been producing for other reasons over the last twenty-four hours, he strode to his desk and punched the intercom. ‘Harmony. I want a limo—biggest we own. I want a driver—uniformed. Ready in ten minutes.’

‘Sure, Boss.’

It was time to be what he had once been. It was time to kick some ass.

* * *

They purred up to the front door of the mansion. If his presence had caused surprise when he’d announced it at the gate, there was no evidence of this in the expression of the goon who opened the door to him.

He strode in and waited to be shown which way to go, not surprised at the evidence of great wealth in everything he saw: you didn’t sell your soul to the devil for a dime.

Jervis was tending a small potted plant in a majestic living room and turned at Angel’s entrance. ‘I’m truly flattered that the CEO of such a—.’

‘Cut the crap, Jervis. We both know why I’m here.’

Jervis nodded to the man, and the doors were shut on them. He waved at a chair and sat down himself. Angel was looking at Ben—a couple of decades of evil later, but it was still the striking features of the son that looked serenely back at him. ‘So, Angel, what can I do for you? Or have you come to do something for me? I confess, I’m confused.’

Angel’s senses stretched out like fingers of need trying to find Spike in the house. He smiled at the human. ‘How’s the evil thing going for you, Leyland?’

The man smiled back, but there was no warmth in the look. ‘It has its moments, but I don’t think you’ve come here to discuss me.’

‘On the contrary. That’s exactly what I’m here for. I have a proposition to put to you.’

‘I’m listening.’

‘We need to put our enmity to one side. You know that I know that the idea of you wanting revenge on me for your son’s death is nothing more than a fairytale… so to speak.’

An expression flashed quickly across the man’s eyes almost before Angel could read it. He saw enough though—as he had suspected, this powerful man had known about his sons preferences and despised them—possibly despised him. He pressed his advantage. ‘He died. People die. There’s a bigger picture.’

‘You are mistaken about my feelings for my son. I was… am… distraught that I lost him.’ The words were too easily said, too quickly passed over for Angel to believe their veracity. He nodded though, acknowledging the pain, lying, as was required by the shallow courtesies of the moment. ‘So, why are you here?’

‘As I said, I’ve come to make you an offer. I run the L.A. Branch of Wolfram and Hart, as you know.’

Jervis nodded.

‘It’s a heavy responsibility. I’m thinking of taking on a partner.’

‘Interesting. You have colleagues though.’

‘Humans, yes.’

‘You have a vampire working for you.’

Angel’s expression of bored superiority didn’t flicker. ‘I had. I think I lost him to you somewhere along the way. Child for child. It seemed a fair exchange.’

‘I like William. He’s been a great comfort to me in my… grief.’

Once more, Angel nodded. ‘So, I return to my offer: I need a partner—someone I can trust. Someone with business acumen. But mainly, someone who has enough power of his own that the almost incalculable power that I have access to won’t… corrupt him.’ As he had anticipated, he saw an unmistakable glimmer of greed in the human’s eyes.

Jervis crossed his legs elegantly. ‘What would I get out of this deal? As you say, I already have all the power and money I could possibly spend in one lifetime. I don’t need anything you have to offer.’

Angel smiled inwardly, triumph so close he could almost taste it. ‘Exactly. One lifetime.’ He crossed his legs, too, only more elegantly and studied a perfectly manicured nail.

The silence stretched out into all the corners of the enormous room. Angel heard a clock ticking somewhere in the hallway, the faint sounds of voices, which he didn’t want to concentrate on in case he heard the one he could not afford to hear just now. Finally, the man stood up and said politely, ‘I’m sorry. I haven’t offered you any refreshment.’

Angel looked up at him through lowered lids. ‘I don’t need refreshment.’

This caused a twitch of greed in the man’s features that Angel’s more direct reference to his status had not. Angel honed in on his prey. ‘I can give you the one thing your money and power can’t buy, Jervis: buy-in to the most powerful demon bloodline in the known world.’

‘The House of Aurelius.’ He did a bad job of hiding his interest.

‘More powerful than you can dream of. Never growing old. I’m three hundred years old, Leyland. I wake up each day with the unaging body of a twenty seven year old man. I don’t need to eat or worry about my health. I stride this world like a God, and no one can defeat me.’

‘You live in the dark and drink blood.’

Angel acknowledged this, but added subtly, ‘Technology extends my range. I live in the sunshine now. And why do I feel that I’m not the only one in this room who draws pleasure from blood?’

Leyland smiled. ‘You seriously come here and offer to—what? Bite me? Make me your….’


‘I don’t believe you. You have a soul.’

Angel twitched up his eyebrow. ‘I run Wolfram and Hart, human. That’s how much soul I have. Souls are for saps and minions. I’m a frigging hero!’ He let arrogance and ambition obscure the moment and knew that the man would not see through this device.

‘How would we do it?’ The hook was in. Angel began to reel.

‘I like ceremony as much as the next demon.’

‘Ritual sacrifice and chanting?’

Angel laughed. ‘I’ve not enjoyed a virgin for a very long time.’

‘They’re hard to come by in this city. I will think about what you’ve said.’

‘Think about what?’ Spike came in through a door behind Angel and sauntered up to the human, flinging himself into the couch next to him. Angel kept his eyes fastened on the man, but could not help but see the shock that registered on Spike’s face. It was gone as swiftly as it had come, and in a very genuine snarl, Spike said, ‘What the fucking hell are you doing here?’

‘Manners, William. Angel is a guest in my house.’

‘Angel is a….’ He didn’t finish this but rummaged with shaking hands for a cigarette, averting his gaze from either of them.

Jervis watched him for a moment then turned back to Angel. ‘I toyed with destroying him after what you did to Ben.’

Angel shrugged. ‘I wish you luck of that then. I’ve been trying for a hundred years.’

The man looked interested. ‘You hate each other that much.’

Angel turned his gaze on Spike and waited patiently until the vampire looked up. ‘Spike and I have an understanding. He knows exactly where he stands with me.’

Spike blinked slowly, and when his eyes reopened, Angel saw what he was desperate to see. He felt an immense weight lift from his shoulders, although all his audience saw was an uncrossing of his legs, once more with languid elegance.

‘Would you like to stay to dinner, Mr Angel?’

‘It’s just Angel.’

‘I would like some time to think over your offer.’

‘What offer?’ Spike’s gaze was fixed on Jervis, but Angel could tell that he was having a struggle not to turn that intensity on him.  Jervis patted his knee fondly and stood up. ‘I have some business to take care of. I’m sure you and Angel can find things to talk about.’ He turned to Angel. ‘Feel free to enjoy my hospitality. I think you will find some things in the house that will interest you.’

Angel bowed his head in agreement then said softly, ‘My offer won’t be open indefinitely, Jervis. I have other candidates in mind who might bring me more… advantages… than you.’

Jervis paused by Angel’s chair. ‘I’ll give you your answer tonight.’

He left, closing the door quietly behind him. As soon as it shut, Angel sprang to his feet, but when he saw Spike’s expression he diverted from his intended course and went to stand by the fireplace. He concentrated on what Spike was trying silently to tell him then flicked his gaze to the corners of the room. Cameras. He had not observed them before. He looked back at Spike and said carefully, ‘I see we understand each other very well.’

Spike relaxed visibly.

Angel ran his hand over one of the elegant statutes on the mantel. ‘How’s the no soul thing going for you then, Spike?’ Angel could sense Spike’s confusion. Unsure why his sire was here, or what deal he appeared to be making with his boss, he didn’t know how to play his hand in this dangerous game.

He opted for a neutral reply. ‘I’m getting along. Why are you here then?’

Angel raised an eyebrow. ‘I got tired of playing lawyer.’


‘Everyone falls for the I’m-so-souled story, Spike. Sometimes you just need to… live a little, yeah? So, tell me, when are you going to get your ass back to work?’ He kept his face entirely neutral.

Spike bit his lip, trying not to smile at the double meaning in this. Before he could compose a suitable reply, the door opened and Jervis re-entered. Angel suspected that he had been listening and possibly watching them from another room. He had lost some of his underlying suspicion. Putting a hand on Angel’s arm, he said pleasantly, ‘I’d like some of my colleagues to meet you. Come.’

Angel followed the man toward the door and didn’t give Spike another glance, ignoring him as effectively as if he were just any vampire without a soul.

Part III Chapter 5

Angel did a bad job of stifling a yawn—deliberately. Unable to hide his disgust at Jervis’s friends in a more effective way, he’d adopted feigned ennui: studying his nails, yawning discretely every so often and never hearing the thread of conversation when asked for his opinion. In reality, he had learnt many useful things about the true power in his city and had filed away names and faces to pick over with Wesley later.

The men around the table did not look particularly evil. Like Jervis, they wore the masks of business or family men as they discussed their machinations. They were intrigued by Angel’s presence, and he tried not to let the flattery of their obsequious deference to his power seep beneath the mask he wore.

Beneath his studied languor, he watched Jervis. Something about the man puzzled him. It wasn’t what Spike appeared to have seen: some desire for redemption. Far from it. To Angel it appeared that the man was corrupt. He thought, once again, of Jasmine and what he had finally seen beneath her perfect features. He couldn’t literally see maggots in Jervis’s eye sockets, but nevertheless, something wriggled inside the man just outside the periphery of Angel’s perception.

Jervis caught this final yawn and smiled. ‘Perhaps you’d like to rest before dinner.’ He pressed a buzzer, and a thickset man appeared at the door. ‘Show Mr Angel some suitable rooms—in the lower part of the house.’ He stood up and waited for Angel to do likewise. ‘Many of my guests have shared your unique status, and I have a number of rooms in a more… shady… part of the house.’

Angel nodded his thanks and followed the man out.

The house was enormous, and they wandered down a number of hallways until reaching a set of elegant stairs sweeping down to another hallway that was lit artificially.

Once down, the man leading Angel pushed open a door and waved at the interior. ‘You need anything?’

Angel let his eyes stray to the man’s neck. ‘You offering?’

‘Shit!’ The door was slammed on Angel’s laughter.

He sat on the edge of the bed then lay back slowly. He felt tired. Tired and possibly trapped—he wondered what he was doing. Why wasn’t he in his safe, comfortable office letting Gunn tie the man up in legalese? Why was he here making ridiculous deals with a man who made deals with the devil? Angel was damned if he knew. He was probably damned anyway.

The door opened and shut. He heard it lock. He opened his eyes. Spike leant back on the door, his hands wrapped around the handle. ‘What the fuck are you doing here?’

Angel glanced around the room, but Spike waved his hand dismissively. ‘We’re okay down here.’

‘Then come here.’

‘I want to know what you’re doing.’

‘Come here, and I’ll tell you.’

‘No. If I come there there’ll be very little talking, and you know it.’

‘We can talk.’

‘Not with our mouths full we can’t.’

Angel sighed. ‘It’s a plan.’

‘Oh, bloody hell. Wesley doesn’t know about whatever this is, does he? This is some harebrained thing you’ve thought up cus you were panicked about me.’

Angel was about to deny this—vociferously—but instead he flung an arm over his eyes. ‘I think I’ve fucked up.’

He heard Spike coming close—standing between his thighs.  He reiterated. ‘I’ve really fucked up.’ Spike crawled slowly over him, straddling his chest. ‘Have I discovered a flaw in my previously perfect lover?’

Angel lifted his eyebrows in wonder. ‘You think I’m perfect?’

‘I think you think you should be.’

Angel wasn’t too sure how to reply to that. He pouted and put an arm over his eyes once more.

Spike chuckled and leant down, brushing Angel’s lips with his own, peering seductively under the arm. ‘I don’t think I’ve ever loved you more—and you kinda know by now just how much I do love you.’

Angel half-smiled back. ‘I think I wanted to burst in, ya know? Rescue you—have you call my name.’

Spike dug him painfully in the ribs at these echoes of his sentiments. Rising up in pain at the attack, their lips met—as they’d both intended them to. It was the sweetest kiss Angel could remember sharing with anyone, but all too soon, Spike eased off, licking lips wet with borrowed saliva. He murmured, ‘Tell me this plan.’

Angel pursed his lips and ran a finger over Spike’s. ‘No.’

‘No? Bloody hell. That bad, huh?’

‘No! It’s a good plan. But I need your reactions to be… natural.’

Spike flung himself off and lay next to Angel on the bed. ‘I wish I’d just killed him now when I had the chance.’

‘Then he’d always be between us.’

‘I’m gonna lose you.’

‘He’s not that….’

‘Maybe not Leyland. Maybe not this year or this decade or even this century. But one day, I’ll lose you. Maybe it would be better not to… begin.’

‘Bit late for that.’

They turned their heads and regarded each other briefly before turning back to stare at the ceiling.

‘I’m not easy to kill.’

‘One time when you fuck up, Angel; one moment when all your great strength and cunning will fail—that’s all it will take.’

‘Way to go to cheer me up.’

‘Tell me this plan!’


‘You know it’s such crap that I’ll try to talk you out of it!’

‘No!’ He knew Spike knew that this was exactly why he didn’t want to tell him. After a few moments of feeling sorry for himself he said petulantly, ‘We could be doing something more fun than lying here arguing.’

‘We’re not arguing.’

‘Oh.’ He stretched out his hand and spread his fingers over Spike’s zipper. ‘Interesting.’

‘I’m not fucking with you here, Angel.’

Angel turned his head once more. ‘You think of it as fucking?’

Spike pouted then shook his head briefly. ‘But I’m still not doing it here. That’s… not for here.’

Angel liked the implication of this too much to argue and, with a sigh, withdrew his hand.

‘I’d better go. They’ll come for you soon.’



‘Oh, yeah. Shit, I didn’t bring anything to wear.’

Spike sat up. ‘And he worries about his clothes. Things don’t change much in your little world, do they Angelus?’

Angel felt a twitch of humour on his lips. ‘Seems to me they’ve changed a lot recently.’

Spike suddenly twisted around and held Angel’s jaw. ‘If you get one hair on your head—or elsewhere—damaged tonight, you’ll be in trouble. Do you hear me?’

Angel nodded obediently. When Spike let go, he said hopefully, ‘We could pretend we were home….’

Spike’s eyes drifted down to distorted front of Angel’s pants. A flicker of something almost painfully intense lit his eyes. Angel actually felt Spike’s stab of desire as a bolt of pleasure in his own balls. They clenched, a spasm of need that lifted the tenting.

Spike stood up and swallowed deeply. ‘Remember what I said: not one hair, Angel.’

Angel sank back with a grouchy pout and mumbled something about relief for a condemned man.

* * *

When Spike had gone, Angel spent an uncomfortable five minutes resisting the idea of jacking off. It wasn’t fear of being discovered, although he did relock the door. It wasn’t distaste at making a mess, although he did fold back the covers just in case. It was more a sort of nagging annoyance that he had to do it at all. He hadn’t promised himself that he’d never do this again, nevertheless, last night, lying curled around Spike, he remembered feeling intensely smug that all over the city men were beating their own cocks for the wont of someone to do it for them.

Now he was one of the sad again, abandoned by his lover, abandoned by everyone and trapped (and tired) in the house of the man who was probably going to kill him. He’d been brought low. Spike had brought him low. That thought cheered Angel immensely, and he unzipped his pants. Spike was to blame for pretty much everything Angel could think of.

He needed punishing.

He freed the painful tightness and let his cock stand bold and needy.   It wasn’t easy choosing punishments when you had such intimate acquaintance with so many.  As he began long tight jerks on his hardness he favoured something blatant—perhaps a whipping. It was a long time since he’d last eaten, and the image of flecks of Spike’s blood landing hot on his face as he tore the perfect back hardened him some more. It was a bit… theatrical… though. He pondered more subtle ways to punish Spike for not being here, doing this for him. He began an elaborate fantasy where he had Spike tied and unable to touch his own erection, but as his hand made slap-slapping noises on his cock, Angel had to abandon that one because in the fantasy he knelt, swallowed Spike and sucked him off, something that pleased them both and therefore mitigated the whole point of the punishment. He gave up on subtle and went back to theatrical.

By now he was arching off the bed, his mind dancing over splatters of blood on the faces of corrupt saints, hearing singing in Latin, tasting a weak excuse for blood that was supposed to give him eternal life. He felt the power of his own unique life flood through him, prelude to the fluid he would spill, and the final image that filled his mind as he came shuddering into the sheet was a pink hole quivering with emptiness and the need for him to fill it.

He’d let Spike off lightly, but there was always tomorrow.

Angel grinned and wiped his cock on a dry patch of sheet.  He had things to take care of, and then he’d take care of Spike. He no longer felt trapped, and he wasn’t tired. He wanted to get this thing on.

* * *

As he was rearranging his clothes, there was a knock at the door. ‘Mr Jervis wants to see you.’

Angel opened it to another man he’d not seen before. ‘Why?’

‘I just deliver the messages.’

Sensing that it was still early afternoon, Angel followed the man down the hallway to a flight of steps going further down to a lower basement.

His euphoria and feelings of invincibility from earlier had still not worn off and when he compared this with the depression that preceded it, he began to wonder if he was suffering from Spike-induced exhaustion. It was a nice thought and one that carried him into a large, dark room lit only by flickering candlelight.  He looked around. Black walls. Instruments of torture used as decoration. Splashes of red here and there, presumably to suggest blood.  He laughed. ‘You have got to be kidding.’

Leyland Jervis turned from a prominent altar, which took up most of the far wall. He looked around the chamber, too, seeming to see it through Angel’s eyes. ‘You’ve got to impress the punters, Angel. I have clients from all the around the world visit me here—I find the Japanese are particularly impressed with the visuals.’

Angel came closer to the altar. ‘Voodoo?’

‘Older. Palo Mayombe.’

Angel peered into a cauldron. ‘What are we gonna do? Chew on a bone to cement our deal?’

Leyland laughed. ‘I thought the idea was that you chew on me.’

Angel snapped his head up. ‘You’re going to do it?’

The man stared thoughtfully at the objects on the altar and after a while said softly, ‘It really pisses me off, Angel. I make a Goddamned deal with the devil. I sacrifice. I become a fucking Palo Mayombe priest, and what do I get? Fucking cancer, that’s what.’

Angel pursed his lips. ‘A tumour. In your brain.’

Jervis turned sharply to him. ‘How did you know?’

‘I didn’t. I… sensed something inside you. I thought it was just the evil.’

His flippant manner didn’t help the man’s anger. Jervis hissed, ‘It was supposed to be just that! How fucking evil do you need to be to keep yourself safe from…? So, I’ve decided to accept your offer.’

‘I’ll prepare….’

‘No. Here. Now.’


‘Now? Is there anything to wait for?’


‘I doubt he’ll be here.’

‘No, I mean….’

‘I don’t really care what you meant. Are you reneging on this offer?’

Angel couldn’t believe how easy the man was making it for him, but he kept up his pretence of reluctance. ‘You understand what it entails: I give you my blood; you lie for a night then rise in the morning as one of us?’

‘Sure. Only I’m not getting in some damn coffin.’

‘You can save that for the Japanese. Most of us prefer a comfortable bed.’

‘How long does it take to drain me and give me your blood?’

‘I don’t need to drain you. It doesn’t work like that. It’ll take about twenty minutes. Good deal when you think what you get in return.’


‘If you watch out for pointy stakes—yes.’

‘Well. What are you waiting for?’

‘Well, shucks, usually I like to be wearing my cloak, but I guess I’ll have to make do with….’ He slid into his other form and was subtly pleased to see the man’s face pale. ‘You backing out, Leyland?’

‘I have no alternative. No.’

Angel nodded, leant forward and sank his fangs into the surprisingly tough skin of Jervis’s neck. It had been too long, much too long, but it wasn’t how he had remembered it. The consciousness of the evil that he was taking into his own body mitigated the pleasure from the warm, flowing blood. He tried to tell himself that blood was just blood and that it didn’t matter—serial killer, virgin, Pope, child, President—blood was all the same. He knew it wasn’t though. Blood carried emotional phantoms that would come back to haunt the taker. Nevertheless, he continued to suck at the man until some intrinsic knowledge deep inside his demon told him that it was time for the exchange. He pulled off the unconscious man, tore his wrist and held it to the slack lips. They weren’t slack for long. Angel’s body tingled with the delicious pleasure of being sucked upon. He let his mind drift to other sucking he’d indulged in recently, as much as he didn’t want to bring Spike into his place or this thing he was doing.

Once more, his demon told him it was enough, and he eased his wrist away, letting the man lie on the steps to his altar.

Twelve hours. He could let Jervis lie here for twelve hours or he could take the easy way out and do it now: a stake through a heart, which desperately fluttered its hold on life, fighting the demon that fought to possess that beat.

‘What the...?’

He whirled around to face a furious vampire. Three of them in the room. Him and two children. Brothers now. It was all wrong, and he could see this thought reflected clearly in Spike’s eyes.

‘What the bloody hell have you done?’ Angel slipped back into his human face, regretting for a moment the loss of power that the other always gave him.

‘What I had to do.’

‘You’ve… what? Turned him?’

‘Yeah. He chose it freely, Spike. He’s evil at the very core. Not even a hesitation.’

‘This is your plan?’

‘Did you have a better one? I couldn’t wait for Gunn to play at being Johnny Cochran, Spike. I don’t work like that—won’t work like that.’

‘But he’s…. You’ve given him….’

‘When he wakes, he’ll be entirely soulless, and there will no reason not to kill him.’

‘Well, except for the fact that I’ll be far stronger than you, Angel, and that you won’t actually be able to… kill me.’

Angel whirled around. Jervis climbed to his feet and laughed at Angel’s expression. ‘What? Did you seriously think I’d let myself be at your mercy for twelve hours? Lying here like some pathetic virgin while you sacrificed me to the devil. I don’t think so.’

Angel grimaced and moved toward the human. Or he tried to. He strained, but not a muscle in his body obeyed him. He couldn’t see Spike, but the fact that he couldn’t led him to suspect Spike was as helpless as he.

‘You are such a sap, Angel. While you’ve been playing the hero for decades, I’ve been studying the dark arts. Did you really think you could fool me into this child’s deal? Turn me and stake me? Salve your conscience because I didn’t have a soul?’ He came up very close to Angel. ‘You’re a child to me, Angel: a snivelling child that needed to learn a lesson. And I have the power now. Your power. Thank you for that. I shall go into my eternity enjoying this un-aging body. I feel the cancer receding, the tumour gnashing with fury that it can’t take me.’  He walked around Angel, and as he passed, Angel’s body turned too, like a marionette. As he feared, Spike appeared to be held in the same power. Jervis marched up to Spike and without hesitation slapped him viciously. ‘As for you, you betrayer! Do you seriously think I didn’t know what you were up to with my excuse for a son? What you’ve been doing here? Your soul stinks, Spike! Every time you’ve looked at me you see me as something you can save! How dare you! Get a fucking puppy, you pathetic excuse for a demon!’ He turned from them both, leaving them to stare at each other, unable to move more. He came back into their vision with a stake. ‘I’m almost tempted to release my control on you, Angel, just so I can actually get some satisfaction from plunging this into your shrivelled heart.’ He turned slowly back to Spike and something in Angel’s gut twisted with fear: he’d heard Spike’s small sound of dismay, too. Jervis smiled and teased the stake over Spike’s cheekbone. ‘What? You don’t want me to kill Angel? Why not? You hate….’ He turned between them. He blinked rapidly. ‘My God. Is everyone in this Goddamned town queer? But this changes things.’ He tapped the stake against his lips, thinking. ‘I was just gonna kill you both. But now….’ Suddenly, he smiled. ‘Fuck, but I hate faggots. Strip.’ At his command, Angel’s hands twitched involuntarily and rose to the button on his shirt. Jervis frowned. ‘I said strip!’

Still there was only a weak fluttering, but sweat broke out on Angel’s broad forehead, the effort to resist the man straining his entire body.

‘You don’t wanna strip your clothes off? Are you shy, Angel? Okay, then, let’s make it skin!’ Jervis strode over to the altar, lit a candle and began to chant, smearing something from the cauldron on his face. Angel’s fingers went to his face; his nails raked down his cheeks, drawing blood. They began to tear more, crawling and straining to reach eye sockets where they could dig and root out the beautiful contents. Jervis turned back to Spike. ‘Enjoying it, faggot?’ He laughed. ‘Maybe I want to hear your boyfriend scream.’ He waved his hand, and Angel’s throat unlocked. He locked it back on the scream that tore from him: he wasn’t going to give Jervis that much satisfaction or Spike that much pain.

Jervis came up to Spike. ‘Shall I have him rip his cock off, Spike? Eat it? Feed it to you, you disgusting pervert? I could. Would you like that?’ He stared at Spike’s pale, shocked face. ‘Am I scaring the legendary William the Bloody?’ When Spike didn’t—couldn’t—reply, Jervis tutted and waved his hand, unlocking Spike’s throat, too. ‘Well?’ He thrust his face close. ‘Am I your worst nightmare, Vampire?’

Spike shook his head, but added amused, ‘Not really, but that bloody thing is.’

Jervis whirled around. His first thought was Big Worm. Then he realised it was a vortex, wriggling certainly, but a vortex, nevertheless. And it was coming straight for him.

His hold on the vampires weakened, and Angel’s hands stopped ripping at his face. They hung limp at his side as he said almost sadly, ‘The soul wasn’t yours to give away, Jervis. Don’t you remember? You’d already sold it.’


‘Yes. Did you really think you could trick the devil out of his prize?’

‘No! I’m not! This isn’t…. I mean…. I am a demon now! I am damned! What more does he want?’

‘Your soul.’

‘Give it to him!’

‘I don’t have it. It doesn’t work like that. You’ve given it over to your demon, cheated the devil. And, boy, believe me, Jervis: you don’t want to meet the devil when he’s pissed. Did it once—don’t want to repeat the experience.’

‘Help me!’

‘Sorry, I’m feeling a bit… tired… today.’

‘Spike! Please! You wanted to save me! You still can! Think of Ben! What would Ben want! Spike! William! Please….’

The vortex swallowed him. Angel winced in case there was a loud belch.  He glanced warily at Spike.

Spike was staring at the place where the hellmouth had taken his boss. ‘You knew this would happen.’ It was a statement, not a question.

‘Yeah.’ He wondered if the time would ever come when he’d admit that he hadn’t been that sure…. ‘I needed to prove to you that he was irredeemable, Spike. You don’t come back from being Palo Mayombe: it doesn’t work like that.’ Still Spike did not come to him. It wasn’t that he wanted a hug or his wounds fussed over, or anything…. ‘Are you going to let this come between us, Spike? Are you still going to try and save him?’

Spike fished into his pocket and lit a cigarette. ‘Yeah, right. I’ll light a fricking candle for him. Let’s get out of here. Don’t bleed on the leather.’

‘Okay.’ Angel grinned—slightly lopsided due to the damage to his face—and meekly followed Spike home.

Part III Chapter 6

It was something to do with laundry, but that was all Angel could work out—this fight that had started the morning after he’d killed Jervis.

They’d been okay in the car. They’d been okay while he’d told Wesley the story—heavily edited—of Jervis’s greed and final defeat. They’d been okay that evening. They’d been more than okay that night in bed. So why they’d fought in the morning over some socks defeated him entirely, but that’s what appeared to have happened.

He’d been cooking breakfast—proper food, not the usual coffee and blood he settled for. He’d felt so good on waking, so replete, so drained, that he’d felt like doing something he always associated with being happy: cooking. He’d gone to the store, bought eggs and bacon and bread, returned, and begun cooking.

As he worked, he listened to sounds from the bedroom. Nothing seemed amiss until Spike came down, his face cold, stony.  He was carrying his boots, bare-footed. ‘Where are my socks?’ Angel began to put the food onto plates and toed the washing machine. ‘Hungry?’

Spike suddenly dashed the plate of food out of Angel’s hand. Eggs and bacon flew surprisingly far across the beautiful apartment. ‘I don’t want soddin’ breakfast!’ He bent and tried to wrench the door of the machine open, but already in its cycle, it stayed stubbornly resistant to being prised open. ‘Bloody hell!’ Spike strode to the door and left, slamming it forcibly behind him.

Angel stood for many minutes with the other plate in his hand, replaying the scene. However he played it out, it still seemed to be a fight about… socks.

A number of avenues occurred to him, most of them involved pain—and not his. But as he picked up the mess, something glinted at him from the counter: Spike’s key. Angel grinned evilly and saw himself taking more subtle revenge: changing the locks, losing the key, giving it to someone else….

He sighed.

He’d changed.

That isn’t what he did—now.

It was the hardest thing he’d ever done, but he pocketed the key and took it to work so that he could give it back to his volatile, confusing lover.

* * *

He didn’t have the opportunity. No one saw Spike all day.

He didn’t make an appearance until the evening, when he turned back up at the apartment and had to knock to be admitted. He didn’t apologise, but he did slide his arms around Angel’s waist and kiss him, something that was unusual enough to be taken as an admission of guilt, albeit a silent one.  Pulling away from the kiss, he said huskily, ‘Upstairs.’ Angel forgot he even wanted guilt as they laughed and wrestled up to the bedroom. Spike wanted him naked. Spike wanted him spread open on the bed, and Angel wasn’t about to argue with either of these, despite their more normal choices. They’d only done this that one time, that long afternoon cementing loyalties on the wooden floor. Usually, he took Spike, and neither commented on this preference. It just was.

That Spike wanted to be inside him now, that this unexpected reversal of their roles came so soon after the sock incident (as Angel had begun to think of it), did send flickers of unease into his brain, but as Spike’s cock was sending lightning bolts of pleasure into his ass, the flickers couldn’t compete.

Spike insisted that Angel face him. He wanted legs in the air. He held ankles and thrust with his eyes closed.

Angel let himself go on the experience, waiting for every stroke on that place that gave him so much pleasure, rising to them when they came, then tensing for them to return. He learnt to work with Spike’s strokes, straining down on the thrusts in so that each one went deep, grinding them together. He let his mind wander on fantasies—different ones now that he was not the aggressor: different, but equally satisfying to those of rain and restraint.

He needed to work himself—missed the stimulation of walls rubbing on his cock. When he put down a hand, it was thrust away, roughly, and the thrusting sped up.

Angel was willing to go along with just about anything Spike wanted and allowed the thick length to do all the work for him.

Spike came first and had to work for a long time after his release to bring Angel off, something that caused the sweating vampire to grin evilly with some private satisfaction. When Angel did come, Spike held his balls cupped loosely in his hand so he could feel the clenching release.

Panting, Spike lay down on his back. Angel knew he was being watched as he came down from the intense highs of his orgasm.  It was still early evening, and Angel felt an absurd sense of pleasure in the thought that he still had the night to look forward to. He grinned as he stared at the ceiling, which prompted an annoyed, ‘What, you poof?’

‘Do you want to go out?’


‘Out? It’s sort of anywhere that isn’t… here.’

‘Funny man.’

‘We could go for a drink. See a movie?’

At the noticeable lack of enthusiasm for this suggestion he rolled his head on the pillow and stared at Spike’s profile. ‘Are you still pissed that I didn’t tell you my plan for Jervis?’


‘Are you…?’

‘Oh, shut up, Angel.’ Spike swung his legs off the bed and went for a shower. When he came back out, he walked to the pile of their discarded clothing on the floor. Pulling on his jeans, he suddenly stopped and regarded the rest of pile, looked wildly around at the furniture and quite without warning, picked up a T-shirt and began to rip it apart. ‘Fucking, sodding, pissing….’ He let out a small cry, stepped off the drop-off, and Angel heard the door slam once more.

He couldn’t believe it, but it seemed as though they’d had a second argument about… laundry.

* * *

Angel stared at the demon sitting opposite him in the conference room. Its mouth was moving, which, Angel assumed, meant it was talking. He didn’t know. He couldn’t focus his mind on anything. Wesley was there, so he knew it didn’t really matter that he wasn’t listening.

When they were alone, he sat watching Wesley’s mouth move. It was prettier than the demon’s, which was something, but not prettier than Spike’s, which was the cause of all his problems: he now found Spike more attractive than just about anything.

‘…sacrifice three virgins on the first night of the full moon. I’ve put an advertisement in the local rag—see if we can find virgins.’

‘What? Virgins? We don’t….’

‘It listens. Wonders will never cease.’


‘Are you still worrying about Jervis?’

‘No! That’s just a dumb thing to say, Wesley!’

Wesley didn’t seem offended and rose, making his way back to the office. Feeling slightly ashamed, Angel trailed after him, wanting to kill something.

‘I’ve been looking into this Palo Mayombe. Fascinating stuff—if a little gruesome. You were very, very lucky that he held off killing you. Mayombe priests have practiced necromancy for centuries. In fact, I’ve been thinking of taking to the practice myself. I rather fancy the idea of being able to make you do exactly what I want…. Angel!’


‘You’re not even half-listening now! What’s wrong?’

‘Have you ever lived with anyone, Wes?’

Wesley sat down on the couch and glanced hopefully toward the drinks’ cabinet. Angel passed him a whisky, sat down then prompted, ‘Well?’

Wesley looked surprised. ‘Of course I have—my parents.’

‘I meant, with a… partner.’

‘Oh. No. Not really. I shared a flat with a girl once, but separate bedrooms and all that. Why do you ask?’

‘So, you don’t think about it now?’

‘I think I’m a little too old to change my ways now, Angel. You have to do these things when you’re much younger. I rather like my own little… idiosyncrasies, but I’m pretty sure I’d find someone else’s very tiresome.’

Angel turned his head and said through gritted teeth, ‘And you are how old? Remind me, human.’

‘Thirty three.’

Angel nodded. ‘Thank you very much.’ He stormed out of the office and went to find something he could kill in lieu of killing his best friend.

* * *

Spike was already at home when Angel came in. He hadn’t deliberately stayed late in the office—it had just seemed like a good opportunity to do all the things he’d been putting off doing because they were too boring, too complicated or too distasteful. Once they were all done, he’d had no excuse not to drive home.

He heard Spike’s presence before he left the elevator. Epiphany or not, adoring Spike or not, he strode over to the music system and snapped it off. A ‘Hey!’ came from the bedroom, but he ignored it.

Spike trotted down the stairs and made for the music once more, but at the expression on Angel’s face, he veered away and made out that he’d been intending to turn the telly on all along. ‘Good day?’

‘Not particularly.’ Angel eyed the empty kitchen, unused pans and cold cooker wearily. ‘What do you want for dinner?’

Whatever “I” cook, you mean. He slammed some pans around for a while then said, ‘What did you do today?’


The phone rang, which saved Angel from doing something he’d regret. He snatched it up and took it with him to the shower. ‘Yeah?’

‘It’s me.’

Angel grinned and sat on the edge of the bed. ‘What’s up?’

‘After our visitor today, I decided to do some follow up research on Rosicrucianism, and I think you’d want to….’

‘On what?’

‘Ah. I forget there was only one of us actually at that meeting.’


‘Are you in this evening? I could come over and show you what I’ve discovered so far.’

Angel smiled shyly. The… discovery… was better late than never. ‘Sure. Come over.’

‘Good. I’ll see you in half an hour.’

He hummed in the shower, dressed casually then jogged down to the kitchen, making some salad to stretch the food out further.

Spike was watching TV, sprawled on the couch, drinking beer. He waved one at Angel and threw it when Angel nodded.  There was a knock at the door. Angel went to open it. ‘Hi.’

Wesley came in, handing him a bottle of wine. ‘It’s still quite cold out. I wish the Spring would hurry up and…. Spike!’

Spike sat up. He glanced between them then stood up, brushing crumbs off his shirt. ‘Wesley.’

Wesley, oblivious to the glances exchanged behind his back, said cheerfully, ‘Nice to see you two getting along a bit better these days.’

‘Well, yeah. So, I’ll be off then.’

Angel frowned and said puzzled, ‘Off?’

‘Well, yeah. I just came by to….’ Seeming to find it hard to progress his lie believably, Spike trailed off but added, ‘See you tomorrow.’ He grabbed his coat and left.

For the first time, Angel noticed that once Spike and his coat were gone, there was nothing else in the apartment that belonged to his childe.


Part III Chapter 7

Sometime during the night, Angel heard the key in the lock. He scooted over to his side of the bed, spread out and pretended to be asleep. He heard keys drop onto the counter, heard some muttered cursing and then a stumble and a loud ‘Fuck’ on the stairs.

The smell of alcohol and perfume reached him before Spike did. The mattress depressed. A hand slid to his backside, and a slurred ‘Yesss’ with some fumbled belt sounds gave him the excuse to pretend he’d woken. Spike leered unfocusedly at him. ‘You’re so sexy.’

Angel stifled the impulse to laugh. It wouldn’t have been a very humorous laugh anyway. ‘What are you doing?’

‘I’m gonna fuck you.’

‘I not sure I want your cock inside me. I don’t know where it’s been.’

Spike processed this with the two brain cells he appeared to be functioning on and laughed a slightly sickly laugh. ‘Don’t be a total tosser. Come here.’

‘Piss off, Spike. Go grow up somewhere else.’

‘What! You fucking bastard!’ He backed off the bed, silhouetted in the moonlight streaking in through the vast windows. ‘Don’t you dare tell me….’

The furious figure suddenly wasn’t there. It was so spectacular that Angel sat up. There was a thud, and all went as quiet as before Spike’s return.  Angel debated getting up to see if he was okay—it was a long drop—but he turned onto his belly instead and went back to sleep. In the morning, he stepped over the unconscious figure and made some breakfast. Spike still smelt of perfume and sex, so Angel didn’t bother to check on him or offer him some food.

* * *

That day, he called Adam, invited himself and went there as soon as he finished work. Adam had some floor plans for a new club he was buying spread over the floor, and he led Angel over to them. ‘What do you think?’


‘What’s wrong?’



Angel took his glass to the window and feigned interest in the view. ‘Jensen away again?’

Adam nodded glumly. ‘Venezuela. Columbia? I’m not sure—I kinda get all those hot-blooded-Latin-men places mixed up. He’s back tomorrow.’

‘Do you ever wonder if he’s…?’ Angel took a long swallow of his whisky. ‘Forget I asked.’

‘Do I worry that he’s sleeping around?’

Angel nodded.

‘We trust each other. We kinda have to: I hold his life in my hands—as he does mine.’


‘Jesus, Angel. We’re both negative, so we don’t use… we enjoy sex, yeah… fully.’

‘Oh.’ Angel pretended he understood, then did. It seemed to him that there was some fatal flaw in Adam’s logic, but he saw from the suddenly sad light that flicked into his friend’s expression that Adam was only too well aware of this. Angel had trouble dealing with his own sadness, so he didn’t attempt to unravel his friend’s.

Instead, he asked hesitantly, ‘Is that the only reason you’re faithful then? I mean… if that wasn’t an issue….’

Adam came closer. ‘It is an issue—the issue—so I can’t know how I’d react if it wasn’t there. I guess we both fantasise… we are men. We understand the drives, the… needs.’

Angel folded his arms around his body defensively.

‘You think Spike is seeing someone else?’

Did he? Faced with the question articulated, he wasn’t so sure. ‘I don’t think he’s that calculating. I think it was a bar… he got drunk…. Probably no more than a fuck in an alley. I don’t know.’

‘Ask him.’

‘No! Shit. You don’t understand.’

Adam put a hand on Angel’s back. ‘You don’t want to ask him because you’ve changed, and that change has made you afraid.’

‘I’m not afraid of Spike.’

‘Of yourself, Angel. You’re afraid of yourself—of loving too much.’

It wasn’t helping Angel’s fragile self-control. He turned his face away.

Adam sighed. ‘Look, J’s back tomorrow. Why don’t you ask us over? Maybe if he….’

‘He wouldn’t stay.’

‘Make him!’ He saw Angel’s expression and added exasperated, ‘Love doesn’t mean being a total fucking pushover! Play on his guilt! Bully him! What have you got to lose?’

Spike. I’ve got Spike to lose.
In the end, it was easier than Angel anticipated. When he got home at three that morning, the apartment was softly lit, sparklingly clean, and a remarkably subdued Spike was listening to music—quietly.  He got up as Angel came in, chewing the side of a nail. ‘You’re back.’

‘Looks like it.’

‘Where have you been?’

‘You’re interested?’

‘I asked.’

‘Adam’s.’ Angel’s heart broke a little at the squeaky cleanness of the kitchen and the meal—for two—that stood uneaten on the counter.

‘I cooked.’

Angel hung his head. ‘You okay?’ He looked properly at Spike for the first time, saw matted blood over a wound on his head and swore. ‘Come here.’

Spike came into the forgiving arms very willingly but seemed to sense that some further apology was required for he was unnaturally quiet, tense—waiting.

‘I want you to do something for me.’

The slim body tensed some more. ‘Anything.’

‘I want you to be here when Adam and Jensen come over for dinner tomorrow.’
Spike nodded into his shoulder but made no other response.

‘Okay then. Tomorrow night. I’m tired.’ He pushed Spike away. ‘I’m going to bed.’

Spike glanced at him then away. ‘Am I invited?’

Angel cuffed him affectionately and went up without replying.

* * *

When he came out of the shower, naked, Spike was lying on the bed. Something flared in Angel’s gut. It was anger, and he tried to suppress it. In his experience, good things did not come from being angry when you climbed into bed next to someone.

Spike didn’t reach for him. Angel didn’t encourage him to. He turned on his side, facing away.

Spike sat up then went into the shower. He was gone a very long time for a smallish vampire who’d been very clean before he went in.

Angel listened to the silence for a while then went and stood to one side of the large steam-filled stall. Spike was sitting on the floor, knees drawn tightly to his chest, rubbing his hand over the wound on his head and making it bleed, watching the blood flow down the drain.

Angel stepped in and pulled him to his feet. Spike’s eyes were wet. Angel put a finger to them but it was a harder touch than he’d meant. Spike flinched. Angel hit him on the side of the head. The smell and feel of blood consumed him. He twisted Spike around, pressed him to the wet tiles and entered his body. There was no resistance, but there was clearly little enjoyment either. Angel leant closer and whispered, ‘Scream.’

Spike shook his head.

Angel pushed the side of his hand roughly into Spike’s mouth and hissed, ‘Then I’ll make you.’ He dragged his cock out of the tightness then rammed home again. Teeth bit down on his hand so he gave pain back. Suddenly, there were two of them: Spike’s body responding to the need in Angel’s, returning it, demanding and taking pleasure.  Angel began to stroke the surprisingly grown hair, nuzzling into the back of Spike’s neck, and with human teeth, biting and shaking him. ‘I hate you sometimes.’

Spike’s hand came back, fastening onto Angel’s flexing buttocks. ‘I hate myself more.’

Angel put his hands down and entwined their fingers. ‘Fuck, you feel so good.’

Spike opened his legs wide, and Angel groaned, a deep sound of male desire joining the wet slap-slapping of the bodies.

Suddenly, he stopped and pulled out. He turned Spike and fastened onto his mouth, his cock bouncing between them, poking into Spike’s belly. The kiss was hard and possessive, but it was loving, too. Spike put a hand to Angel’s cheek and stroked it as they kissed, and whatever anger Angel had brought into the water with him dissipated at that gentle touch.  He ran his hands over the wet body, up, down, along, around: a restless seeking of familial flesh. One hand paused on Spike’s thigh then lifted it. He moaned and held it higher, dipping to push his hard column up inside the soft opening. Spike cried out and hung around Angel’s neck. Angel braced his legs and lifted Spike’s other thigh. Spike arched back, his arms lifting, seeking and scrabbling until they found the top of the wall. He clung, water streaming down his pale form as, inexorably, his body was impaled on Angel’s solid member.

Angel jerked his hips forward. Spike flattened against the wall. They both cried out and Angel began to jerk rapidly, his hold slipping on the slim thighs, even his magnificent muscles twitching under the strain. They’d never been so joined, each thrust ground Angel’s pubic hair hard against Spike’s stretched ass. Spike’s cock was trapped between them, his balls rasped mercilessly.

The moon moved across the sky, one beam of cold blue light now streaking across the stall. Every time Angel thrust, Spike was lifted into its harsh light, so they fucked as if in a strobe show on a stage of passion and need.

Spike lost his hold and one hand came down to grab Angel, seizing his hair, tugging it painfully each time his body was invaded by the wide shaft.

Their cries became echoes: Angel’s the high pitch of a man reaching orgasm; Spike’s lower, as if an exhalation from the relentless piston below.

Suddenly, Angel’s hold became slippery. He looked down. Spike’s cock was shooting wildly, slippery come now coating their joined bodies and running in opaque streams through the translucent water.

Angel lifted his eyes and found them locked with a pair of shadow-blue ones. In that moment, it seemed to him that if he released he would lose himself entirely in those fathomless depths. With his own free will he would open up his chest, point to his heart and say do with it what you will.

He smiled a small crooked smile and let his body go.

It went into Spike: every fibre, every tendon, joint, muscle and bone seemed to conspire to pump his male fluid into this willing vessel. A small voyager of brave hope, Angel thrust and thrust his come so high into the slim body that some part of him would be forever Spike’s.

When he was finished, his legs trembled with the strain. His body shuddered with the knowledge of what he had done.

Spike did not unwrap his legs from around Angel’s waist. Instead, he tightened them and wrapped his arms around the strong neck as well. They kissed as lovingly as if they had not shared this hard sex beforehand. Angel felt his come running out of the pounded hole, trickling over his still embedded cock and making small rivulets down his legs—but not all of it. Some of it stayed where he had intended: high in Spike’s body. The thought only made him kiss harder and seek further into Spike’s willing mouth.

His body swaying with effort, Angel stepped back into the stream of water, washing them both. He felt his softening cock slipping out and adjusted his hold, pushing fingers into the wet heat of Spike’s body. Spike moaned and stretched back. Angel worked his fingers, exploring stretch, probing depth.

His legs trembled. He knelt. Spike lay on the wet floor, and Angel re-entered him. He scrabbled for purchase on the slippery floor. Water drummed in their ears, drowning out their soft cries of pleasure. It didn’t take long. Fixing his gaze on Spike’s growing length, anticipating the feel of it in his mouth, Angel sent a second orgasm to join the first, less fluid, but a more intense, almost parched heaving that brought unseen tears to his eyes, washed as they were by the streaming water.

Spike wasn’t far behind. Working his own release, he beat hard upon his cock, popping the deep plum-purple head in and out of its foreskin as he stroked over the hard core. Just before he came, he cried out. Waiting for this, Angel descended on the smooth knob and caught the release with his lips, jet after jet of salty come then filling his eager mouth.

* * *

He was too tired to stand, too tired to turn off the water, too tired to remember why he had followed Spike into the shower or what they had argued about. But he wanted to curl up around Spike’s warm body in a comfortable bed, so he made the effort, even managing to pull Spike to his feet as well. Not bothering to dry off, he pulled Spike to the bed, and they formed an intricate knot of wet limbs drying together in the soft cotton.

* * *

The moonlight moved passed the entrance to the bathroom and began to track toward the bed. Angel watched it for a while, his body ticking and twitching from muscle strain and pleasure. Almost unconsciously, he stroked Spike, inching his thumb over the soft hairline. There were many things he wanted to say, but nothing he wanted to hear, so he stayed silent, and it did not escape his notice that Spike kept his thoughts in an equally private place.

Part III Chapter 8

He hadn’t brought a bottle, and this worried him. He’d worried so long over what to wear, that he’d not had time to stop for one. Coming naked had been a bad decision, though, and now he had no wine and no clothes and everything felt wrong.  Jervis didn’t seem to notice; he was intent on reading the menu, discussing in great detail the finer points of the sauce with his other dining companion. Angel frowned and turned to the other man. ‘Pervane?’ This wasn’t right. He wasn’t going to eat with Pervane. Pervane turned to him. ‘I really do have to thank you, Angel, for sending me such an excellent companion in hell.’

‘You’re not in hell. You’re in France.’ Angel felt this wasn’t quite right, but he glared at Pervane anyway. The man showed his rotten teeth in a polite laugh. ‘I wasn’t in hell. But I am now, and it’s really rather pleasant. Leyland has freed us all—with his power… your power… your blood. Together we will achieve great things.’

‘I’m in hell?’

‘Of course. Where did you think you’d be? This is what you deserve, Angel. This is the right place for such as you.’

‘Do all vampires go to hell?’

‘Those that try to be men, yes.’

‘And those that don’t?’

‘Ah, dinner is served. What can I tempt you with, Angel?’

Angel looked down, and fear tore across this belly. He shoved his chair back and tired to leave the table, but his mother slapped his head and told him to mind his manners.  She didn’t seem to see Spike, who was naked and trussed up in front of them. Jervis rose with a large carving knife and prodded around the offering for a while. ‘Eyes? Heart? Balls? I hear they are all very tasty when sautéed in love.’

Spike began to squirm so Angel said softly, ‘Balls. It’s always his balls for me now.’

Jervis carved, and they came off in one neat slice, blood shooting geyser-like into the air.


Angel woke, shivering. Spike was shaking him, holding him tight. ‘Christ! What the hell was that about?’

Angel stared into the darkness, wondering where the moon had gone. He turned to Spike. ‘Don’t leave me.’

‘Huh?’ Spike tightened his hold. ‘I’m not going to! Oh, Christ, Angel, I’m sorry.’

‘Is it me?’

‘No! It’s not you. It’s… me. Or rather… this.’

‘Why can’t you talk to me?’

Spike fidgeted with his rings for a while, then slid further down in the bed, putting his head into Angel’s lap. ‘It’s feels like I can’t breathe.’

Angel stroked the soft head, finding as much steady calming in giving comfort as receiving it.

‘I want you, but I didn’t think it through—living together. It’s so… cosy… confining….’

Angel’s dream flicked across his mind. ‘I’m consuming you.’


‘Do you want us to be apart?’

Spike lifted his head, holding Angel’s hand, restlessly entwining their fingers together. ‘He called me a….’

Angel waited patiently. He could watch that face forever; a few minutes were no effort at all.

‘A faggot. He called me a faggot.’

Spike lifted pleading eyes to Angel. Angel wasn’t sure what it was his childe thought he could give him—he couldn’t take that appellation away or make it any less true.

He lay down, pulling Spike’s head onto his chest, trailing a finger up and down the bony spine.



‘Have you made up your mind yet what you’d do if I told you I loved you?’

There was a flare of tension in the shoulders, and Spike replied carefully, ‘I thought I’d wait till you do and see.’

Angel let out a long breath of confusion. ‘Go to sleep.’ He turned onto his side, hauling Spike into the concave hollow of his powerful body and returned to a sleep that now seemed no more fearful than his waking hours.

* * *

Adam and Jensen arrived fashionably late. Jensen made straight for the picture, which he had paid for but never seen.

‘Uh huh. What is it?’ When no one replied, he shrugged. ‘I reckon I’m owed big time for this excessive generosity.’ When everyone continued to ignore him, he made a beeline for Spike on the couch. ‘Hi. You must be Spike.’

Spike didn’t look away from the television. ‘Yeah. I must be.’

Jensen lifted his eyebrows and returned to the other two, laying a hand affectionately on Adam’s back. ‘This is going to be fun.’

Angel frowned and cast a surly glance at the den. Adam put a hand on his arm. ‘Leave it. He’s here.’

Angel wasn’t in the mood to let Spike off so lightly and after a few minutes, called to him to open the wine. He saw Spike’s jaw clench, but he came over obediently and did as he was asked. Jensen watched him holding the bottle between his legs, pulling the cork, and said amused, ‘I see you’ve have some practise… pulling.’

Angel turned away to hide a smile, but miraculously, Spike seemed only to hear a comment on opening wine. He grunted and began to slop the alcohol into four glasses.  Jensen tried to look serious and renewed his attack. ‘Something smells good. Who’s the cook?’

Spike didn’t look up and murmured, ‘The poof.’ He glanced up through lowered lids and made a show of indicating Angel out of the three of them. ‘That one, of course.’

At the embarrassed silence that greeted this, he said contritely, ‘Sorry.’

Angel was the only one who saw the malicious smile that twitched his lips when he turned to put the empty bottle in the trash.

The meal was… uncomfortable. Spike slouched in his seat, not contributing to the conversation, but he managed a tense anticipation in the slouch, as if he was waiting for someone to mention something… homosexual. Jensen tried, but he was drowned out by the other two whenever he sparked up with a suitably gay comment.

The only time Spike added something was when the topic of Jensen’s new movie came up, but the conversation got badly sidetracked when the human suddenly jumped up and fetched some pills from his jacket pocket. He took them with a swallow of wine and Adam said apologetically, ‘Malaria. They all had to take them this trip.’

‘Ever had it, Spike?’

Spike looked like something innocent and furry caught in bright lights. He stared, clearly trying to work out when the big heavy queer thing was going to hit him. Cautiously, because he obviously didn’t believe that the man had actually meant this literally, he clarified, ‘Malaria?’ then added, ‘Course not.’ Seeing the humans’ blank look he added witheringly, ‘Vampire? Can’t get diseases?’

Angel closed his eyes. It was the only way he could stop himself from turning to look at Adam. He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that his friend was processing their conversation yesterday in the light of this new, and very interesting information.

When he opened his eyes, he kept them fixed on the other two people at the table, but he could not help but know that Adam’s gaze was riveted on his profile. He also couldn’t help suspecting the direction of his thoughts.

Before he could let his thoughts wander down similar pathways, he felt another pair of far less friendly eyes on him. He didn’t look at Spike either, but he felt the waves of antipathy being directed between him and Adam. If they’d stripped off their clothes and fucked on the table, Angel couldn’t feel more guilty, and the more Spike stared, the more Angel squirmed.

Eventually, Spike said very pointedly, ‘May I be excused?’

Without waiting for the permission he had clearly had no intension of seeking, he lit a cigarette, got up from the table and went back to his movie.

* * *

Jensen sipped his wine thoughtfully for a moment then got up and followed him over.

Angel couldn’t see very well from the table, so he got up and placed himself strategically on the couch, hardly noticing when Adam sat down next to him with an open bottle of brandy.

‘What do you think they’re talking about?’

Angel jumped slightly then replied glumly, ‘Us.’

Adam pouted. ‘He’s very… confused.’

‘He’s not the only one.’

‘He doesn’t like us.’

‘He hardly knows you!’

‘I didn’t mean… us. I meant… us in general: men who like men.’

Angel reckoned he’d take another three hundred years to be ready for that conversation so changed the subject swiftly. ‘Maybe they’re talking movies again. Spike likes….’

‘Angel—stop talking about him.’

Angel turned his coldest stare on the man. Adam wasn’t fazed. He said slowly, ‘I want to talk about something… else.’

Angel swallowed deeply.

Adam twitched up his eyebrow. ‘I know you thought it, too.’

Angel suddenly dipped his head and looked up through seductively lowered lids. ‘I thought it yesterday.’

It was Adam’s turn to look discomposed. ‘Oh.’

They both glanced at the den. Angel then said hesitantly, ‘We’re only talking about this thing, yeah? I mean, this is just something to make us feel better because they’re over there getting… friendly… and we’re here…. This stays just talk, yeah?’

‘Why would I want to hurt J?’

Angel swirled his brandy and thought it was only through someone else’s problems that you saw your own in their true face. He pouted and said carefully, ‘Because he won’t acknowledge you in public.’

Adam set down his glass. ‘Well, yeah, there is that.’

Slightly panicked where his feelings were taking him, Angel said in a rush, ‘But this is hypothetical, Adam… if we do discuss this….’ He trailed off. There was little point in saying more; they both knew he was talking for talking sake and didn’t mean any of it.

Adam leant forward. ‘I wanted you the minute I saw you sitting behind that desk.’

Angel looked down, pleased, but corrected him softly, ‘You wanted me the minute you found out that I can’t carry… malaria.’

Adam grinned wickedly.

Angel held him in a predatory gaze. ‘And I seem to remember you were the one who produced a photograph and… warned me off.’

‘Pissed you off, didn’t I?’

Angel nodded. ‘Yeah. You did.’

Adam glanced at the pair on the couch. ‘I love him. How can I be such an… evil person?’

Angel had no answers for him; his definitions of evil were very different to most other people.  He leant closer and was about to move the conversation along when Jensen shouted from the other side of the room, ‘Let’s go out!’ Angel, confused, guilty, pulling away, didn’t immediately think of Spike’s probable reaction to this suggestion.

When Adam said, equally guilty and confused, staring at Angel’s lips, ‘Yeah! Great idea! The new club?’ Angel assumed that he meant the warehouse that was being renovated, which he’d seen the plans for, so agreed with alacrity.

Spike seemed oddly subdued, and Angel immediately had the thought that the quiet, private conversation with Jensen had gone much the same as his had with Adam. This upset him then made him feel guilty for being upset and then angry that he had to feel any of these debilitating human emotions. Whatever they had discussed in their cosy session in the den, it seemed to have had a salutary effect on Spike. When Angel manoeuvred him to one side and said in a voice for his ears alone, ‘We’re just going to see a place Adam is building. Be helpful and polite,’ Spike only shrugged and fetched his coat.

Such sweet compliance to his will only increased Angel’s guilt.

They were a very subdued bunch in the car, except for Jensen, who seemed to take a perverse pleasure in everyone else’s discomfort.

* * *

Angel was so deep in thought, alternating between utter misery that he’d discussed, even obliquely, fucking with Adam and devious pleasure in picturing that very fucking that he was halfway into the club before he saw that it was anything but empty or needing renovating: it was heaving with men—semi-clad, dancing, sweating young men.

He grabbed Adam’s arm and shouted over the loud dance music, ‘You said the new club!’

Adam shouted back, ‘Yeah! Just opened up—The Glory Hole. Isn’t it great?’


They were pushed in by a crowd of young men piling in behind them. Separated by the surge, Angel looked around wildly for Spike.

A fight broke out, and he was jostled.

Angel pushed through the throng and groaned: Spike was pounding the face of a young man, holding him by the front of a sweaty T-shirt and systematically punching him until his head lolled unconscious.

Another man was fighting his way through the spectators and threw himself on Spike. Angel separated them. Spike hit him. Angel hit him back.

The atmosphere subtly changed.

With testosterone pumping from all the men watching, Spike snarled and seemed to have trouble staying in his human face. The second man, kneeling over the unconscious, bloody form of his friend screamed at Spike, ‘You fucking bastard!  He only wanted to dance with you!’ Angel winced at the sudden replay of this scene in his mind and held up a hand, trying to placate everyone—anyone. Spike hit him once more for good measure and then stormed off, elbowing the onlookers unnecessarily viciously.

Jensen seemed to have the ability to avoid any unnecessary scene. Adam was arguing furiously with someone in the watching crowd. Angel threw up his hands in disgust at everything, but mostly at his life, and left.

Adam caught him up by the car and grabbed his arm. Angel was in no mood to talk—or anything else. He needed solitude—was desperate for it. He walked off and felt the darkness embrace him like a lover.

For about five minutes—then it was just dark, and he wanted Spike, his real lover: the noisy one who panted his need into the pillow as he was being mounted from behind; the cute one who looked at him through seductively lowered eyes and got pretty much whatever he wanted; the fun one who could kiss then bite and not get the difference between these two extremes.

He wanted the one who loved him.

Part III Chapter 9

Angel went home, picturing the make-up sex: blue light streaking over Spike’s pale skin; water cascading over ribs, running down a long foreskin and pouring away like piss. Fighting was of the good when the making-up was so… intense.

He opened the door and stepped into an empty apartment.

Frowning, he dropped his keys down and, shrugging off a nagging worry, jogged up to the bedroom and began to strip off his shirt.

He paused. One of Spike’s T-shirts lay cast off on the floor. Since the sock incident, he’d learnt to leave Spike’s clothes where they lay. Angel looked around. Although he had already noticed that Spike had no clothes or other possessions in the apartment, for the first time it struck him that Spike must have some, only he apparently had them… elsewhere.  Angel’s mind began to race: Spike always arrived clean; he had many T-shirts, different jeans, even some amusing socks…. Only… where?

When Angel worked out that Spike was actually living elsewhere and only… visiting… with him, suspicion began to twist in his gut.

Casual fuck in an alley took on a whole new significance. Perhaps it had not been in an alley at all, and perhaps it had not been… casual.

Suspicion turned to jealousy and that—so hard for Angel to admit to feeling—turned to fury. He grabbed a clean shirt, went back downstairs and into the night.

* * *

The hallway was as dark and gloomy as he remembered it when he’d come here with Wesley. Perhaps his mood then—intense guilt for his part in the boy’s death and conflicted, confused feelings about Spike—had only made it seem so to him. Just before he rapped on the door, he hesitated. The unmistakable sound of bedsprings was audible even where he stood. Bedsprings, grunting, and a bang banging of a headboard to a rhythmic, thorough fucking….

He hammered on the door for about a second then kicked it in.

A fat man turned, his face red from exertion, turning purple now either from embarrassment or fear.  A woman peered out from under the flab encasing her. ‘Wait yer turn, Buddy. Jesus! Have manners totally fucked off in this fucking city?’ Angel spun on his heel and left. Seeing what he had feared to see—only with another protagonist—had not done anything to improve his mood: he now had unpleasant visuals to go with his suspicious.

He paused on the sidewalk, thinking.

Where was he?

He roamed over possibilities, retraced his paths over the last few months. He frowned. Surely not….

* * *

The roof was oddly comforting. He’d killed the boy up here; why not kill his love for Spike, too?

Very slowly, he walked to the edge—more slowly than he had with a crossbow aimed at his heart. That bolt he would have plucked from the air. He feared the one he was about to be given would be more deadly.

Lightly, he hopped up onto the low wall and folded his arms. He looked down.

* * *

Spike was below him on the balcony, leaning back on the wall, his face tipped up directly at Angel. If he’d had his eyes open, he’d have stared into a pair of cold brown eyes.

Angel watched for a while.

He had to give the girl her due—she was working hard for her money, or whatever else Spike had paid her with.

Her head bobbed enthusiastically at his open zipper, her appreciative moans embarrassingly forced.

Opening his arms, his coat billowing, Angel stepped off the wall and landed hawk-like behind the kneeling figure.

She screamed; Spike jerked back from wherever he’d been and covered his nakedness.

It was this more than anything else that set Angel off: Spike’s hands flying to his cock to hide.  Fuck off faggot might as well have issued from his lips. Angel kicked the girl aside, picked Spike up and threw him off the balcony. Then he jumped off and landed lightly alongside the sprawled figure.

‘Get up.’

Spike pushed himself painfully off the concrete, holding his nose, which was broken and pouring blood.

Through blood and broken teeth, he mumbled, ‘I can ex—.’

‘What? Explain? Yeah, I’m sure you can, Spike. “I can’t breathe, Angel.” Come on, Spike: give me your best shot. Or… don’t. Because do you know what? I’m done with it.’

Spike swallowed a mouthful of blood, spat some more out then said woodenly, ‘We’ve got too much to lose not to….’

‘Not us.’ Angel grinned at Spike’s small glance of confusion and clarified, ‘Oh, we’re over, too—I’m sick of you. But it’s more than that.’ He came close, the blood scent strong in his nostrils. ‘I’m giving up being a champion, Spike. I’ve tried. I really thought I had it this time—a chance of a new life. For a while there, you were my Shanshu. You were my life. But I’m tired of it all now. I quit! I quit as a man, and I quit as a champion. But, most of all, I quit being the only person in this world who actually ever loved you as much as you crave to be loved. I quit.’

He turned and began to walk away.

He felt a hand on his arm.

It felt so very good when he spun kicked Spike unconscious into the wall.

* * *

It was the most liberating thing he could remember. For the first time, he had freedom from everything and a soul to enjoy this liberty. As Spike had once pointed out, once he’d lost his soul, all the things he’d wanted hadn’t meant anything because, soulless, he was unable to feel the satisfaction. Angel not only felt satisfaction, he felt euphoria. The world belonged to him. He had unlimited power and no conscience. The only thing that troubled him was where to go and what to do to celebrate his liberation.

The warehouse district seemed like a good idea. The trash of human life always made easy pickings. Even in this world of television news, the internet and DNA analysis, the detritus of broken families and low self-esteem could be taken by one such as he and not be missed.

It was a beautiful night, and he tried to work out what day it was. He wasn’t too sure what month it was. He’d been so entangled in his passion for Spike that the turning of the world had escaped his notice. Not so now. Now he heard the air stroke his skin. Men smelt of sex as they passed him. Stars winked behind the city pollution so bright they hurt his eyes. He was coming back to life, and he craved the rebirth like a drug.

As he suspected, he found what he was looking for outside a bar in the dockland. She was leaning against a dumpster, looking right at home. She eyed him, and he grinned, predator-like, at her. She took this for something it wasn’t and smirked, slinking off the filthy metal. ‘Hi, Tiger.’

Angel snorted at the unintended irony. He was going to devour her just like that jungle cat but… not yet.

She went with him willingly enough after he’d given her the obligatory bills. Leaning against a wall, he watched her fall to her knees and fumble eagerly with his zipper.  He wished he still smoked but tipped his head up to the sky anyway, watching some bats flitter around the high buildings. ‘You got a problem, Buddy?’ He growled softly at her and pushed her back on.

It was a waste of time though. She pulled away, wiping her mouth and flipping his limpness. ‘You don’t get a refund you know. I’m not a fucking charity.’

Angel looked down at her ugly face then his eyes drifted to his limp cock. Something pricked the euphoria of his power. For the first time, it sank in that the girl on Spike’s cock had not been moaning in fake ecstasy but in very real exhaustion. Spike’s hands had flown not to cover his cock but to hide his inability to rise to her feminine form.

It suddenly occurred to Angel that Spike’s attempt to find his manhood in the straightness of her throat had backfired badly—and that Spike had known this and had been trying to hide that fact from… his lover.

He pushed the woman away and zipped up. He’d have to find another way to celebrate.

* * *

He’d meant to eat the women. His failure occurred to him as he hit the bottom of his second bottle of whisky. He was a tiger. He was the nightmare of her waking hours. He was Angelus! He was drunk.

He was very drunk.

He was the most drunk he’d been since… since when? He mulled over all the benders he’d been on in his life and concluded that he’d lived too long and had not been drunk enough.

The third bottle would have been refused him in a reputable place, but not in this one. In this one, they took his money and ignored him: one more Hollywood reject in leather and hair gel. The barman took bets with a regular that Angel was that guy on that soap about those people who did you know what, but it was only a small bet because they didn’t care all that much.

Angel didn’t care at all. He’d come down from his high—spectacularly. Now he just wanted to go home. But he couldn’t. He’d quit. There was no coming back from that—not and retain his credibility anyway.

Toward the end of the third bottle, he began to wonder about the firm: what Wesley would say when he didn’t appear; whether Spike would have the balls to go in and explain his absence. What he would say…? Angel didn’t like the idea of Spike telling his story for him. He was the one who’d quit. He should be the one to tell them all. He had that great speech after all. It was worth more than one telling. But he couldn’t do that, either. His good (or bad, depending upon which end of the whisky bottle you were) intentions would last about a minute once he was back.

‘I quit, Wesley.’

‘Ah. Quite. I’m afraid we have a bit of a crisis, Angel.’

‘Let’s go.’ And off it would fire once more: his almost explosive need to be a hero, to have people need him so he could need himself.

He could only quit if he stayed away: from the firm and from Spike.

Angel tried not to play out a scene of going back to Spike to reiterate that they were over.

‘I quit.’

‘Yeah. Butt-fuck me, Angel.’

‘Oh, yeah….’ Angel chuckled drunkenly around his glass. It wasn’t the best impression he’d ever done of Spike in his head. But the sad thing was, the thing that made a tear of self-pity drip into his glass, was that he wanted to hear Spike say that, wanted to suck low, dirty seductive words from his mouth, but now he never would.

He’d quit. You didn’t get to take the perks of the job with you.

* * *

He was deaf to the night when he staggered out and vomited in the gutter. He climbed into a sewer and curled up, sick. He tired to work out whether it was his stomach or his heart that felt most poisoned.

He dozed the day away half-listening to rats and faint sounds of human existence above his head. Had anyone missed him yet? Was anyone… looking for him? He wondered if Wesley would think he’d been staked. It seemed unfair to put his friend through that, but if he called him, Wesley would tell Spike. Quite why he wanted Spike to think he’d been staked, he didn’t analyse. He just thought it and enjoyed it and finally slept on the comfort it gave him.

Later, he sensed the night arrive and rose from his filthy lair. He desperately wanted to go home and shower and change, but that was his old life. He was free now. Power. Euphoria. He picked a used condom off his coat and climbed back up to the street.

He had to get out of L.A. Staying was like an AA member going to work in a bar. He’d quit, and he needed to get away from the source of his… temptation. He needed a car and some money, both of which had been so easy for so long now that their absence suddenly struck him forcibly. He didn’t carry cards; he never carried cash, and he didn’t own his own car any longer.

Quitting was something you clearly needed to plan a little more carefully.

He began to walk back toward the better part of town, feeling conspicuous in a city where feet had become redundant. With his dirty clothes, and hair he didn’t even want to think about, walking was the final marker of someone down on his luck. He wanted to shout at the arseholes glancing at him that he’d quit, but he felt as they clearly thought: that he’d been fired.

Post-alcohol hunger began to gnaw at him, and he knew he should be hunting and feeding. He wasn’t a hero any more; he could do what he liked: that young man; that bag lady; that baby. He was a God in their petty world. He was owed. He’d saved the entire world, and they should offer themselves as willing sacrifices to his hunger.

He plunged his hands in his pocket and walked on. It was too early to eat. He’d probably only be sick again.

Suddenly, he heard screaming behind him. He hunched his shoulders and carried on. It was none of his business: he’d quit. Screaming was someone else’s concern. Let them save themselves.

It became vocal and coherent, a hysterical repetition of the same awful words: where’s my baby? Have you seen my baby?

Someone grabbed his arm, and for the first time, Angel got just how fearful and panicked Spike’s hold had been the previous night: this hold was the same—a dreadful fear of having lost something that was most precious. He didn’t kick this one into the wall, however. He turned his head to see the face of someone on the edge of sanity. ‘My baby! Did you see someone take my baby!’ The pram, in which he’d seen the pretty baby, was now empty.

Angel looked up at the sky and wanted to cry. He’d quit. Couldn’t the universe leave him alone? He looked down at her from his great, lonely distance, nodded once and went in pursuit of the child.

She smelt of baby-powder and her mother’s love, so wasn’t hard to track. The bag lady had her concealed in her cart and was pushing her steadily, for all the world like a loving grandmother taking the air in the park. Angel stopped her and lifted the baby out. Her abductor wailed and cursed and spat at him, which suited his mood entirely.

He didn’t want to give the baby back to her mother. He wanted someone else to do that: someone who wanted the gratitude, someone who got off on the tears and love washing over them, someone who felt closer to the God who still despised him so. But there was no one else, so he handed the infant over and suffered all these emotions that he did not want and could not cope with now. Not now he’d quit. You didn’t do that and take the perks of the job with you.

* * *

He had to leave this damn city. He knew it was becoming an urgent priority. Any minute now, he felt he’d see a team of black-clad men coming his way. ‘Any orders, Angel, Sir? Coffee? Car? Redemption?’ He had to go somewhere safe: somewhere where they didn’t need heroes. Somewhere where they had too many, perhaps.

He needed to get back into the old apartment. He’d not cleared out his safe yet. There was some cash in there: enough to find this elusive place where he could be at peace. But he couldn’t use his codes without people knowing—Wesley knowing. Spike knowing.

He’d be suffering now….

Maybe he was out combing the city….

Maybe he was… distraught.

* * *

Feeling slightly better at this last thought, Angel veered into a cemetery and jumped up to the roof of a low mausoleum.

It was oddly familiar, but then he guessed being dead gave you a sort of mi casa su casa effect in every cemetery in the world.

* * *

At first, he ignored the whispers and giggles. Children having fun was no concern of his. Fun was no concern of his.

It was a girl and a boy, making out—he couldn’t quit from his preternatural senses.  He should jump down upon them, use them, abuse them, eat them. It’s what he would have done once. He’d have taken William along for the fun, too. They’d have lain here like this for hours, too, but William would have been talking of poetry and the stars and things that made Angelus laugh. The subtle sounds beneath him changed. The snarl kinda gave it away. The children were learning that fucking in cemeteries could not be classed as safe sex. He wondered idly if they were newly risen vampires, voracious in their appetites, or whether they were older, more in it for the fun and the meanness of taking human life. That’s how it had been for them at the end: Angelus and William the Bloody.

He had no intention of intervening. He’d quit, after all, but the boy started to pray—in Latin. Long forgotten ties tugged at his heart. The boy he had once been, before testosterone and cynicism had made him ripe for Darla’s unique brand of love, spoke quietly to him of better things: promises of redemption, and love that would never disappoint or depart.

With a curse to all the Gods who held him captive to their powerful promises, he jumped off the roof and became, for one instant, the angel of intervention the boy had prayed for.

* * *

Hunger began to gnaw at him with ravenous teeth. It felt good, purifying.  His mind began to take long-unused paths that the surfeits of Wolfram and Hart had suppressed. Was Spike feeding? Or was he starving himself, too. Did he even feel any remorse? Perhaps he’d gone back to the girl, now hardened by the surety of his choice. Perhaps he’d offered her his stiff prick and laughed as she swallowed his salty offering. Angel could taste it in his mouth now as clearly as he could taste his own hunger. A soul didn’t alter the taste of come, didn’t make it any less potent, any less enticing. Perhaps Spike was missing the taste of his now.

Let him miss it. He’d quit. Services no longer offered. Immediately after thinking this, he raised his head from contemplation of the sidewalk and realised he was opposite Wolfram and Hart. It was only a coincidence. He hadn’t come here deliberately. To stand in the shadows. To watch the early morning arrivals. To see if he would be among them. To gauge his state of mind.

To see his face.

Spike didn’t make an appearance. Angel wasn’t sure whether this was good or bad and on this confusion, took himself down into the sewers for the second day of his voluntary retirement.

* * *

The rat regretted stepping tentatively onto what it had taken for food when the food rose up and seized it in powerful jaws, sucking its blood even as it wriggled.

Angel vomited once more and what little blood he’d taken from the rat came up in with a flood of self-disgust.

Nightfall had already come, so he left the still warm body and made his way up into fresher air. His second night as a master of the universe. The irony almost made him weep.

He wasn’t consciously walking in any one direction. He let his feet take him where they would, following some inner dictate of his body. He assumed it was taking him to food, so cursed audibly when it took him back to the apartment where so many of his recent dramas had played out.

Had he come to catch an elusive glimpse, cheated from him that morning? Did he want to see him on the balcony with another slut, picked up from the street for the sole reason that she wasn’t him, didn’t have his body with all its flat muscle and hard projections?

Cautiously, he scaled the walls and fire escape until he was on the roof. He wasn’t consciously planning to jump down once more and peer stalker-like through the windows; nevertheless, his feet took him inexorably toward the street edge of the building.

It was only then that he saw the figure. For a moment, it was as if the body of Ben Jervis had been conjured from Angel’s misery. Then he thought that it was Spike. Then he saw it was just another slim, young man, standing on the wall that ran around the edge of the roof.

When he heard Angel’s approach, the man turned sharply. ‘Get back or I’ll jump!’

Angel tipped his head up to the uncaring sky. ‘Why me? I fucking quit! Remember?’

‘Get back!’

‘Just jump, will you? I don’t give a Goddamned what you do, okay?’

He came closer and sat on the wall some ten feet or so from the young man, who watched all this with the jittery nervousness of a colt planning to bolt.  From where he sat, Angel could look along the length of the balcony. It was dark; no light spilt out from the apartment. Spike, it appeared, had not returned here either. ‘Did you come here to be as one, too?’

‘Not that I know of.’

‘Then you defile this sacred place.’

‘Will you shut up or jump. I’m trying to think here.’ Words formed and made sense in his brain, so he repeated, ‘Sacred?’

The man glanced fondly at the concrete many feet below him then sat down carefully. ‘This is where the holy one gave his blood.’



‘Ben Jarvis?’

‘You are a believer! I knew it!’

‘I believe in shit. Just fuck off and jump. Please.’

‘He prophesised his death. He was The Fallen Angel.’

Despite his complete lack of interest in anything but his own situation, Angel couldn’t help a prick of recognition at something in this—perhaps the reference to… fallen and… angel? He pursed his lips and asked in a non-committal tone, ‘How do you know this?’

The man dug in a pocket and produced a folded piece of paper, which he held out to Angel. Angel had to shuffle closer to reach it, a fact the man did not appear to notice.

Angel read the page, which appeared to have been printed from a website called conspiracytheory.com. He couldn’t fault that for sparkling originality. Ben Jervis, an up-and-coming gay model in Los Angeles, had fallen to his death from the balcony of his own apartment. The amount of damage to his body suggested that he’d been thrown by something, or someone, of immense strength. This indisputable fact, coupled with witness reports that claimed two creatures, one of darkness and one of light, had appeared as if “transported” to the scene, proved beyond a doubt that Ben Jervis was the prophesised gay-tribe messiah—The Fallen Angel—and that he had probably died at the hands of the devil-worshiping Republicans.

The rest of the page was filled with small thumbnails of the photographs Angel had seen on the wall of the apartment. Ben was no less pretty on this eulogising sheet, although much good this beauty had done him.

Angel handed it back. ‘Good theory.’

‘It’s not a theory. People saw his body. No way could he have just fallen by accident. He was, like, crushed. He was thrown down!’

‘So, what’s with the jumping?’

‘He’s waiting for us to join him.’

‘Uh huh.’

Angel scratched something unpleasant out of his hair. ‘Despite the… major head trauma and general… death thing….’

‘He said he would always rise again.’

Angel snorted faintly. ‘Knowing Ben, I’m not sure he was referring to his entire body there.’

The boy’s eyes widened. ‘You knew him?’

Angel shrugged. ‘I know a lot of people.’

‘But you’ve come here to worship at the place where he died? That’s so cool, man!’

Angel hung his head. He saw this playing out one of two ways, and he didn’t really care. He didn’t.

He sighed at the inevitability of his choice of options. ‘Not exactly. He told me to come here tonight….’


‘He said they would twist his words, confuse his followers, drive them to despair. He needs us all to stay alive and fight the cause.’


‘He wants this put on the… site.’

‘Yeah, man, yeah. I can do that. Shit. He talks to you?’

‘I hear a lot of voices.’

‘Who are you? I mean, what’s your name?’

Angel smiled and told the truth for the first time. ‘I’m known as… Angel.’

* * *

If he’d been in the mood to be cheered up, remembering the boy’s face when he’d said his name would have done it for him, but he wasn’t—in the mood to be cheered up. He was tasting the freedom of his third night, having done nothing more spectacular with his retirement than wandering around aimlessly and smelling slightly.

He felt guilty whenever he thought about Wesley, and he wanted to go home.

It began to make more sense to do this quitting thing properly: tell Wesley, resign from the firm, acquire some money, take a shower—although not necessarily in that order.

* * *

By the time he got back to his own apartment it was almost three in the morning. He scrambled up the hill opposite first, trying to get a look in the windows. The place looked empty and dark, but he conceded that this might have just been his heart.

* * *

He turned his key in the lock, pushed the door open and stepped inside.

The floor was littered with half-unpacked boxes. The apartment… no longer looked like his.  Angel stood in place, turning in wonder. The windows had been hung with translucent red organza, swath after swath cascading down their great length like waterfalls of blood. The floor was covered in rugs, each one an intricate design in bright colours that seemed at first to clash, but then pleased the eye as a harmonious whole. One wall was lined with books, another contained a fireplace and the room smelt of resin and wood smoke and flicked with the softness of firelight.   There was only one other thing in the room that caught Angel’s attention, and that was Spike, standing amongst the rifled boxes, his arms wrapped tightly around his chest, looking thinner and more stressed than Angel ever remembered seeing him—and staring at him.

Before he could recall one of the lines he’d been rehearsing over the previous few nights—I fucking hate you; I want to kill you; you broke my fucking heart—he blurted out, ‘What the hell have you done to your hair now?’

Spike’s hand flew to his newly bleached, spiky crop, and the familiarity of the moment seemed to overwhelm them both.

Spike stared down at the floor, silent, tapping a screwdriver he was holding in an agitated beat against his leg.

Angel took a step back, fumbling for the door.

Spike looked up and said with a tightness in his voice that stilled Angel’s hand, ‘It wouldn’t work.’ He indicated a lamp half-out of one of the boxes with the screwdriver. ‘I was trying to fix it.’ He looked directly at Angel and said distinctly, ‘I’m not very good at… fixing things. I never had much practice.’

Angel licked his lips. ‘It takes a while to get things how you like them.’

He looked around once more. The place was no longer empty. It was filled with life. Their life, if he wanted to reach out and take it.

He did.

He wanted that more than anything.

He looked back at Spike’s distraught form and added softly, ‘It’s taken me twelve decades, after all.’

They met somewhere in the middle of Spike’s boxes, a kiss sufficing for all the words they could not say.

Angel could not tell if they were turning or the room spun around them. For all he knew, the entire universe was spinning with pleasure at the intensity of this reunion.

He remembered sweeping boxes away with his hand, making some space. He remembered thinking how soft the new rug was and how incredible Spike looked spread upon its rich colours in the soft glow from the fire. He remembered the slow, exquisite entry through Spike’s tightness, but no more beyond this. The rest of the urgent love making by the fire blurred in his mind until individual sensations or impressions could not be separated. Was that his moan or Spike’s? Were they his tears of remorse or Spike’s? Did he find Spike’s mouth, or did Spike pull him down and take what he wanted?

It was all flickering red light, warmth, and the incredible realisation that for the first time he had actually come home.

* * *

When they were both done, he rolled off the hard, bony form and lay next to him on the rug. They were both panting, and the smell of their drying sperm scented the air with a tang as sweet as the wood smoke.

‘Don’t ever leave me again, Angel.’

Angel shook his head fractionally. After a suitable amount of time had passed, he said casually, ‘Don’t ever fuck around on the side again.’

Spike just put his hand over Angel’s belly and stroked where the hairline began. Angel heard the reply he wanted in this small, intimate gesture.

He rolled his eyes back and regarded the curtains billowing slightly from an open window behind them. ‘Is all this… stolen?’

Spike snorted. ‘Jervis paid well. I just never had anything I wanted to buy before.’

Angel turned his head to the box next to them and pulled a book out. ‘So, you can read…’

Spike tossed it back in the box and rolled on top of him, looking down through his long, dark eyelashes. ‘I can read you.’

Angel lifted his legs and wrapped them around Spike’s back. ‘Read this.’

Spike moaned softly and put a hand down, finding Angel’s hole, rubbing around it with his thumb. ‘You stink by the way. And your hair is very… weird.’

Angel winced, but it was nothing to do with the comment about his hair. The thumb had invaded him, hooking over the ring of muscle, teasing and stretching. He caught Spike around the back of the neck and lifted his head for a kiss, opening his mouth wide, responding to the intense stimulation below.

Very slowly Spike eased his mouth away. He pulled out of Angel’s body and stood over him, holding out his hand. ‘Let me wash you.’

* * *

Angel did. He leant on the wall of the shower, letting Spike clean him and wash his hair. It was almost cathartic. As he watched the long, slim fingers working over him, watched the suds forming and collapsing under the power of the water, following their progress off his muscular body to the drain, he knew something far more significant than dirt was being washed away. He felt pure and new—renewed—and life, once more, was full of sweet anticipation.

* * *

Still wet, Angel lay on his side of the bed, one arm over his eyes. Three sleepless nights had begun to catch up on him. He felt something hard thrust into his hand, which proved, disappointingly, to be a phone. Spike nodded at the instrument. ‘You worried a lot of people who love you. You need to make it right.’

Angel nodded wearily and watched Spike’s naked backside as he trotted down to the kitchen. Reluctantly he began to dial.

When Spike returned, Angel was lying with a pillow over his head. He felt, therefore, rather than saw Spike smile. ‘That bad?’

Angel nodded.

He felt hard legs straddle his waist and the intoxicating smell of warm blood reached his starved brain. Throwing the pillow off, he accepted the mug of blood, resting his hand on Spike’s knee. ‘You haven’t been feeding.’

Spike twitched up an eyebrow. ‘I haven’t been doing a lot of things.’

Angel made a sound halfway between interest and appreciation and began to stroke his hand higher.

He frowned. He wanted to say something, but too much depended on the reception of his words. He glanced up to see if he could read Spike’s expression, see the answer to the question he kept asking him: what would you say if I told you I loved you? He learnt nothing from his scrutiny: lowered as the blue eyes were to watch the interesting journey of the errant hand.

Finally, Angel just decided to say it. It seemed right somehow. ‘I love you.’

Spike didn’t even take his eyes off the hand. ‘’K then. I’ll finish me unpacking tomorrow.’

Part IV Chapter 1

Angel watched Spike’s transformation with a sense of wonder, which he knew he shouldn’t feel. He knew that Spike, once committed to a course of action, always followed through. He had just never thought that one day he would become one of Spike’s courses of action.

Having apparently decided that he could breathe very well and that moving in wasn’t constricting him in any way at all, Spike committed to it. To everything: to the daily routines of cooking and cleaning and moving around someone else in his living space; to talking about everything and nothing and finding both equally interesting; to waking entangled and finding that perfect entanglement again at night; to making his body available whenever it was required and holding Angel to that same condition.

To loving and allowing himself to be loved.

Angel watched Spike emerge from the shell of his defensive persona.

It sometimes seemed to Angel that in this emergence he would lose his own soul: such happiness was not something he had ever dared to feel. Then he’d laugh inwardly and see his soul as a man trying to cross a busy highway—every time it seemed safe to leave, another rush of happiness kept it pinned and unable to move.

Angel also saw, despite being relatively inexperienced in relationships, that it wasn’t the sex that would bind them for eternity; it was this: this slow emergence of their true selves. They could have fucked and turned their backs on that. But once told, secrets couldn’t be untold. Once confessed, fears were shared between them, and far from weakening them, this confession strengthened whatever it was, this incredible thing, that was happening between them.

It had begun that first night over warmed blood and the intimacy of lying in Spike’s arms.

When Spike asked him where he’d been, he replied edgily, ‘Around.’

‘Being evil, like, cus you… quit?’

Angel nodded.

‘Lots of blood and mayhem….’

He nodded once more and took a long swallow of blood then said distinctly, ‘Fuck off.’

‘What? I’m not saying anything!’

When the badly suppressed laughter continued, Angel slapped him but was only punished for this by lips pressing to his neck. ‘Tell me….’

‘I moped. Happy!’

‘You moped?’

‘I moped.’



‘’Bout me…?’

‘About you.’

‘Cus I—?’

‘Because you—. Yes.’

‘Sulked and…?’

‘Got drunk.’



‘Cus of me?’

‘Because of you.’

‘Cus I—?’

‘Yes! Because you—. Because you fucking hurt me, Spike.’

It was the first really honest confession he’d ever made to someone of his inner vulnerability. He knew he’d handed Spike a level of power over him greater than he’d had even during the rape—for that power had been purely physical.

Spike shifted his fingers from Angel’s nipple, which he’d been playing with all through this interrogation, and began to run them gently through Angel’s hair. The difference in intent was startling.  Just as he began to think Spike wasn’t going to reply, a flat voice said, ‘I thought we were over when you walked away from me like that.’

Angel twisted in his arms, frowning. ‘But you moved in here. You must have expected me to come home.’

Spike’s jaw clenched. ‘I was gonna… beg.’ He added in a rush, ‘I reckoned if I had all this stuff here it would give me an excuse to be here while you… got rid of it—got rid of me.’

Angel hooked his arm around Spike’s neck and pulled him down, and they kissed for a while, just touching tips of tongues and biting softly at lips.  Somewhere, in the kiss, Angel found the courage to say, ‘I did the same—with a girl.’

Spike eased his mouth away. ‘You got a blow job?’

Angel pouted and nodded.

‘Oh.’ He leant back against the headboard and took his cigarettes off the nightstand. Around the satisfaction of nicotine, he said with some effort, ‘I couldn’t get bloody hard for her, Luv. You got it all wrong.’

Angel slid his hand down appreciatively, and Spike melted at the touch. ‘Yeah, not my problem when I’m with you.’

‘It was the same for me—with the girl I picked up… soft.’

They gave each other small, askance looks.  ‘First time for you?’

‘Hell yes! You?’

‘Bloody right it was!’

‘Well, okay!’

‘Okay then!’

‘Wanna fuck?’

‘Oh, yeah.’ Hard and fast, proving something to themselves, they abandoned blood and cigarettes for other oral pleasures. Nothing was soft this time. The smell of Spike made Angel hard. The sound of his voice made him wet. He pinned the laughing figure down and pressed into him. His cock pushed against the resistance of the hard abs for a moment, then slid up, flattening them together. Angel did it again, grinding them together as his cock slipped away on the increasingly slick belly. He crawled forward and pushed his hardness into Spike’s armpit, groaning as the foreskin caught on silky hair and slid back, exposing a sensitive tip. Spike cupped him around the back of the neck, clamped his arm to his side and urged Angel to fuck his soft hollow. It was a very short distance from that tightness to another, and Angel slid his aching shaft into Spike’s welcoming mouth with a cry of disbelieving delight. Spike pushed him onto his back and went down on him with abandon, working his own cock, fisting it with short, distracted tugs. Angel shoved him off, stared at him for a moment then arranged them into a perfect twin position to give each other matching pleasure. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he saw the perfection of this arrangement, this circle of pleasure that needed no others.

Spike tasted salty and hot in his mouth. He rolled his tongue around the cockhead, sucking and licking, mouthing down the prominent vein to bite into the dark, wiry hair. Spike was taking him in deeply, pushing his throat against his wet tip, keeping his lips a tight circle of constriction around the shaft.  Angel cupped Spike’s buttocks and pulled him onto his mouth harder. His fingers drifted into the shallow crease flattened by the stretch and tickled over the hot little entrance. His sucking and playing lost some finesse as he explored Spike’s hole with a fingertip. Such a clever construction of muscle and skin, so deceptive, so private… so his. He pushed a finger in and claimed the tightness. He swirled it around and took the stretch for his own. He eased it up and down and possessed the slick walls. Spike writhed in his arms, jerking his mouth up and down on Angel’s cock with increasing desperation. Angel added another finger and began to scrunch them, then drummed them in a little staccato beat on the slippery inside flesh of Spike’s body.

Spike shuddered, and Angel’s mouth filled with thick fluid. It ran over his tongue, down his throat, coating it. It spilled out around his lips, and he captured it back, licking Spike’s shaft urgently.

When Spike was done, Angel took the salty taste and plunged his tongue in the hole he had prepared with his fingers. It was stretched just enough for him to be able to lick the inside walls, and the sensation slammed him into orgasm. He pulsed deep in Spike’s mouth, releasing against his throat, jerking his hips into the welcoming heat and moaning into the soft channel that muffled this sound of endless pleasure.

Spent, both from the sex and the tension of the previous few days, he fell into a dreamless sleep, his face pressed between Spike’s shoulder blades, his arm over the slim figure, his hand captured in Spike’s and held as if his childe nurtured some residual fear that he would leave again.

As the first few days of bliss merged, one into another, Angel could not help but think that he had never really known Spike—not this Spike, anyway. This Spike was the one that might have grown from a nervous, shy man—had that man been allowed to live. He could not work out what he felt about this; it spooked him to some extent: that he should have been both the cause of that man’s death and the reason for his rebirth. He was only profoundly glad that he was the one enjoying the benefit of this Spike. Somewhere in his heart, he knew he was the only one that could. They were so perfectly matched, and so entirely different, that they were more than lovers, more than shared blood. He thought the word soulmates sometimes, but he did not risk saying this to Spike.

They fell into a pattern, which seemed almost too easy too soon. Angel could not quite accept that he shared his life so seamlessly with Spike for this only threw an achingly sad spotlight on the years that they had missed.

Angel always woke first. It was the first moment in the day when his soul tried to flee away. Such perfect happiness shouldn’t be his, but it was. It was entangled around his body; it was breathing softly against his skin; it was warm and soft and hard in all the right places. It was his. He would lie, stroking a thumb through Spike’s hair, or down his spine, or across the top of one arm, hoping he would wake, hoping he wouldn’t. When he did, they would smile at each other and kiss languidly, fondling and stroking, clumsy still from sleep.

After sex, Angel could never remember how it had been worked out who would enter whom, or who would go first. It puzzled him and each time he told himself that he would remember, but he never did. Caught in the frenzy and need of the moment, he would find himself face pressed to the pillow and being entered without remembering when this arrangement had been decided. Sometimes, lost to the sensation of Spike’s kisses, he would be inside the hot, tight body before he could remember being invited. Sometimes they fought for dominance. He would flip Spike over, expecting acquiescent to his tumescent need, only to find himself thrown back and straddled, legs opened and fingers seeking him out. How these fights were finally decided, he could then not recall.

After the sex, they were always hungry. Spike had begun a newfound interest in cooking and would stand frowning and cursing, naked in the kitchen, pondering the mysteries of pancakes or eggs and bacon.

Partially to distract him so he would not be forced to eat the burnt offerings and partly because he wanted to, Angel would come up behind him, wrapping his arms around the naked chest, nuzzling into the warm neck.

They would rock together, both enjoying the feel of Angel’s hardness trapped between them.

The first time this had happened, breakfast had been abandoned.

Bent face down over the kitchen counter, Spike was at the perfect height to take. It was almost too easy. With a groan, Angel worked them both under the intense halogen lights, watching avidly as his blood-dark shaft slid repetitively in and out of sight. The friction was so great he wondered they didn’t begin to smoke. When he emptied on the raw edges of the hole, he imagined hearing his come hiss, like water spayed on flames. In the pool of quenching sperm, he re-entered and brought Spike to orgasm. Spike’s release then splattered over the counter, coating the cooking tools like pale batter.

Angel lay over Spike’s back, picked up a spoon and licked it clean. ‘Your cooking’s improving.’

* * *

Spike began to wear loose cotton pants around the apartment instead of walking around naked.  One Saturday, helping three deliverymen manoeuvre a large tub though the door, Angel had been confronted by a naked, still sleepy Spike jumping down off the gallery. It was debatable who was more disconcerted or embarrassed. Particularly as it was early morning, and Spike had clearly missed the relief Angel’s waking body usually provided. Particularly as Spike’s cock had the uncanny knack of wavering and then honing in on wherever Angel happened to be. It pointed at him now… red... wet and glistening on the tip…. For the next few days, Angel pondered the change that clad Spike made to his pleasure. He missed watching his backside. He missed wrapping his arms around the slim waist and holding his cock until it rose, swaying cobra-like in his hands. One night though, Spike was lying face down on the bed, reading. His spine dipped like a roller coaster into the dark tunnel of his pants. Angel lay alongside him, watching his profile as he read, until the destination of that bony track distracted him. Very slowly, as if he was trying not to disturb Spike’s reading, he eased the soft, black material off the white cheeks. It took so long, every inch adding to the slow reveal. He straddled Spike’s legs and ran his thumbs up the track then down as far as he had exposed. He toyed with the pants, teasing them slightly further down then up. Finally, he scooped them below the sculptured cheeks, leaving the paleness fully exposed and framed by the dark contrast of colour. From that moment on, Angel understood the exquisite pleasure of clothed flesh. All day, he anticipated the moment when he could reveal the tight buttocks, arranging the cloth around them like the frame around a favourite picture. He’d never realised how erotic clothes could be. He began to obsess more over Spike’s clothes than his own and shopped for him, wanted him to wear the things he’d chosen, longed for the moment when he could separate a T-shirt from a pair of jeans and see a flat belly, or stretch a neckband and nuzzle into the hollows that lay beneath.

Spike’s body moving inside leather drove him to distraction. Silk on the taut skin made his balls clench.

Spike seemed to take all of Angel’s new fun with equanimity. If Angel occasionally caught him with a nonsensical grin of intense self-satisfaction, he thought he knew the cause. If they’d owned a mirror, he knew he’d see one of these on his face, too.

The tub was a huge success. He’d missed the luxury of soaking his strained muscles, and although the shower that had been included in the apartment was vast and powerful, he still wanted a tub.

They had it installed in the corner of the bathroom. It had underwater jets that bubbled the water and vibrated places where vibrations would always be welcome.

After an initial error of adding bubble bath, they got the hang of it, and bathing together at the end of long and stressful days became a welcome routine. Sometimes, they lay content in each other’s arms; sometimes, they sat opposite each other and fought childishly with feet. One night, Angel found candles placed all around the edge, and they never used the overhead light again.

Angel’s first major error in this blissful, almost honeymoon state, began in the tub. Looking back on it, he felt he should have sensed the subtle shift in Spike’s mood, but with candlelight, sweet-smelling oil, warmth, and Spike impaled on his stiff, throbbing shaft, he reckoned he’d been justifiably distracted.

They were chatting about work—obliquely. Spike was trying to convince Angel that Wesley was gay, which was about as close to a conversation about work as his childe ever wanted to go.

His arguments thus far were subjective, but Angel could not deny that they carried some weight. He gently lifted his hips, embedding his cock deeper and said, ‘Just because he doesn’t have a girlfriend doesn’t mean he’s gay.’

‘Doesn’t shag, I said.’

‘How do you know he isn’t seeing someone?’

‘Oh, Jesus, yess… there…. Same way you do—I’d smell it on ‘im’

 ‘He had someone, but she got killed—kinda messy. He’s in mourning.’

‘Like fuck he is. He’s repressed.’

‘Not for men. He told me….’

Spike stopped his interesting play with Angel’s nipples and stared at him. ‘You’ve talked about shagging with Wesley?’

‘Jesus, Spike! No! Not in so many words anyway. We were talking about you….’

‘You’ve discussed me shagging with Wesley!’

‘No! Well…. No! Anyway. He’s not gay. I’d know.’

Spike snorted. ‘You didn’t know you were, so I’m believing that.’

Angel didn’t even bother to retort the obvious. Spike had heard his denials too many times and given the position they were in, it was kinda embarrassing to try. Instead, he gave Spike a little shake and said with a rare edge of excitement in his voice, ‘Guess what?’

Spike gave him a derisive look but also a small, fond smile and closed in on his mouth, kissing him. ‘What, poof?’

‘Adam’s taking us to the opening of Jensen’s new movie!’

It was just a flicker in the blue eyes, but Angel still felt, afterwards, that he should have given it more heed. Spike eased off the thick shaft and floated to sit next to him, spreading his arms along the edge. ‘Sounds fun. When?’

‘Saturday. You could maybe wear those—.’

‘Who else has he invited?’

‘Dunno. No one, I think. Vampires fighting werewolves, can you believe it?’


‘I mean, how long would it take, yeah? Werewolves—Jesus.’

‘You done?’

Angel lifted his hips so the tip of his cock peeped above the surface like some one-eyed creature from the depths. ‘Do I look done?’

‘Do you ever?’


Spike smiled and floated back, lowering himself with an unmistakable sigh of pleasure. As they got into a nice rhythm, Spike added slyly, ‘They’d stake us during the daylight—when they were human….’

* * *

Saturday, Spike dressed as Angel wanted in leather and silk. He was ready early and smiled as Angel came down, similarly dressed.

Angel grabbed the keys off the counter just as the phone rang. He snatched it up and frowned, mouthing, ‘It’s for you.’

Spike frowned, too. ‘No one knows I’m….’ He stuck out his hand. ‘Yeah?’

Angel waited impatiently, listening to the monosyllabic, one-sided conversation, checking his watch. ‘Come on!’

Spike finally nodded and set the phone back in its cradle. ‘I’ll have to meet you there. That was one of Jervis’s men. He was okay—one of the good guys. But there’s been some trouble with the others.’

Angel frowned. ‘How long is it going to take? We’re meeting him at the club at seven.’

‘I know. I’ll be there. I can’t just leave him….’

Angel nodded. ‘You know the way?’

‘Sure. I’ll see you there.’

* * *

‘He’s not coming, Angel. We need to go. Now!’

Angel ignored Adam and continued to scan the street outside the club.

‘I’m not pissing my boyfriend off because yours is bailing.’

‘He’s not my boyfriend, and he’s not…’ He was both, so Angel shut up swiftly and checked his watch again, as if he didn’t already know it was nearly eight.

‘Come on!’

Angel gritted his teeth but jumped into the waiting limo with Adam. ‘Fuck!’ He slammed his hand into the seat. ‘I need to go check he’s okay. Fucking Jervis! Will he never been gone from our lives?’

Adam looked incredulously at his friend, saw his genuinely trusting face, and so kept his own counsel.  He patted Angel’s thigh. ‘He’ll be okay. Do you want us to go find him? Jenson will be surrounded by all his movie buddies he won’t notice if any of us are there.’

Angel turned to face him, looking puzzled. ‘You just said he’d be pissed off at you being late.’

Adam snorted humourlessly. ‘Sometimes I allow my fantasies to overcome my natural cynicism.’

‘Are you two… okay?’ Angel was so impressed with himself he forgot to think about Spike for almost a nanosecond. Adam also seemed to find something incongruous in Angel’s oddly thoughtful comment. His mouth twitched into a smile, but something else in the comment made him clench his jaw, and he turned to look out of the window, silently.

Now worried more about Adam than he was about Spike, Angel watched the beautiful man for the rest of the trip, wondering how anyone could risk losing him.  Secure in his own happiness, Angel went to the opening without Spike, and did not once, all evening, get the irony.

Part IV Chapter 2

When he returned home late that night, Angel could hear the sounds of Spike’s music drifting out of the bathroom. The sense of relief was so intense that he sagged against the kitchen counter for a moment, just listening.

He jogged up the stairs and leant in the doorway. Spike was in the tub, his head tipped back, arms stretched along the rim, and eyes shut. Angel winced and came closer. ‘I hope the other guy looks worse.’ Spike didn’t open his eyes—one looked as if it would not open for some days.

‘He does.’

‘Mind if I join you?’

Spike’s smile was all the permission Angel needed. He shed his clothes and slid beneath the hot water.

‘I’m sorry ‘bout the movie. How was it?’

Angel stuck his big toe out of the water, studying it. ‘The werewolves staked all the vampires—when they were sleeping.’

Spike chuckled. ‘Told you.’

‘It was a good evening though.’

‘Yeah. I’m sorry I missed it.’

‘I knew you would be. That’s why I said yes to the party on Wednesday.’

Spike opened his one good eye. ‘Party?’

Even then, Angel didn’t get the tone or the intensity of the scrutiny. ‘Hmm. Adam’s throwing one for all the cast and crew at the club.’

‘Oh. Good.’ He stood up and began to climb out of the tub. Angel caught at his hand.

‘Come here.’

‘I’m tired, Angel.’

‘So am I.’

Spike smiled softly. ‘You come here then.’ He pulled Angel to his feet, and when they were out, began to dry him. ‘I’m sorry.’


Spike pouted, but his face seemed to threaten to show more than he intended for he turned and went to the bedroom. When Angel came in, he stood for a while, looking at the still figure in the bed. He had the strange desire once more to climb into something very small with Spike and close the lid.  He couldn’t really see why he should feel such vulnerability now—now, when everything was so perfect. He slid in alongside the apparently sleeping Spike and edged them together into their familiar spoon. Spike melted to him, pouring his body around Angel’s like quicksilver in the moonlight. ‘Don’t stop loving me.’

Angel made a small sound of shocked incomprehension. ‘Where did that come from?’

‘I—. Nothing. I’m just tired.’

Angel pressed his face to the damp strands of Spike’s newly blond hair, and for the first time they fell asleep without the physical release that usually tipped them so contentedly over the edge of that quiet realm.

* * *

He didn’t like parties, so why he was eager for this one, he could not have said. He just was. He wanted to arrive with Spike and have all eyes turn to him. He wanted to see their envy. He wanted to sit once more in Adam’s club, but this time have the one thing that had been missing last time: Spike. He grinned inwardly: it hadn’t been that hard to work out why he was excited.

Spike didn’t mention the party again until the day before when he said casually over breakfast, ‘Can anyone come to this thing tomorrow?’

Angel was returning calls on his cell phone and nodded distractedly; then he shook his head and put his hand over the mouthpiece. ‘Invitation only.’

‘I mean, can we invite someone?’

Angel continued with his call, staring at Spike with a puzzled look. When his caller was talking, he mouthed, ‘Who?’

Spike mimed something. Angel frowned. Spike amplified, annoyed, ‘Harmony?’

Angel ended the call. ‘You want to invite… Harmony?’

‘Yeah. And Fred.’

‘And Fred.’

Spike hastily buttered some toast and made himself busy with an elaborate pattern of brown spread.


‘Cus they’d enjoy it. Can you imagine Harmony meeting all those stars? And Fred! Imagine what she’ll be able to tell her old Mum and Dad!’

Angel blinked once then said, ‘That’s really thoughtful of you, Spike.’

For some reason, this response seemed to have the opposite effect on Spike to the one that Angel had intended. He tossed down his toast and stood up, hugging his body. ‘Yeah. I’m thoughtful-guy all right.’

* * *

The evening, therefore, did not go quite as Angel planned. He sat at the same table as he had that first night coming out to a stranger. He sat there with Adam now. But for all intents and purposes, he was no further forward than he had been back then. They had not walked in together; Spike walked in whispering something in Harmony’s ear, embracing her. They did not sit together; Spike was at the bar with Harmony. Angel had to admit that when Spike had made the suggestion that they invite the girls, he’d envisioned the women being a couple for the evening
as they were. In fact, he was honest enough to admit that he’d envisioned this for quite some time in the shower. But it hadn’t worked out like that. With Spike and Harmony so engrossed in each other, Fred had latched onto him. There were two couples—but in the most conventional sense of that.

Spike seemed to be enjoying himself though, and Angel was grateful for small mercies. He always enjoyed Fred’s company, so the evening was not a total loss….

When Fred went to what she quaintly called the Little Girls’ Room, Adam slid into her place next to Angel. They smiled lazily at each other, and Angel raised his glass. ‘Good party.’

‘I’ll need to wind it up soon.’

‘It’s still early.’

‘I’m driving Jensen to the airport early. He’s leaving for a shoot in Uruguay.’

Angel heard a catch in his friend’s voice, so didn’t make the comment that immediately occurred to him. As he stared at Adam’s lowered eyes, the thought crossed his mind that if he were Jensen, he would not leave this attractive man on his own so often.

‘Why she’s here?’

Angel started from a guilty reverie. ‘Huh?’

Adam inclined his head toward the noisy figure at the bar.

‘Oh. That’s Harmony—she works for me.’

‘I know. We’ve met. And that’s Spike, and he lives with you.’

Angel narrowed his eyes. ‘So, where is Jensen tonight?’ He immediately regretted this bitchiness when he saw the pain in Adam’s eyes.

The man stood up then leant close to Angel and said in a hissed whisper, ‘You need to wise up to what he’s doing.’ He grabbed his glass and went toward the band.

For the life of him, Angel could not work out why he needed to wise up to anything Jensen Travis did, and put Adam’s strange comment out of his mind to watch Spike and Harmony dancing to the last, slow dance.

* * *

Although Angel never thought of himself as particularly perceptive, he did fathom that Spike had not shared his enthusiasms for either of the week’s social events. He determined to do something that Spike would enjoy more, and decide to surprise him with dinner and a movie. The problem had been Adam’s presence, he was sure. Spike didn’t like Adam—for some reason that Angel didn’t want to examine too closely. A romantic dinner and a movie, just the two of them, would be exactly what they needed.

Although he didn’t consciously accuse Spike of trying to avoid the previous events, he did think it might be a good idea not to tell him where they were going until they were actually… there. He even had an elaborate case scenario worked out of a haunted restaurant, but finally decided that it might be best to see the movie first. Haunted theatre?

Mulling over possibilities that morning at breakfast, anticipating the feel of sitting alongside Spike in the dark, he was blindsided when Spike suddenly laid two crumpled, one hundred dollar notes on the table.  ‘This is my share—of stuff. For the week, like.’ Angel put down his coffee and stared at the offering, a number of responses going around in his mind. Something in his dim and distant, patriarchal past made him uncomfortable with the idea of taking them: he liked being the provider. But he could see, without too much stretch, that this might not be how Spike wanted to see their relationship. With some effort, therefore, he said thanks politely and pocketed the money. Spike, he knew, was studying his response very carefully. Angel knew he’d passed whatever this latest test was, for a private smile crept past the habitual defensive scowl. As he picked up his newspaper, Angel said, ‘Bastard,’ just loud enough for preternatural ears to hear—even over the crunching of toast.  Spike relieved him of the Arts section and murmured, ‘Poof,’ in the same tone.

Angel offered up a considerable chunk of his eternity to have moments like this repeated. He pushed his bare foot farther under the table and connected with another. Apparently ignoring each other and engrossed in their reading, beneath the table they teased their toes around sensitive arches and scraped flesh with blunt nails.

* * *

Angel chickened out of tricking Spike—at the very last minute. As they were climbing out of the car, and Spike stretched back to retrieve his axe from the backseat, Angel sighed and rested his head on the steering wheel for a moment. ‘There’re no demons. I lied.’


He lifted his head and stared out at a depressingly dank, dark night. ‘I just thought we could see a movie together.’ He felt foolish but wasn’t unaware that Spike might feel more so. It appeared that he was right for Spike nodded, shrugged and climbed out into the soft rain.

Angel banged the wheel with pent up excitement (and frustration) and leapt out, too.

He had used the word together, but Spike had clearly interpreted this in its loosest sense. He didn’t make an impact in the line, moving away from Angel to study some posters. When Angel paid, he was already inside choosing candy. Angel waited at the back for him, but when he didn’t appear, sat down. Only when the trailers came on did a figure slide silently into a seat one up from Angel. He made a show of putting his wet coat into the seat between them and stared resolutely at the screen.

Angel didn’t see much of the movie. He was seeing something else—his stupidity. There was no reason why the pieces of the puzzle clicked together this night and not one of the many others where Spike had deliberately avoided, ignored, or left him, but they did: click, click, click.

Suddenly, without thinking it through too much, he turned to Spike and said in a voice loud enough for anyone who wanted to listen, ‘You’re embarrassed about us. You don’t want to be seen out with me. You’re… embarrassed about me.’

Spike’s gaze darted furtively to the humans seated around him. His face crumpled. He grabbed his coat and kneed his way to the aisle.

Angel watched the rest of the movie then left with everyone else as if he were like them: with someone and happy.

He had no idea what to do now: no idea if Spike was coming home with him—whether he should wait for him. He didn’t feel much like doing so.

* * *

As he strode through an alley to the car, shoulders hunched against the rain, he heard a shuffle and stopped, his senses alert.

‘Want some company, Buddy?’

Angel turned, incredulous, to the figure huddling in the shelter of a doorway. He couldn’t place the accent but it sounded New York-Irish.


‘Do I look like I want anything from you?’

The man laughed and ran a hand blatantly over a considerable swelling in his faded denim. ‘Yeah. You do.’

Angel felt himself harden, which infuriated him. ‘Fuck off and leave me alone. I’m not in the mood.’

‘Had a lovers’ spat with the boyfriend?’

Angel froze and turned back, coming close to the wet figure. ‘What did you just say?’

The man pushed himself off the door and met Angel squarely. He put a hand to Angel’s arm, stroking a finger on the tiny sliver of flesh just visible beneath the sleeve of his coat. He looked up and said genuinely, ‘He must be a fool.’

Angel couldn’t help the surge of heat that pierced some of his resistance. He looked down at the finger. ‘I’m trying to make allowances. I don’t always… understand him.’

‘Maybe I can help you.’ He placed his palm over Angel’s zipper and cupped gently.

Angel’s throat went dry.

‘Anything you want….’

Angel grabbed the wrist and twisted it off. ‘I have what I want—at home.’

A glimmer of intense pleasure sparked in the dilated eyes, and very deliberately he fought Angel’s strength and returned his hand to the throbbing under the soft pants. ‘Who’s this for then?’

Angel swallowed to wet his throat. ‘What do you… do?’

The man grinned and licked his lips. ‘Anything and everything.’

Angel snatched at the narrow waistband and began to explore. The man stilled his hands.

Angel felt faint. ‘What?’

‘What do you want? I need for you to say it.’

Dizzy with lust, out of control, Angel croaked, ‘I want to fuck you.’

‘That’s two hundred dollars.’


‘A full fuck is two hundred dollars.’

‘You bastard!’

‘Do you want it… poof?’

Angel spun him around and slammed him onto the hood of an abandoned car. ‘What do you think?’ He rammed two crumpled notes into the back pocket of the jeans, then tore the denim roughly off the man’s backside.


Struggling around, the man fished out a small, foil packet.

Angel’s hand was already on his cock, pulling it free from the confines of his pants. ‘You’re joking.’

‘You think you’re gonna screw anyone in an alley in L.A. without a condom?’

‘I think I’m gonna screw you without one, yeah!’

The man began to pull up his jeans.

Angel’s eyes widened. ‘All right! You… freak!’

The man grinned and ripped the packet open. He studied the contents with great concentration. Angel chuckled. ‘I bet it seemed like a good idea when you thought of it.’ The guy shrugged and felt for Angel’s cock, giving it a few tugs before he ineptly rolled the condom on.

Angel slammed him once more onto his front and began to explore, parting the cheeks. ‘Oh, yeah.’

‘Better than you got at home?’

Angel leant over the slim body. ‘But I don’t have it, do I? I’m on my own tonight—in case you haven’t noticed.’

The man closed his eyes. ‘Yeah. I know.’

‘You gonna make up for that? You gonna be what I want?’

‘I’ll be anyone you want.’

Angel hesitated then said softly, ‘I only want him.’

The man cried out at some pleasure of his own, arching to the explorations of his body. When a finger penetrated him, he began to pant, incoherent words murmured into the rain-slick hood of the car.

Angel ripped the jeans down further and spread the legs, standing between them. His cock felt fat and swollen in the shiny sheath, but he couldn’t deny that it had a certain novelty appeal. He worked two fingers into the man’s tight entrance and began to finger-fuck him quickly.

Suddenly, he lifted the hips higher and plunged his encased cock into the only semi-prepared hole, leaning in hard to drive it up the waiting rectum.

It felt different, which is what he reckoned he was paying his money for. He leant over the squirming man, sending his cock into him with short, urgent jerks. ‘Why the whoring?’

Panting out his answer, the guy said breathlessly, ‘I needed – the – dough. Rent, ya know?’

‘Maybe you should try paying your landlord in kind. You have a cute ass.’

‘Nah. I think he’ll enjoy it more if he knows I’ve had to do this.’

Angel grunted and let that go.

The only sounds in the alley were their unmistakable sounds of sex: panting, cries of pain or pleasure, grunts of satisfaction and the never-ending slap-slap of flesh hitting wet flesh.

A tentative voice brought Angel back to the moment. ‘I’m sorry—that you were alone tonight. You must… hate him….’

Angel laughed and bent to the fragile-looking neck. ‘I don’t hate him. I’d rather be alone because he doesn’t love me enough, than alone because I don’t have him. Misery with him is more blissful than bliss with anyone else. There is nothing I don’t love about him—even the fact that he pisses me off and I hate him sometimes.’ He crooked his arm around the man’s neck and heaved him off the car, skewering him on his ramming hardness. ‘Jesus! I’m gonna come—in this damn… thing!’

He filled the condom, the pleasure of something new momentarily taking away the frustration of not being able to send his seed where he wanted it.

Panting, clumsy now, he pulled out.

The man cried out and spun around, falling to his knees. With no hesitation, he caught Angel’s imprisoned cock in his mouth and scraped the condom off with his teeth, licking and cleaning as he went.

When he was done, he rose and gave Angel a little shake to bring him back to earth. ‘What are you going to tell your boyfriend—about this?’

Angel’s eyebrow rose at the term, but he wasn’t in the mood to contradict it. ‘I think I’ll tell him he’s forgiven for being a jerk.’

‘Forgiven enough to get a ride home?’

Angel huffed and did up his pants. ‘If he drops that crap accent.’

Spike quirked up his eyebrow and held out the condom. ‘Want a souvenir?’

Part IV Chapter 3

They were very silent on the way home—not that ordinary silence where nothing is said, but an oppressive one where anything that might be said wouldn’t be heard.

Wet through, Angel went straight to the bathroom and began to fill the tub. Spike hung in the doorway watching him and without commenting, lit the candles. Angel glanced at them as if to challenge this assumption that they’d share, but didn’t have the heart to actually deny Spike’s presence.

In awkward stiffness, they sat side by side in the tub. Finally, Angel said in a tight voice, ‘I’m sorry I’m too embarrassing to be seen with.’

Spike closed his eyes, and the world chilled around Angel as fast as the water. He hadn’t wanted agreement.

Suddenly, Spike said with startling clarity, ‘It’s not that at all.’ He opened his eyes, staring at something on the ceiling. Angel couldn’t help but glance up, too, but he could see nothing out of the ordinary. Apparently deep in contemplation of something, Spike added, ‘I’d be tempting God.’

Of all the replies that he could have made—I’m not gay! I’m a bleeding vampire! I don’t do dates—that they were somehow defying a universal deity caught Angel unprepared.

Spike pouted and trailed a finger in the water. ‘It’s those big emotions again—remember?’

Angel did, but speech was beyond him.  ‘Now I feel ‘em all a hundred times over—for you.’ He turned his face to Angel, a catch of desperation in his voice. ‘Can’t you see them spilling out of me? I feel like I’m gonna spew them over people, ya know? At that damn party, sitting there with the bint, pretending to talk to her, I could feel it all bubbling up inside and beginning to spill—hot desire for you, like lava. Couldn’t you see it? In here, it’s okay. It’s our place, and I can be totally in love with you and know it’s safe. But out there, he’ll see us, and he’ll take you away from—.’ He suddenly heaved out of the water and left, the ripples sloshing over the side and splashing on the tiled floor.

Angel didn’t let him get far. He caught him before he could jump below, wrapping his arms tightly around the shivering form as if the edge were far higher and Spike were actually vulnerable to that height. Spike folded his arms over Angel’s and pushed his wet hair against the strong jaw line, his voice tense with the effort not to break down. ‘He’ll see us, Pet. He’ll see us, and he’ll be jealous, and he’ll take you away from me.’

Knowing something of loss himself, Angel only rubbed his thumb over Spike’s arm, not speaking yet, just giving comfort. When he felt the urge to bolt had departed the slim figure, he urged Spike back to the bed where they curled into an impossibly tight entanglement of limbs.

Stroking the water-darkened hair, he said gently, ‘A smart guy once said that playing small doesn’t serve the world—that we were meant to shine, Spike. He said the glory of the universe is in all of us. God wants us to be fabulous.’

Spike huffed. ‘He’s got a very funny way of showing it then. I’ve lost everything, Angel. It’s always loss. The grand loves always are—‘s what makes them grand, I suppose. He’ll envy what we have, and he’ll take it away from us.’

‘But how long will it stay… brilliant… if we hide that light in here?’

‘Please, Angel. I just want it to be us, in here. Please.’

Angel was silent for a long while. Eventually, he said against Spike’s ear, ‘If I say yes, do I get one of those big things you mentioned?’

Spike twisted in his arms and looked up at him through lowered lids. ‘Emotions. I think I said emotions.’

Angel flicked up an eyebrow. ‘Guess I got caught up on the big part.’

They laughed and rolled into a better kissing position.

Spike held him off long enough to ask, ‘Just us?’

Angel nodded. ‘I’m not going anywhere, Spike. I won’t let him separate us. I’ll be your God.’  For a moment, Angel heard the universe hold its breath at such blasphemy. Then he was kissing Spike, and he didn’t care all that much if it did. If he had to, he’d climb into the smallest box he could find and bolt it from the inside—if that’s what it took to keep this beloved one with him.

* * *

Other than going to work—a place God rarely made an appearance—they didn’t leave the apartment other than to occasionally shop or run essential errands.  They rarely left each other’s side when they were there, but able to live silent and still when needed, they did not find this intense closeness cloying. The spring was very late coming to L.A., and every night they lit the fire, watching the way the flickering light brought their home to life. Sitting on the couch, Spike sprawled on the floor between his thighs, Angel could not say that he found Spike’s paranoia oppressive. Sometimes, he had begun to see flickers and shadows reaching out at him from unexpected corners, and felt the outside world creeping closer, even upon their refuge.

Such withdrawal from the world could not help but increase their togetherness. They had shared fears and desires, now they began to explore shared history—something they had eschewed until now.

One night, sitting thus in front of the fire, rain beating against the window and creating eerie tendrils of remembrance of a previous life, Angel said softly, ‘You would have been a good man, Will—if you hadn’t met me.’

Spike tipped his head back and looked up at Angel. ‘A weak man.’

‘You had different strengths.’

Spike kissed the jean-clad inside of Angel’s hard thigh. ‘You’re prejudiced—fortunately.’


‘You didn’t even like me then.’

Angel looked down and ruffled the soft, blond spikes. ‘I liked some things about you.’

‘The way I bled?’

Angel squeezed him for his insolence. ‘I liked the way you talked.’

Spike frowned. ‘You liked my accent?’

‘No—the words you used.’

Spike shuddered. ‘What a freaking nerd I was.’

Angel stroked down one of Spike’s almost fragile-looking ears. ‘I liked your poetry.’ He bent forward and wrapped his arms around Spike’s neck. ‘Tell me one of your poems, Will.’

Perhaps it was the strange, evocative atmosphere in the apartment that night, or perhaps the fact that he’d called him Will, but Angel could see the reluctance in Spike’s eyes wavering. He kissed the top of his head. ‘Please?’

Spike stared into the flames, the light giving his face an unusual flush of warmth. In a soft but very sure voice, he murmured,

‘He stood colossal, the petty God of my world,
Proportions distorted by his deceit of power.
The darkness he cast rose shadow-like on the delicately papered walls of my heart.
He stands frail now, a spent deity,
Shadows vindictive, besetting him:
Recompense for his duplicity

When did that darkened glass of childhood clear?
Did I deconstruct his swaggering supremacy,
And see beneath conceit uncertainty?
Absurd: he has simply shrunk to the confines of my heart,
And in that defeat realised his most sublime conquest;
So stands colossal yet, the consummate God of my world.’

They were kissing almost before he had finished, so the final word was breathed on an entire universe of love into Angel’s mouth.

They rolled, kissing, pulling off to look with fascinated eyes at where their lips had been, then returning frantically to the kiss, mouths open wide and tasting the mouth of the other.

Angel had no idea whether the poem was good, bad or indifferent; he hadn’t understood all of it, but he did know he had conquered Spike’s heart. He sat up and put his hands firmly to the hem of Spike’s T-shirt, and Spike lifted his arms. When he was revealed, Spike did the same to Angel, and they flung the unwanted clothes behind them. Eyes locked, they undid their own pants, sliding them slowly down, hair and long cocks revealed. They came back into a hard embrace, kissing more, biting down, rolling, wriggling and kicking out of their pants until they lay cock to cock, dark hair grinding into dark hair.

Angel saw the sex playing out in his head, felt his cock sliding into Spike and knew a small surge of pre-come was now wetting his belly. To his surprise, Spike turned him over, gently, insistently. He leant over Angel’s back, stroking his buttocks in wide, palm-flat erotic circles, pressing hard to massage and stimulate his hole. ‘I want you.’

Angel smiled at this odd interpretation of loving one’s God, but stretched his arms and pushed his fingers into the soft pile of the rug, acquiescing.

Spike pressed his mouth to Angel’s ear and murmured, ‘Don’t move….’ He leapt up and went to the kitchen area; Angel’s only disobedience to this command a flick of his eyes to follow the naked backside.

When he returned, Spike was carrying an open bottle of wine in one hand and something behind his back. He smiled and fell gracefully to his knees alongside Angel’s stretched, sleek form. Angel could picture well enough what his body looked like, naked and willing in the light from the flames—he wasn’t entirely blind to his own charms, and the thought stirred his cock disturbingly. Before he could ponder this uncharacteristic narcissism, his lips were claimed, and he had other things to think about: mouth-warmed wine trickling through Spike’s lips to his. Angel laughed and by opening his mouth, the wine flooded in. At this awkward angle, it pooled to the floor like thin blood. Spike grinned and took another mouthful. This time, he pushed Angel onto his back and, holding his mouth some feet away, let the wine cascade in a red waterfall to the waiting mouth. It splashed in Angel’s face, and Spike was there to lick and kiss the spills, laughing at Angel’s expression, fondling him increasingly passionately as the taste of Angel’s skin mixed with the expensive alcohol.

Engrossed as he was by Spike’s mouth, it took Angel a while to realise that the hand massaging and playing with him was… slick. He lifted up and saw that his whole body was glistening, oiled.  Spike sat back on his heels to admire his handiwork. ‘Olive oil?’

‘’S all I had.’

Angel pulled him on top. He couldn’t deny the attraction of being… oiled: Spike slid and squelched deliciously. He rolled them, lying heavy on the slim body and ran his fingers through the short strands of hair. ‘I love you.’

Spike caught Angel’s hand and brought the fingers to his lips, kissing them one by one. Looking up through lowered lids, he said softly, ‘No one’s ever told me that before you—and meant it.’

Angel rubbed his thumb over one prominent cheekbone. ‘Maybe that’s because you’re so irritating.’

Spike punched him and rolled them once more, his skin now glistening as brightly as Angel’s. ‘Wanna see how irritating I can be?’

Angel narrowed his eyes. ‘I might. Do I get to scratch the irritation?’ He demonstrated on Spike’s buttock and the effect—a hiss and a wiggle—was so satisfying he did it again on the other one. It was a short step from that to the flat of his hand coming down resoundingly on the oiled curves. Spike arched back, pressing his groin into Angel’s. That was satisfying, too, so Angel smacked him again. He felt the hard, muscled flesh wobble under his hand at the power of the blow, and before Spike could stop him, he sat and twisted him sideward in his lap, hand poised over the reddening smoothness.

He slapped and felt their cocks stretch and embrace. With his other hand, he parted Spike’s cheeks, then smacked him again, wide, flat palm hitting right over the darker target. Spike arched and let out a long, low moan of pleasure.

‘Like that?’

Spike nodded. ‘I should be killin’ you for this or something.’

‘What? This?’ He smacked again then quickly inserted a finger, probing deep through the tight muscle.

Spike swore, and his hand flew back to grasp Angel’s wrist and encourage him deeper. It deserved punishment, so Angel delivered it, jerking his finger free and smacking him again. He followed the blow with hard massaging around twitching anus, pressing and working with his thumb as if he were polishing brass.

He couldn’t hold back any longer. Keeping his thumb on the hole, he eased Spike onto the floor and lay over him, guiding his cock, pressing, pushing through. He slid in on the warmed oil until glistening pubic hair rubbed Spike’s buttocks.

For a few minutes they lay still, Angel’s long cock twitching and eager inside its tight sheath. Then slowly, he pulled Spike’s backside higher, spreading the pale legs. With exquisite care, he knelt up, keeping them joined then, inch by inch, pulled free. His cockhead popped out with a soft squelch, leaving a thin chain hanging between his slit and Spike’s open hole. His cock stayed high, lined up for reinsertion. It seemed a pity to waste such effort, so he leant forward and reinserted it.

‘Oh, God….’

Angel grinned at Spike’s apt moan and ran the poem around in his mind delightfully as he fucked the hard backside. His belly banged spread flesh, his balls swung erotically, heavy and stretched and clenching in readiness to pump their load. He found the place that pleasured Spike the most and had to then cling tight to the bony hips to keep him anchored. The grip allowed him to increase in pace, and he slammed their bodies together. Spike would be bruised, he knew, but they would both enjoy the effect on the pale skin so didn’t let up.

Waves of pleasure began to surf up his spine. Spasms of release began to pulse deep in his testicles.

‘Angel! Hey! You home?’

Angel missed his stroke and stabbed into empty air, his hands slipping on Spike’s oily flesh.

‘Angel? Open up! It’s me!’

‘Oh, fuck!’

‘Be quiet and he’ll go.’

‘That you?’

‘Fuck. He heard us.’

‘Shut the fuck up then!’


‘Shit. Get dressed.’


Angel struggled to pull his jeans on, but with wine and oil and a pulsing, unsatisfied erection, he was losing the battle. He hopped toward the door, trying to get his foot into the last leg. ‘Adam.’

‘Yeah. You bastard. Let me in.’

Angel glanced behind and saw that Spike was semi-dressed. He opened the door a crack. Adam pushed it hard and strode in. He took in the scene, and his hands flew theatrically to his mouth. ‘Whoops.’

‘Are you…? You’re drunk.’

‘I object to that from someone who looks like he’s been swimming in wine.’ Adam came very close to Angel and pressed his face into the hollows of his collarbone. ‘Mmm, nice.’

Angel glanced at Spike over Adam’s head but couldn’t read his expression. He eased the man off and guided him to the couch. Spike dropped his T-shirt casually over the bottle of oil.

Adam flopped down and said sadly, ‘You both stick – sink - stink of sex.’

Angel wanted to sit next to him and find out what was wrong. He also wanted to appease his volatile, jealous lover and had the uncharacteristically clear thought that these two aims might be mutually exclusive.

Instead, he went closer to Spike and gave him a significant look. Spike gave him one back, which he couldn’t read, so that didn’t help much. Finally, with a sigh, knowing he was doomed to always do the wrong thing where Spike was concerned, he sat down and said gently, ‘What’s up? Where’s Jensen?’

Adam tried to focus his eyes and said, ‘You got anything to drink?’

Spike offered him the bottle of wine.

Angel didn’t look at him.

Adam, oblivious to the tension between them, took a swig from the neck and swallowed deeply.  ‘He said he’d send tickets.’


‘Jensen. I was gonna fly down and stay with him for a couple of weeks—place he rented in the hills.’

‘Did you call him, ask him what’s happening?’



‘He’s gone with someone else.’

Angel felt this like a blow to his own gut.

‘That’s not true.’

Both men on the couch looked up at this soft interjection. Spike shrugged and repeated, ‘That’s not true.’

Adam stood up unsteadily. ‘Fuck off, Spike. You know nothing about it.’

Angel shook his head urgently at Spike to try and prevent a scene. Spike ignored him, folded his arms and asked, ‘You actually spoke to him?’

Adam made a small gesture, clearly trying to indicate that this hadn’t been necessary and added, ‘They told me.’

‘Who told you?’

‘Fuck off!’

‘Who told you?’

Angel rose uncertainly to his feet. ‘Maybe….’

‘The film crew, okay? I spoke to the director, and he said Jensen was taking a break, and he was taking it with his translator. Pepe. Or Costos, or Nene, or fucking Pedro. He’s been taking his translator… What the fuck does it matter?’

‘You’re wrong. Something must be wrong.’

Angel frowned, beginning to find Spike’s quiet insistence irritating, too.

Spike turned to him, and their eyes met.  Angel felt something cold and utterly terrifying trickle out of his heart. Spike and Jensen. This, he had not foreseen. Spike sighed and said, ‘You dumb lug,’ and caught his arm, dragging him toward the den. With a furtive glance back at the drunken man by the fire, Spike leant in and kissed Angel. Under the kiss he murmured, ‘Just you, Angel.’

Angel buried his face into the warm neck for a moment and murmured back, ‘I’m sorry we got interrupted….’

‘You’re worth waiting for.’

Angel straightened, his heart quite sound again now. ‘What do you mean about Jensen? What do you know?’

‘He told me some things—‘bout him and Adam. Remember? When you two were snogging on the couch?’

Angel flushed. ‘We were just talking.’

‘Yeah. Right. Only cus he interrupted you….’

As Angel couldn’t deny this, he changed the subject. ‘What did he say?’

‘He just knew how I felt about starting out in this thing with you. He’s like me, Angel. He’s just like me.’

‘Irritating and cryptic?’

Spike narrowed his eyes. ‘He’s not gay. He’s just in love with Adam. There’s a difference. He’s… gay for one man, if you like.’

Angel stared into the blue eyes. ‘And that’s how you feel about me?’

‘Yes. But you’re missing the point. He wouldn’t go off. He adores Adam. He said he’d never told him how much—couldn’t because he didn’t have the words. He said I was like that. But I kinda found the words… with you.’ He frowned. ‘You do know I… adore you… yeah?’

Angel slid his arms around Spike’s waist. ‘I think I got that earlier tonight.’

‘Yeah, well, I wrote a poem ‘bout a sausage once, too, so I wouldn’t let it go to your head.’

Angel leant close. ‘That’s not where it went.’

Spike slapped him and went back to the now snoring Adam. ‘Oh, bloody hell.’ He picked up the empty bottle and went toward the kitchen. ‘We need to go find him.’

‘Whoa. What?’ Angel caught at his arm.

‘We need to go find him, Angel. Something’s wrong.’

‘You can’t possibly know that! He could have gone off for some thinking time!’

‘Oh, like, he quit?’

Angel flushed. ‘It’s possible.’

‘He wouldn’t do that to Adam.’

‘I did it to you.’

Spike hung his head, pouting. ‘I have a bad feeling about this, Angel.’

‘Yeah, so do I. We blunder down there and find him ensconced with some….’


‘What? It’s a word!’

‘It’s a very odd word.’

‘It means….’

‘I know what it bloody means. It means you’re wrong. Adam’s wrong, and you’re wrong, and if you won’t do anything, I’ll go alone.’


‘You heard. I’ll go find him myself.’

Angel slammed his hand on the counter. ‘This is madness! What are you? Some kind of big hero all of a….’ He dried up and frowned, tilting his head to one side, thinking. ‘We are. We used to be. Shit. What’s happened to me, Spike?’

Spike smiled. ‘You coming with me then?’

Angel grinned slyly. ‘Want to ride in my jet?’

Spike glanced back at the couch and murmured, ‘I’ll ride on anything you offer me, Luv….’

Part IV Chapter 4

Angel still couldn’t quite work out how he came to be sitting in the company jet on the way to Uruguay. He’d had a car flown on ahead. He’d contacted the Montevideo Branch of the firm and had negotiated their assistance. Spike had ordered the company jet and briefed the pilot. It had only taken a day. Money and power: everything came down to money and power in the end.

Adam had gradually sobered during the day while Angel had made calls and arranged things. By the time they were ready to leave, he was resistant and punchy once more.

Angel had simply used Spike’s tactic: threatened to go without him.

The man sat now, staring morosely out of the window into the dark, chewing a nail. Every so often, he cast vicious looks at Spike, and Angel knew that the man suspected the same thing he had the previous night. Spike, Angel knew, was well aware of this silent, unfriendly scrutiny. He’d fished out a Walkman as soon as they’d boarded and was drinking his way through the miniatures, nodding his head to some scratchy, irritating noise.

He let them be.

He could barely cope with his own emotions most of the time.

* * *

After a few minutes of watching Spike with his Walkman, Adam delved into a pocket and produced a tiny purple stick, no bigger than one of Spike’s cigarettes. With a nonchalant, yet smug look, he stuck a pair of earplugs in and began to swing the tiny MP3 around his finger.

As one-up-manship went, it was impressive—it impressed Angel, anyway.

He grinned slyly and pretended to be reading the paper, watching Spike’s reaction out of the corner of his eye.

Spike was clearly mesmerised by the shiny trinket. Angel gave him credit for admitting this so openly, for he rose and flung himself next to Adam and held out his hand, clicking his fingers.

Over the noise of the engine, Angel couldn’t hear what they said, but he didn’t need to: they clearly weren’t talking about music. Adam’s head came up, and a flash of unmistakable hope creased his features. Spike had told him of his conversation with Jensen.

Angel felt profound sadness for the human now. He was going to fall from a great height, because this whole trip was nothing more than an appeasement of his guilt for being confused about his feelings for Adam, and validation of Spike’s overwhelming need to be a champion.  It wasn’t about Jensen at all—for Angel it never had been. They would arrive in Uruguay and find the man exactly where Angel knew he would be: some way up the rectum of a young man called Pepe or Pedro. But now Spike’s eternal romanticism had given the man false hope. Still, he enjoyed seeing Adam smile. He particularly liked seeing him smile at Spike over an explanation of the small device.

Angel was bored, so it wasn’t long (about two seconds) before they were smiling over something else in Adam’s hand.

He was a bad man; he knew this. It didn’t stop him slowly undressing them and having them play around with each other for a while….

* * *

The engine noise suddenly changed. Angel jerked to wakefulness and looked at his watch.  They were only halfway there.

He went forward and pushed open the cabin door. ‘What’s up?’

The pilot turned. ‘We’re there, Sir. Can you return to your seat and fasten your seatbelt please?’

‘We can’t be there already.’

The man glanced at his co-pilot and said slowly, as if to the impaired, ‘We’re landing in Asunción as scheduled, Sir.’

‘Asunción? We’re not going to freaking Asunción. That’s in Paraguay. We’re going to Uruguay!’

The other two had woken now and joined him, crowding the door to the cockpit. ‘What’s up?’

Angel turned on Spike. ‘Why the fuck did you order the plane to Paraguay?’

Angel began to wonder if he was impaired when Spike, in a similar tone to the pilot, replied, ‘Because Jensen is in Paraguay?’

Angel turned to Adam for support, but Adam was looking shifty, not catching anyone’s eye.

Angel folded his arms, waiting.

Adam threw his hands theatrically in the air. ‘I told you I get them mixed up!’ Thus successfully blaming Angel for the cock-up because he had not remembered this, Adam flung himself back into his seat and stared resolutely out of the window.

Angel marched over and kicked his shin. ‘Which is it?’

Adam shrank slightly and said in a tiny voice, ‘Paraguay.’

Angel slammed the cockpit door shut loudly. ‘You morons! The car is going to Montevideo! Oh, but that’s in fucking Uruguay! But that’s okay, because the crack team of special Spanish-speaking operatives is there, too! They can play with my freaking car!’

Adam scratched his stubble and refused to catch Angel’s eye. Spike toed the carpet.

‘We’ll just have to travel by night.’

The guilty two nodded enthusiastically.

‘We’ll have to buy maps and guide ourselves.’

Another set of nods.

‘I speak Spanish, at least.’

Spike managed a cheerful, ‘Good!’ Adam just nodded again.

Angel saw them exchange an amused glance at his expense. A surge of something too pleasurable to confuse for anything other than love surged in his balls. He hung his head in mock resignation. ‘You fucking morons.’

* * *

Asunción was like any airport—they were glad to get out of the terminal. The heat hit them like a fist, the contrast to the cool Los Angeles they’d left noticeable. Angel headed for the car rental sign, leaving the other two to carry the bags and the relatively large cooler, which contained the vampires’ more essential supplies. Still in disgrace, they did so silently.

He chose something sleek and black and suitably expensive and went into the office.

One minute later, he came out and went straight up to Spike, saying in a low voice, ‘Do you have your licence on you?’

‘What licence?’

Angel swore and turned to Adam. Adam looked unhappy, knowing that he was about to enrage Angel more. ‘I kinda thought you’d ordered a car….’

Angel gave him a bitter smile. ‘Funny thing that.’

‘What’s wrong?’

‘I don’t have a licence. They won’t rent me a car.’

A small man came out of the office and smiled a flashy, white-teeth smile at them. ‘You wanna buy car?’

Angel narrowed his eyes. ‘No, I want to fucking rent a car.’

‘No have licence. You buy car.’

‘And I suppose you just happen to have some for sale.’

‘I take you to my cousin. He do best deal in Asunción.’

Knowing he had little choice but to agree, seeing it was getting late and the city would be closing down, Angel nodded.

* * *

Heavy-duty weeds poked through the rusted car parts in the yard.

The three of them stood surveying the choice while the small man embraced another small man and spoke in rapid Spanish.

After a moment, Spike nudged Adam and they went off to inspect a small brown car that at least, on first glance, had all its parts.

Angel watched them, chewing his lip. Spike came back over. ‘That one’s okay. Cheap and cheerful, but it looks in good nick.’

Angel chewed harder and jerked his head at a large, black convertible.

Spike laughed and began to wander back to the brown car.

Angel said, ‘No. I want this one.’

Seeing he was serious, Spike’s face creased into a look of disbelief. ‘You’ve got to be kidding! Look at it! It’s a shit-heap!’

Angel gritted his teeth and mumbled something. Spike came closer. ‘What did you just say?’

‘I wouldn’t be seen dead in a Honda.’

‘Huh? Who’s gonna see ya, ya dillock? And you are bloody dead!’

Angel brushed him aside and went to the owner of the car lot. ‘Deseo el negro. ¿Cuánto?’


Angel faltered. He pointed and pulled out his wallet.

‘Ah! Diez mil. Gracias.’

Angel smiled nastily and said the magic words. ‘American Express?’

* * *

They rode out of the city armed with a map, which Angel refused to hand over to either of his companions. He drove and navigated to Adam’s vague instruction of head north. The shoot was in a small town called Emboscasa, about a hundred kilometres from the outskirts of Asunción. He reckoned they’d find Jensen in a sleazy motel fucking some kid and be back at the airport before dawn.

He could not deny the attraction, however, of driving along in the hot night with the wind in his face. It almost felt like a holiday, and he chastised himself for this thought when he remembered the reason for them being there.

Adam, though, seemed to have caught Spike’s infectious belief that Jensen was somewhere pining for him, needing him—and alone. He had his feet up on the dash and was tapping out a beat on the doorframe.

Spike was smoking and holding one hand out to feel the air rushing over it.

All in all, Angel felt surprisingly mellow.

Until the car ground to a halt.

Then he didn’t feel mellow at all.

They stood at the side of the road, staring at it. They felt as if it was watching them, waiting for one of them to do something mechanical.  It was onto a loser. For three men, their knowledge of the intricacies of car engines was abnormally absent. Adam scratched his head. ‘Do you have International Rescue?’

Spike snorted. ‘What? With those cute little suits and natty caps?’

Adam and Angel ignored him. Angel shook his head. ‘We’ll have to call a garage.’


Spike leant around Adam and actually made a useful suggestion. ‘Call someone at home, get them to call a garage in Asunción to come find us. We’ve only gone about twenty k.’

Angel nodded and fished out his cellphone.

After a few tries he said gruffly, ‘Try yours. I can’t get a signal.’

Only Adam had one, and his battery was flat.


Spike sat down on the roadside and lit a cigarette. ‘We’ll have to hitch.’

Angel kicked the car, ‘Fucking piece of shit!’ He heard a car coming and made a dive for Spike just he was rising, thumb extended.

They landed hard on the ground, and Spike rolled away. ‘You stupid prick! That was a car!’

‘I’m not—. I’m not hitch-hiking!’

‘Why the fuck not?’

Angel had no good answer for this. He had a bad one: it was beneath his dignity. But he didn’t think he’d try and explain that just now.

‘We’ll walk.’

‘We bloody won’t. You can walk. I’m getting a lift. Adam?’

Adam winced, clearly unwilling to back either side. He said uncertainly, ‘That cooler is kinda heavy.’

Angel gave them both a look and heaved it out of the trunk. ‘Let’s go.’

Spike yanked his bag out, eyed Angel’s as if he wanted to leave it there, but took that one as well.

Adam took his, and they trailed after Angel.

After a few minutes, Angel heard Adam murmur, ‘Who brought the map?’

He heard Spike’s silent disbelief and then a hissed, ‘Don’t. Just don’t, yeah? He’ll make us bloody go back for it.’

‘But where are we going? It could be miles to the next town.’


‘And it’ll be light soon.’

‘I know.’

‘What will you two do then?’

‘Probably eat you just for a last bit of fun and go out in a blaze of glory.’

Angel snorted softly and let his mind drift pleasantly over the thought of Adam’s blood.

Another car passed them. It slowed for a moment then hastily sped away. Spike hollered something obscene after it, but in English, so Angel had the feeling he was wasting his time.

After another hour, Angel could hear that Adam was limping. He turned and saw Spike relieve him of his bag. Half an hour after that the man sat down and pulled off his boot. Angel put down the cooler and came back. A blister the size of his palm had rubbed raw on the back of Adam’s heel. Spike squatted down and examined it.

Adam looked between them then pulled his boot back on and said angrily, ‘It’s nothing. I can do this thing.’

Angel nodded and turned. Spike said swiftly, ‘I’m really kinda tired, Angel. I need to stop.’

Angel heard the lie and smiled inwardly at the power of Spike’s better feelings—when he was in the mood to demonstrate them. He said softly, ‘There are lights up ahead. We’ll stop there.’

Neither Adam nor Spike could see them, but it gave the human a burst of energy, and within another five minutes, they hit the outskirts of a small town. More importantly, they came to a motel—small, run-down, but a motel, nevertheless.

Hefting the heavy cooler higher one more time, Angel strode over to the office and kicked the door open.

Needless to say, the manager wasn’t impressed at being woken at this strange time between night and morning. American Express, once more, smoothed the stony path.

Angel tossed his card on the counter. ‘We need two—.’

‘Three rooms, Mate.’ Spike held up the requisite number of fingers but didn’t catch Angel’s eye.

Angel felt something hard and angry lodge in his spine. He straightened as if it was there physically. He avoided Spike’s eyes, too, and said deceptively casually, ‘Sure. Why the fuck not? Three rooms.’

They signed in; Angel paid, and they went their separate ways. Unfortunately for Spike, the rooms were in a row with Angel’s in the middle, so he couldn’t escape from the hateful stare until he closed his own door.

Angel slammed the box into the corner and tossed his bag onto the bed.

He stank; he was hot, and Spike didn’t love him. He punched his fist into the door to the bathroom, and it shot right through, leaving a gaping hole. He kicked it, too, for good measure.

He stripped off his shirt and tried his cellphone again: nothing.

About to do some considerable damage to the rest of the room, he heard the door open and close behind him.

His whole body tensed with the need to hurt something.

He turned and said bitterly to his clearly wary visitor, ‘Something wrong with your fucking room?’

Spike nodded. ‘Yeah, there isyou’re not in it.’

Angel’s jaw wobbled, and he turned away to examine the cast-off shirt in his hands, turning it around and around, balling it. He felt Spike’s hand on the small of his back. It was cool. Spike kissed between his shoulder blades then lightly down his spine.

Angel stepped out of reach. ‘You can’t keep doing this to me.’ He folded his arms tightly around his bare chest. ‘I’ve paid for a room for you; now go use it.’

Spike sat on the edge of the bed and bent forward, his head in his hands. ‘I don’t want to be like this, Angel. I want to go out into the street and shout out that I love you.’

‘Do it then.’

Spike looked up. ‘You can’t mean that. You won’t bloody hitch a ride cus it’s beneath your dignity, but you want everyone to know you’re fucking another man?’

Angel bristled, but told himself that it was Spike’s dumb logic and not that his child could read him so easily. ‘Jesus, Spike, I’m a serial killer and a demon; what the fuck does it matter what people think about me?’

‘You’re a hero and a champion, too. It does matter.’

‘Then they’ll know I’m sleeping with another hero and champion.’

Spike lay back slowly. ‘What if he’d refused us a room? What if he’d said something? Got angry? You’d be the first one to be all embarrassed.’

Angel sat heavily on the edge next to Spike. ‘I’d rather be embarrassed by an unimportant stranger than hurt by you—who is not unimportant to me at all.’

There was a knock. Angel said wearily, ‘Yeah.’

Adam stuck his head around the door. ‘I’m going for some breakfast. What are you guys going to do?’

Angel gauged the level of light. ‘We’ll be here till sundown.’

‘See ya.’

Spike began to rise. ‘I’ll be going too, then.’

Angel caught the back of the loose waistband with one finger and said casually, ‘See ya, Adam.’

Adam grinned, put on some cool shades and went back out.

Spike’s skin was cool, almost clammy under his jeans. Angel leant forward and kissed the gap between the T-shirt and the waistband. The faintest trail of fine, pale hair led lower. He knew what lay at the end of that trail now: knew its indentations and elasticity, knew its pleasures and pain. He pulled Spike’s T-shirt off and ran his flat palms over the small pointed nipples. Spike laid his hands over Angel’s. ‘Shall I go out in the street and tell everyone how much I love you? I will, if you want me to.’

Angel smiled softly. ‘It’s light out.’

‘I’d still do it for you.’

Angel cast him a quick glance. ‘Don’t say things like that. I don’t want your sacrifice, Spike. I want your love. I’m not Buffy—I’m not confusing one with the other.’

Spike’s face twisted with pain and confusion. ‘I do love you—more than you love me. I know that.’

‘That’s not true.’

Spike hung his head. ‘I make you madI made you mad tonight.’

Angel hooked his arm around Spike’s neck and pulled him close. ‘Why do you think it made me mad, moron: because I love you. Now, you stink worse than I do.  And as much as I love….’ He nuzzled under Spike’s arm, licking and breathing in his scent deeply.

Spike wrenched away with feigned disgust. ‘You are seriously weird.’

Angel grinned, jumped up, shed his clothes and pulled Spike into the bathroom.

The shower cubicle was just big enough for Angel―just.

Spike laughed, pushed down the toilet seat and sat on it with his feet up on the sink. Angel, muttering, stood in the cubicle trying to work out how to get hot water.

‘How many countries are there in the world?’

‘Huh?’ Cold wasn’t a problem but hot seemed to be unforthcoming.

‘How many…?’

‘How the fuck should I know? Thirty?’

‘Must be more than that. All those little biddy ones in odd places―like Scotland.’


‘Cus, I was thinking, we could make it a thing―ya know: fuck in every country in the world. We’ve done America. About to do Paraguay. And we could count this as Uruguay, too, I guessprob’ly the same difference.’

The hot was so parsimonious it hardly made an indent over the cold.  He glanced over at Spike and felt his breath hitch. Spike had pushed his jeans over his hips and was sitting with his feet up on the rim of the sink blatantly pulling on his cock, watching him. He twitched up his scarred eyebrow. ‘Don’t stop. I’m enjoyin’ the show.’

Angel took the soap and ran it over his chest, mesmerised by the sight of Spike’s ample cockhead sliding in and out of the bunched foreskin. His mouth watered with the need to lick that shiny, pink dome of flesh and probe into its tempting slit.

However much Spike’s refusal to acknowledge them in public upset him, he could not deny the thrill of knowing that it was his body alone that turned Spike on.

As blatant as Spike, he cupped his cock and balls, washing them slowly under the running water.

Spike moaned slightly and sat up straighter, his hand speeding up, no longer a languid show but a matter of need and urgency.

Angel stepped out of the shower and held the beating fist still. ‘No.’

Spike groaned.  Angel pulled him to his feet and pushed the jeans to the floor. ‘Wash and bring that to me untouched.’ With that, he went to the bedroom, knowing that Spike would not disobey his command. He stretched out on the bed, enjoying the bone-penetrating warmth of the day, listening to water run over Spike’s body and knowing that that body would soon be his.

Soft light came into the room, muted by the closely pulled drapes. There was an air of furtive seediness about fucking in a motel room during the day. He wasn’t sure that he could recall ever doing so before. Spike, he concluded, had brought a lot of firsts into his life.

The water shut off, and Angel’s cock jumped in anticipation.

Spike’s was already high, flat to his belly and dripping with a fluid thicker than the water that ran off his body.

He crawled onto the bed, and hung poised over Angel’s face, then slowly lowered. As soon as their mouths came together, they realised how long it had been since they’d kissed. They moaned with desire, trying to make up for the absence: mouths wide-open, tongues exploring wetly. And as they kissed, they kept their gaze locked on the other, sharing more emotion with those expressive pools than they could ever have with words.

Angel’s hands roamed over Spike’s body, enjoying its contours, seeking its relief and making it tangible. Before long, he came to a place of hair and wetness and inner pulsing that made mockery of their lifelessness.

Arching slightly, he pushed his cock against Spike’s pubic hair, liking the feeling of it tickling around his half-emerged cockhead. With strong fingers, he reached around both cocks. As he tongued Spike’s mouth, mashed their lips and stared into the achingly dilated eyes, he began to work them both.

Spike had trouble concentrating on the kiss then. He hissed and arched to the feel of his cock working against Angel’s. Angel put his other hand around the back of Spike’s neck, and urged him to watch, kissing into the still damp hair as Spike lowered his head.

Angel could not deny their cocks made an erotic sight. They popped out of his fist, so different, yet so alike. For the first time, he wanted to be in someone else’s body: he wanted to feel what Spike felt, see if his experience of this was as intense as his own. It seemed that it was, for Spike’s fingers dug into his shoulders, and his face contorted with a grimace more of pain than pleasure.

Angel began to work them harder, a squelchy sound of foreskins rolling on wetness audible in the quiet room.  A muscle in Spike’s buttock clenched each time Angel pumped. He watched it, hypnotised by the small spasm. He desperately wanted them to come together, wanted to see their milk shoot and mingle and feel it bubbling over his fist.

He pressed his lips to Spike’s sweaty neck and knew Spike wanted this, too.

When they did come, it was all Angel could do to hold them together. Spasms of release wracked their bodies; they shuddered and rocked together, and through it all, Angel continued to milk the hard shafts in his hand, which now slipped freely together on the gushing sperm coating this joining.

Finished, they heard their moans for the first time and laughed, wide-eyed at each other. Angel rolled onto his back with a satisfied sigh, studying his hand.

Very slowly, he put it to his lips and licked along one finger. Clasping Spike, he allowed him a taste, too, and their tongues met and played over the spilt juice.

Finally satisfied, they curled together, one sheet sufficient cover in the hot room. Angel made good use of any stray sperm on his fingers, using it as an effective mousse to arrange blond spikes.

‘I’m glad I chose that car.’

Spike snorted. ‘What? So we could break down?’

‘Yeah. Everything is pre-ordained. We’ve had this now….’

Spike snuggled closer. ‘What about J though? He might be….’

‘He’s stretching someone’s arse, Spike. You know that, and I know that.’

‘You’re wrong.’

Angel sighed. ‘Go to sleep. We’ll be there an hour or two after sunset. Then we’ll know.’

‘I know now.’

‘Go to sleep.’

After a few minutes, when he thought he’d been obeyed, he heard a very soft, ‘Wanna bet on it?’

He peered down at the top of Spike’s head. ‘Bet?’

‘Well, yeah… if you’re so sure. If he’s with some blokeyou win…. If he’s not, and something’s wrongI win….’

‘What’s the bet?’

He felt the muscles in Spike’s face twitch against his chest, a huge grin signalling some kind of personal triumph. ‘Loser does whatever the other wants for one whole night.’

Angel was silent for some time. How sure was he? It was depressing: he was very sure. He knew Jensen. He knew people like Jensen. He was like Jensen, and it was this thought that depressed him the most. ‘Sure.’

Spike sat up. He had clearly not expected this. His face creased. ‘You really think he’s blown Adam off?’

Angel pursed his lips. ‘Life isn’t black and white, Spike! Do I think he loves Adam in his own way? Yes, I do. But do I think he’s an opportunist? Yes. Do I think he’s driven by his needs? Yes! Do I think he’s some kind of saint that keeps himself pure for love? No, I don’t. He’s just like the rest of us, Spike: he’s weak.’

‘Are you weak, Angel?’

Angel pulled him back into a tight hug. ‘Don’t turn this into something about us, Spike. We do this thingtrying to decode ourselves through the imprint of others―because we don’t think we have the ability to judge our own feelings. Trust yourself, Spike. Trust me. I love you. I love you more than I loved Darla, and I love you more than I loved Buffy. For a while now, I’ve loved you more than I loved Connor, and I never thought that would happen with anyone.  I can’t say it any other way or make you believe me more.’

Spike wrenched free. ‘Who the bloody hell is Connor?’

Angel flung an arm over his face. ‘It’s a long story.’

‘Oh, I’m dying to hear it, Mate crack on.’

Angel yanked him back into a hug. ‘It’s not what you think. He was a child. He was my… son. But I told you, it’s a long story.’

Spike was very quiet for a moment, his body tense. Then Angel felt the muscles relax as he said softly, ‘We’ve got all day, Pet….’

Angel’s face muscles weren’t obeying him. They were doing strange things to his features: contorting them and making him want to hide somewhere very dark and quiet. ‘I’ve never told anyone about him.’

Spike’s thumb began to stroke Angel’s belly, and the small gesture opened up the floodgates of Angel’s grief. Consequently, the story was jumbled, rambling and missing parts. He told it from his heart, not his head. It laid him raw. And over this raw vulnerability, Spike plastered his warm, solid, strong body.

By the end of the story, they were stuck together by more than dried sperm.

That could be washed away.

What now bound them emotionally could not.

Part IV Chapter 5

Angel didn’t want to wake up, so ignored the tapping.

When it continued, he elbowed Spike and grunted, ‘Door.’

Spike grunted back and turned more tightly into the sheet.

Muttering curses, Angel dragged his pants on and opened the door a crack. Adam twitched up his eyebrows and grinned. ‘Sleep well?’

Angel squinted at the dusk, his clear surprise that it was dark already pretty much answering the human’s question. He ran his hand through sleep-rumpled hair. ‘Have you…?’

‘Yep. Found a garage. Had the car towed. It’s there now.’

Angel nodded and shut the door, slapping at Spike as he went past to the bathroom. When he came out, Spike was dressed.

Before Angel could say anything, Spike came over, kissed him and gave him a hug, and Angel knew that nothing would ever be mentioned about Connor again. It didn’t need to be.

They shared a couple of blood bags, packed up and made their way to the office to check out.

Angel glanced over at Spike a couple of times. He seemed distracted, playing with some artificial flowers on the desk.

Just as they were about to leave, Spike leant over the desk and said very pointedly to the man, ‘You don’t need to clean my room. I didn’t use it.’ With a deep intake of breath, he added, ‘I slept in his.’

With that, he swept his dignity around him like a cloak and marched out. He, therefore, missed the puzzled ‘¿Qué?’ and Angel didn’t have the heart to tell him that his small, yet significant gesture had been wasted.

* * *

They strolled through the small town, following Adam’s lead to a scruffy looking garage. Angel frowned at the sight of his car still up on a ramp. He tapped a man on the shoulder. ‘Cuándo lo hace está listo?’

‘OK!’ The man grinned.

Angel frowned and repeated his question, aware of smirking behind his back.

The man grinned some more. ‘Hello! American!’

‘Jesus. Quiero mi coche!’

Some more grinning and nodding ensued.

Adam leant forward. ‘Where exactly did you say you’d learnt your Spanish?’

Angel gritted his teeth and said very loudly, ‘Vamos ahora. Nosotros,’ and pointed at the car.

The man finally seemed to get it, for he shook his head and crossed himself. ‘Ella muerta! Kaput!’

‘Fucking hell!’ Angel turned to the others, but they’d already got the kaput part.

‘What are we going to do now?’

‘You want buy car?’

Angel turned incredulously, and the man’s eyes twinkled. He repeated happily, ‘Car? Muy barato….’

Without waiting for a reply, he walked off to the side of the building.  They hefted their bags once more and trailed after him. Angel immediately turned away. ‘No way.’

Spike licked his lips. ‘It’s… okay. It’s better than a Honda.’

The pickup truck was badly rusted and appeared to be the home of a mangy looking bitch and a litter of puppies. The man compounded his guilt by holding up one the puppies and saying hopefully, ‘Un perro? Muy Barato….’

When he saw Spike and Adam go forward hopefully, Angel shouted, ‘No!’ He flung his bag into the flatbed, pointed at the canines and waited with arms folded until they were removed from his seat. He waited some more while small spills were mopped up.

In his loud tone for foreigners, he said, ‘Liberte. Mantenga mi coche. Get in!’

Spike hopped into the middle; Adam squeezed next to him, and Angel reversed out in a flurry of dust. He thought he heard ‘American asshole’ over the noise of the engine, but gave the man the benefit of the doubt that he had misheard his Spanish.

* * *

They rattled along, heading north once more.  The little truck had a manual transmission. It didn’t help Angel’s mood.

For the forth time he slammed it into gear, jolting Spike’s leg. Spike pulled away and swore. ‘I feel like the meat in a bloody sandwich here.’

Adam turned his head slowly.

Angel felt his balls clench.

Spike pouted.

The thought stayed with them, each in their own way. It was too close confines not to notice the effect it was having on them.

The tension only eased down a notch when Angel frowned and banged the dash. ‘Why’s that thing gone red?’


Spike shouted so loudly that Angel did an emergency stop. They all flung forward. ‘You moron!’

‘It’s over-heated, Angel!’


Angel climbed out and slammed the hood up. ‘You freaking pile of shit!’

Adam glanced at Spike. ‘Is he always this emotional?’

Spike wobbled his hand. ‘He had a fraught night.’

Adam slid out and rummaged in his bag. With a flourish, he produced a bottle of Evian water. ‘Is this the first time being gay has ever helped in a car crisis?’

Angel snatched the bottle without replying and put his hand to the cap before the others could warn him.  The next time, using the hem of his shirt, he opened the tank and poured the water in. ‘This isn’t going to get us far. We’ll have to stop and buy more.’ Impressed with how calmly he said this, Angel climbed back behind the wheel and, ignoring his badly blistered palm, shoved the car into first.

They leap-frogged along through the hot night, stopping every twenty miles or so to top up the radiator. Whenever their stops coincided with gas stations or shops, the other two took the opportunity to stock up on candy and drinks, which they consumed at an alarming rate as they jostled along.

It didn’t surprise Angel, therefore, when Adam said raggedly, ‘I’m kinda… you need to stop now.’

He ignored him.

‘Angel… I’m gonna….’

Spike suddenly launched himself violently against Angel and shouted, ‘Stop the bloody car! He’s gonna… oh, sick!’

Adam vomited out of the window, the puke flying back and splattering the bags.


Angel screeched to a halt, and the vampires piled out of their door, leaving the human to stagger out of his. Clutching his belly, he disappeared into the trees.

Angel tipped his head back to stare at the stars. ‘I’m really enjoying this. Thank you.’

Spike glanced up as if trying to work out if this comment was addressed to him.

He went up to Angel and just wrapped his arms around the solid figure, leaning against him.

Angel smiled and pressed his face into the soft hair.

Spike felt good.

He felt very good.

Angel glanced furtively around and then led him by the hand toward a clump of trees the opposite side to where the human had disappeared. Spike hung back reluctantly and murmured, ‘What about bloody anacondas or piranha-type thingies?’

‘Do you sometimes think you watch too much TV?’ Angel pushed Spike face forward against a tree and slid his hands appreciatively down the back of his pants. Suddenly, he slammed his hips forward as if penetrating the slim figure then did it again and again, not caring that material separated them.

Spike hissed and pushed back, gripping the tree, digging his fingers into the soft bark.

‘Wanna get fucked?’

Spike twisted his head around and snarled his reply.

Angel ripped the jeans down, exposing the smooth perfection beneath. Unable to resist, he fell to his knees and thrust his face into the crack, moaning as he breathed in Spike’s unique smell. With his eyes locked on blue ones, he lifted a finger. Spike sucked it deep into his mouth, wetting it for him. When it was glistening to his satisfaction, Angel inserted it very slowly and precisely into the tight hole.

The mechanics of it fascinated him: the stretch, the grip, the warmth inside, the way he could make Spike dance to his tune with a bend or scratch of a nail.

When he pulled out, the inside walls were just visible. Before they closed, he thrust his tongue in, his teeth rubbing against damp, stretched skin.  He could not understand why a part of Spike’s anatomy that had been inconsequential to him for one hundred years should so consume him now. He was obsessed by it, wanted it, thought about it, imagined how it felt, tasting it in his mind. It drove him to distraction. And now it was his, exposed and vulnerable in the warm night air. He pulled his mouth away and pushed the finger back in, prodding it in and out. Spike began to pant and pressed his face to the tree, his legs trembling in Angel’s hands. Keeping up his finger work until the last minute, Angel stood and freed his cock through his zipper. Then with further ceremony, he took Spike against the tree.

He’d enjoyed tossing them both off earlier, but this is what he really wanted: Spike’s ass tight around his cock. He kicked Spike’s legs further apart and braced on the tree over Spike’s head. It was so perfect, such a great way for a man to fuck, and he took full advantage of it, using the power of his muscled thighs to ram in deep, easing right out and watching the way his cock stayed hard and heavy and perfectly aligned to reinsert.

Spike began to moan his name to the pounding of his ass: Angel, Angel, Angel.

Angel felt blood swell his cock even more. His balls clenched, and spasms wracked his own hole in response. ‘Angel! Angel!’

There was a roaring in his head. Spike was shouting. He saw bright lights exploding behind closed lids. Nothing had ever felt as good or would again―until the next time, until he would spread Spike’s ass and take him like this, pounding him, fucking him…. ‘Angel! The car! Angel!’

Angel came in a flood of come just as red tail lights screeched away in the dark.

He couldn’t stop. He jerked to empty inside Spike and only then fell away, panting. ‘What the fuck!’

Spike hitched up his jeans and stumbled up to the road. Adam appeared from the other side, looking unnaturally white. ‘What’s happened? Where’s Angel? Where’s the car?’

Angel came slightly unsteadily up the bank.

They stared at each other.

Adam swallowed. ‘The bags
―our passports.’

Angel and Spike exchanged anxious looks. ‘The blood….’

Adam paled even more. ‘Shit. All the money.’

Spike bent, rummaged in his boot and produced a roll of notes. At the others’ surprised looks, he said cheerfully, ‘Learnt this trick as a kiddie: me Mum used to sew a shillin’ into me under….’

Nothing the others did on the long walk through that night could persuade Spike to finish his story. Angel knew that Spike knew, though, that however long their eternity together might be, he would never let Spike forget that small, innocent admission….

Adam continued to be ill, and Angel had to give him the benefit of the doubt that it was more than over-indulgence in candy. But Adam said vomiting distracted him from his blisters, which was of the good.

Spike kept glancing at Angel, and Angel knew they were thinking the same thing: blood. He had a feeling that Spike wouldn’t sink to feeding on rats. He also had a feeling that he wouldn’t feed on anything more… fluffy. It gave them something of a dilemma.

With plenty of scheduled rests for Adam’s blisters (and unscheduled ones for him to vomit), they made about ten miles before they came to another town―more a strip of buildings in the middle of nowhere. One of the buildings, fortunately, was a motel. As they were unlikely to make another before dawn, Angel called a halt, even though they had some hours to go before it got light.

Spike immediately dubbed it the Bates Motel. Angel wasn’t sure whether this was because of its general air of depressing conformity or for its isolation, but was hoping that it was because the showers came with blood on tap.

Once more, they had to rouse the night manager. Spike dragged him sleepily to the desk and said, ‘Two rooms. Dos.’

Angel turned and stared at him.

Adam laughed and mumbled, ‘When he’s paying, it’s two rooms.’

Angel only smiled, but when he passed Spike he laid a hand on the small of his back. No more needed to be said about Spike’s first voluntary, public admittance of their relationship.

He kept his hand there as they walked across the lot. It was still there as they watched Adam enter the next-door room. It was only removed when Angel thrust Spike against the wall in their room and kissed him. ‘I think we were interrupted.’

Spike laughed. ‘You weren’t.’ He put Angel’s hand on his unsatisfied hardness. ‘Now I’m gonna fuck you till I come.’ He turned them, pressing Angel to the wall. ‘Shall I fuck you right through the wall?’ He pulled Angel’s pants down just enough for access and released his cock. He thumped Angel with his arm. ‘Shall I fuck you into your pretty boyfriend’s room?’

Angel twisted his face around, and Spike nodded. ‘Didn’t think I’d noticed, huh? Jesus, Angel, I’ve seen the way you look at him. I’ve seen the way you look at me and him.’  He pushed in, making Angel cry out. ‘I told you, Luv: no excess too much for me, remember? Wherever you want to go, I’ll be there with you―step for step.’ He thumped into Angel’s body, and Angel’s solid weight hit the wall hard. Spike rammed again and again, Angel’s head hitting the wall like sledgehammer.

Suddenly, Spike stopped. He put a finger to the wall next to where Angel was braced and… tapped. His eyes widened. ‘Shit! Is that… cardboard?’

Angel tapped it, too. Now that they were quiet, they could hear a cockroach washing its ass two doors down.

Spike wrapped his arms around Angel’s waist and kept the welcoming hole stretched by some gentle (silent) sliding in and out. ‘Think he heard?’



Giggling, they shuffled inelegantly to the bed without separating.

That was worse.

It creaked and rattled at every movement, the headboard thumping into the wall once more whenever Spike bounced his cock into Angel.

Eventually, Spike pressed his mouth to Angel’s ear. ‘Floor.’  They slithered off the bed and re-engaged, Spike plugging into the twitching hole, electricity almost sparking between them. Angel bit hard on the side of his hand. Spike clenched his jaw, and as silently as they could, they did what they needed to do―what they’d needed for the last hundred years but had not known it.

Even as silent as they could be, Angel was aware of the slapping of their bodies; the occasional moan, pleasure-driven out of their writing bodies. Finally, when the rush came, it seemed to him as if the whole world must hear the thunderous sound of sperm raining down on the parched earth of their taut bodies.

When they were finally empty, the previous sounds of their lovemaking seemed magnified in contrast. Angel rolled over, holding Spike onto him. Spike folded his arms on Angel’s chest and peered at him mischievously. ‘Think we’ll get kicked out?’

Angel huffed ruefully, playing with Spike’s hair. After a moment, he said hesitantly, ‘It’s not true what you said―about Adam.’

‘Yes. It is. I saw you watching us on the plane, Angel. You were picturing us fucking. You were stiff as a pole.’

Angel reared up and bit Spike’s lip to punish such insolence―but not hard enough to actually prevent it. Spike smirked and murmured (as best he could with his lip between Angel’s teeth), ‘Who would you have top then, Pet? Like to see me slide into his rosy hole?’ Spike laughed at Angel’s expression: a bad mix of feigned horror and lascivious delight. He pulled free but came back for a hard, vicious kiss.

It stirred them up again.

Angel rolled them over and lifted Spike’s thigh. ‘My turn.’ On sweat and pools of sperm, he slid in until they were tightly docked. Spike tipped his neck back, tendons stretched with the extreme pleasure. Angel felt his face muscles ripple. Before he could stop himself, he’d bitten through the taut skin. Blood squirted into his mouth. Spike’s body spasmed with pleasure at this deep, familial claiming, and Angel came, far sooner than he wanted, his cock spurting deep into the twitching rectum, blood still pumping onto the back of his throat.

Only when his orgasm stopped did he hear the long keening note of release from Spike. He clamped their mouths together, kissing him to silence and could taste Spike’s pleasure in the tang of his own blood.

They had nothing left. It seemed almost too much effort to relocate to the bed, but they did.

In a tangle of heavy limbs, smelling of blood and sperm, they slept, no nearer their purported goal, but a great deal closer to an elusive, all-encompassing devotion that they had been unable to find with any of their previous lovers.

Part IV Chapter 6

Angel woke to the sound of whispering, which was unlikely, so he tipped back into his dream of blood and hunger.

Some innate demon sense kicked in though, and unease woke him fully. Spike was gone.

He pulled on the only clothes he now had, which smelt of sweat, blood and come, and stepped out into another warm night.

There were only a few buildings, so the couple weren’t difficult to spot.

Adam appeared to be deep in a conversation on a phone; Spike held a grocery bag. He’d never seen two men look so suspicious and followed Spike’s surreptitious look to a large, expensive American Jeep that was pulled up in front of a small roadside shrine. A couple were photographing the statues and flowers.

When he got what his companions were planning, he almost squeaked and with boots in hand, jogged across the road. ‘No!’ Spike’s nonchalant look (that wasn’t fooling anyone) increased. Adam faced him down.

Angel folded his arms and repeated, ‘No!’

Adam stamped his foot then seemed to regret it. ‘I’m not walking any more!’

‘Whose idea was it?’

The guilty pair exchanged glances.

‘I’m waiting.’

Adam said sulkily, ‘Mine.’

Spike leant forward helpfully, ‘But I picked the fat yanks cus they look like they needed the exercise.’

Angel narrowed his eyes at his lover but turned to Adam. He was prevented from starting a lecture on the grievous sin of theft, however, when the human almost wailed, ‘How are we going to get to Emboscasa? We’re fucked without wheels!’

‘We’ll hitch.’

Impressed with Angel’s level of desperation, to sink to this to save them from a life of crime, the other two acquiesced silently.

When Angel had his boots fastened to his satisfaction, he strode off, north, with his thumb stuck hopefully into an empty road.

* * *

One or two cars did pass them over the next few hours.

They tried together, singly, and in pairs. The amount of swerving around them varied, but other than that, the reaction to three unkempt men waving down cars in the dark did not.

Adam yelled out after some taillights, ‘Homophobic fucks! If we were women you’d go down on us before….’ It was out of sight, so he trailed off, saving his energy.

They came to a tiny village
―a scraggle of houses around a central plaza. Angel had been quiet since the last abortive attempt to flag down a car. He was distracted, staring into the back yard of one of the darkened hovels.

Before either of them could stop him, he’d vaulted the wall, grabbed something and was running.

They ran, too, until Angel stopped well out of sight of the lights of the village. With tears in his eyes, Adam sank to the ground and ripped off his boot. ‘Fuck!’

Angel grinned. ‘No more walking.’

He held out the item he’d stolen.

Spike snorted. ‘You’ve gotta be kidding. No one’s gonna be fooled with you wearing that!’

Angel smiled beatifically. ‘I won’t be the one wearing it.’

Spike’s eyes widened, and he pointed wildly at Adam. ‘Him! He can wear it!’

Adam snickered and ran his hand over three-day stubble.


Spike was still protesting vehemently when they grabbed him. Adam would have been ineffectual. Angel wasn’t. He held Spike tight from behind while the human stripped him (a job, Angel noted with some interest, that he seemed to enjoy).

It fitted to perfection: thin little straps over smooth shoulders, short hem showing off maximum leg….

The feet kinda let the whole effect down; the hair made him look like a demented Demi Moore, but all in all, they reckoned he’d pass at forty feet on a dark night―which is all they needed.

Angel had to turn away and adjust his pants.

He told himself it was just the struggle and nothing to do with the sight of his lover in a thin, strappy frock….

Angel and Adam lay out of sight in a ditch.

Spike, who to Angel’s mind had become suspiciously docile, stood at the edge of the road.

Half an hour later, a car lumbered past and pulled up some feet past the alluring figure.

He ran over, leant down, the door was opened from the inside, he hopped inside, and the car sped off.

The last Adam and Angel saw was a raised finger as Spike disappeared off into the night.

* * *

They came across him a mile further down the road.

He refused to discuss the circumstances of his removal from the car, but he was holding one broken strap up on his shoulder like a virgin on Prom Night.

Angel handed him his clothes.

Spike dressed, viciously shredded the frock then stomped off, refusing to speak to either of them.

* * *

They plodded on. They had little choice.

It began to get worryingly light with no sign of habitation.

Adam said nervously to Angel, ‘What will you do?’

Angel muttered a curse then replied, ‘Go underground if we have to.’



Fortunately, another mile or so further on, they came across an abandoned gas station, the pumps standing like eerie sentinels to a ghostly world.

There was no need to break in: the door stood ajar.

The front room was useless: south facing and soon to be full of light.

They pushed through heaps of rubbish and broken shelving to the back storeroom. There was nothing of value or interest left, but it was windowless, cool and dark.

Spike sat in a corner and fished out his cigarettes, cursing softly when he realised there was only one left.

Feeling the waves of antipathy being sent in his direction, Angel sat on the other side of the room with Adam.

* * *

‘Well, this is fun.’

Angel nodded at the human’s ironic observation. ‘Vampire life. It used to be kinda boring.’

After a few minutes, Adam said with a chuckle, ‘I spy with my little eye something beginning with P-O-S.’

Angel suppressed a smile. ‘Pissed off Spike?’

Adam looked impressed. ‘Your turn.’

Angel sighed and tipped his head back. ‘We need a map and a car.’

‘We’d have had both if you’d minded your own business back there.’

‘We’re not stealing
―not from individuals, anyway.’ He saw Adam’s confused look and added reluctantly, ‘If we come across a car lot or something we’ll take one.’

‘Corporate theft isn’t theft then?’

Angel gritted his teeth but refused to discuss it.

After a while, Adam sniffed suspiciously at his shirt. ‘Can we steal some corporate clothes, too?’

‘No!’ He didn’t add that he wouldn’t be seen dead wearing anyone else’s clothes, for fear of derision from the silent corner.

He looked at Spike from under lowered lids and eventually murmured grudgingly, ‘I’m sorry.’

Spike gave him the finger but otherwise ignored him.

Adam said, amused, ‘You could have earned money in that dress….’

Spike was on his feet, fists raised with Adam meeting the challenge, before Angel could stop them. Spike swung; Adam swore then got a good punch to Spike’s belly.

Angel held the human away, lifting him off the ground and swinging him out of Spike’s reach. ‘Stop it! For fuck’s sake! What is it with you two?’

The atmosphere was unpleasant for the rest of the long day, and not just from the increasing smell of sweat: Adam wasn’t talking to him either, now.

Angel shut his eyes and wished himself back in his hermetically sealed life
―before Spike.

That lasted about a minute (a pleasant minute) until the compensations of suffering Spike’s presence reasserted themselves.

He heard some snuffling and scurrying outside in the main room and smelt fox. It reminded him of their predicament. He cast a glance at Spike and saw that he was listening, too. He wanted to talk to him about it, but he hadn’t been the one to start the argument (besides forcing Spike to wear a dress), so he wasn’t about to be the one to end it.

It didn’t help that Adam chose that moment to take his boot off and inspect his foot. It was bleeding, the wound semi-healed but now ripped off again at the removal of the boot. The smell of blood made Angel swoon. He put his head down to his knees and tried to remember that he had once gone far longer than this without feeding
even though he had then been static under the water and not using up any energy.

‘God. I need water.’

Angel lifted his head and stared at the man. He was looking pale, a clammy sweat on his forehead. Angel winced. He’d forgotten this simple, human need―more necessary than blood.

Adam climbed painfully to his feet. ‘I’m going to see if I can find some. There might be a hosepipe.’

Left to themselves, the atmosphere in the dark little room plummeted even further.

Angel twiddled a piece of dried grass poking through the ground. Eventually, he said softly, ‘You can’t stay mad at me forever.’

‘Watch me.’

‘It would be a pity to lose what we have over a little flowery summer dress….’

‘Fuck off!’

‘But you were so pretty… those shoulders and your cute little….’ Spike launched himself across the space, but Angel knew he was laughing
―or he was by the time they’d rolled and kissed for a while, anyway.

He let Spike hurt him with the kisses then calmed him down. ‘Forgiven?’


They sat in companionable silence, Spike leaning back against Angel, Angel’s arms loosely around him.

Adam came back, wiping his mouth and both vampires’ eyes swivelled to him. He was shaking his hand. It was bleeding
not badly, but bleeding, nevertheless.

Angel’s body twitched reflexively. He felt a similar response in Spike.

Adam flung himself down. ‘Kissed and made up, huh? Look at my fucking hand, by the way! Fucking handle of the thingy. I’ ll probably get gangrene now, just to add to this shit. Some crack rescue team we’ve proved to be.’

Angel swallowed down his need.

Spike kept his eyes fixed on something else.

Totally oblivious to the tension in the room, Adam said slyly, ‘If you wanna carry on—kissing and making up—don’t feel shy because I’m here.’

Spike suddenly said huskily, ‘Let me see your hand.’

Before Angel could intervene, Adam held it out again. Keeping the human’s gaze, Spike put the cut to his lips and trickled his tongue slowly across the blood.

Angel murmured a warning, but Adam’s eyes only opened in wonder: blood something he had learnt to fear.

He shuffled closer and pushed his hand harder at Spike. Spike moaned and allowed his tongue to work the cut, just easing the sides apart with a century’s expertise of teasing flesh so. He whispered, ‘All clean… you’ll heal now.’

Angel closed his eyes and leant back, but his arms tightened noticeably around Spike’s waist, and his hands strayed: stroking around the hard thighs and higher, taking vicarious pleasure from Spike’s body.

Adam shuffled closer still and watched the roving hand slide over bumps and swelling as Spike sucked and licked the wound. The smell of need was then more potent than that of blood.

Adam suddenly tore down the collar of his shirt and offered his neck to Spike. ‘I―.’

Before Spike could respond, Angel said, ‘No’ very softly, but it was in a tone neither of the other two could ignore.

Adam’s face creased with the look of a man denied something he’d only then thought to desire. Spike was better at hiding his disappointment. He only folded his arms over Angel’s and put his head back on the broad chest, closing his eyes.

The vampires sat still and silent in their own private misery for the rest of the day.

They all knew that they’d come very close to crossing a line they’d not previously thought to approach.

They also knew that it was only time before they would venture to that seductive place again.

* * *

As soon as it was dark, they left, now all keyed up with the sole purpose of stealing a car.

They came to a bar on the outskirts of a town.

Angel’s line between private and organisational theft had clearly blurred during his long day of inactivity and hunger, for he nodded at the other two, and together they went systematically from car to car, checking for keys.

They were lucky.

An old jeep still had some in the ignition.

Pushing it out of the parking lot and down the road, they started it and jumped in. 

* * *

Angel glanced obliquely at Adam and saw the man’s mood was dangerously low. It lay heavy over his sickness and blistered feet, giving him more pain than either of those.

The dynamic between the three of them had now changed. It was tangible in the air. Angel had the very distinct thought that Adam had now returned to his belief in Jensen’s infidelity because of the confusing faithlessness of what they had almost done that day.

The warm air, rushing in the window, lifted the longish locks of his hair. Angel stretched out his hand and tugged one. ‘Hey.’

Adam turned his face away.

Angel wished he could see Spike’s expression in the mirror.

He wondered how sure Spike was now that he would win the bet.

* * *

Angel was expecting to see the obvious signs of a movie being produced: lights, camera, possibly even some... action.  When Adam directed him to a house on the outskirts of Emboscasa, he pulled in on the drive and turned quizzically to the man. Adam was still deflated, his voice flat. ‘It’s an indie production—Jon, the director, was a buddy of J’s at film school. They always wanted to work on this project together. J wanted something low-key after Orpheus.’ He shrugged, clearly not caring much about any of it now.

Angel and Spike climbed out of the car and exchanged small glances as they went up to the door. Just before Spike knocked, Angel put a hand on his arm. ‘I have a bad feeling about this.’

‘’S kinda why we’re here, Mate.’

‘No. You know what I mean.’

Spike, Angel could see, was not quite as sure as he had been. Perhaps the seeds of doubt had been sown in him, too, fed on the unexpected richness of the human’s blood.  Here, under the night-blooming cereus, with cicadas singing softly in the bushes, all things seemed lush and ripe: fecund possibility. Spike turned to look at the man in the car and said painfully, ‘I don’t believe Jensen would hurt him.’

Angel put his hand to Spike’s cheek. ‘You don’t want me to hurt you.’

Spike pursed his lips and toed the dry earth for a moment. ‘You think I’m… what? Projecting my fear of losing you onto this?’

A jolt shot through Angel at this evidence of deep confusion mixed with intense love. Before he could reply, Spike pulled away from his touch and hammered on the door, committing them all. ‘Hey! Anyone there?’

By the time the door was opened, Adam had joined them, although his reluctance was tangible, the cicadas silencing as if in respect for his pain.

When a man answered the door, therefore, he focused only on the human and said in surprised voice, ‘Adam!’

Adam nodded. ‘Jon.’

‘Long time no see. How long has it been?’

‘I’ve come to see Jensen. Is he here?’

The man relaxed fractionally, but his look of wary apprehension didn’t altogether depart. ‘No―I told you when you called. Jesus, Adamthis isn’t like you. He was always the one chasing you, remember?’

Angel saw Adam’s face and stepped between them. ‘Where is he?’

‘Who are you?’

‘The man asking you where Jensen Travis is.’


Adam seemed to want no more part in the discussion and turned away to the car.

The man tried to close the door, but Angel stuck his foot in it. ‘Where is he? Tell me, and we’ll go away.’

‘I told Adam: he’s gone off with Alejandro for a couple of weeks.’

‘Who’s Alejandro?’

Jon glanced sadly at the retreating back and said softly, ‘Who he used to be.’

Spike grabbed the front of the man’s T-shirt. ‘You’re lying.’

‘Hey! Fuck off!’ He pushed Spike. ‘I didn’t want this anymore than you! Jensen is a friend of mine!’

‘Did he say he was… seeing… this man Alejandro?’

‘No, but….’

Adam stopped and was clearly listening.

‘He’s gone; Alejandro’s gone, and the car is gone. I kinda see a connection there, buddy.’

Spike stepped closer. ‘Where was he staying?’

‘Motel up the road a-ways.’

‘And this Alejandro?’

‘He lives in town.’

The man gave Angel the address, and as Angel wrote it down, the man’s eyes strayed to the hunched figure by the car. ‘Why are you doing this? You’re only gonna get him hurt more.’

Angel glanced at Spike. Spike folded his arms defensively.

Jon sighed. ‘I’ve known Jensen for twelve years. Hell, I knew him before he met Adam. I knew him before he became Jensen Travis. How well do you know him?’

Spike twitched up his shoulder.

The man laughed bitterly. ‘Yeah
―that’s what I thought. Work out your own problems, guys, and maybe leave Adam out of it next time.’ He slammed the door as he went back to bed.

Part IV Chapter 7

They were a sombre group in the car.

The night seemed darker, the headlights hardly penetrating the gloom.

They found the motel and took only one room, Adam demanding the key for Jensen’s.

It was hard to tell what had happened in that room. The vampires hung back as if unwilling to have their preternatural senses confirm things they could not face. They could smell the evocative scent of human, male sweat. Some of it was Jensen’s―but some of it wasn’ t. Spike glanced forlornly at Angel. Angel put his hand on Adam’s back. ‘Get some sleep. We’ll decide what we’re going to do in the morning.’

Adam didn’t appear to hear him; he was holding a photograph of himself that had stood on the nightstand. His face was unreadable, and Angel couldn’t tell whether its presence in the room pleased him or not. It occurred to Angel that Adam might have preferred that it had gone wherever his lover had.

Angel took Spike’s arm and led him to the room next door.

Spike sat on the bed, as deflated as the human; Angel paced, his arms folded protectively across his torso.

* * *

Suddenly, the door opened, and Adam came in, his eyes oddly dilated, his face beneath the stubble pale and determined. He shut the door and leant on it, staring at them.

Afterwards, Angel could not remember the sequence of events. He concluded that he initiated it all, for he held out his hand. But surely he’d only meant this as a comforting gesture? He could not work out how his lips came to be on the dark stubble, pressing into Adam’s face and hair, smelling him. Even more of a blank was how Spike came to be tightly embraced in his arm and the smell of blood thick in the air between them.

There was a bed, and they were lying on it.

The man tucked warm and alive between them.

They fed from him, and he cried with the intensity of the pleasure and the all-encompassing knowledge of being needed.

Angel remembered that Spike had taken that first, standing bite, but he had followed up on it, Spike hanging intense and hungry, waiting again for his turn.

And then Angel remembered a kiss. He remembered seeing Adam’s dark, dilated eyes staring at Spike’s waiting mouth, and Spike’s eyes moving from the welling blood to meet that gaze.

Every part of Angel fired hot and hard as he watched Spike’s mouth, bloody and hesitant, come down on another man’s lips for the first time. This hardness, he knew, would be evident to the human, pressing forcibly against his leg. So it seemed to Angel that it was his cock that made Adam open his mouth wide to Spike’s first kiss, his erection that made their tongues meet and entwine, his heat burning them and setting them to quenching, wet kisses, and trails of saliva between their greedy lips.

Then, it was his turn. Spike, aroused beyond the capacity for speech, fell on the wound with renewed vigour
and Angel put his lips where they had wanted to go since a well-groomed man had walked into his office. He didn’t need to hide this need now—not from Adam and not from Spike. He devoured the man with as much intensity as he’d taken the blood, salivating to the taste of his mouth, probing with his tongue to seek elusive flavours, grinding so the masculine rub of stubble burned his smooth cheeks.

A hand sought him out, clumsy, rough—and so welcome. He groaned and pressed into it and knew he was not the only one pumped and swollen. His hand found a human cock, lying like steel under grubby pants—and there was another cool hand upon it already.

Angel could no longer tell where his flesh began and ended.

He would have thought it would come down to blood—but it didn’t. At the same time as Spike, Angel’s focus shifted from taking to giving. With single-minded purpose they left the wound, one going to the man’s mouth, one to his cock—freeing it to lie red and angry in the muted light. Without needing to speak, they swapped these pleasures without once losing their rhythm: drawing out saliva and milking juices with their strong sucking.

The human arched and bucked, plugged between their mouths, vibrating, more like a man being electrocuted than pleasured. His heels drummed on the covers of the bed, the springs rattled, the headboard banged the wall with a monotonous rhythm quite unlike the living beat of theirs. Theirs: all three of them, beating in a synchronisation of need.

Angel had no awareness of whether he was kissing deeply into Adam’s mouth or sucking his cock. When the orgasm hit, when warm living sperm erupted, it was just a blur of shouting and stubble and salt and his mouth meeting Spike’s and never parting again over the shared taste of this human’s fluid.

He knew Adam was watching.

He didn’t care.

Spike clearly didn’t.

Angel pulled Spike over the man’s lap, face down, ripping the pants off him. He was so desperate he felt he would shoot and shoot and shoot all over their pliant bodies. With Adam’s sperm thick on his fingers, he lubricated Spike and entered him. They crushed the man beneath them, taking him vicariously with their pummelling.

Angel’s mind blanked out on the ferocity of the pleasure, unable to accept any more—until Spike turned his face and claimed Adam’s mouth.

Watching them kiss as he rode Spike brought Angel to such a swift, powerful orgasm that he lost his grip on the hard hip bones and slipped, falling and shuddering his release into the melee of flesh beneath him.

He thought his heart was pumping, but it was Adam’s.

He thought he could taste Adam’s blood, but it was his own, bitten out of lips by Spike’s ardent kisses.

He could smell sperm, but he could not tell whose it was. Three juices coated them, sloppy and thick and inextricably mixed, unable to be separate again.

Adam was asleep before Angel rolled off.

His head tucked neatly to the middle of Angel’s chest as Angel lay on his side, facing Spike.

They gave each other sly, amused looks, once more saying more with these subtle glances than they could ever have articulated. They said even more with a soft, loving kiss that was just for them. It had none of the power or the sexual urgency that they’d just expended on this human, but it was all the more precious for that. It was a kiss not of the moment, but of the future, and it sent them into sleep secure in the knowledge that things had changed between them, but that in all essentials, they were as they had ever been.

* * *

Urgent banging on the door woke them at the same time.

For a moment it was all a confusion of limp cocks and naked flesh, until pants were zipped and limbs untangled.

Angel stumbled to the door, his body humming with human blood and the aftershock of the powerful ejaculation. It was light. He fumbled the door open a crack and peered out, wondering where the night had gone.

Jon stood in the doorway, his face pale even to Angel’s half-blinded eyes. He ushered him in then regretted it as he surveyed the scene in the room seen from this man’s eyes.

Jon didn’t seem to care about anything. He gave the two men on the bed no more attention than he did Angel but carefully, as if handling a ticking bomb, laid a shoebox on the bed.

Then he burst into tears and collapsed into a chair. It was clearly not the first time he’d cried that morning.

Angel looked at the other two, this new turn the last thing they needed that morning. They needed time and space to talk about what had happened, what it meant to them. Then Angel sighed and rubbed a hand through come-sticky hair. Perhaps this was for the best. Perhaps talking was the last thing they needed to do―what could they say, after all?

Gingerly, he prised off the lid of the box.

As someone who had once thought sending human hearts as a gift an amusing pastime, he surprised himself by how shocked he was.

He felt bile rising in his throat and, distracted by this, was too late to prevent Adam peering in, too.

When he saw the severed penis, lying tiny and pathetic on some bloody tissue, Adam gagged and stumbled blindly for the door.

Spike watched him leave and only then looked himself.

Angel saw on the face of his beloved childe the realisation that he had been right all along but, for the first time, a realisation of what this knowledge truly meant.

Jon held out a piece of paper. ‘The box came this morning—with this note. They want six hundred million guarani—about a hundred thousand dollars. Or they send the rest of him back in similar bite-sized chunks.’

Angel went anxiously to the door just as Adam burst back through. ‘It’s not his—it’s not Jensen’s!’ He began to sob, too, and his tears went into Angel’s heart, making it hot and heavy with grief.

He put the lid back on the offensive sight and said very cautiously, ‘Are you sure?’

Adam lost it. Somewhere in his screaming reply, Angel got that Adam knew his own boyfriend’s cock and that that one—in the box—wasn’t it.  Angel glanced at Spike and saw his own doubt reflected back. ‘Should I go to the police? They say they’ll kill him if I do. Oh, God, this is like a fucking movie. This doesn’t happen in real life!’

Adam turned viciously to the man. ‘No police!’

Angel gestured with his eyes to the sunlight and said calmly, ‘Tonight. We’ll find him tonight.’ He didn’t need to look at Spike to know that his childe knew he was bluffing badly. Adam seemed relieved though and went to sit down until he saw the box. Then his face crumpled once more, and he went out to stand in the sun, as if this brighter light could take away his inner darkness.

Jon stood up and offered, ‘Come back to my place. There’s plenty of room. I’m sorry about last night. I genuinely thought…. Well, you know what I thought. Shit. Poor Adam. What are you going to do? Why wait for tonight?’

Deciding to focus on only one part of this, Angel said, ‘You go on ahead. We’ll follow in our car….’

Giving Adam the task of turning the backseats of the jeep into a safe harbour for the vampires distracted him from the disposal of the contents of the box. Angel and Spike flushed it without ceremony: whose ever it was, it was long past the time when it could be reattached.

Despite the unpleasantness of the task, it was the first time they’d been alone for a while, and they took the opportunity for some much needed comfort: a long, tight hug and an even longer kiss, taking away some of the horror of their wake-up call.

Spike watched Angel’s eyes as they kissed, and when they parted he said plaintively, ‘I wanted this. I wanted to be right, Angel. I didn’t want him to have hurt Adam—for my own selfish reasons.’

‘Shhh. You didn’t bring this on, Spike. If you hadn’t insisted, we’d still be back in L.A. and helpless.’

‘We’re helpless now. What can we do?’

Angel stroked his hair. ‘We can start with a kid called Alejandro.’

‘You think he was in on it?’

‘You don’t?’

‘Shit. Poor Adam.’

‘Yeah. Poor Adam.’

They stood with their arms loosely wrapped around each other for a moment longer, Angel trying to decide whether to mention what had happened during the night. When Spike pulled him close for another long kiss, he knew they didn’t need to talk about it right now. Spike was okay with whatever had happened, and that was okay by him.

He sensed Adam in the doorway, and they separated. Angel held out his arm, and Adam came very willingly for a hug. In a small voice, he said, ‘It wasn’t his,’ and Angel knew he was trying more to convince himself than them.

* * *

They huddled under the blankets that Adam had arranged for them and piled swiftly into the villa.

Built for maximum sun, there were very few rooms the vampires could use, so they chose a north-facing bedroom and pushed the bed into a shady corner, preparing for another long, frustrating day of waiting.

Adam wanted to go to Alejandro’s house immediately, but he’d promised to wait until dark.

For wont of anything better to do, he borrowed some money from Jon and went shopping for the three of them: fresh clothes becoming something of a necessity.

* * *

Alone in their room, the vampires stripped and showered, feeling guilty that they were free and safe to enjoy such luxury.

Back on the bed, they sprawled listlessly, chatting.

There were some movie magazines on the nightstand, which Spike began to flick through. Angel watched him for a while and then slowly, pulled one foot into his lap.

After a while, when he’d worked up as far as a knee, Spike said tetchily, ‘What are you doing?’

Angel pouted. ‘Would I recognise you?’ He glanced up. ‘If someone sent me a… part?’

Spike laid down his magazine. ‘That’s never gonna happen, luv.’

‘It could.’

‘Hey, don’t…! It won’t.’ Spike pulled Angel into his arms and said jokingly, ‘By the time you found the part, I’d ‘ave grown a new one, Luv. Don’t matter.’

‘But this toe, or this finger, or….’ He held Spike’s penis reverentially, ‘this. Would I know it?’ He grabbed Spike’s jaw and held him fast. ‘I will know every inch of you.’ True to his word, he spent the rest of the day studying and examining Spike, memorising each scar or freckle or fleck in a chipped nail. There were many interruptions to his study as the subject changed, hardening, and had to be returned to his original state, but Angel didn’t let up until the darkness began to obscure his vision.

Satisfied that his childe’s form was burnt into his psyche, Angel dressed them both and led the way down to the waiting, frantic man.

* * *

It didn’t surprise any of them that Alejandro’s place was empty. It did surprise the vampires that they could step over the threshold. They gave each other small glances of disquiet. Given that the kid’s belongings were still in evidence, it appeared that he was now dead. None of them needed to mention the object in the box, but it drifted unpleasantly into their minds.

They searched everywhere, read anything that looked in the least bit interesting and in English, which wasn’t much. There was a note from Jensen, which Spike found and read first before handing it over to Adam, unconcerned. Angel read it over his shoulder. It was to the point, bland and seemed to be about the pronunciation of some unusual words.

It had occurred to Angel during the long day of learning Spikealthough he had not mentioned this to anyone else that just because Jensen was now in trouble, didn’t mean that it had started out like that. A tryst with this kid, Alejandro, could easily have gotten out of control, or the kidnap could have been an unfortunate coincidence on top of the man escaping with his new lover for a bit of recreational activity of the horizontal kind. The discovery of this note gave doubt to this theory. It was too cool, too neutral to be from a man to someone he was fucking. Or so Angel theorised. For all he knew it had been written long before something had begun between them. His own relationship with Spike proved that things could change rapidly between men once testosterone became involved. He wanted to believe that the note proved Jensen’s innocence and saw from Adam’s expression that he had taken this path, too.

* * *

Having learnt nothing of any use, they left the small house and made their way dispiritedly back to the car.

It may have been this total depression of spirits that led to the fight. Angel was never really sure: events happened so quickly after that, and the horror of what happened was so great that he was unable to remember the night with any clarity.

They stopped at a bar, which was possibly a mistake, for low as they all felt, they drank too much too quickly.

He remembered rising from the table and saying decisively, ‘I’m calling Wesley. I want all the resources of Wolfram and Hart on this now.’

Spike rose, too—too fast: the table wobbled and the drinks spilt. ‘No.’


‘No! You can’t defeat evil with evil, Angel—it doesn’t work.’

‘What the fuck are you talking about? You’ve been with the firm for….’

‘I’ve gone along with it cus I loved you and wanted to be with you. I don’t condone what they are, and I won’t have them involved in anything I’m involved in.’

Adam rose now. ‘But if they could help….’

‘No! Don’t you get it, human? The ends never justify the means. Never.’

‘They aren’t your ends, Spike! They’re mine and J’s. Fucking hell! If it was Angel! You’d use every―.’

‘No, I wouldn’t! Not the devil.’

‘Are you saying I’m the freaking devil, Spike—you’d better be very careful where you’re going with this. I may fuck you, but I’m not―.’

‘You fuck me?’

‘Hey, guys, you really need to sit―.’

‘You fuck me. So… that’s what this really is. Now I get it. The CEO of the evil empire has―.’

‘Stop calling it that. We’re changing things; we’re―.’

‘You’re pawns and saps. That’s all you are. An’ you know what else you are? You’re alone, cus fucking is now off the agenda.’

‘Stop it! This isn’t helping―.’

‘It’s helping me!’

‘I’m not the one who started the fucking….’

‘You bastard. You fucking cunt! I didn’t have my soul!’

‘You have it now, and I don’t see much freaking difference!’

‘Fuck off.’

‘Touch me again and I’ll―.’ Spike did—shove him. They shoved and kicked each other for a while until Angel’s dignity reasserted itself, and he pushed past Spike to the exit, for all the world like a man needing some fresh air.

He actually did enjoy the air when he got outside. It was surprisingly cool, and he sensed a storm on the way, the air vibrating with energy―or he was. He wasn’t sure. The verbal fight with Spike, unexpected and vicious as it had been, had left him shaking. Why had he brought up the rape like that? That, he felt, had been a bad mistake.

He went to the parking lot to get away from the light spilling out whenever the door was opened behind him.

He elbowed past a man who turned to him and growled something in Spanish.

Angel felt something clench in his gut. Around the man’s neck was a tiny, purple stick, no bigger than one of Spike’s cigarettes…. It could have been a coincidence. Most people would have taken it as such, but Angel looked up and into the man’s eyes.

He’d seen those eyes before—on a demon. This human had dead eyes. This man had no soul.

Angel nodded and held up his hands as if apologising for the incident and walked rapidly away.

The man climbed into a jeep and turned on some music, pulling out of the lot.

By the time he hit the dirt track that led to the road, he had a passenger.

* * *

Angel lay in the dark on the roof of the car glad for the loud music. He wanted to scream and howl and beat the thin metal he lay on.  Spike would come out of the bar and find him gone. They had fought, and he had gone. Like before. He had accused Spike of raping him, in anger and bitterness, and now he was gone. If he did not survive this thing, whatever he was doing and wherever this soulless man was taking him, Spike would never know what had happened to him. His childe might spend the rest of his eternity believing that he’d left him again. In a sudden rush of anguish, Angel ripped open his wrist with sharp, eager fangs, tearing at it, severing the artery that held his magical blood.

He only hoped it was magical enough. He let it bleed out into the night air, splattering on the road, a tiny trail of fidelity for his lover to follow.

Part IV Chapter 8

They arrived at what looked, as far as Angel could see in the dark, to be a rambling, disused prison. They rolled down a steep, dirt track, and it lay revealed below him: huts, brick buildings, outbuildings….

Angel cursed softly. It could take him hours to search, and dawn was only a few minutes away. They were close to the second deadline. If they hadn’t hurt Jensen yet, they would soon do so.

He took a difficult decision. It was his only option. Sometimes, he had discovered, thinking things through too much didn’t help. No plan survives contact with the enemy, after all.

When the car stopped outside the main building, therefore, he rolled off the roof as if injured and lay on the ground, seemingly vulnerable to whatever came his way.

As he had suspected, the opportunity to have two Americans was always better than having one. After some initial kicking and cursing, Deadeyes shouted for someone, and boots thumped down a set of stairs. Hands picked him up under the arms, and he was dragged unceremoniously, just before the first rays of dawn hit him, into the building.

He could have grinned as he was bumped down some steps to a basement and along a hallway to a large cell.

Pushed in, he landed hard on the floor.

After some more cursing, a rapid discussion in Spanish that was too fast for him to follow, the door slammed shut.

He climbed to his feet.

The body of a man lay naked in the corner of the room. He was dead. Angel didn’t need to look: the smell was enough.

In the opposite corner, there was another man, curled up, hands bound behind his back. Angel strode over and fell to his knees, cradling the unconscious form. Gently he undid the restraints then turned him over.  His guts heaved. They’d already had their fun with Jensen.  The beautiful face was etched with deep slashes, possibly from a razor, and it was not so beautiful now. Jensen began to stir. He opened his eyes. ‘Adam?’

Angel pushed a strand of bloodied hair off the ravaged forehead. ‘No. It’s me.’

‘What―? How―?’



‘He’s dead. I’m sorry.’

‘They cut off his…. Oh, God….’

‘I know. They sent it to Jon.’

‘Are we going home now?’

Angel smiled at him. ‘We will. Soon as they come for us. We’re locked in now, but as soon as they open it, I’ll take you home. Adam’s waiting for you.’

‘Adam?’ Jensen turned his face to the tiny, barred window. ‘No. I don’t want to see him.’

Angel frowned and glanced at the body of the young man once more, all his previous suspicions flooding back. Jensen appeared to have seen this small look for he picked up on it eagerly, ‘Yeah. I mean, Adam’s nothing to me now. I tried to tell―.’

Angel hugged him, the man’s pathetic attempt to lie, almost breaking his heart. ‘Shh…. He won’t care what you look like. It’s not what you two are about
―you know that.’

Jensen pushed unsteadily to his feet and went to the corner farthest away from the body. ‘At least I went out with a cool movie, yeah? They’ll all remember me as the vampire with the face of an angel.’

Angel laughed. ‘Yeah. That must be nice. But you’ll make more movies―hey! You could do the remake of scarface.’

It was the one of the hardest things he’d ever said—a leap in the dark. He had judged his audience correctly, though. Jensen whirled around then laughed
a laugh from his old self. Angel knew for certain that the man had not laughed at anything like that for some days now.

He came back to the dirty mattress and flung himself down, wincing. Angel twisted around and after a nod of permission began to examine the wounds. After a while, in a small voice, the man said, ‘And he will mind, by the way. How would you feel if Spike’s face had gotten carved up and ruined?’

Angel let his hand drop. They were very close, and he stared into a pair of scared, grief-stricken eyes. Slowly, so as not to startle him, Angel leant in and kissed the scabbed lips. He didn’t have a very good reason to do this; he just wanted to and knew the man wanted it as well. The kiss… went on. Jensen was the first to break it—needing to breathe. He stared at Angel, panting, arousal taken the place of fear. Angel let out a breath of thwarted desire. ‘Okay… and you’re still beautiful.’

Jensen’s hand fluttered to his face, bewildered, but clearly pleased.

Angel looked down for a moment then put his hands gently to the ravaged face. ‘There is something…. I’ve never done it before, but my sire told me it was possible.’


‘Blood. My blood could heal you—some. Maybe.’

Very slowly, watching for signs of fear or flight, he bent a nail out of the wall and pushed it hard into the tip of one finger. Jensen winced, but watched mesmerised as the bubble of blood closed upon him.

‘These older cuts….’ Angel probed very gently, ‘I’ll have to open again. I’m sorry, but they need cleaning.’

‘With blood?’ The word sounded like death in the human’s mouth.

Angel hesitated. ‘No, with… my tongue.’

With a stoicism that Angel had not expected, Jensen sat still for the many hours it took him to meticulously open each cut, clean it by licking gently but insistently into the bleeding, remove ragged edges and puss-filled scabs, then sooth the whole area with his rich, fresh blood. Intimately close the whole while, pain joining them like a steel band, by the end, Angel could hear the human’s thoughts. As if reading his, Jensen said softly, ‘Will I be in your thrall?’

Angel quirked up his eyebrow. ‘Of course—my minion.’

The man frowned, and Angel laughed softly, adding swiftly, ‘I honestly don’t know. I told you—it’s an old wives’ tale in the family—and you watch the wrong movies. There. All done.’

An observer might have thought that things had gone from bad to worse—healed-over wounds fresh and bleeding once more. But they bled now with a magical power—for good or bad. Angel did not rightly know which. It was all he could do.

He laid his head back on the wall and closed his eyes. Lack of feeding, blood loss on the journey and now this had taken their toll.

Flies swarmed over the body.

To distract the human from this, Angel asked gently, ‘Tell me what happened.’

‘There’s not much to tell. Al—.’ He stopped abruptly, took a breath, then continued, ‘he offered to take me house hunting—so I could find a place for when Adam came down. He seemed like a nice kid, ya know? Wanted to be a movie star. He took me to this place he said was for rent. There was a guy there; I remember having a drink, and then I was here. I think he pissed them off somehow. I don’t know. I like to think he tried to stop them doing….’ He put a finger to his face then shrugged. ‘I don’t know. I can’t speak Spanish, and his English kinda deserted him when they….’

‘Why did they cut you?’

‘They wanted to know how much I was worth. I think they thought I was some big Hollywood star, or something.’

‘You kinda are.’

‘Well, yeah. But I didn’t tell them that and now, because of that, I guess I’m not.’ They stared at the floor for a while, neither knowing what to say.

The sound of buzzing increased.

‘Where’s Spike?’

Angel felt a lurch like long-remembered sickness in his belly. ‘I’m not sure right now. It’s complicated.’

‘Nothing changed there then.’

Angel pouted. Jensen glanced at him then added, ‘He’s totally in love with you. You know that, right?’

Angel pulled some stuffing out of the mattress and began to twist it into little balls.

Jensen laughed gently. ‘Yeah. You know.’

Angel smiled. ‘You’re not being very minion-like.’

Jensen looked at him askance. ‘You have a weird sense of humour.’

Angel sighed. ‘I’m not finding this damn place very funny.’ He stood up and went to the door. He didn’t even need to check it. Even he, with all his strength, couldn’t force twelve-inch steel.

Suddenly, he heard footsteps—three or four men, coming down the hallway. He felt a surge of energy and whispered, ‘Party time.’

‘What are you going to do?’ Jensen stood up and backed into a corner.

Angel balled his fists and stepped back from the door. ‘What I do best.’

The door swung open, and the men fanned out into the room. Four—it was almost too easy.

They glanced from the freed Jensen to Angel, and began to gesture to the mattress, shouting rapidly in Spanish.

Angel folded his arms across his chest. ‘You know? I’m getting pretty tired of you people not speaking proper Spanish!’ He took the first guy with an upper cut to his jaw, knocking him out cold.

He turned to deal with the second when he saw something move in Deadeyes’ hands.

He got what it was just before the first of the bullets hit him. One, two, even three bullets to the chest he could have taken and still fought on—and won. Deadeyes emptied a clip from an assault rifle into Angel, only stopping when the chamber jammed.

But it wasn’t the dozens of rounds that he’d taken that brought on the horror that came. It wasn’t that his breastbone was fragmented into his chest cavity; that his heart was shredded; that his lungs, unused as they were, were now like a doily that you could hold to the light and see pretty patterns through. It wasn’t any of that; it was the getting back onto his feet. It was the standing in front of the cowering Jensen, sprayed and dripping with his blood and bone, and saying distinctly, ‘I think it’s time to go home.’

The two men with Deadeyes fell to their knees. One screamed, ‘El Muerto Hombre.’ The other began kissing a crucifix around his neck and mumbling, ‘Vampiro, vampiro.’

As Angel tipped to his knees, blood like a lake around him, he realised he’d slipped into his real face. With his last sight, he looked at Jensen. Neither of them was looking too pretty.

Where had it all gone so wrong?

Through a veil of blood, he watched Deadeyes watching him. For some reason, that Angel couldn’t fathom, the man shimmered in and out of his vision. Black, like a shadow, and then… not. One thing he could see: the gaze. More soul had shined out of Angelus’s eyes than had ever looked out of this man’s.

Very deliberately he went to his praying companion and ripped the cross off his neck. He brought it to Angel and waved it over his face.

Angel tipped his head to one side, watching the way it glinted in the light.

The gold symbol brought him long-forgotten comfort.

Almost considerately, the man opened Angel’s mouth. He tipped his neck back. Murmuring encouragement, stroking Angel’s throat, he fed him.

Angel refused to swallow.  Dirty fingers were inserted deeply to thrust the symbol of God into the helpless figure. Choking, Angel swallowed, and it went into his belly… and began to burn.

He had nowhere to go.

If he thrashed one way, he hit a wall; another, a dead body; yet another, the wall again, and nowhere brought him any relief. He tore at his throat, tried to rip open his belly, but the rounds in his chest sapped his strength and destroyed his reason. He was just pain and defeat, and in his agony, he could hear laughter, mocking him.

They only began to kick him when he stopped thrashing. It burnt so badly that he lay still, rigid in his agony. They stirred him back to life, kicking him in organs that would soon be eaten through from the inside. Like a worm of lava, the cross wriggled its terrible power through Angel’s stomach. He heard screaming but couldn’t tell if it was his.

He opened his eyes to try and locate his friend—the one he’d come to save. All he saw was the tip of the boot coming toward him. Then it turned into a red butterfly and fluttered into the stifling air. He knew madness had arrived. Except… it wasn’t flying, and it smelt of blood, and someone else was screaming now.

Angel rolled to his side as the man fell, clutching his shin in agony.

The second man was gabbling in his own language, and then his kneecap unfolded like petals from a falling rose. It was pretty.

Deadeyes picked Jensen up and held him like a shield facing something or someone in the door. His brains made an even prettier pattern on the wall than the butterfly and the rose.

Angel looked to the door, and the last thing he did was to call Spike’s name.

Part IV Chapter 9

Unconsciousness was cruelly short for Angel. He came back to a world of pain, thrashing in something that felt like a vice. He fought it, desperate to be free so he could escape the pain, but it held him fast.

He opened his eyes and screamed and someone else cried out just as loudly, in a different kind of pain.

The accent calmed him, though, and he focused. ‘Spike?’

‘Hi, Baby.’

Why was Spike crying? Angel couldn’t work it out. He was the one who’d been shot. And something else, which he couldn’t remember. Something that was taking him to hell. He glanced over at Pervane, who was kneeling alongside Spike and said ferociously, ‘I’m not coming with you!’

‘Sure you are, Demon. The devil sent his messenger; he’s bringing you to us.’

Spike held his jaw and turned his gaze. ‘Angel. What happened?’

‘I have to leave you now. I’m so sorry, Baby. I promised I wouldn’t.’

He saw Spike turn and heard him shout at someone. Someone replied, and Spike immediately began to prise his jaw open. Angel clamped it shut. Once was enough for anyone.

A tear rolled off Spike’s face and splashed on Angel’s. He tried to lick it, and Spike’s fingers invaded his mouth, probing. ‘Where the fuck is it?’

‘I think he swallowed it.’ That sounded like Jensen. Why was Jensen in hell with him?

‘Oh God, oh God.’ Exactly! Angel was pleased that someone was finally getting it.

Spike’s fingers withdrew, which was always a shame. Angel began to laugh, hysteria bubbling up uncontrollably. Jervis held his hand and said encouragingly, ‘Not long now, Vampire.’ Then a shadowy, dark form over the Jervis’s shoulder intoned, ‘Accipite et bibite ex eo omes,  hic est enim calix sanguines mei.’ Angel wanted to shout out and warn them not to drink—not his blood; it was profane. ‘Help me with him!’

Everyone was holding him. It was great! ‘Is this an orgy?’

‘Yeah, Baby. We’re gonna… fuck, hold him tighter.’

Angel began to scream. He’d thought the bullets were painful. The thing that had come after was worse and was burning his soul, but this was beyond all of it. Spike was trying to climb into his body. His fist… punching into his belly…. Entrails extracted. Spike was an Inquisitor. He was the torturer. Why was he crying so? Torturers shouldn’t cry. Fingers in his belly, scrabbling. So much blood going to waste. Coating the humans, turning them his shade of red, and it was so good, so much pain and blood and fear and tears. All of it, mingling and spreading until the world was nothing but blood.

He drifted now outside his body and saw the scene with a detachment of death: Spike kneeling to his side, holding him, cradling him like something precious, one hand buried deep as if he were a puppet, writhing to his childe’s command—perhaps that’s all he ever had been—and the humans, side by side, holding him down as if their lives depended on saving this damned and lost creature. They wore his blood well for a race of men who feared the fluid he worshiped. The figure in the dark robes watched them, his face obscured. But most of all, he watched Spike.

The one who had come for him.

The one who had burst in and saved him.

Blue eyes were suddenly an inch from his. A thump jolted him, and he shot back to his body. Instead of burning, he felt coolness from the innate knowledge that he would now heal—eventually. He looked around. Hell, and all its messengers had departed.

He tried to sit up, but three pairs of hands held him down. Only one pair of lips found his, but he didn’t need to see whose. 

* * *

Drifting in and out of consciousness suited Angel just fine. Preferably out.

He remembered little of the trip away from the prison, nothing of the two days after and only came back to a semblance of his former self when he woke one night to the sound of cicadas and surf and the sweet smell of Jasmine. He was lying in a large, comfortable bed, and he was only in pain, not agony. Life was good. Even better, Spike was asleep alongside him… naked. Angel dropped the sheet and tried to fold his arms behind his head. Bandages prevented much movement, so he just grunted pathetically and waited.

Spike sat up.

Angel gave him a wan smile. ‘Hi.’

Spike nodded companionably. ‘Long time no see.’

‘How long?’

‘A week since we got you here.’

‘Where’s here?’


Angel closed his eyes and said tetchily, ‘Paraguay?’

Spike tapped him on the nose. ‘Uruguay. We’re at a place on the coast—Jensen knew someone who knew someone.’


‘You got shot.’

Angel gave him a withering look. ‘I was there.’

‘Only just.’

Suddenly, Angel tried to sit up. A few moments after that he managed to ask, ‘Jensen?’

‘He’s here.’

‘How…?’ He couldn’t continue.

Spike pouted. ‘He’s… best you see for yourself, maybe.’


Spike chuckled. ‘Working on his tan.’

Having caught up with his friends, Angel wondered if he dared ask how the most important person was. Spike looked tired. He looked older. He looked so beautiful and so perfect that Angel didn’t want to risk asking and find that this was not so.

Spike began to check bandages, something he had clearly become adept at recently. Angel watched with some interest. He’d never been nursed by a semi-erect, naked man before.

Spike huffed. ‘You can put that away.’

‘That’s exactly what I was thinking of doing….’

‘Yeah. Right. Like you’re up to that.’

‘I could… try.’

‘You could go back to sleep, and we’ll see in about a year.’

‘You are very mean.’

‘I’ve been practicing.’

‘Have you contacted—?’

‘Yes. Of course. Wesley’s had daily updates. There.’ All bandaged up once more, Angel felt a wave of tiredness hit him. His eyes began to close, which was humiliating. He fought to stay awake until he heard a soft, ‘I’ll be here when you wake. I won’t leave you….’ He fell asleep on the word ever, and it mingled with the sound of the surf that washed up on the shore.

* * *

By the second week, he was able to go out and walk on the beach at night. Slow strolls with Spike down to the ocean and along the lapping waves to the end of the beach and back. He was exhausted when he returned, his whole energy being consumed by the healing process, but the night called to him, and he slept better and healed faster if allowed this gentle exercise. Spike was his doctor, his jailor and his emotional prop when the nightmares came. Angel wanted him to be other things, but Spike dangled the promise of this as reward for good behaviour. So Angel behaved very well—considering.

The first night he’d been allowed up, he had visitors.

He could not believe how nervous he felt meeting them again. He closed his eyes, waited until he felt the bed depress then looked up into a pair of smiling blue eyes. Angel grunted and frowned, then tenderly touched Jensen’s face. If turned at a certain angle, Angel could perceive a faint tracery of scarring, but he doubted anyone not looking for it would see it. He was almost totally healed. Angel glanced obliquely at the others and saw from Spike’s face that they both knew how this had been done.

Over the next few days, Angel watched Jensen obsessively, waiting to see other signs of the magical blood that had brought about such a transformation.  He discovered that a crucifix hanging in the bedroom the men shared had been removed. When questioned, Jensen claimed he had other reasons to find it offensive than being a proto-minion in thrall to a master vampire. As he had his hand down the back of Adam’s pants as he said this, Angel felt inclined to believe him. He didn’t go out much in the sun, preferring the night, but again, said he had sensitive skin and burnt easily. He constantly chastised Adam for his cancerous sun habits, which lent certain veracity to his claim. His almost constant desire to be near Angel—close enough to touch, if he could—didn’t strike any of them as unusual. Adam and Spike both shared this preference, so saw it as completely natural.

* * *

The only one who was not back to normal was Spike.

Angel let it go for some days, suspecting the cause, waiting for Spike to talk in his own time.

Eventually, he did.

Walking one night through the main square of the village where they had taken up residence, Spike suddenly said, ‘I almost lost you. All I’ve ever had to worry about was how I was gonna put up with your crap taste in music for eternity—and then I almost lost you.’

Angel stopped, hanging his head. ‘I know. I—. I got a wake up call too, Spike. I am never going to take you for granted again.’ He looked around at the people passing them in the warm night. ‘Whatever you want, however you want us to be, is fine by me. I’m done trying to change you. I just want you.’

He looked fleetingly into Spike eyes then down at the ground.

‘Whatever I want?’

Angel nodded.

Spike seized him. ‘I want this.’ He kissed Angel, open-mouthed, tongue deep—a noisy, energetic kiss that made them sway with its power. People stopped and stared. Some muttered. Most, though, smiled and felt something good lodge in their hearts, stirring memories of lost loves and happy times.

Spike pulled off, looked challengingly around at their audience then returned to Angel’s lips, claiming him.

Angel held him off. ‘What about God? You said—.’

‘God sanctions what we do, Angel. He saved you.’

Angel choked back a laugh and, instead, said tactfully, ‘Saved me?’

Spike nodded seriously. ‘He could have staked you, Angel—that priest. But he didn’t. God sent his symbol, and he placed it where the priest would find it and want to use it on you. His evil kept you alive till I could get there.’

There was so much confusion in this Angel didn’t know where to start. Something simple seemed best. ‘What priest?’

‘The guy who shot you? Don’t you remember?’

‘He wasn’t a priest.’

‘He was wearing a dress-thingy.’

‘Oh. A thingy. I see.’ Angel wanted to argue some more, but however much he tried to conjure the man’s face in his mind, he couldn’t—just those dead eyes, staring at him. Sometimes, he woke in the night with them still there, watching. ‘He was an evil priest?’


‘And God sent that cross?’


‘So… God is on our side now?’


‘Even though we are… what we are and that we like… doing what we do—in bed.’

‘Yep. Loves us on both counts.’

‘And being the CEO of—hmm, what did someone call it recently? Oh, yeah—the evil empire?’

‘You have to enter the temple before you can do any casting out.’

‘Oh.’ He wasn’t entirely sure he understood that and filed it away to ask Wesley about later.

They arrived back at the small house Spike had taken. Angel leant on the wall, eyeing the stairs to their room thoughtfully. ‘This is Uruguay, right?’

Spike, lighting a cigarette, nodded. ‘Why?’

‘Oh, I was just thinking…. We could make it three countries down and twenty seven to go….’

* * *

Two weeks later, they arrived back in Los Angeles much the same to any casual observer as when they left. However, someone more astute would have noticed subtle changes: Spike leading the way off the aircraft; Angel flanked by two men as he strode to the car; none of the four speaking much but seeming to be in a kind of synchronicity of motion.

For the first time, therefore, arriving back at the apartment together was more than coming home; they made it home by their presence.

Spike lit the fire. Angel opened some bottles of wine. The humans sat close on the couch, watching the flames.

It was only as he took a first sip of wine that Jensen’s eyes rose to the painting above the fireplace. He studied it for a while then said humbly, ‘We’ve been repaid in full for the gift, Angel. Thank you.’

Angel was studying it, too. In the firelight it looked almost fluid. As Spike lowered to the floor between his legs, Angel murmured, ‘I still don’t get what it’s supposed to be, but I like it more everyday.’

Spike looked away.

Angel frowned and tugged at an almost-lock of hair. ‘What?’   Spike twitched up his shoulder, annoyed, and then saw that they were all looking at him. He pouted. ‘I’ve always seen it… only… I kinda didn’t want to.’

All eyes swivelled to the painting. ‘It’s us. See? That’s Angel in the centre.’ His voice lowered painfully. ‘Angel bleeding. And we’re around him in the blood—his blood and ours, mingling. Leyland saw it in the gallery and wanted it. He told me it was called Sanguines Mei.’

Angel studied the picture for a long time; the only external sound the crackling from the fire. Internally, he could hear the shadowy figure intoning Sanguines Mei over him as he’d hovered between life and death. Whirlpools in whirlpools, still sucking him down.

Eventually, he turned and looked at them each in turn: his new family, disciples in blood.  ‘It’s getting late.’ Spike twisted his head around and some silent communion passed between them.

Adam and Jensen exchanged puzzled glances. ‘What?’

Angel smiled and stretched: the God of his small kingdom.

Spike laughed. ‘We’re going to get the rail on the gallery replaced.’

The End 

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