Beautiful Dawn

Part 1 - The Dark Domain, Synopsis

Eager to gain the position and prominence in demon society that she feels her due, Darla persuades Angelus to curry favour from a visiting archduke. Unfortunately for William, he’s the vehicle for this petition. From the outset, Angelus is uncomfortable with the idea of his new childe being prostituted to this foreigner, but he puts his discomfort down to his abhorrence with the idea of a man having sex with another man. On the long journey north, however, he has to admit that his discomposure has a more dangerous provenance. Love, however, cannot be tolerated. It’s a human emotion, a human weakness he cannot afford to admit. Only when they are both near death does he allow William’s capacity to embrace this human emotion save them. From that moment on they become inseparable—lovers and friends. One of these, Darla could have tolerated, but she cannot bear to think of William being Angelus’s friend and confidant. Clever and manipulative, she contrives to leave Angelus alone with a half-dead soldier; confident that Angelus’s true nature will reassert itself. Sated with pleasure in the dying man, Angelus cannot help but crow his victory over the English usurper of his land. Discovering them together, William takes off. When Angelus eventually finds him, he has reinvented himself: Spike being born on the pain of betrayal. Although they stay together as a family, although William maintains his new persona flawlessly, Angelus cannot help but hope that time might force a crack in his mask. This hope keeps him in love’s thrall for many years, but eternity is a long time to live on hope alone.

Part 2 - Dweller in the Land of Death, Synopsis

Spike and Angel have reunited in Los Angeles. Their relationship is strained, neither mentioning the past, yet both affected by its ghosts. Gradually, the physical pull of their mutual desire becomes just another facet of their antipathy. They fuck, but they hate; they fight, yet they desire. Angel wants to be forgiven for the past. He wants more from Spike than the pain-filled relationship they build around sex. Fate, or the Arch Duke, appears to give him exactly what he wishes for. When Spike goes missing, abducted by the Duke, Angel, initially believing him to be dead, discovers a new Spike or a much older one. Spike returns, his memory of all the years in Sunnydale gone. Angel sees his opportunity to make things right and tells Spike a new version of their livesthat they are lovers and friends. The lie almost destroys them when Spike discovers what has really happened, but intent on revenge against the Duke, Spike has time to see Angel’s lies for what they were. A fragile new relationship is formed in the detritus of the old. One that forswears sex and seeks only deep abiding friendship.

No sex? Can’t be that hard, can it?

Beautiful Dawn

Part 1 - Chapter 1

‘He killed three men, Angel. What do you expect me to say?’

Angel didn’t turn from his contemplation of the view from Wesley’s office. The discussion (argument) had gone on for some time and showed no sign of abating.

‘They deserved to be killed. I don’t remember you being too distressed when you first heard what happened.’

‘Yes. Well. I was shocked. But, on reflection, I can’t just let something like this go.’

‘I told you: they needed killing, and Spike did us a favour.’

‘Putting aside your rather unsettling recent support for anything Spike seems to say or do, are you seriously suggesting that we act as judge, jury and executioner now? Because, essentially, that’s what Spike did. What about a presumption of innocence?’

Angel snorted. ‘I never took you for a bleeding-heart liberal.’

‘Don’t patronise me, Angel. The whole point of such a system is to prevent escalation. I may or may not agree with you that those particular three men deserved to die. That’s not the point. If I allow myself to think like that, I might start by eliminating people I think are evil, but where do I go from there? People who don’t behave nicely at dinner parties? People who read The Sun? Good Lord, surely you can see where this unilateral action of Spike’s might lead?’

Angel took his time replying, and when he did it was quietly said and the more menacing for that. ‘What do you suggest? This is a unique circumstance. Are you suggesting we hand him over to the authorities? No? I didn’t think so. What then?’ He turned. ‘Oh! You want me to stake him?’

Wesley looked annoyed. ‘Don’t be ridiculous.’

‘What then? Go on. I’m genuinely interested. What do you suggest I do about Spike?’

Wesley went to his chair and sat down carefully. ‘I see no point in continuing this conversation. If you don’t mind, I have a lot of work to do.’

Angel watched the lowered head for a while, then perched on the edge of the desk, almost brushing Wesley’s arm. He felt the man’s impotent anger. In the softest of whispers, he breathed, ‘I trust him, Wes. His soul is… unique. We aren’t above the law; I know that. But Spike and I are… different, and that difference has to be respected.’ He waited to see if Wesley’s head would rise. When it didn’t, he added, ‘Do you trust me?’

Wesley lifted his eyes. There was something quite other than trust in them, but it served the same purpose. ‘Of course I do.’

‘Then trust my trust of him.’

After an age, Wesley nodded. Angel smiled, resisted to the urge to pat him for being good and left him to his work.

* * * * * * *


‘He’ll come round.’

‘Oh, that bad.’

Angel smiled and joined Spike on the couch—but not too close. ‘He has a point.’

Spike groaned. ‘You’re going to lecture me again, aren’t you?’

‘No, but you should have….’ Angel turned and gave him a quick look then rubbed his face wearily. ‘Okay, no more lectures.’ But after a moment, with a sliver of spite he added, ‘Wesley once asked me whether you would ever do something bad enough for me to… reprimand you…. I’m pretty sure he was referring to the smoking and being irritating thing rather than murder.’

Spike rummaged for a cigarette and began the familiar routines of lighting it. ‘He’s never going to like me.’


Spike took a long drag of the now glowing cigarette and blew a stream of smoke. ‘He’s jealous.’ Before Angel could snort in derision he added, ‘He was of the fuck… you know—the stuff neither of us is thinking about doing to each other right now.’

Angel shifted uncomfortably.

Spike looked amused. ‘But now he’s jealous of us not doing it—cus of what it’s left in its wake.’


Spike smiled softly and blew a long trail of smoke. ‘Yeah. Exactly. This.’

They sat in very comfortable silence, both only too well aware of just how rare and precious what they now had was, even if they were wholly unable to name it.

Spike finally roused to something like action. ‘Anyway. I’ve gotta go.’

Angel looked morose. ‘I don’t like the idea of you in that crappy apartment.’

‘Till I find something else, it’ll have to do.’

Jesus. How many times do I have to say it? Two bedrooms?’ This offer had been made and rejected so many times over the previous few days that it wasn’t said with Angel’s entire energy.

‘I’m looking at something later. Wanna come?’

Angel shrugged half-heartedly. ‘Are you going to dismiss it as too big or too small? Too ornate or too plain? Too….’

‘Are you implying that I’m being… fussy?’

‘Jeez. Did it come over as just an implication?’

Spike patted Angel’s solid thigh then snatched his hand back as if the flesh beneath the cloth burned. Rather less jokily, he murmured, ‘Come on, I need you: you’ve got good taste.’

Angel turned and gave him a very direct stare, his gaze just grazing over the delineated bones. ‘I wholeheartedly agree.’

Spike flushed and pushed to his feet. ‘I’ll swing by later then?’

Angel nodded to his retreating back, although he knew Spike would not see affirmation. He also knew Spike would not need to see it. Of course he would go look at apartments. Spike’s company was his drug. It served to stave off other, more deadly, cravings.

* * * * * * *

As usual, the apartment hunt became a source of friction. Since they enjoyed arguing, when it wasn’t about their relationship, they didn’t hold back. Spike declared he’d rather live in a sewer than the first apartment they viewed. Angel pointed out that Spike once had and that he’d moaned continually about that as well. Then he tried to stress the building’s convenience to work, its closeness to his, and urged Spike to take it.

The issue of money resurfaced. Angel said it was no object. Spike said he wouldn’t live on the profits of evil. Angel reminded him that they were working from the inside to—. Spike held his hands over his ears and hummed. Angel waited till he’d finished the childish display and made the devastating point that if Spike didn’t accept the firm’s money, then all house hunting was a waste of time. Spike had no ready reply for this so tried to imply, by an annoying smirk, that he had secret sources of funding. Angel was still laughing at him when they climbed back into the car and drove back to his apartment.

Seething over the laughter, Spike waited until they pulled up and asked, as if he were really interested, ‘Wasn’t this one of Wolfram and Hart’s unused safe houses—where they used to entertain witnesses until they agreed to lie on the stand?’

Angel gritted his teeth, as his defence to this accusation would be termed weak in any court of law. ‘No.’ It was, and he knew it, but Wesley had been given an impossible task to find an apartment and furnish it overnight. He had at least stripped out the more unfortunate items of persuasion and cleaned the bloodstains.

As they rode down in the elevator, Spike (smoking in a particularly irritating way) asked disingenuously, ‘Do you reckon it’s haunted by all them poor tortured buggers?’

‘Shut up! You don’t have to live here if your damn soul is so fucking picky! I like it!’

‘What you making for dinner then?’ Spike flung himself onto Angel’s couch, rummaged for the remote control and began to surf channels, the discussion (argument) dropped as swiftly as it had begun. He flicked Angel a cheeky look. ‘Got ya again.’

Angel closed his eyes for a moment. ‘I’m kinda glad my spare bedroom offends you.’

Spike hushed him and settled down to watch some mindless show, and Angel went into the kitchen. He emerged with two bloodbags and sat on the couch next to Spike—just far enough away that there was no danger of any part of their bodies touching. During the first break, he said evenly, ‘You do have to think about money. You can’t get a place in a city like this for free.’

‘What if I bought somewhere outright?’

‘Huh? Well… that’s just dumb. If you don’t have money to rent, you can’t possibly afford to buy.’

‘What if I got a job?’

Spluttering blood was rare for a blood-feeding creature—wasteful and careless. Angel wiped his jeans absentmindedly as he echoed incredulously, ‘A job?’

Spike pouted. ‘I don’t mean bloody waiting tables. Something….’ He trailed off gloomily. ‘Jeez. You’d think having superpowers would be profitable once in a while.’

Angel gritted his teeth, not for the first time that night. ‘Why don’t you let the firm pay you—Christ, Spike, you’d be using those powers to do good!’

‘But where does that money come from? Ask yourself that.’

Angel didn’t want to so tried another tack. ‘It doesn’t make sense. You’ll work for free but not be paid! How logical is that?’

The show came back on so he was conveniently hushed to silence. Angel shifted slightly on the couch under the pretence of looking for more bloodstains. He could now see Spike in profile without turning his head. Turning his head to stare openly would not have been tolerated. Lots of things were not tolerated these days—by both of them. They weren’t allowed to sit too close. There was no discussion of the past—recent or otherwise. Wounds were suffered in silence and alone, as even that amount of contact would have pushed their fragile restraint to the limits. And most of all, they didn’t discuss that restraint or where its loss would lead them. This, this unbreakable friendship they now shared, was so cherished by both of them that neither, on pain of death, would have done anything to threaten it. So, the looking had to be done obliquely, when Spike was engrossed in a dumb romance that had to substitute for his own. Or when his back was turned, or when he was asleep. Then Angel bathed in his passion. He wondered that Spike could not feel this intensity boring into the back of his skull. He liked to think that Spike was too engrossed fighting his own demons to notice.

A second break came as swiftly as they always do, but before Spike could get up to source some snacks, Angel said carefully, ‘There is a way.’

Spike glanced at him in that carefully calculated way that allowed him to read the expression but not cross any forbidden lines. ‘Go on.’

‘You could take some money from me—personal money, if you like. Money I had before Wolfram and Hart.’

Spike was silent for some moments then asked cautiously, ‘An’ this money was got legally?’

Angel snorted. ‘Yeah. That’s likely. But it wasn’t immoral.’ He glanced back at Spike. ‘Someone else stole it; I just knew where it was.’

Spike looked interested. ‘Never had an aversion to stealing….’

Putting on what he hoped was a suitably pompous voice, Angel murmured, ‘But you have a soul now.’

‘Can the money be given back?’

He shook his head, but added slyly, ‘I guess I could donate it to a charity….’

‘I’m not too proud to be called a charity case.’

Angel laughed, secretly very pleased. ‘You’d take money from me?’

‘Well, duh. You kinda owe me, seein’ as you brought me into this world. How much you got?’

‘Enough for somewhere modest.’ He had a lot more than that, but he enjoyed the immediate vision that popped into his head of eking out payments in return for…. For what? He got off the couch and went into his bedroom, shutting the door. He had his body under command. Most of the time. During the day. His mind was another matter. There was nothing to look forward to with Spike. A lifetime of celibacy stretched ahead of him. Celibacy with Spike’s body constantly out of reach but at his side. The prospect wasn’t very amusing.

When he’d recovered, he went back out and sat down once more. The show still was on. Spike seemed intent upon it, but after a moment, he said in such a low tone that it took Angel’s preternatural hearing to catch it, ‘You’re not the only one suffering, Pet. Just remember that.’

Angel didn’t respond, as the quietness of the comment was meant to imply that it had not been said and therefore had not broken any rules. Instead, he murmured, ‘Will you take it?’

Spike nodded and it was settled.

It brought them even closer and they knew it.

As soon as the show ended, Spike stood up to leave. He had stayed later other nights, but for some reason things felt… fragile… this night.

Angel despaired. It had only been four days since they had forsworn anything more dangerous between them. Eternity wasn’t looking hopeful.

Chapter 2

Angel hated the place as soon as they climbed out of the car. They were both weary of the effort to find somewhere they both agreed on. It seemed important to Spike that Angel like any place he chose, and pleased, Angel hadn’t demurred—about that, at least. They’d argued over every other detail of places they’d seen. They’d all been perfectly acceptable, but Spike had hated them all.  Now, this one he liked, but Angel hated it. It was exhausting.

In the foothills of the Silver Lake area, the apartments were built in Spanish style around a central courtyard. There was nothing wrong with that. It was just so…. Bohemian was the only word Angel could come up with; although he was well aware he was a bit behind the times. He vaguely remembered passing several years during the Seventies in a commune that had looked just like this (only better maintained). He had vague memories only because he’d been permanently stoned. A faint sense of nausea assailed him as they passed through the ironwork gates (hanging off their hinges) and into the inner court. It was overgrown with weeds and full of trash: broken toys and an old motorcycle. There were two apartments for sale, one at the front overlooking the street, which was the larger of the two by far, and one overlooking the hills at the back.

They looked at the big one first.

For once, an agent accompanied them, so Angel had to be circumspect in his appraisal. He folded his arms, refused to look at more than the main room, and pronounced it a shit hole.

Spike didn’t look around for long either. He wanted to see the one at the back.

It was tiny, just one small main room, a cramped bedroom big enough for a double bed with no floor space left over and a bathroom that had seen better days many moons ago. The kitchen consisted of a counter, a cupboard and a sink.

Spike ignored all this, grinned and went out through some doors to the back. Here, the roof of the larger apartment below formed a patio outside his main room. Steps led down the side, giving Spike access to the vast open space of the lake and the hills. He stood on the patio, arms folded, staring out over the impressive view. From this spot he was completely cut off from the gaze of occupants in the other apartments. He turned, knowing Angel was standing just behind him. Angel sighed and shook his head despairingly. ‘Yes. I can afford it.’

Spike’s grin widened. ‘I never thought to own a place of me own. Thanks, Mate.’ He tipped his head up to the sky. Angel reflected wryly that had there been a moon, the hills and lake would shine as palely as did Spike’s skin.

Deep, abiding affection won him over. ‘It’s… good. I guess I could come to like it.’

Spike turned and gave him a contented nod. He tipped his head at back at the apartment. ‘What do you reckon to getting some of that magical glass?’

Angel raised his eyebrows, in love enough to risk some mild provocation. ‘The profits of evil in your new place? I’m kinda… disappointed.’

Spike waved his hand imperiously. ‘Semantics.’ He went back inside to negotiate with the agent, leaving Angel calculating gloomily how far the apartment was from his, and how much additional separation this would inevitably cause.

* * * * * * *

As soon as Angel descended in his elevator, he knew Spike had been in his apartment. This didn’t worry him unduly. Spike was welcome to turn up whenever he wanted, and as there was no way of knowing whether Angel was in without riding down, it wasn’t surprising he’d been there. It was more surprising, however, that he’d been in the spare bedroom. He’d been in his bedroom as well. This puzzled Angel, until he recollected that Spike’s clothes were in his closet. Then a profound wave of sadness hit him, both for the thought that his clothes would now be lonely, and for the thought that Spike had seemingly chosen a time when he was not there to remove his possessions. It was like an acrimonious divorce: something, surely, that this new arrangement was intended to prevent. He opened the closet, planning to indulge his depression for a while, to find Spike’s few clothes still hanging there. But things were definitely… disturbed… rummaged through.

More than a little disturbed now himself, Angel attempted to call him. The new cell phone he’d bought for Spike was switched off. He debated leaving a message but couldn’t think what to say.

He brooded for a while, pacing and going through various conversations before he swore and rode back up.

Paying cash for an unoccupied apartment would enable Spike to move in within the month. As the apartment was unoccupied, Spike had moved in anyway. Entering and exiting from the direction of the hills, this technically illegal squatting appeared to go unnoticed by anyone. Perhaps they didn’t care. As the firm could not fit the new glass until he owned the place properly, he could only use it at night, but he seemed content just to sit, smoking on his patio, watching the moonlight on the lake.

Angel swore as he stepped in something and cursed Spike and life in general. He was tired of hiking through scrub to visit, sneaking in through the back as if in a few days he wouldn’t be handing over an obscene amount of money to legally own the place anyway. He reached the steps and stopped to scrape the offending muck off his expensive shoes before jogging up.

Spike, as usual, was sitting with his back to the glass, smoking. He had an open bottle of wine next to him and looked a picture of contentment. Angel was about to speak when he heard something. He’d have said it was a growl, but that was unlikely. He began again, but the sound came again. He turned to look at the source of the noise and jumped, un-vampire-like. ‘What the fuck is that?’

Spike hushed him petulantly. ‘Don’t scare ‘im. Lower yer voice.’

Angel’s eyebrows rose just about as high as they could go. ‘It’s… jeez, that is ugly.’

The dog, which had made the low, rumbling growl, had gone unnoticed by Angel before because it had been lying low to the ground on Spike’s other side. Angel came closer, and the rumbling increased in volume. ‘It’s that dog….’ The pink collar was the only colour in the blue-black night. ‘Fucking hell.’

Spike tossed his cigarette over the side of the patio and held out the tracking device, which he had retrieved from Angel’s closet. ‘Took me a while to find him again, even with this.’

Angel felt mortified that this episode of their relationship was being brought up once more. It hadn’t been a high point. He had some culpability for the hideous embarrassment of its recollection. ‘Why the freaking hell have you brought that here?’ His face contorted as he tried to think of words bad enough to describe the dog.

Before Spike could reply, the dog’s lips curled a fraction, and it was clear from the expression that it was thinking along much the same lines about Angel.

Spike rubbed his collarbone idly. If he was consciously reminding Angel of the way the bug had been (finally) inserted in him, and of the way it had eventually worked its way out of his skin like a tiny, metallic alien, no hint of this was in his expression. ‘Cus he needs to be here.’


Spike glanced down at the dog and smiled. ‘He needs a home.’

‘Lots of damn creatures need homes, Spike. You can’t bring them all here to… jeez. Can I just say fleas?’

The lip went again, and Angel bristled. Spike laughed and poured some wine into a second glass he had ready. ‘He’ll scrub up. We did.’ Suddenly, the dog rose and headed toward Angel. Although he regretted it for many, many days (every time Spike reminded him of it), Angel took a hasty step back. The dog didn’t deign to look at him and trotted down the steps and off into the scrub, pursuing some private, unmentionable activity of its own.

Angel looked at Spike then at the steps, then the scrubland and lake. ‘This is why you rejected all those other apartments. You bastard—you had this in mind all along.’

‘You assign me a level of intelligence that’s almost flattering. Come see what I’ve done inside.’

Glancing uneasily in the direction the dog had taken, Angel followed Spike in.

* * * * * * *

Much to everyone’s horror, Spike and the dog became inseparable. Despite claiming to have given it a bath, it retained its mangy, hairless, starved, evil appearance. It slunk gracelessly along at Spike’s feet. It avoided everyone else, never asking for, nor giving, affection. Angel, it positively disdained but seemed clever enough to disguise this antipathy whenever Spike was present. Left alone together, the creature would lift its lip, baring a set of yellowed teeth and stare at Angel until he was forced to look away. In the early days, he’d tried a few growls of his own, having used that tactic once on the mangy cur already. Now, however, the dog wasn’t abandoned and skulking in alleyways, desperate for food. It was the favoured pet of a master vampire, and it wasn’t about to be cowered by, or impressed with, anything Angel could produce in the way of menace. The lip just hovered in snarling disdain until Spike returned, when relative sweetness and light would resume. Once or twice, Angel was tempted to complain of the dog’s two-faced behaviour, but some knowing look in the yellowed eyes, some sneering dare to try it, prevented him. He had the major satisfaction, however, of being able to ban the thing from the offices and his apartment, and occasionally gave the dog a gloating look as he and Spike left together without it.

To Angel’s secret amusement, Spike left the gaudy pink collar with the diamante studs on the dog. It seemed to amuse Spike, too—if not the dog. If he got a chance, Angel would whisper, ‘Girlie, girlie pink,’ in a quiet, sly voice to the mutt and had the satisfaction of seeing a flash of unadulterated hatred in its eyes.

What really riled him though was the affection that Spike gave the hideous thing. When he sat smoking on the patio, the dog would lay its head in his lap, and he would fondle the ears and stroke it, saying dumb things in a soft voice. It made Angel so mad that he would rise to his feet and pace around the edge, talking about work or life or anything just to have him stop those endearments that weren’t to him. And, obviously, the dog lapped up his fury, stretching unnecessarily to the love, groaning in affected pleasure as strong fingers wound in its knotted, tufted fur. When it was sure it had Angel’s attention, it would roll onto his back and let its legs drop open so Spike could scratch its hideously pink, mottled belly.

One of its best weapons was its digestive tract, wrecked over years of scavenging, and it never failed to let off a small salvo whenever Angel was left alone with it. Another was its constant source of things to bite at suddenly in its fur. It made Angel feel constantly itchy, which was a neat trick, given he’d spent a good few years of his human existence crawling with unwelcome creatures. Yet another was the unnerving knack it had of growling at unseen objects. Angel wasn’t concerned by ghosts, clearly, but the dog, standing, hackles rising and staring at stains on the wall freaked him out. By the time Spike returned to the room, the dog would inevitably have stopped farting, scratching and seeing phantoms. He’d sit down next to it on the floor and resume his hypnotic stroking. That just about finished Angel off.

Spike seemed utterly oblivious to the silent war being waged between the two companions of his life, and for Spike’s sake, because he understood loneliness, Angel stayed silent. He sometimes wondered if the dog understood these things, too. For all its active loathing of Angel, it never let on to Spike that battle lines had been drawn and armies mustered.

Chapter 3

By the end of a fortnight, some kind of fragile equilibrium between the vampires had been established. Their rules had held, relatively sure and firm. They had neutral territory in Spike’s apartment: a place that had never witnessed their passion and had, therefore, no ghosts of remembrance. And they had their work: regular, predictably unpredictable and challenging. Between these things—firm rules, safe ground and distraction—they managed to get through each day, apparently serene, without anyone suspecting the frantic paddling that was occurring beneath the surface.

Inevitably, the universe conspired to throw them a curve, to test them and find them wanting.

They had to attend a party.

Angel initially refused to go, although this refusal had nothing to do with Spike or any fear he might have that his resistance would slip under such unusual provocation. He just didn’t like parties. He never really got them. If he wanted to get drunk, he preferred to do it alone and enjoy fully the dark, brooding passions that inevitably accompanied that activity. If he wanted to listen to music, he wanted it live, and good. Opera was sublime; other people’s taste in noise was not. If he wanted company… well, he never wanted company. Conversation? Food? The theory applied across the board—he just didn’t do parties. However, this one required his presence, and, somehow, Wesley had managed, when delivering the invitation, to imply that if he, Angel, had made an effort to do a little more socialising in the past, they, his friends, would not run into the kind of trouble they did with firms like the Black Eagle. This accusation, veiled in a simple “I really think you ought to go… don’t you?” was so patently unfair that Angel was momentarily speechless. He grunted, but as he did that a lot, Wesley ignored him, left the invitation on the desk and retreated.

A few minutes later, Spike sauntered in and, after a glance so swift and surgical in its absorption of Angel’s presence that no one else would have known it had occurred, lowered himself into the couch.

Angel frowned. ‘What’s up? Wrong.’

Spike seemed to consider a smile but sighed instead. ‘Got thrown by a big nasty. Bloody need one of those bone people.’

Angel frowned some more. ‘Anthropologist?’

Spike frowned too. ‘’S not we call ‘em back home. Chiropodists?’


Spike shook his head as if to clear it, but winced once more and put a hand to a clearly stiff neck. ‘So, you going?’

Totally lost now, Angel shook his head. ‘I’m fine.’

‘Bloody hell! So I was the only one who got the arm twisting?’

‘It twisted your arm as well?’

‘It? Wesley!’

‘Wesley threw you?’ Angel’s eyes widened, picturing this unlikely, but not altogether unpleasant, scene.

‘What are you blathering about, Angel?’

‘Me? You marched in here, said Wesley had thrown you around, twisted your arm and given you bad feet!’

Spike began to speak then thought better of it. He just closed his eyes and said wearily. ‘I musta got me head bashed in, too.’

Angel sat next to him. ‘Did you get an invite to this freaking party?’

Spike turned his head incredulously. ‘Shall we start this conversation again, Mate? Yes, I got an invite.’

Angel wasn’t sure whether this was good or bad. He remained noncommittal but asked slyly, ‘Are you going?’

‘Do you think I should?’

‘I’m not sure.’

‘Are you? Going?’

‘I think I have to.’

You’re the boss.’

‘Yeah, right.’

‘So, do you want me to come?’

At that point the conversation focused and both knew exactly what they were talking about. Angel pouted and twisted the card around in his fingers. ‘I’m not good at parties.’ An outsider might have considered this oddly off the point. Spike didn’t seem to.

Slowly, Angel turned his head and broke one of their rules, staring at Spike openly. Spike seemed to shiver with the intensity of the look. He rubbed his fingers through his hair. ‘Christ.’

Angel looked away. ‘This isn’t going to work unless we push it—test it in all situations.’

‘And… you do want it to work?’

Angel glanced very quickly at him again. Was Spike hinting that a negative might not be unwelcome? After a moment, he said softly, ‘I won’t lose your friendship, not for… anything.’

Spike seemed relieved, but as Angel was only too well aware, Spike was the master of disguise when he chose. After a moment when the space between them seemed full of possibilities, Spike groaned and reached theatrically for his neck.

Angel frowned. ‘Why don’t you see a chiropractor?’

* * * * * *

Choosing clothes was never easy for Angel at the best of times, and this wasn’t one of those. He leant slightly into the closet, hands on the open doors, scanning the selection. He could go formal in one of his perfectly tailored suits. That would probably emphasise his position, and it was an invite from another firm—hardly a social event at all. He could do Angelus, and the thought alone made him smile with wry amusement. Leather, silk and attitude. He was tempted, very tempted. Then with a clunk, like a falling elevator, he saw where that might lead. Even dressing like Angelus was dangerous, when all his energy was taken up with resisting the one person Angelus had been unable to resist his whole existence.

Jeans and a loose shirt appealed. Hell, staying home in jeans appealed even more, and for a tempting moment he considered just… not going.

He was lying to himself, though, and he knew it. He wanted to go now, and he was only having this style dilemma because he wanted to impress the one he was going there to see.

Snarling in impotent rage, he snatched a suit off its hanger and tossed it to the bed.

What did it matter what he wore? What did anything matter?

* * * * * * *

They were to meet at the office—Angel, Wesley, Fred and Gunn—and then travel together in some style in a Wolfram and Hart limo. Spike had declined the offer, much to Angel’s relief, and said he would meet them there. He was waiting on the steps, smoking what he clearly feared would be a last cigarette. He peeled off the wall and took a place flanking Angel, just a fraction of a step behind. Unable to notice his presence with anything more than a curt nod, Angel nevertheless felt the dangerous telltale stirring between his legs that he was wholly unable to control. It lent him an air of hard menace, however, so he used it to his advantage, leading his warriors into hostile territory more like a conquering lord than an invited guest.

It was incredibly awkward for the first half hour, as the party polarised between those who detested Angel and those who fawned upon him seeking favour. Associates of the Black Eagle law firm were clearly in the first group. They formed a small knot of angry looks, their focus as much upon Spike as it was upon Angel. Angel, well aware of the factions forming in the large room, whispered to Spike, ‘Watch your back.’

Spike smiled and murmured back, ‘That’s what I have you for now.” He spotted the bar and began to elbow his way toward it.

* * * * * * *

Angel made his way to a wall and planted his back firmly against it—not because he feared anyone in the room, far from it; he just liked standing at parties looking morose so that no one would risk coming to speak to him. That it also gave him the opportunity to watch Spike without visibly breaking one of their most rigid rules was just an added bonus.

Spike wasn’t exactly in his element either, if his rapid, concentrated drinking was anything to go by. Angel frowned. He didn’t want Spike off his guard.

Pushing off the wall, he had taken one step toward the bar when he felt a light touch on his arm, quickly withdrawn. ‘Welcome. I’m flattered you chose to attend.’

He turned and found a distinguished looking man at his side. ‘Do I know you?’

The man looked perplexed. ‘I’m….’ Apparently about to offer his name, he finished lamely, ‘the host.’

Angel summoned some tact and replied with a slight bow, ‘Ethan Manyard. I was told this was a retirement party—I expected someone older.’

The man seemed to accept the flattery for the apology it was and replied pleasantly, ‘Seventy tomorrow. It must be all that virgin blood I consume.’ At Angel’s look, he added quickly, ‘Now it’s my turn to apologise. That is actually considered to be a joke between humans.’

Not all that sure he liked being reminded so quickly that he was anything but human, Angel was considering his reply when he heard raised voices in the direction of the bar. One of them he knew very well.

Manyard turned as well and let a flicker of annoyance ruffle his otherwise serene composure. ‘Your colleague, I believe.’

Was there a slight hesitation between those first two words? Sight, but deliberate? Angel decided he was too sensitive, an unlikely thought, which made him grunt with humorous annoyance. 

They went forward together. Spike had a man’s arm in his grasp, the man clearly furious at this and trying, without creating too much of a scene, to pull away.

Ethan Manyard smiled, placating, and held out his hands, palms up. ‘Please, Gentlemen, this is a party. May I ask what the trouble is?’

Angel turned his head to look at the speaker and had a revelation so startling that he actually felt the need to grab onto something to steady himself. He looked at Spike and back to Manyard and realised that he trusted Spike. Of course, he’d been telling himself this for the fortnight of their new regime. He’d even told Wesley in no uncertain terms that his trust of Spike was the keystone of their relationship. Yet, until this moment, he hadn’t really believed it himself. He saw himself now reacting as he would have done only two weeks ago: grabbing Spike’s arm, removing his fingers from the hapless human, demanding an explanation, creating a scene. That’s what he did. That’s what they did. It was the foundation of their relation, the pattern of their lives, that Spike was a sometimes-lovable-fuck-up he didn’t trust. But now…. Now he had no temptation at all to intervene. Spike would have his reasons for this; it was his personal business, and he didn’t need to answer to anyone for it.

Spike suddenly released the human, his intense gaze never straying from the man’s face. Manyard gave a small effete clap. ‘There, all friends again.’

Angel watched the human walk away, waited until Manyard was out of hearing, then fetched drinks, making the assumption that Spike would want one as well.

As he took his glass, his eyes still upon the retreating human, Spike murmured, ‘Black Eagle.’

‘I guessed as much.’

Spike’s eyes flicked to Angel, and there was clearly some surprise that Angel appeared disinclined to investigate the incident further. As if in gratitude and acknowledgement of how much things had changed between them, Spike bowed his head fractionally.

Angel sipped his drink and changed the subject. ‘Guess what I discovered today?’

Spike narrowed his eyes, pretending to think. ‘That flares are back?’

‘We’ve sold the patent of the glass—you can buy it commercially. For a price.’

‘And that’s interesting conversation because?’

‘Because, moron, you don’t have to worry about benefiting from the profits of evil! I’ll buy the glass for your place from a perfectly respectable firm—if a double glazing firm could ever be called that….’

Spike toyed with his glass for a moment. ‘Well… I’ve bin thinking ‘bout that whole apartment thing.’

When there was no response forthcoming, he sighed and continued, ‘I’m thinking I’m being a pillock—‘bout that spare bedroom of yours. Thinking maybe I’ll take up the offer an’ just stay with you—if the offer’s still there, course.’

Angel felt a stab of genuine confusion, his heart leaping to a conclusion his brain told him was premature. ‘Not buy the apartment for you…? You want to move in with—?’

‘Nothing’s changed between us.’ A quick glance drilled into Angel’s heart releasing the swell of hope. ‘But I don’t see why we can’t make this friendship thing work there as well as anywhere.’

Angel could see numerous reasons why, despite having been the one who had made the repeated offers in the first place. The discomfort currently between his legs was one clue.

Suddenly, he frowned and snapped his head around to find the huddle of Black Eagle employees. ‘What did he say to you?’

‘Don’t change the subject.’

‘I’m pretty sure that I’m not. What did he say? He….’ He took Spike’s arm, but it wasn’t in a dictatorial way. ‘He threatened me, didn’t he?’

Spike contorted his face for a moment, responses seemingly being considered and rejected. Finally, he nodded, then added, ‘CEO for CEO apparently.’ He stared even more morosely into his glass. ‘An’ I’m thinking I’m not gonna let that happen.’

They were being jostled by people trying to get to the bar. Angel was about to guide Spike toward a quieter place when Spike suddenly looked up, held Angel’s gaze and said desperately, ‘I loved you before. You know that—kinda told you enough times. But I wouldn’t have…. I mean…. If you got staked or something, I’d have gone on. You know? But now, now we don’t have all that bloody distraction, it’s like I’m hearing a new truth in the silence. I think now I’d die without you.’

With amazement, Angel glanced down at his hands. He felt the skin upon them tingling. His face, too, felt as if some tiny electric current traced its hot power across him. They were sparking, skin to skin, the intensity growing as if the passion were caught in a continual feedback loop of two. He stared at Spike’s lips and pictured his own coming down upon them, eager and hungry, tongues finding, tasting, confirming. The only thing that would stop the conflagration threatening to engulf them would be if he could touch Spike fully. They could close the loop, dampen the power, enclose it within themselves. He looked around urgently. The party was being held in a boardroom; he pictured empty offices surrounding them. Flicking his eyes to the door, he bade Spike follow him, but Spike stood his ground. His eyes dark, his expression unfathomable, he seemed in exquisite pain when he shook his head. Angel risked standing closer and hissed in his ear, ‘Please. I need to… talk. Alone.’

Spike turned his head so his mouth was now at Angel’s ear and murmured back, ‘I need to touch you, too. I want to strip you and run my hands over your body. I want to forget everything else that I need or want in this one desire to have your body.’

Angel was bursting out of his body with desire now, afraid he would change to his demon form to relieve the tension. ‘Then come with me!’

Spike’s reply was so sad Angel wept inwardly to hear it. ‘Then I get to lose my best friend so soon?’ He closed his eyes. ‘I want you to be part of my life. I want us to have a life together.’

Angel groaned. ‘I want that too. Why can’t we have both?’

Spike’s reply was snarled, anger more at life in general than at Angel specifically. ‘Because we can’t. Every bloody time we try, something in this sodding universe buggers it all up.’ Something of the tension drained from his face, and he rubbed his hands over his eyes wearily. ‘I think it’s our… punishment. Our path to atonement.’

‘No! I’m….’

‘Owed?’ He shook his head. ‘We’re owed nothing, Pet, ‘cept pain and damnation for what we’ve done.’

‘Don’t say that.’

‘Prawn anyone?’

They jumped apart as the universe came back into focus and Wesley held out a plate. ‘Sorry, you looked as if you were having another of your spats. I thought some food might ease the tension. This is a party, after all.’

Angel made to push away from the other two. Spike laid a hand on his arm, wincing as if it caused him pain. ‘Hey….’

Angel looked down at the strong fingers, blinked, then nodded. They were okay. Whatever had formed between them from this new restraint, it gave them strength enough to withstand even this. With a huge effort he said, ‘Ride back with us later.’

Spike, as if realising that this was a concession for a great deal more he was not willing to offer, nodded his acquiescence.

* * * * * * *

By the time it came to leave, Angel knew he was in an evil mood.

The trouble was he knew that Spike was right. Deep down, in the rational part of his brain that was not connected to his balls or cock, he knew that Spike was right. But that didn’t help the part that was connected. That part plagued him like a furious itch he could not scratch. Eyes open or closed, all he could see were Spike’s lips. Fists open or closed, his fingers twitched to be upon Spike’s cool skin. It didn’t help that he played their past mistakes through in his mind—all the times when they’d ruined any chance at friendship by unquenchable thirst for each other’s bodies—he could still feel Spike under his hands, still needed Spike beneath his caressing touch.

Who was he fooling? He wasn’t thinking of caress or kiss: by the time the car had been summoned, all he wanted was to ride Spike’s tightness, feel his wetness within, sink deep into the relief that slim body could offer, roll and twist, contorted with desire.

All he got was to slump behind the wheel and listen to the fun other people appeared to have enjoyed.

Except for Spike.

Spike was noticeably quiet, and when Angel stole glances into the mirror, the emptiness next to Wesley was tellingly unhappy. That cheered Angel up a little. At least he wasn’t the only one crawling out of his fucking skin.

* * * * * * *

Unfortunately, the order of the drop-offs left Spike the last in the car. Angel refused to admit that he’d worked this out earlier and had made the request for Spike to drive with them on that basis. However, he clung to the hope that Spike had worked it out too and had accepted for that reason.

As soon as Wesley climbed out, Spike clambered into the front seat alongside Angel. He smelt of alcohol, tobacco and frustration, all three evocative scents spicing Angel’s dangerous mood. He glanced sideward and said deceptively neutrally, ‘My place is on the way.’

Spike brushed his hands on his thighs as if his palms itched. ‘I know.’

Angel compressed his mouth to a set grimace and refused to beg more.

Spike began to bite his nails. ‘Maybe you should move back to the old place till these buggers are sorted out.’

Angel frowned and was about to make a small grunt of enquiry when he recalled the conversation that had derailed his party mood. He’d genuinely forgotten, consumed as he had been by thoughts of Spike. A trickle of nasty pleasure tinkled along his spine. ‘I’m not running from a bunch of suits, Spike.’  Not while I can use this to manipulate you back into my bed, anyway. The nail biting worsened. ‘You’re trapped down in your place. There’s not even access to the sewers.’

‘I guess.’

‘They took me before I had time to bloody blink!’


‘Fuck!’ Spike slammed his hand onto the dash. ‘All right! Your place!’

Angel’s grin of triumph would have split his face from ear to ear had he let it out.

He was too canny for that.

* * * * * * *

…. ambience. He could do mood. He could do seduction—when it suited him.

It suited him tonight, despite his better voice attempting to remind him very calmly and rationally that he actually agreed with Spike that sex between them was a very bad idea—that what he really wanted was what they had now.

‘Drink?’ Fuck small voices of reason.

Spike shook his head and appeared to be examining the elevator shaft. ‘Where does this go?’

Angel stared at the contraption, picturing shafts and something well-oiled sliding through them.



‘Does the lift go down?’

‘Go… down?’

Spike made a small sound of impatience, thumped the button to send the elevator back up to the top then peered into the darkness beneath. Without another word, he jumped in.

This wasn’t the mood he’d planned at all. ‘What are you doing?’ He felt dumb leaning over, shouting into a hole.

‘Come see.’


All went quiet.



Cursing, rolling his eyes and grimacing as if he had an audience to appreciate his long-suffering, he jumped after Spike.

The landing was soft, which was of the good.

‘Stop pissing around!


He looked up. He was fifteen feet or so below the level of his apartment. It appeared the elevator once went to a lower floor, but that the button for this had long since been removed. He stepped forward and immediately lost the faint light that trickled down the shaft from his apartment above.

He was beginning to wish he’d brought a weapon of some kind when something brushed his face. He snarled, grabbed at it just as a piercing, blinding light stabbed into his eyes.

When he opened them again, Spike was staring at him holding up his lighter with a bemused and slightly cheeky expression. ‘So, not tense then, Pet?’ He spun on his heels and held the (tiny) light higher. ‘Looky what I found.’

Angel turned his head in wonder. Spike chuckled. ‘Can I take you up on that offer for a drink now?’

They were in a tunnel, which was stacked floor to roof with wine bottles. The racks looked old, the bottles older. Angel chose one at random and raised it to the faint light from Spike’s lighter. Spike leant his chin on Angel’s shoulder to look too. ‘So?’

‘It’s older than you.’ He began to walk down the tunnel. ‘How far does it go?’

‘Few hundred yards, then it peters out, but there’s an exit to the alley behind the warehouse. Bloody perfect.’

It was perfect, essential exits or not. Angel’s head reeled with the perfection of this moment and this place: damp, earthy smells; the feel of the oh-so-smooth cool bottle in his hand; the phallic shape, which he pumped slowly through his fist; low ambient lighting; the scent of Spike’s cigarette. He spun around and let the bottle drop, heedless whether it broke or not. He seized Spike’s shoulders. ‘Please.’ He’d never begged quite so blatantly. About to apologise for this, to beg some more, to fall prostrate and supplicant at Spike’s feet--whatever it took--he was slammed back against the wall and kissed with a passion that he had been entirely unable to sense brewing in Spike’s casual mood. It was painful: teeth clashing, lips trapped between sharpness, tongues nicked and bleeding, but then a delicious creeping of warmth and need which slowed them as if they were merely characters played in slow motion by greedy Gods. Angel could have sworn he heard music. He cupped Spike’s face and brought their lips together so slowly that they seemed to swell in anticipation. Before the touch, he dipped his head and took just Spike’s lower lip in his mouth. Only another carnivore could truly appreciate the tenderness in this gesture. With one shake of his powerful neck muscles, Angel could have torn the soft pinkness away. Instead he sucked it slowly into his mouth, groaned and rose up on his toes. Then their mouths were open against each other again, fingers impossibly tight in hair, digging and clawing, massaging the need.

Angel spun Spike around and pressed him to the wall, and as he did so, his foot connected with the wine bottle, sending it clinking against the stonework. They looked down and the kiss was broken. Not so the intimacy. Angel lifted his eyes slowly up Spike’s face. He wiped a smudge of something off one cheek with his thumb then closed Spike’s eye by brushing slowly over it. Spike tipped his head into the caress, and Angel opened his palm, cupping one sharp cheekbone in its embrace. Quietly, he rested his forehead to Spike’s, and they stayed that way for a long time, hearing heartbeats and music. For the first time, Angel felt that they were hearing the same song.

He laughed at the thought. ‘Okay… that was… different.’

Spike smiled in agreement then turned his face and kissed into Angel’s palm. ‘How about we go back upstairs and split that poor bloody bottle between us.’

Angel leant against him for a moment more then straightened. What was hard and therefore obvious went unspoken. He bent with some difficulty and picked up the abandoned wine. Spike was watching him with an intense but unreadable expression. Something appeared to please him greatly, however, for he suddenly ruffled Angel’s hair and slung his arm over the broad shoulders. ‘So, how long do you think it’ll take us to drink through this lot then?’

Angel glanced around the well-stacked walls. ‘About as long as I’d say we’ve got.’ He left a significant pause. ‘Now.’

Spike’s arm tightened on his shoulders, and with that unspoken affirmation of what they had achieved by pulling back from the yawning gulf opened by the kiss, they went back toward the faint light shining down from above.

Chapter 4

Angel would have said, from his long experience of life, that sex was the ultimate intimacy: sliding into someone’s body, having parts of another body inside yours, seeing the expressions of passion on another’s face, hearing words that came only from the friction one body made upon another. Having little before in a relationship except sex, he had not had the opportunity to see that in some ways, in many ways, sex dampened the heightened senses that abstinence could produce. He wondered now, if he had stayed in Sunnydale with Buffy, whether he would have achieved with her what he now had with Spike. An impartial observer of the scene in his apartment that night might have missed these subtleties that Angel saw and felt. Outwardly, they appeared as two friends (unusually close male friends, perhaps) drinking wine, chatting and watching TV with the desultory sort of attention typical of men. Inwardly, however, Angel felt such a sense of invigoration, of life and awareness of his being, that he felt almost drunk on the power of it. It was like being stoned, without the deadening aspects of that. The wine tasted sublime; his skin crackled with tension, and he could feel individual hairs and each tiny pore. But most of all, his senses were fixated upon Spike: this man he thought he knew so well but had hardly scratched the surface of. There were endlessly fascinating things that he was learning about Spike now. He’d never noticed the way Spike’s expressions darted fractionally ahead of his speech, as if he were constantly trying out his place in the world to see how he fit before committing himself to an emotion. He had never realised the fragility that this implied.

Then with startling rapidity, his thoughts returned to himself for he suddenly realised that Spike might be having a similar transformation, studying him and seeing him wholly new. And with the kind of clarity that is helped along by late nights, too much very good wine and being in love, Angel knew that what he was experiencing now with Spike was entirely human. In his mind he began to split this, which was so novel and therefore so much to be desired, apart from the need for sex, which he now began to blame upon his demon half. Suddenly, everything he wanted in life—to be a good man, to have the things that men could have—became bound up with accepting this new relationship with Spike. Everything bad that he had done, everything evil that he was, became associated with his insatiable need for Spike’s body.

And with the intensity and lack of rational pause of all converts, Angel had an almost religious ascension into a place of great purity. He felt holy. For the first time in his life, he believed that he lived up to his name.

A small cough returned him to earth from his contemplation of heavenly wholesomeness. Spike was watching him curiously, the empty bottle held loosely in his hands. ‘It’s almost mornin’, Pet. We’ve talked the night away.’

Angel didn’t want to think about daylight. Its restrictions didn’t sit with his new persona. He merely nodded and asked, ‘Are you going to ride in with me or go home?’

Spike pouted, and Angel almost crashed from his great height, plummeting to earth in a fiery ball of need as his namesakes once had.

He forgave himself. Even God himself might have fallen into sin at the contemplation of one of Spike’s pouts.

‘Are you gonna stare at me like that at work, too?’

Angel blinked. ‘Huh?’

Spike smiled such a fond smile, tinged with such self-deprecating amusement that Angel laughed softly, too. ‘Okay. Busted. I’ll try not to.’

‘Then, yeah, I’ll ride in with you.’

Delighted with life in general, but more with himself, Angel offered magnanimously, ‘Shower?’ He saw himself taking one, too, cleansing in almost ritualistic way, very pleased with the imagery.

Spike gave him a sharp, sideward glance, shook his head fondly and murmured, ‘Ponce,’ as he went to Angel’s bedroom to collect some clean clothes.

* * * * * * *

Spike slightly ruined Angel’s illusions of purity and noble, platonic friendship when he insisted that they drive out to his place so he could check on the dog. It wasn’t, of course, that Angel associated anything sexual with the dog. It was too mangy for that. It was rather the uncanny ability the creature had of looking at him as if it could read his thoughts. Given what they were at the moment, their fragility and newness, this sceptical scrutiny was the last thing he needed. Under that yellowed, rheumy gaze, less pure thoughts seeped through the cracks of his new religion, ones that focused far too much on the sounds now coming from Spike’s bedroom: a belt being unbuckled, clothes being shed. When the dog began to smile, Angel jumped up and, finding there was nowhere else for him to go, decided that the mutt had to leave. He edged open the French windows from the shadows and swung his leg toward the creature, encouragingly. ‘Go on, out you go…. Nice sunny day. Go crap on someone else’s life.’

The dog took the leg for justified provocation and sank its teeth in. Perhaps both remembering that their aim in life was not to upset the one they adored, Angel didn’t cry out, and the dog didn’t chow down. It was more of a warning salvo: I could bite much harder if I wanted.

Angel was more injured by the slobber on his clean pants’ leg when he finally wrestled free. That sense of grievance led to remembrance of past injuries, which inevitably led to thoughts of Spike, which were not so magnanimous as the ones he’d been enjoying since his night’s epiphany.

By the time Spike emerged, therefore, freshly washed and dressed for the day, Angel’s glance toward him was nothing out of the ordinary. Spike raised his eyebrows, poured some water from the tap and stood drinking it thoughtfully, regarding his companion. After a moment, he put it down with a small chuckle. ‘Your life must be exhausting sometimes. Come on, Luv.’

* * * * * * *

Fluctuating between holiness and more base desires, Angel felt oddly disassociated from things as he strode across the lobby toward his office. The very normality of the Wolfram and Hart routines bemused him. He took his mail from Harmony, staring at it as if still, after all this time, the fact that he should be receiving mail confused him. The phone was ringing as he sat down, and he let the pile of envelopes and small packages tumble to the desk. Balancing a cup of coffee he’d gotten from a machine, he picked up the receiver. ‘Angel.’

‘Ah, good, you’re in.’ Angel closed his eyes at the censorial tone he always heard in Wesley’s morning greeting. He was feeling fragile enough about his own place in the universe without Wesley implying that his presence at work was a continual surprise.

‘What’s up?’

‘I think we need to have a meeting about last night.’ Angel wasn’t drowning, so there was no particular reason why his life seemed to flash before his eyes—or rather a few very pleasant hours of it… one kiss in particular…. Instantly, he was in the tunnel once more, his back pressed to the wall by Spike’s ardent need, lips meeting, tongues exploring. Once more, his loins belied nobler intention. ‘Angel?’


‘A meeting? About the Black Eagle threat?’

‘Oh. That.’

‘Yes! That! CEO for CEO, remember?’

‘Who told you?’

‘Well… what do you mean, who told me? Spike did, of course, in the car last night. Weren’t you listening?’

‘No, it’s hard to listen when your thoughts are sliding up someone’s rectum.’

Angel paused for a moment to see if he’d actually said this out loud. When Wesley continued in the same tone ‘Anyway, I think we need to get our heads together over this. When are you free?’ he reckoned he hadn’t. He glanced at his stack of mail. ‘Give me an hour?’

‘Of course. I’ll let the others know.’

Finally able to sit down and enjoy his first sip of lukewarm coffee, Angel leant back in his chair and closed his eyes. He had an hour to will down the erection that had sprung to life at the memory of their kiss. Thinking that, of course, led him right back to that wall, those lips and that incredible moment when his whole body had tingled with sexual excitement at the touch of Spike’s hands. With an hour to spare, he took that touch further than it had gone the night before. As a new convert to the religion of platonic friendship, he now could afford to indulge this sort of sexual fantasising. He saw himself like an alcoholic needing to socialise with drinkers in order to test the strength of his restraint.

Pleased with his analogy and the permission it gave him to indulge thoughts of Spike, he slid his chair further into the well of the desk and sought his hardness through the soft fabric of his pants.

The phone rang. With his free hand he picked it up. ‘Angel.’


Angel grinned, unaware that to an observer this smile would appear feral in nature, predatory.

‘What y’ doin’?’

Angel cradled the handset between shoulder and ear and unzipped. ‘Why?’

‘Cus. I’m bored. Thought I’d visit.’

Angel was torn between two replies, one that formed in his brain and one that originated from his balls. He clenched his jaw, his hand moving purposefully. He was at the stage where visuals popped unwanted into his mind: rounded slickness pushing in and out, red sliding through a pale, tight ring. Suddenly, he shouted, ‘Fuck!’ and slammed the phone down. He yanked out his hand and zipped up, crashing his chair back, striding to the window. For one painful moment he saw himself jumping, falling as Russell Winters had done, burning from this great height. He burnt in a fever; why not burn for real?

Sanity returned when he leant his forehead upon the cool glass, fingers stretched over its uncaring smoothness. He sensed a presence and turned his head. Spike stood in the doorway, cell phone in his hand. He did not come in.

They stared at each other across the neutral divide of wood and leather. Each knew exactly what the other was thinking.

Angel felt some of the tension drain from him. He wasn’t alone. Someone else in the universe understood and shared the conflicting desires that drove him. With a grateful nod, Angel turned to contemplate the view, as if he really were the all-powerful CEO that he pretended so hard to be. He heard Spike come further in, heard his chair creak. ‘So, when am I gonna get me own office then?’

Angel smiled into the sunlight at how easily Spike could read, capture, alter, then free his sire’s moods. He turned. Spike was reclining in his chair, smoking, legs crossed as if he owned the place. He strolled over and perched on the edge of the desk, facing him. ‘And what would you do with your own office?’ He plucked Spike’s cigarette from his mouth and took a drag himself, well aware that his lips touched where Spike’s just had.

Spike blew a long trail of smoke into the air, contemplating his reply. ‘Pretty much what you were just doin’ with yours….’

Angel blushed and picked up one of the letters on the desk, which he opened aggressively. He glanced at the contents and tossed it into a tray. ‘Wesley wants to discuss last night.’

Spike’s expression made Angel laugh, and he clarified, ‘Before that. Black Eagle.’

Spike picked up a letter, as well, opened it, gave it as much attention as Angel had his and tossed it into the same tray. ‘See? I can do this CEO thing.’

Angel smiled and wanted to ruffle Spike’s hair. ‘We need to go into this meeting with a united front. What did the lawyer say to you—exactly?’

Spike picked up a package and twisted it around in his hands as he thought. ‘I think he was more like security or something. Didn’t talk like a lawyer, least ways.’ He began to edge his finger under the flap sealing the package.

Angel frowned. ‘But he threatened me?’

Spike nodded, peering into the contents. ‘I guess they liked the bastard. Maybe he paid his staff and gave them offices of their own.’

Angel ignored the jibe and picked up another letter. ‘You shouldn’t have told Wesley.’

Spike shook a cassette out into his hand. ‘Why not? What’s this?’

Angel took it from him, turning it over in his hands. ‘A video?’

Spike gave him a withering look and examined the packaging. ‘You buyin’ porn?’

Angel tossed the video into the same tray he tossed all his other mail and swiped Spike on the head. ‘Let’s go.’

Spike sighed resignedly. ‘Can’t we just stay here and watch porn together?’ As he said it, he seemed to realise his mistake. He coughed and rubbed his palms over his thighs. Angel blew a long, slow breath out of his cheeks. Spike glanced at him. ‘You okay?’

Angel considered and said, ‘No.’ At a small sound of distress from Spike he added, ‘But I’m trying. I’m trying really hard.’

* * * * * *

Now that the small black box had come to be associated with porn, however humorously that had been meant, Angel did not give it another thought all day. Wesley’s meeting took over three hours, during which time he’d been more occupied finding objections to the various plans being muted for his increased security: no, he didn’t want to move back to Wolfram and Hart (Spike’s suggestion); no, he didn’t want his new apartment wired for intruders with state-of-the-art equipment (Gunn’s suggestion); no, he didn’t want a guard dog (Fred’s suggestion, but they all knew she had a cute fluffy thing in mind that only one day might grow to be a larger (yet still cute) bitey thing). They discussed taking the fight to the enemy (no one’s particular suggestion, but they’d all been thinking it); and eventually they decided upon a bi-lateral meeting (Wesley’s suggestion, which only got accepted because Angel didn’t like to ask what bi-lateral meant).

After the meeting, he’d been contacted by the agents of Spike’s new apartment to say that papers were ready to sign and monies to be transferred (his to them).

So the cassette sat in his tray; he moved it to retrieve papers beneath it; he tapped it once or twice on the desk as he was pondering something else. Unlabeled, anonymous, he gave it no more thought than the empty coffee cups that always cluttered his desk at the end of a long day.  

* * * * * * *

The papers were faxed to him to sign. He wished he had a lawyer, then blushed inwardly and considered asking one of the hundreds of lawyers he did have to look them over for him. Something held him back though, and when Spike asked, on his arrival into the office an hour later, ‘This is just between us, yeah?’ he was glad that he’d kept them to himself. It was just their business, and he was fairly sure that no one else would get the subtleties of the arrangement. As far as Angel was concerned, although he was paying for it, the apartment was Spike’s. He’d felt similar altruism toward Connor—would have given the boy anything it was in his power to give, freely and without thought of return—but these feelings toward Spike gave him a particular pleasure. It wasn’t a pleasure he felt easy about discussing with him, though, for fear that he might endanger the very tenuous foundation upon which this particular aspect of their relationship was based. What did it make Spike that he was being… provided for… in this manner? That was a question Angel did not want raised between them. He could not have been more surprised or pleased, therefore, when Spike, perched on the edge of the desk and reading over the documents, leant forward and kissed him on the forehead. ‘Thank you, Sire.’

Angel couldn’t summon words. He leant back in his chair, his heart swelling with feeling he couldn’t express. Spike glanced up at him from lowered lids. ‘Not everything in the past was bad between us, was it?’

Angel shook his head. ‘Even after….’

Spike looked down. ‘Even after.’ He grinned and looked up, poking Angel’s thigh with his foot. ‘Twenty years. Longer than some people get to be married.’

‘I kept thinking you’d leave… break out on your own. I… didn’t make it easy for you to stay.’

Spike gave the merest twitch of his shoulder. ‘Couldn’t have punished you if I’d gone, could I?’ He settled back more comfortably on the desk, swinging his legs, shifting the tray that held Angel’s mail and the innocuous cassette to make more room. ‘Couldn’t have punished meself, either.’

Angel frowned and Spike laughed. ‘Didn’t we both just love those four-in-a-bed sessions with the girls… wanting each other, all that hatred keeping us from just admitting it. Glutton for punishment, me.’

‘What were you punishing yourself for? You didn’t do anything wrong.’

Spike began playing with items on Angel’s desk.

The phone rang, startling them both. Angel answered it and had a brusque conversation with the agent about the documents. When he was done, Spike was playing with the cassette, sticking his fingers through the holes in a suggestive manner. Taking it from him with a sigh from which he knew he’d not hid his fondness for all Spike’s irritating habits, Angel asked, ‘So?’

Spike frowned. ‘So… what?’

‘What were you punishing yourself for?’

Spike laughed lightly and hopped off the desk. ‘For loving you too much, wanker.’

Despite being pleased by Spike’s reply, Angel felt a niggling sense of doubt that, somehow, between the phone ringing and him finishing his conversation, Spike had decided to change his reply. He had no proof to back up this suspicion though, so it got lost in the greater excitement of Spike wanting to arrange for the new glass, now that the apartment was finally his.

Chapter 5

Angel didn’t often take work home, but Wesley gave him a stack of files on the Black Eagle firm. As he had to take these anyway, and he had his briefcase open, he emptied his tray in, too, foreseeing a long night, but one that would give him a sense of satisfaction when it was complete.

* * * * * * *

He had just showered and was heating up some blood when he heard the elevator descend. It flicked across his mind that his security was pretty crap, but Spike stepped out, and the pleasure of that swept more mundane thoughts away. The pleasure was short-lived when he saw the creature lurking at Spike’s feet.

‘No way. Out.’

Spike gave him a finger, the dog a look that was even plainer, and they strolled into the apartment. ‘He’s had ‘is bath. He’s prob’ly cleaner than us. Well, me.’

‘No! I said….’

Spike scratched at something, which didn’t help his case. ‘I thought I’d leave ‘im here tonight.’

To give the dog its due, he looked as horrified and shocked at this as Angel did. If he could have, he might have echoed ‘Huh?’ in a similar tone. Spike ignored them both and slid onto the couch, stretching out his arms. ‘Bi-whatsit meetings and all that bloody posh stuff ain’t gonna keep you safe tonight.’

‘And that… thing… is?’

The thing in question gave Angel a look that left no doubt in the vampire’s mind just how much it would put itself out to keep him safe.

‘He’s a good guard dog, Angel. He’s had a hard life, ya know? He’s… always on edge, ready for any… oh… bugger.’ The dog had chosen that moment to collapse on its back with a long drawn out sigh.

Angel handed him a mug of blood and sat down. ‘How come you’re willing to have him stay but you won’t stay yourself?’

‘Cus I’m fairly sure you won’t be wanting to fuck him.’

They eyed the now sleeping dog together for a silent moment then both laughed at the same time, startling it. Angel gave in to the desire he’d had all day and ruffled Spike’s hair. ‘Wanna stay and help me go over those?’ He nodded toward the files stacked on his desk.

Spike nodded eagerly. ‘No.’ He stood up then hesitated and plunged his hand into his pocket, producing a scrappy piece of paper. ‘Okay, here’s all ‘is instructions…. Course, he don’t need feeding, as such; he hunts for himself like any self-respecting… but I brought some bits and bobs—case he’s too busy defending you like.’ He strode to the elevator and fetched out a bag full of biscuits, tins, a bowl, a fork and some treats. He pushed the bag at Angel, spun on his heel and left.

As he watched the legs and then the feet disappear slowly from view, Angel had the distinct impression that Spike had been avoiding looking at the dog and that he had had a small quiver in his voice.

The rustle of the bag woke the creature—if it had been asleep and not faking for some nefarious reason of its own.

Angel snarled his lip at it. It rose, stretched, cocked its leg and peed down the side of his armchair.

* * * * * * *

He worked steadily, ignoring the sense that eyes were boring into his back. They’d discussed the peeing incident quite… rationally. Angel now had the very distinct feeling that if he were attacked by members of Black Eagle, the dog would summon the elevator and offer them any other assistance it could. He finished a file and pushed it to one side with the growing pile that he’d assimilated that night. The whole lot threatened to tip, so he steadied it, shifting things around to make more room. The cassette sat on top of the mail. He remembered it for the first time that day and picked up, curious now. He wished they’d kept the packing and wondered if there had been a note or something Spike had missed. He half wondered if it was from Buffy. He couldn’t think of anyone else who would send him such a thing.

For a moment, Angel recalled the last time he’d been sent a mysterious package. Spike. He’d been sent Spike. It made him smile now to think that something so monumental, something that had changed his entire universe, could have been contained in such a tiny, innocuous package.

He rose and went to the TV. He frowned and poked at things for a while. He did not appear to have a video player. State-of-the-art TV, DVD, other boxes he had no idea what they did, but nothing that the cassette appeared to fit into. He went back to the desk, thought for a moment then called Wesley.


‘It’s me.’

‘Are you all right?’

Angel closed his eyes to the wriggle of panic under the Englishman’s rational question. He closed his mind to its likely provenance. ‘Sure. Do you have a video player?’

‘I’m sorry?’

‘I want to play a video. I don’t seem to have one.’

‘Oh, no, sorry. That television came on special offer with... anyway. Video? Yes, I have one. What’s the film?’

‘I have no idea.’

* * * * * * *

It wasn’t until he jogged up the steps to Wesley’s apartment that he realised just how long it was since he’d last been there. That led him on to consider the changes to their relationship since Spike’s arrival on the scene. It saddened him in some ways. Although, in love as he was, it was hard to think of Spike and regret in the same thought. Wesley answered the door, and Angel had the immediate impression that similar considerations had been going through his friend’s mind—although probably without the fonder parts about Spike. He handed Wesley his coat and felt at home and relaxed, accepting a drink without any of his usual awkwardness. He held up the now annoying cassette. ‘This came in the mail today.’

‘And you opened it!’

Wesley’s note of horror and disbelief rankled with Angel slightly, and he replied before he’d thought it through, ‘Spike did.’ He didn’t want to perpetuate Wesley’s habitual view of Spike as a fuck-up (although Angel was well aware that he was much to blame if his friend did think this).

‘Has he actually heard of parcel bombs? Anthrax?’

Angel was tempted to laugh and reply ‘Probably not,’ but Wesley’s genuine concern touched him, so he sobered and tried to imply that neither of those would hurt him anyway, without implying that he had no concern for other, human, members of his staff.

Clearly not mollified, Wesley took the cassette from Angel and bent to insert it, something that for some reason destroyed any attempt of Angel’s to remain serious. Wesley glanced at him over his shoulder. ‘He’s having a very bad effect on you.’

Angel flicked up his eyebrow. ‘Not recently, unfortunately.’ Before Wesley could work this out, he picked up the remote control and stabbed at a few buttons hopefully. Wesley took it from him with a huff and, sitting down, brought a picture onto the screen. They both frowned and leant forward.

‘Where is that?’

Angel shrugged. ‘I don’t know.’

They were looking into a bedroom from a camera, which appeared to be mounted high up on a wall at the back of a large bed. Although they could not see the whole room, for it was large, they could see the bed very clearly, a door, a window with drawn drapes and a chest of drawers. The quality was excellent, but with that flat, tinny quality of homemade video. Angel was fairly sure that Wesley was having the same thought as him: porn. Then he glanced at the earnest face and repressed a snigger. Did Wesley…? He didn’t want to go there and turned his attention back to the very disappointing film.

It got more interesting very quickly. Someone entered the room, and Angel swore under his breath. Wesley flicked his gaze over, but before he could ask, Angel muttered, ‘That’s the fricking guy that had Spike.’

‘The arch duke…?’

‘Yeah.’ (Duke my ass.)

‘Why are you being sent a tape with…? Oh.’ Spike had entered the bedroom behind the duke. Wesley paused the image.

Angel wanted to turn it off.

Angel needed to turn it off. He wanted to turn the world off but knew his control of events was limited to this tape only. But what was about to happen had already happened, for good or bad, and thus even here, he was utterly powerless.

Wesley sensed his dilemma and murmured, ‘Perhaps you’d rather watch this in the office tomorrow—alone.’

Angel gritted his teeth, unwilling to let corrosive thoughts poison his mind. ‘No.’

Wesley’s thumb toyed with the pause button, then he gently laid the device in Angel’s hand and stood up. I’ll be in my study if you need me.’ Without waiting to see if Angel protested, he left the room.

Angel had enough of his own doubt about Spike, without being shown quite so readily just how much his best friend concealed.

He gritted his teeth and pressed play.

There was no sound, but the figures on the screen appeared to be having an argument. There was gesticulation and angry expressions and one or two half-hearted punches. Angel paused the film again.

He was sick to his stomach. He knew that a bout of angry, hurt, bewildered crying was close to the surface, and so far all he’d seen was some arguing. But nothing in this scene playing out before him told the tale of Spike’s kidnapping the way Angel understood it to have happened—the way he’d been led to believe it had happened. In his mind, Angel had seen Spike subdued by a vicious beating, or drugs, and coming to in those frightful tunnels, bleeding and helpless. He’d pictured the weeks of torture, the resistance, the sliding away to a simpler time.

He’d not pictured a luxurious bedroom, Spike clearly free to come and go as he pleased and… arguing. He knew only too well the level of intimacy that what he was seeing implied. Spike argued with him like that. Spike was free to gesticulate and punch him and stand, just like that, with a mutinous look upon his face and folded arms. Spike was free to do these things because they were…. Angel wasn’t too sure what they were now. Everything was shifting, like traitorous sand, under his feet. Nausea rose from his stomach to his throat, and he lurched to Wesley’s kitchen and threw up in the sink.

Fortunately, being a vampire, his vomit was liquid, and he could remove the evidence of his weakness by the simple expedient of running some water. When it was gone, he tipped his head under the tap and drank deeply, removing the taste of the partly digested blood.

The scene was still there when he returned. Now that he was over the initial shock somewhat, he studied the frozen picture, trying to piece together some kind of clue as to when this was happening. Besides the technology that was bringing it to him, he might have thought that he was seeing something from a bygone era… except for Spike’s hair, which could be used fairly reliably to date him. It was in its present day, longish and slightly bed-mussed look. Angel felt a great pain grip his stomach and ran once more to the sink and vomited.  Returning to the couch, he stabbed the play button with a self-pitying anger he thought he’d never feel again.

The argument appeared to have petered out. The duke was eyeing Spike with a thoughtful look, Spike turned away from him, idly playing with something on the chest of drawers. Suddenly, the duke strode over and slid his hands around Spike’s waist, saying something into his ear. Spike pushed the arms away—but not very forcibly. The bigger vampire slid them higher and began to remove Spike’s coat.

Angel made a small sound of distress and fumbled for the stop button. He hit fast-forward instead and had the dubious pleasure of seeing Spike undressed like a comedy show: all jerky movement and cartoonish reality. He found the stop button and just for an instant it appeared as if the world had obeyed his command after all. Then the faint sounds of traffic returned. He thought he could hear Wesley’s anxious heartbeat in the next room, but did not allow himself to pursue his thought, for that way madness lay.

He toyed with the slim device, wondering if it held a button that would make the scene play better the next time he watched it, make it play the version where Spike was at least resisting the removal of his clothes. For in this version, the one Angel had seen, he was not. Anything but. He recognised playful resistance when he saw it. They’d played that game enough times themselves.

And that’s where the real pain lay. Angel was rational enough to know this. In all that he had seen on the film, he could have been substituted for the larger vampire. Or rather… the duke had been substituted for him. Spike’s responses were identical, his expressions to the duke the same as when he was with him.

Angel didn’t want to play the rest of the tape and see if Spike fucked the same, too.

Not wanting to see it, he pressed the play button anyway.

* * * * * * *

Angel had rarely watched porn, and he’d never seen any with men. Despite that, the scene somehow made him think about furtive sessions in front of a screen that he had not enjoyed. He wondered idly if he was having some kind of displacement reaction to what he was seeing: if it was just porn, it couldn’t be his lover on the screen and therefore it couldn’t hurt him. But he suspected he wasn’t self-aware enough to have that kind of reaction. Perhaps it was just the general sleaziness of watching two men fuck without even having the benefit of sound, which he told himself might have contained what was missing: Spike’s furious, vocal resistance to rape. Because, seeing it only, it was hard to keep up any pretence that Spike was being raped—as the duke had implied to him in the car. He certainly wasn’t drugged and insensible. When he ejaculated, in what appeared to be a very deep penetration of the duke’s tight, undeniably beautiful arse, there was clearly no influence of drugs at all. He had the bigger vampire pinned on the bed (it had taken him some time and some apparent amusement to get him into this position), the strong thighs over his shoulders and his balls grinding into the open cleft of the duke’s buttocks.

The clarity and quality of the tape was impressive.

Only when spent did Spike roll off his companion and lay as if drugged. The duke turned his head and said something, and Spike suddenly jerked from the bed and began to pace, his heavy, softening cock swinging between his legs. The argument resumed, and then the tape suddenly went blank. Angel jumped. He felt as if he’d been the one drugged, as if the swinging cock had hypnotised him. It was so much easier than having to think about anything else.

Very quietly, he retrieved the tape from the machine and stole out of the apartment. He wasn’t a thief, but a theft had taken place that night.

The trouble was, he was quite unready to face up to what had been stolen from him.

Chapter 6

He did not return to his apartment but headed downtown into the office. Its silent welcome reassured him. This was now normal and comforting in a world that constantly undermined his certainties.

This was his desk, and it was solid and beautiful in a large, imposing office. His chair, his desk blotter, his pen, his, his, his: all tangibles mocking him with the intangibles he could not possess.

Weariness so deep his very bones felt strung out assailed him, and he thought of his apartment above. The phone began to ring, but it seemed to Angel as if it rang at the end of a very long tunnel, and he was too tired to walk all that way to answer it. Moving like an automaton, like a man who was drugged to obedience, he went up in the elevator and dragged himself to the bedroom. Senses deadened, he nevertheless could not help but notice an arc of blood across one wall. It seemed to him then that it was more than a reminder of better times; it was a dividing line between then and now.

On this confused thought he fell like a truly dead man to the bed, face down, and did not stir again for over thirteen hours and only then to someone shouting furiously in his ear.

‘You bugger, Angel! You total, wanking, fucking bugger.’

Angel opened one eye to a furious, contorted, spitting vampire and wondered if somehow they’d reversed positions during his sleep. Shouldn’t he be the one standing alongside Spike’s sleeping figure and cursing him? Shouldn’t he be the one with… tears? Despite the utter confusion and fear in his heart, Angel sat up and said urgently at the sight of Spike’s tears, ‘What’s wrong?’ Does he know I saw the tape? Has he stopped loving me? Does he know I’ve stopped loving…?

He shook his head to clear it of this sleep-induced fog and to stop that final thought forming fully. ‘What’s wrong?’

Spike suddenly slapped him. It was the first time in their very long history that he’d ever done something to Angel so… unmanly. Sure, he’d punched him, kicked him, staked him (and missed), pushed pokers into joints, buggered him and generally beat him up, but he’d never swung his flat palm against Angel’s cheek in a gesture so… emotionally intimate. Coming, as it did, on top of Angel’s already distraught feelings, it brought tears to his eyes, and he put his palm to the sting. Spike leant into his face. ‘I thought you’d been staked! Why the fuck are you up here? We couldn’t find you!’

‘We?’ Focus on something easy and not on your world crumbling around you.

‘Wesley said you went over for a drink and you just left, and then he couldn’t contact you. I went to the apartment and it was all torn up. The dog was there, but you weren’t.’

‘Torn up?’ Angel suddenly remembered the rational discussion about pee. ‘Oh. I—.’

Spike punched his shoulder then stormed off to the window and leant on it, his back to Angel. ‘I don’t think I can do this any more.’

Before Angel could reply, ‘You may not have to,’ Spike turned and said despairingly. ‘I can’t love this deeply, Angel. It’s making me like a bloody girl.’ He dashed away his tears, not seeming to realise just how well his thoughtless gesture emphasised his words. ‘I thought I’d lost you, but you were just up here….’ He waved his hand derisively. ‘Kippin’.’

Angel shook his head again to try and clear it. Had he really watched that scene last night? Remembrance of a swinging cock told him that he had. So, if he had, why was he having this conversation now about how much Spike loved him?

Where did truth lie in this world of confusion? A cold trickle ran down Angel’s back, and he asked, as casually as he could, ‘Then why don’t we go back to what we had? Maybe, we can have this and… sex….’ He glanced up, furtively but hid this behind a mock yawn and the appearance of getting up.

Spike turned his back once more, giving Angel the opportunity to give full rein to his malicious expression.

‘You know why. It never works between us.’

A little voice in Angel’s mind sneered, ‘Because you were getting better somewhere else.’

‘I want this thing we have now too much to risk it, Angel.’

You want me paying for everything and you fucking around behind my back.

Spike turned. ‘I’m sorry…’bout the slap.’

Angel shrugged. ‘I’ve had worse.’

Spike chuckled. ‘Yeah, usually from me.’

He came closer and put a hand to Angel’s cheek where the red mark was still livid. Angel recoiled from the touch but covered by murmuring, ‘Ow.’

Spike pouted. ‘Baby.’

Quite undone once more by Spike’s pout, Angel excused himself weakly and went into the bathroom. He leant on the counter and considered the emptiness in the mirror. He heard a sound in the doorway but did not turn to look.

‘So, what was on this?’

Angel still didn’t turn. He didn’t need to see what Spike was holding. For one moment he wanted to reply, ‘Why don’t you watch it for yourself?’ but instead replied casually, ‘It was of someone I used to know.’

* * * * * * *

As soon as the building cleared for the day, Angel watched the tape again. Second time around, knowing what it held, it had less power to shock. He could study it more carefully this time. He wanted to know when this incident had occurred. Somehow, that seemed critical to him. He could not shake the thought that when he’d seen Spike and the duke fighting at the house, this scene had just led up to it—that what he’d witnessed in that fight, had not been revenge for torture and murder at all. The lies that had been used like weapons weren’t his lies after all. Had Spike beheaded the duke to prevent being found out in this great lie? Had they been lovers?

All of this would have been so unlikely that even Angel with all his lack of self-confidence would have dismissed it as the delusions of a madman, but for that one moment before Spike had taken the duke’s head.

Angel played it back in his mind now.

On his knees, hobbled by the slash of Spike’s sword, the duke had waited for the blow he must surely have known was coming. Spike had bent down and whispered something in his ear…

…and the duke had gone to his death smiling. Angel put his head into his hands. He’d not missed that tiny exchange at the time, but consumed by relief at Spike’s safety and guilt at his own responsibility for the situation, he’d not worried at it as he might have done.

He’d gone to his death with a smile.

Suddenly, Angel snapped up his head. He’d asked Spike what he’d been punishing himself for by staying in their destructive family relationship for twenty years. Spike had replied ‘For loving you too much.’ It occurred to Angel now what the real offence might have been.

If they had been lovers—he’d gone to his death with a smile—when had the relationship begun?

* * * * * * *

Spike was clearly still pissed with him later that day. A fact which Angel noted from his great distance of heartache and confusion but had no inner resources to do anything about. Spike appeared to take this for callous indifference to his concerns, which did little to heal the breech between them.

Although, Angel could not deny that, in many ways, this was hardly a breech at all. There was something different about the gulf that lay between them all day, which nagged at him just enough to prevent him throwing himself whole heartedly into the darkness which called so temptingly. The difference only became clear when he descended to his apartment that night. The smell of cooking welcomed him. A fire had been lit and some soft music played upon the stereo. Spike was pouring from a bottle of wine still coated with cobwebs. He looked up and gave Angel a self-deprecating grin. ‘I’m totally buggered, Pet. I can’t even stay mad at you now.’ He held out the glass. ‘Peace offering?’

Angel took it and found himself saying, ‘Uh huh. With my wine?’ Even more amazingly, he knew he was smiling. He wanted to make up. That was the difference. All the confusion he felt over the tape and Spike, the duke and the past, was nothing compared to the simple fact that he wanted to make up. He clinked his glass softly with Spike’s. ‘Peace.’

Spike made a small movement, hesitated, then finished what he’d begun, leaning forward and placing a soft, almost chaste kiss upon Angel’s lips.

It wasn’t chaste for long.

Glasses were replaced upon the table heedlessly. They moved together, seeking that intensity from lips that they craved now more than blood. Angel ran his fingers up into Spike’s hair, his mind on other kisses, another room, comparing, despairing, uncertain, seeking. He held Spike off for a moment, staring into dilated eyes, flicking his gaze over lips. Surely he’d been wrong: he’d not seen this on the tape. Spike’s responses to him now were very different to the desultory sex he’d witnessed vicariously last night. Spike allowed the scrutiny for a moment longer then returned Angel to the activity they’d been enjoying. Angel held him off once more. ‘What about our agreement?’

Spike shrugged. ‘Friends can kiss.’ With that, he refused to allow any more interruptions to his exploration of Angel’s tonsils.

Angel was happy to oblige the need to explore.

They moved backward toward the couch and fell upon it, seeking better holds.

Clothes became impediments, but before their removal began, the stress of the day hit Angel, as in his mind he began to replay rapid, jerky movements—stripping Spike on fast-forward. He put his hands on Spike’s shoulders, parting their lips, licking his to taste the last trace of Spike upon him. ‘I—. We need to talk.’

Spike sat back, his face unnaturally flushed, his eyes wide and wild with desire. With a deep swallow he nodded and stood up. Then he sat back down and put his head in his hands. ‘Maybe we could have it all—now. Maybe we should just try. I bloody want it all, Angel. I want you.’

This took the wind out of Angel’s sails. He regrouped and repeated, weakly, ‘Look, we need to talk.’

The elevator began to descend, and as Angel’s usual visitor was sitting next to him, he got up automatically. He sensed Spike stand next to him. The machine clunked to a halt.

Angel wasn’t sure who pushed whom first or who shouted the loudest. He was only aware of falling and Spike and then a sound that sent exquisite pain through his head, light that hurt his eyes, a huge blast of air and then silence. It wasn’t silent for long. The world seemed to be falling apart around him, and then he heard the worst sound of all: the crackling of flames.

Angel tried to move but couldn’t. He was pinned under something. But the crackling was getting louder, so he drew upon reserves rarely needed these days and managed to push at the thing that held him down. A beam shifted, bringing more debris down around him, but his legs were free. ‘Spike!’ There was no reply, and Angel could not see. He wiped his eyes, felt his hand come away sticky, and could see faintly in the darkness. It was getting lighter. The apartment was on fire, but he could not see Spike. It was so terrifyingly familiar that when he screamed Spike’s name for a second time he felt that he had lost him already, and the scream was of a father loosing his only son. He knew that something so small and vulnerable could not possibly have survived this. Then his head cleared and sense returned. ‘Spike!’ A hand came out of the rubble, scrabbling to find purchase. Angel grabbed it. ‘Spike.’ He pulled then tried to shift some of the rubble, aware now of heat on the back of his neck. He could survive explosion; they didn’t need air; crushing had little long-term affect--but burning would kill them.

He pulled at the hand once more and an arm came free. ‘Spike!’ There was still no reply, but the sound of burning was louder. He stood and leant hard on a large beam across the pile of rubble under which Spike lay, testing its mettle, then began to push with all his strength. His strength was considerable and with his feet braced against a piece of the wall still standing, he shifted the beam enough for it to crash to the ground. But it had held up a section of the roof, and before he could leap out of the way, another beam, dislodged by the first, crashed down upon him and all was blackness.

* * * * * * *

Angel could still hear the fire. He could still feel. The blackness was not unconsciousness, just blindness, which sent a jolt of fear through him. Then he felt a hand on his. ‘Angel!’ The relief made his eyes sting with tears.

‘Yeah. You okay?’

‘Come on.’

He let Spike lead him, but already he could see a faint red glow. It was intensely hot. He heard Spike cry out, smelt burning, felt then that he was falling. Unprepared, he hit the bottom of the shaft hard and broke his shoulder and a few ribs, but to his immense relief, he saw Spike landing alongside him. He was blurry, but sight was returning. Burning bits of debris began to rain down around them, and Spike took his arm, pulling. Angel cried out as his broken bones were yanked. Spike made a sound of mixed urgency and distress and hissed, ‘Come on!’  Staggering, they made it into the tunnel, where they paused and bent over, gasping in pain. Angel raised his head and blinked to try and clear his vision.

‘Where are your fucking clothes?’

Spike looked at him as if he were mad, then slowly down at his body. He looked back at Angel. ‘Same place as yours, I guess.’

The explosion had entirely blown their clothes away. Their skin was blackened and red-raw from burning with white patches, oddly incongruous from where they had been protected by debris. Spike had a mark across his whole body that bled, oozing fluid, where he’d been crushed. Angel’s face was a mask of blood from a cut to his scalp; his hair was caked with blood from the blow he’d received from the falling beam. The shaft began to collapse, and they ran once more from waves of heat upon their burnt skin. They reached the exit and climbed stiffly to the sweet, cool darkness of the alley.

Spike fell to sitting with his back propped against a dumpster. Angel followed suit. They could hear faint sounds of sirens.

Angel turned his head. ‘I thought I’d lost you.’

‘You nearly did.’

Angel drew his knees up, uncomfortable with his nakedness, regarding Spike’s battered body. Very slowly, he put his arm around Spike’s neck and drew him close, planting a long kiss into his smoky hair. ‘I love you.’

Spike snorted, regarding his body ruefully. ‘Fine time to tell me.’

Angel kissed him again. ‘It’s the perfect time to tell you.’ He was not referring to the explosion but knew that this subtlety would be lost on Spike. He began to laugh, and Spike twisted his head around to stare at him. Angel seized his face and kissed him properly on the lips. ‘I love you.’ Spike pulled away and tapped at his forehead, muttering but clearly very pleased. Angel’s laughter petered out to the occasional hiccup of amusement.

The tape was burnt and, surely, in its consummation, any power it had held to hurt him was also destroyed. In that difficult balance between demon and man, he knew his demon often had the upper hand. It drove his responses to Spike. It had driven them all day in reaction to the tape. Not now though. The panic and despair he’d felt in the fire--that once more he’d lost a child--was pure man, pure human, pure father. And what father stops loving his child for past errors?

Angel leant his head back on the dumpster and closed his eyes with exhaustion.

Spike brushed his fingers over the still bleeding wound in the dark hair. ‘What now?’

‘I’m thinking clothes would be of the good.’ He heard Spike mumble something and felt him moving, but he was too tired to open his eyes. Unconsciousness that had not claimed him earlier took him now—now that Spike was safe and he could afford to sink into its welcoming respite from pain.

He jerked back awake to find himself sliding down the dumpster. Spike was kneeling and handing him a blanket. ‘I’ve called Wesley.’

‘Huh?’ Angel took the blanket and covered his nakedness. ‘Where…?’

‘Nicked them from the fire guys and used their phone. Fire’s nearly out. Not much left. Sorry, Luv.’

Angel nodded then tugged at the corner of Spike’s blanket, making it fall away. He hadn’t intended that but wasn’t unhappy with the result. Spike swatted him and wrapped up again, sitting close. ‘Black Eagle?’

Angel considered this as best he could with the stunning headache that had begun to hammer in his skull. He didn’t get far with the thought before a car edged into the alley. Spike stood up, and it came slightly faster toward them. Wesley jumped out, professional and silent as the situation demanded. They got Angel into the car, and Spike slid in alongside him. Wesley adjusted the mirror as if he could see them. ‘Hospital?’

Angel groaned. ‘No.’

‘Where then? The quacks at the firm?’

Spike leant forward. ‘My place. We’re okay.’ Angel didn’t contradict the suggestion, so with Spike’s directions, Wesley drove them out to Silver Lakes.

* * * * * * *

Angel knew he must be feeling better when he caught a look from the dog as they made their inelegant entry to Spike’s apartment. The dog clearly blamed him for everything. It was familiar territory. He was recovering.

Wesley’s silent professionalism had given way to more personal feelings, and he began to berate Angel for not taking his security more seriously. ‘I don’t need to point out, I should hope, that if Spike had not been there, you might have been killed.’

Angel frowned, wished he hadn’t, and whimpered softly with pain. ‘No. They knew he was there. They weren’t trying to kill us.’

Both Wesley and Spike turned to him as he lowered himself gingerly onto the couch. Even the dog looked faintly interested (albeit sceptical). ‘They’re not going to give me the swift, surgical death Spike gave their boss.’ He couldn’t resist a tiny flicker of a glance at Spike to see if any particular guilt was evident. Spike was a figure of soot and blood with no particular expression at all. He sighed. ‘They’re trying to cause mischief before they finally finish me off, is my guess.’

‘Mischief? Mischief? You call nearly blowing you up mischief?’

Angel stretched out his legs, realised the blanket had fallen open and hastily snatched it back. ‘The tape was from them as well. Yes, I call it mischief—all of it.’ That got some expression from Spike. He stared at Angel for a moment then seemed to recollect himself and said, ‘I’m going to shower and get some clothes.’

Angel watched him go, his mind dancing tentatively around things that needed to be said, but he was dragged back to more mundane realities. ‘You must come back to Wolfram and Hart with me. At least you still have some clothes there.’

Angel nodded then pursed his lips, thinking. ‘No. Have some sent over. I’ll stay here tonight.’

‘Angel, you can’t stay here—either of you!’

‘No one knows we’re here.’

‘How do you know that? Bloody hell, they’ve had the upper hand with us since this thing began. Maybe the car was bugged again. Maybe they’ve tracked the purchase of this place. You are making a very dangerous assumption that—.’

‘I’m staying here. Please, Wes, have some clothes sent over. Oh, and….’ He glanced up. ‘Some… blood? Human?’ He threw Wesley a small concession. ‘It was pretty close, mischief or not.’

Wesley sat next to him and peeled away the blanket on his shoulder. ‘You’re not safe here.’ His voice was low, confidential, a familiar reassurance in all the chaos.

‘I need to talk to Spike about something, and I can’t do it there.’

Wesley tutted. ‘Is talking to Spike more important than your life?’

Angel was tempted to say that it was. Instead, he hung his head and murmured, ‘Please, Wes, clothes and blood; that’s all I ask tonight. Tomorrow… tomorrow I’ll decide what we’re going to do.’

Wesley hesitated a moment then nodded resignedly. ‘I’ll have a car bring them.’

* * * * * * *

Angel made it as far as the small bedroom with the large, welcoming bed and collapsed upon it. It was rumpled from Spike’s body and smelt of his dreams. He let the bloody blanket fall away and smothered himself with Spike’s sheets, pressing them to his nose and mouth. He did not hear Spike return to the room, did not hear the requested delivery being made. He did not wake until Spike sat on the edge of the bed and called him softly.

Angel dragged open his eyes and let his gaze roll languorously over Spike’s clean, sweet-smelling body. He smiled and patted the bed next to him. ‘Friends can share a bed.’

Spike dipped his head, laughing, and slid naked alongside Angel, his clean, pale body in sharp contrast to Angel’s fire-darkened, bloody one. But he did not suggest that Angel move or make any changes to the way his body currently looked, or smelt. Rather he snuggled into the filth and murmured against the dirty skin, ‘I could eat you.’

Angel grunted, disinclined to move enough to answer more fully. It felt as if every inch of his body were against Spike’s. Where he hurt, and he hurt a lot, there was Spike’s sweet coolness. It was better than morphine. Sleepily, Spike turned so he could spoon back into Angel’s darkened hollows.

Just before he slid into oblivion, Angel heard Spike say calmly, ‘Tomorrow, I’m finishing the job I started. No one hurts you again.’

Chapter 7

He woke sometime in the night from the pain in his knitting bones. It was a familiar pain and he welcomed it. Immortality had its price and he was willing to pay it.

The room was pale with light that streaked in from the moonlit night. Spike’s naked body absorbed the blue light and glowed faintly, his back and buttocks mirroring the smooth lines of the hills in the distance. Angel slipped his arm around Spike’s waist and pulled him back against his body. The top thigh fell away, opening a shadow-darkened valley in the hills.

Angel moved his hips forward and nestled his growing hardness into the shadow, just laying it between the warmth of Spike’s inner thighs. It blossomed in the heat and lengthened, hardening to a smooth, pale rod. The tiniest twitch of his hips enabled him to rock it in and out, the friction setting up a deep ache in his balls. Spike breathed suddenly, coming up from a place of deep sleep. Still not quite awake, he put back a hand and stroked Angel’s thigh encouragingly and mumbled something.

Angel ran his hand down the compact body from shoulder to hip. Spike squeezed the strong thigh rhythmically, in time to the dipping of the angular hips.

On one push into the hard thighs, Angel missed his aim and his slippery cockhead slid up to a natural indentation, which held him as if it were much deeper. It became so when he pushed, of course.  Slipping fully into the sleep-pliant body came so easily then that it was more medicinal than sexual. It was as if their bodies were acting independently, seeking comfort and healing the best way they knew how. They both held still for a while, reacquainting themselves with the feelings each was independently experiencing. Angel’s cock ached, throbbing with the need to move and rub, but he ignored it, sliding a hand over Spike’s chest, delicately tracing wounds, seeking nipples to brush with his palm. Spike slid his hand further back and cupped Angel’s buttock, pulling him closer. Fully embedded, wiry hair scratching a stretched ring of muscle, Angel had come home. Spike’s apartment, Spike’s bed, Spike’s body: there was nowhere else to go.

He didn’t have much blood in his body anyway, but what did remain after the head wound and lack of food went rapidly south. His thoughts became muzzy, his vision grey, and then he was asleep and dreaming. His body rested and healed. His cock remained inside Spike’s body, warm and encased, and, in his dreams, Angel opened his wings and flew for the very first time.

* * * * * * *

Spike woke first. His low murmur of surprise and appreciation woke Angel.

It took Angel a moment to separate dream from reality, a moment more to fully appreciate reality and then he laughed, low and long. With a wiggle of his hips, his dormant cock stiffened inside Spike--a rapid and shocking increase in size that made Spike hiss. Breathing against Spike’s hair, Angel whispered, ‘We shouldn’t be doing this.’

Spike made a low rumble in his throat. ‘Bit late for that, I’m thinking.’ He took Angel’s hand and brought it to his cock.

Angel swore softly, arching to the pleasure of the long hardness in his fist, the arching sending him deep into Spike. He ran his fingers up the silky length and swirled his thumb around the exposed tip. ‘Oh, that’s… wet.’ Tasting the result, he breathed deeply with pleasure. ‘I’ve missed this.’

‘Yeah.’ Spike slid his hand to Angel’s buttock again and pulled him apart, seeking. His fingers found their target and he eased one in. Angel’s response was half-grunt, half-moan that told Spike more than words just how much he had missed it. With Angel now hooked and going nowhere, Spike speared and pinioned, they were more one body than separate. Angel nuzzled into the smooth area beneath Spike’s ear, smelling him, biting him with soft human nibbles just enough to flood the skin with blood before it paled once more. Spike urged him on with small sounds of pleasure, stretching his neck. Angel eased his biting forward, Spike twisted and their mouths came together. However intimate the other joining, this was the one that always shocked, that always surprised them anew with its intimacy and its intensity. They were joining their mouths together, spittle shared and tasted, tongues allowed to explore. The other was just physical, which they had done with women, with other demons, and often with little thought to the act. But this… this they had not thought to want to do with another man. Kissing a man. Kissing each other.

Everything broke apart on the kissing. Angel rose over Spike, pulling off the insistent finger, his cock sliding out of its tight pleasuring and sticking up, glistening and needy, wavering in the pale dawn. Their kisses were long and deep, urgent, stirring a desperate need for release. Angel suddenly sat back on his heels and pulled Spike onto him, pushing his legs up and back, exposing a hole wide and ready to be filled again, shockingly pink and obvious on the otherwise subtle, pale body. Angel’s voice snagged in his throat, and his need came out as a strangled cry as he pushed in. In and further in, inch after inch, Spike cursing and arching from the entry, and then the pulling out which drove them both wild with the pleasure. Angel snatched at Spike’s neck, his arm, his waist, anything to get enough hold to fuck as deeply and as hard as he needed. The first thrust skidded Spike back across the bed, the second the same until he crashed into the wall and then Angel could work him like a bench press, sweat pouring off his blood-encrusted body. And Spike lifted to each thrust, tightened and wrapped Angel in a vicious embrace of thighs and seeking, digging fingers, kneading him and blossoming bright red welts on his already damaged body.

They couldn’t have turned off the need or stopped, not even if another explosion hit them full force, but Angel did manage to gasp out, ‘We shouldn’t do this,’ just before he jerked, hung over Spike shuddering, and squirted him full of thick streams of come. Spike’s only response to the desperate comment was to thrust his hips up and when Angel had finished his orgasm, grasp the dark head and force the mouth onto his cock. There wasn’t much force needed. The erection stood at right angles from Spike’s body, long and pale, red at the tip, pouring out its own need. Angel took the top between his lips and let Spike make the pace, let Spike lift and thrust deep. The bulbous head grated the walls of Angel’s throat. He swallowed convulsively and drew his lips back up the length, flicking his tongue around the shaft as he knew Spike loved. With the help of his fist around the root and judicious pushing of his fingers alongside his cock, rubbing and stretching Spike where his now softening erection could not, he brought Spike to an explosive orgasm, which flew out and soaked them both. Some juice caught on his lips, the rest he licked from Spike’s belly and sucked urgently in the last few squirts emerging from the waving cock.

* * * * * * *

‘We shouldn’t have done that.’

Angel got nothing more in response to his now somewhat lame assertions than a grunt and a hand holding him even more tightly in place.

They were stuck together now, and the literal made Angel wish for the metaphorical and that made him laugh. He didn’t know how much time had passed since they’d made love, except that his headache was entirely gone and his bones well knitted together. He was hard again, too. But that was okay, as he was buried deep in Spike’s rectum and not planning to go anywhere any time soon. Spike’s cock was squashed between them. When he moved occasionally to keep things interesting inside Spike, he could feel it hard and trapped. It must have been uncomfortable to have him lie so heavy. He made sure he ground it painfully between them every so often, amused with the game.

He loved the feeling of Spike’s hand on his backside: holding him on, holding him in, stroking him, occasionally dipping lower and swirling a fingertip idly around the rim of his ass (occasionally smacking him a ringing slap when he played the cock-squashing game). Angel felt the need to be stretched and filled; he wanted to take Spike into his body. He was only too aware of the faint streaks of sunlight beginning to threaten the bed, threaten them and this time they had together.

He needed to pull out and make a start on the day. For sure, Wesley would be there early, nagging and arranging, reminding him who and what he was. He didn’t want that reminder. Here, inside Spike’s body, he was just Spike’s lover, and for once, that was enough.

Spike’s fingers became more focused on his ass, doing delightful things just inside his ring, stroking just where it was good to be stroked and scratching what he had not realised was an itch. Spike, too, must have seen the encroaching sunlight. Angel lifted his head from Spike’s chest, feeling the dried glue between them tear apart. Spike was staring unfocused at the wall, his blue eyes for once holding no expression in them other than contentment. Angel licked his thumb and wiped away a smudge of ash that sat like a bruise upon one sharp cheekbone. ‘I think we’ve complicated things between us again.’ Spike blinked slowly and dragged his gaze to Angel, clearly trying to focus on his words.

Very slowly, as if it was the answer Angel had been dreading, Spike extricated himself from their tangle of limbs. He sat up, pushed his fingers through his hair then leant into Angel’s ear and whispered, as if they might be overheard, ‘Turn over.’

A shiver ran through Angel’s entire body, starting at the top of his spine and running almost painfully down to the soles of his feet. They’d done this many times before—hell, he’d only just been thinking about it and wanting it--but hearing it from Spike’s lips was a particularly illicit thrill. ‘I’m going to be turned over and fucked by a man.’

But then it was thought before it could be unthought. Angel felt the thought like pain. ‘Another demon he’s turned over and fucked,’ and in the instant of thinking it, he saw the collapse of everything he was or wanted. The irony was too much. As demons and lovers, demons and competitors, demons and enemies, they had been able to betray and recover, deceive and return like the ebb and flow of dark water under an unchanging moon. But now they were friends--made men by the intensity of these new emotions.

Pure man, pure human, pure father.

The pain of the memory of Spike’s betrayal flayed Angel’s newly humanised senses. He rushed back from a place where all was hot and wet and pleasurable and thoughtless to a place where they were just demons fucking each other in the ass in a grubby room in a world full of betrayal.

It was gross. It was ugly. It demeaned him.

Spike eased away and asked hesitantly, ‘What’s wrong, luv?’

Angel pulled away and crawled to the edge of the bed.


Angel saw with some considerable pleasure where this was now heading. If there was hurt and pain and fear, it wasn’t only going to be his. The tape had been burnt; but its contents had been burnt on. ‘We can’t have both. You have to choose.’


Angel looked at him. Spike was covered in second hand dirt. It suited him. ‘You have to choose between having me as a friend or as a….’ What was the word? It wasn’t lover. There was no love in betrayal. ‘Or we fuck. One or the other. You choose.’

Spike sat back on his heels, his expression suddenly wary. ‘Something’s happened that you’re not telling me. You said you loved me. What the fuck have we just been doing all night if not making love?’

Angel gave no response.

Spike glanced down at the bed. ‘What do you want me to say? I get the feeling I’m buggered either way. Angel, we don’t play these dumb games anymore. Talk to me.’

Angel felt his whole being yearn toward Spike’s melancholy plea. He wanted to take him in his arms and whisper away the pain of the images drumming in his mind. Instead, he repeated, ‘Choose.’


‘Then you have neither.’


Angel stood up. ‘It’s getting light. I have to go. I have a war to wage.’

Spike caught his arm. ‘What do you mean… neither?’

Angel looked at the slim, strong fingers on his arm. The clasp was so tight red marks were flaring under their hold. One by one, he peeled them off, heedless of the sound of bones protesting. Spike’s eyes widened with shock. ‘You’re hurting me?’ It was more a disbelieving question than an accusation.

There was a low, rumbling growl from the doorway. Angel glanced over, wary. He let go Spike’s hand. He didn’t see rage in the dog’s eyes but complete disdain, and at that moment it matched what he felt for himself.

Not disdain for hurting Spike. For once having loved him.

The End of Part 1

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