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Chapter 8

Spike gritted his teeth and picked up a plank. Angel bent and picked up a piece of railing, and they circled each other warily. Spike grinned, licked his lips and said, 'Took you long enough to get here. Thought I was gonna have to send out the cavalry.'

'Just giving you time to recover, Childe, before I stomp on you.'

Spike chucked his piece of wood away. 'I could take you asleep, you fat, lazy git.'

Angel threw the bar away and, before Spike could react at all, dove to the ground and swept his childe's feet out from under him. Spike fell heavily on his back; Angel was on him, and by force of his greatly superior weight, imprisoned him effectively just by straddling his belly.

Spike began to laugh, the movement wobbling Angel. 'I should have remembered not to underestimate you, Angel. I'm thinking more muscle than flab now.'

Not having the most robust self-esteem, Angel felt ridiculously pleased by this praise but didn't let it show. He nodded wisely. 'So, what is the best form of instruction for a recalcitrant childe who has forgotten his manners?'

Spike shook his head in mock bewilderment but added subtly, with a raise of an eyebrow, 'Dunno, never 'ad one, but it's got to involve pain, I'm thinking.'

'I was thinking study and long periods of serious reading.'

'Bugger. How about a swift, sharp crunching and no books?'

'How about community service?'

'How's about you just cut me nuts off and be done with it?' It was the wrong time for Spike to have mentioned his testicles - however much in jest he meant the throwaway comment to be. Angel shifted slightly on his childe's hard belly, grinding his balls together pleasantly. Spike pouted a little. 'It's a bit hard 'ere, Mate.'


'This bloody ground, and you're no lightweight. Take it home now, yeah?'

Slightly distracted by the thought of Spike's balls and even more distracted by the thought that Spike's balls were distracting him, Angel got off thoughtfully. Spike leapt up, slapped him playfully on the rump and shouted with glee, 'You NEVER learn Angel,' and sped off, laughing into the night.

Angel pounded after him, and it was all Spike could do to keep the distance between them. He ducked into buildings; he climbed; he hid - all to no avail. Angel had been bested once, and he was not going to suffer the indignity again. Eventually, Angel found himself back at the hotel. He went in cautiously and sensed Spike in the basement. Nothing very demonic in this: he could smell him now, Spike clearly sweating as heavily as he was. He stripped out of his coat and went down the steps. It was dark, but he could see Spike quite clearly, standing in a fighter's stance in the middle of the floor. No weapons, just Spike, stripped naked to the waist and waiting.

Angel stripped off his shirt, too, and began to circle Spike. He dodged toward him, but Spike didn't fall for it and kept his guard up. Angel smiled then lunged. Spike merely turned on his heel and clicked his fingers with a soft, 'Olé.' Angel turned with a furious expression.

'You little....'

'Come on, Angel. Lay a hand on me. Just one.'

Angel tried, but Spike was too fast for him; he neatly stepped away again. Angel skidded slightly; Spike began to laugh and, unable to dodge fast enough next time, Angel was on him. He wrestled him down and lay on him as his slim blond childe tried to wipe the tears from his eyes. Angel's sweat didn't help, dripping onto Spike's face. Spike's sweat mixed with Angel's where they lay skin on skin. Spike relaxed his head back onto the floor. 'You win. No more tricks. I'm shattered.'

Angel couldn't relax. His whole body ached for something more, only he was utterly unwilling to define that something. He didn't want this to end now. He didn't want to get up from Spike's body, but he could see no excuse to continue lying where he was. Reluctantly, he moved to one side and sat back on his heels. Spike sat up, then began to climb to his feet. As he did, he placed a soft, chaste kiss on Angel's forehead. 'Thanks for taking me in, Angel, and helping me like this. You had no reason to, and I'm grateful.'

Angel caught him by the back of the neck and pulled him down again until they were both kneeling. He frowned but bent forward and placed his lips to Spike's: equally chaste, equally soft. He pulled back and looked at Spike to see his reaction to this. Spike looked slightly surprised but not revolted. Angel nodded gravely. 'You're welcome, Spike. It's good having you here.'

Spike nodded, too. 'S good then. Your hospitality extend to remembering to feed me? Cus I'm starving after that.'

Angel's eyes dilated. He knew Spike had been referring to the blood in bags upstairs, but his body still ached for some kind of physical release he would not name, and Spike's careless words sent a frisson of deep need through his soul. He held Spike tighter by the back of his neck and pulled him, slow inch by slow inch, toward his throat.

Angel's skin was warm. His sweat was salty. His demonic blood pounded in his veins. Spike sank into the neck and took again the long journey that had once lost him entirely.

Angel felt his erection, which had stayed manageable until this point, swell to breaking at this touch. It was the first time he had been held by any one since Darla had exploded in his arms. It was the first time he had held Spike for any other reason than to give him pain since that distant bed in a distant city in a time when he had been so different that Angel tried never to think of it.

He would have controlled himself, but Spike chose that moment to moan softly as he fed, and his tongue flicked into the wound. That tiny, intimate penetration sent jolts of pleasure through Angel, and with the lack control of a teenager on a first date, Angel came in his pants: a shuddering release that made him clamp Spike painfully to him, so he could rub against the hard body as he came.

He pulled Spike away and looked at the bloodstained mouth. With almost no hesitation, he bent and kissed his own blood from the parted lips. Spike responded and, with a small moan of pleasure, pushed his tongue into Angel's mouth. Angel wasn't sure where they would have gone from here, but suddenly, Spike pushed him away and sat back with a small restraining touch on the lips. 'Jeez. Okay. What just happened here? Not very... manly?'

Angel laughed, incredibly relieved by Spike's reaction and the easing of the tension. What could have been a hideous moment became shared puzzlement and shared intimacy.

'I think I need to get out more.'

Spike collapsed in a heap on the floor; Angel looked at him for a moment, but was then pulled down into a wrestle. He laughed, and they fought hard until both were too tired to care who won; they just lay side-by-side on their backs, chuckling at nothing.

'I think I've laughed more tonight than I have since I came to LA. Since I got soulled.'

'I wasn't laughing much before I got this bloody thing either. Long time for me, too.' Spike sat up and held out his hand to Angel. Angel blinked then took it, and they both stood. 'Angel...?' Spike pouted, pursed his lips and gritted his teeth all in swift succession, as if trying to decide which favourite expression he felt most comfortable with. Finally, the pursed lips won. 'I'm not sure what happened tonight. Shh... let me finish, yeah? Only... I'm not too sure who I am yet enough to.... Shit. Can we sort of put this on hold for a while...? 'Til I feel stronger?'

'On hold?' Angel was utterly astonished. Spike had as good as said, "I want you, but not quite yet." He nodded, caught off-guard, bewildered by his childe's reaction. He had thought his orgasm driven by pure lust, blood, sweat, fighting - the demon fucking around they all occasionally indulged in. He had thought Spike's kiss just an unthinking reaction to that - but here was his childe, wanting him. Angel nodded slowly. 'I'll have to think about this, too.'

Spike suddenly grinned. 'I like the thought of you thinking about me,' and with that, he went with a slightly cheeky swagger toward the stairs. Provocatively dragging his eyes down Angel's body to his damp groin, he murmured, 'Thinking you might be needing a shower 'bout now, Pet.' He bolted before Angel could get a hand on him, and did not make another appearance until the morning.

Angel spent the most confusing night he had spent in a long time. As he showered, he tried to make sense of what he had done. He realised, with a slight sense of surprise, that he never thought about Spike as William any more. Will, occasionally - for Spike had been Will for some years as his childe, before he had affected the change to his name... but not William. Not the pale, shortsighted, prudish, silly poet that Angelus had taken for his sport in London. For there was no resemblance: not in the body, the face, the manner, the personality, the sense of humour - nothing.

By the time Angel got into bed, he had worked out that whatever reaction he had had to Spike in the basement had been purely his reaction to Spike - nothing to do with Angelus or with William. He could not get over the fact that Spike had appeared to want him, too. That was something they had never explored together.

By the time he decided that he would not sleep at all that night, Angel had got to the stage of thinking about Spike's words... not yet... soon... I want you.... Angel exaggerated this a little but allowed himself pleasure in remembering the moment.

By the time the morning came and he heard Fred coming down and the others arriving for work, he had realised that a potentially embarrassing situation could now exist between himself and Spike. He dressed and went downstairs thoughtfully, wondering what he should say. Spike was in the kitchen, so he did not even have the usual space of the day to mull him over. Spike immediately turned and smiled. 'Hi ya.'

Angel hesitated for a fraction, and then grinned back, incredibly happy at the atmosphere he sensed between them. He came toward the microwave and reached up to fetch some mugs. Suddenly, almost shockingly, Angel felt Spike's lips on his. They were withdrawn so fast he did not have time to respond, but Spike looked up at him and tipped his head on one side. 'Huh.'


'Oh. Only, I thought... last night... when I got to bed…. I couldn't believe it was real. Didn't seem very... likely....'

Angel laughed. 'You're not mad, Spike. Not unless I am, too. It doesn't seem very real to me, either.'

'So, how's about we put the reality to the test a bit? Wanna go somewhere tonight?'

'More abandoned buildings and squalor?'

'Nah. Just a bar for a drink.'

Angel almost felt a blush rushing to his face. Emotionally, he was blushing and found it hard to believe that his face was not a rash of colour as well. He could only nod and turn away. He kept his intense pleasure locked in his dead heart, but that still organ seemed a little more animated from the holding of this secret joy.
Angel dressed carefully that evening. He enjoyed clothes and hoped he looked good in the style he favoured. He began with soft wool pants and a cashmere sweater but soon discarded them and rummaged deeper in his closet. Jeans and a casual shirt came out next, but once he had them on, without the benefit of a mirror, he could not be sure it was exactly the statement he wanted. He sat on the bed and thought about the coming evening. He pictured them walking to the bar together, talking, laughing. He smiled and went back to the closet.

When Angel appeared at the top of the stairs, Spike chuckled. 'You do realise you're kinda saying, fuck me now in that, don't you?'

Once more, Angel's fragile ego swelled on this praise, and he brushed his fingers unconsciously over the leather pants, enjoying the feel of the silk shirt over his cool skin. He walked slowly down the stairs, trying not to catch Spike's eye and give away his pleasure. He had just reached the bottom step when Spike looked up and said, 'Whoa! Look at you two.'

Angel turned, puzzled. Fred and Cordelia were coming down the stairs, giggling slightly. He turned to Spike. 'They're coming with us?'

Spike tipped his head to one side and said neutrally, 'Well, yeah. Two of us… two of them…?'

Spike took one girl on each arm and strode out of the lobby. Angel hesitated, but then followed, confused by his reaction to this turn of events.

As soon as they hit the pavement, Spike peeled off from the girls, leaving them to walk together in the front. He waited for Angel. 'Look at them. Can you believe that those two are your friends?' He nodded over his shoulder at the hotel. 'And all that, come to that. You've done all this without the help I'm getting. I can't imagine what it must have been like for you to get your soul back and be alone. Be outcast.'

Angel glanced sideward at Spike. 'You look funny without your coat.'

'Thanks. Glad I took so long to dress now. All this effort, and I achieve funny. Great.'

Angel smiled shyly to himself at the thought of Spike also dressing carefully for their… date. He tipped his head back to the night sky, took a deep breath of the air he rarely bothered to taste and began to enjoy the evening.

They went to a small bar, and Angel bought drinks for everyone. Unexpectedly, they were the perfect group. They had enough in common to make the conversation easy, not so much that everything had already been said. Angel sat back a little and watched and listened to the other three with pleasure. Spike seemed to be in his element. He flirted outrageously with the girls. He told stories about Angel's past that fascinated, amused and horrified them in turn, but every story was an affectionate tribute to the vampire Angel had been. The stories told of his strength, his artistry, his cunning, and running as a thread through each story was the remembrance of Angelus' power. Angel took the girls' laughter in good part, and gave Spike a small, shy smile of gratitude for his thoughtful selection of tales. Swelling on the praise, feeling more human than he had felt for a very long time, Angel let the alcohol flow freely, drinking as much as Spike, unconcerned for one night about the control he habitually practiced.

By the time they returned to the lobby, they were all fairly drunk. It was gloomy in the vast space, and before Angel had time to turn the lights on, Spike stuck his hand out to Cordelia and said, 'Dance?'

She laughed and took it with a small courtesy. Fred jumped slightly and rushed eagerly behind the counter. 'Wait! Music….'

They stood waiting for her to put something on. She held a CD in her hand then, with a huge grin, rummaged in her desk for another and put it on. She looked up. 'This is for you, Spike. I told you it would pass.'

Spike raised his eyebrow questioningly but chuckled when the track began.

Come and hold my hand
I want to contact the living
Not sure I understand, this path I've been given…

Slowly, he began to sweep Cordelia around the floor of the lobby; both drunk, both laughing, they didn't really care whether they were skilful or not. Fred leant on the counter and watched them wistfully. Spike looked at her then twisted his head around to find Angel. He flicked a look at Fred. Angel shook his head fractionally, but when Spike gave him a mutinous look, added petulantly, 'I don't dance.'

Spike stopped and caught Cordelia's spinning body in his arms. He looked at her; he looked at Fred. 'Is that so?'

Suddenly, without allowing any refusal, Spike pulled Angel out of the shadows. 'Come on. Let's be brave. Together.' He began to charge up and down the floor with Angel, stretching their hands out in front, cheek to cheek in a ridiculous parody of dancing. When they reached the wall, Spike spun them around with a theatrical flourish, tossed his head up and charged back with him toward Cordelia. The girls were clapping and laughing their encouragement to Spike. Fred began to dance similarly with Cordy and to Angel's astonishment, he started to enjoy the fun. He began to play up, too, whirling Spike around, showing off how strong and fast they both were, how inexhaustible… and still the music played on. Angel stood on Spike's feet, so Spike suddenly stopped and pulled Angel to him. He turned the laughing vampire in his arms so Angel's back was firmly against his belly, and then whispered in his ear, 'Shh…. I'm pretending to be showing you some steps.'

Angel stopped laughing and said slightly puzzled, 'Why pretending?'

Spike placed his lips to Angel's ear. 'Cus I'm really just enjoying this.' He pressed his hips forward and his erection into Angel's hard arse.

'Oh. Fuck.'

'I'm thinking 'bout it.'

'Spike….' Angel's voice was low and husky, but before he could complete his urgent reply, Spike began to sing loudly to the chorus as he rubbed softly against his partner.

'I just want to feel real love….'

Cordy and Fred joined in at the top of their voices as well. Angel stood, swayed gently by Spike, Spike's arms around him, Spike's erection pressing into him, and he had a rare moment of almost pure happiness that made him fear for his soul.

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