Dark Domain - Part One - 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.

Dark Domain now continues in:

Dweller in the Land of Death

Chapter 1

‘If I were at all fanciful, I would say I’m having a Tippi Hedren moment.’ Wesley watched the circling dark shapes with some curiosity. ‘I had no idea gulls—any birds come to that—flew at night.’

Angel didn’t look up from his book propped up on the wheel. ‘They’re not real. They’re virtual gulls following me.’

Wesley turned his head to him and blinked. ‘Mindful of mixing my literary references, that’s a remarkably Ahab-like comment.’

There was a splat on the windscreen—a very realistic one for a virtual seagull. Angel lifted his eyebrow. ‘Just as well it wasn’t a whale.’

Wesley laughed dryly just as the rear door was wrenched open.

‘Oh! That’s bloody rich! I’m glad you can laugh, Watcher. I’ve been freezing my buns off out there keeping watch on an empty bloody street!’

‘It’s eighty degrees! And you’re wearing two layers of leather!’

‘Yeah, well. It’s still boring as hell.’

Angel closed his book. ‘Hell was anything but boring.’

‘Oh… here we go again… it’s Big Red Porsche time: my gonads are bigger than yours cus I’ve been to hell. Jesus, Mate, I survived The Trials—worse than hell any day!’

‘And I put up with you! Hell was a pleasant vacation compared—.’

‘I’ll take watch, Angel, if you don’t mind. Anything not to have to listen to you two bickering.’

‘We’re not—.’ They both shut up simultaneously, and Wesley chuckled softly to himself.

Angel started the car. ‘This is a waste of time. We’ve been set up.’

He pulled out of the deep shadow of the warehouse and drove slowly along the dock under the arc lights.

Spike fiddled with some switches for a moment then cursed, sat forward and pressed the buttons on Angel’s console to lower his window. He flung himself back in his seat and lit a cigarette.

‘Not in the car.’

Spike gave Angel the finger and continued to smoke.

Wesley glanced at Angel, but Angel was good at not seeing his slightly censorious sideward glances.


Angel reacted so fast the tyres left tread on the street. He assumed they’d hit something—a child perhaps—but Spike only stubbed out his cigarette and nodded at a lit window. ‘Offy. I need some beer.’ He climbed out nonchalantly then after a moment’s hesitation turned back and said, ‘Don’t even think about pushing off and leaving me, ponce.’ He lit another cigarette then sauntered off in the direction of the alcohol.

Wesley watched in disbelief as Angel turned off the ignition.

‘Is there anything he could do that would actually piss you off enough to do something about him? Have you given him some sort of get-out-of-jail-free card?’

Angel thought for a moment then smiled bitterly. ‘I’ve thought about giving him an Oscar once or twice.’

‘I’m sorry?’

‘Private joke.’

Wesley raised his eyebrows: Angel didn’t look as if he found it funny at all.

Spike climbed back in and thoughtfully offered them both a swig from the bottle of whisky he’d bought. ‘Bloody dive.’

When they didn’t move, he waved his hand imperiously. ‘Come on, then. Favourite show’s on tonight.’

Angel put the car back into drive and glanced in the mirror—as if he could see Spike. Spike was watching the mirror—as if Angel would see this.

Wesley, was frowning, polishing his glasses. ‘I’m convinced that that dreadful little man, Prescott, was telling the truth. People usually do when you threaten to bite them.’

‘So, where was the shipment?’

Wesley nodded. ‘Quite. Maybe he was set up, too.’

‘No one knows we have him.’

‘Who knows what people know these days?’

‘These people aren’t mystical, Wesley. It’s gunrunning: pure and simple.’

Spike leant forward and said with an almost unnoticeable slur to his words, ‘No reason gunrunners can’t be into all that mystical shit, too. I ran guns into Ireland—they loved the whole demon angle.’

Once more, Angel glanced in the mirror. ‘You ran guns for the IRA?’

Spike grinned and shook his head. ‘The other ones.’

They both ignored a faint groan from Wesley.

Angel flashed his absence another look. This one decidedly less friendly. Spike nodded happily. ‘God save our gracious Queen, Mate. Loved seeing those Irish bastards going down.’ He took a long swig of whiskey. ‘Huh. Bushmills. Now, that’s what I call a coincidence. Good Protty town that.’

‘Shut up, Spike.’ Angel gave Wesley a glance, and Wesley retorted, ‘Well, if you won’t shut him up….’

Spike leant forward again. ‘Angel likes me to talk, don’t you, Mate? Keeps you on edge, wondering what I’m gonna say next. What shall I say next, Pet? Got lots of interesting things I could tell ol’ Wes….’

Angel suddenly chuckled and said under his breath, ‘But then you’d have to admit that you remember them.’

Spike hesitated for a moment then flung himself back against the seat with a deep pull at the mouth of the bottle. Another few blocks on and he said curtly, ‘Let me out here. I’ll walk.’ If he noticed the complete absence of argument from either of his companions, he didn’t comment upon it.

Wesley relaxed slightly when they pulled back out into the street and opened his window to pointedly waft at a few lingering cigarette and whisky smells. ‘Why is he still hanging around, Angel? He’s alive again, so to speak, and he can go anywhere he wants and do anything he wants. Not that we can’t use the help. God, did I just call Spike help? Are we that desperate...?’

Although he had talked himself out of needing an answer to his original question, Angel didn’t offer one anyway. Unconcerned, he peered curiously at the dark, unwelcoming buildings that lined the street. ‘Where does he go? Is he renting somewhere? I wonder what he does for money; we’re not paying him. Are we paying him? I wonder if his soul precludes him from stealing. Is it unethical to steal if you can’t work legitimately? Interesting moral dilemma. Do you think he paid for that whisky?’

* * * * * * *

It did not take Angel long the next day to see that all was not well with Spike. He came out of his office to return some signed letters to Harmony to find the blond vampire morosely holding a cardboard cup from the cooler, swirling it to the hissing accompaniment of dissolving pills. He seemed oblivious to everything else but the painkillers and their slow dissolve, until with a curse he tipped the cup to his mouth, apparently unable to wait longer. The bits caught on his throat causing him to cough violently, which made him stagger and hold his head, his pale colour changing to a soft green hue.  As Angel had been at his desk for some hours and had spent the remainder of the night trying to force more information out of their informant, he had even less tolerance for Spike’s hangovers than usual. He handed the letters to Harmony without looking at her and said curtly to Spike, ‘I want you back at the docks—now.’

Spike lifted bloodshot eyes. ‘I want you to bloody disappear up your own bum—but we rarely get what we want in life.’

More annoyed by the snicker from his left than by Spike’s rejoinder, Angel turned on his heel and went back to his office. Spike followed and sat very slowly on the couch, leaning back and closing his eyes with some care. Angel stood watching him for a while.


Angel started slightly and returned to his desk. ‘I’m busy, Spike; what do you want?’

‘Well, seeing as I don’t have a sodding office of me own, I’m making free with yours. Me casa su casa, an’ all that. So…?’

‘So what?’

‘So, why do I have to go back to the bloody docks?’

‘Prescott claims he could have gotten the time of the shipment wrong, but it is coming in.’

‘Oh, yeah, like I’ll trot right down there then.’ He slumped some more and began to rub his temples. ‘Stop watching me.’

Angel flicked his eyes down to his papers and didn’t dignify the comment with a reply. He then sensed that Spike was watching him and wanted to make an equally barbed retort about this. Somehow, nothing he composed in his head sounded quite right. Finally, he heard a soft, dismissive snort of derision, and Spike rose. ‘Yeah.’

Angel lifted his head, angry enough to say without any rehearsal, ‘What do you want, Spike? Wesley asks me why you’re hanging around here, and do you know? I can’t answer him! Why are you? Big world out there; go discover it.’

Spike stared at him for a moment and flushed, though such a pale blood rush would only have been discernable to someone not relying on just one sense to discover it. He nodded, a curt gesture of agreement. ‘Okay then.’

Angel frowned. ‘Okay what…?’

‘Okay, I’ll go.’


‘To the big world I apparently didn’t know was out there.’

‘You’re going?’

Spike looked back over his shoulder at the big picture windows. ‘Never did like this bloody city.’ With that, he walked out and did not look back.

* * * * * *

Angel consulted the scrap of paper as if he needed to read the address again. He frowned at the gloomy set of stairs then jogged down them, hammering on the door at the bottom.

‘Fuck off.’

He repressed a tiny smile and said into the thin door, ‘We need to talk.’

‘There is no we, in case you’d forgotten.’

‘Then let me in, and I’ll talk.’

Spike opened the door and leant in the doorway, preventing Angel’s entrance. Angel glanced into the bleak apartment and noted the evident signs of packing—if one old bag with a pair of trailing jeans constituted Spike’s preparations to leave. He dragged his eyes back to Spike. ‘I’m not talking in the hallway.’

Spike shrugged and moved to one side, turning his back on Angel and continuing to fold a shirt, which he then stuffed unceremoniously into the bag.

‘We have an important job to do here, Spike.’ He braced himself for Spike’s reply, having heard the derisive retort in his head all the way over.

To his surprise, Spike nodded. ‘Yep, you have.’

Angel was completely floored, all his carefully rehearsed rejoinders now useless. Spike turned to him, and for one very rare moment actually caught his eye. ‘I thought I was helping.’

Angel pouted for a moment and uncharacteristically said something to Spike that was actually true. ‘You are.’ He surprised himself by adding, ‘So I want you to stay.’

Spike contorted his expression for a while as if mulling this over as he folded another T-shirt—an elaborate process that seemed out of proportion to the value of the item. Then he stuffed that into the bag in a similar haphazard fashion as he had the shirt. ‘Did Wesley send you?’

‘No, of course—! Okay, he said it would be a good idea, but he doesn’t send me; I’m the CEO.’

Spike turned, and to Angel’s surprise, gave him a small, genuine smile. Angel sighed. ‘Look, I admit it wasn’t my idea, but it is now—my idea, that is. I agree with Wesley: we need you.’

‘What about what I need?’

‘Huh?’ Angel immediately regretted giving Spike any such opening and quickly added, ‘This isn’t about us as individuals, Spike. This is much bigger than you or me. There is no I.’

‘There is in not interested.’

Annoyed now, Angel moved to one of the few pieces of furniture in the room and sat on the arm of an easy chair. ‘Stay.’

Spike looked down at his bag and then slowly around the apartment. ‘I want to go now. It was time, but I couldn’t see it.’ He looked down quickly as if afraid he might give the reason for this blindness away.

Angel rose. This wasn’t going how he’d expected, and he didn’t like the sense of things slipping out of his control. ‘We have souls now.’

Spike lifted his head sharply and held Angel’s gaze for a moment. They both seemed equally surprised at this strange comment that appeared to have no relevance to what they’d been discussing. Spike articulated this puzzlement for the two of them. ‘So?’

‘Things could be different….’ Desperate for something to do with his hands while he gnawed over what he meant by things, Angel went to the sink and poured some water into a chipped mug.

Spike appeared to find his use of language equally puzzling. ‘What are you saying, Angel?’

Not even attempting to drink, Angel swirled the water around, watching it as if it could somehow, like dregs in tea, predict the outcome of this conversation. ‘There’s no need for us to be enemies any more.’

‘I wasn’t aware we were enemies. Bloody hell, did I miss a memo?’

Angel looked up. ‘Stop it.’

Spike looked away. ‘Souls have nothing to do with it.’

‘They have everything to do with it—and you know it.’

‘What’s it?’

‘You used the word first.’

Spike closed his eyes. ‘I want to go, Angel. I’m tired of… it.’

Angel slammed the mug back onto the drainer, and the handle came off in his hands. He flung it at Spike. ‘Go then! See if I care.’

Spike watched the dark figure sweep out, his neck craned round to track his progress. His cheek stung where the handle had hit him, and he felt a warm trickle, which he told himself was blood.

* * * * * * *

They returned to the warehouse, just the two of them, but without Spike they felt unhappy in each other’s company for the first time in a very long time. Neither of them had realised just how much they relied upon the blond irritant to meld their relationship tighter. Tonight it was fragmenting. Wesley seemed his most pompous and English; Angel was being deliberately obtuse. He was chewing gum, too, a habit that so irritated Wesley he was forced to shield the sight slightly with one hand. It was just so… un-English. Angel popped a bubble then pulled a strand of gum out as he had once, with horrified fascination, watched Buffy do. There was nothing as much fun as winding Wesley up.


Angel lost control of the strand and struggled out of the car with gum attaching his fingers to anything he touched. Wesley had already begun to run stealthily toward the side of the warehouse they’d been watching. 

Angel leapt up to a fire escape and climbed swiftly to the roof. The original plan, now they were without Spike, had had to be modified. But as Angel had not really believed they’d intercept a shipment, and as he had been oddly distracted all day, he had not been too concerned about listening to the details of the new plan. The roofing material was fragile and fallen through in places, and although he often gave the impression that he could fly, he couldn’t. He was heavy, and his progress across the roof was precarious. And then he fell through. The flying impression then failed him entirely, and he landed face down on oil-stained concrete, bouncing slightly as the tails of his coat settled around him.


There was a shout, and a shot rang out. He heard Wesley’s voice and levered up off the floor. Three men, clearly thinking him dead, had their backs to him and were advancing on Wesley. Wesley nodded that he was okay, and at this, one of the men turned to see what was behind them. He gave another shout just as Angel’s fist connected with his nose, so the sound emerged mushy and muffled. Angel heard another shout, just had time to register that it was Wesley this time and that he was shouting a warning, when exquisitely painful heat seared through his body. He glanced down in surprise and saw what looked like a long skewer emerging from his chest. If it had been wood, he would have turned to dust, for the spike had been thrust accurately through his heart. As it was, he fell to his knees, puzzled at the amount of pain. Through a blur of agony he saw Wesley, alone, facing the two remaining men, and he could do nothing to help. He couldn’t even summon his voice to cry out at the unfairness of such an easy job going so wrong.

The blurring became a dense fog as his body took him into unconsciousness to escape the pain. He thought he saw something descending through this fog, slowly, like a falling dark star, but it could have been a precursor of the stars that flicked across his vision as his forehead once more connected with unforgiving concrete.

Chapter 2

His dreams were always painful and confused, so it didn’t surprise Angel that he got no respite even in unconsciousness. He was being questioned about something for which he had no answers—or none that he wanted to give, but the remorseless questioning went on. Finally, too confused to separate dream from reality, he looked up at William and murmured, ‘You’ve broken my heart.’

Spike blinked and said calmly, ‘He’s awake.’

Angel saw Wesley’s face loom out of his fog and tried to sit up. Spike pressed him down with a small shake of his head. Angel had no intention of trying it again anyway. The pain was still intense.

‘Angel?’ Angel acknowledged Wesley’s concerned voice but didn’t open his eyes. ‘We need to pull that thing out of you. Spike….’ Strong hands held him in what, in his confused state, seemed like an unnecessarily loving embrace. The arms were so familiar Angel wanted to cry out, but he reckoned he’d said enough that night that he would regret. He bit his lip on the pain but passed out anyway and was spared embarrassing himself one way or the other. He came around in the car, where he’d been laid on the rear seat, but it was a mercifully short burst of consciousness.

When he next surfaced, he felt more rational. Rational enough to know he was hurt—badly. He was lying on the couch in his apartment. When he opened his eyes, he found Spike sitting next to him, spreading one cool hand over his heart—well, he was holding a cloth over a wound, but Angel wasn’t rational enough for semantics. Spike was watching Wesley, who was talking rapidly on the telephone. No one had noticed that he was awake. He coughed, and Spike flicked his eyes away from Wesley.  Instinctively, he pressed harder on the wound, whether to hold his patient down or because he felt he’d neglected his duty, Angel couldn’t tell. Their eyes met over his naked torso, the smell of his rich blood thickening the air between them. Angel licked very dry lips and said hoarsely, ‘You didn’t go.’

‘Your powers of observation are bloody amazing, Mate.’

Angel attempted a smile, but coughed and spat up some blood instead. After the slightest hesitation, Spike put his thumb to Angel’s mouth and wiped up the dark trail. Angel craned his neck down to look at the wound and wished he hadn’t. Spike adjusted the cloth. ‘You’ll live. Don’t worry.’

‘Who’s Wesley talking to?’

‘Some of the firm’s quacks.’

Angel’s eyes widened. ‘I’m not having one of those claw-toed freaks—.’

‘Don’t worry. I’m just humouring him—he was scared. You don’t need doctoring.’

Angel glanced down at the hand upon him. ‘Then what are you doing?’

Spike followed his gaze and seemed to be considering this. After a moment, he said deceptively neutrally, ‘I’m humouring myself.’

Very slowly and carefully, as if trying not to startle something wild and unsure, Angel moved his hand over Spike’s on the bloodstained cloth. As if their earlier conversation in Spike’s apartment had never ceased, he said quietly, ‘The souls change everything.’ When no response was forthcoming, he added with a catch to his voice, ‘Yours is destroying your carefully constructed façade.’ When this was still greeted by obstinate silence, he moved his fingers upon Spike’s hand, a gesture that could have been taken for stroking and said tightly, ‘The act is wearing thin… Will.’

That got a response. Spike stood up quickly, dropping the cloth. He stumbled back but collided with Wesley, who was saying something neither of them wanted to listen to. Unable to leave without appearing too obvious, or perhaps just unable to leave, Spike folded his arms tightly across his body, until he appeared to think a cigarette better defence and lit one urgently.

Angel had to give his attention to Wesley for a moment, reluctantly, but he returned his gaze to Spike’s face almost immediately. Expecting to see hatred or derision, even a carefully reconstructed mask of disinterest, he was taken aback by the look of concentrated puzzlement on Spike’s face. So intense was Spike’s study of him that Angel was sure the tense vampire had not even noticed he was being studied in return. They could have fallen into an impasse of confused, mutual inspection had not Wesley suddenly said, ‘Blood,’ and looked at Spike expectantly. Spike blinked and seemed to come back from a long way away. He looked so bewildered that Wesley reiterated with a tetchy edge to his voice, ‘He needs blood.’

Spike nodded and bent to retrieve his coat. Angel was taken aback how thin he looked. Then he was startled by the fact that he was noticing Spike’s body. That made him wonder that he could think this when he was feeling worse than actual death had made him feel. This lack of control pissed him off enough to get angry, and as soon as the anger hit him he knew he’d come full circle. Just like that, in that one instance of watching a bare bicep stretch to pick up a coat, his obsession with William returned. As he tried to surrender to unconsciousness, which now seemed safer than being awake, he realised that it couldn’t have returned because it had never really gone away. With the soft breath of the sound Will in his head, Angel admitted that he had been watching and studying and listening to and thinking about Spike every minute of every day since he’d betrayed him for a tiny, hairy arsehole. He’d merely called this obsession something else… anything but admitting what it was.

As unconsciousness accepted his offer of surrender and took him to a place where all the painful questions were in his imagination, he strained to hear the rustle of Spike’s clothes as they brushed against his cool, perfect skin.

* * * * * * *

Angel’s mind the following day, as he lay slowly recovering in bed, was consumed not by his own response to the strange incident on the couch, but by Spike’s. He could not get the image of Spike, frozen with indecision and staring at him, out of his mind. Was Spike having a similar epiphany as he? They had discovered desperate desire for each other at the same time; why not have it rekindled simultaneously as well? Was that what he had seen in Spike’s expression? Desire? Understanding this seemed critical to Angel as he lay hurt and bored and wanting to be where Spike was. Then depression of spirits and self-doubt assailed him, and he cursed and punched the pillow more viciously than it deserved (and he was fit to do). He had seen nothing in Spike’s expression—he was just having a severe reaction to having his heart eviscerated. For that is what he’d pieced together from the little Wesley had been willing to divulge. A hook, used on the docks to snag and drag the vast blocks of ice they used to cool perishables, had been thrust into his body with such force and accuracy that it had split his heart. When the vicious device had been pulled out, it had taken ribs and fragments of heart with it. It was no wonder he wasn’t thinking with his usual calm detachment about


Angel tried to sit up but was so surprised by his body’s instant and unexpected reaction to Spike strolling into his bedroom that he entirely lost the moment and sort of hung, half-sitting, half-lying, sweating, blushing and, most incredibly, stiffening. It had been a very long time since he’d been sexually aroused by anything other than his memories. Once, his own power had been his greatest aphrodisiac. Now, impotency flourished in his torment.

Angel drew his knees to his chest, desperate to touch himself—more desperate for Spike to. Spike was staring out of the window at the bright city day. Apropos of nothing, he murmured, ‘This is so wrong.’

Staring at Spike’s silhouette, hair alight as a bright ring of blond fire, Angel thought this random comment the most profound thing he’d ever heard. It was wrong: the world, them, the firm, LA, them, his wound, their lives… them.

He began to wonder if he was delirious and put a hand to his forehead, a gesture Spike apparently took for confusion, for he clarified, ‘Sunlight—for us. It’s wrong. Best to be condemned to the dark, to remember what we are—what we’ve done.’

‘Oh. You could close the blinds….’ Jesus! What a dumb fucking thing to say! And now he could smell his own arousal, which was so not of the good. Maybe he was light-headed from blood loss. He tried to regroup and went for the familiar. ‘What do you want?’

‘It was a demon—last night. The one that skewered you.’

Angel felt an absurd sense of relief and was desperate to ask if it was really, really big.

Spike smiled as if he had anticipated Angel’s egotism, so when Angel asked, ‘Did you get it?’ Spike replied with a fond quirk to his lips, ‘Nope—way too big and too fast for me.’

The conversation then seemed to be over. In desperation to keep him there, Angel asked, ‘Why didn’t you go?’ then blurted out quickly, lest this was misunderstood, ‘I meant what I said—I need you here.’

Spike nodded thoughtfully. ‘You did last night; that was very… evident….’

Angel flushed. ‘I was hurt, Spike! Not thinking straight! It’s kinda hard to freaking think when you’re missing ventricles. Don’t take anything I said or… did… out of context.’

Spike tipped his head to one side in a gesture so familiar it broke what was left of Angel’s heart and murmured, ‘I meant when you got skewered. Angel… is there something you want to tell me?’ 

The moment opened up before them. Looking back on it later that day, Angel tried to play out the version where he’d told Spike he still loved him and wanted him desperately. Sometimes, it played beautifully, sometimes not. It was immaterial though for he had not said that. He’d thought about mocking laughter; he’d remembered derision and being scared, and he’d said, ‘Don’t flatter yourself,’ which was as trite and meaningless as it was hurtful. But he reckoned it had hurt him almost more than it had hurt Spike, which gave him some masochistic consolation in the morass of self-pity in which he wallowed for the rest of the day.

* * * * * * *

The next, however, he was in a conciliatory mood; well enough to be contrite, generous enough to try and repair some of the damage he’d done to their fragile working relationship. Seeing Spike descend upon them like an angel of salvation had made him realise just how much they did need the irritating, blond presence.

He was back at his desk (albeit not moving too quickly), and that alone made him feel generous to the world—and Spike. When he saw him chatting to (up?) Harmony, he buzzed and summoned him.

Spike grudgingly came as far as the door, his face a comic picture of confused expressions. Angel sighed and leant back in his chair. ‘Look, I’m sorry. I’d had my freaking heart ripped out, Spike….’

Spike flared up so quickly that Angel hardly saw him coming before he was leaning into his face, hissing. ‘Stop it! We didn’t have hearts—yours or mine—to be broken!’ He clenched his jaw and added desperately, ‘It was nothing more than fucking!’

Angel opened his mouth, stunned, closed it, then said weakly, ‘I meant last night… what I said… my heart ripped out on a hook….’

Spike pulled away. Angel stood up too quickly and staggered, catching hold of the desk to prevent himself falling. Spike hesitated then cursed softly and took his arm. ‘Go back to bed, Mate.’

Angel waited until his head stopped spinning and nodded, only setting it off again. He stared at his fingers, white on the edge of the polished wood and whispered, ‘I can’t go on like this.’

‘You’ll be all better in a day or two, Pet.’

Angel swivelled his head and stared at Spike.

Spike faltered. ‘Oh.’ He looked away.

Very slowly and very cautiously, Angel said, ‘At least fucking would be something.’

Spike’s head snapped back, and their eyes locked. Angel felt as if he were out on a fragile limb hanging precariously over a vast chasm of waiting humiliation.

Spike swallowed. ‘You must be totally off your rocker if you’ve just suggested what I think you suggested.’

The limb parted with a sharp crack, and Angel began to fall. He lowered his head to his chest, the darkness of his humiliation overwhelming him… until his gaze reached the top of one of Spike’s thighs. He stared fascinated for a moment then lifted his head and shook off the descent with a smug smile. ‘You were right, Will: You’ll never be able to hide it from me.’

Spike stepped back and folded his arms tightly across his torso with an expression that clearly showed he not only understood this comment, he wished he could fold his arms lower and to more advantage.

Angel got his balance and stepped forward.

With utter amazement and delight, he saw Spike reaching out to hug him… no…. Oh, fuck… to catch him….

Angel fell into the darkness of a dead faint toward the floor, but he sank with the total conviction that he had not actually been allowed to hit it.

* * * * * *

He came to in bed with a mug of blood held to his nose. Its rich smell had woken him.

‘You don’t bloody eat enough.’

Angel focused on the familiar chewed cuticles and replied softly, ‘And that from a well-known glutton….’

‘Yeah, well.’ Spike handed over the blood and stared at it morosely. ‘It don’t give me the same pleasure these days, ya know?’

Angel did. But the wonder of it was that he only then got that Spike did know this—that this slim man had long dark nights of the soul, too; that Spike was the only one in the world who could know how he felt. Everything he wanted from Spike seemed poised between them like a tiny, fragile wild bird, waiting to take wing or die from neglect. Friend, lover, companion…. He could have it all if he held out his hand and took it, nurtured it.

‘Spike….’ His tone betrayed which of these his body wanted to nurture first—there could be no mistaking such low, husky need.

Spike stood up, clearly agitated. ‘You’ve gotta be bloody kidding! I’m not going to… with you! Jesus! I don’t even like you!’

Angel darted out his hand, his fingers folding, for one longed-for instant, over a perfect, hard erection. ‘Your body likes me.’ Spike wrenched away with a force that would have broken steel bonds, the momentum carrying him to the door. Before he could escape the room though, Angel added slyly, ‘There’s only one reason you wouldn’t want to fuck with me.’

The hook was in. Spike turned his head, curiosity his undoing, and Angel reeled him in. ‘You don’t want to because it wouldn’t be just fucking: it would mean more to you.’

Spike struggled in the trap that had so effectively been set for him. Angel watched this internal battle and felt a surge of vindication. It would mean more to Spike.

But Spike would never admit it He couldn’t—the act had been too well perfected, the lines learnt by heart, the gestures now those of a master illusionist. He was aroused; he could not admit it for what it was; he had to dismiss it as something else—and so the trap snapped shut. Spike lit a cigarette, slowly, taking his time. Then he sauntered closer and blew smoke at Angel. ‘I’m not averse to some fucking around. Why not? ‘S not like I’ve had a better offer recently.’

Chapter 3

Saying it had been one thing, doing it proved to be something else entirely. There was too much baggage between them; so much so that Angel’s real plan, which had been to wear Spike down with the power of his tongue and the force of his need until Spike admitted the same need, had no room to develop. There were too many masks hiding the truth of Spike’s expressions, too many roles played and perfected for William, the one Angel really wanted, to emerge.

And it wasn’t as if Angel was his most persuasive or winning either; he couldn’t move without wincing.

Added to all this was the fact they were both dressed and it was the middle of the day.

Nevertheless, following through with his bravado, Spike came forward, aggressively unbuttoning his jeans.

It bewildered Angel for a moment that a century of pain was about to end now. There should be something special to mark the moment, some great disturbance in the universe. He was about to deconstruct Spike and find his William beneath.

It was all so clear in his mind, passion burned his belly, but then there was a cock thrust in his mouth; Spike was arching with pleasure, and Angel… just lost it—his self-control and the moment. He sucked and licked and moaned, and there was no time to say anything to make the moment mean more. There was no passionate declaration, no tearing apart of any of Spike’s constructs. It was just fucking, and he needed it. This was the cock he had fantasised over, dreamt of, missed until his own ached, blamed and hated and feared over the long years since he’d last tasted it. It bulged his cheeks, thrust into his throat and distracted his mind from the pain, which had wracked his heart long before an ice hook ripped it apart. He knew the dreams of endless questioning would now be over.

Spike grabbed his head and held him by the ears as he thrust, and whatever else he was faking, he wasn’t faking this intense arousal. Angel ignored the pain from his reforming ribs and turned onto his side, wanting to slow things down, now drawing the erection languidly into his mouth then releasing it, teasing, in and out, tasting the essence of male sex oozing against his tongue. Before long though, Spike’s urgency overcame him; he wanted more, wanted him. Kneeling, fumbling awkwardly to reach inside Angel’s pants, he left his own cock standing pale and angry against his dark shirt.

And when Spike’s mouth descended upon him, with no preparation whatever, Angel came.

It was as quick as that.

His body convulsed more violently than it had when skewered on a hook. He writhed to an orgasm that had been building for over a hundred years, memories his foreplay. Spike swallowed some of the release but let the rest shoot out onto the expensive suit, now concentrating on his own incipient release, pulling his cock, eyes closed, intent on some private fantasy. When he came, he kept his hand cupped over the squirting wetness as a man alone might do to prevent unnecessary mess. It was clean and clinical, and only the deep twitch of a muscle in his jaw gave away the pleasure he was experiencing.

He finished and backed away from the bed, wiping his hand on the shirt he pulled out to cover his softening penis.

Angel twitched up the sheet, feeling foolish lying exposed with his suit on.

There didn’t seem anything much to say, so neither attempted it.

Spike left, and Angel watched his retreating back, wondering if he’d unintentionally found the one thing that would finally cause Spike to leave LA. In some ways, at that moment, Angel almost wished he would. The thought of meeting him after this was so excruciatingly embarrassing he felt separation, even death, was preferable.

* * * * * * *

The next day though, he felt quite well. He’d woken with stiffness in his shoulder and groin, both of which he was able to work off quite efficiently.

He rode with some wariness to his office; the sense of having bitten off more than he could chew quite new to him. He relaxed when he saw that the lobby was empty but kept a watchful eye on it whenever anyone made an appearance.

Wesley seemed very pleased to see him up and about, and smiled as he laid out a few papers on the desk. ‘You look very perky.’

Angel nodded and hoped his blush wasn’t visible to human eyes. ‘What’s this?’

‘Shipping records. I’ve hacked into the records of the company that were receiving the so-called animal feed shipments, and they coincide with every date that bloody little man Prescott gave us.’

Angel glanced at the meaningless jottings. ‘If their operation is so slick that we can’t intercept the weapons when they come in, we need to find out how they are distributing them onwards to the local gangs and intercept them there.’

‘My thoughts exactly. And I think we ran across the buyer the other night.’

‘The demon?’

‘Demon? How do you know he—it—was a demon?’

Angel straightened his tie and said nonchalantly, ‘Spike mentioned it.’

‘Ah.’ Wesley suddenly leant forward and engaged Angel’s intercom. ‘Harmony, locate Spike will you and have him join us.’

Angel could have killed him.

Wesley, oblivious of the invectives being silently heaped upon him, unwrapped a toffee and sucked thoughtfully. ‘If we can get a reasonable description from him, we can circulate it to our contacts. Ah, there you are.’

Angel couldn’t decide which was worse: looking at Spike or not looking at him. He took the option that made him feel less defensive and looked. To his deep discomfort, Spike was giving him a similar, quick glance. They both looked away, but when Angel looked back, Spike did, too.

Wesley twisted in his seat and waved Spike to the one next to him. Spike sat, reluctance obvious in his studied nonchalance. ‘Angel says you think that his attacker was a demon. Can you describe it? Did you recognise the type?’

‘It was very big.’

Wesley gritted his teeth, annoyed. ‘That’s not a lot of help, Spike.’

Spike crossed one ankle over his thigh and appeared to find something of interest on his boot, but when Angel allowed himself this to safely study the bent head, Spike’s eyes lifted from under lowered lids. This time, neither looked away for some time, until with puzzled expressions they went back to whatever it was they had found to pretend interest in. Angel forgave Wesley his earlier blunder, for he was now filling the embarrassing gap nicely, chatting in a way only an up-tight Englishman who senses he is missing something can. Angel risked another glance at Spike, and this time there was no mistaking the look that greeted him. They were both clearly thinking the same thing. Angel shifted in his seat and saw Spike slowly lower his crossed leg to the floor and close his duster over his lap. Despite the relief he’d given himself only half an hour ago, Angel began to ache so badly it was like pain that needed anaesthetic, an itch that, unsatisfied, could drive a man wild. His clothes were not cut for erections; they were cut for elegance and the way they would drape on his substantial frame. Erections were an intrusion, and given the current situation, he could not say this one was welcome. He edged his chair closer to the desk. Suddenly, Spike said, ‘Maybe I could do one of those artist impression thingies….’

Wesley nodded. ‘Of course. Good idea. Can you draw?’

Spike raised his eyes to Angel. ‘No… but Angel can.’

Wesley rose. ‘Excellent. See what you can both come up with then.’

They hardly waited a decent amount of time for him to leave the office before they both strode to the elevator, and, had he seen their expressions, Wesley would have been pleased at their evident eagerness to explore what, exactly, they could come up with.

Angel seized him in the elevator. Spike allowed himself to be seized. Angel thrust one hand down the front of loose jeans, and with the other cupped Spike’s neck to pull him into a kiss. Spike jerked his head away at this and snarled, shoving Angel back against the wall. Angel felt a painful jolt of disappointment, but it was tempered by the enormous bubble of excitement deep in his gut. He desperately wanted to kiss Spike, but as he had said, fucking was at least something. It appeared it would have to be everything. He pushed his need for Spike’s reciprocation, his attention, his friendship and his love, deep into the recesses of his mind and took what was being offered. He pushed back, and he was bigger and stronger and could push harder. Spike’s stagger coincided with the doors opening. He fell out; Angel was on top of him, and they rolled, stripping and biting and using hands like weapons. Blood heated between them and spilled from bite marks, smearing sticky over their revealed bodies. Naked, other fluids added to the musky, ripe smells as they writhed in sunlight. Finally, Angel’s power won out, and he held Spike face down by the back of his neck, panting with victory and arousal. When he took him, it was hard to tell the act apart from rape. Only they knew that Spike’s desperate cries were not denial or fury or that his writhing attempted no escape. Angel rose over the imprisoned body and rode it mercilessly. If this was to be just fucking then it would be just that: fucking. It would bruise guts, tear internal walls and release them both through friction, blood and pain.

It would satisfy the demons inside them for want of satisfying something better.

Toward the end, Angel released Spike’s neck and spread his hands either side of the blond head. Any remaining indication that this might have been rape was immediately dispelled when Spike lifted his hips to receive deeper penetration. Angel groaned and caught him around the chest, hugging him close the closer he came to release. The thrusts were shorter and harder now, as the effort to come took on a jerky rhythm of its own. The unsatisfying nature of the fucking obsessed Angel: he wanted to nuzzle into Spike’s sweaty neck and say something dumb. He wanted Spike to laugh and wrap his arms around those embracing him. Working through this fantasy in his mind, Angel began to stroke his thumb over Spike’s nipple then teased it between thumb and finger. In his imagination, Spike lifted one arm over his head and pulled him in close, whispering something that made him swell inside the hot tightness embracing him. The fantasy alone was enough to tip him over the edge, and he began to tremble as his cock jumped and spurted into Spike. He could hear Spike’s delight, and revelled in the sound of his voice—until his orgasm was over and reality returned. ‘Fuck you, you bastard. Fuck you. Fuck you!’ Angel realised that, far from delight being in Spike’s cries, he was pinning the smaller vampire’s arms to his side so tightly he could find no relief for himself. This reality was so different from his fantasy that he fell back onto his heels, his cock leaving the tight rectum with an audible, wet plop. Spike rolled away to one side then punched him. It wasn’t very hard, but it was heartfelt. Angel caught at the arm and held it, his gaze raking Spike’s face. ‘Is this what you want? Is this all you freaking want, Spike? A sordid fuck on the floor?’

Spike yanked his arm away. ‘I’ve had worse, Mate. Trust me, I know sordid, and we’re not even close yet.’

He blinked as if he realised he’d said too much. Angel smiled maliciously. ‘Yet? What makes you think I’ll let this happen again?’

Spike laughed bitterly. ‘Yeah. I wasn’t the only one in that office not thinking about bloody sketching.’

The idea of Spike thinking about fucking him aroused Angel on some fundamental level, and for the first time it occurred to him that for Spike to maintain such a consummate act of disdain all these years, he must have thought about him almost constantly. His anger suddenly evaporated. Wasted years. So many wasted fucking years of loneliness. And it was all going to waste now, too. He stood up and stepped into his pants, fastening them as best he could. Spike stood up, too, and grabbed his arm. ‘If you can’t take the heat, you know what they say: don’t go into the sodding kitchen.’

Angel pulled his arm away. The gesture made Spike’s erect cock wobble. It almost looked like a wave of distress. Angel closed his eyes and put a hand to it. Once more, there was no refusal at all. It was warm and hard and filled his fist, and he explored different holds, just standing with his eyes closed next to Spike.

This warm intimacy could have finally been the start of something loving. He could cup his other hand behind Spike’s neck and pull him close for a long kiss. Spike’s smile would intrude between their lips—as it always had done. Spike, who always found life funny, even the things that weren’t; or perhaps expressing his emotions in humour, unable, as he was, to express feelings so deep in any other way. Angel felt something trickle down his cheek, a tickle so insistent it was impossible to ignore—but he did. He didn’t want to draw attention to the fact he was crying. It didn’t seem to go with the hand job somehow.

He stood closer and put his face over Spike’s shoulder. Only then, did he risk opening his eyes, letting the tears run free. He increased his work on the impossibly stiff cock, concentrating on the slurpy sound his palm made as it cupped over the fleshy knob. He hoped Spike was concentrating on it, too: his tears were private. Finally, Spike jerked in his fist, and for the first time, he put a hand gently, lovingly on Angel’s body. But he only needed a prop to stop himself from falling. Angel didn’t care. He took the feeling of Spike’s hand on him into his heart, and as the tears rolled down his face, he forced himself to find being Spike’s prop enough to take the pain away.

Even as the last few drops of Spike’s sperm were milking into his hand, Angel pulled away and went into the bathroom. He dashed his tears away and covered his eyes for a moment. Only then did he realise that he’d used the hand that was full of Spike’s come.

Chapter 4

To Angel’s intense surprise, Spike was still there when he emerged from the shower. He grabbed the towel tighter around his waist and stared openly at the silent figure that, dressed only in jeans, was drinking some blood, staring out of the window.

Without turning around, Spike said, ‘I thought we’d better do this picture thing—case the watcher gets suspicious.’

It was about the lamest excuse he’d ever heard, but Angel didn’t feel in the mood for examining it and picking it apart to make it fit his needs. He pulled on some loose drawstring pants and a T-shirt and went to fetch his sketchpad.

Engrossed in the not examining why Spike would come up with such a lame excuse to stay, he did not see the careless mistake he’d made in agreeing to sketch with Spike until it was too late. Very casually, he replaced the book. ‘Let’s do this later. I’m… we…. I have work to do.’

Spike twisted his neck around with a suspicious look. ‘What…?’ He strode over and grabbed the pad. Angel let him take it. It was too unseemly to struggle. And he could not deny the tiny part of himself that wanted Spike to see some indisputable evidence of his pain.

Page after page of the pad were filled with pictures of Spike—conjured from Angel’s heart-worn memory.

Spike turned the pages, slowly at first, then with increasing pace, as he seemed to want the discovery over, yet was unable to stop until he’d seen them all. The latter ones had been done in Sunnydale, the very last in LA. That one had Angel in as well. It was the one Spike lingered over longer than he’d looked at all the rest. Angel was chained, hanging from the ceiling, and Spike was standing behind him, his chin almost upon Angel’s shoulder. It was a clever picture. When you looked at it one way, Spike was taunting Angel, cruel in his vindictiveness. When you looked at it another, they were fucking, and the expressions on their faces were extreme from male pleasure, not pain or torment. Like the picture of a young woman, which could be turned into an old hag just by concentrating on it, so could this picture’s story be altered to suit the viewer’s perception. Angel knew why Spike lingered over this picture. As soon as he’d drawn it, he’d known that the obsessive study of his relationship with Spike, worked through in charcoal and velum, was over. This picture defined it. Agony or ecstasy, pain or pleasure, the sketch had succeeded in blurring the lines that divided these extremes. It was all a matter of perspective.

Carefully, Angel took the book from Spike’s hands and replaced it on the shelf. Spike still stared at his fingers as if something from the graphite had marked them indelibly.

Angel studied the lowered head for a moment then said gently, ‘Do you want to shower and stay for a while?’

Spike jerked his head up, his eyes flicking over to the steam emerging from the small room. He hesitated then nodded.

Angel hesitated too then cautiously put out a hand to the back of Spike’s neck—to hold? to pet? to bind them together forever? He didn’t get a chance to find out which: Spike sidestepped with a scornful look, scooped up his shirt and coat and strode to the elevator instead.

* * * * * * *

Very quickly it became clear to Angel that although just fucking had made sense to them both as a concept, it wasn’t so easy to play out in reality. Such a plan had never, perhaps, been designed for two people who already knew each other so well—who had already shared a loving relationship. Nor had it been designed for close working colleagues. They were sleeping together; by default they were intimates; yet they were not allowing themselves to play that intimacy to its natural conclusion. Nor, however, could they just part and forget—as people fucking on a one-night stand might.

And it wasn’t just him suffering this confusion. It wasn’t just him talking to Spike differently, reacting differently when Spike came into the room. He noticed Spike doing it, too. At the weekly staff meeting, Spike actually laughed genuinely at something Angel said—vampire humour that the others had clearly not appreciated. It was a tiny thing, followed up by an amused exchange of looks. But then their eyes had dropped, confusion reigning once more, silencing them both for the remainder of the meeting.

It happened again later that evening. Deciding to drive through some of the gang areas, looking for the weapons they were trying to track, Gunn, Fred, Wesley and the vampires met in the garage to split the search between them. Before the humans had begun to partner off, Spike and Angel chose a car and climbed in together. It was only when the humans went quiet that they realised how uncharacteristic this desire for each other’s company must seem to their colleagues. Changing, however, would have been more embarrassing, so Angel slid the car into drive and slowly pulled out of the garage. He glanced in the mirror at the group. ‘That threw them.’

Spike snorted with quiet amusement.

Angel glanced at him, thinking how easily intimacy could grow between two people, above and beyond the physical. It made him ache with the need to do or say more. He glanced at Spike’s profile once more.

‘Watch the road.’

Angel sighed and dragged his eyes back. After a heavy pause, he said somewhat morosely, ‘Why are you doing this?’

‘Stop the car!’


‘Stop the fucking car!’

‘I’m not going to—.’

Spike opened the door and began to climb out.

Angel swore colourfully and swerved to the side of the road, jerking to a halt. ‘Jesus! You moron! All right! You freak! No talking…! Happy?’ He pulled back into the stream, considering putting child-locks on the doors.

Spike lit a cigarette, and when it was burning to his satisfaction, he said, ‘I hate you.’ He took a long drag. ‘That’s why, if you want to know. I hate you, and I’m enjoying watching you suffer.’

Angel laughed and was still laughing even as he managed a more controlled stop. Spike slammed out of the car, and Angel climbed out after him. He tried to suppress his laughter, but it bubbled out. ‘Hate me?’ Suddenly, he sobered and said more distinctly, ‘It’s been a good act, Spike. You’ve kept it up for over a century. I’m impressed, I really am. But do you know what? I saw through it as soon as I got my soul. When you got yours, I actually began to find it funny.’

Spike thrust his face forward aggressively. ‘You are such a complete piss-artist, Angel. Yeah, I have got a bloody soul, and I know what that means. It doesn’t turn you into a mind-reading fucking seer. It’s just a sodding soul—hello?’

Angel looked down at his feet and scuffed a small pattern in the dust. ‘I didn’t mean that. It wasn’t until I was cursed with my soul that I got how much I hurt you.’ He looked up. ‘I didn’t think it could be an act—how could it be over something so… trivial. Then it was soul-time for Angelus, and it wasn’t trivial at all—nothing was. Nothing I’d ever done. And in not having you, I suddenly got how you must have felt… not having me.’ He waved his hand, dismissive of the words he’d used, angry that he couldn’t find better ones. ‘You know all this. You’ve always had a soul of sorts, Will. Always.’

‘Don’t call me that.’

‘Why not? If it’s not an act, why should you care what I call you?’

‘Stop twisting me up, Angel! Stop playing with my sodding head! You’re a dumb oaf that I hate! That’s all!’

Angel shook his head almost regretfully. ‘I’m not dumb, Will. I’ve outlived everyone I’ve ever known—and not by clean living either. I’m not clever like you, I know that, but I’ve got more street-smarts in my fucking pinkie than you’ve got in your whole damn body.’

‘Oh, this is just peachy: it’s back to dick-measuring time again.’

‘You wear your heart on your sleeve. You may be clever, but you sacrifice yourself for love. It’ll be your undoing.’

Spike stepped forward. ‘No! You are my undoing. You plague me! You took my life; you took my bod—.’ He stopped suddenly, as if realising that for a demon that supposedly didn’t give a shit, he was about to give far too much away.

Suddenly Angel grabbed his arms and flattened him to the ground.

Caught totally unawares, utterly outraged, Spike brought his knee up into Angel’s balls. Angel gasped but panted out, ‘Stay down.’

‘What the—?’

‘Red light. On your forehead.’

Spike blinked then said slowly, ‘And we are vampires? Bullets no kill?’

Angel frowned then said defensively, ‘Have you ever been shot in the head by a high-velocity sniper’s rifle?’

Spike contorted his face with varieties of scorn. ‘Oh, bloody hell! I don’t believe it! Big gonads time again! No, Wanker, I’ve not been shot by a freaking sniper—okay?’ He struggled to get out from Angel’s grip, but Angel held him down.

‘Even vampires can’t recover from the brain damage of a bullet to the head!’ He shrugged and loosened his grip slightly. ‘On the other hand, when you can’t tell the difference….’

Spike narrowed his eyes.

Angel smiled and fought with every ounce of self-control not to kiss Spike’s nose. ‘Come on.’ He rolled off and in a low crouch ran for the shelter of the building. Spike followed suit, followed himself by a very telling trail of small dust explosions.

‘Bloody hell! Someone’s bloody shooting at us!’

Angel pulled him in, and they stood with backs flattened to the wall.

‘How did they know we’d be here?’

‘What do you mean?’ Spike leant around the corner for a look then flung back as a bullet chipped the brickwork next to him. ‘You think this is aimed at us? That they know us?’

Angel turned his head. ‘You think this was just an unlucky coincidence?’

‘Yeah. Sure. We didn’t know we’d be here—how could they? You were the pillock that pulled over!’

Angel pursed his lips. ‘There were half a dozen M40A3s stolen from Quantico last month. Wesley reckoned they were in the last shipment we tracked.’

‘Well, okay, I have no idea what you just said; it’s a very big coincidence, but it’s just that—a coincidence.’

Still pursing his lips, Angel was staring at the car. ‘Fuck. It was bugged.’


‘There weren’t already here—they were following us.’

Spike digested this slowly. ‘Oh.’ Suddenly, he began to shrug off his coat. ‘Bollocks to this!’ Unencumbered, he took off across the space that separated them from the would-be assassin. Angel shouted after him then gave chase. They both came to a halt by the car. No shots. It seemed incredible, but their senses told them that the killer, whoever he was, was not going to shoot them. Spike lifted his face to the building, scanning the windows. Angel frowned, doing the same.

‘Why did he stop now? He’s got a clear line of sight….’

Spike looked equally puzzled. He jogged back to get his coat and then followed Angel over to the main door of the building.

They broke in and located an office on the fourth floor with a smashed lock. They entered cautiously, even though their senses told them there was no danger of finding anyone. The only sign that something untoward had occurred in the dingy room was an open window that looked down onto the space where Angel had left the car.

Spike went to the window and leant on it. ‘Smells like a demon. Dunno what sort. Could be vampire.’ He got no response and turned to find Angel watching him through hooded lids. Spike rolled his eyes fractionally and turned away once more. ‘Don’t even think it.’

Angel came closer. ‘Why not? All that adrenalin…. Don’t tell me you’re not hard….’

‘Fuck off.’

Angel came up close, close enough to touch Spike if he’d wanted. ‘I make you hard.’

Spike was silent for a moment then he replied neutrally, ‘Lots of things make me hard. Don’t flatter yourself.’

Angel stepped closer so their clothes touched. ‘I make you hard.’

Spike tried to move away, but Angel closed upon him, pinning him to the window. ‘I make you hard.’

‘Yes! All right! You do!’ He banged Angel’s arm away and went to stand by the desk, hunched, hands in pockets. ‘You do. Is that what you want to hear? Don’t mean anything.’

‘You want me.’

Spike looked even more miserable if that were possible. ‘Yes. God help me, but I do.’ He glanced around and almost groaned. ‘I want your body, but that’s all.’

Angel began to unbutton his shirt. ‘You want to touch me.’

Spike closed his eyes, but his face betrayed intense alertness, as he if were following the progress of the buttons in his imagination. Suddenly, Angel thrust his shirt against Spike’s face, grinding it around. ‘Smell me, Spike.’ Then he pulled it off and stared as Spike opened his eyes. ‘No.’ He brushed a finger over Spike’s cheekbone. ‘I want soft and gentle this time. I want to kiss you.’

Spike brought his knee up, but Angel had anticipated this, and he just stepped forward, forcing Spike to sit back on the edge of the desk. He pinned him there, hands flat on the desk, arms rigid. ‘Kiss me.’

‘Fuck off, you ponce!’

Angel lifted one hand, imprisoned the back of Spike’s neck and forced him into a kiss. It gave definition to the expression kiss of life. Wide-mouthed, Angel tried to kiss the life back into their love. The kiss was like the pull of the moon: an irresistible physical force upon Spike. Spike could not have kept his mouth still if he’d been a statue, and before either of them knew it, his thighs had parted to admit Angel, and his fingers were deep in Angel’s hair, scrunching it like a cat kneading a cushion for pleasure.

Standing so tight between Spike’s legs, Angel could feel the jeans-clad bulge against his own hardness, and for that moment it was as good as sex.

Pulling back slightly, he hung his mouth over Spike’s and whispered against the saliva-slick pinkness, ‘Accept what I have to offer, Spike—all of it: together, lovers again….’

Spike lifted his face—accepting?—then replied distinctly, ‘Accept what I’m willing to give or I’ll take that away, too.’

There was total impasse as the two powerful demons waited tensely for the other to capitulate.

Angel was the one to finally close his eyes and nod. Then he stepped back and picked his shirt off the floor. ‘Okay. You win. Let’s go.’

Spike hesitated, fiddling with a stapler. ‘I thought you wanted to….’ He let the implication hang in the air.

Angel shrugged. ‘So did I.’

Spike caught his arm. ‘So?’

Angel looked down at the hand. ‘I’m suddenly not in the mood.’

Spike hesitated then wound his arms sinuously around Angel’s neck and kissed him, taking his mouth with a skill honed over many decades. ‘You do make me hard, Angel. See? I’ll admit it. I want your body—can’t help it. Love those sodding muscles. Christ, touch me. Yeah… like that… stroke me….’

Helpless as a child being offered a parent’s love, Angel groaned as his body betrayed him.

Spike suddenly pulled away and laughed. ‘Poof. You’d fall for any old romantic shit.’

There was an audible crack and Spike looked down, shocked, at a hand on a broken wrist.

Angel shoved him back onto the desk, ripped the shirt off the smooth chest then tore it free completely. ‘You want just fucking?’ He heaved Spike’s hips into the air, yanking down his pants, finding him with angry fingers. Spike gasped and arched, his body a pale bow over the scattered items on the desk. Angel moved in, releasing his cock from his pants. ‘You were right. We can go more sordid. We’ll fuck on this desk—then what? Wanna be taken in the john?’ He rammed his fingers in deep, hard and fast, finding a savage rhythm. ‘Tell you what….’ He swept the desk clear, heedless of the breakages or the mess and pressed Spike down. ‘Let’s do it on the copier next.’ He dragged Spike’s legs up to his shoulders and heaved his ass closer. ‘You like my muscles? Try this one.’ He powered deep into the slicked rectum, utterly immune to Spike’s pleasure or pain. He watched the mixed expressions ripple across the mobile features then leant low and held the blond head still with one hand so the smaller vampire could not escape a stare that was as penetrating as cock. ‘You want to fuck? Then that’s what we’ll do, Spike. And it will be like this every time: I’ll get off, and you’ll lie beneath me being fucked, and it will mean nothing to me. You mean nothing to me—a pretty fist, a hole that begs to be filled. You’re just a cunt that doesn’t whine and want to talk afterwards.’ He put his mouth to Spike’s ear. ‘Sometimes, I’m not even sure I have a soul. But you? Oh, Will, yours burns so white and noble and pure. Romance? There’s only one of us who wants that. So, guess who’s gonna suffer the most, Spike. Not me.’ He finished off with a deep shiver, digging his fingers into Spike’s shoulder until tiny red crescents appeared. ‘Nice.’ Pulling out, shaking off like a man at a urinal, he hitched his pants and tidied himself away. ‘Why don’t you walk back? Give us both a break.’ He took the keys out and swung them cheerfully around his finger as he sauntered out.

* * * * * *

He was a good actor, and he had no doubt he’d fooled Spike. He was almost convinced that he’d fooled himself. And he probably would until the first time he tried to close his eyes to sleep. Then he knew the truth would burn. He wondered if Spike’s truths burnt him or whether, over time, the acting became easier.

He had just eased behind the wheel of the car when the passenger opened, Spike climbed in, and the door was slammed. ‘Ponce! I’m not gonna bloody walk! This is the U-nited States!’ He glanced at Angel’s stormy profile. ‘Jesus—everything is so black and white with you! Fucking—loving. Why do you have to be so bloody pedantic? Haven’t you ever met a total stranger, fucked their brains out then gone your separate ways without a look back? Fucking can be fun, Angel!’

‘You’re not a stranger. You’re anything but. I sometimes think I know you better than I know me.’

‘Oh, where’s my sodding violin? You know jack-shit about me.’ However, this last was said in a tone far less strident, less demanding of an exclamation mark, and with a hint of genuine sadness adding poignancy that was absent in some of his more colourful tirades.

Angel put the car into drive and turned back the way they had come. After some suitable time had passed for them both to reflect on Spike’s assertion, Angel murmured, ‘You okay?’

Spike was in the process of lighting a cigarette and waited until he’d taken a first drag. ‘I’m not planning to ride a bike for a while.’

Angel glanced over at him. ‘You could have stopped me.’

‘Didn’t say I didn’t enjoy it.’

Angel felt himself stir. Spike liked having his cock inside him. Spike was feeling that throb and stretch now. Worryingly, the arousal spread from Angel’s cock to his arsehole, which began to ache, too. He frowned as he drove through the night, his thoughts companions even more annoying than Spike. Angelus had been more than willing to submit to his childe. Angel was not. Emotionally, that was. Physically, he could not now get the thought out of his mind. He glanced at Spike again more than aware that only one of them had come in that brief explosive sex on the desk. Spike was still hard… hard enough to…. His anus gave another anticipatory spasm. It wasn’t going to happen though. Everything they had or were, this fragile relationship, was based upon the fact that he was superior in every way and Spike was a fuck up. He was CEO of the LA branch of the most powerful law firm in the world. He was wealthy. He was successful. He had cool clothes and serious vehicles. He had saved the world. Spike, on the other hand, had only just become solid. Spike was destitute and reliant entirely on him. Spike had accidentally saved the world in his place because he had been generous enough to let Buffy play it her way.  There was more inequality between them now than there had been when Spike was his newly turned childe. Angel nodded brusquely, happy with this conclusion and refusing to acknowledge the tiny voice in his head that whispered that any inequality existed only in proportion to his own fragile ego.


Angel jumped. ‘What?’

Spike ground his cigarette out on the dash and lit another. ‘Thinking, thinking, thinking. You bloody wear me out with all your thinking!’

‘Me! Jesus! You never shut down! I never knew what you were going to come out with next. What is God? Where are our souls? Why do we get hard if we’ve no pulse? Why don’t we need to piss? How come—?’

‘And you never had any answers for me, did you Sire?’

Despite the scornful tone in which the last word was said, Angel glanced over and said sadly, ‘It’s been a long time since you called me that.’

‘It’s been a long time since it meant anything.’

‘But it did—mean something once?’

‘Sure. You murdered me—sired me.’

Angel didn’t rise to the deliberate provocation, his mind having moved onto another tack. ‘Have you? Ever sired anyone?’

Spike hesitated, staring at his cigarette. ‘Once, ‘parantly.’

‘Apparently? You don’t—what? Remember?’

‘Nope. I was being made to do things—couldn’t remember them afterwards. Didn’t want to.’

‘How do you—?’

‘Buffy told me.’

The familiar Buffy tension crept into the car with them, a third person, invisible but every bit real.

‘Male or female?’


‘Your childe.’

‘Childe…. Jesus, that sounds weird.’


‘Well, what?’

‘Why don’t you want to tell me?’ He took another glance. ‘It was a man.’

Spike pouted. ‘So?’

Now Angel had badgered him to this point he wasn’t all that sure what the so actually was. It had something to do with everything, but he was a little confused what everything actually was between them—what it had been for a hundred years. He steered the conversation onto safer ground. ‘We’ll need to get the car de-bugged.’

Spike roused from some deep thought of his own and said off-hand, ‘Might be useful to keep it on.’


‘Well, they don’t know that we’ve discovered it.’

Angel nodded. ‘Clever. I’ll have the others swept though.’

Spike chuckled. ‘That’s the first nice thing you’ve said to me since you fucked me over in a school hallway.’

‘No, it’s not….’ Thinking hard and trying to find another example of when he’d said something nice to Spike, Angel missed their exit and swore.

Spike snorted in amusement. ‘Told ya.’

Angel hesitated for a moment then said, staring resolutely ahead, ‘I think I told you that I want to spend the rest of my life with you and that I love you. Does that count?’

Once more, Spike laughed, but it was less sure than his other, bitter amusement. ‘No.’

Angel felt a surge of anger and gripped the wheel tighter. ‘Am I going to be told why?’

‘Do you really need to be told why?’

Angel came to an exit and pulled the car so viciously onto the off-ramp that Spike was flung against the door. ‘Yeah, I do, Spike. I really do.’

Spike looked uncomfortable. He gave a dismissive wave. ‘I’m not talking ‘bout this like… this.’

‘Trapped in a car where you can’t escape the truth?’

‘Stop being so bloody melodramatic, you great big queen.’

‘Tell me.’


‘Tell me, Spike.’


‘Tell me, or I stop the car and we end this now.’

‘Oh, what? You’re gonna stake me? Yeah, I’ll believe that….’

‘No, I’ll dump you out and go back on my own—and I will deny you the next time I see you. For the rest of eternity I will deny that I know you.’ He turned his head. ‘I don’t make idle threats. You know that. Tell me.’

Spike fiddled with his lighter, clicking it on and off. ‘Because I don’t trust you.’


Spike lifted his head and stared out of his window. ‘I don’t trust you. I wouldn’t survive the pain this time—not with this damn soul.’

Angel eased the car over to the side of the street, now quiet in the early morning. He swivelled in his seat to face Spike. ‘It was a mistake. It meant nothing. If I could go back and not do it, I would. You cannot base a whole life philosophy on one tiny, meaningless incident.’

‘It was meaningless to you.’ The words were forced out, as if Spike’s whole body had held the truth in so long that letting it go was as hard as giving up life itself.

Angel lowered his head. ‘What a mess I’ve made of everything.’ He rubbed his hand wearily over his face. ‘I have a soul now, Spike. Doesn’t that mean anything for trust?’

Spike turned to look at him. ‘I don’t know. Does it? I seem to remember you telling me—when you were ten inches up my arse—that you didn’t have one.’

Ten inches?

‘Yeah, well. Two can play dumb games. I lied.’

‘You’re very good at that.’

‘I’m not lying now.’

‘You weren’t lying back then, but you can’t control your nature—your urges.’

Angel laughed suddenly, the sound disturbing them both. ‘There haven’t been any… urges… until you made your spectacular comeback. Urge-free zone here, Will.’

Spike almost cringed. ‘Don’t do this. I won’t go through this again.’

‘Things are different now! I’m not Angelus! Nothing could make me hurt you now!’

Spike put his hands over his ears and dropped his chin to his chest. ‘Don’t.’

Angel pulled one hand away. ‘Let me prove you can trust me.’

‘You gonna get castrated?’

Angel inspected a nail then said slowly, ‘And would you really want that?’

Spike sighed. ‘No. Christ, I think I’m addicted to you. Otherwise I’d get out of this bloody car and just bugger off.’

Angel hesitated for a moment then lifted his hand and stroked Spike’s hair. ‘If you let me prove it, then all bets are off, Spike. I’ll do anything, use any devious tactic: cheat, lie or steal if I have to—to get you back.’   Spike stared ahead for a moment then leant lightly against Angel’s hand just for the time it took Angel to register the uncharacteristically loving gesture. ‘Okay… have it your way—but nothing has changed. I still hate you. I still don’t trust you. I’ll still just use you to get off when I feel the urge.’

‘And I still think you are lying and that you are dying inside to love me again. And I’ll make you admit it.’

Spike batted Angel’s hand away, seemingly tired of the caress or the arguing. ‘You can try.’

Angel laughed and patted the slim, hard thigh. ‘I intend to.’ 

Chapter 5

Wesley and the others had arrived back at the firm many hours previous, having had none of the distractions of the vampires—pleasurable or otherwise.

Angel immediately ordered a sweep of all the vehicles, but left instructions for anything found to be left in place.

They discovered Wesley, the only one left in a darkened office, reading. He looked up slightly myopically when they came in. ‘Bloody hell! What happened to you two?’

They hadn’t given the torn state of their clothing much heed until then, so Angel replied carefully, ‘We were attacked,’ glad that Wesley would be unable to smell the more erotic truth.

Wesley stood up and came around their side of the desk. ‘Vampires?’

Spike leant forward and said importantly,  ‘An assassin.’

Wesley perched and took of his glasses to clean them, ignoring Spike and speaking directly to Angel. ‘Did you know them?’

Angel sat on the arm of one of the easy chairs, suddenly feeling weary and fairly sure it wasn’t anything to do with being shot at. ‘There was only one, and he shot at us from some distance. Missed, fortunately.’

‘Ah. This can’t be a coincidence.’

Spike huffed.

They both ignored him, and Angel said, ‘Have any other weapons from the Quantico raid turned up?’

Wesley paled. ‘You think those damn things are loose on the streets? I was hoping they’d been sold to some anonymous third world country and we’d never hear from them again.’

‘We heard from one tonight, Wes. And damn close.’

‘But how did—?’

‘Tracer on the car.’

Wesley rubbed his stubble thoughtfully. ‘We could use this.’

‘That’s what I said.’

Still ignoring Spike’s contributions, Wesley twisted around and pulled his telephone closer. ‘Let me get some people down to the site for some detailed forensics. What’s the address?’

Angel’s expression remained fixed. ‘I’m not sure. We were lost.’

‘Damn. Okay, I’ll have my team working on the weapons—see if any others have turned up.’

Angel shook his head. ‘Go home, Wes. It’s practically morning.’

Wesley nodded, albeit reluctantly. Spike lit a cigarette and said casually, ‘I’ll walk out with you.’

Angel toed the ground and said even more casually, ‘I thought we were going to… work on some… issues… compare notes.’

‘Nah.’ Spike grinned with his own humour. ‘You’re always so sure your version of everything is right. What’s the point?’

‘Because I’m going to… convince you?’

Spike leant closer. ‘Kinda hard to do when I’m not here, bets off or not….’ With that, he nodded at Wesley and sauntered toward the elevator. Wesley frowned with that nagging feeling he was missing something again and wished goodnight to Angel.

* * * * * * *

It wasn’t until he got up to his apartment and he was calm enough to think about anything else but hurting Spike (inventively and for a long time) that Angel got it was now Sunday. Whereas he’d been planning to shower, rest for a short time and return to work, he now faced the worst day of the week. Alone, shut up like a freaking princess in a glass tower, he would see no one and speak to no one for twenty-four hours—unless he made the effort to go out and seek some companionship. Which he almost felt bitter enough to do. He wondered idly if there were any soldiers in scarlet pants in the city and, knowing LA, guessed there were.

He was weak and he was evil and he didn’t deserve to be loved anyway.

There was only one thing to do.

He stripped, pulled on a pair of sweatpants, went down through the empty building to the training room and took his angst out on a punch bag for a few hours until his self-hatred had been thoroughly sweated out.

Wiping his face and bare chest on a towel, he went slowly back up through the still empty offices to his apartment.  He leant on the floor length glass of his living room, looking out at the gradually rising sun. All over the city, people were waking up with people. Perhaps they didn’t want to. Perhaps they longed to have peace and quiet and that deep sense of self that could be lost in the hurly burly of family living. Perhaps they would envy him, so alone—envy his space and freedom. Envy all the time he had.

Suddenly, as if the building shuddered to a heave in the earth, Angel felt an overwhelming sense of vertigo. He closed his eyes, but it wasn’t the height he was falling into; it was the past. For a moment, it had been the dream that he had dreamt in another lifetime. A dream of sunlight and the sadness that came from knowing that Spike did not love him.

He swallowed hard and gritted his teeth against the self-pity that threatened to swallow him from the inside.

He heard the elevator and started, clutching the towel to his chest with an uncharacteristically anxious grip. The doors slid open to reveal Spike, leaning on one wall, smoking. He could not help but see Angel’s changing countenance—read the flicker of confusion. He shrugged. ‘I got bored.’

Angel laughed mirthlessly. ‘Should I be flattered that you find me slightly less boring than being bored?’

Spike stepped out. ‘Nope. I find you so boring that by contrast I’ll come to appreciate being alone in a dingy flat.’

This cheered Angel up immensely—so transparent was Spike’s lie. He chuckled. ‘Hungry?’

Spike flung himself onto the couch. ‘What you got? Virgin?’

‘You wouldn’t touch it if I had.’

Spike ignored him. He was watching Angel thoughtlessly rub under his arms with the towel. Angel laughed again and threw the sweaty towel at him as he went to the refrigerator. He could not believe the change in his mood in such a short space of time. Spike was here, and the trail of thought and action that must have led to that being true made Angel’s whole body sing with pleasure when he reflected on it. Spike must have been thinking of him continually since he left—perhaps his body had betrayed him, too. Thinking must have led to desire and then need, his image powerful in Spike’s conscious mind. Had he thought about sleek muscle and how it felt under his hand? Was he remembering a time when they had shared so much more than their bodies? Was it that that had finally made him curse and stomp around his apartment (Angel could actually see this happening as clearly as if he’d been there to witness it) and give in to the need to be here?

They would end up in bed—that was beyond doubt. But for now Angel was experiencing a delicious sense of power and anticipation; his whole body tingled with it. How long would he let Spike dangle, wanting that explosive, sexual relief? It gave a whole new definition to the word foreplay, and he chuckled as he handed Spike a mug of blood. He started to draw out the agony of expectation…. ‘Seeing as you are here now, there’s something I want you to do.’

Spike’s eyes flashed with a sparkle of lust he had no control over whatsoever.

Angel crowed inwardly but said maturely, as he fetched his sketchpad, ‘I’d like to do a drawing of you—with your soul this time.’

Spike’s confusion was obvious. Whether it was mingled with thwarted desire and disappointment wasn’t quite so obvious. Angel told himself that it was—it was his game, and he could play it to any rules he wanted.

Spike watched, incredulous, until Angel actually sat down on the other end of the couch facing him, his legs drawn up and crossed. ‘You’ve gotta be bloody kidding.’


‘I’m not sitting here, posing like a poof.’

‘I don’t want you to pose. I just want you to sit still.’


‘Why…?’ The pause was perfect. ‘Did you have something else in mind?’ Angel was well aware that Spike would not admit the sexual need that had brought him here; he waited with some amusement to see how he would wriggle out of this latest trap.

Spike swirled the blood around for a moment. ‘Haven’t you got enough bloody pictures of me?’

Angel almost felt guilty it was so easy. ‘I want to see if the soul makes a difference.’

Spike contorted his face, his prelude to something scathing, then seemed to give up the effort. He gave a dismissive wave. ‘Do what you bloody like—poofter.’

Angel bent to his task, well aware that he was still only wearing thin sweatpants and that although he had dried the sweat on his chest, the occasional residual drop still fell from his forehead to roll seductively off sleek muscles that Spike had admitted to admiring. Spike, however, was staring morosely into the mug, deep in his own thoughts. That wouldn’t do…. ‘So, what do you want to do today? I thought about going to a museum…?’


Angel lifted his head innocently. ‘Today? Do? You and me?’

‘You’re a bloody riot, you are, Mate.’

Now, however, Angel had a whole fantasy Sunday-self—museums, culture, living like a real man—in his head, and this new persona began to take shape. ‘I need to get out of this place sometimes. It’s important, you know, to stay real. Have hobbies.’

To his surprise, Spike didn’t reply in the flippant, annoyed way he had been expecting. Instead, he looked slowly around the stark apartment, unconsciously chewing his lip. ‘You need to get out of here full stop.’

Slightly disconcerted, Angel drew for some minutes before he asked tersely, ‘And that would be why?’

‘Because.’ Spike encompassed the whole building in one wave of his hand. ‘Heat rises, and so does whatever it is that’s being pumped out in this damn edifice of evil. You’re sitting right at the top of it, Angel, sleeping with it seeping into you. You’ve changed.’

Angel felt disproportionately annoyed by this comment. If he had changed from some unspecified previous time, then the catalyst for that change was sitting right opposite him making the accusation. Nevertheless, his curiosity was piqued enough to ask, ‘How so?’

Spike frowned—usually a sign he was trying to appear mature—and said, ‘You’re allowing yourself to be used. That’s not like you.’

‘I’m minded to comment that you know jack-shit about me.’

Spike laughed dryly. ‘Touché.’

Angel was silent for a while, maliciously removing some of the beauty in Spike’s cheekbones and making his eyes more closely set. When his equilibrium returned he glanced up and asked, ‘If what you say is true, then why are you here, too? No one is making you stay….’

Spike pouted with a slightly self-deprecating half-smile and murmured, ‘That’s a matter of opinion.’ More loudly, he added petulantly, ‘Come on…. I’m bored. Let’s do something else….’

Angel was very well aware what Spike wanted to do: he’d smelt his arousal for some time. However, he was much more interested in picking over Spike’s murmured comment. ‘You think someone is forcing you to be here? You’re corporeal now—free to go where you want.’

Spike put the empty mug on the floor and rummaged in a pocket for his cigarettes. ‘I’m fine right where I am.’

‘In the house of evil.’

‘Yeah, in the house of evil.’ He paused then added in a fond tone, ‘’Sides, you need someone around who knows from personal experience that the sun don’t shine outta your backside.’

Angel felt so instantly and absurdly happy that he ripped the vandalised picture of Spike off the pad and screwed it up. Spike, though, look panicked. ‘What? You can’t see the soul?’

So uncharacteristic was Angel sudden surge of happiness that he did a very uncharacteristic thing, leaning forward and ruffling Spike’s hair. ‘I see it well enough, Childe.’

There was a moment when this intimate gesture could have gone either way—and they both knew it. Spike was on the verge of jerking away like a defensive animal kicked once too often. Then, need for something—reassurance? affection? touch?—overcame this initial reflex, and he pushed into the caress. They groaned at the same time, and as Angel was already half-naked and kneeling over him, it was a very, very short step from a ruffle of hair to a frantic, lip-crushing kiss, with hands gripping so hard over straining muscles that they bruised where they touched. Spike pressed his face to Angel’s neck and breathed in deeply. ‘Christ, you smell so good.’

Angel flushed at the thought that he had not showered and then flushed some more at the thought of Spike relishing his musky male scent. He tipped Spike’s neck back and kissed him, long and hard, no prisoners taken, until they tasted blood between them and had to withdraw. Spike lifted up, Angel shifted, and somehow they were on the floor, rolling, tables and chairs victims of their furious lust. Angel found it hard to focus on one desire; he wanted every pleasure all at the same time. Anatomically impossible to do more than one, however, he did the easiest, pushing Spike’s head down to his crotch and grinding the angular face against the soft, damp cotton. Spike yanked the pants down so hard that Angel’s cock, caught on the elastic, bounced free with a tautness that caused drops of clear fluid to flick off. Thinking—hoping—that Spike would go straight for his cock, Angel gasped in pleased surprise when urgent fingers fondled his scrotum, pulling the skin until it was stretched and tight and revealing its concealed delights. Hard spheres, exposed, were then teased and probed with a hot tongue, causing Angel to arch his back and pull wildly at Spike’s hair. Spike ignored him and sucked the balls into his mouth, keeping the sac stretched so their sensitivity made the mouthing more torture than delight. He was merciless, no pity offered, even as Angel begged—whether for release or for more he wasn’t sure. Then a finger pressed hard against his perineum and began to track inexorably downward.  After all this time, the sensation of being penetrated was so extreme that Angel was about to fight Spike off when the insistent finger found his nub of pleasure. And pressed. Simultaneously, Spike sucked both balls into his mouth and released his hold on the loose sac. He sucked and pressed and sucked and pressed, until with a scream, Angel’s balls shot their load into his cock, and he emptied the lot over his belly and face as he lay helpless to Spike’s power on the hard floor. Neither of them had touched his cock throughout the whole experience, nor had Spike even undone a button, but Angel lay prostrate on the floor, as quivering and as helpless as the mess upon his stomach.

* * * * * * *

Spike rose lazily up the long, lean body, licking as he went, slowly extracting his finger from its hot containment, trailing it back up Angel’s perineum and into wiry hair.

Angel tried to remember the thoughts he had mulled over on the journey back about dominance—their relative positions in the scheme of things. Whatever his views then had been, they seemed fairly meaningless now—now that his anus throbbed, as if with pride, at taking such a critical part in his intense release. If a finger could achieve this level of pleasure, Angel was very sure what he would soon be encouraging to follow it.

He lowered his eyes to look at Spike, and before the expression was whipped off the familiar features, he saw that Spike was inordinately pleased with himself. Angel nodded in recognition that, in this moment, he’d been totally mastered. 

* * * * * * *

Eventually, Angel eased his pants up and climbed slightly shakily to his feet. Spike rose too and eyed him warily. ‘I’ll be off then.’

Angel nodded and tried to look bored.

With amusement, he noted a bitter look flick across Spike’s face before the blond vampire had time to hide it. He chuckled inwardly. Spike’s I-hate-you act was definitely not at its best.  He waited until Spike tried to push past him then, in a rush of immense power, wrestled him to the bed, where they fell in a tangle. He stopped Spike’s cursing with his mouth, sucking the invectives out of him, thrusting his tongue in hard to take their place, licking the places they’d touched, replacing bitterness with sweet saliva—and Spike responded like an addict craving sugar. His mouth tasted erotically salty from Angel’s fluids, and it opened wide, inviting Angel in. The only sounds in the apartment then were wet ones: slapping and slurping of careless, greedy kisses. Gradually, Angel began to undress Spike, button-by-button, item-by-item, until he possessed his skin. It still wasn’t enough. He wanted to be inside the hard body, enjoying Spike from within, where he was hotter, wetter and tighter. He pushed the elastic of his waistband below his cock, then lower, so his balls hung out, heavy and swinging. There was a pause, and Angel filled it by learning Spike’s body, stroking flank or belly or thigh. ‘How do you want it?’ His voice shocked him with its husky arousal. Spike’s eyes dilated fractionally then, very slowly and explicitly, he half-turned, propped up with one hand so he could see every move that Angel made upon his body. Angel nodded and stood at the side of the bed, pulling him closer. With an almost clinical concentration that was in such contrast to the wildness preceding it, and all the more carnal for that, he worked his erection into Spike’s body. Each inch caused Spike’s neck to stretch back further, each inch his spine to bow. The final inch eluded them until Angel pulled out fully and Spike lifted to his hands and knees, offering his hole spread like a sacrifice. When Angel slid back in they fit together as perfectly as a sword in its scabbard. With wiry hair scratching stretched cheeks, Angel circled, feeling his cock lengthen to the stimulus of being so entirely pleasured. Unconsciously, he began to stroke the small of Spike’s back in similar circles, not allowing himself the intense delight yet of pull or push.

Although this was nothing new to them, every time it happened, Angel was in awe that Spike was willing to give him his body in this way. As he stroked the bony spine and enjoyed the sight of Spike stretched tight and pale around his thick, blood-flushed cock, it seemed incongruous to him that Spike would do this, yet resist emotions that must give rise to the desire for it. Angel had never given his body in this intimate, almost feminine way to anyone else, and he could not imagine doing so. He gave it thus to Spike because he loved him. Why was Spike willing to do this incredible thing, open himself up so utterly to him, when he would not open one chink of his heart?

Spike suddenly pushed off from his hands and leant back against Angel’s broad chest. With a quiet sigh, he said gently, ‘Stop thinking so much.’

Angel wrapped his arms around Spike’s chest and rested his chin on the bony shoulder. If either of them got the reversed similarity of the pose in Angel’s final sketch, neither remarked upon it. Ambiguity shimmered between them though and it caught on Angel’s vocal chords, making him husky. ‘I can’t help it, Will. I want things as they once were between us.’

Spike didn’t comment on the use of his given name, only replied, ‘It can’t be. That’s… broken.’

Mend it.’

‘Can’t. Don’t you get it, Luv?’ Still his tone was gentle, almost wistful. ‘That bitch knew exactly how to separate us. No histrionics, no ultimatums or threats of violence, just your insatiable appetites and your total inability to love anything more than your own dick.’

If it seemed odd to Angel to be having this conversation whilst that dick twitched and ached for the off inside Spike’s hot rectum, nothing of this thought was evident in the way he replied in an equally low tone, ‘I have a soul now! I’ve changed.’

Spike lifted one hand over his shoulder and ran his fingers into Angel’s hair. An observer of the scene might have confused this for a very loving gesture. It confused Angel. ‘Maybe. Maybe you have. But, see, here’s the rub: I have too. I’ve kinda had it with love over the last few years. Love almost finished me off for good. I’m spoiled goods. Empty. I want this,’ he clenched his backside, making Angel hiss in a very good way, ‘cus I’m still a man, and I still crave your body, but there is nothing more. You are fucking a corpse, Luv. Souled or not, love ain’t gonna blossom in this barren soil.’

Angel heard the words, understood their literal intent, but he heard something else, too. It wasn’t the time or the place though to examine the subtler undertones of Spike’s confession; that would come later. Angel only knew that in some strange way, he had just been given the hope he needed to continue this seemingly hopeless cause. His body responded to the surge of relief in his heart by surging, too: swelling and lengthening, twitching and hardening. Spike clearly felt this too and groaned. Angel lowered his arms to the hard abdomen and tightened his hold.

With swift jerks of his hips, Angel began to fuck Spike hard, giving him what he’d so readily confessed to needing. They both needed it. He watched over Spike’s shoulder as Spike added to his own pleasure, fondling heavy balls, stretching and kneading them harder than any human man could withstand.

Unattended whilst the balls were played with, his cock stood erect, swaying each time Angel rammed home. The one flushed eye pulsed with a steady flow of tears, which made Angel’s mouth water to taste salt. He took his hand off the flat abs and ran his palm over the sticky head. Slowly, with great anticipation, he brought the wetness to the tip of his tongue and licked it.

Spike seized his fingers and brought them urgently to his lips. Greedy, like a baby, he sucked them into his mouth, and the unexpectedly erotic sensation brought on Angel’s orgasm. Sperm surged up his cock from pulsing balls, shooting high into Spike’s body, negotiating his tight coils then falling weakly back, soaking the still thrusting obstruction, everything then loose and slurping and noisy as they continued to fuck. Neither heard nor cared; the sensual sounds were drowned out by grunts and curses and the slap, slap of flesh on flesh, as Angel’s chest slammed against Spike’s rigid back.

Spike beat his cock as if frantic to come before the surging inside him ceased.

Finally, an arc of white leapt free. It rained down on Angel’s bed, followed by another and another. Eventually, the arcs trailed off like a fading stream of piss. One last spurt welled into his hand, and Angel, waiting and equally greedy, seized it and fed from it as their fused bodies convulsed with aftershocks of pleasure.

This one moment—come on his tongue, his cock twitching wet in Spike’s body, Spike limp and spent in his arms—Angel knew could be enough. He could swap a lonely and celibate eternity for this, if this was all he could have. But then Spike leant back on the sweat-sticky chest and wrapped his arms over Angel’s, murmuring, ‘Christ, I love… that,’ and Angel knew that his previous thought was a lie: he wanted that unguarded confession to expand and fill all his eternity. Sex, as good as it was between them, only made him want the elusive but essential rest. He wanted Spike to say that again, only this time he wanted him to finish as he had originally intended.

* * * * * * *

They collapsed useless to the bed. They weren’t in bed together, just… both on the bed and not going anywhere else for some time.

Naked, on his belly, stretched, pale and unembarrassed, Spike lay over to one side, an arm trailing off onto the floor where he was following the path of a tiny splash of sunlight, which, reflected off something in the room, was dancing like an elf on the polished wooden floor. Angel lay nearer the middle of the bed on a damp patch, which was drying and sticking pleasantly to his back. If he didn’t mention that they were lying side-by-side and naked in a bed together, he was hoping that Spike would not notice. Arms folded behind his head, his body just as stretched and decadent as Spike’s, cock and balls a strangely incongruous nest of ill-disciplined dark shapes on the otherwise hard, flawless body, he felt a sense of peace that rarely came to him. The only thing marring his happiness was the thought that now any refuge he had found in this bed was entirely lost. He would forever miss the presence of the one who had graced it so briefly this day.

‘So… no trip to the museum then? No little educational excursion for Spike?’  Angel started then blushed faintly at the unexpected, low amused tone, and Spike laughed knowingly. ‘Yeah. Like you weren’t planning to do ‘xactly what we’ve just bin doing….’

Angel chuckled, surprised but somewhat pleased that his plan had been so easily sussed. He slid a hand closer then closer still, and then laid it on the small of Spike’s back. ‘We could do a museum—if you’d prefer.’ 

Spike did not reject the hand. Far from it: he wriggled slightly, making it caress his sensitive skin. ‘I’m learning stuff just fine here, Poof.’

All went quiet for a while. Angel felt himself drift pleasantly then shook himself awake, angry that he’d missed a minute of something that was so soon to be withdrawn from him. Only when he realised that he’d been awake for well over seventy-two hours, with some considerable physical exertion in that time, did he forgive his need to sleep. He craned his neck to see the clock on the nightstand then stretched to turn its face to him. His movement woke Spike from a light sleep. He blinked for a moment as if trying to get his bearings in the unfamiliar territory then said, more to himself than Angel, ‘I can’t do this.’

Angel did not try to prevent him leaving—exactly. He just very slowly and very precisely drew up the exquisitely soft merino wool blanket, which lay scrunched and discarded at the foot of the bed. Spike twisted his head over his shoulder and gave Angel a very direct look. ‘I’m not staying. I’m not sleeping with you.’

Angel hitched the seductive blanket over his shoulder as he turned his back to Spike. ‘Stay awake then.’ With a private grin, he allowed himself to fall in into oblivion.

Chapter 6

Inevitably, sometime during the day, their sleeping bodies came together as eagerly as parts of their waking ones did. And fit just as well, too. Angel woke from a deep and restful sleep to the forgotten sensation of being embraced, consumed by another. Somehow, like a second blanket, Spike lay draped across him, sprawled and loose-limbed, warm and pliant. Breathing deeply, his breath tickled the short hairs on Angel’s neck.

There were many ways that it occurred to Angel he could wake Spike for some more interesting activities, and each one made him smile in anticipation of the reaction should he try it. Finally, moving one arm only, he brought his wrist to his mouth, sloughed off his human features and bit, tearing open an artery with the practice of three hundred predatory years. Grinning, he laid the spurting wound over Spike’s open mouth.

Spike did not even wake before he changed, his demon emerging even in sleep. He lifted his mouth, shark-like from below, and fastened onto the meal. Angel watched him with the fascination of a mother watching her newborn suckling: deep and abiding. He had forgotten this. Somehow, incredibly, in the effort to be human, to walk and talk like a man, he had forgotten this essential part of themselves—this part of Spike. With a grunt of power he wrenched Spike from his wrist and plundered the blood-wet mouth with his. Spike responded as eagerly to this savage kiss as he had to the blood, and they began to roll with the sticky fluid smearing across their bed-warm skin.

The sex then was totally uncontrolled, and afterwards, each would have been hard pressed to say who did what to whom or how often. It was all tangle of limbs and opportunity. Holes were used and abused, bodies battered, souls forgotten. Blood flowed so freely that the next day, in the bright, magical light, Angel found arcs of the dried substance across the walls over ten feet away. He never could explain them or remember the exact the moment when he and his childe had shed their fluids as freely as their inhibitions. He just left them there, a reminder.

By the time they were finished—a state only admitted when both were limp and sore and shrivelled—they were laughing. What held them apart as men, what seemed to create nothing but competition and friction in their human selves, was absent in their demons. Demons should have no need of talk or bargains, no self-analysis, no tiptoeing around fragile history, no regrets and no promises. It was intensely liberating, and before he knew what he did, Angel licked Spike’s belly and said, like an intimate acquaintance, ‘Shower?’

Perhaps before he realised what he was doing, too, Spike yawned and nodded. ‘But who’s gonna carry me?’

Angel made to try; Spike fought him off, and like the centuries-old, uninhibited demonic family that they were, they chased each other to the bathroom before more sober human awareness in them returned.

It did return though. Blood-curdling embarrassment suddenly hit them both—for the things they had just done to each other as well as for this intensely vulnerable joint shower. Bodies entered, explored and known in sex were one thing; standing shrivelled in a shower with soap stinging your eyes was quite another. A desperate politeness overtook Angel, and he found himself trying to play the generous host, offering Spike his products in a desperate attempt not to have to think about the implications of what they were doing. Spike looked as if he would rather be anywhere but where he was: sharing a cosy shower stall with Angel and rubbing coconut exfoliate on his cheeks.

The ill-thought-through shower could have broken for good something that was tentatively mending. But then in earnest desperation, thoughtlessly, Angel held up a loofah and offered it politely to Spike.

Spike’s eyebrows lifted, a smile quirked his lips, and suddenly he was laughing. It shook his whole body, making water flick off in a second fine shower. Angel watched him and realised that for the first time, he was actually seeing Spike. Under this powerful stream of hot water, scrubbed away perhaps on coconut and palm oil, the masks had peeled off. Spike wasn’t angry or bitter. He wasn’t acting, and he didn’t appear to hate him at all.

And on that sparkling laugh, Angel had something of a revelation—which didn’t often happen in his shower. He suddenly got that he didn’t want William back at all.

He wanted this one.

He wanted Spike.

So, regardless of ignoring Spike’s unspoken rules on how things would be between them, Angel dropped the loofah and seized the back of Spike’s neck. He pressed him to the wet tiles and opened his mouth upon him. He kissed gently and lovingly, wide and wet and seeking deep into Spike’s laughter-sweet mouth. And just in case Spike missed the difference between this and what they had been doing for the last few hours on the bed, he breathed, ‘I love you,’ into the hollow he explored. Giving Spike a small shake, just to fix this declaration in his mind, he extracted his tongue and stepped from under the water, selecting a towel. Without turning around, he held another out for Spike, which was eventually taken. Wordlessly, Angel padded to the kitchen to heat some blood. When he turned around, Spike was sitting on the end of the bed, wearing nothing but his jeans, examining some recent wounds with a distracted, thoughtful air.

‘Sundays could always be like this.’ Angel had not planned to say this but was glad that he had.

Spike pouted and dabbed at some blood that was still seeping from a deep bite. Suddenly, he lifted his head and said with some bitterness, ‘I’m not stupid, Angel. Don’t bloody patronise me! Remember—you only spent a hundred years missing me; I spent them missing you! Seems like I got the worse deal. Missing you is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.’

Angel strode over and yanked him to his feet. ‘It has all been an act. You do love me!’

Spike wrenched his arm away, anger flaring so quickly between them again. ‘What does it matter? Truth or lies—it’s over!’

‘No! You missed me! You love me!’

For one moment, Angel thought that he had won, thought he saw total capitulation in Spike’s eyes, and his mind leapt forward, anticipating the eternity of love that would flow from this surrender. But then the anger dissolved, and without it Spike’s eyes were uncharacteristically sad. He eased his arm away from Angel’s grasp and walked slowly to the window. Leaning on it, without turning his head to look at Angel, he asked plaintively, ‘Have you ever been tempted to give up your soul for love?’

Memories of Darla’s unexpected, painful return flashed in Angel’s mind, but as he walked up to stand behind Spike, he replied firmly and truthfully, ‘No.’

‘I have, did—well, in reverse, I guess. I gave up my nature, what I loved, for love. I was a timber wolf, but I voluntarily became a lap dog—her lap dog—wriggling for affection. Did I know what I was taking on? Not really. How could I know this level of pain and regret?’ He gave Angel a quick, fond glance. ‘I’d seen you go through it, but you were such a broody bastard anyway…. I never got it. And I didn’t have time to get it either! I didn’t have eighty years to indulge myself, skulking in alleyways. I’d already been called to my great moment. I had a couple of days being smelly in a basement before, there I was, saving the entire bloody world. But do you know the beautiful irony?’ Angel got that this was a rhetorical question and wisely stayed quiet. Besides, he was entranced with watching Spike’s jawbone move, marvelling at the precise delineation of cheekbone and muscle. ‘For all I got my soul, nothing really changed. I still did all my bloody scenes half-naked and bleeding, only this time I was tormented as well. All that… all this….’ He banged his temple and then his heart with a closed fist. ‘All of it, I did for love. I destroyed myself for love, and now there is nothing left.’ His voice had risen in pitch as his confession flowed between them. ‘Leave me alone.’

Ignoring this plea, Angel stepped closer until it seemed the most natural thing in the world to slide his arms around Spike’s waist. He was neither rejected nor welcomed; Spike seemed absent somehow, lost and wandering in his own sad musings. ‘Then it would all be for nothing. When you were a demon, your nature drove you to evil. Your soul requires you to love. You will always be at odds with this new nature of yours if you don’t love.’

‘You speak like a mystic, Angel, a saint. I’m just a man, doing the best I can to survive a life that torments me at every turn.’ He pulled out of Angel’s arms, ignored the fact he was naked from the waist up, grabbed his coat and left.

* * * * * * *

Angel stayed at the window for a very long time. His mind was whirling with Spike’s declaration, and for the first time, the words were beginning to make sense. The bitter ones of the previous night now appeared in startling clarity: what he had not understood then made perfect sense now, in the echoes of that sad word torment. For the first time, Angel understood that Spike had not been lightly let off the pain of his ensoulment. Far from it—he was still right in the first agonies of that state, only no one had seen it. Perhaps he didn’t even know it himself. Spike was different; he always had been. Angel was reminded of a story Wesley had once told him about two brothers who had returned from the Somme. One, suffering severe post-traumatic stress, had been sent to a rudimentary psychiatric hospital and had eventually recovered. The other, apparently unscathed, had returned to their father’s farm and married soon after. On the forth anniversary of his return, he’d hanged himself, a slow painful death in an attic that had gone undiscovered until the smell betrayed his whereabouts.

He kicked and screamed, moped and sulked and suffered. Spike joked. Who was the more hurt?

The two of them—survivors of their own terrible battles, witnesses of unspeakable atrocities, perpetrators of disgusting acts—behaved so differently yet, perhaps, suffered the same torments. Angel knew torment like an old friend; he would not wish his suffering on anyone.

Although he felt he understood Spike better, he did not know how to use this new clarity. He found himself agreeing with his childe—albeit for very different reasons—that perhaps love was not what he needed right now.

What Spike needed was a friend.

A wave of altruism swept over Angel as he considered renouncing the sex. Sex was possibly the worse thing for Spike right now.  What would he have done had Doyle offered sex instead of visions and friendship? Angel skipped quickly over that thought and went back to mulling over a platonic relationship with Spike.

This philanthropy lasted for about a minute until Angel very satisfactorily convinced himself that breaking off with Spike now would make it impossible for them to be friends anyway. Indeed, the desire for the sex was possibly the one thing they had in common, the one thing he could exploit to bring them closer. Friendship. He nodded to agree with himself: the sex was vital.

Having satisfactorily decided this, he returned to the bed to think about the sex while he pondered the concept of friendship. To his knowledge, Spike had never had a male friend. It was odd when you thought about it. He liked men and enjoyed them. Angel blushed and rephrased this in his mind as he released his cock from folds of towel: he liked men’s company and enjoyed their friendship. Doyle, Gunn, Wesley…. He engendered loyalty in his friends. But Spike, to his recollection, had no friends at all.

This was getting more complex than Angel had realised. He slowed his strokes so some blood would remain in his brain for thinking.

How did friendship begin? With Doyle, it had been the shared mission. But then this was true of Wesley, too. Yet even Angel was not so blind as to miss an underlying thread of desire in Wesley’s friendship for him. He stifled a groan as his cock thickened to the possibilities, summoning remembrances of veiled glances and simmering need.

Gunn was different. Their friendship was one of mutual respect, of warriors. That would appeal to Spike… mission, equality, respect. They sounded like tag lines for a corny movie.

But there was one thing all his friendships had in common: trust. It was the one thing that was missing in this relationship.

Could he ever get Spike to trust him?

His cock softened slightly, hearing the answer his ever self-loathing heart offered.

He swore and sped up. He could be trusted! He’d saved the world. He’d sacrificed his only son….


Angel softened completely and lay petting his cock for comfort as he thought about Connor.

Connor… Spike….

Spike…. Connor….

Angel rarely let the confusing thought escape, but he could not deny that Spike and Connor had a lot in common. Both had been created from his body, both had been loved beyond measure, both had been embittered and lost. And Connor, despite the number of ways Angel manipulated the truth in his head to comfort lonely nights, had never trusted him or been his friend.

If he could work out where it had gone so wrong with Connor, perhaps he could learn how to make it work with Spike—this friendship thing.

And with the clarity of distance, the answer came to him. It was so absurdly simple: he had tried too hard. He had tried too hard to make Connor love him. Chasing desperately after the boy, he had only pushed him away the more. He should have stayed still and silent. Connor would then have hungered for what he was so able to provide. 

Desperation had been his downfall. You had to go into this friendship thing with no need for it.

Angel sat up and licked his lips nervously. The past spiralled around and around, repeating itself. His desperation ate at him, still. He needed Spike too much to make this work. And now Spike held all the cards. He knew where Angel lived. He could play the game to his rules. 

After some time of intense brooding, something occurred to Angel that made him smile. Spike might hold the cards and invent the rules, but if he wanted to play, he needed someone to play with.

Angel was still very much in the game.

His head was beginning to ache, so he went back to an activity that required no thinking at all except conjuring the smell of hay and reliving the feel of being stretched. He soon hardened and had the satisfactory feel of his own thickness and length in his hand. Cautiously, he slid his other hand beneath his arse and stroked gently over his hole. He had never done this before; neither had he pushed a finger in and stroked around his slick walls. But the recent sex with Spike had sensitised him, made places ache that didn’t usually ache when he jerked off. He pouted, wondering whether he really wanted to do this thing—mulling over the implications for what he saw as his rugged masculinity. Then he shrugged and worked the tip of one finger in, closing his eyes to the pleasure of memory. Never having done this for himself, his only recollections were ones of Spike. A poor substitute to that memory, his finger teased the tightness, hooking and stretching. His other hand sped up, short pinching jerks of the thick column between two fingers, enough to keep an orgasm simmering just out of reach. His balls began to spasm, responding to the pressure from behind, pleasure from inside. When he felt this, Angel changed his grip to a firm one and finished things off. With one of his favourite fantasies playing in his mind—Spike on his hands and knees, begging to be entered—he splattered come over his bed and recently showered torso.

And the solution hit him with the same force as his orgasm.


He was still doing all the chasing, still desperate, when he should be still and silent, cold and disinterested.

Spike should be chasing him.

On a final shudder, Angel cried out at the thought that Spike would should be begging for him.

That he had gone from worrying about trust issues to planning to entrap Spike with a complex bluff of disinterest didn’t affect his decision at all. That Spike had only just confessed his hurt over Buffy’s inconsistencies didn’t weaken his resolve either. Nor did it make him feel guilty. Recollection of Buffy, juxtaposition of Buffy’s name with Spike’s (and the images that conjured up of far more intimate positioning), usually sent him spinning into a state of confusion, which he had only just begun to realise had more to do with Spike than it ever had about Buffy.  So, although he wouldn’t go as far as to admit that his plan satisfied some as yet unresolved issues about Spike and Buffy, it certainly cheered him up enough allow a long, satisfying spill over his sheets, where the come settled and dried with the other copious loads that had dried on them over the previous few hours.

He chuckled evilly.

He was going to enjoy playing it cool with Spike.

* * * * * * *

Being an abject failure wasn’t one of the self-recriminations Angel often berated himself with.

He did now.

He’d play it cool... later. This firm resolution was made the following day as he licked his way up one hard thigh towards somewhere that would be warmer and would respond more interestingly to his tongue.

They had met that morning in an elevator, Angel descending to the lab, Spike doing nothing much.  But whatever they’d been planning to do was forgotten anyway on confused glances of mutual desire and unnecessary touching as they were jostled and crushed together by the morning crowd. Angel had calmly requested Spike’s presence upstairs; Spike had calmly acquiesced, but they’d barely made it to the privacy of Angel’s elevator before their need erupted, spoiling suits or jeans. Embarrassed, but wryly amused as well, they stripped and continued their fun activities nude. Then Angel had remarked, in a pause for Spike to smoke, that he ought to bring some clothes over. Spike had nodded, apparently not fazed by this oblique offer of further intimacy, and Angel had been left wondering at the total lack of resolve he was showing faced with the inducement of Spike’s body.

Clothes for freaks sake!

How did that little intimacy equate with cooling things off? Spike was supposed to beg for him—not be invited to share his closet.

Angel had decided to punish Spike for not getting that he was being given the cold shoulder by rimming him for half an hour—and hence the slow progress now up the smooth thigh.

Spike began to squirm with pleasure as Angel’s tongue found its target.

He knelt up and held Spike’s legs open, pushing on the backs of his thighs. With one finger, he played idly with the saliva-damp hole. Spike watched him through narrowed eyes. ‘You missed your vocation, Mate. You’d go down well in Her Majesty’s bloody prison service: you could do that all day—only with a better excuse.’

There was a pause, and they both glanced down at their respective cocks, which had suddenly jerked and risen. Angel swallowed and growled huskily, pressing one finger in, ‘Nice thorough booty check, hey Spike?’

Spike groaned excitedly at the unexpected game. Sliding into his assigned role, he shook his head aggressively. ‘Don’t, you fucker.’

Angel ignored him, as was intended, and leant harder on the legs, pushing his finger deep and swirling it around the walls. ‘Tight ass like this could be hiding anything. You got boof up here?’ He withdrew and pushed two fingers back in. ‘You like that, bitch?’

‘Fuck – off!’

Angel laughed (his best evil-prison-guard chuckle). ‘You – love – it.’

But suddenly, it wasn’t a game anymore. It was just the two of them: Spike denying, Angel needing him to admit to wanting him.

He stroked more gently and buried his face into the crook of Spike’s shoulder. ‘Tell me you want it. Please. Say you want it.’

Perhaps not getting that the game was over—or perhaps getting it only too well—Spike replied incredulously, ‘Fuck off! Poof!’

‘Tell me.’ He crept his lips to Spike’s, and if Spike was in denial before, the tender kiss Angel gave him must have floored him: no prison rectal examination could ever have elicited a kiss like that. Angel begged again, vibrating Spike’s lips with the essence of touch, ‘Tell me you want me.’

Spike closed his eyes and arched in time to Angel’s deep stroking. After a moment he croaked, ‘I do. I want you well enough, Angel.’

Angel felt something trickle down his cheek and loathed his weakness. ‘Then tell me you love me, Spike. Please.’

Spike opened his eyes. They were very blue and very clear, like the ocean seen from afar. ‘If I could love anyone, then I think I’d love you. There. Is that what you wanted to hear?’

Angel’s slow blink and falling tears said it all.

Spike rolled his eyes and clasped him around the back of the neck. ‘When did you become such a sad romantic? Huh? Just fuck me, Angel, and we’ll be proper vampires for sodding once and find our love in blood and pain.’

* * * * * * *

They lay in companionable silence, sated, Spike smoking and Angel staring at the wall. After a while and several puzzled glances, Spike asked, annoyed, ‘What the bloody hell are you staring at?’

Angel roused. ‘We need more drawers—for your clothes.’

Before Spike had thought it through as much as he usually planned everything he said to Angel, he murmured, ‘You need a whole new place, Mate.’

Angel rolled over to stare at the sharp profile. ‘You said that before.’

Spike lifted his eyebrows and took a long drag on his cigarette. ‘I ‘ave to tell you most things more than once. This place is bad for you.’ He suddenly sat up. ‘Christ, Angel, open your eyes!’ He flung himself down again. ‘’Sides, you can’t come and go as you want up here—have visitors when you want.’

‘Visitors? You mean…. You’d… what? What are you saying here, Spike? You’d stay more often if I had another place? Live with me, maybe?’ He sat up, his heart almost reanimating.

Spike’s disgusted expression returned. ‘Jesus! Angel!’

Angel ignored the expression and said impetuously, ‘Tomorrow. New place. You choose.’

‘I’m not bloody choosing shit! What do you think I am? A poof? The beach.’


He shrugged fractionally. ‘You could get a place by the beach.’

Angel’s mouth dropped open slightly, his brain not quite keeping up. ‘That’s… The ocean? But that’s miles away….’

‘Angel, you have a bloody helicopter.’


‘A hel—.’

‘Fly? To work? I don’t think you’re allowed to land on sand….’

‘Big estate then! Private helipad—like those stars that get married and those gits fly over, filming ‘em.’

Angel started to panic. He’d envisioned a discreet, modest apartment that was… cheap.



‘I’m teasing.’ He chuckled evilly. ‘You should see your face.’

Angel grabbed his arm. ‘But you will come with me?’

Spike made a wry face. ‘Seems to me like I’ve been doing that quite nicely all day.’

Angel took this as a yes, seized a kiss then rolled onto his back, his arms folded behind his head, planning his new place. Spike watched him for a while, his eyes travelling slowly from the striking profile to the dark tufts of hair exposed in the shallow hollows. He swore softly. ‘You are such a sad case, Luv.’ He bent his head and began to nuzzle into the dark, musky hair.

Angel only smiled in response until a few moments later when he asked, amused, ‘Why do you do that?’

A muffled, ‘What?’ greeted this enquiry.

‘Call me love.’

Spike lifted his mouth. ‘It doesn’t mean anything. It’s just a thing. I once got called love by a hairy-arsed lorry driver from Sunderland, and I can assure you, we were not intimately acquainted.’

‘But you don’t call anyone else that: Wesley… Fred… Gunn….’

Spike frowned. ‘Don’t be daft. I call everyone that.’

Angel shook his head. ‘I’ve been studying you.’

‘You’ve been—?’

‘Watching you. No one else. Just me.’

Spike lay back down and lit a fresh cigarette, took his time contemplating the smoke, then said decidedly, ‘That’s because it’s a derogatory term.’

Angel began to laugh. ‘Ah. Is that so?’

Spike rolled over, smiled pleasantly and stubbed his cigarette out in Angel’s armpit.

Chapter 7

Whenever Angel thought about the incident the previous night he winced then chuckled then blushed, a distressing sequence of emotions that confused him. He’d killed men for less. Spike he’d kissed, rolled and then fucked again—very enjoyably.

He sighed and rolled his fountain pen around on his desk. He was lost. He was an old dog allowing liberties from puppies he should bite. But he didn’t feel old. Not feeling old for the first time in three hundred years….  How weird was that? He felt… horny all the time, awkward, insane. He sighed. He felt in love.

And they were going that day to choose a new apartment together. Angel blushed again and pouted: he reckoned he was owed some slight twisting of the truth….

He looked up at the sense of movement from the doorway but sighed when he saw it was Wesley.

‘Sorry to disappoint!’

Angel made an apologetic grunt and went back to studying his pen and thinking about Spike. Wesley laid some papers on the desk then sat with a similar bundle on his lap. ‘We’re beginning to trace the weapons.’


Wesley looked up, frowning, as if he couldn’t quite make out what Angel meant. As Angel had a similar expression on his face, neither spoke for a moment. Wesley was the first to make the attempt and murmured, ‘Gun shipments? Large demon with an ice hook?’

Angel waved his hand dismissively. ‘I knew that.’

Clearly not convinced, Wesley asked gently, ‘Is something wrong, Angel? I only ask because you’ve been very… distracted… for the last few days. Is it your heart?’

Angel nodded. ‘Yeah. My heart. Look, I’m meeting Spike in five; can this wait?’

Wesley held his gaze for a moment. ‘Of course.’

Feeling increasingly guilty, Angel made a vague attempt to heal any potential rift. ‘I’ll look over all the paperwork tonight? Okay?’

Wesley nodded and stood up. ‘So, what are you and Spike up to?’

Angel repressed a silly smirk and, running the entire sentence over in his mind in one quick flash to hear how it sounded, replied, ‘I’m thinking of taking a new place—to live.’

Wesley’s reaction surprised him. The man looked intensely relieved, as if Angel had suddenly declared that the mission was over and they were all going to live in a quiet country house in England. ‘That is good news.’

Angel pouted, feeling contrary. ‘I have a great, free apartment here.’

Wesley gave him an odd, penetrating look. ‘If you think that anything you get from Wolfram and Hart is free, then you are a great deal stupider than I’d given you credit for.’

Annoyed that he seemed to be the only who had not seen some potential harm in taking the—free—apartment offered him, Angel watched Wesley retreat with one of the sets of papers. He picked his stack up and dropped them into a drawer. Just as he was about to close it, something caught his eye, and he extracted a photograph. Any other time, he would have enjoyed looking at the blood that coated the prone form. This time, however, he could not take his eyes off a mark on the man’s back. A picture. Why did it look so familiar? As he stared at it, he heard laughter. His cock twitched as if it had memory of its own. But preternatural memory let him down. He had other more important things on his mind—Spike was late. Angel smiled the kind of fond smile only someone totally lost to love could achieve, let the photograph drop back into the drawer and went back to the fascinating study of his fountain pen.

By the time Spike was an hour late, Angel was beyond anger. He felt as if he’d been set up: the joke of life and love always on him. He didn’t take teasing well—never had—and standing in his office pretending he wasn’t hurt brought back all the times in his life when he’d lurked in shadows, unable to be where the bright people were.

By the time Spike was two hours late, Angel was beginning to hate him.

Three hours and worry set in for the first time.

He let another hour pass then cursed, grabbed his jacket and headed toward the garage.

He met Wesley in the elevator, studying a street map. ‘Hello. How did the house hunting go?’

Angel didn’t bother to reply, caught as he was between the painful emotions of hate, anger and despair.

Wesley stayed in the elevator all the way to the bottom and stepped out with him into the garage. Angel summoned enough interest to ask, ‘Going somewhere?’

Wesley nodded then corrected himself, ‘Well, Spike’s, if I can decipher this damn—.’


‘Hmm. I have a description of a demon I want to run past him, as he’s the only one who’s had a good look at one. It crops up in a number of the sightings I’ve been following.’

As Angel could hardly go there separately, for fear of meeting Wesley when he got there, he grudgingly explained his errand, and they rode together. Some of the scenarios Angel had conjured to explain Spike’s non-show he did not want put to the test with the human in tow. Finding Spike in bed with a soldier in crimson pants was one of his least favourites at the moment.

* * * * * * *

Angel knocked then forced the door. Wesley followed him in.

A magazine lay on the floor. Other than that, the place was bare, only a familiar buzz of a refrigerator intruding on the silence.  Wesley picked up the magazine, a lifetime’s habit of being tidy overcoming him, as he exclaimed softly, ‘I don’t believe it, but I think Spike has finally decided to leave.’ He put the magazine down softly on top of the refrigerator then, seemingly as an afterthought, peered inside. He grunted softly at the well-stocked blood.


Wesley jumped at the sudden sound of Angel’s voice and turned, surprised at the venom in the response. Cautiously, but perhaps trying to hide any hint of being patronising, he murmured, ‘I’ll see if I can find someone to ask.’

Left alone, Angel waited with his head hung to see which emotion would win in the war that was being raged inside his heart. He was putting his money on hate at the moment, but he trying to be generous.

* * * * * * *

‘Well, it appears I was right.’

Angel didn’t turn his head, but Wesley continued unprompted, ‘Spike told the chap in the flat upstairs that he was leaving.’

It was strange how hard saying one word could sometimes be. ‘Leaving?’

‘Hmm. And I’m pretty sure I know where he’s gone. When the chap asked him if he was starting a new life, Spike apparently said no, he was resuming one he’d thought he’d lost. It seems pretty clear to me: Spike’s gone to find Buffy.’

Angel didn’t bother to contradict Wesley. He pushed past him toward the door.

Spike had found a much sweeter revenge than crimson pants could ever have given him. That would have been closure. That would have led to some resolution of what lay between them. This left him… nowhere: more dead than he already was.

A truly dead man in a world of death, he stumbled up the stairs, blinded as much by the grief in his heart as by the tears in his eyes.

Chapter 8

Angel studied the ways the days passed as obsessively as a child might in anticipation of a birthday. He marvelled that they did pass, that time moved on when he was unchanging: stuck in a place that he could not free himself from. He felt disassociated from the simple events that went on around him: meetings, cases, friends or strangers.

But then… Spike did not turn up at Buffy’s. Angel called one week after he’d left and then at the end of the second week—not specifically asking for Spike, of course, not saying “I’ve lost him; have you found him?”. He asked in generalities: How was Rome? Anything new? Had she heard from anyone?

Spike had not gone to Buffy. That was Angel’s conclusion a fortnight into his ordeal.

Three weeks in and he began to believe the intent had been there—Spike had intended to go to her—but he had not arrived.

For whatever reason.

Reasons Angel did not want to consider. Because by considering that he would be considering the unthinkable: the extreme vulnerability of being made of dust. There would be no way of knowing, no respite from this horror he was feeling now, not even the death granted to humans.

By the fourth week, Angel began to think about the blood. Why? Why leave blood in the refrigerator? It didn’t make any sense. A lifetime’s discipline of hiding the habit could not be dropped so lightly. When you left a place, you took all evidence of your blood-need with you. It wasn’t natural—for them—to leave something like that behind.

But you might, if you weren’t moving out, so much as planning to be home less… a partial move… perhaps to somewhere quite close… somewhere where you might still need a place of your own… to someone you might occasionally need space from….

To him, for example.

The start of week five saw Angel convinced that he was the old life Spike had told his neighbour he was returning to.

But he didn’t rejoice. That was the worst conclusion of all.

For if Spike had been faced with the vast and difficult journey of the fifteen minutes it took from his apartment to Wolfram and Hart, but he had not made it….


Thoughts of it and where it now lay occupied Angel’s thoughts for the rest of that week.

And then it was a month and a half without him, and it felt longer than the century he’d spent in the same state: without him.

Weeks seven and eight passed in a blur. He stopped counting the hours, stopped turning them into passing milestones—breakfast, coffee, lunch, meetings—stopped arranging those into whole days he could dismiss as over, so when Wesley said one day in the middle of a discussion about forthcoming appraisals, ‘Do you know? Spike has been gone two whole months. I never thought I’d say this, but I actually miss him,’ Angel lifted his head and repeated, ‘Two months?’ and had known in his heart that Spike was dead.

Two months.

It was time to move on.

Love was illusory, and life went on. Darla, Buffy, Cordelia and now Spike. Dead, undead, gone, returned, real, unreal… one by one, they had come into then passed out of his life, yet he was still alone.

Life went on.

So, why couldn’t he push himself through the days? For, once he had stopped counting them, he couldn’t complete them. Bed was the safest place to be and, tired all the time, he stayed there, neither sleeping nor awake, but hovering uneasily between the two, having conversations in his head with Spike—all the things he would have, should have, sometimes had said, but which were now locked forever in his thoughts.

Dressing was entirely beyond him—not physically; he could still button and zip and tie. It was the decision he couldn’t make: what to wear. How had he decided before? Such a brief and bitter smile fluttered his lips. He’d chosen what would flatter; he’d chosen what Spike would notice.

The work didn’t interest him anymore—worse, he wanted bad things to happen. He wanted people to suffer. Life was suffering.

Everything and everyone irritated him. Wesley, particularly, became a focus for his wrath. He blamed the human for Spike’s absence and never allowed himself to consider the unfairness of this. Wesley had not liked Spike. Wesley had wanted Spike gone. Spike was gone. He knew his connection of these events was unfair and illogical; nevertheless, he looked at Wesley and saw the man who had effectively killed Spike. It didn’t help that Wesley also reminded him of Spike. The accent was a given: when Wesley cut his finger one day and said, ‘Bloody hell,’ it was not the blood that had aroused Angel.

And he was aroused. Spike had done that, and it could not now be undone. Years of dormant disinterest had been blown away by Spike’s hot, tight body. Spike’s body was his addiction, and he suffered from its withdrawal. And when he considered his alternatives, there was Wesley, literally hot and smelling of stubble and frustration.

Angel lurked and watched him from the shadows, hate and lust, guilt and grief warring within him.

So it was particularly ironic that Wesley turned one day, totally oblivious of any of Angel’s dark musings, to say, ‘Did you hear that Spike was back?’

* * * * * * *

Harmony had seen him in a bar. He’d ignored her, which was why she’d taken a few days to mention it, and when she had, it had been part of a bitter attack on men in general and Spike in particular to a friend who worked in the lab. The friend had been laughing at Harmony behind her back with another colleague when Fred had overheard. She had not been fully aware of Spike’s absence and had assumed he’d gone on holiday, or a road trip, or was just taking a long sickie, the linear passing of days often muddled for her anyway. She had therefore mentioned his return to Wesley without any great aplomb, and that was very much the spirit in which he’d passed the news onto Angel.

Angel’s reaction, therefore, puzzled everyone, and like fond parents watching a beloved toddler smash its head repeatedly on the floor, they were initially shocked and then distressed. He wasn’t literally smashing his head on a literal floor, of course, but the intent of his wild anger was pretty much the same: relieving emotion that he neither understood nor could handle.

But, of course, Angel’s shock at hearing of Spike’s return had nothing to do with his belief that he was dead. Hearing the news, Angel knew immediately that he had never really believed this anyway. He had always thought Spike had found the perfect time and method to exact his revenge. His return now confirmed this. Spike was just the arsonist who stood in the crowd to watch his handiwork. What was the point of inflicting such hurt if you could not enjoy the watching of it?

So, it was these thoughts that were in Angel’s mind when he saw Spike for the first time—just after the immediate and startling thought that it was true: he was back. Then all the hurt and anger waded into his consciousness, and before he knew what he did, he ran across the street, piled into Spike’s smaller form and crashed him into a dumpster.

He pounded his head into the metal until a red patch appeared then, grasping him by the lapels of his coat, he spat into his face, ‘I’ll fucking kill you!’

Spike, almost insensible, mumbled something, and despite Angel’s previous threat and almost uncontrollable fury, he did want to hear what this was. He glanced around and then taking Spike by the arm, half-dragged and half-carried him down the street until he came, conveniently, to a small church and surrounding cemetery. He entered the grounds, found a private spot and deposited Spike on the ground until he recovered from having the back of his skull caved in.

The wound, being Spike, was mainly superficial. Within a few minutes, he sat up, rubbing the back of his head and said with some bitterness, ‘You bloody bastard! Welcome to LA, Spike! How ya been? Long time no see.’

Angel heaved him to his feet. ‘You’ve got one chance to save your miserable life. One word that I don’t like and I’ll twist your scrawny neck off. One word. Talk.’

Spike lifted his eyebrows and glanced down at the hands around his neck. He swallowed, and Angel felt the Adam’s apple shift uneasily. Spike then licked his lips and said tentatively, ‘Hi?’ Angel’s hands tightened, and a look of panic came into Spike’s eyes. ‘What do you want from me? Jesus, Mate! I know it’s been a while, but you could ‘ave kept in touch, too!’

Angel stared into the blue eyes, and for the first time, he noticed that Spike was… skeletal. He’d always been thin, but now the bones protruded painfully in his face, his perfect cheekbones more like hangers, which supported slack, grey skin. And… Angel lifted him bodily… he was so light! He frowned again and asked, ‘Spike?’

Spike, clearly feeling that he’d passed whatever the test had been, gave him a cheeky smile and wriggled out of his hold. He dug his hands into his pockets and raised his eyebrows. ‘So, how have you been?’

Very carefully, Angel replied, ‘Fine. You?’

Spike shrugged and removed his hands, holding a pack of cigarettes and a light. When one was lit to his satisfaction, he squinted up at Angel. ‘I’m good.’

‘Where have you been?’

Spike seemed to hear no desperate confusion in the question, for he replied cheerfully enough, ‘Here and there. Ya know. Spent the last few years in Prague.’ He shrugged. ‘Not really my taste. Too many bloody old things, but Dru loves it.’

‘Drusilla? You are—what are you saying, Spike? You’re with Drusilla?’

Spike seemed about to reply then he frowned and hung his head, deep in thought. He looked up, and Angel saw an expression of pure panic on his face. ‘Spike?’ He caught at his arm but in a totally different way to the aggressive hold he’d given it before. ‘Spike?’

Spike seemed bewildered. ‘She… I was…. I mean, yeah, we’re… but that seems wrong. Where’s Dru?’ He wrenched away from Angel’s hold. ‘She was hurt! Where is she?’

‘Calm down.’ Calm down! Angel tried to take his own advice, glad his utter bewilderment didn’t show as clearly as Spike’s did. ‘Look… I have a place near here. Let’s walk.’

Spike nodded, seeming glad to have something practical to do. When he moved, he winced and put his free hand to his head. ‘Why the freaky-psycho welcome, Mate?’

‘I—. I mistook you for someone else.’

‘Bloody hell! I know it’s been…. What has it been?’

Angel replied carefully. ‘I’m not sure. You tell me.’

‘It was that sodding sub! You bleeding bastard. It took me bloody hours to swim back, and the sun came up, so I had to swim under the soddin’ water! I should be the one smacking your brains in, dickhead. And then you say you don’t even recognise your own pissing childe. Why—can someone tell me why?—did I came back to this bloody country? So, what’s your place like? Hey? What’s wrong, Mate?’

Angel had stopped and was leaning heavily on the railing that surrounded the cemetery. ‘Nineteen forty? Are you trying to tell me that you’ve not seen me since nineteen forty?’

Spike flicked his cigarette butt away into the dark. ‘Well, I’d say nineteen forty three, but who’s counting?’

Angel licked his lips. ‘You’re lying.’

‘Er… nooo. I’m not.’

Angel put a hand out and touched Spike’s cheek. Spike immediately dodged away and swore then added, ‘Poof,’ in a derisive tone. And it was back—that expression that Spike had worn for a hundred years to hide his true feelings for Angel. Angel saw this now as clearly as he saw the signs of starvation and stress on Spike’s face. He’d seen that defensive look so many times and had taken it for what it purported to be—hatred. Now he knew better. If he had learnt nothing else from their strange relationship over these last few weeks, he had learnt that the hatred was an act.

However, he did not point this out now. He needed to get Spike back to the confines of Wolfram and Hart. With a small pout of guilt, he realised that his confusion over Wesley had turned back to his usual need for the man’s wisdom and friendship. ‘You look hungry.’

Spike considered this and nodded faintly. ‘Yeah.’

‘Come on, let’s go to my place.’

Spike gave him a look. ‘Bet you say that to all the girls.’

‘Not recently.’

Spike seemed unwilling to pursue that cryptic comment and lit another cigarette. Angel kept glancing at him obliquely. The wrists were as thin as the rest of him, his fingers…. Angel caught at a hand. ‘Jesus. Your nails!’ They were torn off, bloody pads a mockery of the more familiar chewed look. Spike looked at his fingers, frowning. Angel touched one tentatively. ‘How did this happen? When did this happen?’ The look of bewildered panic returned to Spike’s face, and when he saw it, Angel felt something flood his heart, washing away the last residual traces of the hatred and anger he’d felt toward this man for the last eight weeks. He rested his arm in a friendly way over Spike’s pathetically thin shoulders and mock punched him. ‘Come on. We’ve got some catching up to do.’

Spike, still giving worried glances to his nail beds, allowed himself to be steered along by the imposing presence at his side.

Chapter 9

‘I’ve seen worse, but I’d say he’s not fed the whole time he’s been gone.’

Angel glanced sideward at Wesley and asked cautiously, thinking of a warm wrist pressed to his starved, ocean-cold mouth, ‘When—have you seen worse?’

Wesley turned his face back to the window that separated them from the hospital room. ‘At the council—in the old days. Some of those ghastly torture sessions done in the name of experimentation and learning.’

Reassured, Angel resumed his study of the pale figure in the bed.

‘Whatever, he won’t thank you for this.’ Wesley tapped the hospital glass.

Angel shrank into himself, remembering the painful subduing of Spike when he’d seen the place he was being led into. ‘I had to. I don’t know enough about this yet. Has he actually come from the past? Is it a spell? Christ, does he still have his soul?’

‘That’s hard to say. If he is under some kind of spell, thinking he is in the past, then he might have but not… know that he does.’

Angel turned to him and asked, alarmed, ‘How could he not know?’

Wesley sighed. ‘Most people are not like you and Spike. Most people could go their whole lives not giving their soul a single thought. After all, wars are started by men with souls; bombs placed on buses; children abused and murdered. Humans take these things very much on a take-it-or-leave-it basis, because we have nothing to contrast having a soul with. Unlike you two, of course.’

Angel turned his face once more to Spike, a feeling of helplessness welling up in his throat. ‘We could weigh him!’

‘I’m sorry?’

‘The soul—you can actually weigh it! It is real, and it can be detected. When people die, at the moment of death, you can record a weight loss!’

Wesley hesitated then laid a gentle hand on his arm. ‘I think that phenomenon would more likely be loss of bodily fluids, no? And besides, we don’t know how much Spike weighed before, do we?’

I do. I remember his weight very well, his body sprawled on mine, sated and warm from the friction of my body upon it. ‘No. I’m sorry. This has gotten me freaked. You should have seen him when I mentioned Drusilla.’

Wesley patted Angel’s arm then put his hands in his pocket. ‘So, he thinks that he’s back just before he came to Sunnydale that first time?’

‘Who knows? Perhaps he actually is! Perhaps time has actually warped!’

‘Well, I’m afraid I’m of the Sherlock Holmes school of thought on most mysteries: the simplest explanation is usually the right one. It’s far more likely that this is some kind of brainwashing—and I must say, the condition of his body would bear that out. We’re running some tests now. We’ll be able to date him—as it were—in a few minutes.’

‘Date him?’

‘Hmm. If he’s our Spike, so to speak, he’ll have some very faint scarring on the deep muscle where we reattached his arms. If it’s there now, we’ll have our first fact to go on.’

As he was speaking, a man in a white coat came out of a side room and handed him a piece of paper. Wesley glanced at it. ‘He’s our Spike. Bloody hell! Angel!’ He jumped back as glass cascaded around them. Angel withdrew his fist and stared at it as if it had punched the glass entirely of its own volition. Perhaps it had: other parts of his body were responding to Spike’s return in their own unique ways, too.

* * * * * * *

Angel could not concentrate on Wesley’s words. His thoughts were all with Spike, still heavily drugged and being fed intravenously with human blood in a (new) hospital room.

‘… abrasions… nails, of course… massive bruising… missing… tooth.’


‘He’s lost a tooth—a molar. It will grow back with the blood he’s being given now—along with his nails—and musculature too, I suppose.’

‘What the hell happened to him, Wes?’

Wesley leant back and took off his glasses. ‘Some kind of severe physical trauma. That’s all I can say. I think the nails were ripped off. The tooth looks pulled. He’s a mass of scarring and bruises, as I’ve just said. What did all this, I have no idea.’

‘Or why.’

‘Well, that might be easier to guess at….’

Angel lifted his eyes sharply to Wesley’s then said cautiously, ‘You think this was to get at me in some way?’

‘Well, it would make sense. He was one of the team.’

‘Why him? Why not one of you—you are all more vulnerable than him. Christ, Wesley, imagine what it would have taken to subdue him and….’ He could not continue. He knew exactly what kind of force was necessary to subdue and torture Spike. He remembered it quite well.

‘Surely the more important question is, why let him go again? Why let him go, believing as he does, that he’s ten years in the past? And why bring him right back to you?’

Angel nodded gloomily. ‘What are we going to do?’

‘I don’t know what to say other than try to restore his memory by association. There clearly are cracks in it already, if, as you say, he can’t remember where Drusilla fits into all this. Perhaps more flaws in his false memory will appear if he’s gently pushed.’

Angel rubbed his hands over his face and said bleakly, ‘And then what? When he remembers what must have happened for him to….’ He got up and went to the window, his back to Wesley. When his voice was steady, he continued, ‘If he regains his memory, he may wish he hadn’t.’

Wesley stood and came to his side. ‘You were in hell. You survive those memories.’

Angel nodded. ‘But he’s not me. He’s never had my strength.’ He turned at a small start of surprise from Wesley, and the human hunched his shoulders thoughtfully.

After a moment of pregnant silence, he murmured, ‘I’d always thought him the stronger of the two. He plays parts so adroitly and with such conviction I’d say he could survive pretty much anything—even losing you.’

Angel stepped back. Wesley pouted. ‘I’m not as stupid as you seem to take me for sometimes.’ He lifted his eyes and held Angel’s gaze.

‘How long have you known?’

‘Since I witnessed the exact nature and level of your pain these last few weeks. But I knew for sure when I told you he was back. I’m sorry I wasn’t more… tactful.’

‘It’s not what you think.’

‘You don’t know what I think.’

Angel nodded his concession to this but added firmly, ‘We’ve been rediscovering our history: Sire, Childe; that’s all. It’s complex, and we needed to explore it.’ He flinched, embarrassed at Wesley’s soft snort.

‘You’ve been exploring something—I’ll give you that. Anyway, this isn’t getting us anywhere. We’ll ease up on the sedation and see how it goes. That’s all we can do for now.’

Angel, deep in thought, suddenly lifted his head. ‘Get me one of the firm’s geeks.’

* * * * * * *

Angel watched the slow recovery from the stupor that the drugs had cast over Spike’s normally animated face. It was nothing like watching him reanimate from death, which surprised him. But then Spike wasn’t dead—in Angel’s heart, which is where he kept all thoughts of Spike.

Spike finally took a breath, long habits dying hard, and looked groggily around. When he saw Angel sitting quietly to the side of the bed, he sat up and swore. The curse made no sense, so he frowned and tried again, articulation returning. ‘You sodding bastard: you hit me!’

‘Yes. I did. Then I had you sedated.’

For the first time, it seemed to occur to Spike that he was in a hospital room. ‘What the…? Hey! You said come home with me, and then there was this bloody Wolfram and Hart building! Wolfram and Hart, Angelus! I’m not that dumb! Even I’ve heard of bloody Wolfram and Hart! Bad news, even for The Big Bad!’ He began to climb out of bed. Angel came swiftly to his side and held him in place, which wasn’t difficult: the frailness of Spike’s body evident beneath the hospital gown.

‘Wait. Hear me out first.’ He sat on the edge of the bed and effectively prevented any other course of action. When he saw that Spike was listening, albeit with a surly I’m-not-listening-look, he said calmly, ‘You are on your way to a little town called Sunnydale.’ Spike immediately looked shifty. Angel nodded as if this confirmed something in his own mind. ‘You have heard that there’s a new, young slayer there.’ The shifty look became outright suspicion, and Angel continued swiftly, ‘But that’s not your only motive for going to Sunnydale, is it Spike? You’ve heard that I’m living there, too.’

Spike’s mouth opened a tiny fraction but no words seemed brave enough to venture forth. Angel continued. ‘You also heard I have a soul.’

‘Whoa. Who told you all this?’

‘You did.’


Angel ignored the confusion and continued. ‘You heard I have a soul, but you don’t believe it. But you don’t… not believe it either. You keep thinking of the last time we met—in the sub. Did he have a soul then? He wouldn’t let me kill the crew… but he turned someone! But a soul…?’

‘You’re a riot, you are, Mate. This is total crap.’

‘So, you’ve decided to go to Sunnydale. Your fight with this slayer will prove if I have a soul—one way or the other. You can’t stop asking yourself: Will I welcome you or will I betray you?’

Spike’s eyes widened. ‘You bastard! You’ve got Dru! You’ve bloody taken Dru, and she’s ratted me out! What did you do to her? You bastard!’ He lashed out, but the blow was utterly ineffective, having little muscle behind it. It was more effective with the other hand, in which he held the lamp. Angel tipped off the end of the bed, and Spike was up and out of the door before he could catch an ankle. He didn’t bother to run and ruin the lines of his suit though: the hospital wing was sealed, and there was nowhere for Spike to go.

He caught him trying to batter his way through a door and frog-marched him back to the room. ‘I need for you to see something.’

‘You’ve got nothing I bloody want to see, Angelus! We settled that a long time ago.’

Angel forced him to sitting on the edge of the bed, trying to ignore that the hospital robe had now fallen open at the back, revealing tight buttocks whose allure starvation had done nothing to lessen. He went to the door and shut it gently then turned to a television and switched it on.

Spike gave a good impression of not being interested. Until he saw himself, that was. Then he frowned and leant closer. ‘What the bloody hell…?’

Angel sat next to him. ‘This building is covered by CCTV cameras. This was captured about five months ago.’

‘But that’s….’

‘You, yes.’

Angel pressed a button on the remote, and the scene jumped to the lobby. ‘This was taken a couple of months ago.’

Spike was oddly silent. Angel waited to see if he would comment, letting the tape play on. It was nothing special. It was just a random moment of Spike’s Wolfram and Hart life: in the lobby, chatting to Harmony. But to Spike it was clearly traumatic, seeing himself, as he was, in a place he did not ever remember being and talking to a person he had no memory of knowing. But his only reaction was to lick his lips slowly and blink as Angel flicked to yet another scene. ‘This was taken in the garage.’

Spike swallowed. ‘What are we doing?’

Angel smiled at a fond, sad memory, an expression Spike did not see. ‘Arguing over which car we were going to take and who got to drive.’

‘Oh.’ Suddenly, Spike straightened slightly. ‘Okay, so what? I’ve lost me memory for a few weeks. No biggie. Guess that’s why I’m in here, yeah? Oh, and I was talking in me bloody sleep! That’s how you know I’m on me way to this Sunnydale. And, speaking of which, it’s time I was on me way—nice as it’s been.’

Angel put his hand on Spike’s arm. ‘It’s two thousand and five, Spike. You’ve lost the last eight years.’ He pressed a button once more, and the time code appeared on the bottom of the screen.

Spike’s reaction could have been written by a bad scriptwriter on a failing soap. His eyes widened theatrically; he began to shake his head in denial, and then he whispered, ‘No,’ in a staged voice. Then his reaction became slightly less predicable for a soap, for his demon came to the fore. Sitting in front of Angel, this time it didn’t matter that he didn’t have the strength necessary to punch. He just swung around, hard and fast, and once more Angel found himself sprawling off the bed to the floor. This time, though, Spike did not run; he flung himself down upon the prone figure, clawing, biting and fighting as if his life depended upon drawing just one drop of blood from Angel’s body. They rolled but were then jammed against the bed, which was bolted to the floor. In the confined space the conflict was vicious until Angel levered on top of the smaller form and overcame resistance with the advantage of weight. Spike glared then spat, the tiny ball of drool trickling down Angel’s cheek. ‘I hate you.’

Angel nudged his cheek against his shoulder and shook his head. ‘No. You don’t. Eight years ago, I believed that. For a hundred years before that, I believed it—because you made very sure I did. But I know better now. I know that this is just an act.’

Spike’s face underwent a strange transformation, from all emotion being revealed—however true or false it was—to absolutely none. Shifty, shutdown, he studied Angel for a moment. Then his eyes flicked to the television screen. He swallowed. ‘I—what?—told you that?’

Angel then saw a door open before him, saw the possibilities of what lay beyond, and slid through, lying, ‘Yes, you told me.’ He shut out a tiny voice, which was telling him that he was basing his whole future on an edifice of untruth and added, ‘A while ago we… reconciled… admitted how we felt about each other—made up. You told me how much I’d hurt you but that you’d still loved me all this time.’

Spike’s face was a picture of outrage, disbelief, relief, fear and hope.

Angel added softly, his eyes averted, ‘We’re together now.’

Spike extricated from Angel’s hold and shuffled back to sit against the wall of the tiny room. He folded his arms protectively over his chest. ‘Bloody hell.’ He looked as if he could kill something precious for a cigarette but asked, ‘We—what? Live together?’

Hadn’t Spike once called him the master of lies? Angel lived up to the name and nodded. ‘We have a place together. You love me.’

A flicker of suspicion crossed Spike’s face at this slightly unnecessary addition, but it quickly passed when Angel smiled wryly, ‘Sometimes. When I’m not pissing you off.’ He was the master of lies. Spike, he could see, believed him—he had no reason not to, knowing, as he surely did, that this was the underlying truth of all his lies.

They were at something of an impasse now. Spike twitched the hem of the robe lower over his thighs and huffed. ‘You say all this, and it may be true, it may not—I’m not saying—but this,’ he tapped his forehead, ‘tells me something else. This tells me I hate you.’

Angel began to grin and tried to suppress it. He’d been right. Huge leaps of faith sometimes carried you a very long way over very deep chasms.

Spike began to get angry at the silent grin and pushed to his feet.

Angel rose too and caught him in a grip that, in his weakened state, Spike could not resist. He kissed him, hungry, wide-mouthed and insistent. When he was done, he released the shaking figure, watching pale lips flush from the bruising kiss. ‘I don’t just say it. Hey!’ He tightened his grip on Spike’s thin arms and turned him to the bed. Spike appeared utterly disgusted at his own weakness, but did not try to fight the assistance. Angel lay him down and put a hand on his forehead. ‘Rest now. We can talk more later.’ He could not resist it, so added, ‘We have all the time in the world.’

He turned to go. Just before he reached the door, a quiet voice from the bed stopped him. ‘Angelus?’

Angel did not turn around.

‘Which did you do?’

He did not need the question explained. He’d been expecting it. ‘It’s Angel now, and I betrayed you.’

Chapter 10

Angel strode mindlessly through the darkened hallways of the agency. Mindless because he could not afford to think. Up to the moment he’d kissed Spike, he’d been able to tell himself that the ends justified the means—that he was owed one lie after a lifetime of being lies’ victim. Up to the kiss. The kiss, however, told him different. The kiss told him what he really wanted. The kiss told him he didn’t want Spike tricked into loving him at all.

He wanted the lie to be true.

But fuck it! He was owed this! One mistake, so many years ago, had blighted two lives. Why shouldn’t he put it right now? A lie cancelling out a terrible misunderstanding. They were both owed this. He swallowed the lie and took it into his heart to make it the truth. They were owed, and he was just collecting the debt.

He strode into Wesley’s office and ordered abruptly, ‘Rent a place by tonight. Have all my personal things moved there. Make it look… occupied by two: blood in the refrigerator, books—whatever it takes.’

Wesley’s eyebrows rose. Angel ignored them.

Wesley ignored being ignored. ‘And this helps him get his memory back how?’

Angel turned to examine something on a shelf. ‘I told you: I’m not sure that’s the best way to go with this. He’s suffered too much trauma.’


‘What’s that supposed to mean?’

‘Nothing—other than… ah.’

Angel gave him a look. ‘Just do it.’

As he left, Wesley murmured, ‘Your wish is my command.’ As an afterthought, he added to an empty, uncaring office, ‘When was it not?’

* * * * * * *

To Angel’s surprise, and slight chagrin, Spike was up and dressed and looking far more his normal self the following day. Having planned to visit the new apartment himself first, so he could at least give the appearance of recognising it, Angel now saw that this was going to be difficult. Spike was sick of being sick. Spike wanted to go home.

They met with some embarrassment. Angel knew the cause of his: the lies hung heavy in his gut like bad blood. Spike’s nervous agitation and unwillingness to catch his eye were equally understandable, given the circumstances. Angel hesitated in the doorway. ‘Hi.’

Spike flicked him a brief look and murmured, ‘I so need to get out of here.’ Angel nodded and led the way, his presence opening doors that were kept locked to patients.

They rose up through the building, Spike watching everything with an intensity that spoke of his efforts to remember. Angel kept glancing at him and then asked softly, unsure what reply he wanted to hear, ‘Anything?’

Spike shook his head. ‘Nothing. It’s… it’s no more real than that bloody telly thing you showed me.’

Angel kept his sigh of relief to himself, and they stepped out into the lobby outside his office.

Harmony’s attempt to let Spike know that she wasn’t talking to him by completely ignoring him was entirely lost on Spike, and her furious silence followed them into Angel’s office. Spike whistled softly. ‘Bloody hell. They pay you well for selling out.’


Spike hesitated at the tone of the response and said more cautiously, ‘You… working for the bad guys? I thought….’

‘You thought wrong. We’re working from the inside, to do Good on a global scale.’ He winced inwardly at that inanity and wished he’d rehearsed this better. Spike didn’t seem too bothered one way or the other. He was too busy looking at the view and standing in the sunshine.

Angel came to stand beside him, drawn like a magnet to Spike’s taut body.

After a moment of relatively companionable silence, Spike coughed and said, ‘So…. Us, huh?’

Angel nodded. ‘Yeah. Us.’

‘How did I come to make this great confession of adoration? Can’t see me doing it somehow….’

‘Given that you’ve been lying so well for so long?’

Spike hesitated then replied, ‘Yeah. Given that. Can’t see me dropping the hard-won front like a French whore dropping her knickers.’ He groaned. ‘Don’t tell me it was a dropping knickers kind of thing.’

Angel smiled. ‘I seem to remember clothes being shed, yeah.’

‘Oh. Bugger. So to speak.’ He rubbed his face wearily. ‘But why then—I mean now? After all these years?’

Angel shrugged. ‘I don’t know.’ He had been going to say our souls, but changed this at the last moment to, ‘My soul? Perhaps you just got tired of all the pretence.’

This seemed to strike a chord with Spike for he nodded silently. Only after he’d lit a cigarette did he say sadly, ‘I was tired of it by the time you found me in Bath.’

Angel closed his eyes and felt his heart losing the battle with guilt. What if he told Spike the truth now? Told him that he’d lied—that there had been no confession. Fear and love kept him silent. When he opened his eyes, Spike was watching him with an intensely thoughtful expression.

It was uncharacteristic, one more facet of the openness between them. ‘What?’

Spike started and wrapped his arms around his chest. ‘Nothing.’

Before, Angel would have let that go. Before, he’d have had no choice. Now, however, he put his hand on Spike’s tense, thin arm. ‘Tell me.’

Spike licked his lips. ‘We’re… together…?’

Angel nodded. Spike winced, as if this confirmed something he didn’t want to explore further. But as if a masochistic streak within him could not be denied, he clarified carefully, ‘And we… live together?’

‘Yep. I told you.’

‘So, we….’ He gritted his teeth and made a crude gesture with a finger and fist. ‘You know….’

Angel tipped his head to one side and studied Spike’s reaction, some great wellspring of love swelling deep inside. ‘Yes, we have sex.’

‘Oh.’ Spike began to bite the edge of a nail. ‘It’s been a while.’

‘Not for me.’

Spike’s eyes widened and then without any warning, he hit him—his strength clearly returning. ‘You bastard! You’ve had other men!’

Angel, reeling slightly, replied, aggrieved, ‘You! You complete moron! You—in the real time that you don’t remember!’ He punched Spike back but only a light touch to his shoulder.


Suddenly, a grin split Angel’s face. Spike wasn’t the only one who could do uncharacteristic. ‘You’re jealous! You were jealous that I’d had someone else.’

Spike immediately slipped into his scornful look and murmured, ‘Ponce,’ under his breath.

Everything in Angel ached to take Spike in his arms—this Spike who seemed so… virginal, so vulnerable, ripe and ready to…. He groaned and glanced at the door, desperate to get to a place where he could strip Spike down then fill him up.

Spike’s weary ‘Can we go home?’ seemed just the cue he needed, and without stopping to consider the logistics, he nodded for Spike to follow him.

It wasn’t until they reached the elevator that the prosaic necessities of life returned. He suddenly said stiffly, ‘Wait for me here,’ turned and went back down the hallway.

He rejoined Spike a few minutes later, this time with the key to the new apartment in his pocket and the address in his head. Annoyed with himself, slightly anxious that he was somehow going to give himself away, he was curt to the point of silence in the car. He need not have worried about making conversation, however, for Spike had become almost catatonic, staring out of the window on his side. If he had not been thinking about Spike’s body (and wondering about the colour of the walls in the apartment), Angel might have pondered the reason for this silence.

The address Wesley had given Angel took them to the warehouse district. Angel frowned at a partially obscured street sign. He wondered if he’d misheard the direction. Then he recognised another of the firm’s cars, parked outside a door very like the one Wesley had described. It appeared Wesley had rented a… warehouse. This was either an evil side to his friend’s personality Angel had never seen, or a mistake.

Nevertheless, he parked and climbed out with a small prayer.

Spike seemed preoccupied with thoughts of his own but roused enough to frown and wrinkle his nose at the unprepossessing sight. ‘I don’t remember this at all.’

Neither did Angel.

The key let them into a small space, which had clearly once been an office. It was deserted now and smelt of rat piss and old newspaper. There was an elevator cage but no stairs. Shrugging inwardly, Angel tried to look bold as he stepped inside. Spike glanced at him as they began to descend. ‘I’ll take a stab and say I didn’t choose this.’

Angel shook his head with the innocence of truth. ‘No.’

When the elevator came to a halt, Angel stepped out, and all pretence at appearing at home disappeared. He looked around in wonder and felt guilt stab painfully at his heart. Wesley had taken his commission and had, perhaps unconsciously, created a place that they could have lived in—had their lives worked out differently. It spoke of innate quality, of intellect and an appreciation of the finer things. Wood and leather, books and antiques sat silently waiting for an ancient vampire and a quiet Englishman who loved him. Angel could have wept at the futility of Wesley’s passion; there was only one person he intended to share this with, and it was not his long-time friend.

Then Spike stepped into the periphery of his vision, and Angel had a startling realisation: the décor may not have said Spike, but it did say William. He did not want to dwell on this Wesley/William confusion; it disturbed him too much.

‘Did I…? Do I live here?’

Angel shook himself and addressed Spike’s wondering question with a silent nod.  He flicked his eyes to some bottles. ‘Why don’t you make us a drink?’

With Spike occupied, he made a quick tour of the rest of the apartment—two bedrooms, bathroom—and returned to find the fire lit and a glass of whisky waiting. Spike was staring at the television—or more accurately, he was peering behind its inch thick screen. He turned to Angel and indicated it with his eyes. ‘What the bloody hell is that?’

Angel sank into one end of the ample, leather couch. ‘I told you: eight years is a long time—still the same crap on though.’

Seemingly reluctant to leave the technological marvel, Spike hung around it, running his fingers along its slim form. Angel didn’t want to have to resort to something as trite as patting the couch, so he waited, expecting Spike to join him. He was enjoying the view though, so wasn’t waiting all that impatiently….

Spike drifted over to the kitchen area. ‘Do you still not eat?’

‘Come over here.’

Spike ignored him and opened a few cupboards. When he could drag that out no longer, he glanced toward the hallway. ‘I’m kinda tired. I think maybe I’ll….’

‘Spike. Come here.’

Spike lifted his eyes and said softly, ‘No.’

Angel frowned. ‘What’s wrong?’

What’s wrong? What’s right?’ He gave Angel’s bewildered expression another glance then said contritely, ‘This is all wrong—for me. It’s like… plunging into another bloke’s role in the middle of a movie. Do you see what I’m saying?’

Angel didn’t and said as much.

Spike tried again. He came closer and perched on the arm of the couch some distance from Angel. ‘I have no friggin’ idea what the script is trying to say or what my motivation is. I’m thinking that we didn’t come to this… understanding… easily? I’m guessing we met and there was a lot of fighting and blood letting?’

Angel wasn’t too keen to get into the particulars of something that hadn’t happened, so he just nodded, which could have meant pretty much anything.

‘So… here we are now, all cosy, cosy. An’ it’s just not right—for me. I’m missing a stage. This—you, me and the firelight—isn’t… I can’t square it in me head, Angel. I hate you.’

‘No, you don’t.’

‘Okay, I don’t. But I tell meself that, and that’s what I hear. I don’t hear that I love you, that I’ve always loved you and always will, cus where would that leave me?’

A heat rose up in Angel that was only partially sexual. He felt utterly vindicated for the lies he’d told. The ends did justify the means, and here was living proof of it. It made him feel uncharacteristically magnanimous. ‘What do you want, Spike? We’ll do this anyway you want.’

Spike’s eyebrows lifted. ‘Jesus. Times have changed. Are you sure I’ve only lost eight years?’

At last, Angel felt comfortable patting the couch, and he did so, repeating, ‘What do you want?’

Spike sat down alongside him, twisted around, his elbow hooked over the back and one leg drawn up. He tipped his head onto his arm, regarding Angel. ‘Tell me about the lost time. I need to… catch up.’

Angel frowned. ‘You and me?’


Angel stared into his whisky. ‘Then we’ll lose another eight years in the telling. I had something else in mind.’ He lifted his gaze, and his meaning was more than clear.

Spike licked his lips. ‘It’s too soon.’

Angel suddenly lunged up from the couch, anger as much as frustration propelling him to his feet. He began to pace, then went over and topped up his drink.

‘Don’t get drunk, Mate.’

Angel stared down at his glass then up at Spike. ‘What?’

Spike looked edgy. ‘You get mean when you’re drunk.’

‘Angelus! For Christ’s sake, Spike, that was Angelus!’

Spike stood up, clearly agitated. ‘There you go! See? You are Angelus to me! I don’t know this… Angel! How the hell am I supposed to know Angel? Eight years—and you got a soul! Seems to me that my whole fucking world has changed in these eight years, but you expect me to just… jump back into friggin’ bed with you! You are a complete stranger!’

Angel kept his eyes fixed on his glass and said it because it would make him feel better. ‘When did that ever stop you?’

Before he could retract it, Spike’s face was an inch from his, furious, spitting. ‘One! I’ve had one fricking lover since you, ‘Gelus. One!’

Angel tried a martyred innocence, but it didn’t work. He nodded contritely. ‘Sorry.’

Spike suddenly rubbed his face wearily and turned to lean on the mantle, staring into the fire. After a moment, he said in a different tone entirely, ‘How many nights did we spend staring into fires, trying to work out what we were going to do?’

Shaken by the power of the emotions that could lead him to make such a cheap shot at Spike, Angel was unsettled even before he heard the question. When he heard it, it plunged him back into memories and feelings he had no emotional armour to deflect. He felt his jaw clenching, and his voice caught as he replied, ‘I think it seemed longer than it was. We had such a short time.’ He contorted his face to retain mastery over the pain and added quietly, ‘I am so sorry, Will. If I could go back and change things, I would. We’ve wasted so many years.’

Spike lifted his head and regarded the nothingness just in front of his face. ‘Do you think we’d have been together all these decades if things had been different?’

‘Sure. Don’t you?’

Spike shook his head. ‘Not a hope in hell. We were a disaster waiting to happen.’

‘That’s not true!’

‘Yeah. It is.’ He turned and faced Angel. ‘I loved you too much. I was always too human.’ He closed his eyes. ‘You didn’t break us up. I did.  It was meaningless. It meant nothing. But I made it mean everything because… I loved you too much.’

Angel watched the amber liquid swirl in the crystal perfection of his glass. ‘Loved?’

Spike blinked. ‘Loved then. Love now. Always will love.’

It was too much for Angel. He didn’t even get the irony that finally hearing what he’d waited so long to hear he could not hear it. He made an odd noise in the back of his throat then pushed past Spike and went into the bedroom. He heard Spike say something outside the door, but it was lost in the effort of controlling his emotions. Too much crying wasn’t good for vampires, souled or not.

Eventually steady, eager to take Spike’s declaration of love to its natural, pleasurable conclusion, he went back to the main room. It was empty. Only then did Spike’s words form themselves into a coherent message in his brain.

‘I’m hungry. I’m going out to find someone to eat.’

Chapter 11

Not for the first time, Spike’s impressive ability to move swiftly and purposefully over ground surprised Angel. However, his purpose was even more urgent, his progress swifter.

He came across Spike a mile from the apartment in a scene that could have been plucked from a trite vampire show on TV. Pale as an albino, bent over a limp body, Spike’s face was distorted by his demon.

Angel heard great distress and saw blood, and it was a moment of pure horror until he realised that both had come from Spike. He approached cautiously but in time to help Spike lower a young woman to the ground. Whether she had fainted or been knocked unconscious wasn’t clear. What was more certain was that she had not been bitten. The blood was from Spike’s own lip, which appeared to have been savaged, and blood on his fangs gave truth to this suspicion. The cry, which had made Angel’s blood colder than was natural for him, came again.

Spike began to shake and then turned agonised eyes to Angel. ‘Why can’t I…? What’s happened to me, Angel? What is this terrible pain?’

Angel made a face, which he intended to be reassuring, pitying, understanding and helpful. It wasn’t easy to get just right, and he ended up grimacing, grinning then biting his lip until he felt blood there, too. ‘You’ve got a….’

‘I have a soul!’ Angel could visibly see Spike’s agile mind leaping from suspicion to certainty, from implication to conclusion, then he shoved to his feet and began to run, as if the painful conclusion had been flee, flee, flee.

With a last check on the girl, Angel took flight behind him. Cursing his luck and life in general, he was caught unprepared when Spike suddenly halted and stood with his head down.

Angel skidded to a halt some feet away, but before he could decide what was best to do, without turning around, Spike held out his hand. It was shaking, but not for long; Angel took it in his warmer, surer one and held on tight. ‘You fought for it, Spike. You wanted it. Try to focus on that.’

Spike tipped his head up to the sky, like a man who believed in God’s pity, and howled. Angel pulled him in close, burying the agony against his body, fairly sure that no comfort would be forthcoming from any universal deity.

And that was when it hit him.

This was how it should have been.

If he could have written the script of their lives, this is how Spike’s ensoulment would have gone.  He held Spike tighter—there should have been no lonely basement. He kissed deeply into his hair—he would have walked Spike through the guilt, step by step.

Not for the first time, Angel realised he’d been given a second chance in life. Some good distance from Buffy and all the confusions over that intense jealousy, (more understanding perhaps of where the real jealousy lay), he could give Spike’s incredible journey the recognition it deserved. Very gently, he murmured, ‘Let’s go home.’

Spike was in no state to argue; he had begun to recite the litany of his evil, a distraught monologue of the obscenities that had been his delight for so many years. To any other listener, they would have been incoherent ramblings. Not to Angel. They made perfect sense to him, sharing as he had over two decades of that malevolence.

‘We took his boots—last longer than babies, though. Souls and soles.’

‘All predators will carry away the small and helpless first. Listen, Spike, you wanted to change. I think you must be the only demon in recorded history who wanted to stop being evil.’

‘Because of you? Because of what happened between us in this Sunnydale place?’

Angel was caught wrong-footed by this insanity-cloaked clarity. ‘No… I don’t think so…?’ Had it? Had Spike’s road to Damascus been mapped by love for him? Before he could think it through, Spike began again, his words twisting and turning like snakes in the air, his hands mirroring the action with dry rasping sounds of anxiety.

They came to a more brightly lit part of the street. Angel glanced down and saw the blood still on Spike’s face. Stigmata of their evil, it blossomed from his torn lip. Frowning with concentration and pity, Angel stopped them and with the cuff of his shirt dabbed at the bleeding, knowing Spike’s eyes were upon him. ‘You made me a monster.’

Angel nodded. ‘Yeah. I did. But I was one, too. I try to forgive myself.’ With a tiny curse of frustration at the stain now on his shirt, he bent to the welling blood and sucked it instead.

‘Fucking faggots. Take it home, yeah!’

He whirled around to find a young man staring at them disgustedly, three companions in the process of turning around to see what the commotion was. Backed up by their presence, the insult was repeated. ‘Faggots!’

Spike tipped his head to one side, wiping his eyes with his sleeve. ‘I think my soul has just gone on holiday.’

Angel sighed. ‘You will suffer later if you rise to it.’

Spike gave him a glance of derision. ‘I think not.’

‘Being a souled demon is complex, Spike. I’ve lived with it for over a century, and I know. Trust me on this.’

Spike suddenly strode forward and broke the young man’s nose with one extremely controlled punch. Then he slipped into his demonic face and hissed at the others. Watching them run, he shouted, ‘I’d eat you if I wasn’t afraid stupidity was catching!’ He strode off in a random direction with something akin to his cocky swagger. Angel followed behind, quietly waiting.

He was ready and prepared, therefore, for the next manifestation of Spike’s angst. Talking rapidly (but making little sense), Spike seemed to be having an intense conversation with someone at his side. Angel had often seen very real, physical manifestations of his own guilt, so didn’t interfere. He just wanted to get Spike home. Home. A place of lies, wrapping Spike up in a web more complex than his new ensoulment ever could. Who was the real evil? Who stalked Spike’s every step, making him what he was? Angel ground his teeth and refused to continue this train of thought: he wasn’t in the mood to pander to his guilt; he had enough to do pandering to Spike’s. He stored away the pain of remembering that it was he who had turned Spike, he who had given him his excessive love of evil, and concentrated on gently steering Spike back to the apartment without making it appear that he was interfering in any way with the direction Spike wanted to go.

They were a few hundred yards from the corner, which would take them to their new street, when Angel heard a subtle change in Spike’s wild speech. He had reached his impressive age almost entirely due to his sixth sense for such things—or perhaps because he listened to his sixth sense and acted upon it. Spike was still addressing an invisible companion, but Angel sensed that this was not entirely a fictional presence. He felt an odd, cold trickle down his spine—not quite fear, but not far enough from that rare emotion to be entirely dismissed. Spike was becoming more agitated and had begun to rub his jaw—the side where the missing teeth had only just grown back.

‘What’s wrong?’ Angel almost laughed with bitterness as he asked. What was right in Spike’s life recently?

‘No. I won’t.’

‘What, Spike? What won’t you do?’ He glanced around once more, but could still not see what he felt was there in the dark, watching them.

‘Won’t say it. Couldn’t make me then—can’t make me now.’

‘Say what?’

‘Cus I do.’ Suddenly, Spike looked up and howled, ‘NO! I won’t!’ Angel snapped his neck up and for one startling moment thought he saw a vast bird of prey. Then it dissolved into shadow and was gone.

If he had been alone, he would have pursued it, but he wasn’t alone. Spike was watching the darkness above them with a silvery track of tears on his cheek. ‘I won’t. You’ll never make me. Told him, can’t be made—just something he needed to understand about me. And he did! He did! He understood, and he loved me!’

Angel put his arm over Spike’s shoulder. ‘Hey… little one. Calm down. Let’s go home.’

‘Where the heart is?’ Spike’s earnestness made Angel’s voice catch in his throat.

‘Yes.’ My heart is with you. He couldn’t tell whether it was cowardice or kindness that made him unwilling to say this out loud to the confused, sad vampire.

* * * * * * *

When the fire was re-stoked, the apartment was surprisingly like home, despite Angel’s parallel sense of dislocation. He didn’t have too much time to think about it all; Spike took all of his attention. He sat him on the couch, brought him a blanket and fussed as he had once fussed over someone much smaller and a great deal more helpless. He didn’t consciously allow the similarities between his child and his childe—that way madness (and incest) lay—but the pleasant and unpleasant thoughts hovered close enough to taste their confusions.

Spike was oblivious of the care Angel was taking. He seemed entranced (and not in a good way) by the flames. What was homely and comforting to Angel took on a whole different meaning in the almost demonic reflections in Spike’s eyes. Angel wanted to distract him from thoughts of burning, so rummaged for some music. There was his taste and Wesley’s, which were surprisingly similar, but nothing that he knew Spike would appreciate. Desperately, he tried to work out how to turn the television on, but it totally defeated him. The only thing left was alcohol, and despite a nagging feeling that he oughtn’t to give Spike anything that reduced inhibitions in his current state, he poured them both a large whisky and brought them to the couch.

He could not deny the unfortunate associations of the quiet sound of crackling, the painful glint of perfect crystal and the aromatic smell of whisky. Wherever Spike was, the combination of these three snapped him back to the here and now. He looked up. ‘Angelus?’

Angel sat down next to him and very cautiously laid his arm over Spike’s shoulders as he placed the glass in his hand. ‘Angel. It’s Angel now, remember? I have a soul, too.’

‘Should I change my name then?’


‘You marked the change. What should I be now?’

Angel scratched his ear idly and took a small leap of faith. ‘Logic would dictate Willi….’

Spike stared then blinked. Slowly, a small smile crept around the strained edges of his features. ‘Funny man.’

Angel let out a small breath of relief. ‘How are you feeling?’

‘How am I going to survive, Angel?’

Being a literal sort of person, Angel replied thankfully and seriously, ‘You can feed as I do: on animal blood from abattoirs.’

He was surprised and slightly alarmed when Spike began to laugh. He cursed the decision to give him whisky. ‘What? What did I say?’

Spike shook his head and replied very fondly, ‘Nothing, Pet. Nothing at all, but that declaration I apparently made is beginning to seem more understandable….’

Angel hesitated then put his hand on Spike’s head, idly stroking the silky strands of hair. ‘I wasn’t there for you when you went through this last time.’

Still smiling ruefully, Spike murmured, ‘How ever did I cope?’

Not hearing the irony, taking this literally, Angel replied sadly, ‘You went kinda mad—for a while.’

Spike leant back against Angel’s hand, turning his head to the gentle petting. ‘Why the bloody hell did I want a soul?’

Angel pondered his reply but decided truth was the best option. ‘For love. You wanted to be… lovable.’ The hair slid off his fingers like fine silk, reminding him of soft baby locks that he’d press to his cheek. Or was it reminding him how he would twist and pull longer hair during lovemaking? The confusion in his mind seemed not to reach his groin; there, there was no misunderstanding in the hardening that strained his pants.

‘And did you? Love me?’

Angel felt that sense of helpless confusion again. ‘It wasn’t about me. None of it was about me.’

Spike blinked and caught his wrist. ‘Then I think, even though I don’t remember any of it, my memory is better than yours: it would always have been about you.’

Angel, prevented from stroking, cupped Spike’s neck and pulled him closer until their foreheads were touching. ‘All that matters is that I love you.’

Spike seemed to be seeking deep within himself and then replied, ‘Perhaps it’s not all pain. I think I understand what love could mean now.’

Angel closed his eyes for a moment then opened them. He stared, perplexed, at his hand. When had it come to rest on the warmth of Spike’s inner thigh? ‘Then come to bed.’

* * * * * * *

Angel shifted, careful not to wake Spike. The fire had died, and he eased a couple of logs onto the glowing embers. He wasn’t cold, but he liked watching the play of light on Spike’s skin. He liked feeling the warmth seeping into Spike’s coolness and smelling the musky odours that rose from their tangled, damp bodies.

They had not even made it to the bed. The fire had witnessed their passion, stoked slowly like those embers until it glowed with equal heat. It had never been like that between them. Having no secrets left, Spike was open and loving as he had never been before. Repressing his own secret, Angel basked in this love and lapped at it, letting it support and sustain him. He was loved. He had always been loved, and when he woke up tomorrow, Spike would love him still. When he tried to sort one separate memory of the preceding hours, however, he could not. Images were blended together until all he could recall was skin; all he could taste was salt; and the only sound in his memory was the silence of wordless wonder. And yet it had not been the most explicit sex they had shared together. They’d done far more in the distant and recent past, neither of which Spike could remember. Then they’d split each other open and penetrated deep into the essential core of the body. Then they’d bled and thrust and bled some more.

This time, though, Spike had needed coaxing, still unconvinced that they could be lovers once more. And he’d found a willing partner for this gentle coaxing. For the first time in his long existence, Angel had found himself seducing a lover. It was an entirely new skill, and one that he had not thought to seek within himself—until this new Spike. For he was new. Quite new. He did not remember nine weeks earlier pounding Angel into a mattress until the preternatural body had bled. Rather, his hand had trembled as he’d unbuttoned Angel’s shirt. He did not remember drinking rich red blood from one ball, split in a violent passion. Rather, he’d explored Angel’s body with slow wonder and hesitant hands. Perhaps, Angel thought, as he lay basking in the sexual healing of long, slow orgasms, this wasn’t a new Spike but an old one. Perhaps, if he’d attempted a seduction of William before he’d killed him, that passion would have been something akin to this. The thought, however, dragged a more unwelcome one behind it: the difference was in the soul. How would Spike’s guilt manifest now? What strange forms might it take? It surprised him to realise that, feeding preferences aside, he could not actually tell whether Spike had a soul or not. It surprised him to finally admit what little difference there was between the two creatures he knew so well.

He watched the flames a while longer, wondering how anyone could associate such flickering beauty with damnation. From his own observation, hell had borne little resemblance to any medieval imaginings. He smiled and kissed into Spike’s neck: he could almost hear the derision if he mentioned such a thing. Then the humour left him: Spike did not know he had been in hell. Spike had been stripped of his life and his memories. It seemed a rather common occurrence at Wolfram and Hart. How culpable was he in this most recent theft of memory? He had not taken it, but then… he’d done nothing to return it to Spike either.

He pulled Spike into a tighter hug, the circle of soft light surrounding them, encasing them, protecting them with a power as great as that hidden beneath Angel’s pale skin.

He was owed this.

Who could cast a first stone and accuse him?

* * * * * * *

As soon as he roused from sleep, Angel knew that Spike had already woken. He did not open his eyes though; darkness was best for what he wanted now. Slowly, with great deliberation, one-by-one, he focused his senses upon the moment. This, he had been denied with Buffy. This, he would never have desired with Darla. This, he had only dreamt of with Cordelia. With Spike, it was his—this one moment when every part of his body was in tune with a waking lover. He could feel Spike’s bony ankle pressing into his calf, the slight rub of leg hair when he shifted. They shared warmth, his warming Spike then radiating back, enhanced, to him. Their different smells—his redolent of spices and sadness, Spike’s of cigarettes and sass—were overlaid by a shared salty tang and the natural smell of male sweat. And then there was the fit of curve and cave: Spike snuggled and curled, pressed back against the welcoming hollow of his broader frame.

A sound like a whisper of love opened his eyes, the silence and peace of his one pure moment gone. He smiled wryly, trying not to be too harsh on himself for such self-indulgent whimsy. Fond delight was part of the bargain, the debt that was owed—that and much more. He’d been denied love for a century. He was owed.

The slight noise had come from Spike’s finger. He was following the path of a tiny splash of firelight, which, reflected off something in the room, was dancing like an elf on the polished wooden floor. His body tensed. To Angel, so warm and languid beside him, it felt like pain, and with a blush at remembered activity a few hours previous, he pushed his mouth against Spike’s ear and murmured, ‘Sorry. Was I… too eager?’

Spike took a long time to reply. He seemed fascinated by the dancing light, deep in thought. When he finally turned in his arms, although the thin face was shadowed from the fire, Angel felt Spike was studying him intently. He blushed again at the memory of things they had said and done, but Spike suddenly said, ‘Tell me about the missing years.’

Angel hadn’t expected this. But as this was his first time waking in the arms of a real lover, he had nothing to base expectations upon. He frowned. ‘You asked that before. You and me?’

Spike shook his head slowly, keeping Angel’s gaze. ‘No. Just you.’


‘I want to know everything about… you—what brought you to be working for Wolfram and Hart.’


‘I was right: I don’t know you.’

‘You know me well enough.’

‘I thought I did.’

‘Well… it has been over sixty years.’


Angel frowned. ‘Since we last saw each other—on the sub?’

Spike scratched the side of his face idly. ‘Oh, that. Sure. So… tell me.’

Angel didn’t know where to begin, and every place he attempted it led him to recap or add something so the tale would make sense. When he found himself talking about Cordelia, for example—telling Spike how much she had changed in LA—it occurred to him that Spike had no recollection of who she was. He began to wind back to tell the tale of Sunnydale-Cordelia but was surprised when Spike waved him on, clearly following the tale without the need for these additions.

When he came to Connor though, he hesitated. The hesitation took on a life of its own, until he stopped entirely.He’d never told anyone about Connor and had never had any intention of doing so. But Spike wasn’t just anyone—and not because he was still sticky from exploring inside Spike’s body. Spike wasn’t… of this world or this time. Spike had no recollection of how things should have been, so a confession of how they had ended up where they were didn’t seem so bad. Angel was caught totally unprepared, therefore, by the strength of Spike’s reaction to this part of his story. When he got to the first time Connor had tried to kill him, Spike wrenched himself out of Angel’s arms and climbed, naked, to his feet, pacing and gesticulating wildly. ‘Why didn’t you tell me this?’

‘I haven’t told any…. What do you mean?’ Angel pulled his knees up to his chest, watching Spike rummage in his strewn clothes for a cigarette.

Spike found one and lit it by leaning down to the embers of the fire, his body attractively and enticingly stretched and displayed.


Angel shook himself, returning reluctantly from the interesting fantasy he’d been indulging, and realised that Spike was now standing over him, cigarette between his fingers. ‘Huh?’ He blinked, mesmerised by the beauty of the blue veins on the underside of Spike’s cock.

‘Where is he now?’

Angel pouted and looked down. This was trickier. Altering people’s memories was not a subject he felt comfortable discussing just now. ‘He… changed. But I don’t see him.’

Spike took a drag of his cigarette. All Angel could see was the movement of his hand, but he felt he was being scrutinised minutely. ‘Why?’

‘Why what?’

‘Why don’t you want to see him if you say you loved him?’

Angel’s head snapped up. ‘I do love him. Don’t ever doubt that.’

‘So why abandon him?’

‘I didn’t. You don’t understand, Spike. Don’t meddle in this.’

‘Then make me understand.’

‘It’s none of your business.’

‘Is that so?’

Angel jumped to his feet, towering over Spike. ‘Yes. It is so. Now leave it!’

‘Where is he?’

‘I said—.’

‘Fickle love again! Surprise, surprise.’

Angel felt his arm twitch to hit him but found words leaving his mouth instead. ‘Another reality was created for him.’

Spike blinked, not backing away, not showing the least sign of doing so either. ‘Another reality? For him or for you?’


Spike paled, a neat trick on his already pale skin. ‘Oh, bloody hell. Welcome to the edifice of evil….’

‘Yes. Wolfram and Hart.’

‘Jesus Christ. They don’t know, do they? Wesley—and the others.’

‘No. They don’t know.’ Now it was done. Now he’d admitted just how far he would go for his own selfish reasons. All the pretence that he was owed Spike’s love crumbled to the delusion it was. He wasn’t owed one Goddammed thing. He was selfish and evil, and he deserved to be lonely.

As if feeling compelled to point out his own faults, just in case anyone missed them, he added, ‘His memory was wiped. He remembers nothing of… us. He’s happy now.’

‘But, Christ, what about you?’

The cry was so intense, Angel took a step back. ‘Me?’

Spike recovered slightly and added in a more controlled voice, ‘It’s a bloody heavy burden to carry on your own.’

Angel looked at him curiously. ‘Who was I to tell?’

Spike looked slightly wounded, took a hasty drag of his cigarette and asked deceptively casually, ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ He glanced up at Angel’s face and added, a little more slyly, ‘If, as you say, we are… lovers.’

Caught in his own web of deceit, Angel began to pace. Gruffly he replied, ‘Because I thought you would never trust me again. You have to admit, we have… trust issues.’

‘You lied to keep us together?’

‘No! Well, yes. But a lie of omission.’

‘And—indulge me here, cus I’m really curious, Angel—just how far would your lies go to keep me?’

Angel closed his eyes and considered this in the darkness of his head. In that gloom, the answer blazed like fire. Without reopening them, he said in a clear and controlled tone, ‘I would have the entire world distorted to keep you this time.’ He opened his eyes and held Spike with his gaze as easily as he could have held him with his physical strength. ‘I’ve lived long enough without you. I - am - owed - this.’ He strode up to Spike and grasped his shoulders, shaking him. ‘You’re owed this.’ Recollecting himself, he ran his fingers through Spike’s still bed-mussed hair. ‘There are no lies here, Spike. What you see is the entire truth of what we are.’

Spike let Angel play with his hair for a little while then nodded. ‘Yeah, I think you’re right.’

Chapter 12

If Spike was troubled by his abrupt discovery of a soul, from that point on he hid it well. He fed from a bloodbag as if he’d been doing it for years, and not the slightest disgust crossed his features at the taste. Angel could not believe how relieved he was, or how proud he felt of Spike’s strength. Only someone who had gone through an identical experience could truly know just how conflicted Spike would be inside. And this time, Spike did not have the benefit of a trial run with a chip—a dip into the waters of respectability to cushion the shock.

In his most self-aware moment, however, Angel was actually a little disappointed by Spike’s rapid recovery. Although he had never intended to stay home and baby him, he would have liked to be asked to. It didn’t happen; as he was dressing for the office, Spike hung in the doorway, watching him thoughtfully, drinking tea. When Angel began to lace some highly polished shoes, Spike said softly, ‘I’m gonna stay here today and rest.’

Angel glanced over and said magnanimously (whilst still feeling Spike should be the one asking, not him offering), ‘Then I’ll stay.’

Spike waved his hand dismissively. ‘Oh, sure, then I’d be doing a lot of lying around resting.’

‘I can be restful.’ He had a sudden vision of his cock sliding hot and red into Spike’s backside and went back to his shoelaces.

‘Anyway, last thing I need is old corduroy-balls coming here, summoning you.’

Angel looked peeved. ‘Wesley works for me. I’m the CEO.’

Spike didn’t reply. He came closer and crawled onto the bed behind Angel, flopping down on his belly with an elaborate sigh. ‘I’m knackered.’

Angel twisted around, feeling guilty, remembering Spike’s injuries. ‘Just sleep—sleep and feed.’

Spike nodded, the small, uncontrolled gesture of one already half-taken by sleep.

Angel watched him for a while, his eyes grazing the taut body, his mind recalling the feel of every inch, inside and out.

Spike was finally his. He was more profoundly his than he could ever have been before the memory loss. Then, recollections of the betrayals of Sunnydale and LA would forever have coloured their relationship—even if they had been able to progress it beyond the mutual need for sex. Buffy, an ever-present ghost, would then have haunted their bed.

Now, Spike was pure—his to mould and shape as he saw fit.

* * * * * * *

Halfway down the street, the fact that he was being a total pillock hit him. He even heard the self-abuse in Spike’s dulcet tones. He had no real reason to go into work. He had no real work. And in his bed, he had… Spike. Naked Spike. Spike, warm and malleable… bending this way and that. Spike, affectionate and….

He didn’t get as far as using the word snuggly, but it sort of echoed pleasantly in his mind as he negotiated a tricky turn in the street and headed home. Home? As the thought crossed his mind, Angel knew that it was true. Wesley had chosen better than he knew. Or had such a choice for their home been a deliberate act of loving generosity on his part? Angel was in the kind of mood where he thought favourably on everyone. It was very novel.

He couldn’t help the ridiculous grin that made his face muscles ache as he rode the short journey down in the elevator. Climbing back into a sleep-warm bed with Spike seemed too good to be true.

It was.

When Angel slid noiselessly into the bedroom, his stealth was wasted: the bed was empty.

There was nowhere else in the apartment to go.

Spike—still apparently sick and still apparently tired—was gone.

* * * * * * * *

He was all rage, long simmering under the surface, now brought to crawling life on his skin and in his nostrils, smelling like hate. But there was fear, too. Not usually an emotion to mellow the heart, but it did his. How much could he hate Spike? How much would it destroy him in the process? Seething with these very powerful feelings, he ignored the tiny, sad voice calling to him from the corner of his brain where love huddled. “This is not what it seems” was not what he wanted to hear. He knew very well what this was, seems or not. Spike was gone. He was being played. His love lay rejected with the sex-warm sheets he had desired to return to.

Once more, a seeming inevitability in this long life of his, he tracked Spike. It wasn’t hard. Why was it never hard? Was he always led by his heart rather than his preternatural tracking ability? Did his heart betray him by constantly leading him back to Spike? Or not his heart, maybe. Maybe that other compass of his desire led him to Spike as it had once so unswervingly led him to Darla. It would have served him better, perhaps, had it stayed fixed on her soft folds.

Spike’s trail led him up to the small, dingy office, but not towards the door. This wasn’t particularly surprising, as even now the sun bathed the sidewalk in mellow warmth that contrasted painfully the coldness of Angel’s heart. No, the traitorous trail led out the back of the office to a door, which Angel discovered led him into the remainder of the warehouse. Another time and in another mood he might have stopped to wonder at the arching vaulted roof, the almost gothic beauty of this evidence of a past industrial life. Spike had. Spike had stopped and lifted his face to the roof. This Angel could tell. What he had thought about it all, however, he could not. But Angel wasn’t all that interested in what Spike thought anymore. His childe had overtaken him as the master of lies, and there were only so many lies he could hear in his many lifetimes.

The trail suddenly stopped, and Angel looked down at his feet to a grating. It was cast aside, as if Spike was careless about being followed—or as if he was so secure in his deceit that he could not imagine being followed. But followed he was. Relentlessly. Angel dropped down through the grating with a grace he thought he’d left in another existence. Perhaps his demon was stirring.

Once in the sewer, he began to run. Whatever it was Spike was doing, whoever it was he was betraying him with, Angel wanted to catch him at it. Why miss any chance for pain?

Spike had not been in a particular hurry. He’d stopped and lit a cigarette, its smoke even now tickling Angel’s nostrils, reminding him of the smell of Spike’s hair and clothes, the sound of his voice, husky from smoking, or sex, or trying to do both at the same time and then his laughter, always his laughter. Had he been laughing at him all this time?

The trail ended at a rusty ladder, which led to a drain cover. More a voyeur now than a hunter, Angel ignored this exit and picked the next one to leave by. He wanted to see what Spike was doing, not prevent it and give him the opportunity to lie once more.

He came out into gloom, which was good, and into a familiar smell: the musty dryness of death. He was in a small mausoleum.

Striding over to the grill, which served as a door, he ducked out of sight just in time. Standing in the gloom of an identical mausoleum twenty feet away was Spike. Angel needn’t have bothered to hide, however: Spike’s head was lowered; he was staring at the sunlight a foot from his feet with the concentration of a man who would not see an enemy if he strode right up to him and let loose the simmering hatred of a hundred years.

Although… Angel’s hatred now took an alarming jolt and turned to confusion. They were in the cemetery where he’d taken Spike that first night of finding him.

This Angel had not expected.

This threw his anger entirely. Why had he not thought to come back here and trace Spike’s last known movements? At some point, in some place just before this, Spike had lost almost a decade of his life. Or had it taken from him. Angel glanced away, unwanted heat rising to his face. He knew exactly why he had not put the considerable resources of Wolfram and Hart onto investigating Spike’s amnesia.

He wanted to call to the lonely figure, but something snagged his tongue to stillness. Something in Spike’s stance confused Angel more than finding him in this place. To Angel, some feet away, Spike appeared as a man on the verge of something irreparable, some decision perhaps that would alter all that was to come. Angel suddenly wasn’t sure he wanted to find out what that something was.

Still not entirely rid of the aftertaste of his anger, Angel also wanted to know why Spike waited until he was alone to come here. It was indicative of a lack of trust that Angel found disturbing. This was not the vulnerable, open, loving Spike of the previous night. This man, standing so rigid and alone on the far side of the forlorn patch of grass that separated them, was not the man he had kissed and held and made slow love to only a few hours ago. He was a stranger, full of secrets, and Angel was afraid.

His fear did not lessen as time passed. It grew, for although the day passed—the sun rose higher and the sounds of city life grew and waned around them—still Spike did not move. Just as his hatred had been implacable over the centuries, so was his rigid stance now during this unnaturally long day. What could he be thinking, hour after hour, his arms wrapped around his body, his eyes fixed so intently upon the ground?

Angel’s body ached to go to him, his heart bled to hold him and tease out the cause of such evident pain. He did neither though. He watched from the shadows, a habit he had learnt with another lover, but which stood him in good stead now with this one who fascinated and infuriated him more.

Before he could believe it, the sun left the cemetery, and Spike was off. He ran like a creature unfettered by gravity, one whose sole purpose was to pursue, whose soul purpose was destruction.

For the first time in the many times he’d hunted Spike—as his sire, his lover, his enemy—Angel could not keep up. He could sense faint traces of him, but the city was hot and crowded and filled with the scents of the night.

Then suddenly, he rounded a corner, and Spike was there. They almost collided, but the slim figure dropped out of sight. The ground appeared to swallow him. Angel came to a halt, his coat billowing slightly with the rapid deceleration of his flight. He blinked then saw a very prosaic sewer cover. Having expected a crack in reality, he chuckled ruefully and realised just how tense he’d been since he’d found the empty bed.

He wrapped his coat tails around himself and dropped through after Spike.

And lost him.

Whereas before the hunt had been difficult, now it was impossible. He had dropped into a nightmare of dark tunnels and blood. Wherever they were, it was not a place that recommended itself. Things had occurred here that Angel did not want to conjure in his mind, although, of course, he did—being a vampire, being demonic and thriving as he did, somewhere in the corrupted core of his being, on other people’s pain.

Pushing all these thoughts to one side, he ran on through the dark, slimy tunnels, ignoring the feeling that he should stop and investigate that groan, or that thin scream, for he knew them for what they were: phantoms of long past pain. All he could focus on was Spike. He was real, and he needed to find him.

When he finally did, an hour or so later, he wished he’d turned aside at those pathetic, ghostly sounds.

Once more, the slim figure was bent over a victim. Once more, there was blood, but this time Angel was fairly sure the blood was not Spike’s.

The tiny girl’s neck was livid and moving with a sluggish crimson flow as Spike gnawed. They appeared to have been at this particular dance for some time, for fresh blood splattered the walls, overlaying flakes of dried, rusty brown. Her legs were jerking as Angel had seen hung men’s do—as in sex, that other painful dance. The image was so evocative he could feel the death throes in his own body, as if he held the tiny figure down and took her life. When Spike was done, he lifted his face and slowly and deliberately licked around the bloodied mess. He closed his eyes for a moment and then ran once more.

Angel had no run left in his legs. Had Spike drained him along with that blood-warm child? Something was gone from him, but he was fairly sure it was not blood.

Chapter 13

Considering the misery that often orchestrated the tempo of his life, Angel was surprised that even in his long time on this earth, he had not felt pain like this. All was confusion. All his certainties of only a few hours ago were gone. He would have said a rug had been pulled out from under his feet if that analogy had not seemed so pathetic, that fall from those few feet so inadequate to illustrate the plummet of all his hopes. For, on reflection (something he did silently as he sat in the office all the rest of that night and the following day), he now realised that it was love that was gone. He no longer loved Spike. He didn’t trust him, and in that utter lack of trust, he had ceased to love him.

Did Spike really have a soul? Or had his manipulative childe seen that the appearance of a soul was required of him to stay in this cosy new life? Angel tried desperately to cast his mind back to the moment when he’d found Spike with that first victim in the alley. He’d seen misery and pain on Spike’s face, hadn’t he? Or had he seen the face of a consummate trickster and overlaid on the scene his fervent desire to have Spike still souled. Had Spike even lost his memory, or was he playing some twisted game all of his own, a game so devious that the games he had played over a century ago seemed as innocent as those of a child in a playground?

Angel had lost his capacity for reasoned thought. He was in too deep. There was no clarity this far down.

But as ever, he had no one to ask. There was no counsel for one such as he.

The only one who could help him, the only one who knew the truth, was Spike.

He didn’t anticipate getting much help there.

But Spike had been careless this day. He’d been so intent upon his game, his deception, his evil (and all the other hateful things Angel named the scene he had witnessed) that he had not realised he’d been followed. A demon, but that whole time Angel had dogged his steps unheeded. If he could slip once, he could slip again. One more slip, and Angel might have the answers he sought.

He would live with the devil, fair of face and form, waiting for that slip.

Then all would be known.

* * * * * *

This was not how it should have been: this first stopping on the way home to shop for wine. Where was the anticipation of seeing him; where was the love? In his heart was only bitterness and pain; so much so that even if Spike had fallen on his knees, confessed and begged for help, Angel did not think he could ever summon love for the blond vampire again.

It didn’t help that Spike greeted him with a shy smile and a touch upon his arm that spoke only of love.

Had it actually been Spike he’d followed all day? Perhaps there were two of him somehow? One who had been here, safe, loving him and his. One who had…. Yet the apartment had been empty.


Angel started and tried to concentrate beyond the turmoil of his thoughts, but he could not summon the rest of the sentence. ‘What?’

Spike frowned. ‘You’re in a bloody mood. What’s wrong?’

Angel shrugged and went to put the grocery bag on the counter. ‘Long day.’

‘Well, ‘xactly. Just what I was sayin’. Long day with nothing on the sodding telly.’

He came and leant against Angel’s back, wrapping his arms loosely around the hard waist. ‘Wanna go out?’

Yeah, I do, Spike. Let’s go to some tunnels and murder some more children.

‘No. I’m tired.’

Spike straightened and regarded him thoughtfully. ‘Okay, Pet, I’ll open that wine then, yeah?’

Angel nodded, but it was too much to keep up the pretence under such familiar scrutiny. He knew he wasn’t that good an actor. Not with Spike. Who knew him so well. Inside and out…. ‘I’m going for a shower.’

Spike pursed his lips. ‘Why am I thinking you wouldn’t accept the offer of some company?’

Angel turned to him. ‘Maybe because I wouldn’t.’

He pushed off the counter and went into the bedroom, deliberately shutting the door.

* * * * * *

It came upon him like a vast vomit of pain—the sob that broke from his body as the water cascaded over him. He thought he had it all under his habitual control. Sure, he was bitter and angry and tense, but he had the upper hand. He knew. Knowledge was always power, and the power was all his. So, if he was powerful, why were his knees folding without his volition? Why was he down on the floor of the shower, heaving great breaths of air that, unused, only increased his sense of powerlessness?

And then, under the flowing warmth, came something that was hard and strong, as strong as he was perhaps, or stronger, for this one held on and did not cry and shiver as he. It couldn’t be Spike—Spike was the betrayer. Angel closed his eyes and let the one who held him be the one he wanted him to be.

He did not rightly remember how they got to the bed, only that the strength bearing him up did not lessen. It spread over him like a blanket of determined power and spoke gently into his ear. ‘What’s wrong, Pet?’ When no reply was forthcoming, there was a sad sigh then hands upon his body so gentle that they belied the earlier strength. He wanted to cast them off: the hands of this traitor. He even went so far as to wrap his fingers around the strong wrist. But that small effort of defiance destroyed all other intent, for on contact with the traitor’s skin, it seemed to Angel that a kind of infection passed to him. It heated him and made him delirious, and on top of the after-effects of painful crying, he was quite unable to resist such loving kindness. He wanted it as a child in a fever wants its mother, as a man under torture begs for God’s respite. And this need found its own solution to the crisis in his soul. There must be two Spikes: the demon he had witnessed tearing the life out of the girl and this one he loved. For, lying under Spike’s loving ministrations—hot kisses into a damp neck, gentle stroking over a heated brow—Angel had to admit the fact that, of course, he still loved Spike as much as he ever had. So, it was this Spike he loved, and the other one he did not love existed somewhere… out there… away from this, which was real now, and thus he reasoned away his last shred of sanity where Spike was concerned and the last chance he had of turning away from the path he was now upon.

He rolled them so he lay on Spike’s smaller form and stared intently into the blue eyes, not seeking truths he did not want to know, but reassuring himself that he was right to love this one so intently. He saw nothing to say he should not love him, but knew in his heart that finding it would not have altered his desire anyway. He was hopelessly lost, and the one he had always relied upon to bring him home was now the one leading him astray. Until he admitted that love now existed without trust, Angel did not realise just how much he had trusted Spike. For all his ludicrous plans and devious plots, for all the wild exaggerated nature, for all the lies and play-acting and carefully perfected roles, Spike had always had an essential, innate core of honesty. Knowledge of this had, after all, kept Angel dangling upon the promise of renewed love for more than ten decades.

‘I love you, Angel.’

Angel almost choked on the mirthless laughter that threatened to seep out at the timing of this solemn remark.

After ten decades, he had exactly what he wanted.

* * * * * *

From that evening on it became easier and easier for Angel to split Spike into two separate men: one he lived with and loved to distraction, and one he didn’t know or trust. That latter one he studied as obsessively as any watcher ever studied an immortal. To all intents and purposes life went on as normal: he left for work; Spike stayed in bed and was there when he returned. Under the surface, however, things were anything but normal. As soon as he was out of sight, Angel would double back to the vaulted warehouse and wait in the shadows until Spike made his inevitable daily feeding run, which he did without fail. True, Angel never actually saw him feed after that first time, but that was more through inability to follow him as closely as he wanted rather, he was sure, than any restraint on Spike’s part. Sometimes, in dark moments of the night, Angel asked himself what he would do if he had incontrovertible evidence that Spike was killing. He played scenarios in his mind, and every one, regardless how much angst and shouting went on to start with, ended with them in bed, finding forgiveness their own way. He sometimes wondered if his inability to catch Spike at it was his body’s defence against learning a truth that would put him in an impossible position. This way, he had his suspicions, but he couldn’t act on them alone. He couldn’t stake Spike, as reason told him he should, on suspicion alone.

When they were together, when he was with the Spike he had created for his sanity, normality was hardly the word to describe their relationship either. Angel loved this Spike, but that didn’t stop him working through the bitterness and mistrust that hung around his passion like a crucifix, burning him. Guilt at his own inability to do what was right made him vicious. Sex was rough, loveless even. Conversation was desultory. And making it worse was the knowledge that none of this was outwardly Spike’s fault. If anything, Spike was more loving, more considerate, more attentive then he had ever been in the hundred or so odd years Angel had known him. He was almost… empathic, as if he understood some or all of Angel’s pain. As this was not possible, the alternative gnawed at Angel’s gut: the consummate trickster was worming his way inexorably into his affections.

On the fourth day of this exquisitely painful impasse, Spike declared his intention to come into the office.

That changed things.

Suddenly, the two people Angel kept as distinct entities in his mind merged and there was just one Spike—the one sitting next to him in the car, smoking and fiddling with radio stations.

Angel’s feelings were as unstable as the frequencies flicked over with such distain. Love, hate, love, hate, Spike, not Spike, Spike, not Spike. It didn’t help that Spike was doing the empathy thing again, watching him with knowing, thoughtful eyes. This, metaphorically, was the straw that broke Angel’s very fragile back. It really pissed him off that he was studied with calm detachment, as though he was the one at fault, as though he was the one that needed… help….


Angel jerked back to reality as Spike grabbed the dash. He swallowed and wished they had run into the back of the bus, which was now blaring a horn at them. ‘Fuck!’

‘Slow down maybe?’

He whirled on Spike, but that only caused another near accident so he pulled sharply into the curb, gripping the wheel as if he needed that additional stability. ‘This is not a good idea.’

‘Damn right—I’ll drive.’

He hissed then clarified between gritted teeth. ‘You—coming to work.’

Spike laughed lightly as if the pain of an entire world was not in the car with them. ‘Weren’t planning on doing much work, Mate.’

‘Then why?’

Spike shrugged. ‘Thought I’d… drop in on some friends—say hi.’

‘Friends?’ This bothered him on some level, but with his gut already tied in enough knots to defeat Alexander, he didn’t stop to puzzle through this latest concern. He pulled back into the flow of traffic.

Spike stubbed out his cigarette then immediately lit another. When he’d taken a long drag of the fresh nicotine, he said in a quiet, serious voice, ‘You do know that I love you, don’t you? Whatever happens.’

Impressed with his coolness, given the circumstances, Angel replied, ‘And what could that whatever be, I wonder?’

‘You don’t believe me.’

‘It’s not a question of my belief.’

‘What is it a question of, Angel? You were the one who said that I loved you, after all.’

Angel turned his head slowly and blinked. ‘Yes. I did.’ He had. He’d made up a confession of love that had never happened because he’d wanted it to be so. Well, now he’d made up a whole Spike persona, because he wanted that to be true, too. Perhaps bending reality to his will was becoming a little too addictive.

* * * * * * *

They went their separate ways when they entered the building—Angel immediately to Wesley’s office where he called down to security to have Spike’s movements monitored. As an afterthought he added that Spike was not to leave the building without his knowledge.

Wesley watched this call with a detachment that belied his curiosity. Only a raised eyebrow gave any indication that he found Angel’s behaviour odd. When the call was concluded, he asked, ‘Is the apartment to your liking?’

Angel turned and tried to bring himself back to the mundane realities of his life. He nodded.

‘What’s wrong then?’

Angel actually saw himself telling Wesley. He was desperate to tell someone, to share the burden of Spike’s betrayal, but he could not. He understood, somewhere in his confused mind, that he was the only one who would see mentally splitting Spike an acceptable solution to this dilemma. He didn’t want to have to defend bringing a possibly soulless Spike, a feeding Spike, into proximity with his friends. Not to Wesley and particularly not to himself.

Wesley seemed to accept that he would get no reply to his personal question and moved onto work matters. ‘We’ve had no joy with the car.’


‘The one that was bugged? We can’t trace the manufacturer or place of purchase. No leads I’m afraid.’

He was slow coming to the idea, but when he reached it, he embraced it. ‘How big is the bug?’


‘Yes. It’s a simple enough question, isn’t it? Would it fit on the palm of my hand or would I need a fucking sherpa to carry it?’

Wesley pursed his lips for a moment then replied evenly, ‘It’s about the size of a postage stamp—first class.’

‘Can we copy it?’

The purse deepened. ‘Why would we want to do that?’ He recoiled at the expression on Angel’s face and added very swiftly, ‘We have our own, Angel, more sophisticated and… smaller… as size seems to be the issue here.’

Angel pictured what he intended to do with the bug and replied with the first smile that had tested his face muscles for some days, ‘Yeah. Small is of the good.’

* * * * * * *

It felt like a burning coal in his pants’ pocket as he strode down to the canteen to find Spike. He fingered it, turning it over and over, until he caught a woman eyeing him disgustedly and snatched his hand out. Still it burnt, and he tried to ignore his tiny, better voice, which told him this was the heat of guilt.

Spike was not there, and no one could recall seeing him.

More swiftly, Angel headed back up to his office to call security, but found Spike, sitting at his desk… rummaging. He looked up when Angel came in and didn’t seem all that happy to see him. He looked back down at a drawer then closed it softly.

‘What are you doing?’

Spike shrugged. ‘Wasn’t allowed to go out. Funny old thing that.’

‘Yeah. Life’s full of surprises. I’m leaving; let’s go.’

‘Another busy day in the house of evil?’

Angel came up close—too close for Spike who leant back sharply, the leather in the chair creaking slightly. ‘Don’t you fucking dare talk to me about evil.’ Remembering who he was, Angel straightened. ‘We’re leaving.’

‘We? Are we suddenly joined at the hip?’

Angel didn’t bother to reply to the clearly rhetorical question and stood back, waiting for Spike to go ahead of him. With a last glance around the office, Spike slid back the chair, shrugged out his shoulders, plunged his hands into his pockets and slouched out into the hallway. None of these familiar gestures did much to relieve Angel’s mood—they were very familiar and very much loved.

Loving Spike was wearing him out.

* * * * * * *

His intent growled around in his mind all evening like a hungry beast. Just the thought of it made him so horny he could feel Spike under his fingers even when they sat separately, watching the TV, pretending that things were okay between them.

Spike seemed preoccupied and once or twice glanced at his watch as if had important business elsewhere. Angel didn’t want to ask and be lied to again, so the not knowing what this sudden impatience was stoked anger under the lust, until he acknowledged he was in a very dangerous mood.

Finally able to contain himself no longer, he rose deceptively lazily and poured them both a drink. When he’d handed one to Spike, he remained standing behind the chair and slowly ran his fingers up through the short hairs on the back of Spike’s head. Spike tensed; Angel caught him under the chin and tilted his head back, kissing him awkwardly from above. Spike twisted around in the chair, kneeling and kissing him back with a passion that surprised Angel, given the unease that had simmered between them since Spike’s betrayal. Even then, even in the depths of this intensely loving kiss, Angel could not help but try to taste human blood on Spike’s breath. He could not. It smelt of nicotine and whisky. Angel suddenly got the impatience and the obsession with the time: Spike still needed to feed and was waiting only for him to tumble into sleep to sate a lust Angel could not or would not slake for him.

He would have some wait that night.

Angel heaved Spike out of the chair, knocking it over in the process. They fell in an ungainly tangle on the couch, still kissing. By now, hands had come into play. Spike, his hands tracking urgently down Angel’s torso, pulled sharply away and hissed when he found the hardness in Angel’s pants. With a disbelieving curse he fumbled with Angel’s zipper and then thrust his hand into the solid warmth beneath—solidity that had clearly been there for some time. The erection was too established to release through the narrow opening. He tore the button on Angel’s waistband and carelessly pulled him out over the metal teeth of the zipper. Angel arched in as much pleasure as discomfort and then roughly shoved Spike’s head down, unequivocal in his demands.

Spike didn’t demure, and it was with an almost supplicant eagerness that he fell upon the thick redness of swollen flesh. If Angel had been thinking straight, he’d have thought Spike was seeking forgiveness or approval in the way he slobbered his tongue up the corded veins and then sucked the bulbous head slowly in between his tight lips. As it was, the sense of his cockhead sliding between Spike’s lips made him think of another aperture he intended to slide into, and that thought led him to think about his plan.

Even now, the tiny device he’d sequestered from the firm lay in his pocket between them. With some effort he levered off the couch, lifting Spike with him. Grabbing Spike and his falling pants, he strode to the bedroom and pushed Spike onto his back on the bed. Through all this, Spike retained his almost apologetic acquiescence. The sex had been very rough between them for days, but Spike had always given as good as he got. Not now though. Now he allowed himself to be stripped with no finesse, only lifting his hips as his slim jeans were ripped from his body. He did not take his eyes off the heavy column that lifted and bobbed between them as Angel worked. Even when his own cock sprang free of its confinement, he only blinked slowly then returned to watching Angel’s manhood with erotically hooded eyes.

Angel knelt on the bed below Spike and pushed the pale legs up, spreading them. This did receive a slight protest, such a blatant position usually reserved for much later in the sex, when they were both in the throes and heedless of dignity. Angel ignored the small grunt of objection and wormed backwards so he could lie on his belly and plunge his face into Spike’s spread ass. He slathered his tongue around, wetting the smooth skin, biting into it hard enough to leave red welts, then without any other warning, he wriggled a finger in through the tight hole that lay dark and enticing on the pale spread. Spike winced and swore. Angel withdrew but immediately plunged his tongue in through the slight ease. He slobbered and mouthed for a few moments then thrust his finger back in, this time reaching high and screwing it around, making Spike thrash and claw at the sheets.

It was almost time.

The device was already out of Angel’s pocket, in his other hand, warming. He pushed his mouth back against the hole and managed to insert his tongue to the slick walls, licking them with as much relish as he had once licked outside folds. Spike was arched and taut, his neck stretched, his eyes closed with pleasure. It was then such a simple thing to transfer the bug, and on the next insertion of his strong, probing fingers, push it high into Spike’s rectum.

Spike hissed cursed something about Angel’s nails.

Guilt washed over him but quickly got kicked into touch by anger. He wouldn’t have to do this if Spike wasn’t betraying him. Despite righteous anger, Angel bathed the rim of the hole with cool saliva and kissed it with as much need as he had earlier kissed Spike’s mouth. Need then rose between them, once more. Spike’s cock, which he’d been pulling in a desultory way as Angel licked, now jerked, and a well of glistening fluid seeped out of the tip. Angel’s was heavy and hot, throbbing almost painfully with the need to be sheathed. He rose to his knees, heaved Spike higher and entered him with as little concern for foreplay as he’d shown with his finger. Spike was more than ready though. He lifted his legs higher and splayed them with a wanton need that made Angel grunt with surprise and thrust hard down, pressing him into the mattress and grinding their hard, wiry bushes together until all they could hear was rasping. Angel paused for a moment, desperate to catch Spike’s eye, desperate to see the loving emotion they’d shared that first night in the new apartment. But he dared not. Although he knew it was only fanciful imagining, he thought he could even now feel the hard metal tracking device tickling the tip of his cock. He even ground a slow circle, sure he could feel it graze and scratch (very pleasantly) as he moved. Spike didn’t help by suddenly snaking out a hand and catching the back of Angel’s neck, pulling him down for a long, deep kiss. Kissing Spike when he was deep inside his body was a particular delight of Angel’s, and he almost blurted out the entire cause of his misery as Spike’s tongue explored his soft walls and ran teasingly over his teeth.

Fortunately, kissing thus made Angel ache even more for relief, and that made him move. He pulled back, the whole nine inches of his length until the lips of Spike’s anus just held him then pushed firmly back in, knowing from the intensity of the kiss that Spike was enjoying the sensation as much as he. He did it again, welcoming the familiar build-up of pressure to orgasm. Nerves shut down all over his body as the ones around his genitals flared to exquisite sensitivity. He was just cock and balls, and the muscles of thigh and hips needed to thrust and pull and thrust and pull into the long, hot tunnel that was Spike’s body.

The tunnel began to quiver, and Angel knew Spike was close. He pulled his mouth away and looked down to watch Spike’s orgasm, his mouth watering when he saw the amount of clear fluid flowing out before the thicker release. He thrusts sped up. He pressed on Spike’s thighs and pistoned in and out of him. Spike cried out, arched tighter, squeezed his arse tight and then ejaculated a stream of sperm onto his taut chest and belly. The tight squeezing and smell of come finished Angel off, and with a grateful grunt he released deep into Spike with a jet of sperm as long as piss and with an equal sense of relief.

He sat back on his heels to enjoy the aftershocks of his orgasm, thrusting very gently into the wetness that was now Spike. He watched his cock, red and wide, coated and shining and occasionally still jerking with small releases. He wanted to lift Spike up to watch, too, but the emotional distance between them had never seemed greater.

With a sigh, Angel slowly extracted his softening penis. And, with a frown of dismay, watched the tracking device wash out after him on a stream of spent come.

With a choked-off, almost hysterical giggle, he covered it with his knee.

Spike lifted his head, his eyes heavy and sated with pleasure. ‘What’s so funny?’

Angel bit his lip. He was losing it; the emotional vice he’d squeezed upon his feeling splitting apart. Spike narrowed his eyes and seemed about to speak once more when Angel went for his throat.

It shocked them both. It was the ultimate intimacy between them, something they’d not done despite all the other intimacies they had enjoyed recently. Angel reasoned that given his memory loss, Spike was not to know this, and he bit deep, closing his jaws so the flesh tore as he mouthed into the sticky wetness beneath.

Spike’s fingers came up into Angel’s hair, running erotically through the silky strands, and what had been done as a means to an entirely different end became like sex between them once more. Angel shifted more comfortably on Spike, feeling sperm sticky between their chests. Blood began to coat the walls of his mouth and run down his throat. Spike suddenly lifted his legs and entwined them over Angel’s back, and with almost no fumbling, Angel entered him once more. Emotional involvement, long denied, now sparked between them, carried on the abundance of warm fluids that soaked every part of their joining. Spike buried his face into Angel’s hair and whispered something that sounded like love. For the first time in many days, Angel believed him, and with Spike’s blood on his tongue, he said it back, croaky and out of practise, but heartfelt nonetheless.

He knew he could not drink much longer and still allow Spike an orgasm—stiffening blood being essential to the enterprise, even for their magical bodies.

He didn’t want to do what he had to do now. The tracking device was hot in his palm, but not in the same way Spike’s hot body caressed and welcomed him.

If he did not do it however, he would never know—how much truth there really was to Spike’s soft whispers, breathed in the passion between them and holding his heart in such a tight and endless grip.

With slippery fingers, he pressed the metal deep into the wound in the blood-coated neck and then withdrew, holding the flap of skin in place to heal over as he continued to fuck Spike. For that’s all it could be now—fucking. Those all too brief exchanges of love had belonged to another time when he’d not been betraying Spike. He was the betrayer once more. He held Spike to him, sliding his arm around the smooth back and lifting him to his chest, and with every eager thrust that brought them both so much pleasure he drove a wedge between their hearts.

Chapter 14

When Angel left for the office the following morning, he actually went there. He went to security and collected the other half of the device: the small screen showing a street map of LA. Spike was already on the move, if the dot tracking inexorably across the lines was believable. Angel believed it. He’d woken that morning to find a sleepy Spike draped over him—sleepy and healed entirely. He’d stroked over the collarbone, picturing what lay beneath, imagining a faint pulse replacing that which Spike had lost.

Watching the dot of light now, Angel felt a strange calmness come over him. What would be would be. It was out of his hands; this tiny piece of technology had taken over, and he was as helpless in its grip as Spike.

The hunt was now very leisurely and done almost completely in a comfortable car in the sunlight. Only when the pulse of light stopped at an office block did Angel park and run into the sheltering lobby. There appeared to be a variety of businesses in the building, but the tracer wasn’t accurate enough to pinpoint which Spike was visiting, nor, of course, why.

An alarm bell suddenly ringing gave more of a clue. The receptionist took what appeared to be a panicked phone call, and a security guard, responding to some message on his radio, ran for the elevator. Going against the flow of people running because of the alarm, Angel followed the man into the elevator. When they began to move, he said conversationally, ‘I hope there isn’t a fire. Wouldn’t want to get trapped in here.’

The guard glanced at him distractedly. ‘Nah—intruder.’

The man drew his gun as they approached the twentieth floor. Angel frowned but didn’t intervene. He allowed the human to step out and run cautiously down the hallway. He followed more leisurely. He saw people cowering behind desks and one or two running for the elevator he had just exited. There was a shout, a shot, and then he ran.

He crashed into an office.

The security guard was retching, a pool of vomit already at his feet.

The smell of sick would have overpowered Angel’s acute senses if the smell of blood had not been stronger.

He put his hand on the man’s arm and removed the weapon from his hand. ‘Did you see what did this?’

The man looked up, his eyes haunted. ‘A man. I shot him, but he…’ He glanced up, and Angel followed his gaze to a ceiling panel, punched out, revealing darkness beyond. The man began to shake. ‘What…?’ Angel wasn’t sure what he wanted to ask. What was it that could do such evil seemed a likely guess. Of course, he’d seen people slaughtered like this before (he’d done it himself many times), but with his hand on the shaking man’s arm, Angel couldn’t help but see the carnage from the guard’s point of view. It was shocking. Blood cascading down freshly torn throats would always be shocking, but it also seemed utterly incongruous in this place of business, cascading as it was down freshly laundered, designer suits.

He heard a commotion in the hallway and, unwilling to become involved any more than he was, he went into an adjoining room and exited through a side door onto another hallway. He jogged down the stairs, fingering the tracking device in his pocket but not aware he was doing it. His mind was racing with very different thoughts. He’d witnessed a level of violence in that office that puzzled him. Profitless violence—for a vampire. Spike had not fed from those men; he’d just slaughtered them—swiftly and surgically. That was not feeding; that was… revenge. For the first time, it occurred to Angel that something very different was going on to what he had at first assumed. Instantly, his mind shot back to the scene he’d witnessed in the tunnels. That had been very different—nothing surgical or swift. But had he actually seen what he’d thought he’d seen? Hadn’t he followed Spike with the express intention of catching him out doing something just like that? It was as if he’d conjured the exact scene he’d wanted to witness to prove that Spike could not be trusted. Angel hung his head and forced the next thought past some considerable resistance. Had he gone there and seen what he’d seen precisely because he didn’t trust Spike, and he’d wanted to be validated in that lack of belief? Thinking about it now, Angel recalled the tenderness with which Spike held the girl cradled in his arms, more lover than killer. He saw once more the gentle way he had licked around her face, more cleaning than eating. He focused on the lifted face and saw not triumph and the taste of blood but grief and a trail of tears.

Angel put a hand over his face and pressed thumbs against his eyes hard enough to cause pinpricks of light in the darkness.

He had the terrible thought that even if Spike were proved innocent, his distrust had destroyed them now anyway.

* * * * * * *

Sometimes Wesley’s perfected calmness pissed Angel off. He preferred the raving-and-the-drinking-and-the-fucking-with-Lilah-Morgan Wesley. At least then he’d been able to feel superior to him. This Wesley made him feel like a naughty child caught doing something vaguely disgusting. ‘I’m glad you told me—at last.’

Angel wasn’t, but he concealed this and nodded, trying to appear mature. ‘But I have no idea what he’s doing or why.’

Wesley pressed his buzzer and said into it, ‘Do you think you could bring us a couple of cups of tea? Thank you.’

Angel frowned. ‘No one brings me drinks.’

‘One of the perks of being nice to people, I suppose.’

‘I’m nice.’

‘You’ve been very nice to Spike—to the extent you thought he was killing again yet did nothing about it. You left him to go out on his own recognisance and even allowed him to come here.’

Angel pulled a thread out of Wesley’s armchair, thinking of intestines. ‘I think I did the right thing.’

‘With the advantage of hindsight, maybe.’

Tired of Wesley’s lecturing when he’d wanted only sympathy and approval, Angel snapped waspishly, ‘This is not the first time someone has betrayed me. I misinterpreted their motives, too.’ He looked up directly into Wesley’s dark blue eyes. They held their constancy, and Angel looked down again. Wesley was not his enemy, and he did not have enough friends to risk losing the ones he did. ‘I’m sorry. I was wrong.’ He ran his fingers distractedly through his hair. ‘But you don’t know Spike. You don’t know how… distracting he can be.’

There was a pause when Angel wished he could take this last back, given the unfortunate associations with activities of the horizontal nature. Wesley surprised him though by chuckling softly, ‘I know another vampire with a soul, however, and he is remarkably distracting most of the time.’

Angel felt a stab of pleased excitement in his belly and smiled shyly. He glanced up. Wesley added, ‘Now, shall we stop tiptoeing around like schoolgirls at their first dance and decide what we’re going to do about this situation?’

* * * * * * *

‘That’s interesting.’

Angel came over from the window to look at what Wesley had discovered.

‘You still have the case notes I gave you on the gun-running case and photos we took of a man we killed in the warehouse raid. We do have a filing system, Angel, if you would care for me to explain it to you one day.’ He leant back and glanced around Angel’s office. ‘You say he seemed deliberately looking for something rather than just being his usual nosey self?’

‘I don’t know. I was….’


Angel ground his teeth and folded his arms.

‘So, how does this help us?’ Angel could tell this was a rhetorical question and let Wesley do the thing he did best: think. ‘Remind me again: what did you think he was doing when you tailed him to the cemetery?’

Angel came over and perched on the edge of his desk. ‘I told you: I thought he was trying to find how or where he’d lost his memory.’

‘Hmm. I wonder.’ He looked up. ‘Maybe these are one and the same thing—the case and Spike’s memory loss.’

Connections clicked immediately in both their minds, but Angel still found it hard to believe. ‘They took Spike to stop us investigating them?’


‘It seems more… personal… somehow—what they did to him.’

Wesley frowned. ‘Perhaps it was personal as well.’ He stroked the edge of the desk for a moment ordering his thoughts. ‘The story you told me about the shooter seemed odd at the time, but I couldn’t put my finger on what puzzled me.’ He looked up. ‘You said he had you both in his sights and then—.’


‘Exactly. What if he—it—recognised you.’

Angel pursed his lips. ‘That usually makes people want to kill me more.’

Wesley chuckled. ‘Well, there is that. But revenge, as they say, is best served cold. What if he did recognise you but wanted to settle some score with you later….’

‘In a more personal way.’

‘Yes. I know it’s a bit of a reach, but it fits the facts.’

‘We disrupt some profitable gunrunning business, and Spike was the payback. But why would anyone think that hurting Spike would hurt me?’

‘That I can’t answer. This odd—goodness, what word can I use without risking more of that delightful teeth grinding?—relationship you have only started after he’d lost his memory, yes?’

Angel fidgeted. ‘It was… we were… in a way. A few days before.’

‘Oh. Well, it comes to the same thing: no one could have suspected he meant anything particular to you.’

‘I’d be pissed, Wes, if someone did that to any of you.’ I’m the only one allowed to strip your memories.

‘That’s nice to know.’ Wesley pushed the chair back and stood. ‘We’ve found a connection between Spike and this bloody case, but I’m not sure we’re any further forward in deciding what to do about it. Have you considered just… talking to him?’

‘Of course.’ He hadn’t and didn’t much like the suggestion now.

‘Good. Just ask him what’s happening.’

What if I don’t like the answer?

‘You’ve got very little to lose, after all.’

Only Spike.

* * * * * * *

Talking did not prove easy. Angel had never expected it to, so wasn’t surprised when he found himself lying beside a sleeping Spike still not having spoken a word about what was on his mind. Now he had told Wesley, however, an imperative to do something was there that wasn’t there before. He had a sneaking suspicion it was one of the reasons he had told his friend. How much longer could he go on watching these terrible events unfolding without doing something?

Afterwards, he told himself that he had been about to wake Spike and talk to him. He had… a tiny movement towards the sharp shoulder blade….

It was immaterial. The telephone rang in the other room, and Angel climbed out of bed away from Spike’s still sleeping form, and whatever he had been about to do, was not done.

He picked up the phone, running his fingers through bed-rumpled hair. ‘Angel.’

‘Ah, good. I think we can cautiously say that we have something of a breakthrough.’

* * * * * * *

Wesley talked; Angel paced. They were the only ones in the building except for night security, and the sense of being alone together late into the night was a comforting familiarity for both of them.

‘Spike led us to the solution, really. One of the three men he killed in that office has, or rather had, direct links to the feed shipment firm we’ve been investigating. The other two were importers—just what they were importing was never very clear. Frequent trips from Zagreb—.’


‘They were Croatians, hence the armament connection.’

Angel stopped pacing for a moment, but the thought, whatever it had been, was lost. ‘Go on.’

‘So, we have one dead accountant from a non-descript, low-profile animal feed importer and two dead gun-runners, one of whom served as Ante Gotovina’s ADC in the Nineties. And what’s the connection between them?’

Angel was slightly lost, so he just made a non-descript noise.

‘This.’ He held out a piece of paper, and Angel swung around to see it more clearly.

‘A chicken.’

Wesley tutted and took it back. ‘It’s supposed to be an eagle. I copied it from—.’

‘A tattoo! It was on the back of the man we killed in the warehouse.’

‘And on the three bodies we found after Spike’s latest jaunt. It’s the link, Angel. What?’

‘I don’t know. I’ve seen it somewhere before, but I don’t remember where.’

‘Pity. Anyway, once I had this linking them all, I had something to work on. From then on, it was relatively simple. Does the name Black Eagle mean anything to you?’

Angel shook his head but said conversationally, ‘Except for the law firm, of course.’ He looked up sharply. ‘You’re kidding.’

Wesley lifted an eyebrow. ‘What’s good enough for Wolf, Ram and Hart….’

‘Black Eagle is the connection? That’s impossible.’


Angel couldn’t think of a single reason, except for some innate belief that a city could only support one evil law firm. ‘What do we know about them?’

‘Well, I’ve poked about a bit, and they appear to be perfectly legitimate, but then Wolfram and Hart does—to those not in the know.’

‘I want to speak with their CEO. Set up an appointment.’

‘That’s not going to be easy. He’s a bit of an enigma. I couldn’t even find a name let alone a bio. Shadowy and elusive rather comes to mind.’

Angel gave a short laugh. ‘I invented shadowy and elusive.’

Chapter 15

Although he had not known it, this is what he needed. He’d been out of the fight too long, too wound up with Spike to see what he’d been missing. He felt as if he’d been in a story where the real plot had been happening around him, but, too obsessed with his own little romance, he’d missed it.

He slid back into the darkness and timed the car as it passed. It was exactly the same time as it had been the previous evening. Whoever the invisible CEO of the Black Eagle law firm was, he was predicable. Fortunately for Angel, the man was a workaholic, leaving only after dark. Angel was in his element.

Time, however, was not on his side. Ideally, he would extend this surveillance until he was sure, until his plan was foolproof, but he did not have the time. Spike had not left the apartment yesterday, but it was only a matter of time before he would once more be a vengeful pinprick of light, moving further and further away toward a place Angel could not follow. As soon as the car left the underground carpark and pulled into the side street, Angel sprung to a ladder and tore up to the rooftops. He shadowed the car, as he leapt from roof to roof. He had spotted one moment when he could make his move, and if the same thing happened again this night, then he would be ready.

The car turned off the main street towards a flyover, slowing as if its occupant were assessing the human trade that congregated in the shelter of the overhead road. Angel waited, hovering like the great black bird he was hunting. The car stopped; the door opened to beckon a young boy closer, and Angel descended, his coat opening like wings, his face already in its fearsome form. He pushed the boy to one side and slid into the back seat, slamming the door behind him. He turned his demonic face to the occupant and snarled. ‘Don’t—.’

‘Hello, Angelus. I wondered when you’d show up. Nice move, by the way.’

Angel rippled back into human form without noticing. His eyes travelled over the man sitting next to him. The uniform had been replaced by an expensive suit, but other than that, he had not changed at all—as was only to be expected, for, like Angel, he was unchanging. He laughed. ‘Forgotten your manners, Angelus?’

Angel hissed. ‘I don’t kowtow to royalty, you fucker. I didn’t then, and I sure as hell don’t now.’

The Arch Duke looked disappointed. ‘I meant a simple hello, but seeing as you mention it….’ He laughed again, his eyes twinkling. ‘I jest. Please, call me Frederick.’ He leant forward and tapped the glass dividing him from the driver, and the car began to move.

Angel glanced around the rear of the car, assessing danger, then folded his coat tails more elegantly and gave the outward appearance of relaxing. ‘You were expecting me?’

‘I was expecting you weeks ago. Fortunately you became… how shall we say? Distracted.’

Angel held himself in check by sheer force of will and said deceptively calmly, ‘Spike.’

‘That is a truly horrible name. I prefer William.’

Hearing Spike’s name in this demon’s mouth made a true calm descend upon Angel. It was a killing calm that portended death. ‘You took him.’


‘To distract me.’

Frederick crossed his legs elegantly. ‘Don’t flatter yourself, Angelus. You aren’t that much of a threat to me. Your evident distraction was entirely serendipitous.’

‘Then why?’

He fiddled with his cuff for a moment, his lips pursed. ‘When you broke our contract—.’

‘There was no goddamned contract!’

‘There was a gentleman’s agreement, non?’

‘Non. I mean… I wasn’t going to let you have him. I changed my mind. Don’t tell me you held a fucking grudge all these years.’

‘My God, your arrogance! I didn’t give you thought… after the first twenty years or so.’

‘Then why?’

The demon turned cold eyes to Angel. ‘Because I followed you one day. I intended to have a gentlemanly chat about your interference in my business—after I’d put a few bullets in that dense Irish brain of yours. And then… there he was. Still by your side over a hundred years later.’ His face clouded over. ‘I’ve had thousands of… lovers… since that night in England. Thousands of anonymous bodies. Some I fucked and left; some I ate, but you—.’ His face contorted then smoothed. ‘You, with your bog-Irish manners and your self-aggrandisement, your pathetic attempts to understand the gifts you’ve been given—you’ve had over a hundred years with him.’

Angel watched the striking face, a sense of incredulity creeping over him. Spike had been taken and tortured for a mistake? For simple, dumb jealousy?

He shook himself slightly. ‘Why take his memory?’

The Duke waved his hand imperiously. ‘It’s mere semantics, but actually he lost his memory. He couldn’t resist in the end, so he just… went away. It was rather poignant.’

‘You fucker. Resist what? What did you want from him?’ He paled. ‘Don’t tell me—.’

‘Calm yourself, vampire. I did not need to torture him to take my pleasure with him. Jesus, this is the twenty first century; this is the age of drugs—and I was owed.’ He caught Angel’s fist in his as if it were a tiny bird fluttering toward him. ‘Don’t. I was alive before your ancestors crawled out of their bogs, Angelus. I will be here when your dust has returned to the stars.’

Angel took back his fist. His time would come. Vaunting boasts didn’t impress him much. ‘Why the torture? What was he trying to resist?’

The Duke rearranged a cuff that had ridden up during the slight altercation. ‘Betraying you. I should have known that a hundred years of being your—what is the word in English? Whore hardly seems appropriate—whatever…. It would make him… unyielding.’

Angel heard a long-dead pulse pound in his ears and sickness rise in his throat. Spike had been tortured to betray him? And had… resisted. Nails ripped out. Starved. Bones smashed. Teeth removed. So much pain that he had… gone away in his mind.

The duke had been watching the changing expressions with amusement. ‘Such love in a demon—soul or not. It was sickening. Now, however, it appears his memory is returning.’

Angel started. ‘What?’

‘Oh, come on! Just how dense are you, Angelus? What do you think he’s been doing these last few days? Waging a war on my operation, that’s what! Step by step, he’s working back to the time when he lost—.’ He suddenly darted out a hand and turned Angel’s face to him before Angel could wrench away. ‘Well, this changes things.’ He chuckled. ‘You are still more demon than I had been led to believe. This is not good news to you. You don’t want his memory back. Well, well. This changes everything.’

Surly, Angel hissed, ‘What I want is irrelevant.’

‘Not at all. I know how he lost his memory, and I know how to restore it… or not. Perhaps I will give it back to him. He’ll remember our time together, the fun we had deep in those dark tunnels, all those little presents I tried to tempt him with, and then, eventually, he’ll remember… you. Are you that bad a memory, Angelus? What is it you don’t want him to remember? This is delightful; I haven’t felt so stirred by anything since I finally slid into that tight little backside—. Careful.’ He tapped the glass. ‘Our guest is leaving.’ He let go Angel’s wrist, and the door sprang open as they pulled into the curb. ‘We’ll be in touch.’

‘What do you want?’

‘What do I want? Delicious choices…. To keep him ignorant? To have him know everything? What a difficult question. Two powerful CEOs negotiating contracts, dividing up a city, sharing black secrets. What do you think I want, Angelus?’ With that, he gave Angel a massive blow to the jaw, which toppled him out of the car into the gutter. Smoothly, the limousine drew away, and the door shut silently.

* * * * * * *

No method of travel was fast enough—cab, running, leaping across the rooftops. In the end he was forced to settle for an unsatisfactory combination of them all: anything to get him back to the apartment and to Spike. Spike, who was working inexorably back through his memory until he came to the point where it was lost. To the point where it would not be. Lost. Then he would know the great lie that had been perpetrated upon him. It gave definition to betrayal. Angel almost enjoyed the irony: it was a betrayal much more devastating than the one inflicted upon William in the shadow of an English castle decades ago.

But was he planning to actually stop Spike’s retrieval of memory? Was he willing to go that far to protect the relationship they now had? Would they have a relationship of any kind if Spike were prevented in this quest, if he was left striving to fill some unfilled part of his psyche, this shadow in his mind that needed fleshing? His unsatisfactory flight back to the apartment left Angel plenty of time for brooding upon these questions, but as with most of his dark introspection, he was given no answers.

His sense of disappointment at returning a second time to find Spike absent, when his whole being yearned for his presence, was almost too much. All he found was a tiny flashing light on the device he’d left concealed in the back of his closet. He almost threw the device against the wall in frustration, actually saw his arm draw back and felt his fingers release before the absurdity of doing so hit him. With difficulty, he mastered the extremities of his emotions and studied the reading. Spike was moving very slowly in an erratic manner somewhere near the docks. Hunting sprang to Angel’s mind, but he dismissed it as he paused long enough to change his clothes and set off on a hunt of his own.

* * * * * * *

He hunkered down behind a dumpster, close now. Spike was a few hundred feet away, still moving slowly along one side of a large warehouse.

Angel checked the reading one more time then took to the roof. He covered the distance between them until it appeared from the screen that they had merged. He smiled bitterly at the irony and slid, belly down to the edge. Nothing stirred except the detritus found in all alleyways and one solitary, mangy dog attempting to find a meal. Angel narrowed his eyes and scanned the shadows more carefully. He wasn’t perturbed at not seeing Spike immediately. His childe was good at concealment, and he was a demon with a mission. The light began to move once more. That did surprise Angel—nothing gave away a position more readily than movement, but still he could not see Spike. He watched the dog slink along the alleyway, heading towards the water’s edge, then lightly dropped off the roof, landing so gracefully the creature did not even turn. Glancing down at the device, he began to follow the pinprick of light.

It was only after a few hundred feet that Angel got he was not only following the light—he was following the dog as well. So tense was he, so unconsciously overwrought that he remembered thinking for a split second that Spike must have found the ability to transform into an animal before a more prosaic explanation occurred to him. Blushing and glad no one was listening to his thoughts, he jogged towards the dog. It turned on him and began to snarl. He snarled back, only louder, and got the total submission he was going for.

For all the tenseness, for all the anguish of the proceeding days (decades), Angel couldn’t help a snort of laughter at the extravagant, gaudy pink collar Spike had selected to fasten his tracking device to the dog. It gave the cowering cur a jaunty air, so incongruous with its flea-bitten, discarded appearance, that Angel didn’t have the heart to remove it.

At that moment, the dog looked up.

Angel started back fractionally.

It could have been the gloom in the alley. It could have been a tiny bit of reflected light from a lamp over the doorway to the warehouse, but at that moment, the dog’s expression had clearly said that Angel might as well be wearing one too. And he might—a pink one with a little bell, announcing to the world beware pussycat.

A great hunter, reduced to this.

Something began to stir deep in Angel’s belly: Angelus turning, sloshing in his foul pit, ever waiting. He had not felt this since….

…. he had taken that one opportunity to be a man and have what men can have.

It seemed to Angel then that he was facing a great watershed in his life, a dividing of ways, and which path he chose would affect lifetimes beyond this. He looked up to the night, recalling the moment so many decades ago when he had sought its counsel. Then, in a quiet country retreat in Cumbria, the answer had come to him, startling in its power: above all else, he had the shape and form of a man, and he could fill the hollow places of that form with the emotions of a man as well. He had seized love and lived it like a man. He could do that now. He could be a good man and remove himself from this unworthy hunt, this reliance on the technology of evil, free himself from suspicion and jealousy and guilt. He could rise above the sum of his parts and forgive Spike, tell him the truth, help him seek his memory and then face all that would come from the discovery of that betrayal.

But being a man and embracing love had not worked too well for him in the past. A few glorious weeks when he and William roamed the earth as lovers had come to a bitter conclusion. Better perhaps he took the other path. Angelus rolled over once more, grinning. Angel could feel his irresistible pull, like the tide upon his conscience. How easy it would be to give in to the demon inside. He would then take a very different path. No forgiveness, no explanation, no restoration of Spike’s anything. Spike would stay as he wanted him to be. As he had created him to be. Obedience, contrition, submission. The very words made other things stir within Angel.

Man, demon. They pulled him with their conflicting desires. Slowly, in his mind he began to move away from the light. The shadows at the edge of the great darkness welcomed him, embracing him, whispering to him that he was home. He stood on the threshold between day and perpetual night and looked back along the path that had led him to this place. He had told Spike that he had never been tempted to give up his soul, and that was true, and the path behind him spoke this truth, running eager and hopeful, straight and true, from the moment when he had been cursed.

Angel frowned and took one step back along his path to take a better look, ignoring the spidery fingers that clutched at his coat, holding him in the shadows. He did not remember his souled years as being that smooth and straight. He’d suffered! Why did it appear so easy now in retrospect? And with the kind of clarity that can come from depression and desperation, Angel now saw that the goodness did not start from the curse; he could trace a thin, pale line of light pushing back beyond this… all the way to a house in Cumbria.

He closed his eyes, but the image remained in his mind. He did not want to see it, but it would not be denied: his goodness had begun when he had chosen love. His love for William had created fertile soil in which his soul could grow and flourish. It had brought him to this place, where he was a good man.

Angel began to laugh, thinking of the duke complacent in his power.

What power? He was better than them all.

And not because he had lived longer or was cleverer, but because he was a good man. You could change the uniform, but a suit didn’t alter the demon beneath.

The laugh deepened to genuine good humour. The duke had seen them together and believed they had been lovers for over a hundred years. And, in a way, he was right. They had. Whatever had been good between them had been carried down the decades and was still here now.

He was better than them because of Spike!

Angel tipped his head back and allowed his demon one howl of pure frustration before he wrenched away from the tenuous fingers clawing him. He had no desire for shadows at all.

‘Will it ever be better than this? Do we finally understand each other?’

Angel’s grin only got wider, and he answered William, a silent promise in his thoughts. This is just the beginning.

Chapter 16

The house was blazing with light pushing back the night, but it didn’t faze Angel. He’d overcome high walls, sensors, razor wire and dogs—a few lights were trivial inconveniences.

He didn’t need meetings to be set up. He didn’t get put off by enigmatic. He’d been constrained, emasculated by his role of CEO of a law firm for too long. Now he was taking the fight to the enemy. No more gentlemanly conversations in the back of limousines, no more gutters.

He climbed to the second floor and entered through a French window into a bedroom. It surprised him that he had not met more resistance, given this was the house of the demon that had once controlled an army. Crossing the bedroom, he heard noises for the first time. A raised voice from somewhere in the house.

He exited onto a gallery that ran around a large central lobby. If he’d not been hunting a dangerous enemy, Angel might have stopped to admire the exquisite European décor. It seemed the accent was not the only thing this self-styled duke could not shake off. Hanging over the gallery opposite where he stood was a large banner, a black eagle embossed upon it. The scene reminded Angel of rallies where as a demon he had stood in good company and listened to a madman rant. Suddenly, he could hear the approach of figures from a room below. The voice came again, and this time was answered.

Angel’s blood ran a little colder. He ran to the edge and gripped it with unnecessary force.

In the vast hall of the house, two figures emerged from another room. They were fighting. Blows had already been struck with such force that blood splattered the ground in a decorative, red arc. Angel froze for one moment, then moving with the grace and speed of a true predator, he vaulted the wall and landed beside the struggling figures.

Spike flicked his eyes toward him and shook his head as if in disbelief. ‘I didn’t want you here!’

The duke leapt out of Spike’s way, circling the much smaller figure, trailing the point of his blade over the marble floor.‘You seem to make a habit of bursting in where you are not wanted, Angelus.’

Angel ignored him and addressed Spike. ‘What the freaking hell is happening here?’

Spike, keeping his eyes on the circling duke, replied calmly, ‘He’s being killed.’

The duke laughed and made a mock bow. ‘I have a house full of loyal subjects. I have only to click my fingers—.’

‘Click away.’

Spike’s calm assurance seemed to puzzle the big man. He flicked his eyes toward the front door. Spike grinned.

The tall demon hissed. ‘Good men are expensive, William. Bad men more so. I shall not make your death easy now, as I had intended—for old time’s sake.’

Angel took a menacing step closer, but Spike snapped his head around and snarled. ‘Stay out of this.’

Angel faltered. ‘Spike….’

The duke readjusted his hold upon his sword. ‘Don’t be a spoilsport, William. Let Angelus play, too. He has his own reasons for killing me—don’t you? All those wriggling secrets to keep….’

Angel lunged forward and grappled the wrist holding the sword. He shouted, ‘Spike!’ Together they could have taken him, but to Angel’s horror, Spike flung himself at him and wrenched him off.

‘This is not your fight, Angel!’


‘Yes, tell him, Angelus. Tell him why it’s your fight, too. What are you so desperate to stop him knowing? What did you do, Angelus? What do you fear him knowing?’

Once more, Angel attacked; once more Spike pulled him off. This time he hurt Angel—badly. There was no play-acting in his eyes. Angel backed off to the wall, nursing his arm. The duke went for Spike once more, and they were a discordant clashing of arms. A spray of blood hit Angel.

The duke grinned and switched hands on his sword once more. ‘What do you hope to gain from this, William? You’ve made your point; now let it go.’

‘You need to die.’

The man narrowed his eyes and began to circle once more, a wider loop this time, further away from the furious vampire. ‘Why? Because of our little disagreements?’ He eyed Angel, clearly trying to think of a way to engage him once more in the fight; sensing there was some advantage to him in their antagonism. ‘Shall I give him his memory back, Angelus?’

Angel staggered forward. ‘Let’s deal!’

Spike paused, hung his head then said menacingly clearly, ‘If you take one more step, Angel, I’ll finish this for good—with you. I’ve had my memory back since the first night in our oh-so-lovely home. Now, this is my fight. Can you understand that? This is not your story—it never has been. Your arrogance astounds me.’

The duke leant forward, amused. ‘I said that, too.’

Spike ignored him, still staring at a spot near Angel’s feet. Then he lifted his eyes. ‘We will talk about remembering and forgetting. We’ll talk about lies, as well. All of them. But not now. You are not important here, Angel. So, back off, and let me do what I came here to do.’ He turned toward the duke. ‘You promised me some interesting conversation once. Let’s talk in a language we both understand.’

He was a blur of darkness. There was a horrific clash of steel upon steel. It seemed to Angel that it would never end, as he stood impotent and unwanted beneath the slightly askew black eagle.

Spike could not possibly win. All the odds were stacked against him. Angel wondered how long he would let it go on before he broke Spike’s injunction and aided him. He pursed his lips, mulling over how long he was going to let Spike suffer. When he did intervene, Spike needed to be on the brink of defeat, grateful (finally). Begging would be nice.

Thinking through scenarios of how he was going to rescue Spike was so much better than thinking about lies. Or betrayal. Or memories returned. From the very first night?

He had just decided that it was time to put a stop to Spike’s foolish bravado when there was teeth-jarring howl of pain. The duke fell slowly to his knees as Spike’s blade was withdrawn with a flourish. Spike had hobbled him, slicing through tendons, and he landed heavily, head bowed with pain.

Sword raised, Spike stood behind him. He said something in a quiet, gentle voice that Angel could not catch, and when the duke lifted his head with a small smile, Spike removed it.

* * * * * * *

The silence that followed hurt Angel’s ears. Such a presence passing should create more waves in the universe. The universe’s utter disregard of such matters was a salutary lesson, one that Spike seemed to be studying with some concentration. Finally, he let the sword drop to the ground, and it clattered, returning normal sound to the world. He wiped some of the blood that coated his face, absentmindedly running it up into his hair.

Angel watched all this with close interest, until Spike lifted his eyes. Then he glanced sharply away and made to be studying the door. ‘What now?’

Spike shrugged slightly. ‘I suggest we get the hell out of here.’

‘Why did you—?’

Spike had turned his back and was striding toward the door. Angel was damned if he’d run to catch him up.

* * * * * * *

All the way back in the car, Angel mulled over where the greater blame lay. He could see that, in some lights, there was fault on his side. Minor errors of judgement. But everything he had done could be excused because he had done it with good intent. It was all down to intent. Spike, on the other hand, was clearly not so blameless. What the hell had he been playing at? He was very tempted to ask.

He wasn’t all that sure he’d like the answers though.

He gave Spike an oblique look out the corner of one eye and went for something neutral. ‘You look tired.’

Spike nodded. ‘Tiring life.’

‘You okay?’ See? He could do thoughtful.

‘Just peachy.’

Angel pouted and studied the road ahead. ‘I’m sorry.’ Magnanimous was his middle name.

‘Sorry? For what?’

Damn. He didn’t want to actually have to be specific, as he didn’t really think he had anything to be sorry for. Intent, hello! ‘For lying to you.’

‘And which lie was that?’

‘Jesus, Spike, make this hard, why don’t you! Which lie to you think?’

To his surprise, Spike turned slightly in his seat and studied him for a moment then said softly, ‘I mean it. What lie? You said that I loved you and I did. No lie there.’ He turned back to watch the front and shrugged as if that settled it.

Angel glanced at him, catching his eye for a moment before he had to return his concentration to the road. ‘You aren’t pissed at me then?’

‘I didn’t say that.’ Spike sighed and pinched his eyes. ‘It’s been a long few days. I’m tired. Can we do this later?’

‘No! I think I’m owed some answers.’


‘Why what?’

‘Why are you owed anything, Angel? This has all been about me. From the very beginning you’ve strutted through this as if it were your story. It was me sold to that fucking git like a whore. It was me who dragged our sorry butts out of that mess. It was me who got shafted by your fucking dick—an’ I don’t mean the pleasurable version of that. It was me who got done over by that bloody ponce’s goons, me who lost my memory. Are you getting a pattern here, Angel? I was the one you tried to trick into loving you. I was the one who had to sort the whole damn mess out. So, if you don’t mind, I’ll be the one who says where and when I tell you what this fucking story has actually been about while you’ve been poncing around and singing the Angelus song in the key of me. What did you think was actually going on here? Did you think at all?’

Angel studied the nails on one hand. ‘But you do.’ He frowned. ‘Love me, I mean.’

Spike began to choke. Angel realised he was trying to laugh but finding it hard over utter incredulity. He pouted and said tetchily, ‘Okay, we’ll do this later.’

They continued on in silence for while, Angel surprised that Spike couldn’t actually hear the questions that were churning around in his mind. He had to watch an irritating display of cigarette lighting, wound inspecting and then slow smoking. He had just worked himself up to asking one of the more obvious questions, glanced across to gauge its reception, when he saw that Spike was asleep.

How could anger, hurt, jealousy, sexual frustration and fear survive their greatest enemy—love? A wave of it hit Angel so powerfully it made him grip the wheel tighter for support. He bit down on his questions and his suspicions and drove on through the night with his sleepy childe breathing deeply beside him.

* * * * * *

Spike’s mood of patronising obliqueness continued once they’d arrived at the apartment. Being there made Angel’s guilt surface sharply; it was the physical manifestation of his betrayal. He was feeling abashed and in love enough to be generous though, and was more than willing to admit his one or two faults over a glass of whisky on the couch with Spike. Spike, however, threw his coat in one corner, hesitated then said quickly, ‘I’ll take the other room tonight.’


Spike gave him a quick look. ‘I think we need some space for a while.’

Angel gritted his teeth. ‘This is later now, Spike. If you’ve got something to say, just say it.’

‘No. You’re not in the right mood and we’d only argue. I don’t want that.’

My mood! Jesus! You—‘

‘See? Let’s get some sleep and we’ll… talk… in the morning.’

Angel strode forward and caught Spike’s arm. ‘I lied to you. I’m sorry. But I did it for us. Don’t freaking hold that against me, Spike. Don’t do another hundred years of pissy angst at that. I love you.’

Spike nodded as if he’d just been told his library book was overdue. ‘I know.’

‘You know? You know? So—.’

‘I love you, too.’

He knew he couldn’t afford to get emotional now. He needed to win this thing, whatever this thing was. ‘Okay. Well, good. So we know where we stand. Why the other bedroom then?’

Spike eased his arm away. He nodded, now a nod of capitulation and sat down on the couch. Angel sat alongside him, turned to face him. He put a hand to the back of Spike’s neck. Spike sighed and removed it. ‘Think about it, Angel. Just look at what we’ve done to each other over the last hundred years—to others too. We burnt far too bright, and in some ways, I think it was just a sort of bloody-minded competition to see who could not admit to loving the other first.  Well, now we’ve said it. I’ll say it again: I love you. Bloody hell, I’ve always loved you, even when I wasn’t loving you very much.’ He smiled ruefully at his own memories. ‘I was created from your blood; I want you so much that when I finally had the chance to have you, I couldn’t hold on. I told you, we were a disaster waiting to happen.’

No, that was me. I fucked us both up. Darla—.’

‘Don’t blame her. What’s the point? We did it to ourselves. Shit, we were just demons, so we didn’t have much of a chance to start with.’

‘We’re more than that now.’

‘Yeah, we are. Much more, I reckon—both of us. So, what now? Are we making this thing work? No. We’re still pissing around and lying to each other.’

‘Christ. What are you saying, Spike?’

‘I’m saying that maybe we’ve got what we really wanted and that we should leave it at that.’

‘What? I don’t understand.’

Spike sighed and laid his hand on Angel’s thigh. It wasn’t very high up, though. More the sort of place you’d put it if you were comforting a child. Angel didn’t find that very amusing and was about to move it when Spike added, ‘I love you. I want to be with you. I wanna be part of this thing you’re doing.’ He caught Angel’s gaze. ‘We’ve never tried that.’

Angel licked his lips slowly, considering this. ‘I’m not sure I want to.’

‘Sex with each other hasn’t done us much good. I think we confuse it too much with love.’

Huh? Angel tried to regroup and say something sensible. ‘But—.’ It wasn’t easy.

Spike patted the thigh. ‘Think about it, Pet. Working together. No more fights and bloody angst. Together, loving each other but not….’


‘I was gonna say tearing each other apart, but essentially, yes.’

Angel leant back against the couch and closed his eyes. ‘You were right. Let’s talk about this tomorrow.’

He felt a squeeze on his thigh. ‘Tomorrow I’m gonna look for a new place.’

‘No! Why?’

‘Cus. This is your place—I don’t want you to move back to the old one.’



Angel rubbed his face. ‘I don’t want to sleep alone anymore.’

‘You haven’t slept at all having me here.’

Angel rolled his gaze across to Spike and blinked. Spike stroked his thumb over his thigh. ‘I love you.’ He smiled. ‘It’s good to say that at last and just have it true and easy and how love should be.’

Angel nodded and couldn’t believe that he was finding some essential truth in Spike’s assertions. He didn’t want to. He didn’t want to admit that maybe the physical thing had been their undoing. But, oh, the temptation… Spike, at his side… Spike, loving him… knowing that love every day. Secure in that love. Fighting this fight he made his life’s mission. Christ, but not having that hard body, like he wanted it right now, even the fingers on his thigh sending sparks of need to his balls. How could he overcome that? But he was better than that, wasn’t he? That had been their downfall.

Spike, at his side. Together. Loving each other. Eternity….

He need never be lonely again.

* * * * * *

They met at breakfast almost eager to talk. Angel had slept, as Spike had pointed out, for the first time in many, many nights. Without Spike’s presence in the bed, Angel’s body had allowed him the rest he needed. He came out of the bedroom to the smell of coffee and toast and felt that somewhere, during the night, the world had changed.

Spike looked up from his mug. ‘Mornin’.’

Angel smiled and slid into a chair opposite him.

‘How are you feeling?’

Spike grinned. ‘Worse than yesterday. Bloody bastard got some good hits in.’

‘I still can’t believe you—.’

‘He needed killing.’

‘No argument here.’ He frowned. ‘I have to know one thing, Spike. The girl in the tunnels….’ He trailed off as Spike’s face paled slightly. ‘Tell me?’

‘I didn’t know you were following me then. Guess I was distracted.’ He caught Angel’s eye. ‘He wanted me to work for him inside Wolfram and Hart.’

‘A spy?’

Spike smiled, clearly amused at this thought. ‘He tried lots of things to make me agree….’ A purse of his lips was all Angel was going to be told about the horrors inflicted on his body. ‘When that didn’t work he brought her. She was so diddy, ya know? Scared stiff, course. I think they just took her, snatched her off the street on her way home from school.’

His distress poured off him in waves, and Angel laid a hand on his arm. ‘You don’t have to tell me. I’m sorry.’

Spike shook his head. ‘They all fed from her. Little bits at a time, tempting me, too. When I refused they began to starve me. It was their game: everyday bringing her to me. She was pretty much done for by the time I… lost it. But I had to go back and find out what happened to her. They’d drained her.’

‘I thought you’d bitten her. I saw what I wanted to see. God, I’m so sorry. You kept the faith, but I….’

Spike’s colour returned—rapidly. ‘No. I didn’t. He said that you had signed on with the devil—that you were CEO for your own reasons. I didn’t believe him, course. But then you told me—.’

‘About Connor.’

‘Yeah.’ He looked down at his coffee. ‘So I didn’t tell you I’d got me memory back. And I didn’t tell you what I was doing. I didn’t trust you. Did you notice that I have trust issues with you?’

They were silent for a while, deeply engrossed in their own thoughts, playing over the previous few weeks. At last, Angel broke the silence. ‘Why did your memory come back so soon?’

Spike grinned with some private amusement. ‘It was an elf.’

Not really getting whether Spike was just mistaken, deranged or being ironic, Angel sighed. ‘I really missed you when you were gone. I thought you were dead.’

‘Oh, hell, I only die in blazes of glory that bring down civilizations—or Sunnydale, anyway.’

‘Then I thought maybe you’d gone to Buffy.’

Spike put his hand on Angel’s. ‘I was coming to you.’

‘Then stay with me now.’

‘An’ how long do you think that would last before we’d be tryin’ to kill each other again? Dunno if you’ve noticed, but this is the longest conversation we’ve ever had. One hundred and some years and we’ve had three minutes of conversation that hasn’t involved one or other of us bleeding.’

Angel pouted and raised an eyebrow. ‘I remember long talks.’

‘Yeah, but that was kinda nonsense when you were up my backside—don’t count.’

Angel gave an unexpected snort of laughter, and they leant back in their seats, regarding each other.

‘I want it all, Spike. I’m not sure what I’m going to do without you.’

‘You’ll have me! That’s the point. I’ll be there in the morning; we’ll work together; I’ll be there at night. We can see each other outside work, if you want.’

‘You know what I mean.’

‘Yeah, well.’ He looked down. ‘Gonna be harder for me, so don’t look to me for sympathy.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘Oh, Jesus, Angel. Have you taken a good look at yourself ever? My need for your body is elemental. I crave you like a drug.’

Angel paused then murmured wryly, ‘Not helping….’ He adjusted his position on the seat. ‘Are you saying we… Jeez, I can’t even say it…. If we…. Shit. Are we, what? Supposed to see other people? Eternity is a long time not to….’

‘I dunno. I haven’t made a master plan I’m following here, Pet. I guess, if we… you know… have urges, then yeah.’

Angel played with a tiny spill of coffee on the table. ‘Do you have someone in mind?’

‘I’ve got women knocking at my door, Mate. Sex-magnet here.’

Angel had the grace to smile ruefully at this, and at his own jealousy, but with a frown added, ‘But we… see… women only, yeah?’

Spike gave him a thoughtful look. ‘Would that make you less jealous?’

After a time, Angel nodded.

‘All right then, Pet. If that’s what you want. Applies to you as well though.’

To give Angel his due, he looked genuinely surprised that Spike had felt it necessary to add this codicil to their pact. ‘Well, duh.’

Spike leant back and cradled his now cold drink. ‘Uh huh. Cus, course, you’ve never even thought about it, have you?’

‘No! Freaking hell, Spike, what do you think I am?’

Spike held up a hand. ‘Okay, okay. I was just saying like.’ He left a long pause before adding slyly, ‘So, how’s ol’ Wes been?’

Angel’s smirk made them both laugh, and at this, Angel folded his arms and sighed. ‘If this is how things are going to be, then… it’s good. I could get used to this. Jesus. Can we really make this work?’

Spike hesitated a long time then laid down his mug. ‘I’ve kinda done this before, Luv. An’ at the risk of cocking this up already…. This is kinda what happened to me and Buffy.’ He glanced up quickly.

Angel contorted his face for a while, mulling this over then said through gritted teeth, ‘Go on.’

‘We did the fighting thing cus we both wanted something we didn’t want to want, if you get my drift.’

‘Drift fully got here.’

‘When we did get it, and I’ll pass right over that part real quick, it near tore us apart. So we stopped... getting it. But I still wanted a part of her… ya know? Her light; her goodness.’ If he’d noticed that he’d gone from a short, sharp recitation to suit his listener to a soft, almost wistful lyricism, he didn’t comment on it. Angel didn’t either. He knew that light and goodness only too well: it had drawn him, siren-like, to his destruction. Spike propped his chin on his hand and finished soulfully, ‘An’ those were the best times we had together. Never even touched her hardly, but I could feel her, in me heart. Never known that before.’ He looked up at a small movement from Angel and shook his head. ‘Don’t get jealous, you pillock. I want that again. That’s what I’m tryin’ to say here. I want you in my heart—not under me skin getting me all riled and wanting to rip you apart to taste you.’

Angel mirrored Spike’s position, chin on hand. ‘We tried. We tried so hard just to be friends, but it didn’t work. I had to leave.’

‘She was younger then, Luv, and remember, what she had with me was just a substitute for what she wanted with you.’

Angel shook his head. ‘Don’t underestimate your attractions, Will. And, hey, did you two discuss me?’

Spike grinned, a cheeky tongue pushed into his cheek. ‘Your name came up once or twice—oddly as other things were comin’ up.’

Angel growled softly but there was no malice in his expression. Far from it. Spike coughed and stood up. ‘More coffee.’

Angel pouted and sighed and tried to get noticed, but Spike kept his back resolutely turned to temptation.

* * * * * * *

When Spike returned to the table with two topped up mugs, Angel leant forward and said in a rush, giving away that he’d been rehearsing this, ‘I still don’t see why you can’t stay here. We have two bedrooms, if you want to be freaky, and—.’


Spike didn’t need to say any more. Angel had gotten that it wouldn’t work as soon as he’d heard it out loud. He sank back gloomily.

Spike patted his hand. ‘You like your own space, Mate. You know you do. And we don’t ‘xactly have similar tastes.’

Angel raised his eyes. ‘Except in one thing.’

Spike blushed—a distinct and deep glow. ‘Well, there is that.’

Minds now rushing on thoughts that were as unwelcome as they were welcome, neither could summon the enthusiasm for more conversation. They were only feet from a large comfortable bed that they already knew so well. They knew just how high the edge was, how rigid the rail at the head, how and where it creaked under exactly what weight. They knew its smell from being pressed face down, its comfort from curling into its welcoming embrace. A very familiar friend, it called to them. Their bodies heard and were desperate to respond.

Angel suddenly wiped a hand over his face and said tightly, ‘I need to go to work.’

Spike glanced at him and asked tentatively, ‘You free later today?’

His restraint at breaking point, Angel replied, tightly, ‘For?’

‘I thought you could come house hunting with me. I was really pissed to miss that. Kept thinking ‘bout that while they… ya know.’

His words had an odd effect on Angel. Although the lust still eddied in his gut, it was a minor inconvenience to the almost overwhelming pleasure this confession gave him. He looked at his childe in wonder. ‘We’re going to make this work, aren’t we?’

Spike kept his gaze. ‘You still surprise me, Angel, even after all these years. Yes, I think we are going to make this work very well indeed.’

They went their separate ways—Angel to shower and Spike to his room to dress—with absolutely no suspicion that this naive complacency about their newfound restraint might be as insubstantial as the water which cascaded over Angel’s hard, rippling muscles.

The End

The story ends with the final part of the trilogy, Beautiful Dawn.

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