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Lessons of War and Death

There are those who teach only the sweet lessons of peace and safety;
But I teach lessons of war and death to those I love,
That they readily meet invasions, when they come

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Chapter 1

The dream began as it always did: the feel of cold slabs under his knees, a rough blanket pricking his fingers. These tactile details anchored him to this place where all else was blurred and indistinct: voices echoing as if in a tomb; shapes moving around him, pale yet shadowed. This time, however, instead of waking with the feel of dents in his knees, he stayed in the dream, lifting up and crawling into the thin bed, under the even thinner blanket.

He lay there, staring at the ceiling, knowing it was a dream and wanting to return to his own life.

Why are you here?’

He turned his head at the whisper, terror in the voice out of proportion to the age evident from the child’s face. This was new: the dream had never spoken before.

The pale face of a boy stared wide-eyed at him over an identical grey blanket to the one that covered him.

Aware that it was just a dream and willing to let it play out for a while, he replied, ‘Tell me where this is, and I’ll tell you why I’m here.’

The boy’s eyes darted frantically around then snapped shut. His hands trembled on the blanket. Hardly moving his mouth he moaned, ‘He’s coming.’

* * * * * * *

Spike sat up and looked wildly around, in a mirror image to the child, before he realised he was in his own dull room in the dull apartment that he’d gotten on the false pretences of being a hero. He certainly wasn’t feeling very hero like right now. Dreams didn’t usually bother him. He’d dreamt an eternity of dreams as a man, as a demon and now as a creature hanging uneasily between those two states. But this one unnerved him. It was the knowing it was a dream that threw him. Usually his dreams were more real than reality, and he came back, or woke up, with a pleasant start to find that reality could reassert itself over such potency. But this time, he’d known very well who he was and that he was not really there. Which rather led him to wonder if it had been a dream at all….

He lay back down but knew that sleep would not come again that day.

He was trapped by the intense light of a Los Angeles summer day. Unless he did the unthinkable… which, once thought, didn’t actually seem so bad…. So, he did it: he dressed and went back to Wolfram and Hart. The appeal of air conditioning and magical glass had won out over reluctance to hang out in a place he disdained. Just being there made him feel like a hypocrite. It made him feel as hypocritical as the humongous hypocrite himself.

* * * * * * *

Humongous hypocrite was at his desk, pretending to make important calls. Spike wasn’t impressed and sauntered in, flinging himself on the couch and lighting up. Angel put his palm over the mouthpiece and said venomously, ‘Do you mind?’

Spike waved his cigarette to emphasise his reply. ‘Yeah, actually, I do. I really do. I mind this deal you’ve made with the devil; I mind this bloody stinking city and its heat; I mind….’ Angel made a curt comment into the phone and hung up.

‘Go bother someone else, Spike—someone who gives a damn.’

‘Oh, Rhett, I’m blushing.’

Angel did what he increasingly did in these situations: he left.

Spike was bored and tired, so for once he made the effort to follow.

He nipped into the elevator just as the doors were closing, enjoying the roll of Angel’s eyes. ‘So, any interesting cases, Mate?’

‘I’m not your Mate. And it’s the middle of the day, Spike—why are you here?’

Spike blinked and turned his head once more. More terrifying than returning to his dream when he wasn’t asleep was the fact that he could now feel his heart thumping from that terror. He sat up, and the prickly blanket fell away from his… thin, pale, child’s chest. He cried out—it was not his heart; it was not his chest—and half a dozen voices hushed him fearfully. A deeper voice, though, one that made the heart that was not his heart falter rose above them. ‘What the devil?’

Angel’s hands were then on his arms. He wrenched away. ‘What the bloody hell?’

‘You spaced out….’

The door slid open, and Spike took the opportunity to get away from disconcerting brown eyes. He didn’t need them. Not today.

* * * * * * *

There was something he did need though: Fred’s brain. He hung around the lab until she had time to notice him, and her smile alone calmed him.

‘What ya doing?’

‘Can you run some tests on me or something?’


‘Well, yeah. With one of those probe-y things. Although absolutely no probing!’

‘What am I looking for?’

‘I don’t know. If I knew that I wouldn’t be here askin’ you to run bloody tests, would I? Something weird just hap—.’

‘Something weird just hap—.’

Angel skidded to a halt, and the vampires glared at each other for a moment. ‘What’s happening, Spike? You went spacey on me there. I don’t like it when you’re here—when you leave your body and go off someplace else, it’s freaking spooky.’

‘You left your body?’

Spike turned his attention back to Fred, keeping a rein on his ire—it kinda invalidated her tests if she knew what was wrong in the first place. ‘No. Well, okay, yes. But it was just a dream.’

Angel came a little closer, folding his arms over his chest. ‘You were standing up, talking to me!’

‘Well, there ya go, you boring git; you’re sending me to sleep now. And bugger off, will you? I want to talk to Fred.’

‘Fred works for me, Spike. This whole goddamned place works for me! You can’t order my employees about.’

‘Oh! What? So you can keep Fred busy with your little bit of werewolf fluff while I get sucked back into hell again!’

Angel unfolded his arms, an expression that could—in some lights—have been genuine concern. ‘You think you’re fading again? Back to hell?’

Spike hadn’t until he’d said it, but now he did. He wrapped his arms tightly around his torso, realised that this is what he used to do to keep that fear at bay so immediately unfolded them and ran his fingers through his hair. ‘It was just a dream. Okay, it might have been a waking dream, but a dream! Now, can you run some bloody tests and see if you can… whatever it is you do with all these very expensive instruments.’

Angel nodded at Fred, and she picked up a scanner, watching the readout with a slightly nervous expression as she ran it around Spike’s body.

‘Am I still hot then, Luv?’

She smiled faintly. ‘I’ll ask Harmony about that.’

‘Oh. She’s not my number one fan at the moment.’

Angel snorted. ‘You don’t have fans, Spike. You have a long string of acquaintances you piss off to varying degrees.’

‘Uh huh. Said by the man who has to shag werewolves.’

Angel ignored him and watched the readout with Fred as if he could understand it. She straightened. ‘Quite normal.’

Angel snorted again—more pointedly.

Spike felt relieved and gave Fred a wan smile. ‘Okay. No hell for the playing-nice vampire.’

‘Not yet….’

‘Oh, piss off, will you?’ He pushed past the smirking Angel and strode out to find something to cheer himself up.

* * * * * * *

Angel watched him go, dropped the smirk and turned to Fred. ‘Well?’

She pushed her glasses up and her lower lip out. ‘It’s hard to say. It’s not like reading a human, ya know? His readings are always so weird….’

‘Colour me surprised.’



‘Well… you’re always so hard on him. It kinda upsets him….’

‘What?’ Angel didn’t know whether to laugh or punch the air with glee, but he felt chastened by her expression and gave her his sorrowful vampire look instead. It seemed to work for she softened and sighed. ‘Tell me what happened.’

‘I was talking to him, and then he just… wasn’t there.’

She made a face and said hesitantly, ‘He kinda always does that when you’re talking to him.’

Angel gritted his teeth. ‘This was different. He wasn’t pretending.’

‘Oh. Where did he say he’d been?’

Angel’s mouth opened slightly then snapped shut. ‘He didn’t.’

‘He wouldn’t tell you?’

‘I didn’t ask.’

‘Oh, well, maybe…?’

Angel cursed and went in search of Spike.

* * * * * * *

Spike, it appeared, had left for the day.

Angel pictured him travelling back to his apartment through the tunnels and… spacing out again.

If he had not been there in the elevator, Spike would have fallen. He imagined him toppled over in the slime and muck of the sewers, prey to any passing demon low-life. Every so often, life threw him little treats; he hadn’t felt so chipper in weeks and celebrated with a mug of blood as he toyed with various scenarios of Spike being staked whilst lying in human shit.

With his feet up on his very large, very luxurious desk, in his very large, very luxurious office, he contemplated the fuck-up that was Spike. It was glorious.

* * * * * *

‘Where ya going, Boss?’

Angel cursed inwardly and stopped at Harmony’s desk. ‘Out.’

‘Okey-dokey. Contact number?’

Angel cursed outwardly. ‘Spike’s.’


‘He could be dangerous! That’s the only reason….’

‘Well, okay.’ Shaking off her way-too-much-information expression, she added puzzled, ‘But… dangerous? Blondie Bear?’

Angel debated fleshing out his rationale for following Spike after all (something to do with the danger Spike could represent in his spacing-out state), but it wasn’t substantial enough to stand fleshing… and on the odd images that popped into his mind at that thought, he just glared at Harmony and left.

* * * * * * *

Spike was relatively easy to track: nicotine and annoyance trailed in the air after him. He hadn’t gone back to his apartment but had veered off into a north-running tunnel, which emerged into an alley in a part of town Angel didn’t know.

The back door of a building stood open. Casting a look around to see if anyone observed him, Angel went in.

It was a strip club.

He couldn’t have been more embarrassed if he had discovered Fred patronising such a place. The thought of Spike and sex so freaked him out that he nearly left—let Spike slaughter who he would.

Better notions surfaced, and he pushed through the beaded curtain and made for the bar. He could see Spike’s blond head close to the stage, facing the show.

The show.

Angel cast a quick glance at the gyrating woman. She did nothing for him. He needed a certain modesty and decorum to attract or arouse... and was he blushing? He cursed Spike to the heavens for forcing him to have to endure this but went closer and slid into a chair at the same table.

To give Spike his due, he looked equally embarrassed as Angel felt. He half-rose, cursed, sat back again and then leant forward angrily, hissing, ‘What the bloody hell are you doing followin’ me?’

‘You are out of control, as usualand this is my city!’

‘You arrogant sod!’

‘Maybe you’re killing in this dream state… wouldn’t be the first time.’

Spike jerked his head back and bit his lip. He swallowed nervously. ‘You think this has something to do with the First again?’

Angel looked away. It was the first time in over a hundred years that Spike had ever asked him a genuine question for which he wanted a genuine reply. One hundred years, and the animosity just dropped—as easily as the bra, which had just hit the stage.

In a similar spirit of honesty, he replied, ‘I don’t know, Spike. It was just a thought.’ He frowned. He had the absurd need to know: to solve this, to be the big hero, the all-knowing… sire. And that was just preposterous, so he added more tetchily, ‘I don’t know, but you can’t run around the city until we do know. Spike? Shit. Spike?’

* * * * * * *

He had not been there when he’d played with the First—no conscious memory of what the First was doing to him at all.  He was all here now, though. Once more, he knew who he was just not where he was—other than being in a classroom of some kind: that much was pretty obvious. He was staring at the thin, pale neck of a child in front of him. There was a large bruise on the boy’s skin the exact shape and size of a thumbprint. Spike was being slow for it took him a while longer to get that it actually was a thumbprint. He wondered at the cruelty that would have to be practiced on something so fragile to mark it so.

He didn’t want to do it, but he looked down.

They weren’t his hands. Once more, he confirmed that it wasn’t his chest; nor was the beating heart within it his. He glanced under the desk and rummaged for a moment. Nope, not his either….

He appeared, once more, to be in the body of a young boy. It wasn’t even his body when he had been human and a boy. Some things you didn’t forget.

He leant forward and poked the other boy in the back. ‘Hey, you.’

The boy cowered low and glanced furtively toward the front of the classroom. Spike craned around his thin form and looked, too. A fat man dressed as a priest was writing laboriously on a blackboard. Spike cursed under his breath. Of all the luck: a fuckingly realistic dream, but he ends up in a bloody classroom learning bloody Latin again! Sometimes, his life just sucked.

He poked the boy again. ‘Where is this?’

‘Shhh. Father’ll hear ye!’

‘Well, he will if I shout, yeah!’

‘Shhh! Please….What do you mean?’

‘Just tell me what this place is.’

‘It’s St Francis’s.’

‘Ah. Light dawns. Where the fuck, or what the fuck is St Francis’s?’

The boy turned, the same pale face Spike had seen in the bed, blood draining from his face and making him even paler. ‘You said…. You said… the bad word!’


The boy cringed and put his arm up as if to deflect a blow. Spike watched the fat man pushing his way down the aisle toward the small boy and muttered, ‘Yeah, like not.’ He stood up and placed himself between them, ready for a fight. He was dismayed by only coming up to the man’s waist.

The Father ignored him and said icily to the other boy, ‘Stand up.’

‘Hey, you fat prick! He didn’t fucking do anything!’

The entire room swivelled and focused on Spike, which disconcerted him for a moment. The priest leant down very close to his face, his breath reeking. ‘What did you just say, Kelly?’

He felt as if he was being lifted bodily like some apocryphal ascent to heaven. But he was only being picked up from the floor… which was odd in its own right.

Podgy, greasy fingers became strong, beautiful ones—ones that he’d have known even if blinded: Angel’s.

Spike lashed out on the memory of the impotent fury of childhood and caught Angel an uppercut to the jaw.

Angel reeled back then punched him, too. ‘You moron. You fainted!’

Spike pushed him off furiously. ‘I did not faint! Jesus!’ He was on the floor, being stared at by a woman with enormous bare breasts. Another time he’d have enjoyed this. Not now. He leapt to his feet, shook out his shoulders and stomped toward the door.

Angel jogged to his side and accompanied him out. ‘Bugger off.’

‘You were out for about five minutes that time.’

Spike came to a halt, his hand on the back door of the club. He pouted. ‘Yeah. That’d be about right. I was there about five minutes, too.’

‘There? Where?’

Spike made a face to cover the fact he was mad at himself for admitting this much, then dashed out to the sewer and dropped inside. But then he actually waited for Angel, knowing the poof would follow him; for once Spike wanted it to look as if he were in control of one of their confrontations.

They walked along silently for a while until Angel said patiently, ‘I might be able to help.’

‘I don’t know where it was, okay? It was weird. A school, or something.’

‘A school? You went back to school?’

‘It wasn’t me. Well, it was, inside, like. But I was a little kiddie.’

‘You went back to your childhood?’

‘Oh, get with the programme here, Ponce! No! I was in someone else’s body. A kid, in a school called St Francis.’

Angel stopped. He was staring at something on one of his shoes. Very casually he flicked it off and echoed, ‘St Francis?’

‘Yeah. It’s been happening on and off for a couple of weeks now. I go there in the body of this kid. I was always just kneeling by a bed with sore knees, but then last night there was this other kid; he spoke, and it’s been gettin’ more and more real since then. Vivid
—ya know?

‘Describe it to me in detail.’

‘I’ve just bloody told you! A school. A kid. Some beds. A classroom.’

‘Did it look…?’ Angel glanced at his watch, checked his nails, pursed his lip and finished, ‘Old?’


‘Was it… were you in the past?’

‘Oh. I’m not… yeah. I guess. It was all pretty dark and grim, so I guess….’

‘What were you wearing?’


‘Fucking hell! That’s a simple enough question, isn’t it?’

Spike stopped and put a hand on Angel’s arm. ‘What? What’s it to you?’ He jerked his head back. ‘You know something about this, don’t you? Hey! What are you not telling me? Are you sending me there? You bastard! You right bloody bastard!’

‘Shut up! Shut up, will you? I didn’t know anything about this until you freaked out in the elevator. But I—.’ He ran his fingers viciously through his hair (far more viciously than any human man would risk doing). ‘I went to a seminary school called St Francis. You freaked me out for a moment, that’s all. It’s just a coincidence.’

‘You went to school? Well, what a waste of time that was!’

Angel gave him a wry, grateful smile at the familiar banter and replied in kind, ‘And that from the moron.’

They walked companionably side by side until they came to Spike’s exit, both deep in their own thoughts. Then Spike frowned, glanced up at the sewer cover and offered, ‘You wanna come in for a beer?’

Angel didn’t appear to have heard and said, ‘Describe the classroom again—in detail.’

Spike grinned. Angel wanted to come in; Angel wanted a beer; but Angel was totally unable to admit either of these simple things.

Spike sometimes surprised himself by how much affection he felt for this creature he abhorred.

Chapter 2

‘It was just a room. Big. Gloomy—.’

‘Where were the windows?’

‘Huh? I don’t know! In the wall?’

Angel swigged from the beer bottle. ‘Were they high up?’

‘Oh. Yeah. I guess. I didn’t really notice.’

‘Describe the man again.’

‘Oh, God. How many times can I tell you? Fat. Dressed in a dress. Big cross dangling from this rope on his non-existent waist. Greasy hands. Oh, oh, go me… and a ring.’

Angel licked his lips, staring at the bottle. After a moment, he said in a small voice, ‘The stone was green like suppressed hatred.’

Spike watched the lowered brow, unable to see or read Angel’s expression
but he’d heard all he needed to hear in that small voice. Softly, he confirmed, ‘It was an emerald, yes.’


Angel abruptly put down the beer and left.

* * * * * * *

They met on surprisingly friendly terms the next day—for them. Angel actually ended his call when Spike came in and went to join him on the couch. ‘Did you dream again? Did you go there again?’

Spike shook his head. ‘You okay? You kinda did your own spacing out last night.’

Angel faltered, and for a moment, his carefully constructed mask wavered. Then he recovered and said brusquely, ‘We need to get Wesley in on this.’

Spike shrugged, too fascinated by this glimpse of a vulnerable man beneath the abhorred demon to argue.

* * * * * * *

Wesley was chatting to Fred, and from their expressions, Angel saw that he would not have to start at the beginning with his tale. Spike sat to one side of the room on the arm of a chair, as if implying that the conversation didn’t concern him. Angel’s gaze kept sliding off to him as he spoke. Wesley listened in his usual way—astute questioning and encouraging silences—until he had the full story. He tapped his pen against his lips thoughtfully. For wont of somewhere to sit, Angel sat in the chair that Spike perched on.

‘Tell me again about the moment when you swore to the priest.’

Spike cursed, nicely illustrating his tale, then said exasperated, ‘How many more bleeding times? This kid, oh, I think his name was Kavanagh—whoa!’ Angel had stood so quickly that the chair tipped, sending Spike sprawling.

Angel bent low into Spike’s face. ‘That’s a new little detail, Spike! You doling them out now—like candy, for your own amusement?’

Spike pushed him away. ‘Fucker! I just remembered! The priest called him Kavanagh. Big deal.’

Wesley nodded to himself. ‘Kavanagh—face of an angel. I always wondered where you got the name.’

Angel turned abruptly on Wesley. ‘It’s a very common name in Ireland! How many freaking Kavanaghs do you think went to schools called St Francis?’

‘I have no idea, but it seems more than a coincidence. The name of the school I could have accepted as being coincidental—as you point out, lots of schools named that in Ireland. But someone with your name, being visited by your childe? That’s design, not coincidence.’

Spike looked uncertainly between them. ‘What are you on about?’

Angel pursed his lips then said quickly, ‘It was my human name: Liam Kavanagh.’

‘Oh, my God! That was you? That pretty little kid with all the bruises?’

Angel didn’t reply, but his angry pouring of whisky, and drinking it in one sort of gave Spike his answer anyway.

Wesley studied Angel for a moment then said softly, ‘Tell me everything that you’ve thought about Spike since he emerged from the amulet.’

Angel slammed the empty glass down. ‘I’m not going to—.’

‘Angel! If we don’t know what’s causing this, we can’t stop it. I’m sorry, but you do seem to be the catalyst.’

Angel gestured angrily, sticking up a finger for each point he reeled off. ‘I think he’s a moron. I feel like he’s haunting me. I want him as far away from me as it’s possible for him to go. I don’t like his—.’

‘Ah. I thought as much.’ Wesley pouted and found something interesting on his desk.

Angel glanced at Spike’s carefully arranged, neutral profile and said less vehemently, ‘What do you mean? Thought as much about what?’

‘Well, it’s only a pet theory of mine, but it’s possible that when we wish for something that seems straightforward in our conscious minds there are layers of wish behind that in our subconscious that, clearly, we aren’t aware of: codicils to the wish, if you like.’


Wesley smiled patiently. ‘Unconsciously, as far away from you as possible might be—to you—your own childhood, which you might feel, and rightly so I suppose given Spike’s description of you there, that you’ve left far behind.’

‘Bullshit. I never think about that time. I didn’t the day after I left it. I didn’t when I was human. Angelus didn’t, and I sure as hell don’t. If I have a subconscious wish it wouldn’t be of St Francis: I’d be human on a desert island with my hockey team, and we’d be winning the goddamned series!’

There was an interested hush in the room until Spike said amused, ‘That one of those desert islands with ice then, is it?’

Angel glowered at him. ‘I am not causing this. If I were, you’d stay there—permanently.’

Spike stood up and stretched deceptively nonchalantly. ‘Yeah. Love you too, you bastard.’

‘Calm down—both of you. We need to—.’

Angel came closer, and Wesley sat back into his chair, not completing his homily. ‘You need to get everything we have onto this. We need answers!’

Spike flung his arms up angrily. ‘Oh, that’s just peachy, isn’t it? Now it’s your ass involved, you move heaven and earth to help. When I was being sucked into hell….’

‘Get over it, Spike! I didn’t help because I don’t like you!’

Spike strode over and poked him in the chest. ‘Is that so? Well, maybe, next time Father Fatman takes a pop at little-bitty you, I’ll take a step back!’

‘What?’ Angel glanced nervously behind at Wesley then ushered Spike out of hearing.

Spike grinned, lit a cigarette and made pretence of waiting.

‘What do you mean?’

‘What I said: next time the old Father comes lumbering down that aisle—. Hey! Angel?’

Angel pushed Spike’s hand off his arm.

Spike took a furious drag on his cigarette. ‘You went totally pale then.’

‘You’re pathetic, Spike.’

‘He really scared you!’ Spike’s eyes widened. ‘My God! He still scares you! Jesus, Angel!’

Angel caught him by the lapel then let go as a startled lawyer walked past. He leant in and hissed, ‘I don’t want you there, Spike. My life is nothing to do with you. Do you understand?’

‘I’m not too sure a little kiddie I know would agree with you.’

You weren’t there! You being there didn’t happen! There was no one; no one came to help me! As much as I prayed, no one answered me!’ He stopped abruptly and turned away as if realising he’d said too much.  Spike caught his arm.  ‘Bloody hell…. It’s not you sending me back there; it’s him, calling to me.’

He didn’t even see the punch. He felt it—even though it wasn’t one of Angel’s best: wearing a suit and standing outside his CEO’s office seemed to curb some of Angel’s ferocity. It was hard enough though—hard enough to knock out some of Spike’s residual memory of wind and to give him a painful bang when his head collided with the wall.

He watched Angel retreat to his office and slam the door. He grinned nastily and shouted after him, ‘You’re not such a bully when you’re only three feet tall, Mate!’

* * * * * * *

Despite his earlier eagerness to confront small, proto-Angel and point out the errors in his personality, Spike was reluctant to actually go to bed and sleep. It was a bit too much to take in: that he could enter Angel’s memories. For that’s what he’d concluded he was doing. The place had a dreamlike quality of memory. It seemed the most likely explanation. He ignored the major flaw in this theory: seeing things from a third person; observing proto-Angel from the outside. Tapping into Angel’s memories was less worrying somehow than actually being transported back into a boy’s body three hundred years ago. That, Spike concluded, was just daft.

He drank some beer, watched a mindless detective show on TV, procrastinating and prevaricating so he would not have to close his eyes.

He welcomed the knock at the door, therefore, and opened it with rare enthusiasm—until he saw Angel leaning on the opposite wall. He was about to point out (without raised fingers ticking off points) that, firstly, he didn’t like Angel; that, secondly, Angel didn’t like him… and so on, until he reached the hundredth excellent point he could have made to explain why he didn’t want Angel here when the gloomy figure said simply, ‘I’m sorry.’

Spike’s eyebrows lifted in almost feigned shock at the rare apology. Angel waved his hand dismissively. ‘You pissed me off. Don’t come over all hurt and innocent.’

Spike grinned at some inherent admittance of their long, familial relationship in this accusation and stood to one side. ‘Long time since I’ve been innocent about anything. What do you want, Ponce?’

‘Not to be called that would be a start.’ Angel pushed off the wall and came in.

‘The start of what?’

Angel nodded in confirmation that Spike had reached the nub of the matter. ‘Start of us working together on this thing.’

‘Hmm. I’m not sure what’s worse: the word work or together.’

‘It’s not my choice either, Spike. I don’t like you—never made any attempt to hide it.’

‘No. You haven’t. I have to give you credit for that, Angel. You’ve been a consistently miserable sod toward me since—oh, when? Ah, yes—since you murdered me.’

‘Give it up, Spike. That’s ancient history.’

‘Not as ancient, apparently, as a seminary for very naughty little boys….’

Angel paled. ‘I wasn’t nau—. I was—.’ He sat down. ‘I came over here tonight because you could go back there and I—.’

‘Not now I won’t.’


‘Nah. I’ve decided if I’m gonna pop up in your memories then I want a nice, ripe, juicy one, not when you were
—.’ He bit his tongue on what he had been about to say.

He was in too much pain to continue.

A flare of pain brought tears to his eyes. Before he could react, it came again. He shouted, but the protest emerged as a whimper. A paddle came down on his bare buttocks again. ‘You have a foul mouth, Kelly. You offend our blessed Lord. But never no mind: I’ll beat the devil out of ye.’

Spike realised he was naked from the waist down and bent over the fat man’s lap. He struggled to be free and, covering his nakedness, screamed, ‘You fucking pervert!’

The paddle then caught him to one side of the head, and he went down, out cold… his body, anyway. Inside, he was still there, hearing, feeling… hands… feeling him, touching him. He was unconscious and couldn’t move. He couldn’t stop the hands as they played with him, rubbing him…. He screamed obscenities, but they only bounced around inside the skull, unspoken. He could hear grunting and the furtive sounds of cloth. He was a man and knew what that sound portended. He fought unconsciousness with everything he had in his demon arsenal. He swam up from the depths of the boy’s mind and repossessed control of his body. He broke the surface of the paralysis and lashed out with his foot. He connected with something squishy and heard a different kind of grunt.

Before he could be caught, he grabbed his trousers and fled.

He was then completely lost; his backside felt as if it were on fire, and he was crying—or his body was. He switched to screaming curses, only now he reckoned the whole school could hear him.

Chapter 3

A cool hand on his forehead was removed. Spike opened his eyes and discovered he was lying on his belly on the couch, Angel sitting alongside him—the source of the cool, comforting hand apparently.

‘You fainted again.’

‘And again: I do not faint.’

Angel smiled wanly. ‘You’ve been gone about ten minutes.’

Spike struggled to sit up then frowned deeply. He twisted around and tried to peer at his backside. With a curse, he undid his jeans and peeled them off a fraction. ‘Take a look at my bloody bum!’

Angel jumped up as startled as if Spike had asked him to do something less visual to his bottom. Spike swore at him and wrenched the jeans lower. ‘Look!’

Angel peered over as if into a particularly unpleasant specimen jar. He frowned and came closer, holding Spike, turning him more, pulling the jeans lower. ‘You’re red! Burning…. What the hell?’ Angel dropped him as if the skin was actually burning and backed away.

‘I got bloody spanked, that’s what!’

‘This can’t be happening. It’s a dream! You said it was a dream!’

‘Tell me ‘bout it! Weren’t you that got bloody paddled!’

Angel licked his lips nervously. ‘Not… this time… no.’

‘Oh.’ Spike coloured. He’d suddenly remembered the other, even more unpleasant side of his ordeal. He narrowed his eyes at Angel, but Angel wouldn’t hold his gaze.

Instead, Angel murmured to the ground, ‘I’m sorry.’


‘Seems you took that beating for me.’

Spike stood up, fastening his jeans. ‘Oh, yeah! I’d forgotten that! You bugger.’

‘We have to find out how this is happening. We have to stop it.’

‘Oh, no argument from the blond vampire, Mate. Jesus. A master vampire being bloody spanked. What the bloody hell is the world coming to?’

He heard an odd noise and looked up suspiciously. Angel was suppressing laughter—badly.

Spike gave him his stupid nonce look. He had the sudden and startling thought that Angel would not be finding anything amusing in his predicament had he known all that Spike now knew. It became obvious to Spike that Angel had secrets. But Spike also wondered if his taciturn, closed-off sire was actually aware that he had these secrets. It was amazing what a seven-year-old mind could choose not to remember.

He knew that from experience.

As reluctant as he had been to close his eyes in case he dreamt, he now felt overwhelmingly drained—as if he’d left something of his energy in the other place. He’d brought back a sore arse, so this exchange didn’t seem all that unlikely a prospect.

‘What’s up?’

Spike sank back onto the couch and put his head in his hands.

‘Spike?’ Angel sounded worried, but Spike couldn’t summon the energy to reassure him. He felt the couch depress, and then a cool hand returned to his forehead. That made him feel better—even though it was Angel, whom he detested. When the hand went to the back of his neck and began to rub gently, he felt better all over. He turned his face and said softly, ‘I think part of me is still there.’

Angel frowned, staring deeply into his eyes. ‘When did you last feed?’

Spike tilted his head. ‘Feed?’

‘That thing we have to do with blood?’



‘I—. I don’t remember.’

‘Uh huh.’ Angel got up and went to the refrigerator. The examination of the empty interior didn’t take him long. Without thinking, he murmured, ‘All these years, and I still need to look after you….’ Suddenly, he caught himself and said more brusquely, ‘I’ve some back at my place.’

‘Good for you.’

Angel waited patiently.

‘What if I have another… episode?’

Angel shrugged, which could have meant many things. Spike took it as a so what? and stood, shakily. ‘This does not represent a truce of any kind.’


‘We are not working together on this thing.’

‘Sure—you’re just gonna feed.’

Spike walked stiffly toward the door. ‘You ever been… spanked? As an adult, that is?’

Angel quirked up a lip. ‘Why?’

‘Cus, bloody hell, this hurts!’ Angel held the door as Spike limped through. ‘Do you think he hit something vital?’

‘Do you have anything vital?’

‘I’ve always valued my healthy dose of cynicism.’

‘Does it feel… damaged?’

‘Poof—and don’t think I didn’t notice that you didn’t answer my question.’

‘I’ve spent a hundred and twenty years avoiding embarrassing questions from you, Spike. I’m getting good at it.’

Spike gave him a sideward glance and huffed. He stopped to light a cigarette. Angel waited, watching him. Only when it was lit and Spike had taken his first puff did Angel say, ‘There’s something you’re not telling me.’

Spike lifted his eyes. ‘I think you know anyway.’

Angel lowered his gaze to the filthy floor of the sewer. ‘He hurt you… another way.’ That this was neither a statement nor quite a question did not escape Spike’s notice. It was as if Angel suspected something but could not clearly say what that suspicion was based upon.

Very carefully, he clarified, ‘It didn’t actually hurt, no.’

Dark eyes flicked to his and away. Angel began walking again.

‘You gonna maybe tell me what’s going on here, Angel—so I’m not walking in blind next time?’

Angel regained his confidence. ‘There’s nothing to tell. I wasn’t there long.’

‘And why’s that then?’

Angel pursed his lips, the hesitancy returning. ‘I don’t remember.’

‘That’s helpful.’

‘It’s the truth. I don’t remember. I was there, and then my father came for me, and I went home. I never went to school again—I had tutors.’

‘Oh, remind me not to apply for that job!’

He thought he heard a soft snort of amusement before Angel murmured, ‘There’s not a thing you could teach me, Spike.’

Something in Spike’s belly fluttered, and before he could stop himself he replied equally softly, ‘Is that so?’

‘I just said it.’

‘I might have to take that as a challenge.’

‘Take it anyway you want.’

* * * * * * *

Angel nodded at the man on the desk, and they rode up in the elevator together. Every so often, Spike sent a quick glance to Angel, only to find himself under a similar scrutiny. He was distracted, therefore, and not prepared for Angel’s next question. ‘Did he say why he was spanking you?’

The doors slid open, and as they make their way toward Angel’s office, Spike replied offhand, ‘He didn’t need to. I was a bloody pillock, that’s why. You can’t go round effing and blinding like a soddin’ demon in one of those priesty places, can you?’

‘You said the F-word to Father Michael?’ Angel removed the seven-year-old’s awe from his voice and repeated, ‘You said fuck to him?’

Spike stopped just inside the threshold of the office and folded his arms. ‘Michael? Details beginning to emerge are they, Angel—from that fog of memory? Or are you doling them out—like candy… to amuse yourself?’

Angel blushed faintly at this jibe. ‘I just remembered. Father Michael.’

‘Well then: yes, Father bloody Michael got his ears burned.’ He sighed. ‘It was dumb though. I’ll be more…circumspect… next time.’

Angel waved his hand vaguely at the elevator, something that seemed to make it work. ‘Maybe there won’t be a next time. Spike! Not again! Shit!’

Angel caught Spike as he fell, death-like toward the carpet. Surprisingly, there wasn’t much to him—far less than the damage he’d inflicted over the Cup of Perpetual Torment would suggest. He hefted the light figure over his shoulder and rode up in the elevator, shrugging him off onto the couch and going to the refrigerator.

By the time he got back, Spike was awake and staring thoughtfully at the ceiling. Angel sat alongside him. ‘What?’

Spike pouted. ‘Lightning tour that time. I was in the dormitory again. In bed.’

‘And… that’s good, yeah?’

‘Hmm. Could’ve been worse. Only….’ He looked at Angel. ‘Little you wasn’t in ‘is bed, and given what I now know, that’s kinda worrying.’

Angel flushed, put the mug of blood down and stood up, going back to the kitchen. ‘He probably went to piss.’

‘Probably.’ Angel could hear the doubt in Spike’s voice but ignored it.

‘What now?’

Angel turned. ‘Now?’

‘Well, yeah. I’m here; I’ve had me whistle-stop tour of the Angel brain; I’ve drunk me blood
now what?’

Angel had no idea how to respond to this. He hadn’t thought further than getting some blood into Spike, which would, hopefully, stop the visions—or whatever they were.

Spike sat up. ‘I’ll be going then.’

‘No.’ Angel pursed his lips, his brow lowering. ‘I think you should stay until we find out what’s causing this.’

‘Stay? Here? How’s that gonna bloody work? We hate each other!’

‘We can do that just as well here as anywhere else—I’ve find you eminently easy to hate wherever you are.’

Spike smiled softly and replied with a raised finger. Angel smiled too and went to the closet, rummaging for some blankets. Chucking them at Spike, he said, ‘Wesley will have this solved by tomorrow. We can not kill each other for one night.’

‘How come you get the bloody bed?’

‘Because it’s mine?’

‘Well, exactly: you get it all the time. ‘S only fair to offer it up to me!’

‘In your dreams, Spike.’

Spike gave him one of his best head tilts. ‘I might hold you to that.’

Angel turned away then turned back, his face a mask of cold neutrality. To an observer, his words might have seemed incongruous after Spike’s flirtatious remark. ‘Remember what I told you: there was no one—no one came to help me.’

The comment didn’t seem to confuse Spike, and he replied seriously, ‘Maybe cus I hadn’t been born.’

Angel hesitated, the mask slipping once more. ‘That’s... dumb.’

Spike shrugged. ‘It’s all dumb.’

Angel had no argument for this essential truth, so he turned and went into the bedroom, pointedly shutting the door.

Spike sighed, stripped off his boots and coat and, after a moment, added his shirt to the pile on the floor. He wanted a shower. He wanted a nice comfortable bed. He wanted other things, too, but he couldn’t see how, given the current circumstances, he was going to get them.

* * * * * * *

The couch was uncomfortable, and it became increasingly so as the hours ticked by. It also became more and more ridiculous that he was here at all. What could Angel do anyway? He was unforthcoming about what was happening; he denied his past; and he conveniently forgot details that might be useful…. Spike became increasingly angry that he’d allowed some spark of connection between them to blind him to the fact that there wasn’t a connection: never had been and never would be.

Finally, sometime after midnight, he shoved the blankets off and strode to Angel’s room.

He was about to launch into a tirade about the couch, in which he was also going to make it patently obvious that he wasn’t falling for this concerned-Angel act, when he realised that Angel wasn’t asleep either—that he was sitting up, his knees pulled up tightly and his arms wrapped around them as a child might do after waking from a fearful nightmare. Dressed only in thin, black cotton pants, his hard, bare torso reflected coloured lights from the window like an eerily flicking mosaic.

Spike went closer and murmured hesitantly, ‘Angel?’

Angel turned his face away, wiping it briefly on his knees. ‘What?’

‘I was going to ask you that. What’s wrong?’

‘Go back to bed, Spike.’

‘I can’t sleep.’

Angel turned to face him, and the streaks of tears were evident on his face. This threw Spike so badly that when Angel asked, ‘Another dream?’ he forgot what he had come in for and, without thinking, sank onto the edge of the bed.

Realising that Spike was staring in horrified fascination at his face, Angel rubbed it again, slid his legs flat and adjusted the sheet a little higher, saying irritated, ‘Go back to bed.’

The dark eyed child gave the answer Spike would have done to Angel. ‘I don’t want to.’

Spike said what Angel should be saying, ‘You have to.’

The boy shook his head. ‘I’m scared’

Spike sighed and accepted that he’d fallen hard into the dream.  They were squeezed together into one of the narrow beds, their hearts beating against each other. He whispered, ‘If they catch you in here, you’ll have something to really be scared about.’ The boy’s eyes filled with tears. ‘I want to go home.’

‘Yeah. I kinda have to agree with you there.’

The smaller figure sniffed and wiped his nose on Spike’s chest. ‘You talk strangely.’

Spike snorted. ‘I think you’ll still think that in three hundred years, pet. Mind you, you’ll be talking weird then, too.’

‘You’re funny.’

‘Mr Hilarity, me. What’s your name?’

‘You know what it is—

‘Nah, your real name—Christian name.’

The boy’s eyes widened. ‘You know we’re not allowed!’

‘Indulge me.’


‘Oh, bloody hell, so it is you. Look: you really need to go back to your own bed.’

‘I—I can’t.’

Spike heard something in the voice, saw the blush of shame and looked fearfully at the empty bed next to him. ‘You’re kidding, right?’

Liam shook his head sadly.

‘Oh, fuck.’

Angel was leaning over him, shaking him anxiously. ‘What?’

Spike debated telling him that his smaller self had wet the bed but, once more, felt that strange stab of affection for this hated creature, which had driven so many of his choices recently—certainly the ones that had led him to be here, in bed alongside the evil git. Besides, it was such good ammunition he wanted to savour it for a while. ‘I was there again.’

‘I got that.’

Spike suddenly got that he was on the bed, lying with his head on the pillow, Angel sitting cross-legged next to him. For some reason, he now wanted to drag out his tale: make it last long into the night. But it had been such a short visitation that he could not make it longer to tell than: ‘He was scared of something. It was night time again, and he was very scared.’

‘They were scary times, Spike. We were all scared: of devils, witches—God even.’

Spike rolled onto his side and propped his head up on his hand. ‘Nah. This was something more… tangible.’

‘Did he say what?’

‘Did you say what?’

‘You don’t know that—.’

‘He said he was called Liam.’


‘What were you so scared of, Angel?’

‘I’ve told you: I don’t remember. I remember nothing about it.’

‘Except for emeralds and the feel of greasy hands on you and hatred so bad that when you say the name Michael you pale?’

Angel made an angry, dismissive wave of his hand. ‘You take plain facts and make them sound romantically sinister.’

Spike hesitated but countered softly, ‘I wasn’t the one crying.’

Angel unfolded his long legs and climbed off the bed, going to stand by the window, looking out over the city.  After a moment’s hesitation, Spike rolled off, too, and stood alongside him. He debated saying something, but for once, the silence was remarkably comfortable. It was a pretty view—for a city. He suddenly had a longing for rolling hills and moors and bracken warming in the sun… which was spooky really as he’d never lived anywhere like that. He swallowed and said hesitantly, ‘Was the school in the country?’ Angel glanced over. ‘Everything was in the country then.’


‘Tell me….’ Angel looked down at his bare feet. ‘What did I look like?’

Spike felt a tremor of something deep in his gut, which was hot and pleasurable. It felt familiar, like something he used to feel in Angelus’s company—in Angelus’s favour. ‘You were excessively cute. Pale and kinda weedy but… cute.’

Angel twitched aside the blind, seemingly engrossed in what he could see outside the room. ‘I don’t remember my face at all.’

‘I don’t wanna remember mine.’

Angel glanced at him and smiled as if in some pleasant memory. ‘Go back to bed, Spike.’

Spike pouted. ‘I’m scared.’

Angel laughed. ‘Yeah. Like that’s convincing.’

Spike laughed, too. ‘Good try though. ‘Night.’

Angel nodded. ‘I would say sweet dreams, but I don’t want to be responsible for what that might mean.’

Slightly confused at this and needing to be on his own to puzzle it out, Spike went thoughtfully back to the unwelcoming couch.

Chapter 4

It seemed inevitable to Spike that he would return to the dream. Could Angel not see that his close proximity would precipitate whatever was happening: this plundering of memory—this altering of it?

The malnourished body lay naked in his arms: they’d spread the soaking nightshirt under them for their body heat to dry. Before dawn, he would rise and turn the thin, straw pallet dry side up. Both inadequate blankets covered them, and now they lay shivering gently in his bed, waiting for some warmth to be generated between them. As he pressed around the thin form, he felt its life surging under his hands: a belly rumbling faintly, snuffling sounds of breathing, warmth from the blood just under the surface of the hollows. Lying like this, so close, so tight to the child’s body, Spike had something of a revelation—something he had never thought to feel. An almost paternal need to protect the boy crept upon him. He tried to shake it off. He’d never had any contact with children, except for the occasional ones he’d eaten—and he’d always been glad to hand those back to Dru when they’d started crying.

Now, however, he wanted to bundle Liam up in the blankets and take him away from this place—this life. The boy seemed inexpressibly vulnerable and innocent, and when Spike considered all that was yet to come for this little scrap of life, his heart wept with pity. He would save Liam from that if he could, even if that inevitably meant he would not then exist. He shifted uneasily in the narrow bed, alarmed by yet another emergence of his odd, self-sacrificing obsession.

They were beginning to warm up. Liam had stopped shivering and was sleeping, worn out from the cold, lack of food, and fear of the nameless thing that they had yet to unravel.  Spike felt his own body relax, tension draining from him. His limbs became heavy, his half-sleeping thoughts confused. Soon, it was oddly comfortable on the thin, straw mattress; the blankets seemed heavier and warmer now, the sleeping body incredibly comfortable to cuddle. Suddenly, Spike opened his eyes and with a jolt of shock found himself staring at Angel’s sleeping face, inches apart on a pillow.

Angel’s arm draped over his waist, pulling them together, pinning them in this astounding embrace. Spike knew that he had not walked—asleep or awake—into Angel’s room, shed his clothes and climbed into bed with him. It was impossible that he would have forgotten that or that Angel would have tolerated it.  It occurred to Spike that perhaps he wasn’t shaping reality in the dream but that that reality was shaping them.

He had no idea what Angel would say or do when he woke to find them so. It could play out a number of ways, but none of them—as far as Spike could see—would be good. He tried to extricate himself without waking Angel, but as this attempted escape consisted only of thinking “I’d better go” it wasn’t particularly useful. Angel continued to sleep as if the exhaustion of the child affected the adult. His eyelids fluttered their long lashes on his cheeks.

Spike wondered what it was that this hated enemy dreamt.

Asleep, however, Angel wasn’t so easy to hate….

Asleep, Angel didn’t seem such of an enemy….

Desperate, Spike suddenly knew what was coming. He wrinkled his brow and fought it with every part of his powerful brain… to no avail. The intense surge of paternalism he’d felt for the child now spread over to embrace this sleeping man.

Spike now wanted to protect Angel.

Spike now wanted to take Angel away from this life.

Very carefully, in a mirror of Angel’s position on him, he lifted his arm and placed it over the muscular waist. It was a small claiming but a significant one: it was the first time he’d ever voluntarily touched Angel in anything other than anger. He closed his eyes to concentrate on the feel of their skin touching, and it wasn’t long before Spike came to the conclusion that these feelings were anything but paternal—although he did acknowledge that his experience of fathering wasn’t exactly extensive.  But the feelings he’d had so unexpectedly for the child hadn’t included a sudden surge of blood to the groin. They hadn’t made his balls clench. The touch of Liam’s skin hadn’t made his cock rise wetly, seeking some elusive satisfaction. But all of this was happening now.  His body felt more alive than it had since his return to corporeal form—as if it were sparking off the energy of Angel’s powerful life force. He was concentrating so hard on their bodies, in the darkness behind his closed lids, that he actually heard the moment Angel woke. He heard him open his eyes. He heard him thinking. He wished he could hear the outcome of this deliberation, but however tense and alert he was, however he strove to anticipate Angel’s reaction, he could not. Spike tensed some more, a powerful flight or fight response surging adrenalin around his body. Adrenalin and testosterone—a potent aphrodisiac of male chemicals pumped into the hot bed between them.

When Angel finally reacted with a hard, unmistakably sexual thrust of his hips, Spike was so wired all he could do was grunt: an exhalation of air that brought a reciprocal sound from Angel. Then Spike thrust back, and before they knew it, they were a tangled, hot mesh of hands and cocks with images of flesh flashing briefly before their eyes, before incredible, tingling, explosive releases.

They fell apart, panting.

Angel suddenly swung his arm and thumped Spike, hard.

Spike sat up and thumped him back.

Angel swung his legs off the bed and hissed, ‘Get out.’

Spike spat back, ‘Already got, Mate,’ and he had, stomping sticky and cross toward the couch to find his missing jeans.

They were nowhere to be found.

Angel watched the hunt from the corner of one eye then glanced around for his missing pants. They, too, had gone.

This somehow took all the responsibility for what had just happened off their shoulders: as Spike had suspected, he had not just left the couch, stripped and climbed naked into Angel’s willing arms; Angel had not been awake, naked and waiting for him. Somehow, their reality was being affected by the other place and thus, they both reasoned most satisfactorily, all events here could now be said to be magical and out of their control.

Angel grunted with the air of a man shedding all responsibility for something he didn’t want to think about anyway and pulled on some pants from the closet, grudgingly throwing Spike another pair. They watched each other cautiously, with tiny, hidden glances, circling each other metaphorically and sizing up some perceived threat.

Eventually, handing Spike a blood bag with as much grudging enmity as he had the pants, Angel snarled, ‘I could have easily staked you then instead of—.’ They both filled in the blank quite easily with words and phrases learnt over centuries of being male, sexual predators, contemplating the tangible evidence, which even now glistened on their naked chests. When Angel recovered, he added less vehemently, ‘We have to stop this—whatever it is.’

Spike nodded. He was having difficultly concentrating on anything Angel was saying or doing. Because, of course, this wasn’t Angel—or, at least, the Angel he detested so much that he could sometimes taste the bitterness of his loathing. This was his new Angel who had been birthed on a hot swell of paternal feeling then fed and reared on their potent fluids.


Spike wrenched himself back to the matter in hand and replied tetchily, ‘No argument here, Mate.’

‘And we don’t need to mention—.’ The blank again. It hadn’t lost any of its punch: it still screamed skin and hair and salty, shuddering release. It even smelt of male sex. Angel coughed and continued, ‘It was this damn dream thing. That’s all. There’s no requirement to discuss this with Wesley. It’s nothing to do with this… situation.’

The logic of this was so flawed it actually impressed Spike. He didn’t want to point this out though, because he was working hard to resist going up to Angel and kissing him. He merely nodded and reiterated, ‘Again: no argument here.’

‘I’m thinking maybe this was a bad idea—you being here. So close to—. I mean….’

‘Yeah. That’s what I thought.’ He waved vaguely toward the door. ‘I’d best go.’

Angel didn’t reply, a silent man with a great deal on his mind that he was unwilling or unable to say.

* * * * * * *

As Spike couldn’t decently wear the pants Angel had given him, he was forced to return to his own apartment. He didn’t want to. Crossing the threshold would challenge his new feelings for Angel. Perhaps, back in the real world—which his apartment represented—real feelings—hatred, disdain and a slight edge of fear—would return.

They didn’t. He stood for a while, listening for them, testing himself by conjuring images of Angel in his mind. They only made him grin shyly. Then they made him stiffen.

It was a vast emotional crisis. On top of the slipping-out-of-reality-and-into-an-eighteenth-century-Jesuit-school thing, it was all a bit too much. He slumped on the couch, unwilling to admit that thinking about Angel made him hard. Suddenly panicked, he conjured a favourite memory of Buffy to see if that now had the opposite effect. It had little effect at all: he stayed stubbornly uncomfortable on an Angel-induced hardon.

There was a better test though. He fished his erection out of the very loose fly of Angel’s pants and with his eyes closed, began to play with it. He kept his mind deliberately blank and waited to see which way his fantasies swung. Getting hard to thoughts of Angel was one thing; actually wanking off to images of his body was… a crisp work shirt falling off broad shoulders… quite another… pants sliding down smooth, muscled thighs… thing… Angel’s… thing… hidden and heavy under his shorts until… peeking out of a leg as he sits… just the head, slit wide and wet… adjusting himself… pausing… his hand playing… playing together… watching each other… fast and hard… a male challenge to come first, hardest… some other, more subtle challenge to come together…altogether.

He exploded with a shaky fist, milking heavy shots of sperm to splatter over the borrowed pants.

Spike’s head tipped back on the couch in complete resignation.

Here or in a dream, it didn’t matter: either way, he was entirely lost.

And it really pissed him off!

He opened his eyes and swore loudly. You didn’t just change an abnormally long lifetime’s hatred into intense lust with one vague thought about pretty eyelashes. It wasn’t possible. If he’d read it in a book, he’d have laughed and tossed the crap aside. It smacked of the plot contrivances of a bloody soap!

Suddenly, a grin spread across his face. He shook his head ruefully. It was all part of the magical influences from the dream. He didn’t really like Angel. He didn’t really love him. He certainly didn’t dribble embarrassingly at the thought of Angel’s hard cock spewing over him. None of it was for real. This was a liberating thought for it allowed him to strip, climb into a hot shower and beat off once more to the fantasy of Angel standing alongside him and soaping him down, without feeling one moment of confusion or guilt.

* * * * * * *

Angel watched Spike depart. He, too, stripped and showered. Then, unlike Spike who returned to bed for a few hours kip, he went down to work. He didn’t actually do any though—work. He was too preoccupied. He was beginning to remember, and
although this was startling in itself, it was not the thing that preoccupied him the most: he had remembered whilst inhaling the intense smell of Spike’s potent release.

He didn’t have a sharp memory—far from it
but snatches teased and tantalised his mind: the smell of burning, the intense lustre of an inlaid gold letter.  And a feeling of fear that made his gut lurch these three centuries later. He needed to explore these memories. He feared nothing (except himself) and would defeat this new (or ancient) fear if given the opportunity to face it straight on. But to jog the memory, he apparently needed… Spike. Spike and his… potency….

As the long day wore on, Angel came to the unpalatable, unthinkable conclusion that, somehow, he had to persuade Spike to move back in with him—not into his bed! That thought—Spike and sex—still made Angel gag, and not in a good way… he just needed the body around…. There was no chance whatsoever that anything else would develop between them again. What they had done together on waking was the result of a magical influence so powerful that it could disappear pants. He focused on this thought and almost believed it. He knew, however, that it was given a subtle lie to by his memory of waking alongside the sleeping Spike. He had heard his soft breathing, felt the warmth generated between them, and his hard, urgent thrust into a reciprocal hardness had been entirely premeditated and deliberate. But premeditated and deliberate could be due to magical influences…. He clung to this tiny spar of hope and concentrated solely on how to get Spike back into his… apartment.

This, he knew, was not going to be easy. Spike, justifiably, would now hate him more than ever, and Angel had never been unaware of just how much Spike did hate him. Not only did Spike hate him, though, he now had some real and powerful ammunition against him (besides the murder thing). Worse than the power to destroy him, Spike now had something that could humiliate him. When would Spike start to insinuate about the things they had done? Twisting and turning them to his own advantage….

He could not ask Spike.

He had to.

He needed to know what he didn’t know. Somehow, intuitively, he sensed that it had something to do with his current predicament… situation… vocation.

His hatred for Spike notched up in direct proportion to the number of ways he could imagine Spike refusing his proposal. He could hear the laughter, taste the derision. But he had to ask.

* * * * * * *

Spike appeared at the daily meeting. He was subdued, which Angel immediately tagged as sneaky. He was thoughtful, which was clearly just plotting. Those damn blue eyes kept glancing in his direction, but the look wasn’t really shy or considering: Spike was just testing him.

He waited until the others had filed out, and as he rose to return to his office, said casually, ‘I think while this thing is still happening you should move back….’

‘Okay! Yeah. I’ll go get my stuff.’ Spike nodded, more to himself than Angel, and strode off.

* * * * * * *

Angel sat at his desk, speechless, even though he was alone and had no one to talk to anyway.

He was trying to see Spike’s angle, but it eluded him. Then the suspicion, which he’d harboured secretly all along, that Spike was creating this whole elaborate charade for some nefarious reason of his own sprang unbidden to his mind. Was he being played? It felt like it. Why else would Spike leap at the chance to return to the scene of such acute embarrassment to them both?

Then Angel was glad he’d manoeuvred Spike back into his apartment: he could kill two birds with this one shift in habitation—he could use Spike to explore his suppressed memories, but he could also keep Spike under close observation and discover why and how he was contriving this whole debacle.

* * * * * * *

Angel had thought the previous night’s spillages had been embarrassing enough. Moving around Spike in his living space was worse. He’d watched silently as Spike made trips up in his elevator, carrying various boxes. When he finally called it quits for the night, he walked into a scene of domestic horror: clothes strewn over his furniture; books, CDs and weird shiny things littering the floor.

‘You’re only fucking here for a day or two!’ He shouted, for there was no sign of the culprit. He heard singing and looked incredulous toward the bathroom. Nowhere in his plans to have Spike in his apartment had he considered Spike actually… being in his apartment. He’d sort of seen him not there until he’d needed him—perhaps appearing as magically as his jeans seemed to have disappeared. This is not what he had intended at all!

Before he’d given it too much thought, he stormed across the bedroom and into the steam-filled bathroom.

The speed with which Spike covered himself with a towel threw Angel completely. Spike had never, in the hundred years plus of their acquaintance, missed an opportunity to flaunt his nakedness. It was one of Angel’s abiding sources of hatred for his childe: this implied jibe about his lack of self-confidence and reluctance to expose his body. That he was merely modest seemed never to have occurred to Spike. A little incident recently with Eve, though, had altered Angel’s views on all of this. Walking out of the shower naked, standing blatantly before her, smelling her arousal and pointedly remaining flaccid had been an act of pure hatred and sexual domination. He realised now, for the first time, that Spike’s flaunting had been systematic of his hatred and disdain, too. So, why this odd modesty now?

Spike was shifting from one wet foot to another, waiting for something. Angel gritted his teeth and turned away. ‘Tidy up your shit.’

‘I need some… closet space.’

Whoa! Spike sharing his closet had never been part of the deal! ‘You have boxes. Use them.’

Before he could leave for the relative sanity of the living room, a soft voice asked, ‘Where am I going to sleep?’

‘What?’ He turned, not sure whether to be incredulous or amused.

‘The couch is kind of… uncomfortable.’

‘And you are kind of… a vampire.’

Spike gave him a small, spiteful look, which, thankfully, was much more like the old Spike. ‘I didn’t know that. Thanks for telling me.’ He pushed past Angel and went toward the living room, shedding his towel, Angel noticed, long before he got there.

Angel felt he’d failed some sort of test for which no one had prepared him or explained the rules, but he didn’t dwell on it: he was too busy not watching Spike’s tight, pale buttocks.

A shiver began in the small of his back, travelled up his spine and exploded in the back of his head. Pale buttocks fell through darkness, glowing, and were then gone. He suddenly needed to vomit, but would never show such weakness in front of his childe.

* * * * * * *

Spike lit a cigarette, having conversations with Angel in his head. He vented his spleen over the git and then made Angel grovel and plead for his love.

Why had he asked him to come back here if he hadn’t also wanted to explore this incredible thing that seemed to be happening between them? As he’d moved his meagre possessions into Angel’s apartment during the afternoon, it had gradually occurred to him that this new, strange passion for Angel was neither so new nor so strange.  When looked at in some lights, he could see that his relationship with Angel had always been passionate. And he had not always hated Angel as much as he had in Sunnydalethat had been a low point for them both. There had been a time when he’d felt friendship and approval from Angelus, although he was well aware that his sire’s moods were wild and unpredictable and often appeared one thing when they were actually quite another.

For all that, he had lived with Angelus and hunted with Angelus by his side for decades and though the fat git might deny it now, they had shared a bed many times over those long years. Sure, nothing unmanly—as he would then have termed it—had ever occurred, but they had curled together for animal companionship and protection and had never found that strange or embarrassing.

Not now though apparently!

Oh, no! The high and mighty, I’m—the—CEO….

Spike blinked.

He hadn’t felt the unfiltered sunlight for so long that it never ceased to shock him into insensibility when he did… and why
could anyone tell him this?—had he wasted his goddamn ring running after that bloody bint, instead of plonking himself down and enjoying a nice little bit of bronzing? Didn’t matter how many times he asked himself that….



‘Run! Damn you, run!’

Spike ran. It was too bright to see where he was going, so he collided with something hard and black. They went down in a tangle of limbs. A man was laughing, and bright green eyes twinkled out at him as a young priest untangled them and stood up. ‘You’re supposed to run after the ball, Kelly, not the batsman!’

For something to say, because it seemed appropriate and he was too disoriented to say anything more useful, Spike murmured, ‘You’re English.’

The priest tipped his head to one side and laughed again. ‘And will you never cease pointing that out to me?’ He held up a bat and caressed it lovingly. ‘It’s why I’m trying to bring God’s game to you heathen Irish—but don’t tell Father Michael I said that!’

At that name, Spike looked anxiously around. They were on a bright, sunlight green lawn, boys milling aimlessly around. He spotted Liam, sitting off to one side on his own and heaved a small sigh of relief.

The Father watched him closely and said, more of an observation than a question, ‘You’re fond of him.’

Spike took it as a statement and decided that a reply was neither wise nor necessary: he was wary of colouring any response about the child with his new feelings for the adult.  ‘He needs a good friend, Kelly. I’m glad to see you taking him under your wing… only… he’s very young—too young to be here, I would say. You must be… cautious.’

Spike glanced up, squinting into the bright light. ‘Cautious?’

The Father blushed faintly. ‘Strong attachment between boys is laudable as long as they remain… pure in God’s eyes.’

Spike snorted, and before he could stop himself, or think of his earlier promise to be more circumspect, he blurted out, ‘Maybe God should fasten his bloody peepers first on his so-called representatives on earth!’

The Father’s hand whipped out and caught Spike’s ear. ‘I chose not to believe the things they’re saying about your blasphemous tongue, child, but you speak like the very devil himself!’

Spike bit his tongue on his more natural reply and said in one of his practised, contrite tones, ‘I’m sorry… Father. I spoke… hastily.’

The twinkle returned, and the priest rubbed Spike’s ear thoughtfully. ‘Be a friend to the little one.’

* * * * * * *

Dream and reality merged again. Spike did not crash cleanly back to his own body. The rubbing of his ear continued, and on the confusion of hearing the familiar endearment, he opened his eyes to find he was lying on the couch with Angel sitting alongside him… rubbing his ear. No… holding a bloodstained cloth to it.

Angel sat back slightly as the eyes opened. ‘You faint
fell and hit your head on the table. And you’re….’

There was something in Angel’s voice that made Spike say alarmed, ‘What?’

‘You’re blistered.’

Spike looked down at his naked body, covered only by the towel he’d dropped in another lifetime to provoke Angel with his backside, and saw the angry sun-welts that blistered his arms. ‘We were playing cricket….’ He began to laugh uncontrollably at nothing and everything.

Angel closed his eyes. ‘This can’t be happening. I’ve never played….’ Then his hands on Spike tensed.

Spike closed his fingers around Angel’s wrist so tightly Angel was forced to open his eyes. Pointedly, slightly venomously, he said, ‘You’ve started to remember, haven’t you? You bastard! Were you going to mention it?’

Angel dropped the cloth he was still holding to Spike’s head, but left his hand there, extending his fingers and pushing them into the wet, tousled hair. ‘I started to remember after we—. After—. You sparked some memories, yes.’

Spike twisted his head away from a caress that only a few moments ago he’d have relished and struggled to sit up. ‘That’s why you invited me back here?’

Angel frowned. ‘Why else?’

Spike sagged but gave himself some credit for not doing this visibly. ‘Yeah. Why else.’ He was a prat—love’s bloody bitch still, and he hated it. He hung his head. ‘I’m not staying if—.’ Angel suddenly pressed his lips ardently to the hollow of Spike’s neck and his tongue darted out to taste the shower-warm flesh. Spike’s belly fluttered. He closed his throat on a groan of desire.

Just as suddenly, Angel leant back on the couch and shaded his eyes with his hand.

Spike turned almost in slow motion to the silent figure, his whole body tingling as if Angel’s tongue had explored all his secrets.

What was he remembering?

What had the smell and taste of his body prompted from that silent figure?

Spike watched the perfectly shaped lips beneath the hand, wondering if they would open and tell. Had he ever noticed how beautiful Angel’s mouth was before? Of course he had: it had been the instrument of their first, intimate acquaintance. What was Angel seeing? Did he remember a beautiful English priest with twinkling green eyes? Did he remember a day so sunny that it seemed impossible anything bad could happen within its bright embrace? Or was he seeing beneath the surface of things, colouring what had been with knowledge of all that was yet to come? Was he visiting a world made entirely of Angel’s warped memories, or had a real boy sat alongside a real cricket field in eighteenth century Ireland, looking as if the weight of the world were upon his shoulders even then?

He put a hand to the tingling flesh where Angel’s lips had touched him and heard a soft plea, ‘Let me help you remember it all, Angel,’ but the words were spoken only in his head. In his experience, confessions of love were best to be avoided: they left you so defenceless that you offered yourself as a sacrifice for the world when all you really wanted was a little kindness and affection.

His feelings for Angel were so complex and so confused that he could not use any previous experience to help him out anyway. He only knew he wanted to do what the pretty priest had urged: he wanted to look after this little one, and it seemed to him that this was the closest he’d ever felt to real love.

Chapter 5

 ‘Let’s go out.’

Angel started from his reverie and lowered his hand. ‘What?’

Spike slid further away on the couch, to give them both some space and repeated, ‘Let’s go out.’

‘On a… date?’

Spike laughed then reined it in at Angel’s confused expression. ‘I meant to hunt… but I’ll buy ya some flowers first if you like.’

Angel’s expression mellowed, and he huffed ruefully. ‘You meant patrol, I guess, not… hunt?’

Spike faltered then laughed and thumped him playfully. ‘Whatever. Better than sittin’ round here getting in each other’s way.’

‘It’s my apartment.’

‘Well, it’s temporarily mine now, too….’

Angel pursed his lips for a moment then leapt up, physicality and enthusiasm suddenly scenting the air. ‘Yeah. Let’s go.’

* * * * * * *

They changed and met at the elevator. Angel nodded toward Spike’s arms. ‘You… okay?’

Spike grinned infectiously, ‘Who’d’ve thought I’d get a bloody sunburn…? Ain’t life grand?’

Angel smiled shyly and as they waited for the doors to open murmured, ‘We could stop—buy some… lotion….’

‘You offering to… smooth it on?’

‘Stop it.’

‘Stop what?’

‘Being… weird. You’ve been weird since—.’ The blank was getting predicable. For one moment, in his mind, Angel named what they had done—cocks fisted; foreskins dragged down and explored; balls mouthed and stretched; come splattered wetly between them—but the words remained in his head, and he only repeated, ‘Stop it.’

Spike nodded contritely, waiting the perfect amount of time then asking slyly, ‘And you invited me back again because…? Sorry, I forgot your excuse….’ He got a childish thump for his troubles, which delighted him. He lit a cigarette and followed Angel through the deserted offices, watching the flow of the dark the coat and remembering what lay beneath.

* * * * * * *

It was the perfect antidote to everything. They both felt it: strolling through the warm night air; feeling the throb of blood around them; listening to this and to their souls, a contradictory habit that thrilled as much as it confused.  They headed toward the centre of town for a change, where the innocent nightlife would be. Angel did not confirm that he was anxious about Spike’s vulnerability given his tendency to leave his body every so often, and Spike did not call him on this decision to probably avoid any action at all. They watched the theatregoers and couples on dates happily, without missing, for once, the thrill of the kill.

When Spike finally spoke, Angel wondered if his childe had read his mind, or at least was thinking about sunburn on pale skin, as he was, for Spike flicked his cigarette butt away and said casually, ‘You have played cricket, by the way.’

Angel gave him a silent, sidelong glance.

‘Remember? In France that time, we were crossing the Alps or some damn hills, and it was bloody freezing, and we came across those old men playing with their balls?’

Angel sighed with weary, almost fond resignation. ‘It was the Vosges and boules.’

‘Whatever. Anyway, you said we could teach them a better game, and I thought you meant cricket.’

‘You always were a moron.’

‘Well, Jesus, Angel, they were all old and wrinkly. Never occurred to me you wanted to eat them!’

Angel pouted. ‘It was cold.’

‘So, we kinda played cricket with them—in the snow.’

‘They didn’t like fielding the boules we hit at them, did they?’

Spike sighed. ‘No.’ He pouted, too, and looked at his feet. ‘It was funnier then.’ After a while he asked softly, ‘Is this why we never talk now? Cus there’s not one thing we can say that won’t… hurt.’

Angel turned his head and looked carefully at him, then he huffed as if surprised that Spike had got this at last.

Spike lit a cigarette then said deceptively casually, ‘Maybe we should make some new, better memories.’

‘You’re doing that weird thing again.’

‘No, seriously, we could do this more often, for a start.’

‘Wander aimlessly around looking good in leather?’

‘Oh, fuck off.’

Angel smiled. ‘I guess we could. I save hundreds of people every day—apparently. But it’s not the same, ya know? Not the same as that one time you physically help someone….’

‘Best save ever? Quick.’

Angel laughed. ‘That’s easy: Buffy
from you.’

Spike twitched up his shoulder and considered the end of his cigarette. ‘I could say the same thing….’

‘You weren’t saving Buffy; you were hitting me with a tyre iron because you could and because you enjoyed it.’

‘Well, duh. But I was also saving Dru.’

‘Dru was never in any danger from me, Spike.’

‘Until you set ‘er on fire—don’t think I didn’t hear ‘bout that.’

You chained her up and tried to stake her!’

‘I wouldn’t really have done it! Jesus. Dru was my—.’

‘I know. I know she was.’

‘Bugger. We’re back to the hurt again.’

‘Then let’s go in there.’

Before Spike could reply, Angel was jogging across the street.

Spike caught up with him. ‘You’ve gotta be joking! In there?’

Angel was caught up with the beautiful patterns of coloured glass in the windows so only murmured, ‘Yeah.’

Spike glanced around to see if anyone he knew was watching then skulked into the church after Angel, half under the cover of his duster.

They sat at the back. Spike glanced around then sighed. ‘It’s not what I had in mind for our first date, pet.’

‘Weird thing again….’

‘Nice singing, though.’

‘Yeah. Shhh.’

Angel stretched his arms along the back of the wooden pew and closed his eyes. It was nice singing. It had always been nice: the only times he’d not been afraid. Why had he then had the voice of an angel when now he couldn’t hold a note? Perhaps his ability to sing God’s praises had been stolen along with his soul.

* * * * * * *

Spike watched Angel’s profile, studied the shape of his nose, the lay of his hair, the curve of his lips. He had been unchanging for all the decades that Spike had known him. It was as if the individual parts of Angel’s face were burned into his brain—like letters, which he could always construct to make one perfect word, never forgetting, despite the long passage of years, how to read the whole from the parts. In all the years that he had hated Angel, he’d never been blind to his beauty. Perhaps he’d always been a little seduced by it. Angelus had come to him like poetry and the power of his rhyme still resonated in Spike’s heart.

Disbelieving what he did, he put his hand lightly to Angel’s sleeve and stretched his fingers over the hardness beneath.

The dark coat swam before his eyes. When clarity returned, black cloth was still under his fingers; it was still hard like steel beneath, only now it wasn’t Angel he touched, nor was it a sleeve.

* * * * * * *

Angel felt the light touch, but before he could open his eyes or rise to whatever it was Spike was trying to piss him off with now, Spike fell on him.

He cursed, glanced around, then turned Spike so he was lying across the pew, head in his lap. His eyelids were fluttering, and his body felt as if electricity sparked through it. He wasn’t sure where to put his hands, so for wont of somewhere better, laid one over Spike’s forehead. The other seemed to fall naturally to his chest, and he could feel the sharp outline of Spike’s breastbone beneath the T-shirt. Spike jerked and with some long-forgotten ability to give comfort, Angel began to stroke his forehead. ‘Wake up.’ He did not expect Spike to hear this low hiss, so was not disappointed when the response was another jerk, this time accompanied by a small moan.  ‘It’s nice to see you in God’s house again.’

Angel looked up at the amused voice into a pair of green eyes. He blinked. A spasm shot through the hand that stroked Spike’s forehead. ‘This can’t be happening.’

‘What, my son? What do you think is happening here?’

You. You can’t be—.’

‘God’s ways are mysterious.’

‘No. I have to get out—. What do you want from me?’

‘I’ve come to collect.’

Angel rose, gathering Spike in his arms like a soldier bearing a fallen comrade off some furious battlefield. He backed away from the figure and made for the door.

‘Wait!’ Angel turned, his eyes wide and fearful, as if he had finally found something in the world that he was afraid of. The young priest took a step forward and held out a stack of papers. Frowning, he said softly, ‘Song sheets. I was collecting song sheets. I’m so sorry. Are you… okay?’

Angel blinked and saw only confusion in a pair of ordinary, grey eyes.

Nevertheless, he kicked the doors open and strode out into the night, carrying his unconscious burden.

* * * * * * *

Spike regained consciousness when they reached the street. Angel heard a hissed curse and eased him down, holding him until he stood by himself.

Spike’s face was lowered. Angel glanced fearfully back at the church. ‘I—. We need to speak with Wesley. Something just happened—.’

Without speaking or giving any other indication that he had heard Angel’s words, with a cry of distress, Spike took off running
—with an odd gait. Angel caught him as he tore through a park, not taking the paths, but crashing heedless through the trees. He tackled him and brought him down in a hard, painful crash to the ground. ‘Spike!’

Spike didn’t put up a fight. He seemed to have had it knocked out of him—whether by the fall or by something else, Angel couldn’t tell. ‘What the hell did you take off like that for? I saw something in the church. Something that might—.’

‘I’m not interested anymore.’

‘Huh?’ Angel let him get up, watching warily to see if he would bolt again. He began to brush down his clothes, watching Spike cagily. ‘You can’t just—.’

‘I can do anything I sodding well like. This is over.’

‘You mean you think you won’t dream again?’

‘I know I won’t. If I ignore it, then it’s not happening.’ On this burst of exceptional logic, Spike squared his shoulders, lit a cigarette and began to walk, as a man without a care in the world, toward the path.

Angel jogged to catch him up, not sure what was happening or how to tackle this new twist in Spike’s mood. ‘I think I saw one of the fathers from—.’

‘Window.’ Spike actually held up the palm of his hand in a childish gesture of not being able to hear and began humming tunelessly.

They came to the entrance of the park, and when Spike hesitated, Angel got that he was debating which way to turn. Right led them back to Wolfram and Hart, left to Spike’s apartment. Spike ground out his cigarette and turned right. Wondering why he felt such a sense of relief, Angel tagged along behind.

‘Are you going to run off again if I ask you a question?’

‘Depends what it is.’

‘Why were you limping when you ran? Why are you limping now?’

Spike’s shoulders clenched, and he lit another cigarette, a sure sign to Angel, who was very familiar with all Spike’s defensive gestures, that this line of questioning bothered him. ‘That’s two questions.’

‘Yeah, and I’m gonna ask another.’

‘Don’t bother.’

‘What happened?’

‘I’m coming back to get my clothes and shit, but that’s it, Angel. I’m not involved in this anymore.’

‘I saw one of the priests.’

Spike whirled around, tapping the side of his head. ‘Are you impaired? I told you! I’m not doing this anymore!’

‘The only way that’s going to be true is if we do do it
—play it through.’

Spike poked him hard in the chest. ‘But it’s not you doing it, is it? And, Angel, one thing it’s not is play.’

‘Tell me what happened.’


By this, Spike confirmed that there was something to tell, so Angel let it drop temporarily as they walked back to the apartment.

* * * * * * *

As they stood in the living room, Angel could not but help notice the change in the atmosphere between them. He felt shut out where before there had been some sort of… connection. He missed it enormously. He wanted to reach out and hold Spike’s arm and somehow shake the truth out of him. Before he could act, Spike turned and said in an odd voice, ‘Mind if I take a shower?’

Angel nodded and shrugged. ‘Sure.’

Spike bent stiffly and gathered some clean clothes and without another word went through the bedroom and into the bathroom. Angel had the distinct impression that if there had been a door, it would have been firmly closed and securely locked.

There wasn’t a door though.

He paced, thinking about this omission.

Before he could talk himself out of something that might have long-term and unfortunate consequences if he got it wrong, he walked into the steam and braced his arms across the shower stall.

To his surprise, Spike did not turn his back to him, but neither was he flaunting his nakedness. He just stood there, looking defeated, the water streaming over his pale body, dripping off his long cock and glistening in droplets on the natural, dark hair.

‘What happened?’ Before Spike could respond, Angel glanced down at the water. Blood. To his heightened senses, the faint smell of blood was discernable over the scent of the soap.

Spike saw the look, and his eyes widened. ‘Get out.’

Angel stepped under the spray, ignoring the wetting and seized his shoulders. Spike fought back, but he was wet and naked and smaller, and it seemed as if he’d done all his fighting already that night. He just let it go: the struggle, the anger, the self-control. He tipped his head back and cried out, an animalistic cry of fury as Angel turned him around.

He was a mass of bruising. As with the sunburn, the physical frailties of his human, dream-self had returned with him to this reality. But the bruising was entirely localised: the tops of his thighs and buttocks mottled black and yellow. There was no sign of an open wound, however. Before Angel could ask, Spike turned his head and gave him a look that told him, without words, exactly where the source of the blood was and why. At that look, something deep inside, where Angel held his most private self, melted. Some barrier through which he had always filtered his view of Spike dissolved, and for the first time he saw in front of him not Spike, with all the associated baggage that came with that name, but just another man. Without the barrier, this man was just someone who was hurt, but someone who was too strong and too proud to speak that hurt aloud.

Angel’s face creased with pity, and more to hide the fact that he wanted to cry than to comfort Spike, he dragged him into a rough and ready embrace, tightening his arms around the resistant figure. ‘Are you… okay?’ It was pathetic, inadequate, but it was all he could think of to ask.

Spike swallowed and eased himself out of Angel’s arms. ‘I need to—.’ He faltered and tipped his head back once more to regain control. ‘Just let me get clean, yeah?’

Angel reluctantly nodded and stepped, soaking, back out of the water. ‘I’ll heat you some blood.’

Spike nodded, his eyes dull, as he watched Angel walk away.

* * * * * * *

By the time Spike had emerged from the water and dressed, Angel had changed his clothes, called Wesley and outlined some of the night’s events—without going into specifics—warmed some blood for them both and ordered in some food that he thought Spike would like.  Keeping busy kept his mind off what he had seen and, more importantly, thinking about what might have happened. He watched the listless figure cross to the living room, watched him dress, and then went in, carrying two mugs of blood. Spike took his without interest and went to the window.

Angel came and stood alongside him. ‘I know you don’t want to do this thing anymore, and that’s okay, Spike. Whatever you want, only…’ he hesitated ‘it’s going to happen again, isn’t it? Whether you want it to or not….’ Spike made no indication that he heard. ‘When you were unconscious in the church, I saw a priest… I thought I saw a priest that I had known back then. I remember him vaguely. But it wasn’t him—of course. That’s the first time I’ve been… involved… as well…. Say something… please….’ When nothing was forthcoming, he continued, ‘Things are coalescing to something. I feel it. Wesley’s agreed—.’

‘You told the human?’

Angel felt the words like the backlash of a whip and winced. ‘No! I told him you’d been… beaten.’

Spike seemed to regret his outburst, betraying as it did the fragility of his carefully constructed air of detachment. He buried his face in the mug and drank deeply. For the first time, Angel noticed the collar around his neck
fingers of bruising where he had been held down.

Angel’s cell rang, making them both jump, and he answered it, eyes on Spike’s lowered head. A few moments later, the elevator doors slid open on some bags, which he brought further into the apartment. ‘I didn’t know what you’d like, so I got something of everything.’

‘What is this, Angel? I said I’m going.’

‘You can eat first then.’ Trying not to seem desperate, he pushed Spike’s wet towel off the couch, sat, and began to lay out some of the aromatic, steaming dishes.

Spike sat down but didn’t touch the food. He seemed to be finding fault with his cuticles, ripping at them angrily.   Softly, Angel murmured, ‘I preferred it when you were being weird.’

Spike’s eyes lifted to his, some decision seeming to flicker, unmade, in their blue depths. Angel slowly handed him a prawn cracker. ‘You were occasionally weird with me back in day, Will. Not all our memories are painful…. Do you want to, maybe, just… trust me?’

Spike held the cracker loosely in his hand, clearly with no intention of eating it. But his decision seemed to have been made, for he relaxed very slightly and said simply, ‘I can still feel him… inside.’

Angel’s head jerked back. Spike was watching his reaction carefully. At something he saw in Angel’s shock, he asked woodenly, ‘How could you have forgotten something like that?’

Angel rose, agitated. ‘I’ve told you: I don’t remember any of it. If I’d remembered anything like… that… I would have told you: warned you! What the fuck do you think I am, Spike?’

Spike rose, too, not so wooden suddenly. ‘I think you’re the man who murdered me, has hated me for decades and only two days ago told me that he’d leave me back in that place if he could—permanently! That’s what I think you are!’

‘Oh, God! What a freaking mess!’ Before he knew what he was doing, Angel’s arm shot out, and he snagged Spike to him. He wrapped his arms tightly around Spike’s neck. ‘Why are you paying for my sins? I should be the one this is happening to.’

He suddenly released him but, keeping his eyes on Spike, went to the phone. He stabbed a number and said, ‘Order the jet. I need it tonight.’ Spike’s mouth opened slightly as if to protest, but he said nothing. Angel nodded at some agreement he saw in this silence and added, ‘Two passengers to Galway. If we can’t land there, then Shannon. We need a suitable car waiting.’

Chapter 6

Packing, taking a car to the airport, all passed in a blur of silent anxiety. Every so often, Angel would glance obliquely at Spike, but he could not order his thoughts enough to express them. Finally, as they took their seats in the jet early the following afternoon, facing each other either side of a small window, he said, ‘Are you… okay?’ He hated this useless repetition of something so weak, but he could not articulate his concern any better. ‘Do you want to see a… doctor, or something?’

Spike didn’t look at him, but stared listlessly out of the window. ‘Would you?’

That silenced Angel for a while. It churned in his gut, thinking about what had happened, feeling a confusing sense of something being taken from him. Finally, unable to stand the uncharacteristic, depressed silence from his companion, he said tetchily, ‘You are a vampire, Spike.’

Spike nodded, as if this observation—that he shouldn’t, couldn’t, feel such pain or humiliation—was apposite, but he pointed out curtly, ‘I brought back the damage to the child.’

This effectively silenced Angel as he dwelt on the implications of this for his childe.

To his surprise, Spike was the first to ease the tension between them. Somewhere over the north Atlantic, he asked softly, ‘And we’re doing this because…?’

Angel sighed, a tiny sigh of relief, keeping inside his sudden surge of joy: if Spike could ask that, he was recovering from the shock. He grimaced. ‘I got tired of being on the defensive.’

‘We’re going…?’

‘On the offensive, yeah.’

‘Uh huh.’ Spike lit a cigarette. Watching him do this simple, yet so familiar a thing made Angel’s guts wrench with something deeply pleasurable. He had the absurd notion to touch Spike, but he couldn’t see this little scene actually play out: it was too not what they were about. Despite this conclusion, he slid his foot across the small gap that separated them and kicked Spike gently in the shins. ‘Welcome back.’

Spike looked up. His eyes flashed with amusement and something else, which Angel could not discern, and then he said, ‘Ponce,’ distinctly and kicked him back, only harder.

* * * * *

Just as he had held Spike in the church, just as he had embraced and held him since then, Angel now found himself doing small, uncharacteristic kindnesses for Spike. He could not say why he made sure he was well fed; he could not say why he fetched him blood and snacks and drinks from the bar. Some part of these small acts of kindness was to distract himself from dwelling on what had happened and how it made him feel, but a much larger part was to act out genuine contrition for his guilt. It wasn’t every day someone else got raped in his memories. So he tolerated Spike’s music playing, encouraged him to get drunk and focused entirely on Spike’s comfort as they flew on, getting closer and closer to some enemy that he had no idea how to defeat.

* * * * * * *

Spike pretended to be drunk and therefore silent and half asleep so he could watch Angel. He knew exactly what Angel thought had happened—he’d planted and cultivated that suspicion since he’d regained consciousness outside the church; although, at first, this had not been deliberate. He had been in shock, and all he had wanted was to hide what had happened from Angel as well as from himself. So he’d run. Then the unspoken lie had taken on a life of its own, and he was living it here and now… with Angel: Angel now treating him as he’d wanted to be treated for ten decades, but never had… Angel being the companion he had once been for such a short time of bright delight that Spike now remembered it almost with bitterness for the unfulfilled expectations it had birthed.  All this, given life on one huge lie of omission and silence. Guilt ate at him.

His frightening new love for Angel had not changed. Angel was now exactly the man he wanted to love. It would be so simple to lean forward and cup Angel’s face in his hands and press their mouths together. Angel would respond to the kiss. He knew this. Out of guilt, out of confusion, Angel would respond, and then this response would turn into something more. Something better for both of them.

Only now, he couldn’t. Now the lie lay heavy and squalid between them. He didn’t deserve anything from Angel but disdain, and the irony—that he finally deserved Angel’s hatred just as this hatred was finally over—kept him silent and sad for the rest of the trip. He pretended to be drunk just as effectively as he pretended everything else in his damned life. Damned. For what he had done, he was surely damned now. In his over-active imagination, the faint smell of jet fuel became the sulphurous gasses of hell.

* * * * * * *

In a small, private jet, they were able to land at Galway. A jeep with vampire-safe glass, courtesy of the Dublin branch of the firm, was waiting for them as they stepped out of the tiny terminal in the pre-dawn soft light.

Angel slid behind the driver’s seat and stared ahead for a moment, deep in thought.

Spike watched the familiar profile and asked a question he’d always wanted to ask. ‘How come you’ve never been back?’

Angel turned, and they held each other’s gaze for a moment. ‘If you’d asked me that before all this started, I’d have said because there was nothing here for me anymore. Now? I’m not so sure. Maybe there’s too much.’

Spike closed his eyes for a moment then opened them and nodded. ‘Okay, let’s go find out what.’

Angel smiled and then with a small frown of wonder put his fingers to Spike’s cheek. ‘You… still with me here?’

Spike’s heart ached with the need to confess.

‘What, Spike? Tell me…?’

‘Nothing.’ He turned to stare out of the side window. Angel’s hand hovered for a moment and was then withdrawn. With a twitch of his jaw, Spike added, ‘Light’s comin’; let’s find that hotel.’

Angel watched him for a moment longer, unconsciously rubbing his fingers where they had touched the cool face, then he nodded and turned his attention to the unfamiliar vehicle.

* * * * * * *

Dawn rose over a landscape that had not changed since Angel’s last sojourn to its barren mystery. He drove with one hand on the wheel, careless on the empty, straight road, staring out at the windswept moors, deep in his own thoughts.

‘You’re remembering.’

The soft comment pulled his attention back to his companion, and he nodded. ‘But later. When I was older.’

‘Good memories?’

Angel laughed. ‘I’m not sure I’d know what one of those was.’

Thinking he’d replied too harshly or too cynically or just too not something he now wanted to be with Spike
for whatever confusing reason that wasAngel was about to moderate his reply, when Spike asked wistfully, ‘Do you think that’s why we become… vampires?’

‘Huh? We don’t become. We’re… done unto—as you never cease to remind me.’

‘Yeah, but what makes one person more susceptible to that than another?’


‘Well, yeah, it’s like lightning: some people are just susceptible to getting hit.’

Angel chuckled. ‘Are you likening me to lightning in your life?’

At the subtle, flirtatious tone, Spike seemed to visibly shrivel, and Angel immediately said, ‘Sorry,’ which didn’t help the situation at all, so they stayed silent by mutual agreement until they reached the hotel.

It was the first time that they really took in they were no longer in America. No recreation of the “old country” could have achieved what was natural within this small hotel. Angel ran his hand over a balustrade that had been supporting hands when his were still human. He walked on flagstones that might have once borne his human steps. He took adjoining suites, hefted his bag and followed Spike up the dark, almost oppressive staircase.

* * * * * *

They were glad to part for a while, to secure their own rooms against light, to find some space from the intense emotions that they had brought to this old country. But like moths, drawn back to a flame of habit, within an hour, Angel knocked on the adjoining door, and Spike let him in, chucking him a beer from the mini bar.

‘It’s kinda early.’

‘It’s bedtime for us.’

They both made wry faces and moved swiftly on from this unfortunate comment. ‘So… where was this school of yours?’

‘Few miles west of here.’

‘Can you go any further west without fallin’ off?’

Angel smiled. ‘I could hear the ocean sometimes on quiet nights.’

It was on the tip of Spike’s tongue to make a comment about conveniently selective memory, but he let it go. He was acutely aware of the close proximity of the place now and feared plummeting back into the dream. Talking about it as well wouldn’t help.

He sat on the end of his large, comfortable bed and opened his beer. Angel sat on one of the easy chairs and looked at his watch. ‘I’m still on our time. Wesley might be at work.’

Spike snorted as if there were no question about this. While Angel checked in and updated his friend on the situation, Spike flicked channels on the TV, clearly disgusted by what was on offer on two terrestrial channels in the west of Ireland at six in the morning.

When this was done, they could sense the light behind the drapes and knew it was time for them to separate and sleep. Spike suddenly seemed fascinated in an Open University, black and white programme on wave creation in the southern Pacific. Angel was engrossed in the “This is Galway” information pack that had been out on the table. They could hear the tick of a clock somewhere in the room. A car went past. Spike made to light a cigarette then seemed to think better of it. Reluctantly, he turned off the television. ‘Well, I’d better crash….’

Angel nodded and rose, seemed about to say something, but obviously thought better of it and went back through the adjoining door.

He did not, Spike noticed, close it fully.

It was then like an itch he could not scratch. He wanted to close it; he wanted to open it more. Either, he knew, would say more about them than it would about the position of a door.

He tossed and turned, unable to sleep. Before his latest visit to the dream world he would have taken his courage in his hands and gone through the door to whatever lay for him on the other side. But now, he didn’t deserve what that might be. This new Angel (who now seemed to need no fond imagination from him to conjure) had grown from a lie. Whatever developed between them, based on a lie, would—.

Spike jerked to sitting. Angel stood in the doorway between their rooms, bare chest pale and smooth in the muted light. They stared at each for a moment, then Spike twitched the corner of the bedclothes down.

Angel slid in alongside him. They curled into each other. One hundred years slid away as if they had not existed, and in this animal warmth and protection they slept more soundly than they had in all those intervening years.

Chapter 7

Spike woke and guilt rose upon him like vomit might after a night of drunkenness. He could not hold it back, and it broke forth in a cry of pain.

Before he could quiet or leave the bed, he began to cry.

Angel woke still sleepy, confused.

Spike almost slipped out of his embrace—almost but not quite. He wasn’t quick enough, and Angel seized him, asking wildly, ‘What? For Christ’s sake, Spike! What?’

When he felt the depth of Spike’s pain, saw the anguish in his face, he added, far more gently, ‘Please…. Can’t you…? Will, trust me….’ He gave Spike a little shake and repeated, ‘Trust me.’

Spike blinked and tipped his head back, the need to confess so overwhelming that the words were thick and lumpy in his throat. ‘I wanted it. I started it.’

‘W—What do you mean?’

Spike twisted around in Angel’s arms then slid back a little so he could drill his words of pain into Angel and hurt him, too. ‘I was with the English priest in his room. I was fired up, wanting y— wanting something, and because I could, I touched him. He didn’t want it, but do you know what Angel? After a hundred years, I’ve learnt some stuff ‘bout seduction, and I used it all on him to wear him down, to make him do it, cus I wanted to know what it would be like
with a man. And he was so sweet and pretty and innocent; I made him do it. And cus my little body didn’t have the wherewithal to do it to him, I made him do it to me. There, that’s what you’ve been so concerned about. That’s what I made you feel so sorry for me about….’

Angel frowned, something in his mind, for some reason, rejecting this truth more violently than it had rejected the earlier lie about the rape. But he only said, placating, ‘But that’s better for you than….’

Spike looked at him incredulously. ‘You spasmoid, Angel! Don’t you get it? He didn’t know that there was a hundred year old demon inside that little kid’s body! He thought I was a boy, and I told him that I liked it. I told him that I wanted it. I told him that it felt good when he tore me up and came inside me, cus to me it did
I’m a soddin’ demon, and I thrive on pain! I made him feel sooo good, and where do you think he’s going to take that feeling now? I seduced and corrupted him as a nine year old boy. He’s got a whole fucking school full of little boys to go and play with now! So, there, I’ve told you.’ He hit Angel on the chest, for wont of being able to do what he really wanted to him and began to climb angrily out of the bed.

Angel caught his arm. ‘You weren’t there.’

‘Stop it, Angel, you don’t—.’

Listen to me, Spike. I’ve told you: you - weren’t - there. There was no other boy. I had no friends. There was no English priest who taught us cricket. What the fuck do you think life in seventeen thirty was like in west Ireland? For fuck’s sake, Spike. English? Cricket? You’re mixing in your memories maybe. You’re not the aggressor here; you’re the victim. He didn’t exist, and he didn’t go on and do it with other boys. You aren’t changing the past; the past is reaching out and changing us!’

‘But—.’ He wrinkled his brow, and seeing that he wasn’t going to flee, Angel released his arm. ‘Father John said—.’

Father John.’

Spike paled. ‘Yeah, that was ‘is name.’

Angel swallowed. ‘Father John wasn’t English.’

Spike’s eyes widened. ‘But there was a John? And you remember him?’

Angel nodded then said glumly, ‘He was the one who came to me in the church while you were—.’

‘Shagging him in the vestry….’

‘The vestry was behind the—. Okay, that’s not really relevant here….’ Angel heard a sound he hadn’t heard for a while: genuine amusement in Spike’s small snort. He smiled, too, and before he could think it through and not do it, he cupped Spike around the back of the neck and drew him down onto his chest. ‘We are not the bad guys here, Spike. We weren’t then, and we aren’t now.’

‘What’s happening to us, Angel?’

‘What did your Father John look like?’

Spike hesitated, wondering whether to point out that he had his back to him for quite a lot of the time. ‘Pretty. Dark hair, nice teeth—and, boy, do those kinda stand out back then….’

‘What colour were his eyes?’

‘Green.’ He felt Angel’s body tense beneath him. ‘Oh. Maybe it wasn’t the green ring you hated at all.’

‘Yeah. That occurred to me, too.’

Angel had begun to stroke his hair, so Spike didn’t point out that it was now dark and that whatever it was they were here to do, they should be… doing. He was fine doing exactly what they were doing now.

Angel seemed to concur for the stroking began to extend down to Spike’s neck and along his spine.

Warm lethargy crept upon them. In this old abode, in this even older country, time seemed to lose its unswerving reliability.

Somewhere above Spike’s head, almost into his hair, Angel whispered, ‘Why did you want to do that with the priest?’

With his cheek lying on one of Angel’s nipples, this seemed obvious to Spike, but he only replied softly, ‘Dunno. I kinda got caught up in the moment. Needed something.’

Angel shifted slightly, took hold of Spike’s hand and eased it down inside his thin, drawstring pants. Spike hissed, tensed and hardened all at the same time, turning his face to mouth Angel’s nipple. Angel was so hard it was all over in a moment. The touch of Spike’s fingers, the feel of his mouth, and he shot a warm, thick fluid expelled on a long, slow moan of pleasure. When he was done, his body sank into the warm space they occupied, his arms wrapped tightly back around Spike. He did not comment that Spike’s hand remained on his twitching cock, just stroking and fondling it in the warm, slurpy come; nor did Spike correct this omission. Angel knew that what he had done would complicate things between them, but for some strange reason, he did not worry what those complications might entail.

Spike began to rock gently against his thigh. Angel tensed, knowing what he was doing. Spike stopped. After a moment, Angel began to stroke up and down his spine once more, and Spike took this for the permission it was intended to be. Angel could not, as yet, do or admit more
but it was enough for both of them for now. With the feel of these light, delicious strokes on his sensitive back, he pushed against Angel’s strong muscle, in his mind seeing another muscle opening and closing around him as he thrust into its welcoming embrace.

The cock in his hand hardened with his thrusts as if Angel were imagining something similar. It was slippery and hot, tenting the thin pants. Spike watched his hand under the dark material: a moving shape up and down, inside this pyramid of hot pleasure.   He took much longer to come than Angel, not consciously dragging it out, but concentrating so hard on the pleasure hidden beneath those dark pants that his own went almost unheeded. When he finally released, after such a long build up, it soaked them both, sperm shooting out of his cock, splattering his belly and Angel’s side, and making a large, wet patch on the bed. He felt Angel shudder, and only when he slid down from his intense orgasm did he realise that Angel had come once more.

Spike knew very well what he was doing. What Angel thought this was, though, puzzled him. He could very well see that, given their almost detached actions, Angel might view this as little more than the animal comfort they gained from sleeping together. In Angel’s mind, Spike reasoned, they had created nothing more than a vampire lair, in which they had now relieved a little tension.

On this thought, he eased himself out of the sticky embrace with a murmured excuse about a shower, which Angel hardly seemed to hear anyway, and made his way to the bathroom.

Why was it he always wanted more—more than people could give him? Buffy had given him her grudging respect—he’d wanted her body.  She’d given him her body—he’d wanted her heart. She’d given him her heart, but still he’d wanted more and more and more, until the only way he could dull the ache of need had been with fire. Is that why he’d done what he had done with the priest? When the man had pushed into him, crying, focused only on him, he’d welcomed it. For once, every need had been satisfied; for one elusive moment, his greed subsided. A week ago, he’d have been glad for Angel just to talk with him. Now they were working together, sharing their bodies as part of that arrangement, but still he wasn’t satisfied. More, more more: it drummed in his brain, matching the rhythm of hot water on his skin, a long-forgotten refrain returning—more, more, more. Would he end up burning for Angel, ever seeking some elusive satisfaction for this constant, greedy need? ‘What?’

He turned sharply to find Angel, naked, leaning on the bathroom wall, watching him carefully, as if he had picked up on some of this angst. Once more, Spike did nothing to hide his nakedness; it seemed a bit late for that. Angel smiled and came forward, holding out his hand. For one incredible moment, Spike thought he was being claimed, but then he realised Angel just wanted the soap. He stepped dumbly to one side and watched as Angel took his turn in the stall. Angel quirked up an eyebrow, rubbing the soap around and around in his hands and repeated, ‘What?’


Angel narrowed his eyes with a sceptical ‘Hmm’ but didn’t comment further. He lifted his arms to rub the lather into his hair, tipping his face up into the stream. Spike wanted to reach out and run his fingers through the water-slick hair exposed in those smooth hollows.

Which freaked him out so much he shivered and turned away from the sleek, muscled body, peering at the emptiness in the mirror and wondering what his eyes betrayed to other people that he couldn’t see for himself.

Angel stepped out and threw him a towel. ‘We’re about half an hour away. Want a drink first?’

Yeah, let’s act like normal people, Angel, and not like enemies that have just fucked each other. Why not? ‘Okay.’

Angel twitched a small smile as if he’d heard some of the undercurrent of Spike’s thoughts and, rubbing his hair in another towel, went back to his own room to dress.

Spike stepped around Angel’s come-damp pants and tried to decide what would be suitable to wear to investigate his nightmares.

* * * * * *

Angel was waiting for him in the small, dark bar, already on his third drink, which was uncharacteristic enough for Spike to look at the empty glasses with raised eyebrows. Angel shrugged and ordered one for him. For one moment, Spike wondered if he wasn’t the only one having a breakdown
if Angel was less sure about what they were doing than his casualness implied. Angel looked so solid and so familiar in his certainties, though, despite the alcohol, that he dismissed the thought.

The barman served Spike his drink and jotted it down on a pad where he was already keeping tabs on Angel’s consumption. He smiled pleasantly and asked, ‘How’s the project comin’ along den?’

Angel tipped his head to one side, suspiciously. ‘Project?’

‘D’ school?’

Angel glanced over at Spike with an interested look then folded his arms. ‘You know why we’re here. How?’

‘Hardly a big secret, is it?’

Thinking more about his dream world than current reality, Spike said pointedly, ‘Too bloody right it is!’

The man raised his eyebrows. ‘English?’

Angel held his hand up to stop the conversation drifting and asked calmly, ‘What project do you mean?’

‘You’re wi’ de big Yank company doing de renovation on the old school?’

Angel and Spike exchanged significant glances. ‘You’ve had some of our guys stay here before?’

‘Ah, aye, some of dem have rented locally—long-term, ya know?—but most come for a day or two only, and we look after dem. Architects, are ye?’ He looked slightly awry at Spike as he asked this.

They took their drinks to a table out of hearing from the barman, and Angel went out to the lobby. When he came back and sat down, he said quietly, ‘Hansen Corporation. Five guys over the last couple of months
all stayed here for a night or two.’

Spike swirled his drink around thoughtfully. ‘When did the first bloke arrive?’

‘Beginning of the month. The third, I think? Why?’

‘Oh, nothing really. Only….’ He glanced up and raised his eyebrows. ‘Kinda about the time I had the first dream. I’m guessing this so isn’t coincidence.’

‘Drink up. Let’s go see these renovations for ourselves.’

Chapter 8

Spike drove so Angel could call Wesley and get him working on the Hansen Group. They chatted for a while about inconsequential things then he hung up. However hard Spike tried to read between the lines of “Cold over here” or “Nice hotel” he couldn’t hear any reference to the most important subject: him. He couldn’t work out whether this omission pissed him off or relieved him.

He didn’t like Angel chatting to Wesley, but he liked it even less when he’d finished. Now it was just them: no barman to act as a buffer between them and what they’d done, no Wesley. Hell, he even missed the soap: even it had prevented them talking about… it.

Angel shifted in his seat uneasily, peering out of the window. ‘Stop.’


‘We’ve gone wrong. Stop.’

‘Can’t you bloody remember the way?’

Angel gave him a withering look, and Spike shrugged apologetically. ‘Okay, maybe not.’

‘Just head west.’

‘Uh huh.’ Spike turned the jeep, and they began to bounce down an unmade track.

Spike was about to curse about the state of the road, when Angel put a hand on his arm. He looked over. Angel’s face was turned from him. Spike followed his gaze and saw it in a valley: the dark shadow of a vast building.

Angel whispered, ‘It wasn’t that big. We didn’t have buildings like that.’

‘Looks Victorian.’

‘Maybe it was added to….’

‘Bound to ‘ave been. Prob’ly been a school for centuries.’


‘How we gonna get down there?’

‘Turn around. There’s the road.’

‘Turn around. Uh huh.’ He reversed the mile they’d come along the track, cursing colourfully.

The school was now under the management of the Hansen Group—or so the sign on the chain-link fence informed them as they drove up. A man appeared from a hut, in sort of a uniform, and folded his arms, waiting patiently. Angel slid out and said engagingly in his Irish accent, ‘We’re lost. Can you help? We’re looking for Salthill.’

The man immediately became friendly and began to give complex instructions back to where they’d come from. Spike climbed out and lit a cigarette, offering one to the man. ‘Bit creepy out here at night, innit? Big old place like that?’

The man shrugged. ‘You get used to it. They say it’s haunted, but everything’s haunted in Ireland if there’s a buck to be made out of it.’

‘You ever seen anything?’

The man snorted. ‘Seeing ghosts isn’t in my job description. I sit in the office; I patrol. That’s it. Mind you, Jo reckons he’s seen ‘em?’

The vampires glanced at each other, and Angel queried, ‘Jo?’

‘Yeah. Fricking hackles go up every time I take him in there.’

‘What does he say he’s seen?’

The guy laughed. ‘Jo don’t say all that much. An occasional woof—if you get my meaning. Great guard dog though. Tore into some guys the other night.’

‘Big mean dog. Uh huh.’

‘We’re staying in the area. If we wanted a tour, could that be arranged?’

‘Dunno. You’d have to speak to the boss.’

‘I will. Do you have his number?’

‘He’ll be here tomorrow morning, if you want to come back.’

‘I’d rather call.’

‘Suit yourself.’ He rummaged in his pocket and pulled out a pad and pen and wrote a number down for Angel.

‘How much work have they done so far?’

‘It’s going to be two hundred mews houses and luxury apartments, so they say.’ He turned and regarded the vast, looming darkness behind him. ‘They’re working on the oldest part first—making the show house out of the original seminary.’

Spike resisted the almost irresistible need to glance at Angel.

They nodded pleasantly at the man and climbed back into the jeep.

Without needing to be prompted, Spike returned to the quiet lane they’d first seen the school from and pulled into the field. They left it and set off down hill on foot. It was an overcast night, good for sneaking into guarded buildings. The fence was surrounded by arc lights, but they weren’t all working. Finding a gap of darkness, they silently scaled the fence and dropped lightly to the other side.

‘What about the mutt?’

‘William the Bloody, afraid of dogs?’

‘Ones that bite him, yeah.’

* * * * * * *

It was hardly more than a ruin. The term renovation was clearly being loosely applied. Spike climbed in through a hole that might have once contained a window, then jumped down for Angel to follow. They appeared to be in some storerooms, which opened out onto a long hallway.

It was very dark and very cold inside the school. Spike wrapped his coat tighter then lit a cigarette, the flame of his lighter flaring brightly in the dark. ‘You remember this at all?’

Angel shook his head.

‘Well, don’t you find that a bit odd? How come I’m not dreaming madly and you’re not remembering—seeing as we’re right on top of the mother lode, so to speak.’

‘I don’t know. Maybe we don’t need to now.’

‘Now that we’re… here.’

‘Exactly. Come on, let’s look around.’

‘Deep joy.’

They strolled down empty hallways, through empty rooms and into empty areas that didn’t quite fit either description, but there was nothing to see. Spike began to get bored. ‘This is a waste of time, Angel. We should be looking into Hansen, or maybe just going to a bloody shrink and getting our heads examined. Maybe I’m suffering from some kinda hallucinations brought about by too close contact with you! Or maybe I was right all along: I’m being sucked back into hell. Hell, maybe this is hell! Maybe you’re the sodding—.’



‘What’s it going to take to shut you up?’ Suddenly, Angel frowned. He lowered his eyes to Spike’s lips. Spike felt his belly flutter with anticipation. But if Angel had thought to kiss him for the first time in their long acquaintance, sealing his mouth in that effective way, he was stopped in his tracks when a small child sidled up beside them, hissed and then disappeared through the wall.

Spike shuddered. ‘Fucking hell!’

‘It was only a ghost. Calm down.’

Spike clamped his jaws together. Angel began to run, seeking the nearest door to try and follow the apparition. Spike ran just as fast, keeping one pace behind Angel, and told himself he was only anxious to catch the kiddie, too.

They skidded together into what was clearly an older part of the building. Some evidence of modern equipment lay around. Angel pointed. ‘There.’

Spike looked toward stairs leading down into a basement and shook his head. ‘No.’


‘I’m not going down there.’

‘Spike! You’re a freaking vampire! You’re the most frightening thing in here—after me!’

‘Don’t care. I’m not going into any more sodding basements. Done my bloody basement duty, okay?’

‘Wait here then.’

‘What!’ He cursed when he saw Angel wasn’t joking and jogged to catch him up. ‘You bugger.’

‘I’ll protect you.’

Angel got thumped for that, but the small moment of normality, laced with something less familiar, got Spike down the stairs and into the darkness beneath.

‘We should have brought a flashlight.’

‘Thought we were bloody vampires.’

‘Even I need some ambient light to see by.’

Spike clicked his lighter, really not wanting to see what it revealed. He needn’t have worried: it was another empty hallway. Angel set off determinedly. Spike cursed then cursed again because his lighter got too hot to hold.

They spent an hour or so in the dark and found nothing. Spike wasn’t disappointed, as he hadn’t wanted to find anything. Angel was annoyed and seemed reluctant to admit that his plan was failing. He stood in the dark with his arms folded, looking surly. ‘I want to find the priest’s hole.’

‘You’ve gotta be careful how you say that.’

He got a look for his trouble and shrugged at Angel’s lack of humour. Angel turned his head, pursing his lips. ‘I’m sure it was in the basement, and it led into a tunnel running away from the school.’

‘And you remember it?’

Angel’s expression changed, closing up, and he only mumbled, ‘Not really.’

He pushed past Spike and made his way back to the better-lit upper rooms. To make sure they’d covered every angle, he led Spike up to the attic rooms, and they searched those as well.

Now not expecting to find anything significant, they didn’t give the search much effort. It was lighter, illumination from the arc lights casting a faint glow in through the empty windows.

Angel picked up a piece of electrical cord that was lying in pile of rubble and began flicking it against the walls in annoyance. After a while, he said almost petulantly, ‘You’re quiet.’

Spike gave him an incredulous look. ‘You told me to shut up.’

Angel raised his eyebrows and pursed his lips. After another few minutes he said, ‘Well, say something about something else then.’

Spike felt a flutter in his belly once more, a tiny dance of anticipation for where this conversation might lead. Very softly, he murmured, ‘Now who’s being weird?’

Angel stopped and folded his arms, looking down at his shoes. ‘We lived out of time, Spike—when we were… soulless.’

Spike waited patiently, giving Angel the benefit of the doubt that this was going somewhere.

‘We had a relationship that we can’t have now.’ He glanced up to see Spike’s reaction to this and added, ‘It wouldn’t be… appropriate.’


Angel nodded, glad that Spike was seeing his point of view. ‘Sire and childe, demons, vampires….’

‘Ohhh, you mean sharing a bed….’

‘No! All right, yes. We don’t have lairs now. We are anachronisms in this century, and everything we had in the day has passed us by.’

Spike shrugged and turned to continue their journey through the past. It looked as if it was going to be better than the future now. No need to let Angel see this though. He was right: they were men now, living in the daylight in the world of men, and what they’d—. He felt a hand on the small of his back.

Angel tugged a tiny pinch of his T-shirt, drawing him closer, turning him. ‘I—. We—.’ With a sigh, he pressed his lips to Spike’s for the first time.

Spike pressed back.

Angel pressed some more.

Spike shuffled to get more comfortable.

Angel pulled back.

They looked at each other for a moment. Angel rubbed his lips, puzzled. Spike said, ‘Huh,’ in a wondering voice.

Angel began walking again. Spike followed him. He pouted, looking at his boots disturbing dust. He’d had better kisses with his mother. Angel began to tear at one of his cuticles distractedly
as Spike had not seen him do for many years. They emerged into the vast compound outside the building, hidden by shadows.

‘Guess we’d better get back to the car.’

Angel nodded. He toed the dry earth then looked up. Spike wasn’t doing anything, just looking down at the earth, too.

Suddenly, Angel flattened him back against the cold stones. He wrenched Spike’s face up and plundered his mouth, pushing his tongue deep into that hot cavity. Spike crushed them together, pawing and snagging at Angel’s hair.  Aches of need shot from mouths to balls and cocks, and they ground against one another, heedless of comfort, seeking only the tactile pleasure of touch on their erections. They didn’t need to breathe, but habit parted them for a moment to reassess the other’s mouth and return to it anew, seeking, tasting, taking and giving. Angel moaned. Spike picked up the sound and breathed it back deep into Angel’s throat. They began to search urgently with their hands for fasteners to clothes separating their skin. Angel cried out and arched back. Spike missed his lips and tried to pull him back, but Angel cried out again and swore. Only then was Spike cognisant enough to hear the low rumble and sharp snarl. Angel was writhing, flailing with his hands behind him. ‘Fucking dog!’ There was a shout. Spike kicked out at something soft and furry and felt teeth settle securely around his shinbone.

Half-dragging each other they hit the fence and pulled themselves over in a tumble of torn clothes and blood.

They were laughing so much they could hardly make it back to the jeep. Angel seized Spike’s face and kissed him wildly. Spike pulled away and licked him savagely. They fell into the vehicle and leant against each other, panting. ‘I kissed you!’

‘I know!’

‘I kissed you!’

‘Yeah. You did!’

‘I kissed you. Fucking hell!’

I know. Wanna try again?’

They necked liked teenagers: out of control, wet, sloppy kisses that kept missing their target and finding hair or ear or eye but not minding those substitutions.

Only the lights honing in on the car stirred them to activity. Spike slammed the car into first, and they skidded out of the field and along the lane, the bright headlights following them. Angel glanced behind. ‘Turn the lights off. We’ll lose them.’

Spike nodded, and within a few minutes, they were heading back to the hotel without their tail.

It was busy when they got back, so they sobered and tried to make their clothes decent as they went up to Angel’s room. Once inside, Spike rolled up one leg of his jeans. ‘Where’d you get bit?’

Angel hesitated. ‘I didn’t. Dumb dog.’

Spike looked up then grinned mischievously and began to advance on him. ‘Funny that…. I can smell blood.’

Angel backed off. ‘You’re not looking!’

‘He bit your bum!’ Spike crowed in delight. ‘Angel got ‘is bum bitten! Lemme see!’

‘No way!’

‘Oh, come on, Pet. I’m gonna do more than that to ya later, we both know that now….’

Angel still made a show of refusing, until Spike had him pinned and wriggling on the bed. Then he allowed his pants to be eased off his backside. ‘Well?’

‘It’s bad.’


‘Yeah. Needs…’ he bent and licked across the bite mark ‘some serious TLC.’

Angel sighed with pleasure, and his body went limp. Spike straddled Angel’s legs and slid off his duster, spreading his fingers over the solid globes. ‘You’re so beautiful.’

Angel twisted his head around and pouted. ‘Weirdest thing yet, maybe?’

‘An’ kissing me is normal?’ He bent and licked again, playing his tongue into the already healing punctures. ‘Wonder what ol’ Jo is thinking ‘bout the taste of our blood.’

‘Yeah. I never turned a dog.’

‘You’ve gotta be very careful who you say that to and in what context, luv.’

‘Are you talking or giving me some TLC?’

Spike went back to the arduous job of licking over Angel’s smooth backside. He stared greedily at one of the wounds. ‘I am so hungry.’

Angel flipped him off. ‘That’s good then.’ He waved at a box in one corner. ‘I had them delivered—courtesy of the Dublin office.’

‘Blood?’ Spike scrambled off, his enthusiasm for Angel’s butt instantly replaced by desire for food.

The box contained a cooler, sealed and addressed to Angel. Angel grinned and levered the lid off.

He flinched.

He jumped back. ‘Ugh!

Spike didn’t get it until something ran over his boot. Then he shouted, ‘Bloody—! Rat?’

Rats were swarming over Angel. They swept over Spike’s legs. The room was a moving mass of stinking fur—and then it was gone.

Shivering violently, Angel sat down on the edge of the bed. ‘Oh, God. Rats!’


I hate rats!’

‘And that’s a very vampire-like reaction….’

‘I hate rats.’


Angel jumped and stood on the bed. ‘What?’

Spike clamped his hand over his mouth, and Angel climbed off, well aware his dignity was in similar tatters to his pants. ‘What?’

‘You think they were mystical rats? Like the sunburn and shit?’

Angel cuffed him. ‘Duh! Three millions rats suddenly appear from a little cooler then disappear! You think?’

‘No need to be snippy. And I think three million is over-egging it a bit, luv.’

‘Next time there’s a basement, you’re going in it—and you’re going alone!’ He sat heavily on the bed. Spike peered into the cooler warily hopeful there might be some blood bags in there as well, but knowing full well neither of them would touch them if there were. ‘Reckon we’ll have to eat a guest then.’

‘Okay. You choose.’ Angel lay back and covered his face with his arm. ‘Rats. Shit.’

Spike crawled very slowly over him. ‘Maybe… rat shit?’

Angel’s eyes flew open. ‘What? Where?’

‘On your clothes…? Maybe, just maybe, I should help you off with them….’

‘Oh.’ Angel huffed then smiled. ‘Yeah. Maybe you should.’ He watched as Spike unbuttoned his shirt and then lifted up for him to peel it off. The fumbling that went on to locate his zipper made him hiss with anticipation. Before Spike could open it, though, he reached up and pulled him closer. ‘You know what’s gonna happen if you do that.’

Spike regarded him seriously for a moment. ‘Yeah. I know.’

‘When you seduced the priest, you wanted him to be me, didn’t you?’

Spike nodded, not trusting himself to speak.

‘Okay. That’s what I thought.’ Angel let him go and fell back to the bed. ‘We need to talk about this. We need to find out what the hell those rats were about and whether Wolfram and Hart is somehow involved in this. We need to tell Wesley about the ghost in the school. But we don’t need to do any of that… now—.’ With a huge surge of power, he levered off the bed, lifting Spike with him and setting him down on the floor. With eager hands they caught at faces, kissing, laughing, hands on naked torsos, pressing into firm, flat muscle. Spike shoved both hands into Angel’s waistband, spreading his fingers into the warm, scratchy hair.

‘Hold it.’

Spike moaned. ‘Yeah, I am.’

Angel gasped but then seized his forearms, laughing. ‘Jesus. No! I meant… hold it: wait!’

Spike pulled back, incredulous, and Angel said warningly, ‘Don’t give me that look….’

Spike switched looks seductively. ‘What look…?’

‘Oh…. Yeah….’ It took some minutes for Angel to break free of the kiss—and then only by pinning Spike’s arms behind his back. Face to face, close enough to feel gravitational pull from the need of the other, Angel asked seriously, ‘What if this isn’t real?’

Spike leant forward so slowly Angel’s lips tingled with need by the time they touched. He didn’t kiss him but licked softly all around his lips then wetly murmured against them, ‘Seems real enough to me.’

Angel groaned, and they returned to kisses, which were more like devouring than kissing, so wet, so wide-mouthed and noisy were they.

Angel had to tear his mouth away to say wildly, ‘You hate me, Spike! You always have. I know that. So, when did it change? Tell me that!’

Spike held Angel’s jaw. ‘You hate me more. You despise me!’

‘Yeah. I know. Christ, just kiss me, will you?’

Angel broke it off once more. ‘You got weird after we fucked around on the bed, which we’d been put into by a fricking spell!’

‘I’ve always been weird about you—you’re the one who enjoyed my cock enough to ask me to move back in!’

‘Fuck.’  Angel scrabbled with Spike’s zipper and freed the object of that last accusation. He clasped Spike against him and began to jerk and play… until he staggered away. ‘Don’t you get it, Spike? I’ve been here before—.’

‘Yeah, I was there. It was—.’

‘No! Not with you—with Eve. You know what happened with her at Halloween. Shit, you were all there!’

‘Well, yeah, you shagged ‘er up the bum and—.’


Spike stared at Angel’s outraged expression. ‘Okay. Maybe not. That’ll teach me to listen to office gossip.’

‘You’re missing the point! I hate her! I truly hate her—out of proportion to her stick-insect size. I went to hell for two hundred years; I was tortured by the Inquisition, but Eve makes me feel violated. I feel dirty and I feel violated every time I think about what I did under the influence of that damn spell. What if we are only doing this because it’s another spell? What if we solve this thing and wake up back to how we were two weeks ago. What then, Spike?’

He came forward suddenly, seized Spike’s arms and kissed him violently. ‘I don’t want to feel violated by you! I want you
—something from you. Hell, all right—you!

Silence fell in the room until Spike whispered, ‘I think this is a spell now. No one can go from a hundred years of hate to need this intense. Oh, God.’ He sank heavily on the end of the bed, fastening his jeans.

Angel gave him a glance then sighed and fetched them both a drink from the mini bar. He sat on the bed next to him and passed him the beer. ‘I never really hated you.’ He put his arm over Spike’s shoulders. ‘I let you live….’

Spike pouted. ‘You were souled. Don’t count.’

‘I killed them all, Spike. I killed Penn. I killed James. Spike, I killed Darla. Darla. You? You I wanted alive.’

Spike turned his head and looked deep into Angel’s eyes. Angel shrugged. ‘It’s true: I never hated you. I hated the way you made me feel.’


Angel smiled seductively and placed Spike’s hand in his lap. ‘Tonight, yeah. But back then it was jealousy.’

Spike pulled his hand away. ‘We’re definitely under a spell now. You? Jealous of anything ‘bout me…? Yeah, I believe that.’

‘You enjoyed the life, Spike. I envied you your lack of soul.’

Spike blinked, processing this. ‘So when I came here, out of that bloody necklace, you had to stop being jealous….’

‘And that kinda left a vacuum of emotion. I tried different ones. I got real mad with you about Buffy for a while. That helped.’

‘You stupid ponce.’ The words were softened by an intensely fond expression. Spike shook his head at Angel’s mystified look. ‘You’ve only gone and said the B word! We spent seven years snarling at each other like dogs over ‘er.’ He flung himself back onto the bed and put an arm over his face. ‘And now we’re snarling over each other! Now my boner’s for you! This must be a spell.’

Angel lay down, too, on his side, head propped up on one hand. He began to play with Spike’s nipple, squeezing the tiny bud then pressing it hard. ‘I’ve always made you hard. Admit it.’

‘In your dreams.’

‘You are. Most nights.’

A smile appeared beneath the arm. ‘Tell me one.’

Angel leant in, lifted the arm and kissed him, probing with his tongue, moaning, tasting deep into his mouth and stroking their tongues languidly together. He eased apart. ‘There: a reoccurring one.’

Spike lowered his arm and turned to face Angel. ‘This is such a mess. What’s real?’

‘I don’t know. I’m not even sure it was real before this. I’ve seen so many weird things since I came to L.A. I’m not even sure reality exists. And….’


‘If this is real, and when we solve this thing we still feel like this—what then?’


‘I can’t see it, can you? Maybe holding hands under the table at meetings….’

Spike’s laugh was cut short when Angel snagged his fingers, entwining them with his and capturing for a short moment that pleasure. Staring at their joined fingers, he said softly, ‘If this isn’t real and we go back to being as we were, there’s nothing we’ve done that I’ll blame you for or regret.’

‘Same here, Pet.’

‘I think, if we are honest about the past, then we both know we’ve done this before.’ He tasted his own his lips with a frown and added ruefully, ‘Without the kissing. But if we go any further, it will be… uncharted territory
for us both. That would change everything.’

They lay side by side, staring at the ceiling, both processing this in their own way. After a while, Angel said casually, ‘I’ve been thinking about what you said: about making new memories.’

Spike chuckled. ‘I’ve got some good ones already, Mate. Never gonna forget your face when ole Jo bit yer knackers.’

‘Or yours when I headed to the basement alone….’

‘Well, yeah, you didn’t spend an all-expenses-paid little holiday with Pervane, did you?’

‘Do you see what I’m trying to say here?’

Spike turned his head. ‘New memories.’

‘If we wake to find all this has been a spell, and I get nauseous even thinking about kissing you, then I’ll still have… good memories.’

‘Nothing we need to kill each other over.’

‘Things we could….’

‘Build on?’

‘To become… friends.’

‘Whoa. No spell’s that strong.’

Angel smiled and trailed a finger down Spike’s bare chest. ‘Let’s solve this damn case. That should be our first priority. Everything else can take its own… course. We need to go through everything that’s happened and make a plan. Do you still feel… hungry? As there’s no blood, I thought we could maybe go down to dinner…? Like ordinary people?’

‘Like people who might be building up a store of memories?’

Angel nodded. ‘Yes. Better memories. Good ones. You and me.’

‘Our second date. I’m blushing.’

Angel thumped him and sprang off the bed. ‘Five minutes. And… wear something…. Five minutes.’

Spike grinned at Angel’s retreating back and stretched with almost the same pleasure he would have done after an intense orgasm.

Chapter 9

The restaurant attached to the hotel was surprisingly full. They heard a smattering of American voices and gathered this was a popular eating-place for the team working on the renovations of the school.

Spike, Angel noted with pleasure, had forgone his vampire-in-black look. He was wearing ordinary faded jeans and a brown shirt.  If Angel had been noting these things, which obviously he wasn’t, he’d have said it was the perfect colour to set off Spike’s pale skin and golden hair. They were shown to a table in the corner and handed menus. Angel glanced at his and hissed, ‘Look at the damn prices! I don’t want to buy the fricking hotel!’

‘When was the last time you ate out, mate? Last time you were here?’ Spike leant back in his chair and glanced around to see if anyone else was breaking the no-smoking rule. Very casually, as if this were not something he’d wanted to ask since they arrived, he ventured, ‘Why don’t you go see some of your old haunts?’


‘You’re avoiding—.’

‘We’ve only been here

‘Plenty of time if you’d wanted

‘I don’t.’

‘I know; that’s why I’m askin’. Why not?’

‘Would you?’

‘I have. Many times.’

‘You’ve been back to…?’

‘Sure. My old house is still there.’

‘Mine won’t be! This is dumb!’

‘Saw where you turned me, too.’

‘I don’t believe you.’

‘Maybe you could find where you were….’

‘No! Change the subject!’

‘Why don’t you want to shag me?’

‘What! Not that subject!’ Almost short of breath, Angel leant forward and said in a furious whisper, ‘I thought we were going to cool it off for a….’

‘But you’re looking at me as if you could eat me.’

‘Will you stop interrupting me! And I’m not! Look, it’s… complicated.’

The waiter arrived and asked if they were ready to order, saw that they weren’t and veered off, but he prompted them to pick up the menus once more and make a pretence, at least, of looking at them.

After a moment, Spike commented from behind his, ‘Can’t be cus you’re a virgin in that department.’

The reply, from behind his menu, was deliberately casual. ‘I’m not a virgin in any department.’

‘Thought not.’

Angel sighed and laid his to one side once more. He picked up a knife and began to trace patterns on the pure Irish linen cloth. ‘We’re vampires, Spike. We tear and rip and feed, torture and torment. And what I’ve done in the past was part of that. I’ve done things to women that I’d never do to a girl I was in love with…it’s all about respect.’ He glanced up to gauge his audience and added, ‘And the same applies to men.’

Spike fished a cigarette out of the pack he’d laid beside his plate and played with it thoughtlessly. ‘But it’s different for men. Same thing has to mean different things.’

Angel leant back regarding him in the dim light. ‘Sodomy is sodomy, Spike. You can’t get around that. It’s domination and it’s brutal and it’s….’

‘Are you reverting to someone seventeenth century or something?’

Angel leant swiftly forward. ‘It’s how you humiliate a victim. It’s how you break them before you eat them. It’s not something that can ever be between….’

‘What? Between what?’

‘Are you ready to order?’

They both leant back swiftly. Angel nodded and said brusquely, ‘Steak. Exceptionally rare.’



The waiter kept his face neutral and turned to Spike with raised eyebrows. Spike kept his gaze fixed on Angel. ‘Make that two.’

‘Wine, Sir?’

Angel swiftly named something, which clearly impressed the waiter, and he took the menus and went.

‘Between what?’

‘Drop it, Spike.’

‘No. I want to know what you meant.’

‘It’s not something between lovers. There. Happy?’

‘No! I’m not bleeding happy. Where does that leave m—anyone? You are so full of shit sometimes, Angel.’

Angel put his elbows on the table and ran his fingers through his hair. ‘I can’t believe I’m having this conversation with you.’

Spike glanced covertly around then laid his hand over one of Angel’s. ‘The world’s moved on, Pet. Like you said—we were anachronisms….’

‘Please, Spike, can we talk about something else?’

‘Well, it’s this or a toss up between rats and ghosts.’

‘God, my life sucks.’

‘Wine’s coming: that’ll cheer you up.’

Angel waved away the opportunity to taste it and poured them both generous glasses. He drank his in one then topped it up again. ‘Rats then.’

Spike chuckled. ‘Okay. So, do you think Wolfram and Hart are responsible for that little Pied Piper episode?’

Angel frowned. ‘We’re loosely connected with the other branches, but each is autonomous. Who knows? I’m not even sure if their Senior Partners are the same as our Senior Partners.’

‘Maybe the box was tampered with when it got here. If there is evil here, it‘s not beyond the realms of possibility that it knows we’re here. Brought us here, even….’

‘Maybe we imagined them.’ He drank the remains of the wine and waved for another bottle. ‘Maybe we’re imagining it all.’

‘Like the sunburn? Like the other… physical things.’

Angel blushed faintly. ‘How are you anyway?’

‘Oh, goody, back to the sodomy discussion.’

Angel pretended he didn’t hear, as did the waiter who just then arrived with more wine. When he’d gone, Angel glared at Spike but only got a smirk of amusement for his trouble. Angel shook his head ruefully. ‘I can’t take you anywhere.’

‘On the contrary.’ Spike didn’t elaborate the contrary to this, but Angel got his meaning anyway.

Pointedly, he changed the subject by saying, ‘Ghosts!’

Spike grinned. ‘I prefer my topics of conversation.’

Suddenly, Angel leant forward and said under his breath, ‘But mine don’t make me hard.’

Spike hissed softly, and the cigarette shredded between his fingers. Angel regained his composure and said deceptively calmly, ‘So… ghosts.’

Utterly captivated by the thought that Angel was hard beneath the table because of him, Spike had to drag his thoughts reluctantly to the subject of their small ghostly sighting. ‘We both saw a little kiddie, yeah?’

Angel nodded, staring at him over the rim of his wine glass. Spike had the pleasantly chilling thought that he was not thinking about the ghost either. He shifted in his seat and rested his elbows on the table, holding the glass loosely in his hands, as if they could warm the red liquid and release its potency. Very softly, not wanting to break the mood that was developing between them, he murmured, ‘There is a way you could remember, Pet. Rupert Giles used it with me. Some kind of worm thing that can wriggle into your brain and release—. You’re not liking this idea then.’

Angel smiled ruefully. ‘No.’ He shook his head in wonder. ‘You let a watcher put a worm in your brain?’

‘Well, it was very shiny.’

Suddenly, they both laughed at this odd reply, and Spike clarified, ‘It wasn’t… wormy-like.’

Angel looked down at the place-setting then back up through lowered lids. ‘Did you remember Angelus?’

Spike held his gaze. ‘I’d never need prompting to do that.’

Pursing his lips with a slight lift of his eyebrow, as if he wasn’t too sure he wanted a reply, Angel asked, ‘It wasn’t always bad between us, was it?’

‘What do you think, Angel?’ He watched Angel’s fingers tightening around the stem of his glass and replied to his own question. ‘I stayed with you for over twenty years. Could have left at any time, but I didn’t.’

At a faint snort from the other, his eyes widened, and he kicked Angel softly under the table. Angel winced playfully. ‘Leave? You couldn’t lace your own britches without me.’

Spike tipped his head to one side, smirking. ‘You couldn’t get home out of the sun without me to drag your drunken bones through the streets.’

You always let the choicest food run away.’

‘I stopped you eating the children of important people!’

You caused riots everywhere we went!’

Spike took a long swallow of wine, nodding. ‘Good times.’

Angel finished the last of the second bottle and ordered another. Spike could discern a faint flush on the smooth skin and knew a similar one would colour his face. Very slowly, making sure Angel knew it wasn’t by accident, he slid his leg forward until it rested against Angel’s.  Angel looked up, hesitated for a moment then pressed back. Spike held up his glass. ‘To memories.’

‘New or old?’

Spike shrugged. ‘Is there really a difference?’

Angel picked up his glass. ‘To memories.’

After a suitable pause, when they were both concentrating on what was happening beneath the table, Spike murmured, ‘There is another way we could prompt your memory.’

‘Sorry for the delay, Sir.’

They separated, not realising how warm and intimate they had become until the presence of the waiter intruded.  He fussed for a while, putting plates down, warning them of their inevitable heat. When he left, there was only hunger, not assuaged by the meat, but dampened by its bloody taste and the pure delight of chewing its evocative texture. Too quickly, they finished. Angel growled softly and poured them more wine. Spike leant forward, reinserted his leg between Angel’s, and said in silky whisper, ‘I’m still hungry. Let’s take the waiter. Drain ‘im between us. Like old times.’

Angel picked up his teasing tone. ‘No, that big guy over there.’

Spike let his fingers lie against Angel’s on the white cloth. ‘Where would you bite?’

On the excuse of taking more wine, Angel let his hand return over Spike’s. ‘Into his heart.’

Spike closed his eyes. ‘One pulse at a time into my mouth.’

‘Would you like the sweet menu, Sir?’

They jumped back this time. Angel hunched close to the table. Spike dropped his napkin on his lap and forced a smile. ‘Yeah. I would.’

He ordered something made of chocolate for wont of being able to order blood as he needed. When Angel waved the menu away, Spike ordered a second pudding for himself. They regarded each other silently across the table for a while, waiting for the food, hardly seeing it when it arrived.

Spike spooned a first taste of chocolate into his mouth, slowly licking the spoon. ‘There is a difference between eating to stay alive and eating for pleasure.’ When he felt he’d given Angel time to work out that he wasn’t talking about food at all, he added, ‘You don’t know what you’re missing….’

Angel twitched up his eyebrow, slowly getting that the comment had been nothing to do with the mousse. He felt something tighten in his groin, harden and call attention to itself.

He countered quietly in a similar spirit, ‘I’ve heard it’s an acquired taste.’

Spike’s eyes widened fractionally, perhaps surprised that Angel had joined in the intimate flirting.  He took another mouthful, taking his time tasting it and swallowing. ‘Practice makes perfect.’ Very slowly, without dropping Angel’s gaze, he dipped the spoon back into the pudding then held it out to Angel. ‘Want to practice on me?’ Angel hissed and shoved his chair back. He gave Spike a look that could not be mistaken.

Spike stood up, too, with an unnerving sensation of the blood draining from his brain.

Together they strode through the restaurant.

Without looking at each other they ran swiftly up the stairs, moving with one intent into Angel’s bedroom.

* * * * * * *

Angel turned on him as soon as the door was shut, biting into his neck with a hiss of pleasure, hands fumbling at his clothes. They writhed, hitting the edge of the dressing table, banging into the closet door. Only when Angel turned him face to the wall and began to grind against him did Spike come back to a sense of himself and what he wanted. He slid to one side, turning to press his back to the wall. ‘Wait.’

Angel shook his head and began to bite back against the redness of his first mark. Spike held his head, running his fingers through the dark hair. ‘This isn’t what I meant—what I want.’


‘I know you can take me, Angel. That’s not what this is about.’

Angel snapped his head back. ‘What is this? You invited me up here! Are you playing the shrinking violet here?’

Spike took Angel’s hand and placed it strategically. ‘Nothing shrinking here at all. But this isn’t what I want—from you. Now.’ He swallowed as Angel explored, hard, with the heel of his hand. ‘I want you to make love to me.’

‘Yeah. That’s exactly what I’m gonna do.’ Angel’s teeth penetrated him this time as he ground his hand and groaned and bit through to draw blood.


Angel shoved Spike’s shirt up his torso, licking and biting into his skin. ‘Angel!’ He pushed a hand down into the soft jeans and explored there, too, his mouthing on Spike’s nipples becoming uncontrolled. ‘Angel!’ Spike pulled free then kissed Angel on his startled expression. ‘I don’t want you to fuck me like one of your victims. I want you to make love to me.’

Angel straightened. He wiped his mouth with the back on his hand, thinking. Finally, he said neutrally, ‘I have no idea what you mean. What that means for us—between us.’

Spike tipped his head back to rest on the wall and very slowly, as if not wanting to startle something wary that might take flight at any moment, he began to unbutton his shirt. ‘Shall we take it slowly then and see?’

For one moment, Angel looked younger than Spike could ever remember seeing him. He wondered with a dull sense of inevitability if the emotions from the dream were clouding his judgement again: this wasn’t Liam, but something of the boy’s uncertainties was in this man in front of him.

Angel put a finger on the back of Spike’s hand, following the movements of the unbuttoning. ‘Tell me what to do.’

Spike smiled. ‘Start with something that feels right to you.’

Angel stared at him. ‘Kissing you feels right.’

Spike smiled and the shy, joyful movement of his lips spiralled them into sweet kisses that made Angel feel the only unmoving thing in a world that spun uncontrollably around him. Spike tasted of the blood and olive oil and rich intoxicating wine. But more, he tasted of the words he’d said, the flirting he’d done. He tasted of need for him. It was the most powerful aphrodisiac Angel had ever experienced. He wanted this thing. For the first time since they’d obliquely discussed it in the restaurant, he really wanted this thing. He wanted it so much he pressed his face into the crook of Spike’s neck, where only a few moments ago he’d bitten through to the blood beneath, and cried softly, ‘I think there is something you can teach me after all.’

* * * * * *

They had no idea what time it was and didn’t care.

By the time they had fallen side by side on the bed, so sated even their eyelids felt heavy and languid, the hotel was quiet; the streets were quiet, and they could imagine that they were the last two people left alive, defining life in their own unique way.

Spike was lying on Angel’s arm; it was bent around him, fingers playing idly up and down the keys of his ribs, soft scales playing in their minds. He was smoking, blowing long, lazy trails up to the ceiling. After one exhalation he asked, ‘What are you thinking about?’

‘You.’ It was said in a voice Spike had rarely heard him use, despite their long acquaintance.

Enough conversation for some time, silence reigned until in a similar tone, Angel asked, ‘Have you ever wondered why we say make love? Something doesn’t exist then we make it with our bodies? We made something that didn’t exist before.’

Spike took a long drag, pondering this. ‘The raw ingredients were there. Can’t make something from nothing.’

Angel lifted his hand in the muted light, his fingers reaching and searching as if he were trying to grasp this elusive thing they had made with their passion.

Spike chuckled. ‘’S not out there, Poof. It’s inside us. Like… a new language.’

Angel huffed ruefully and brought his hand down, using it to capture Spike’s cigarette and take a drag. ‘Why did I give this up?’

Spike knew the question wasn’t being directed at him so ignored it. ‘The phone rang while we were… busy.’

‘I know.’


‘I guess.’

‘You gonna call him back?’

‘Not right now.’

‘Probably important.’

Angel twitched a smile up at the ceiling. ‘I’m prioritising.’

Spike smiled and offered his cigarette again. When Angel chuckled quietly, he elbowed him. ‘What?’

‘Five times.’

Spike laughed, too. ‘You were counting?’

‘Yeah. Like you weren’t.’

* * * * *

Light crept inexorably around the edges of the drapes, and they could hear the sounds of the street outside.

‘Are you cold?’

‘Would a yes mean you’d cover up?’

Angel grinned and left the covers where they were. His hand on Spike’s ribs slid lower.

Spike turned his head on the pillow questioningly. Angel kept his gaze fixed on something on the ceiling. ‘I’m testing your powers of recovery.’

After a while, Spike asked, ‘Do I pass?’

Angel slid down in the bed, a more thorough examination clearly necessary before he gave his verdict. Spike hissed gently between his teeth and dug his fingers into the thick, dark hair, riding the waves of pleasure.


Angel disengaged. ‘It’s kinda hard to talk and do this as well.’

‘Why don’t we just go home? Forget this whole thing. Maybe it’s over now. I’ve not had a dream for days.’ There was a pause. ‘That’s itthat’s all I wanted to say. You can go back to what you were doing now.’

Angel gestured with his chin. ‘Turn over. I’ll do that instead.’

Obediently, Spike turned, and when they were where they wanted to be, he breathed softly, ‘I want to get away from here now.’

Angel eased his pace and replied into the smooth skin of Spike’s back, ‘This is real. You know it; I know it. No need to run away.’

Spike gripped the pillow harder as Angel picked up his rhythm. ‘Maybe it never was this place. Maybe it’s all been me. I’ve kinda done repressed memory before…. Maybe I got it screwed up in my mind with you cus I wanted you—wanted this. Even then.’

‘You wanted me so dreamt a seven year old?’

‘Maybe you came out like that cus I couldn’t face up to wanting big you.’

Angel spread his fingers on Spike’s spine. ‘You think I’m big? That’s nice.’

Spike laughed dryly into the pillow. ‘I could hardly deny it, Pet, as you’re almost reaching my throat….’

‘I want to peel you open and watch it inside you.’

‘That’s a romantic thought.’

‘I don’t do romance.’

Spike began to laugh, so much so that Angel had to press on the back of his head, burying him further into the pillow. Spike shook free and murmured, ‘You do romance just fine, Angel. No one’s ever said the things to me you have tonight.’

‘Well, maybe, but I suggest you keep them to yourself—if you know what’s good for you.’

‘Ow. Fuck, do that again.’


‘Yeahhhh.’ He flexed and released the muscles in his arms, flexed and released, as Angel rode him, his neck stretched back.

Angel bent forward and captured a rough, awkward kiss. ‘You recover well, by the way.’

‘I passed?’

‘You passed.’ He pulled his mouth off the tempting lips and rested his forehead between Spike’s shoulder blades.  ‘I want to bring you off again.’



The room filled with the sounds of soft grunts and whispered words, the kind Angel would deny saying and not want repeated. Spike was happy to go along with the embargo: they were his words now.

Acutely aware of the thinness of walls, hearing sounds from the hotel stirring to the new day around them, when they finally came, Angel clamped his hand over Spike’s mouth, riding him as if he wore a bridle, pulling his head back, wild in his need to get enough friction deep inside the tight channel to bring himself off.  He eventually made it when Spike bit him. On the pain and smell of blood, he released and breathed, ‘Six,’ wetly against the sweat coating Spike’s back. Relaxing and stretching out his legs, he examined his finger, licking along it then offering it back to Spike, liking the idea of two parts of his body inside the slim one beneath him.

* * * * * *

‘Say it again.’

Angel jerked back from a place of utter nothingness of thought. ‘Huh?’

‘We said it three times. Six-six-six. You need to say it again and make it four.’


‘It’s bad luck.’

Angel frowned in disbelief, although he knew Spike would not have the benefit of this expression. ‘Are you a vampire?’

Spike suckled some more blood from Angel’s finger and replied pointedly, ‘Vampires can still have bad luck.’

‘You say it then!’

‘I thought it, so that wouldn’t cancel out the luck.’

‘Jesus. Six. There! Happy?’

Spike rolled over with some effort, holding Angel on but pouting when he slipped out. He laughed and murmured seductively, ‘I am, cus I’ve just proved you’ll do anything I want now….’

Angel narrowed his eyes. ‘Don’t push me, Spike. In all fundamentals, things have not changed between us.’ The censorious look didn’t hold up under some extreme tickling, and he finally surrendered, kissing deeply into Spike’s mouth. ‘Bastard... anything you want.’

Spike sighed with satisfaction and stretched out, reaching for his cigarettes. Angel rolled off to lie by his side, plucking the sheet with a grimace. ‘We need to check out before they do the room.’

Spike sat up, the lighter paused in his hand. ‘We’re going home? For real?’

Angel shrugged. ‘I’m thinking we’ll get more from researching this than we did from that damn place.’

Spike lit his cigarette and took a long drag. Casually, as if he wasn’t really bothered about the reply, he asked, ‘So, how’s this going to work between us when we get back?’

Angel pursed his lips. ‘I don’t know.’ He reached out a hand and put it firmly on Spike’s leg, stopping him climbing off the bed. ‘But this is as far away as I ever want to be from you now.’

Spike looked down, a flush spreading across his face. He laid his hand over Angel’s and nodded. ‘Holding hands under the table at meetings then.’

Angel snorted and propelled himself off the bed. ‘Like... not. Get dressed. Get packed. We’re going home.’

Spike grinned and crawled off the bed, picking up his discarded clothes from the floor.

Angel watched him bend over, idly stroking his belly. ‘We’ll go tonight.’ He enveloped the smaller figure and fell with him to the bed. ‘Seven?’

Chapter 10

It was a day of contrasts: long periods of sleep brought on by utter exhaustion and lack of food punctuated with sessions of extreme activity. They didn’t so much deepen their intimacy as explore it; all the depth they ever needed having been gained in Angel’s first penetration under Spike’s loving tutorage. When the bed became too sticky to sleep in, they repaired to Spike’s and then ruined his. By the time darkness fell, they had returned to pretty much where they had been before the incredible events of the preceding hours: they could talk with as much sarcasm as ever; they took no heed of the other’s feelings; and they argued. But where they had been virtual strangers divided by a barrier of ancient hurts and misunderstandings, they were now one. The sarcasm eased between them as lovingly as sperm, their feelings were fixed so entirely on the other that they had no need to consider them, and they argued because they could and because they enjoyed it.

Their new mood affected everything around them, changing the most ordinary things. Showering, dressing, packing were done conscious that they were in love and loved, and this consciousness made each tiny event momentous. Thoughts and feelings had been exchanged between them that had irreparably altered their belief structure. Admitting loneliness, fear, self-doubt left them vulnerable, and in that vulnerability they found new strength.

By the time they came to leave the room, they were speaking in a language of silence. Where they had needed words to wound, provoke or anger, they now needed only a single touch or a look to arouse equally intense emotions. Where they had argued to fill voids of regret, these spaces were now fecund with passion for the other. They moved around the space in silence, almost drugged with contentment.

Finally, they were ready, and Angel led the way, jogging down the stairs to the lobby. He rang the bell and waited for the desk clerk, leaning on the counter and watching Spike.

Spike put out his hand. ‘Keys? I’ll get the car.’

Angel nodded and rummaged in his pocket, but stopped, watching something in the bar behind Spike. Spike turned and saw a man conferring with the barman. He looked in their direction, glanced at the barman for confirmation of something and then came forward. ‘May I have a word, Sir?’

‘We’re just leaving.’ Angel took a step around Spike and put his bag down, folding his arms, contradicting his reply, which had been no reply at all.

The man didn’t seem put off and held something out for Angel to read. ‘Detective Sergeant Riordan.’ He waved in the direction of some chairs in the lobby.

Spike made to go toward them, but Angel repeated, ‘We’re just leaving,’ and added, ‘What’s this about.’

‘If you’ll take a seat, Sir; it won’t take long.’

Shrugging slightly, he followed Spike’s lead and sat on a chair, folding his legs elegantly. The detective sat opposite them and made a show of consulting some notes that he clearly didn’t need. ‘Can I just confirm your names? There is some confusion amongst the hotel staff. You signed in as,’ he paused for effect, peered at his notepad and continued, ‘Mr Liam Kavanagh and Mr William Carstairs.’

Angel didn’t react. It had not been a question; he saw no need to.

The policeman narrowed his eyes. ‘But you had a package delivered here addressed to someone called Angel, and your… friend… has been overheard calling you that.’

Although this wasn’t a question either, Angel said calmly, ‘It’s a nickname.’

‘You work for the Hansen Group?’


‘You told the barman that you did.’

‘No, he assumed we did, and I didn’t correct him. What’s this about, Detective? We’re on a busy schedule, and we have a plane to catch.’

‘You travel on an American passport. Are you returning home?’


‘Has this been a business trip or one for…’ he looked squarely at Spike, ‘pleasure?’

Angel smiled. ‘Oddly, it started out as one and became the other.’ He heard a snort from Spike and leant back so he could bring him into the periphery of his vision.

‘What is your business, Mr…?’

‘It’s Angel.’

‘Mr Angel.’

‘I’m the CEO of a law firm—in L.A.’

‘And you, Sir?’

‘He’s my associate.’

‘I see.’

Angel didn’t doubt that he did, but he didn’t find this assumption about their relationship annoying. On the contrary, he enjoyed it.

The detective leant back and regarded Angel for a moment then said candidly, ‘You were seen trespassing at the old school site. You spoke to the guard, spun him a story about being lost, and at that time appeared to be Irish, then some hours later were spotted running from the building after the guard dog attacked you. A local boy has gone missing, Mr Angel. He was last seen by friends playing in the old school. You can understand my interest in your reason for being here, and your movements whilst you’ve been in Ireland.’

‘Are you accusing me of something?’

‘Not at all. I’m eliminating you from my enquiries. Can you tell me your whereabouts today?’

‘I’ve been in my room.’

‘All day?’ For the first time, the policeman had genuine suspicion on his face. ‘You were in your room all day?’

Angel nodded. ‘I sleep a lot.’ He smiled and added, ‘It comes from staying up late breaking into buildings.’

The man appeared uncertain whether this was said seriously or not, and Angel clarified, ‘I don’t deny we went to look around the building. I used to go to school there, and I wanted to show my colleague the old place.’

The detective closed his notebook then fished in his pocket and pulled out a small book. He dragged out the moment, flicking the pages, staring at Angel, waiting for Angel to break and ask what it was. Then he seemed to realise that he’d be waiting a very long time before that happened, for he said lightly, ‘Patrick O’Connor’s History of Galway. Read it?’ Seemingly resigned to not getting a rise out of Angel, he continued, ‘It’s got a fascinating chapter on the old school. According to Mr O’Connor, it hasn’t been used as a school since the Ministry of Ag and Fish took it over in the nineteen forties. I’m not good at guessing ages, Mr Angel, but I wouldn’t put you in your sixties.’ He tossed the book onto the table and leant forward resting his hands on his knees. ‘Why don’t we cut the bullshit?’

Angel leant forward, too. ‘I’m the CEO of the largest law firm in Los Angeles. I had reports of some activity in that building that was relevant to a case we were handling. My associate and I arrived here two nights ago, paid a brief and uninteresting visit to look around, came back here and spent the day writing up our conclusions and resting in preparation for our return trip. I suggest if you have any other questions, Detective Riordan, that you direct them to my lawyers. You have a choice of three hundred, as I own the damn firm. I saw no child. If I had, I would have been concerned, given the nature of our case and the fact that the place was guarded by a freakin’ dog that attacked us. Now, is there anything else, or may we leave to catch our plane?’

‘It’s your own plane, Sir; I checked. You can leave any time you want.’

‘I want to leave now.’

‘I will need a contact address.’

‘The hotel has it.’

‘Can anyone verify that you stayed in your room all day? Hotel staff? Room service?’

Angel faltered for the first time then shook his head. ‘No.’

The man turned to Spike. Spike raised his eyebrows. ‘Well, yeah, I can, but I’m thinking you’re not gonna be too impressed with that.’

Clearly not, the Detective rose, putting his notepad into his pocket. ‘Have a good journey home.’

Angel nodded and watched him go. He snatched up the book and turned to Spike. Without needing to confirm what Angel’s expression meant, Spike rose and preceded him to the car. They flung their bags in then headed not to the airport but back to the school.

Spike stared ahead as he drove down the, by now, familiar route. ‘You think it’s a coincidence?’

Angel rested his arm along the back of Spike’s seat and played idly with the hair at the nape of his neck. ‘It could be. What’s more likely? That this kid is somehow pulled into this mystery to get us back there, or he’s just lost? Either way, we need to go and find him.’

‘You think we can?’

‘I think we have a better chance than the local cops, yeah. You saw the size of that place; he could be anywhere: trapped in some tiny hole, hurt maybe.’

‘They’ll have checked it thoroughly.’

‘Maybe.’ He removed his arm and opened the book, thumbing to the chapter he wanted.

After a few moments, he let the book fall from his fingers.

Spike glanced over and said in a worried tone, ‘What?’

Angel turned to stare out of his window. Spike, glancing every so often back at the road, put his hand to Angel’s hair and stroked it. ‘What?’

‘There was a fire. The whole place burned. The priests couldn’t save the boys—they were trapped in the attics. They jumped, burning.’

Spike cupped his neck and forced him to turn back. ‘Authors tell all sorts of lies, Luv—makes their books more interesting. How the hell could he possibly know all that? Were written records kept?’

‘That’s not in the book.’

Spike swung over and stopped the jeep.

Angel rubbed his hand over his face and held out the page. Spike glanced down and saw a brief one-liner about a possible fire in the eighteenth century, the traces of which had been discovered in eighteen thirty when the school was rebuilt.

In a small voice, Angel said, ‘I guess I’ve found out why I went home so quickly.’

‘You survived because you weren’t in your bed.’

Angel didn’t point out to Spike that he’d pointed out the obvious. He looked up and caught Spike’s eye, then suddenly pulled him over and kissed him, tasting deep into his mouth, kissing around his lips, across his cheeks and into his hair. ‘I need you.’

Spike made a small noise, which made Angel chuckle, holding him firmly pressed close, smelling deeply into his hair for a moment to calm himself.  ‘Let’s go find a kid, Spike. It’s what we do best: helping people. Then let’s leave this goddamned country and go home.’

‘What about the dreams?’

‘You’ll be too busy in bed from now on to dream.’

Spike murmured something appreciative in his ear then pushed him off, snatching one final kiss. He held Angel’s gaze and began to say, ‘I l—.’

‘Don’t.’ Angel placed a finger over Spike’s lips. It was clear from his expression that he knew exactly what Spike had been about to say. He shook his head gently. ‘Don’t tempt fate. We’ll say those things when we’re away from here.’

Spike drew the finger slowly into his mouth, then nodded, laughing, and let it drop. ‘Tosser.’ Privately, he thought it was tempting fate not to say it, but he was finding love a far better motivation to obey Angel than he had ever found fear. With a final, snatched kiss, he pushed the gear stick into first and pulled back out into the quiet lane.

After another mile or so, Angel nodded at a farm track. ‘Pull in here. We’ll go on foot.’

The night was bright, an almost full moon stirring their magical blood as they strode across fields. In the distance, they could see the faint, ghostly glow cast by the lights on the security fence. They kept the glow to their right and skirted it in a wide circle, coming an hour later to the back of the grounds, where the gardens ran down to the sea. With their preternatural senses they could hear the soft sound of surf against the impenetrable rocks. Angel paused for a moment after he’d scaled the fence, listening. Spike watched his beautiful profile, pale in the moonlight, disbelieving the extent to which things had changed between them. ‘What are you thinking about?’

Angel stirred. ‘How things change but stay the same.’

‘You mean us?’

Angel smiled wryly. ‘For once, I wasn’t thinking about you. I used to listen to the sea on nights when the wind came from the west. I used to wonder where the waves originated. Now, I’ve been there. I’m tied to the past and to the future.’

‘We weren’t meant to live so long, Pet.’

Angel tilted his head, questioningly, and Spike added, ‘Human beings can only stand so much nostalgia and regret, can only hold the mysterious for a short span of time. They aren’t built emotionally to cope with centuries. But centuries are kinda forced upon us.’

‘Now I know I’ve fallen out of reality: you’re being profound.’

Spike punched him. Angel winced and held his finger to his lips, glancing at the building looming behind them. ‘Shhh…. Do you want to get old Jo riled up…?’

They began to walk, and Spike lit a cigarette. ‘He’s probably eaten that kiddie and is lying up somewhere, digesting him.’

‘Yeah, he’s been changed by that one taste of vampire blood and is roaming the grounds seeking blood….’

‘’E was doing that before.’

‘His eyes glowing red, fangs dripping….’

‘Again, no change.’

‘Lurking in the basement, waiting for you….’

Laughing at Spike’s expression, demonstrating his uncanny ability to fly, Angel suddenly leapt for an open window on the first floor. He climbed in then turned to mock Spike’s stunned look.

The window slammed shut in his face.

Before Spike could react, every door and window in the building began to close, retorts like the rapid firing of a gun filling the air. More frightening than this though, where there had been only holes and glass long broken, new panes formed, shutters materialised, and stout wooden doors grew. Within a few moments, the entire building was sealed.

Angel hammered on the window, his strength easily enough to shatter glass—but not this glass. He shouted something down to Spike, but Spike couldn’t hear what it was. He ran around to the nearest door and slammed it with his shoulder. It was like hitting the ancient granite stones. He ran on to a large window and tried that, as Angel had, but this time hitting it with a rock. It was impervious to his presence. Something moved inside, and he wiped the panes, cupping his hands around his eyes. It was light inside, a faint wavering light like that from candles or lamps. His heart gave a tiny jerk of fear and an icy coldness washed through his body. He was looking into a classroom. Boys sat at desks, staring at a fat man dressed in black, who wrote laboriously on a blackboard. But this wasn’t what scared Spike the most. In the middle of the room was one empty desk, and going toward it, slowly as if drugged, was Angel. He squeezed into the child-sized desk and raised his eyes to the board, and with the other boys began to move his mouth in a silent chant.

Chapter 11

Spike hadn’t truly appreciated the change that had occurred between them until Angel was taken from him. Alone now, he felt the weight of that state as never before. He felt halved, ripped asunder from a state of belonging, and his guts bled from that tearing, filling his mind with imagined pain that made it hard to think rationally. He felt like a child separated from a parent: totally panicked. He saw now just how much he’d let go in Angel’s safe presence, how much of his burden of loneliness he’d left behind, tangled up in those damp sheets. He didn’t want to have it back again. He didn’t want to be alone any more, but however much he hammered on the window and shouted, Angel did not appear to hear him.

He gave vent to his anger on the walls of the old school, smashing his fist into them until he bled. The real pain was good. It helped him focus. He hung his head to recover his courage and then began to pace more rationally around the building, making a plan. It was only then that he noticed the absence of the security fence, the lighting and, perhaps what should have been the most noticeable, the main, newer part of the school.

He stood bewildered and small alongside a low, dark building and shivered. For the first time, he got that it may not have been coincidence that the place sealed up with only Angel inside.

He was the one who was now unreal here.

But he was free; he was a vampire; and he was Angelus’s childe. He was a lot more than that to Angel now, but he decided not, despite how much certain parts of his anatomy throbbed, to dwell on that just now.

With a more characteristic grin, he bent to light a cigarette. No building was going to get the better of William the Bloody. He kicked the wall for good measure and swore at it, then made another slow circuit, just to see if he’d missed anything in his first
without tears of frustration, he could actually see.


He cursed again and sat on a low wall to consider his next move. His eyes roamed over the school, then around the grounds. With a sudden surge of energy he jumped up and, getting his bearings, began to zigzag away from the school, eyes intent on the ground, searching for something. With the aid of his lighter, three hours later, he found it: the end of the tunnel Angel had told him about. It was concealed under a bush, about five hundred yards from the main building. He was afraid to try and lift the cover. Had the magical sealing of the school included these few rough planks? Flicking his cigarette away, he grunted and pulled at the boards. They splintered and came away in his hands, tumbling him backwards, so sure had he been that they would not give.

He peered down into the earthy hole. It smelt like basement.

He had redefined the meaning of hell since losing Angel, so dropped in without a qualm.

It was low, even for him, and he jogged through it, shoulders hunched; even so, hitting his head a number of times on low hanging projections of stone. The floor was uneven, and it seemed almost unnaturally cold. He was glad when he reached the basement proper, skidding to a halt in the dark, waiting to see if the place would register this intrusion.

Something clamped on his shoulder. He cried out and spun around, bringing up his arm in a reflex motion just in time to deflect a blow from a large piece of wood. He felt the bone in his forearm shatter and tripped backward. The wood came down again and caught the side of his knee. He skittered away, rolling and then flipping up. He hardly noticed that the pain had brought forth his vampire face. It didn’t seem to register with his assailant either, but then the priest’s eyes were sightless, the orbs milky and running with the puss of decay. Spike swore, and when the corpse swung at him again, he caught the wood with his good hand and twisted it away. The body crumpled and seemed to dissolve, returning to the earth.

He didn’t wait around to see if there were any more surprises in store, but took to his heels, running as best he could on his damaged knee. He began to laugh and shouted up to the air, ‘You think the dead are gonna frighten me?’ Feeling the bolstering effects of this bravado, he mounted the steps and found himself in the long refectory that he’d explored only a few hours before with Angel.

There were no signs of the equipment this time. Long, rough benches and tables ran the length of the room and a few stale remains of food lay on the floor. He was about to make his way to the doors when something flew at him. He was quicker this time and ducked. A pewter tankard smashed into the wall behind him. It was followed by half a dozen others, and he wasn’t quick enough to dodge them all. One caught him on the temple, and he felt a warm trickle of blood running toward his eye. He dropped to the ground and as much as it was beneath his dignity, crawled under one of the long wooden tables. Safe from missiles, holding up his broken arm, he shuffled slowly toward the door.

Something touched his back. He twisted around and found the heavy planks of the table pressing down upon him. He rolled, but was pinned on his back, inexorably crushed. Although he didn’t need to breathe, it was unnerving not being able to, and only as he lay squeezed for life did he realise he’d been panting heavily with exertion up to this point. He felt helpless, and his mind returned unwillingly to a scene he’d witnessed once in Romania: a young woman accused of witchcraft crushed to death beneath rocks, piled upon her one by one by those who had once been her friends and loved ones.  She had taken a long time to die, and he had stood by fascinated and unfeeling until her breath had come so shallowly that it was impossible that life remained, but it had. He was her now, and the other parts of her ordeal, which he had not got then, were clear to him now: the crushing of his breastbone, the piercing of a lung—yet still the clinging desperately to life. Life. For him and for Angel. Something they hadn’t even had the chance to explore yet. Something he wanted. Something he’d wanted for a century and was finally his. He brought up his arms, ignoring the flaring pain in his broken bones and with a shout of defiance began to push back.

The tabletop shot off him, spun crazily in the air and then seemed to aim like a dart at his splayed form. He summoned his last energy, rolled, and it missed him by inches, burying over a foot deep into the hard-packed earthen floor. It stuck up at a ludicrous angle, but he couldn’t summon up laughter. It was effectively the largest stake he had ever seen, and he knew that the building had learnt from its mistakes and now changed tactics.

Reluctantly, he tore his eyes from the structure next to him to the rippling of the floor. A hand punched through and seized his ankle, and as he wriggled away, another emerged with a long splinter of wood, stabbing for his heart. He rolled once more, his ankle still imprisoned and felt it wrench painfully. Plucking the sliver of wood out of the rotten fingers, he plunged it into the wrist that held him. A sound like a scraping of nails on a blackboard hurt his ears, but the fingers released him. Hopping over corpses climbing from the earth, he made it to the doors, well aware that there was an army of death behind him.

The doors wouldn’t open.

He didn’t waste time hammering on them, but leapt for a window ledge and perched there, panting once more, surveying the horror beneath him. The corpses were oddly small, and blackened, wizened in places as if….

With a shudder, he realised that they were the remains of the children caught in the fire.

It seemed to him then that this fire was the key to everything. Why had Angel remembered it only then? Why had he survived when all these poor creatures had perished? A wave of pity swept through Spike for the tiny corpses being abused beneath him. It seemed wrong to him that even in death these boys were not granted peace. He shouted up to the rafters of the room, ‘Let them go, you fucker, whoever you are.’

He didn’t expect his wrath to affect anything, and it didn’t. The tiny figures began to group beneath where he perched, reaching up their pale, skeletal arms to reach him.

‘Yeah, like, not.’ He steadied himself then leapt for the next window ledge and another, repeating the exercise until he’d gained a gallery at the far end of the room. Hopping neatly over, he kicked in a small door leading from it and ran down some stone steps.

He was in a main hallway, running the full length of the building. He tried to work out where he’d last seen Angel and began to move cautiously down through the darkness, keeping his back to the wall, but glancing over his shoulder frequently to ensure that the wall was just that: wall.

He heard singing and turned swiftly, pressing back into the shadows. Large doors had opened, and a file of boys came through, not burnt, perfect in their innocence, hands folded in prayer and singing a high anthem. Their voices rose into the darkness, dispelling some of the sense of evil in the place, but their very presence only freaked Spike more, especially when about three quarters of the way down the file he saw Angel, hands folded as the boys, eyes raised, mouth opening and closing as if he were singing but no sound emerging.

Spike glanced nervously around then jogged up to the side of the file of boys, hissing, ‘Angel!’

No one paid him any attention. He poked one of the boys on the arm, but he didn’t react, although he was solid and warm.

‘Angel!’ He reached in and tried to pull Angel from the group, but as he grabbed Angel’s arm, flames sprang from the black cloth of his coat. They singed Spike’s fingers, blistering him, and he saw Angel’s flesh blacken beneath. He hastily let go, and the flames subsided. ‘Angel!’ He stamped in frustration then folded his arms and trailed after the file of singers.

He heard someone laugh behind him and swung around, expecting a blow, not wanting to let Angel out of his sight.

The young priest was watching him, leaning in the doorway, arms folded.

Spike couldn’t help it, but he blushed. The last time he’d seen this man they’d been getting intimately acquainted. He had the distinct impression that sex was not on the young priest’s mind now.

‘What do you want? Is this all your doing? Who are you? You’ve had your fun, now I want you to—.’

‘So many questions and demands. Are you always this bossy, vampire?’

Spike reconsidered. ‘You’re not him: Father John. You’re just using his body.’

‘And what a nice one it is. But you already know that, don’t you Spike? Loved our little session, by the way.’

‘Who are you? What are you?’

The man pushed off from the wall. ‘You of all people should know me.’

Spike licked his lips nervously. ‘We destroyed The First.’

Peeling laughter hurt his ears, and the figure murmured, ‘You can’t destroy concepts, vampire. We breed in the hearts of humans.’

‘What do you want? Why the dreams? Why bring us here?’

‘Shall we follow them? We can chat as we go.’ Smiling and holding out his arm, for the all the world as if they were gentlemen taking the air together, the young priest began to saunter in the direction Angel had taken.

‘I confess, Spike, that my plans have gone somewhat awry.’

Refusing the proffered arm, but falling into step with the man, Spike turned in wonder. ‘The dreams were never meant for me at all, were they?’

‘No. I had not heard of your… return…. I was seeking the souled vampire. But fate sometimes has a way of profiting those who shape it: you or Angel dreaming
the result was the same.’

‘Bringing us here.’



‘Debts have to be paid.’

‘Angel owes you something?’

They had entered the refectory, which now bore no trace of Spike’s recent battle with the burnt corpses. Boys sat at the tables, Angel conspicuous by his size, eating a mush-like substance out of a pewter bowl. ‘Tell me what you want so we can get out of here.’

The man smiled. ‘I have what I want.’

Before Spike could protest, he vanished. He beat the air with his fists and shouted in vain, ‘You can’t bloody have him!’ But when he turned back, the tables were empty. One by one they wavered and disappeared in the gloom, their places taken by digging equipment and the general detritus of a building site. With a cry, he staggered back into the hallway. It now stretched further, into the newer parts of the school, which had returned.

He screamed, ‘No!’ but his protest only disturbed some roosting birds, which fluttered eerily around the rafters.

He had no idea what to do and stood paralysed with indecision.

He saw a light at the end of the hallway and cried out, limping toward it, hope rising. It wavered and was bright in his eyes, making him blink. ‘Angel?’

‘Mr Carstairs?’

Spike halted, and the policeman lowered his torch. The light seemed to have made Spike’s eyes water so he dashed the back of his hand across them. ‘What are you doing here?’

‘Looking for you. I followed you from the hotel. Where is Mr Angel?’

Spike turned away and bent to light a cigarette, hiding his face. ‘We didn’t take this missing kiddie.’

‘I know. He’s turned up safe and well. He was trying to hitch to Derry. Caught him at the border.’

‘What do you want with me then?’

‘This is still private property, and I was curious about why you were here.’

‘Curiosity killed the cat.’

‘But at least it went out with a bang.’

Spike looked up surprised.

‘Where’s your companion?’

‘He’s—.’ He began to walk toward the entrance. ‘He’s gone home early.’

‘Uh huh.’ The man walked alongside him for a while, glancing at him every so often. ‘How did he leave? The jeep is where you parked it.’

 ‘Maybe he hitched.’


‘Can you drive me to Dublin?’


‘Can you—?’

‘Why do you want to—? Why can’t you take yourself?’

Spike gritted his teeth and held up his arm. The policeman’s eyes widened at the raw end of bone sticking out from Spike’s dark coat. ‘Shit! Fucking hell!’

Spike said calmly, ‘It’s not as bad as it looks. But I can’t drive, and I don’t know the way….’ His voice had started to quaver, so he steadied it and added, ‘I need to get to Dublin. Please.’

‘And this is to do with your friend’s disappearance?’

‘I told you: he’s not dis—. Yes. It is. Please.’

‘All right. First I have to get you to a hospital. We’ll go tomorrow.’

‘No! I have to go now. I have to be there before tomorrow. Please.’

Perhaps the increasingly desperate note in Spike’s voice or the increasing frequency with which the light seemed to make his eyes water affected the man, because he suddenly nodded. ‘My car’s out front.’

As he stepped away from the building, Spike turned and shouted at the top of his voice, ‘This isn’t over, fucker. See how you like the devil when he comes out to play.’

With a curious expression, the man watched this small display then turned back to regard the building. ‘I used to play here as a kid. My dad used to thrash us to an inch of our lives if he caught us. Said it was haunted and it would eat us up if it could.’

Spike bowed his head and tried to return his voice to normal. ‘But it didn’t.’

‘Got Henry though.’

‘Huh?’ Spike looked up and licked his lips. ‘Henry?’

‘Little English laddie here with his dad who taught at my school. We were pals, and we came here one day and….’ He looked down at his feet. ‘They said he’d probably been taken by a paedophile—this weird new word that everyone started using after that. But I think the building took him. So did my dad, but he was just an old drunk, so who’d believe him?’ He looked up defiantly, and Spike could see twenty years of ridicule and torment looking back at him. It wasn’t easy telling the truth when that truth was impossible for people to accept.

Gently, he said, ‘It’s got my friend, too, now. I’m going to Dublin to get some help.’

The man toed the ground. ‘Good.’ He looked balefully at the dark building. ‘I’d fucking burn you to the ground if I could.’

Spike turned slowly. ‘It was burnt in the eighteenth century. It was in that book.’

‘Someone else with the same thought, even back then?’

‘Maybe.’ He eyed the panda car and sighed. ‘I’m not sittin’ like a criminal in the back.’

The policeman grinned and held out his hand. ‘It’s Daniel, by the way, and you can sit up front and tell me what happened here tonight.’

‘I’m not sure you’re ready for that story.’

‘Was Liam Kavanagh?’

‘Whoa. What?’

Opening the car door and sliding behind the wheel, Daniel waited for Spike to join him. ‘A Liam Kavanagh was registered as being in this school a few years after it was founded.’

‘Well, it’s a very common name. You got any decent music?’

‘And a Liam Kavanagh returns here three hundred years later and makes a slip when talking to me that he’d been at the school.’

‘He was tired. He’d been busy all day.’

‘Then Liam Kavanagh disappears in the school where his namesake went and where he said he’d once been.’

‘You should ‘ave been a copper, Mate. You’re a riot of useless observations.’

‘It’s a long drive to Dublin, Mr Carstairs. I’d like to know the real reason I’m going.’

‘It’s Spike.’

‘Another nickname?’

Spike pursed his lips then turned boldly to the man driving. ‘Nicknames are important… over the centuries.’

Daniel turned his calm gaze to Spike and blinked once.

‘Watch the road.’

He swerved, cursed and then laughed. ‘Reality intrudes.’

Spike lit a cigarette. ‘Funny you should say that; that’s kinda how it all started….’

* * * * * * *

He couldn’t believe how much he told the man. He’d only meant to tell him the bare facts, just enough to engage his help, but on the long drive through the mainly empty roads, he found himself talking about Angel as if some dam in his soul had burst and all his feelings, pent up for some long, were spilling out. He told him about the dreams and then had to tell him about their history. The history led to the present but that needed to be put in context once more by the past. He told him the story of the First and burning up for the world, something he had never told anyone in detail before, but most of all he told him about that night and how he had lost Angel.

Daniel pulled in at the side of the road and rummaged for a cloth in the glove box, handing it silently to Spike. Spike looked at it puzzled for a moment then dutifully wiped his eyes. At a small murmur, he followed Daniel’s gaze to his arm. The wound was still raw, but no bone now showed. ‘That’s….’ the man raised his eyes to Spike’s, ‘because you are a… vampire?’

Spike nodded. ‘Don’t forget the “with a soul” bit though—that’s kinda critical.’

Daniel nodded vigorously as if he agreed with this assessment. When Spike got out his packet of cigarettes, he held out his hand for one, too. ‘I’ve given up. Believed all the health scares.’

Spike grinned. ‘One advantage of being already dead.’

Daniel paled, and his hand shook as Spike lit it for him. After a deep lungful, which he seemed to relish, he asked softly, ‘What do you think this Wolfram and Hart can do for us? You.’

Spike looked out of his side window at the faint streaks of dawn in the sky. ‘I’m always calling them the devil incarnate, the evil empire…. Seems to me you need to fight evil with evil. Angel is the CEO of the most important branch they have. That counts for something. They aren’t going to let him be captured by some scanky old evil thing in a school.’

‘You don’t sound convinced.’

‘Yeah. Well. I’m not their favourite person, I guess. I kinda don’t… count. Can’t see them lifting a finger for me.’

‘You mean you don’t want to humble yourself to ask.’


‘You’ve said it yourself: you have no respect for them. Now you want their help. That’s not easy for you to accept.’

‘What are you, some kind of silly bugger head person?’

‘I have a masters in criminal psychology, if that’s what you mean.’

‘It wasn’t.’ With a huff and folding his arms to indicate he’d done enough talking, Spike began to smoke in earnest. Daniel smiled and eased the car back onto the road and picked up speed toward Dublin.

* * * * * * * *

It was light before they reached the city. With a grumble and wrapping his dignity around him as tight as his duster, Spike climbed into the boot. Daniel called in his location and asked for directions then led them unerringly to an old country house just north of the city.

Not at all sure of the limitations of his passenger, he nevertheless pulled up under a covered car port and opened the boot. ‘We’re here.’

Spike climbed out stiffly. Daniel caught at his healed arm. ‘Jesus.’

‘Jesus ain’t got anything to do with this, Mate. Reckon he wouldn’t care if vampires healed or no.’

‘There isn’t even a mark!’

‘Are you sure this is the right place?’

‘Yes. Why?’

‘Dunno. I was expecting it to be just like ours
but that would just be dumb, I guess.’ He ran from the cover of the car port to a covered entrance porch and rang the bell.  ‘Come on!’ He tapped his foot impatiently and the door swung open. ‘’Bout time. I want to see your… you are very tall.’ The demon appeared to be about eight feet tall. He stared at them as intently as they stared at him. In an immaculate English voice he said, ‘May I help you?’

‘I need to see your CEO.’

‘Our what?’

‘Your boss?’

‘Ah, the Director. I’m afraid he doesn’t do spec appointments. You need to—.’

Spike pushed him to one side and strode in. ‘I’m William the Bloody. He’ll see me.’

The demon grabbed his shoulder and lifted him off the ground. Daniel stepped forward holding his wallet out. ‘Sergeant Riordan of the Garda. I’m thinking this is the first time the Garda have been in here, and I’m pretty damn sure that your boss will want it to be the last.’

The demon bowed, dropped Spike and disappeared into a door to the right. Spike shook out his shoulders and mumbled something about being a vampire once meaning something in the demon community. He eyed the police badge balefully and lit a cigarette.

The hall was dark and cool, panelled in walnut. It didn’t seem as if anyone actually lived in the place, let along worked here, and the contrast to his Wolfram and Hart hit Spike forcibly. He realised, with a start, that he actually missed it
—the place of magical glass. That led him to thinking about how it would be returning without Angel and that, inevitably, led to thinking about Angel. He was not in the best of moods when a man stepped out of the door through which the demon had went and said calmly, ‘This is a legitimate place of business what do you want?’

Spike stepped around Daniel and went up to the man. ‘You the boss?’

‘And you might be?’

‘I might be Spike
—William the Bloody.’

‘I’d heard you were here with Angel. We sent you some assistance, I believe.’

‘You sent us three zillion mystical rats, an’ I wanna know why.’

‘Rats? I don’t recall sending you rats. An expensive jeep and some blood, I do recall.’

‘The cooler was filled with rats. Angel thought the box had been tampered with, but I don’t. I think they came courtesy of his friends at Wolfram and Hart.’

‘If any of my colleagues saw fit to play a practical joke on the vampire with a soul who was given the running the most prestigious of our branches, over and above those who had worked for years to be given such an opportunity, then I have no knowledge of it.’

Spike hit him, which was a mistake for the man’s head appeared to collapse in on itself and… pop.

Daniel staggered against Spike for a moment, but the head re-inflated, and the man smiled. ‘Please don’t hit me again. There’re only so many times in a day I like to do that. Will you come in?’

He turned, not waiting for an answer and went back into his office.

Spike glanced at Daniel. ‘You armed?’

‘I have my rapier sharp wit.’

‘Deep joy. Let’s go.’

Daniel grabbed his arm. ‘You said it would be you they’d resent. Sounds to me it’s Angel. You might be able to use this to your advantage.’

‘That that psycho-degree thingy of yours again?’

‘No, that’s simple human nature. You said you used to hate Angel. You implied that you were kinda renowned for it. They don’t know that things have… changed. Use that to your advantage.’

Spike gave him a frank look. ‘You’re cleverer than you look, Mate. You should get yourself a decent job.’

‘Maybe in L.A? Working for Wolfram and Hart?’

Not sure if the man was pitching his resume or being ironic, Spike just nodded and went through the open doorway.

Three women sat at huge typewriters, which click-clacked and didn’t stop as they entered. There was no sign of any modern office equipment. Even the telephones gave definition to the expression dial a number. He shrugged and went into an inner office.

The Director waved at a couple of chairs and offered them a drink, which they both accepted. ‘So, what brings you here, Spike? Where’s Angel? We met last year at the AGM. Pleasant chap, if a little taciturn.’

Not wishing to think about Angel let alone talk about him, Spike was nevertheless forced into some of his story, repeating his lie, once more, about Angel returning home. Using Daniel’s tactic, he made sure he didn’t sound too enthusiastic about his relationship with his boss and called him a fucker once or twice, smiling privately at the aptness of his description. Finally, he was done and ended tetchily, ‘Are you telling me that the rat incident was unconnected to the school?’

The man perched on the desk, sipping his drink. ‘Amongst other things, I’m a lawyer. I’m not admitting that the rats were a little gift from anyone in Wolfram and Hart, but if they were, I doubt very much if they had even heard of St Francis’s school or the Hansen Group.’

‘But you have.’ Daniel was watching the man closely, as if he were expecting another folding in of the head.

He nodded. ‘I have. They have done a number of projects in Ireland, and some over the water too, I believe. I’ve never heard anything favourable about them.’

‘You mean… unfavourable?’

He waved his hand dismissively. ‘Semantics. What’s good? What’s bad? They are a reputable firm, and have no connections in the demon world. They don’t even come into the radar of the Senior Partners. Now, is there anything else? I’m a busy man.’

Spike felt the weight of the world on his shoulders. He’d come here sure that he’d find the answers and that someone would step in and take the problem from him. For the first time, therefore, it occurred to him that Angel might not be coming back. He sensed rather than saw Daniel rise, felt a hand on his arm and rose blindly.

‘I need to get back to work.’

Spike nodded glumly. ‘Thanks for the lift.’

‘You’re not coming back with me?’

‘I can’t do the whole trip in the boot, and I need to… make some phonecalls.’

Daniel nodded and with an almost reluctant look, left.

He came back immediately and stood close to Spike. ‘Remember me if you need a good Irish cop in that firm of yours.’

Spike nodded, distracted. ‘When this thing is over.’

Daniel glanced around, shuddered visibly and murmured, ‘Good luck.’

When he’d finally left, Spike turned to the Director. He had no time to feel sorry for himself. Angel needed him, and as he had had to do so many times over his long life, he pushed on, regardless of his own feelings.  ‘Let’s get down to the real business. I need something to summon a demon; I want it now; and you’re going to give it to me.’

‘We are a law firm. What is it that you think we actually do here?’

‘I don’t think. I know. Are you going to help me, or do I have to speak to the Senior Partners? Angel hasn’t gone home; he’s been taken, and I want him back. Our Senior Partners want him back. I’m thinking that stunt with the rats contributed to the situation he’s in now, and that’s what I’m going to tell them if you don’t help me.’

* * * * * *

By nightfall he was being handed keys to a new sun-proofed car and various boxes were being loaded into the backseat for him. The Director stood impassively at his side. ‘This is the last assistance I feel we can offer from this Branch. You have imposed upon our goodwill.’

‘I threatened you with the nasties, you mean.’

‘I am doubtful of your ability to use the very powerful magics we have given you.’

‘Thanks for the vote of confidence.’

‘You do not strike me as someone who takes a great deal of notice of instructions.’

‘Looks can be deceptive.’

‘If you do not set the timers correctly, the elements will not mix as they are required to do. I will not have the Firm held responsible for what happens to Angel, should that occur. Do you understand? You take these things from us at your own risk.’

‘Yeah, yeah. Light the touch-paper and stand well back; I got it.’

The man sighed. ‘On your own head be it.’ He turned and went back into the building, not giving Spike or his cargo another glance.

Spike climbed into the car and consulted the map he’d been given. He’d taken very little notice of the route coming here and had spent the last hour in the dark of the boot.

He set off, occasionally glancing to the rear seat anxiously. He had listened. He’d listened very carefully. But now that he was alone for the first time since he’d lost Angel, he felt paralysing fear return. This had to work. It had to work so much that he’d made it work in his head. He could not afford to entertain any other outcome. Angel would be restored to him, and they would return to America and the new life they wanted together. Any other outcome was unthinkable. He fuelled this belief on anger, and he stoked his anger by smoking heavily, turning the radio up to full volume and singing along insanely, driving too fast and carelessly, speeding through speed traps and screaming curses when the cameras flashed him. He was invincible. He was William the Bloody. He was a superior creature in a world of mediocrity.

 * * * * * * *

By the time he pulled up in the lane above the school, he was physically and mentally drained and not feeling superior to anyone. He just wanted Angel back, and that desire weakened him. He felt trapped, his options so limited that they were hardly options at all. He didn’t want to use the magics that Wolfram and Hart had given him. He didn’t trust them, and he didn’t trust himself to use them. This was too important for him to cock up. This was too important to be double-crossed by someone who had openly admitted jealousy of Angel. But he had no choice. He wished he had someone to help him, someone to consult with, someone to take the blame when it all went wrong. Angel shouldn’t have to rely on him. He was too stupid, too small. Angel should never have trusted him. If Angel hadn’t trusted him he would never have been caught. Angel had let his guard down. He’d made Angel let his guard down along with all the other things that had been dropped over those long hours of passion.

He began to make elaborate promises to a God he didn’t trust for Angel’s safe return. Things he would do; things he wouldn’t do, if only Angel was restored safely to him. He knew he should promise to give Angel up, but life wouldn’t be worth living without him now. He was a permanent addiction from which he would never recover. But this wasn’t about him. His life wasn’t important compared to Angel’s; so, finally, he made the ultimate promise: he’d give Angel up if Angel was set free.

When he’d finished with God, he began on the devil. He trusted him even less, but he wanted to cover all bases. He promised him some interesting things, too. He didn’t care. Being good hadn’t helped him much; he’d be evil if it brought Angel back.

He’d now sat on the hill for some time being no help to Angel. Dawn was not far away; he could smell the sun rising over the land behind him. With a heart so heavy that it rivalled the weight of the boxes, he staggered down the hill to rescue Angel.

Chapter 12

By the time he reached the security fence he’d taken back his promise to leave Angel. He wasn’t that magnanimous.

By the time he scrambled over it three times, carrying his various boxes, he’d taken back his promises to the devil. He was in a bad mood and didn’t see why the devil shouldn’t be pissed off, too.

He walked around the entire building, just to reassure himself that it was as he’d left it, then went in through one of the broken doorways.

He was beginning to feel familiar with the layout and went directly to what had been the refectory. No little burnt corpses now, no flying tables. He pouted at the memory of his fear and put the boxes down a little too forcibly on one of the contractors’ work benches.

He shed his duster and lit a cigarette trying to remember the complex instructions he’d been given. He had reasoned that the demon, once raised, would suspect a trick, so he could not confront him with anything identifiable. The obvious solution (or so it had seemed to Spike in the brightly lit lab of the Dublin branch of Wolfram and Hart) had to be timers on the second and third spells. He would set them now so they would fire off, in sequence, when the demon least expected it. It was very simple.

He eyed the wires and circuits and poked at them for a while. He had listened. He had listened very carefully, but now it was all a kind of blur. He was useless, and he clenched his jaw on the thought that it was all a waste of time anyway. Angel was as lost to him as effectively as if he’d been staked. This was just a panacea to his pain and not for Angel at all.

With a curse, he twisted the first timer, connected a few wires and carefully set the separate ingredients as he’d been shown. When the time was up, they would combine. Did that fucker demon think he could keep Angelus locked in a fog of false memory forever? It had confused Angel’s memories somehow, made him think he was still at school, still walking in file down ancient hallways singing God’s praises. Well he was about to set Angel’s memories straight. Once the ingredients combined, a powerful memory restoration spell would engulf the building. Spike wanted to see the fucker try to keep Angel imprisoned once Angel remembered. And when they’d both escaped? Then the final device triggered. He realised with a start that he’d been reciting in his mind, like a child’s rhyme “The first for summoning; the second for remembering; the third for destruction.” Once he realised he was doing it, like a tune, it stuck there, playing over and over, reminding him how this thing had to play out if it was to work: summon the demon, restore Angel’s memory, destroy the demon….

* * * * * *

It was done. He didn’t know how to stop the devices now he’d set them, so time began to press in upon him. He picked up the other box, took out the candle and lit it, then grabbing the Latin incantation they’d given him, he strode out into the main hallway. With the light of the candle flickering on the scroll, he began to recite the powerful demon summoning spell, adding a few unique twists of his own:

Ego voco vos
Operor non reluctor mihi, fucker

Ego inflecto super is universitas quod tunc quod unus advenio

Vos inflecto ut meus vox

Ego sum unus, you bloody bastard!

Ego voco vos

Vos es mei tempero

Do you hear me!

Ego impero super vos quod totus principatus of abyssus

Ego sum vox
Vos mos pareo mihi!

He felt a shiver run down his spine, and a spasm made his jaw clamp shut, catching the edge of his tongue between his teeth. On the taste of blood he repeated, shouting to the rafters,

Ego voco vos! The candle fluttered and then extinguished. He hastily relit it. In the light from the new flame, he could see the priest watching him with a wry smile, leaning against the wall, for all the world as if he were meeting an old friend. ‘No need for histrionics. You only had to ask.’

‘Where’s Angel?’ Spike could hear the tick, tick, tick of the timers in his mind, matching the rhythm of the endlessly repeating words “The first for summoning; the second for remembering; the third for destruction.” Tick, tick, tick. ‘Where’s Angel, you fucker?’

‘Your mother should have taught you better manners, demon. He’s where you see him.’ The priest stepped toward a door, and Spike came cautiously forward. Angel was standing in the corner of a room full of boys sitting at desks. He had a sign around his neck with the word Bardus in large letters. Tears sprang to Spike’s eyes to see him so, and before he could stop his mouth, he blurted out, ‘He’ll tear you to fucking shreds when he’s free.’

‘Free of what?’

Spike cursed inwardly for saying that much but reasoned the demon must know why he was here. ‘Free of you—what you’ve done to his bloody memory. You can’t keep him suppressed for ever.’

‘Suppressed? You think I’m suppressing his memory?’

Spike took his eyes off the pitiful sight reluctantly. ‘What do you mean?’

I’m not suppressing his memories
he’s doing that all by himself. I want him to remember! Why do you think I tried to send those dreams to him?’

‘You’re lying.’

‘Angel doesn’t want to remember what happened here. He’s been resisting remembering. The dreams twisted and turned in your mind
false memories, red-herringsbecause of his defiance. What did you think this was, Spike? Priests abusing the little boys? Is that what you thought this big secret was all about! That’s hardly a secret is it, moron!’

Spike caught the demon by the front of his cassock and thrust him back into the wall. He was pleased how solid he seemed to be and how loud the crack of his head was when it connected with the hard stone.


‘Tell me what this is about then!’

‘I thought that was what I was—. Ow. All right! I’ve always been here—since the first men lived on this peninsular. I walked amongst them and appeared one of them, but I wasn’t, I was created by them. I am evil—the evil that lives in the hearts of men.’

‘You told me you were the First.’

‘Well, okay, I lied
sue me. I dragged that out of your mind while I tiptoed around inside it. And, boy, you really do have some issues that—. Ow. I only came to my full power when the Church was established here, and then the seminary. Oh, such evil lurking in the minds of those who purport to serve God. I grew in strength until I rivalled their power, their sway over the tiny minds in their care.’

‘This is fascinating, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve a plane to catch with Angel, so if you could hurry it along…?’

‘Then he came here. Tiny, so pretty and so vulnerable, and so very, very sad. He believed that I was another priest. Never questioned why I could only appear when he wanted me.’

‘I know this! You corrupted him, and he doesn’t want to remember….’

‘No. I had no need to touch him. No time!’ He slid his eyes from Spike’s face to Angel, still standing punished in the corner. ‘He wanted to go home.’

‘I know this! You’re not telling me anything new here.’ Tick, tick, tick, he could hear it in his guts now, weakening them.

The priest’s green eyes returned to him. He smiled. ‘He got to go home.’

‘He survived the fire, yes, I know!’

‘But why do you think he survived it?’

‘Because he was with some fucking priest
—taken out of his bed!’

‘Oh, I like that theory! Wish I’d thought of that. Sorry, but… no. He climbed out of bed one night and went down into the basement where he’d been collecting bits and pieces: scraps of candle wax, cloth, some lamp oil. He set fire to the school and then walked down the priest’s tunnel and watched the conflagration engulf everyone here. He watched as the boys jumped, burning.’

‘You’re….’ Spike swallowed. ‘You’re lying. He was only seven. He was….’

‘Oh, granted, he hadn’t meant to kill anyone—it was a kind of protest fire, if you like. I guess if he’d been able to he would have chained himself to something, stopped eating… that sort of thing. I love this new century.’

‘If it was an accident, why is he so afraid to rem…?’ He stopped and stared into the mocking green eyes.

‘Yep: you got it in one. Lucky I was on hand, really, to point out his truer motives, help him see what he had become… welcome him, I suppose, to the true world of evil. And as you say: he was only seven and very open to suggestion.’

‘You made him believe that he intended to kill them all?’

‘Do you know, I think I may have made him susceptible to becoming a vampire? Isn’t that a miracle in itself? I’m all choked up. He’s like a son to me.’

The demon began to laugh as Spike slammed his head repeatedly into the wall, then he held up his hands in surrender. ‘Hadn’t you better be thinking about that damn spell you’ve got set to go off? Whoa! We don’t really want Angel remembering all this, do we? Well, I say we, but it’s you, of course, who can’t afford to have him remember. I want him to. I want him to stay here voluntarily with me, and he will, once he remembers. It will destroy him.’

Spike turned as if he were held in some vast sticky web of his own stupidity. He began to run back to the refectory, but the ticking was so loud in his head that his eyes watered, and he couldn’t see the way in the dark. Mocking laughter and encouragement followed him. He had to stop Angel remembering. Such memories would destroy him. Insidious whispers implanted in that young mind would be still be believed. He knew this now. He knew Angel now.

He had no idea what to do, which lead to pull, which switch to turn. He tried to remember what the Director of the Dublin branch had said about the ingredients mixing. Did he have to stop them? Or was that what he wasn’t supposed to do? They had never discussed failure of his plan; he had not allowed them to discuss it. So sure had he been that it was Angel’s only chance, he had not allowed himself to admit any failure.

Tick, tick, tick. He had no time to decide. He wrenched one of the vials free and clasped it in his hand. The other one exploded alone. He was thrown back against the wall, the glass in his hand shattering on a spasm of preternatural strength from his fingers. Enveloped in a thick green fog, as under a green sea, he saw the splatters of red potion on his hand mix in tiny tendrils with the green.

Before he could react, the third device, jarred by the second, detonated early—the one that should have gone off when he and Angel were safely out of the building. “The first for summoning; the second for remembering; the third for destruction.” Still in his head, the rhyme mocked him now, even as the floor beneath his feet began to crumple. The shock waves from the third device weakened the structures of the roof, and large pieces of wood began to rain down upon him.

He had to reach Angel.

He ran through the collapsing building, struggling through the greenish fog with the bloody wisps of red.

One wall of the hallway collapsed. Stone dust mixed with the magic and got into his eyes. He reached the doorway.

He couldn’t get his bearings.

This couldn’t be the right room. This was outside.

Then his stinging, wet eyes made sense of it.

The outer wall, against which Angel had been standing, had fallen. Where Angel had stood was only a pile of stone with wicked looking wooden shards projecting at all angles.

There was a lot of dust. That Spike could see. But whether this dust was from the stone or from Angel, he could not tell.

With a howl of fury, he staggered over the rubble, vainly calling Angel’s name. He knew deep in his heart that he’d lost him. He felt he deserved to lose him.  The fog was beginning to dissipate. He heaved huge stones aside and gingerly moved wooden spars. He gave no thought to the demon; his thoughts were all on finding Angel.

* * * * * * *

Eventually, he did.

He straightened and stared at the body, something in his heart ending abruptly. He thought that it might have been hope, but he wasn’t thinking all that rationally by now. His first thought was to leave it where he’d found it and run: run away from what he’d done. The thought persisted, got stronger. Suddenly, he whirled around and found the demon licking around his ear, the whispered suggestions oozing off that swollen organ and into his fragile mind. The demon was worse for wear, not so young and not so pretty, and Spike recoiled from the smell that evil gives off when it decays. He stared into its milky orbs and said precisely, ‘Your energy was tied to this place, and I’ve destroyed you.’

The demon snarled. Then he attempted a smile and nodded at the body. ‘Look what you’ve done, Spike. This is your fault.’

Suddenly, Spike squared his shoulders and hefted the limp body into his arms. ‘No. Don’t play your bloody tricks with me. This was your fault from the very beginning.’

‘You can’t take him like that!’

‘I’ll take him however he is. He’s mine.’

Another wall somewhere in the building fell. Spike turned, carrying the body, as Angel had once carried him from a Church, and walked out into the soft, early morning light, leaving the demon to the collapse of his own vaunting edifice.

* * * * * * *

Spike remembered nothing of the trip to the airport. He drove on autopilot, refusing to think, refusing to listen to the hysterical screaming from his passenger.

He vaguely remembered arguing with the pilot about leaving. He’d won, and they’d left.

He remembered wrapping the body in blankets and holding it until it was quiet.

Then it had all drained from him, and he sat, empty of feeling as a husk, as they sped back over the ocean toward what had once been home.

* * * * * * *

A phone ringing startled him; he hadn’t known there was a phone on board. He stretched out his hand and picked it up.


‘No. It’s me.’

‘Oh, well, bloody hell! Do you know how long it’s taken me to track you two down! I called at the hotel a number of times, but no one got back to me!’

‘I’m sorry, Wesley.’

‘What’s wrong?’

‘Why does something have to be wrong?’

‘The day you readily apologise to me is the day something must be wrong. Where’s Angel? Put him on.’

‘He’s asleep.’

‘Asleep? Oh, well…. Look, I have some information about this Hansen Group he asked me to look into.’

‘They’re innocent, right?’

‘Well, I wouldn’t go that far, but yes, I couldn’t tie them to anything in our records. What is interesting though is that some of the architects and planners came from L.A. They made frequent trips to and fro. I’m not sure how it relates to….’

‘They were carriers.’

‘I’m sorry?’

‘Of the dreams. Somehow, I think the demon in the school used them to carry messages to Angel, but I got them instead.’

‘Oh. Look, there’s clearly a lot for us to discuss….’



‘Come and meet us at the airport. Alone.’

‘What’s wrong? There is something wrong, isn’t there? Wake Angel and put him on.’

‘I can’t. He’s… sleeping. He’s… worn out.’ He put the phone down, his eyes never leaving the body lying on the seat in front of him.

It was the truth. He was sleeping. He was worn out. Crying and hysteria will do that to a seven-year-old ripped three centuries out of time.


Chapter 13

They smuggled him together up to Angel’s apartment. Spike had no time for Wesley’s anguish; he had enough of his own.

‘We’ll have to sedate him!’ Wesley struggled to hold the flailing arms. ‘We need Fred in on this.’

Spike nodded. He needed Fred. Chaos and fear tended to make him think of Fred and her unflappable strength.

Wesley relinquished his captive to Spike and summoned the elevator. ‘Will you be okay?’

Spike nodded as a small fist connected with his eye. ‘Just hurry, yeah.’

‘Quit it! Angel! Stop it!’ He had a thought, which surprised him given how his brain and heart had died back in the old school. ‘Liam… stop it.’

The boy stopped fighting. Spike tried a smile, but not coming from his heart, which was dead, it wasn’t very reassuring. ‘Liam. See? I know your name.’

‘Let me go.’

‘I will if you stop struggling.’

The boy nodded, and Spike released him. Faster than Spike, he made it to the bedroom and shut the door. As there was nowhere for him to go, more literally than had ever been true for any seven year old, Spike let him be. He let him be for several minutes then shouted, ‘Are you hungry?’

He crossed his fingers and rummaged in Angel’s fridge. One by one, he brought out things that he liked: his favourite snacks. Waves of misery assailed him as he realised that Angel must have bought them for him, for his short stay in the apartment, which now seemed as if it had taken place in another lifetime.

For the first time, it really hit him that Angel was gone.

The horror of the school, the worry and stress of the flight, Wesley’s confusion had all held this realisation at bay. Now it flooded him with cold dread. He would be alone again. He would be alone forever.

Food forgotten, the child forgotten, he sank to the couch and put his face in his hands. He wished they’d never begun. He wished he could go back to that meal and not stand up when Angel had, not climb the stairs with him, not fall so deeply in love with him that he could not climb out again. Humans only had a short time to grieve a loved one before they died, too. He would live on into eternity knowing that he was, for the first time, truly alone.

He felt a hand on his shoulder, but shook it off.

‘What’s wrong? Why do you cry?’

He lifted his face and looked into familiar brown eyes. Even at seven, some of Angel’s facial features were determined: the smooth, perfect shape of his lips, his nose. The boy said hesitantly, ‘I am hungry.’

Spike saw a divide ahead of him. On one side, where he was now, all was darkness, and he wanted to stay here, in that dark where no one would see his pain—where he wouldn’t have to face his pain. On the other side was this boy with his needs: to be fed, to be looked after, to be acclimatised to the life he would now have to live. Beginning to laugh, with a sound that had very little humour in it, Spike said, ‘I wanted to take you away from that place and look after you.’

‘I don’t like school.’

Spike smiled, and there was a tiny bit of genuine humour in the twitch of his lips. ‘I know you don’t.’

The elevator pinged, and the doors slid open. The boy opened his mouth to start shouting once more, but clamped it shut when Fred came out first. His eyes widened and went to her legs then he blushed and looked away. Spike laughed again, ‘Tell me ‘bout it. Women were easier to cope with in our day….’ Fred swatted him then crouched to the boy.

‘Well, hi!’

He smiled tentatively. ‘Hello.’

‘I’m Fred.’

He wrinkled his nose and let out a tiny laugh. ‘That’s a man’s name.’


‘Oh. I’m Liam.’

Spike got up from the couch and rubbed his hand over his face. His decision seemed to have been made for him: life inexorably travelled forward, and you had to allow it to carry you on or you’d drown in its back-eddies. ‘I’m going out to get him something decent to eat.’

Wesley nodded in agreement and went up to Fred, crouching before the boy, too.

Spike watched them for a moment and pouted. The thought crossed his mind that they made a good… family: Fred, Wesley and the child.

Something surged in his belly, and with a puzzled frown he realised it was jealousy. He didn’t say anything other than, ‘Watch him, yeah?’ and went toward the elevator. Just before he entered, though, he added over his shoulder with a malicious grin, ‘Oh, and don’t let ‘im near any matches, ‘k?’

Still grinning, he began to hum tunelessly as the elevator descended.

* * * * * * *

It took him a number of trips before he had all his purchases into the apartment.

He waved imperiously at the bags of food. ‘Someone needs to do something with these.’

Fred jumped up and began to explore them. Spike carried the other things over and put them on the table. ‘Come here, you.’ Liam came obediently forward, and Spike thrust a joystick in his hands. ‘This is your new bible.’ He held up a PS2. ‘This is a Church. Are you with me so far?’ Liam nodded, wide eyed. Spike ignored a faint protest from Wesley and turned the machines on. ‘That is Kratos, and he is now your God. Go forth, child, and find your new religion.’

Wesley stood up. ‘Really, Spike, I hardly think that a boy plucked magically from the eighteenth century is going to be able to…. Well, that seems to be him sorted then. Can we talk?’

Spike nodded glumly. He’d rather stay and play with Liam.

Fred put a plate of food down for the boy, which he began to eat ravenously without taking his eyes off the screen or one hand off the joystick.

The other three sat the other side of the room. ‘I still can’t believe that this is actually young Angel.’ Wesley took a bite of food. ‘Do you think Dublin Wolfram and Hart meant for this to happen?’

Also mouth full, Spike mumbled, ‘No.

Fred looked puzzled. ‘Why didn’t it work? Did you keep the parts? I’d like to examine them.’

Spike swallowed. ‘Actually, a bloody building was falling around my head, so… no.’

‘We have to concentrate on restoring Angel now.’

Spike put his slice of pizza down. This had not occurred to him. ‘You think you can reverse this? How?’

Wesley held up a hand to curb his enthusiasm. ‘It seems from what you say that a powerful memory enhancing spell went off unformulated—yes? The result of that was not to pull Angel’s memories back into the forefront of his mind, but to cast him back into the time and place where those memories had been formed. But Angel, as he was, existed, and everything that existed can, potentially, be recreated.’

‘How long’s it gonna take you?’

Fred glanced at Wesley and replied, ‘It’s not that simple, Spike. It’s never been attempted before; we have nothing to start with; we—.’

‘How long?’

Wesley intervened. ‘Suffice to say we need to decide what to do with our young friend over there. He may be with us for some considerable time.’

Spike took another bite of pizza and said deceptively casually, ‘What do you mean: decide what to do with?’

Wesley frowned. ‘Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? Who can we find to look after him; where is he going to—?’

‘I’m going to look after him.’

The other two regarded him silently. Knowing he was under unfavourable scrutiny, Spike kept his eyes on his food and chewed very quietly.

‘You must know that that’s not possible.’

Spike stayed silent. He didn’t reply to rhetorical questions.

‘How would you be able to take care of a human child? You have no idea—.’

‘Neither do you.’

‘I’m not suggesting I look after him. I have the self-awareness to know that I’m in no position to take care of the needs of a seven-year-old child. What about school? What about a normal family life?’

‘You think anything in his life is ever going to be normal?’

Fred leant forward and said softly, ‘He’ll adapt so quickly we’ll be unable to remember a tiny Irish boy in a few months
—weeks maybe. He’s at the optimum age for assimilating into a new culture—new time, I guess.’

‘I don’t care about any of this. He’s mine, and no one’s gonna take him.’

‘This is getting us nowhere. We’ll leave it for now, and we can—.’

‘No. We won’t bloody leave it for now so you two can go off and conspire against me like you did against Angel. I’m not Angel, and you can’t bully me into doing what you want.’

Wesley sat back, his nostrils going pale at the edges. ‘You think that’s what we did? Bully Angel?’

‘Yeah. I do. You manipulated his self-doubt until he couldn’t say no to any of you. He let you forget that he was a vampire, that he has… had… enhanced abilities, that he’d lived for three fucking centuries and knew more about everything than you ever would. I’ve lived for a hundred years, and I can raise one soddin’ child.’

‘Are you going to make him live in the dark with you?’


‘How are you going to look after him if you can’t even step outside during the day? Or did you think you’ll sit him in front of a Playstation all day and drink beer with him?’

‘Fuck off, Wesley. I think you’d better go now.’

Wesley laid down his plate and said icily, ‘If anyone is going to go, Spike, it’s you. What exactly is your status in this firm? Remind me.’

Spike changed face and reminded him that way.

Fred stood up and put her slim form between them. ‘You are both as bad as each other! Do you know what you sound like? Wesley
we’re going. Yes, we are! Spike can look after him for one night, and then tomorrow we’ll see what tomorrow brings.’

‘It will bring sunshine.’

—don’t!’ Fred bustled Wesley toward the elevator, giving Spike an apologetic smile. Spike watched them leave then turned back to Liam.

A piercing scream made him duck his head for a moment until he realised he was still in game face. He hastily changed back and said quickly, waving at the screen, ‘I’m a cool bloke like in that game! Wanna see me do it again?’

Liam nodded and watched avidly as Spike flicked between his two faces. ‘Can I do that?’

That was a question to which Spike had no ready answer, so he pursed his lips and said gruffly, in what he hoped was a paternal way, ‘Eat your bloody food.’

‘I don’t bloody like it.’

‘Hey! Don’t you swear at me! What don’t you like?’

Liam looked down at all the green things he’d left.

It was too much for Spike. Memories of the last meal he’d eaten with Angel rose like sickness in his heart, and he went into the bedroom, calling back shakily, ‘I’m going to take a shower. You stay there.’

He leant on the basin for a while, regarding himself in the mirror. Sometimes it was good not being able to see a reflection; you could make up any appearance you wanted. Do I look like someone who can raise a kiddie? Yes. Do I look like someone who is a shell, his heart and soul lying still in the rubble of a school in Ireland? No.

He suspected that the answer to both those would be different if he could see his reflection. With a sigh, he pulled his T-shirt over his head and let it drop to the floor. His pale torso was a mass of bruising, which he had not noticed until now. He stepped out of his jeans and went to stand beneath Angel’s all-forgiving shower.

This, too, gave him no peace from memories of Angel.

Why could he not have fallen in love with some insignificant? Someone tiny and easy to miss when you lost them? Angel’s absence was so huge that Spike knew it would never be filled, and however much he might appear to go on with his life, he would do that as less than a man. Most of his body was empty now, and what was left rattled miserably around inside.

He sighed, turned off the water and wrapped one of Angel’s towels around his waist.

When he emerged into the bedroom, he discovered a small figure asleep in the bed. Liam had not undressed, and he lay, grubby and exhausted, in the very centre of the covers.

Spike sat down and watched him for a while. It wasn’t something any lover should ever have to do.

Very gently, he woke him. ‘You have to sleep on the couch.’



‘Because what?’

‘You’re not supposed to say that. When I say because, you say: okay, Spike, anything you say.’

‘But why can’t I sleep here with you?’

‘Because. Because you remind me of someone I’m missing, and you being here would make it worse.’


Reluctantly, Liam slid off the bed. He hung his head then said softly, ‘I’m missing my mother and father, but you being there would make it better.’

They stared at each other for a moment then the one with all the real power won. Liam climbed back into the bed. Spike pulled on some clothes then slid to the very edge of one side and lay long into the night having conversations with himself where he won every argument.

Chapter 14

‘What’s wrong?’  Spike opened his eyes with a jerk. ‘Huh?’

‘You were crying. Again.’

Spike sat up, slightly bewildered, and then he remembered everything.

‘Where are you going?’

‘I need to—. Go puzzle out how the shower works, yeah? I’ll be back… later.’

Aware that leaving the boy wasn’t right, but unable to stay, Spike rode down in the elevator, took a car and went out, driving aimlessly, his heart so painful he wanted nothing more than to crash and burn. Then, remembering he’d probably only come back anyway, he pulled over and laid his forehead on the wheel for a while.

Eventually, he drove back and rode up in the elevator, smoking, for all intents and purposes what he ever had been.

The boy had showered and put on one of Angel’s shirts. He sat, wet hair tousled and glistening, in front of the Playstation, eating slices of bread from the bag.

Spike took the bag and began to make some proper breakfast. ‘We need to get you some new clothes.’

When there was no response, he said softly, ‘Liam?’

‘When am I going home?’

‘Don’t you like it here?’

‘I do, but I want to go home.’

‘We’re a very long way away from your home; you get that, yeah?’

Liam nodded.

‘It’s gonna take us a while to find the way back.’

‘Can’t we go in that loud carriage that….’ He took a deep breath and finished, ‘Flew?’

‘We’ve lost it.’


‘Don’t worry. We’ll find it, and then you can go home.’

‘All right.’

‘Say okay.’


They grinned at each other and sat down side by side on the couch to eat. Spike regarded the pale, knobbly knees peeking out from under the tails of the shirt. ‘Wesley is right.’

‘I don’t like him. I like Fred.’

‘Yeah. I like Fred, too.’

‘You argued with Wesley. About me.’

‘But he was right—though I’ll eat you if you tell him.’

Liam giggled. ‘Eat me! I want you to eat me!’

‘You need to be careful what you wish for, rugrat.’ But he softened his words by cuffing him affectionately. ‘You can’t stay in this apartment. You need some sun and fresh air. I need to find us somewhere new.’

‘A palace like the King of England has?’

‘Well it’s a Queen now, and better than that
she doesn’t have air conditioning. Do you want to help me look tonight?’

Liam nodded. ‘What are we going to do today?’

Spike smiled inwardly at the use of the we. ‘Wanna come meet some funny looking people?’

‘Funnier than you? I mean in your funny face….’ He laughed and dodged another cuff.

Spike caught him and wrestled him off the couch until he stopped and said distinctly, ‘New clothes!’

* * * * * *

The mall was a revelation to Spike—or rather being at the mall with unlimited spending power was. He reckoned he felt more excited than Liam, who didn’t know about the pleasure of owning shiny objects. He twisted the card Wesley had reluctantly handed over to him around and around in his fingers as they made their way to the children’s clothing store, ignoring the glances Liam’s odd outfit engendered.

He was impressed with the child. If he had been rushed forward three centuries as a seven year old, he thought he’d be more… noisy. Liam absorbed all the strange sights silently, only very occasionally asking why things were as they were. He didn’t seem fazed by the technological changes, riding up on the escalators without hesitation. It seemed to be the people that provoked most interest in him. Even that interest fell away when he entered the shop. He went from rack to rack fingering the clothes, choosing decisively, loading Spike up with his selections.

Spike watched him, his heart breaking anew. He could almost see Angel in the small figure in front him.

They took the clothes to try on, which caused the first major tantrum that day. The seven-year-old stuff was far too big for him. Spike felt like a traitor but brought back the same things for a five year old.

Liam refused to try them on, tears in his eyes.  Spike sat on the floor and lit a cigarette, glancing up to see if there was a detector. When he saw one, he reluctantly ground it out. ‘How old do you think I am?’


Once more, he had to keep his smile inside. He took it as the sincerest form of flattery. ‘How old?’

‘I dunno. Old?’

This wasn’t the response Spike had been expecting, and he laughed. ‘Cheeky bugger. But you’re right: I’m a hundred and twenty-give or take a few nanoseconds. What do you think about that?’

‘That’s older than God!’

‘Well, they don’t even make clothes for me! Seriously, if you go into any store for men, they won’t have any clothes labelled for someone a hundred and twenty. Don’t see me fussing about it, do you?’

‘You would if they made you wear a five year old’s.’

‘That’s not the point.’ It was, and he knew it, so he shut up.

‘I don’t want them.’

‘What if I take both and we swap the labels when we get home?’

‘Huh?’ Spike could see the devious wheels turning. ‘Okay.’

They shook to seal the agreement, and Spike bought both sets of clothes.

* * * * * *

He felt in the need of sustenance and headed toward an ice cream bar. Liam looked at the pictures in the menu, his eyes wide. Spike ordered then leant back. ‘You are never going to forget the next ten minutes. When you’re a grown….’

He licked his lips and fidgeted with the menu. Angel and this boy could not both exist. Liam wasn’t going to grow up and have his life; they were going to bring Angel back. It kinda ruined his pleasure in the ice cream, and in the end, he passed his over to Liam as well. The boy had no trouble eating them both. ‘You’ll be fittin’ in those big fat Yank clothes at this rate. Come on, let’s go.’

Almost immediately, he regretted his words. As he gathered bags, there was a horrible sound, worse than many sounds he’d heard the foulest of demons make, and Liam vomited five flavours of ice cream, with assorted toppings, over the shiny and remarkably clean floor of the mall.

At Spike’s expression he began to cry. ‘I want to go home.’

Edging him around the mess, Spike looked wildly around then marched him into a toyshop. ‘Whatever you like!’

Liam bought too much for Spike to carry, so he had to arrange for delivery, which caused the second tantrum of the long day. Liam wouldn’t be parted from a stuffed dog he’d chosen, but Spike didn’t want him to carry it in public. It was purple (bordering on pink), but the child was unimpressed with his explanation of gender stereotyping. In the end, Spike carefully wrapped the dog up in bags until only its eyes were visible, told Liam it was a covert operative on a mission into hostile territory (which was totally wasted on the boy as he didn’t understand any of those concepts) and let him carry it.

Feeling drained, and not in a good way, Spike made the next stop the last. This item had to be delivered, but he paid extra to have it there that evening.

* * * * * *

They were both tired when they returned back to the apartment at lunchtime. Spike made some food for them and left Liam happily playing with the toys while he went down to check in with Fred. He took the circuitous route
not because he didn’t want to see Wesley but because he felt he needed the exercise. He could have cursed when he walked into the lab and virtually into Wesley. They stepped away from each other, embarrassed, but before Spike could say anything, Wesley said, ‘I wanted to apologise. I think I got a little heated. I’m finding this whole situation rather hard to accept.’

Spike pursed his lips, looking at his boots.

‘How is he?’


‘We need to run some tests.’

‘Tests? What kind of tests?’

‘Well, basic ones such as blood and the like. I’d also like a doctor to examine him. God knows what he might be carrying.’

‘He’s not a bloody dog.’

‘But he did come from the eighteenth century. My God, did I just say that? Perhaps while Fred is running the tests you could come up and… look over a few cases? We’re rather missing Angel.’

Spike stared at him for a while. ‘How can you say that so calmly? You could be talking about someone you’d hired yesterday.’

‘What else would you have me do, Spike? I’ve known Angel for many years. I regard him as my closest friend. I think he would say the same about me. You hardly spoke civilly to him, so don’t pretend more than you feel.’

‘More than I feel…. Okay, I won’t do that. You any closer to getting ‘im back?’

‘We won’t even know where to start until we’ve run the tests. Will you bring him down, or shall I come up and get him?’

Spike turned on his heel and strode away, making that his reply.

* * * * * * *

They were subdued when they set off that evening to look for another place to live. Liam was tired from the tests and the overwhelming sensations constantly assailing his senses. Spike was tired from looking after him. He hadn’t felt the weight of such responsibility since he’d taken on the job of Dawn’s protector. Liam was even more vulnerable, or so he seemed to Spike. For the first time the city seemed very big to him, threatening almost. Everywhere he looked he saw potential threats to Liam, and when he realised that he wasn’t only seeing Liam as the one who would enable Angel to return, but a person in his own right, the weight of his mood settled even heavier around him.

They checked out the first three places on the list, but Spike saw fault with each one: too close to the street; bad neighbourhoods—his list was fairly extensive.

The fourth was hard to find, but when he pulled up outside he saw why this was so. Tucked away on a side street, it had an old-world charm about it: veranda, wooden shingles, high shrubs and bushes giving it a considerable amount of privacy.

He glanced at Liam and raised his eyebrows. Liam made his new toy bounce on his lap. ‘Puppy likes it!’

‘Hmm. That’s cus e’s planning all that crap ‘e can do in the garden. Come on.’

* * * * * *

They sat on the veranda, waiting for the agent. It was very quiet. Even with his exceptional hearing, Spike could not hear traffic, which he reckoned was pretty rare for L.A. The agent arrived, apologising and unlocked the front door. The house smelt musty, and Spike immediately felt a sense of calm descend upon him. He saw Liam’s face relax, too, and realised with a smile that they found the same smells familiar. He let him go off and explore, and the minute he’d done this, trusting the place to keep him safe, he knew that this was the house he wanted. Everything was old and, according to the agent, needed stripping out and replacing. Spike nodded in agreement but ran his hand over wooden tops and porcelain sinks, knowing he wouldn’t change a thing.

‘Spike! Come see!’ He followed the excited voice to find French windows open to a large, enclosed rear garden. Surrounded by trees and a high hedge, it was quite private and… safe. Spike stood just inside the doors, watching the small figure tear around the grass, and knew that he’d overcome Wesley’s most telling objection.

* * * * * * *

The agent needed to know how long he wanted to take it for, and once more Spike felt impossible emotions well into his heart. To say only a short time implied that he wanted Liam gone. To say longer implied he didn’t want Angel back badly enough. He compromised and said six months. The way he felt now, it seemed like a lifetime anyway. Each day without Angel was hard; six months without him would be like a second death.

Spike stopped and picked up some food on the way home. He carried it up and stepped out of the apartment to discover that the television he’d bought had arrived. Liam, till then almost dropping with tiredness, took an immediate interest in something he assumed would be a bigger version of his beloved game machine. When Spike got it hooked up and working, he turned to the Disney channel, opened all the boxes of food and sank exhausted into the couch. He watched Liam’s profile, trying to remember if he’d felt like this the first time he’d seen television. He guessed he hadn’t. Black and white, fuzzy and ten inches across hardly compared with the fifty-two inch widescreen plasma TV he’d bought.

Just before he dozed off to The Circle of Life, he had the very satisfying thought that Liam had not mentioned wanting to go home for over ten hours.

He woke with a start when the movie finished to discover the boy asleep. He covered him with a blanket and left him on the couch.

He needed to be alone with his memories tonight. Angel was haunting him. He wanted to make amends for all the times during the day when he’d forgotten to miss him. He wanted to tell Angel how much he loved him, prove it if he could. He lay on his back on the bed and recreated Angel. Inch by inch, hair, skin and muscle, in his mind, Spike brought him back to life. It was so vivid that behind his closed eyes, he could almost feel the touch of his arm as they pressed together.

‘I miss you.’

I know you do.

‘We’ll get you back.’

What about… him?

‘What about him! He’s not supposed to exist in this time, Angel. He died a long time ago in a squalid alley. What would you do if our positions were reversed? No! Don’t answer that. They never would be; you wouldn’t have got it all wrong. I did this to you. Me!’

Shhh. That’s not true and you know it.

‘Well, duh, I’m talking to myself.’

There you go then. You just gonna lie there…?

‘What did you have in mind?’

Not to waste that for a start.

‘I wish you were here to do this for me.’

Concentrate, Spike, and it’ll be my hand.

‘I miss you so much.’

Yeah, you miss me doing that….

‘No! I promised God I’d give you up if I could only have you back. I just want you with me! I miss you.’

Shhh, just concentrate and enjoy it.

‘There’s no pleasure left without you.’

Now you’re exaggerating… … see?

That was pretty enjoyable….
Spike had to agree. How could he deny the physical pleasure of an orgasm? The evidence lay glistening on his chest. But the pleasure was like a pretty veneer: just surface deep. He lay alone and grieving in an empty bed and would have sacrificed every orgasm that was still to come in all his long eternity to have Angel lying alongside him, talking and bumming his cigarettes.

He curled into a ball and tried to catch a faint trace of Angel’s scent in the pillows.

Come back, Spike; I need you.

‘What the fuck?’ Spike sat bolt upright, listening. He didn’t think he was going mad, but that had not been in his mind—well, it had, but he’d not consciously thought it. Or perhaps he had. Grief did funny things to your mind. He’d seen that enough times over his long lifetime. He’d just never thought he’d succumb to its fearful potency. He should have known though. Buffy’s death had felt like his, and he’d only loved her with a kind of temporary madness. Angel was like the earth, his love an elemental force holding him in its sway.  No wonder he was going mad. He lay back again and closed his eyes. He tried to think about furniture, which was embarrassingly domestic enough for him to fall asleep with a small smile on his lips.

* * * * * * * *

Being woken by being bounced on was novel. Not pleasant, but novel. He bore it for a few minutes before he flung the child down and changed into his more frightening face. Liam giggled and made a mock one just like him.

Shaking his head in despair, he buried back under the covers. ‘Go watch telly or something.’

‘It’s boring.’

Spike sat up. ‘It’s what?’ He tried not to laugh.

Liam shrugged. ‘What are we going to do today?’ He crawled up and slid in alongside Spike.

Spike ran his fingers through the tousled locks then swiftly withdrew his hand. Turning his back to boy, he said carefully, ‘Go make me some breakfast, yeah?’

Can I?’

‘Well no cooking or anything. No candles or lamp oil, either, but other than that, yeah.’

Liam scampered off, and Spike groaned, turning onto his belly. Missing Angel wasn’t getting any easier.

* * * * * * * *

Buying the furniture for the house had given Spike a surprising amount of pleasure. It beat rummaging on the dump any day. He hadn’t bought a lot; they didn’t need it, but they both had beds and somewhere to sit. With only the TV and Liam’s toys to add, the house was still pleasantly spacious.

They had only been in a day when a knock at the door interrupted their Simpsons’ marathon. Thinking it might be Wesley or Fred come to check up on them, Spike flicked over to a news channel and tried to look responsible as he opened the door. A young woman was admiring one of the creepers growing over the windowsill. ‘Hi!’

Spike nodded and glanced around. Young women, he had discovered to his cost, usually meant trouble.

‘I live next door.’ She stuck out her hand. ‘Emma.’

Spike shook her hand.

‘Do you need anything? I saw you move in today.’

Spike shook his head.

‘Hello.’ Liam stuck his head around Spike and smiled at the woman.

Her face immediately brightened and she exclaimed, ‘Wow, you are so cute!’

Liam blushed and darted back inside.

‘Whoops. I guess you don’t say that to guys these days. How old is your son?’

‘My…?’ He licked his lips and considered the alternative to claiming the boy as his own. There really wasn’t one, given they were living together—alone. ‘Seven.’

‘Seven? Wow. Well, if you or your wife would like to come over sometime….’

‘We’re on our own.’ He suppressed a smile at the look that flittered over her face and added, ‘I’m Spike, by the way, and he’s Liam.’

‘Well, hi. Welcome to the neighbourhood.’

* * * * * * * *

When she’d gone, Spike walked thoughtfully back to the living room. He only half-noticed that the TV was back on cartoons. He sank into the couch. Life could still surprise him. He’d just gained a neighbour, a son and a place in a community when all he’d been looking for was someone to love. Liam curled up into his side. ‘I liked her.’

‘Hmm. She liked you.’

‘She liked you.’

‘Mr Eighteenth Century has become very perceptive all of a sudden.’

‘What’s perceptive?’

‘Nosy. It’s bedtime.’

‘Can I use that… what’s it called? Where you sit in hot water?’

‘Bathtub. Sure.’

‘Okaaaay…!’ He was up and off, a tiny bundle of energy, and for the first time since finding the child in the rubble, Spike felt a tug of love at his heart when Liam left his side.

It was not what he wanted at all. He poured himself a drink and took it out into the garden. It wasn’t what he wanted at all. He needed to sacrifice this child to enable Angel to return to him. That was what he wanted. Wasn’t it? That was all he wanted.

There was a scream. He dropped the glass and ran inside.

There was a knock at the door. He ignored it, flying up the stairs.

Liam was crying, holding his foot, which was oddly red on his pale body. Waves of steam filled the bathroom. Spike swore and snatched him up, naked, running back down the stairs. He stuffed the foot under the tap in the kitchen and began to run cold water over it. Liam screamed more and began to struggle. Spike heard a voice and then arms were pulling at him. He swung around and lashed out.

Wesley fell away, holding his nose, blood running between his fingers. ‘What the bloody hell are you doing to him, Spike?’

‘What the bloody hell does it bloody look like?’

‘I’m not sure you want to know what it looks like!’

‘You fucking spastic, Wesley. Go fetch his robe will you? Do something useful.’

‘He’s shivering!’

Spike gritted his teeth. ‘He needs to stay under the water for at least ten minutes. For fuck’s sake, go get something to wrap him in!’

‘And I don’t think you should swear in front of him.’

‘I’ll do something worse than that in front of him in a minute.’

Wesley backed off and went out into the hall. Spike looked at Liam carefully. ‘You okay?’

Liam nodded. ‘I’m sorry.’ His chin began to wobble, and Spike waited for the inevitable request to go home. ‘Can I sleep in your bed again tonight?’

Spike laughed but cut it short when he saw Wesley standing in the doorway. Where the man had been angry before, now he was quiet, which Spike reckoned was worse. He took the tiny Spiderman robe and wrapped it around the boy. He wanted to say something comforting but he was damned if he’d say it in front of the human. ‘Five more minutes.’

Wesley nodded calmly. ‘Do you mind if I wait so we can talk?’

‘You reckon we’ve got stuff to say?’

‘We have some… progress. From data we got from the tests.’

Liam was playing with the small web device on his sleeve. Spike pouted. ‘Oh.’ He let the water play over his hand, watching, mesmerised, at how similar their skin looked. ‘Good.’

Wesley went into the living room. Spike gave the foot another ten minutes then turned off the water. The skin felt cool and remained cool as he carried the boy up to bed.

‘Do you really think this house is suitable for a child, Spike?’

Spike poured himself another drink and sat on the floor with his back to the wall, as Wesley was sitting on the only piece of furniture: the couch. ‘If you’ve come just to sit there and criticise then you can go.’

‘Look. This isn’t going to work. I let it go before, because you seemed so set on it. But you can’t possibly live here alone with a child. You’re a vampire, for God’s sake.’

‘And that means what? Given I have a soul.’

‘You need more than a soul to care for a child. They aren’t houseplants or pets. They aren’t something you take on on a whim then cast off when you get bored of it.’

‘Remind me never to leave a pet with you, Mate.’

‘Don’t be facetious; you know what I mean.’

‘No, I don’t. We’re okay.’

‘You’re living off crisps and watching TV all day, I expect.’

‘Fuck off, Wesley. We don’t need your help. Tell me what you found out then bugger off.’

‘You didn’t seem too keen to hear earlier….’

Spike caught his eye for the first time then looked away. ‘I didn’t want you to talk about it in front of him, that’s all.’

Wesley blushed faintly. ‘Sorry. I didn’t think of that.’

The atmosphere thawed between them slightly, and Spike pushed up and joined him on the couch. ‘So?’

‘Angel’s blood contains the same DNA as it did when he was human only mixed with demon blood as well. Liam’s DNA matches his. He is Angel, there’s no doubt about that.’

‘I never did doubt it. I was there, okay? And I saw Liam before that in dreams….’

‘Well, now we’ve proved it scientifically. There’s more. We also took samples of his hair and skin—small scrapings under his nails, that sort of thing. We dated the samples. He’s the genuine article: a child from the early eighteenth century.’

‘So, how is this going to help get Angel back?’

‘I’m afraid it’s not. We’ve not made a great deal of progress on that front.’

‘It’s not a front! You make it sound so impersonal!’

‘I find that’s the best way to go about things, yes. Spike…?’


‘What exactly happened between you and Angel while you were in Ireland?’

‘What do you mean exactly?’

‘This has become very personal to you. I can see that.  You were willing to kill Angel over the Cup of Perpetual Torment. Now this almost pathological desire to get him back. It’s not consistent.’

‘I wasn’t going to kill the poof.’

‘That’s not answered my question.’

‘No, I know it’s not. Have you anything else to say?’

Wesley watched him for a few moments then said very carefully, ‘I thought Liam staying here with you was unwise. Now, given what you are unwilling to tell me, I think it’s extremely inappropriate—don’t you?’

‘You need to leave now.’

‘I thought you wanted to return Angel. Now I’m beginning to wonder whether it’s more a case of substituting Liam for Angel….’

Spike concentrated on keeping his hands loose in his lap but said very distinctly, ‘When I said you need to go, I meant you need to go for your own… safety.’ He looked directly into Wesley’s eyes. ‘I’m not Angel, human. I have no trouble with my conscience. I’ve saved the world, and I reckon I’m owed a few get-out-of-jail-free cards. The only thing stopping me killing you for what you’ve implied tonight is that Angel likes you. Angel will come home, and he will want you still here. So, I repeat: you need to leave. Now.’

Wesley stood up. ‘And you think this helps your cause? You think you are a suitable person to care for a young child?’

Spike stood up, too. ‘No. Not particularly, but I’m doing my best. What I do know is that he’s lost his parents, his home, his country and his time, but for all that, he’s not lost half what I have. So, I’m all he’s got and, weirdly, he’s all I’ve got. And no one, no one is taking him away from me as well. You can let yourself out.’ He turned and jogged up the stairs, shaking from the suppressed need to kill.

A small figure sat hunched in the dark at the top of the stairs, listening. Spike sighed and swept him up. ‘How much did you hear?’

‘That no one’s taking me away from you.’ He wrapped his arms around Spike’s neck and kissed him on the cheek.  ‘Oh, and that you want to kill Wesley. Can I watch?’

* * * * * * *

Spike lay in his new bed for the first time, wishing he’d been more circumspect with the human. Wesley was powerful. He now commanded the resources of Wolfram and Hart, and he needed all that power to bring Angel back to him. He didn’t want to explore the thought that he’d pissed the man off precisely to alienate that power. He wanted Angel back more than anything—more than he wanted Liam. Of course he did.

He turned on his side and tried to sleep, thoughts tumbling around in his head. He heard a movement by the door and turned wearily. ‘You’ve got to stay in your own….’ His mouth dried up, and for moment he thought his heart would start again with joy or fear or despair. ‘Angel?’

Angel smiled and came forward.

‘This is a dream. It must be.’

‘I’m real enough, Spike.’

‘Enough for what?’

‘Enough to do this.’ He sat on the bed and took Spike in his arms. ‘I’ve missed you.’

‘Are you a… ghost?’

‘A ghost of a vampire? Now, that I’d like to see. No hug for me?’

Spike slid back away from him. ‘I’ll go mad from this.’

‘Before you do, I’d really like a quick fuck.’

‘Wh—? What did you just say?’

‘I want to fuck you. That’s why I’m here.’

‘You’re not Angel! I mean, I know you’re not Angel cus you’re not real or I’m going mad or you’re a ghost, but you’re not him as well cus he’d never say that. To me. Not now.’

‘That was the old Angel, Spike. I’ve had time to reconsider our relationship.’

‘What the bloody hell is this? If I’m having a dream about you, we shouldn’t be doing this! We should be making love or something!’

‘Making love? Oh, give me a break. We can’t make something out of nothing.’

‘Oh, Christ, you are real if you know that! No, wait… I’d know that anyway cus I was there. I’m conjuring you out of my mind. So, why the fuck have I conjured you like this?’

Angel stood up and stretched. ‘Because this is the way it’s going to be from now on. Turn over.’ He began to lower his zipper.

‘Stop it! You can’t do this in a dream! I refuse to dream this dream.’ He closed his eyes, which was a mistake, because Angel found it easy to grab him and pin him to the bed.

‘Come on, baby, you know you’ve been missing it, too.’ He leant down and kissed Spike’s mouth roughly.

The smell was so good. The weight upon him, the solidity of the muscles…. His body responded as a separate entity to his mind, and they began to war with one another: his body desperately wanting the release Angel could give him, his mind recoiling in horror at the very thought of a coupling like this. ‘Go away.’

‘It’s too dark in my room.’

Spike sat up with a huge gasp of shock to find Liam staring at him from the end of the bed. He pulled his knees up to his chest. ‘Go back to bed.’



Liam turned and fled. Spike lay back and saw that his body was covered in a sheen of sweat.

He could still smell Angel’s hair.

He was so heavy and hard with need that it leaked out as tiny beads of fluid onto his belly. His balls were aching. Worse, his arsehole throbbed slightly from the anticipation of being stretched around Angel’s fat cock. He had never had such a vivid dream.

Except… he had….

But they had been magical….

He sat up, wildly running possibilities around in his mind.

The sweat dried, his erection subsided, and common sense returned. He wasn’t mad; he was just lonely and sad. And now he was guilty. With a sigh, he pulled on some jeans and padded barefoot into Liam’s room. He heard a suppressed sob and sat on the edge of the small, car-shaped bed. ‘I’m sorry. I’d had a bad dream.’

‘You were scared?’

Spike smiled wanly. ‘Yeah. Sort of.’

‘You can sleep in my bed… if you want….’

Spike laughed and thought: why not? He slid into the narrow bed and curled around the small, warm form.

The irony was almost too much. He couldn’t feel straw beneath them but other than that, with his eyes closed, the dreamlike familiarity almost overwhelmed him.

It wasn’t what he really wanted. It wasn’t what he needed, but for a moment, a brief, heart-breaking moment, he knew he would not swap this little person for the larger one who had visited him in his madness that night.

Chapter 15

When he woke, Liam was gone, but he could hear his high-pitched childish voice in the garden, talking to someone. He rolled out of bed, instantly concerned to see whom the boy was chatting to so animatedly. Peering around the edge of the curtain, he could see no one, just the child and his stuffed dog, which he was pulling around strapped to his new skateboard.

Memories of an intensely lonely childhood suddenly flooded back to Spike. The boy needed friends. He needed a life beyond what he could give him.

He needed someone who could join him in the sunshine.

* * * * * *

Spike flopped down on the couch with a cup of tea to watch telly. There wasn’t a lot else to do. Liam drifted between house and garden, seemingly happy in his own company. Watching him fill a bowl of water for the toy dog, Spike said amused, ‘What’s he called?’


‘Uh huh. That’s my name—my real one.’

‘I know. That’s why I wanted it.’

Spike frowned. ‘How did you know that?’

‘You told me.’

‘No…. I didn’t.’

Liam frowned, trying to think. ‘Wesley? Fred?’

Spike wasn’t sure why this explanation didn’t satisfy him, but it didn’t. He didn’t want to alarm the boy though, and the dark brown eyes were already looking anxious. Spike smiled. ‘Fancy a trip?’


‘It’s a surprise.’ Once more, Spike’s heart gave one of its, by now, almost familiar lurches of affection at the look on the child’s face. It was so easy: this giving of pleasure. He wondered why he’d never tried it seriously before.

* * * * * *

Liam sat up front, straining against the belt, trying to guess where they were going. As his knowledge consisted of Wolfram and Hart and a mall, his guess weren’t very inspired. When they pulled up in front of a building, Spike thought that the insane barking would have given the surprise away. Apparently not. Liam continued to make unlikely suggestions as they ran swiftly in and went up to the reception desk. When Spike, smoking from the sun, told the young woman that they’d come to get a dog, Liam went quiet. Spike glanced over at him and saw that he had finally been silenced by sheer pleasure.

Spike followed another helper in the shelter into a hallway lined with pens—the source of the barking. The puppies were at the very end, in smaller enclosures. Spike stood with his arms folded, watching the squirming mass, unmoved. He was beginning to regret this impetuous decision, sprung to life when he’d seen the child trying to get a stuffed toy to share his sandwich.

He glanced around to see what Liam thought and discovered he was not at his side. He made a small noise of alarm and ran back up between the pens.

The boy was standing outside a pen that housed a large dog. The dog was lying on its side watching them with dull, uninterested eyes. Spike knelt down alongside the child. ‘Come on—puppies are at the other end.’

Liam didn’t move.

Spike turned to the woman escorting them. ‘What’s this one’s story?’

She looked sadly at the dog and clicked her tongue. ‘This is Murphy, isn’t it boy? He’s one of our saddest cases. Lived all his life with an elderly woman until she died last year. She was something of a recluse. The only reason they knew she was dead was when her house was burgled. Before the dog attacked them, the boys saw her lying at the bottom of the stairs. She’d been dead over two weeks the coroner said. Murphy, here, refused to leave her side even then. They had to shoot him with a tranquilliser to get him out of the house. Sometimes, when I come down here to feed him at night, I think he hears her coming. He was more dead than alive when they found him. Still guarding her, as though, to him, she was still alive. No one wants an old dog like him—he’ll never have another home than here now.’

Spike touched the boy’s shoulder, wishing he had not asked. This was the last kind of thing the boy needed. ‘Come on, Pet. Let’s go see the puppies, yeah?’

‘I want him.’

‘What!’ Spike moderated his tone. ‘Why?’

‘He told me she didn’t die alone, and that I need him so I won’t either.’

Spike felt, rather than saw, the woman’s eyes swivel to the child. He coughed, embarrassed, swallowing down some intense but unnamed fear in himself. ‘Come on! He’s half dead, Pet; you can’t want him!’

‘You’re all dead, but I want you.’

Spike stood up and smiled wanly at the woman. ‘Family joke. I guess we’re taking him. Bloody hell, two Irish to one poor English bloke. I’m gonna get mercilessly bullied.’

Spike glanced back at the dog in disgust but was surprised to see him sitting up. The dull look had left his eyes. There even appeared to be a slight twitch to his tail. Spike regarded him suspiciously, but the dog refused to catch his eye.  When the gate was open, he trotted out and stood by Liam. He was taller than the boy, and Spike’s first thought was that he looked solid, substantial… safe. For the next half hour he signed forms, while Liam and Murphy gazed at each other in a small mutual appreciation society—until Liam spotted the leads, collars, bowls, baskets and toys that the shelter sold.

Purchases duly made, the three headed to the car
—Spike at a sharp run.  Murphy took up the whole of the back seat, his new things the entire boot. Liam could hardly sit still for excitement. ‘Can we give him a bath when we get home?’

‘Great minds think alike.’

‘Can we take him for a walk?’

‘When the sun goes down.’

‘Can he have a blanket with his name on?’

‘Long as someone else does the sewing.’

‘Can we…?’

‘Let him just get used to things, yeah? He’s a long way from home….’

Liam nodded thoughtfully. ‘I’ll help him. Cus I was like that once, wasn’t I?’

Spike suppressed a huge grin. ‘Good idea.’

‘Can he sleep on my bed?’

‘And you’d sleep where?’

‘Well, can I put his basket in my room?’

They stopped at a light, and Spike glanced in the rear view mirror at the dog. The dog, unnervingly, was also looking at the mirror. To Spike’s intense discomfort the dog’s look at the absent reflection seemed thoughtful, almost sympathetic. Spike frowned. ‘I wonder who the old biddy was who owned him.’


‘Dunno. He’s… spooky.’

‘So sayeth a vampire.’

Spike spluttered with laughter. ‘What are you like?’

Liam grinned, pleased. Suddenly, he looked away and said in a very quiet voice, ‘Thank you.’

Spike nodded gravely. ‘You’re welcome.’ He knew the boy had not only meant the gift of the dog, and glancing at the back of the boy’s head, he knew that he meant what he said: he was welcome; he was very, very welcome.

Suddenly, Spike realised that he had not thought about Angel once since he had woken.

A huge darkness settled on the day. He felt sick. He wanted to scream—not from missing Angel, but from not missing him.

* * * * * * *

When they got home, showing Murphy around the house and garden and introducing him to all his toys kept Liam happily busy until bedtime. Spike was able to sit silent and on his own, thinking.

He agreed that the dog could sleep in the boy’s room, and both still slightly damp from the bath he’d let them share, they lay quietly in the fading light.

* * * * * * *

He went downstairs and poured himself a large drink. Before he was halfway through it, he heard a slow click clicking of claws on the stairs, and Murphy came in. He padded over to Spike and without further ado, climbed stiffly onto the couch and lay with his head in Spike’s lap.

Spike tipped his head back and closed his eyes. He was coping. He guessed in some ways he was coping well, only… he didn’t want to cope. He wanted to go out into the dark and walk away from everything but his memories.

Suddenly, Murphy lifted his head and growled in a low, menacing rumble. Something moved in the shadows and a low, ironic voice said, ‘So, not missing me, Spike?’

Spike’s hand tightened reflexively on the dog’s collar and he murmured to the rumbling form, ‘Are we both dreaming?’ The dog didn’t reply, only growled some more, which Spike took for a reply anyway.

Angel came out of the shadows and, watching the dog warily, perched on the arm of the couch. ‘You’re getting cosy: kid, dog, house.... You’ll be buying a Volvo next.’

‘I’m going to wake up now.’

Angel shook his head, sadly. ‘I’m the one dreaming, Spike. Not you.’

‘I’m having you say that in the dream.’

‘Whatever. Put the dog in the garden, yeah? I want you.’

‘I’m not having this conversation.’

Angel stood up and began to walk toward the stairs. ‘I’ll be in your bed, if you change your mind.’

Spike watched, incredulous, as Angel walked slowly up the stairs. He wasn’t aggressive as he’d been the previous night, but this mood seemed just as uncharacteristic. Why was he dreaming Angel like this? If you conjured the dead, surely you had the right to the nice parts of them?

He wasn’t going to go upstairs. Of course he wasn’t. But he ought to return the dog to Liam’s room. Liam! Suddenly, Spike bolted up the stairs, furious with himself for believing that something he was only dreaming could hurt the child. Liam was sleeping peacefully, unaware that he was part of such a bizarre dream. Spike shoved Murphy into the bedroom and shut the door.

The light spilled out of his room. He could see a bare leg. This couldn’t be happening. His body told him different. Slowly, he approached the light.

Angel was lying on his back, his arms folded under his head. He was entirely naked, and just to add potent realism to the dream, his cock stood sentinel-like: a single great trunk of hardness risen from the smooth perfection of his body.

Spike had lain last night with Liam remembering a dream that had become reality, and now he was in a dream that he wanted to be real. He stopped fighting and accepted that he was mad and silently turned to shut and lock the door.

He shed his clothes. Angel didn’t seem all that interested. He was stroking his cock, rubbing his thumb over the tip, still staring up at the ceiling. Spike crawled onto the bed, and Angel dragged him over until he squatted on the hard belly, Angel’s solid cock scraping up and down his spine. Angel took hold of his erection and urged Spike to lift up. ‘Sit on me.’

Spike refused to budge and stared down into Angel’s eyes. Very slowly, he lowered his face, his eyes darting to Angel’s lips, his intent clear. Angel slapped him with his cock. ‘Just fucking climb on, Spike. I don’t have time for this shit. What? Don’t look at me like that.’

‘Am I dreaming you as you were before we went to Ireland? Is that it?’ Suddenly, Spike lurched off Angel and stood to one side of the bed. ‘You’ve lost your soul. My God, Angelus?’

Angel sighed. ‘Stop being such a freaking girl, Spike. My soul’s still here!’

‘Then why…? Why won’t you kiss me?’

‘You want to kiss? Okay, we’ll kiss! Anything to get you on my cock….’ He caught Spike’s arm and pulled him onto his body, shifting so he could lie comfortably full length. He lifted his head and kissed Spike, long and expertly, using his tongue, his mouth open wide and wet. As he kissed, he manoeuvred his cock between Spike’s buttocks and whispered, ‘Now, climb the fuck on….’

It happened so quickly after that that Spike was arching back and moaning before his muscles finished the first spasm of penetration. Angel grunted with pleasure and held onto Spike’s hips, digging his fingers into the pale flesh and jerking his body up, jouncing Spike on his cock. He was intent on only one thing, and everything he did was aimed at getting off, which he did with a long groan and a shuddering quiver throughout his body. When he’d finished, he winced and pulled out. ‘Don’t fucking bounce on me like that; kinda sensitive now, yeah?’

‘What about me?’

‘Well, according to you, this is your dream, so I suggest you do something about it yourself.’

‘How about you sucking it?’

Angel laughed dryly with no real humour and stood up, stretching. ‘I wanna wash; where’s the bathroom?’

Feeling a sense of unreality so confusing that he couldn’t make the effort to bend the dream to his will, Spike pointed to the door the other side of the room. Angel grunted and, scratching his belly, went toward it. ‘Shit, Spike! Smells like you bathed a fucking dog in here! Jesus Christ.’

Spike climbed off the bed and stood for a moment feeling the aftermath of Angel on his body. Fluid tickled his thighs; he throbbed with the stretch, and his hips ached where he’d been gripped.

He went into the bathroom and discovered it empty.

* * * * * * *

Spike woke face down on the bed to the sound of Liam’s laughter in the garden. He was naked and hard. He sat up, looking around wildly. No clothes were folded neatly on the chair. Of course there weren’t. He lay back slowly, the dream so vivid in his mind that he still felt an ache where he’d been stretched around the trunk of Angel’s cock. Should dreaming of the dead ease the pain of grief? Or did it drive you eventually insane, forever dipping your toe into a pool of happiness that you could never fully enter again? It wasn’t helping him; that was for sure. But then he wasn’t dreaming of an Angel he knew. He certainly wasn’t dreaming of the Angel he’d lost. That Angel had been sweet and affectionate and loving, vulnerable beneath the habitual masks he wore to present a face of strength to the world.

It occurred to him that somewhere in his unconscious he feared that Angel resented him for failing, for getting him killed. That might explain the bitter, sardonic Angel that returned to him at night. Hell, it wasn’t all that unconscious a thought....

He heard feet pounding on the stairs and slid under the covers. Liam tried to open the door. ‘Spike?’

Spike stared at the turning handle. It was locked. He’d locked it in the dream. Had he locked it for real whilst dreaming? Wrapping the cover around his waist he opened it. ‘What’s up?’

‘Can we go see Emma? Murphy wants to meet her.’

Spike eyed the dog. The dog eyed him back, and Spike was the first to look away.

He got down to Liam’s level. ‘Are you listening to me carefully?’ A dutiful nod was made in reply. ‘Murphy is very important to me. Do you understand? If anything happens to him, I’d be very upset. He’s just a dog, and he doesn’t understand the ways of the world. Lots of bad things happen out there. It’s dangerous for… dogs. Don’t let him talk to anyone other than Emma. Don’t let him go anywhere other than her house. And bring him back in half an hour. You are responsible for him. Do you understand?’

With a wide-eyed nod, Liam whispered, ‘’K.’

Despite himself, Spike grinned. ‘Jesus. You even sound English when you say that. Go on. Remember what I said.’

He watched the two figures walking alone into the sunshine with more hatred for what he was than he could ever remember feeling.

* * * * * * *

When forty minutes had passed, he was resisting becoming frantic. He’d done concerned. He’d done anxious. If he went to frantic now there was nowhere to go but hysterical, and that would see him running around the streets wildly, under a blanket, smoking. Frantic would have to be saved for another five minutes.

He heard the door and the usual constant chatter.

He sagged against the wall. ‘I said half an hour.’

‘What does that mean?’ Liam unclipped Murphy’s lead and hung it on the special peg that the dog had been allocated.

Spike closed his eyes. ‘You can’t tell the time, can you?’

Liam shook his head. Spike didn’t need to see the confirmation. ‘I guess you’ve never owned a watch either? No. Of course not. Okay, another trip to the mall.’

Liam whooped. ‘Can Murphy come, too?’

For one moment, Spike heard Angel repeat wryly in his mind, “You’ll be buying a Volvo next.” He smiled and replied to the sardonic voice, ‘Yeah, then we’ll bake some cookies.’

Liam screeched and ran down the hallway chanting, ‘Chocolate chip. Chocolate chip…’ hearing Spike’s cynical reply to Angel as a promise to him.

Spike sighed and said to the dog, ‘I’ve created a monster.’

Murphy gave him a stupid git look and went in search of Liam.


There was a knock at the door. Thinking it was Emma coming to apologise for keeping the boy too long, he opened it without too much thought, his mind still playing on Angel’s presence.

‘You are a hard man to find. Just as well I’m a detective. Hi.’


‘In the flesh. In the hot flesh! Is it always this warm here?’

‘Yeah. Bloody hell. What are you doing here? Come in….’

Daniel came in, hesitated, then hugged him briefly. ‘I kinda wanted to know how it worked out for you, and, funny thing, you didn’t call.’

‘Oh. Yeah. Sorry. I got kinda tied up….’

Before Daniel could make the obvious joke about this, Liam roared through the hallway, shouting, ‘Eat my shorts!’ He saw Daniel and skidded to a halt. Spike finished, ‘With him.’

Chapter 16

They sat in the kitchen, drinking tea; Liam’s voice, trying to persuade Murphy to play hide and seek with him, drifted in from the garden.

‘He doesn’t sound very....’ Daniel pouted. ‘I can’t believe I’m going to say this: very eighteenth century.’

Spike nodded. ‘Can I just say... assimilation?’ He looked thoughtfully toward the window. ‘You know? I used to think Angel did it so effortlessly cus he was a vampire. But maybe it’s just him, yeah? Maybe it was a knack he had even as a child.’

‘Could be. What do the Jesuits say? Give me a boy before he’s six and he’ll be mine for life?’

Not sure he appreciated being likened to a Jesuit, Spike only mumbled, ‘Something along those lines.’

* * * * * * *

He saved the full story until the boy was in bed. He didn’t want the freakily preternatural ears of a seven year old hearing any of it. He skipped Angel’s night time visitations, which were private and not really related to events, but left nothing else out.

Daniel’s only comment to start with was, ‘I met your Wesley today when I went there to ask for you. He’s very... English.’

‘He’s not my Wesley. But Angel needs him, so I guess I’m kinda stuck with him, too.’

Daniel looked down at his drink. ‘You use the present tense when you speak about him.’

Spike swallowed slowly, realising this himself for the first time. ‘Force of habit.’

Daniel smiled sadly. ‘Better to have loved and lost than never to have—.’

‘Bullshit. Believe me, it’s not.’

‘You seem to be coping okay.’

‘I’m going through the motions.’

‘That’s how it goes until one day you do something and you realise you did it for real, and then life goes on.’ He levered off the couch and stretched. ‘I’d best be going. Do you know where the Blue Havens Hotel is?’

Spike shook his head in despair. ‘I know where my spare room is, moron.’

Daniel grinned gratefully. ‘L.A is very... big… isn’t it?’

‘Even for a badass Detective who was such a bully when I first met him?’

Daniel gave a head tilt to rival one of Spike’s. ‘Nothing about my ass is bad.’

Spike chose to ignore this, for lots of reasons, and went out to fetch the bags from the car. When he came back in, he handed them to the human. ‘It’s early starts in this household—sometimes with bouncing involved.’

Daniel raised his eyebrows. ‘I’ll look forward to that.’ On that enigmatic reply, he jogged up the stairs then waited for Spike to show him the way.

* * * * * * *

He left the bed and was out of the door before his brain kicked in and woke him up to the thought, ‘Liam!’ The child was thrashing in the sheets, soaked in sweat. Murphy was sitting by the bed but moved over when Spike came in. ‘Hey, wake up.’ He shook the boy. Liam’s eyes opened slowly then he began to cry. ‘I want to go home.’

Spike cursed inwardly, and for the first time realised that Daniel, with his soft Irish accent identical to the ones Liam must have known, was not such a good houseguest after all. He couldn’t believe the sense of sadness he felt that Liam wanted to leave him.

Suddenly, the boy sat up and looked around. ‘I dreamt I was back at school.’ He lay down with a contented sigh and snuggled back into his purple puppy. ‘But I’m home.’

Spike watched his sleeping form for a while, trying to resist the feelings he had for this child. His efforts were as effective as sitting on a throne in the sand, resisting the tide.

He stood up and said sleepily to Murphy, ‘Come and get me if he wakes again.’

It was only as he reached his own door that he flushed in embarrassment at having talked to the dog, and only when he crawled back under the sheets that he had the freaky memory of the dog nodding back at him.

* * * * * * *

Spike woke with Liam on one side, Murphy on the other and covered in crumbs. The dog looked almost sympathetic to his plight and tactfully swallowed the cookie he was chewing.

He groaned and extricated himself from the mess.

* * * * * * *

They sat around the table, a comfortable, masculine group, concentrating on eating cereal. Spike was dressed only in jeans, his hair rumpled with dark roots showing though; Daniel was unshaven and wearing only boxers and a T-shirt; Liam was wearing his swimming costume for some reason, and Murphy was investigating his fur for fleas, on the pretence of looking for crumbs.

Spike looked up and, for a moment, with his back to the window, Daniel appeared just a silhouette. Spike filled in the shape with Angel’s features, and there they sat, the four of them, a family around the table. It would never be. He had to sacrifice his son to bring his lover back. No…. He had to sacrifice his lover as a child to bring the adult version back. It was too hard. He finally admitted it to himself: Liam was no longer just Angel as a child; he lived in his own right. And Spike loved him. All the capacity for love that wasn’t sexual had been free-floating and going to waste. Like iron filings to a magnet they had now shot to Liam and moulded around his form, encasing him, protecting him.

‘Can I have the toy now?’

Spike jerked back to the present to find Liam with his arm thrust into the cereal packet, trying to find the toy. It had been a source of friction between them for some days now. ‘No.’

‘Why not?’


‘You always say that.’

‘Well, there you go: I’m consistent. You’ve got a bloody room full of toys upstairs. Go play with some of them.’

‘They’re all boring.’

Daniel’s head was turning between them as if he were watching tennis balls lobbed over a net. Suddenly, he said, ‘Wanna put Murphy through some real police dog training?’

Liam hollered something and ran excitedly into the garden. Daniel smiled and ran out into the sun with him. Spike and Murphy only looked at each, clearly both thinking along similar lines. Spike indicated the door with a flick of his head. ‘Sorry, Mate, you’ve drawn the short straw.’

* * * * * * *

He’d just settled down to watch TV, his lot for the day, when Liam came back in and flopped down next to him.

‘All trained?’

‘Nah. It’s too hot.’

‘It’s only nine o’clock!’

‘Well, I’m... I want to watch TV with you.’

Spike gave him a direct look. ‘I don’t mind you enjoying the sun, Pet. It’s right that you should be out in it. Look at you: all brown an’ all.’

Liam pouted. ‘It’s not fair.’

‘Yeah, but I get to cut my fingers off and have them grow back. You can’t do that.’

‘Do it! Do it! Can I watch?’

‘Sheesh. Go play, horrible urchin.’ Liam ran back out, and Spike idly flipped the remote control in his hand until he realised he was grinning like a fool and stopped.

* * * * * * *

Daniel’s three days went quickly in some ways; in others, it seemed as if he’d always lived there. Spike had enjoyed the hours he’d had off from Liam-duty, and he’d enjoyed watching Liam with someone else. It rubbed home some essential truth about his situation, though: that he was lonely for adult company. He was despondent on their last night but tried not to let it show.

He put Liam to bed then poured them both some wine, which they took out into the garden. They’d bought a couple of hammocks that day and were still putting the frames together, having promised Liam they’d be ready in the morning.

Spike reckoned the dog would be more use reading the instructions than he was, so sat back and watched the human do all the work, occasionally making fatuous comments to annoy him.

‘I’ll miss the warmth when I get back.’

‘Yeah, but you’ll get proper seasons back.’

‘It’ll be autumn soon. Galway’s so pretty in the autumn. Why don’t you and Liam come and visit?’

Spike pursed his lips. ‘I guess. It might... confuse him.’

‘He won’t recognise much of it. So much change in my lifetime, let alone his. Hey, did I tell you that they reckon the old school actually is haunted now?’

‘Last time I saw it, it was falling down round my ears. No ghosts left there, Mate
—trust me.

‘Seriously. No one will work there. Even though it was unsafe anyway after your little bit of vandalism.’

‘Graffiti is vandalism. I blew it up.’

‘Night guard won’t go in the place. The guard dog was found slaughtered… totally drained of blood.’

Spike frowned, some sixth sense beginning to prickle his spine. ‘Ghosts don’t usually kill things….’

Daniel paled for a moment under his new L.A. tan. ‘I forget: you believe in ghosts. Hell, you’ve probably seen one for real, haven’t you?’

Spike grinned. ‘One or two. Any reliable witnesses
other than the guard?’

‘Lots. Workmen, the local Doctor passing late one night—even a poacher, but he’s reliable enough a witness. They all say the same thing: weird lights at night; sounds of fighting; a dark figure seen standing where windows used to be, thumping his fist. Pretty consistent reports... Spike?’

Spike had risen to his feet. ‘Thumping? A dark figure?’

Daniel demonstrated, pounding his fist at something that wasn’t there.

‘Oh, Christ. It’s Angel.’

‘Wh—? Spike, it can’t be. You said yourself that Angel had become... Liam.’

‘I stopped looking when I found ‘im! I assumed it was Angel! Oh, Christ, Daniel, he’s bin in there all this time! Trapped!’

Spike, calm down! It can’t be Angel! If it is, then what the fuck have you got upstairs in that little car bed?’

‘No, you don’t get it! He said “come back; I need you”. See? It was Angel calling to me. He said he was dreaming, but I thought I was goin’ mad! Oh, sodding hell! I have to go to him!’

He ran inside and tried to dial with a shaking hand.

‘Spike, wait, stop, think.’ Daniel tried to take the phone from him. ‘Jesus, I wish I’d never told you. You were… recovering.’

‘Recovering! Recovering! That’s something you do when you’ve burnt up to save the world. You don’t recover from loving Angel!’ He punched the numbers he wanted and waited, tapping his foot, till Wesley picked up.

‘Hello, Research and Acquisitions.’

‘Wesley. It’s me.’

‘To what do I owe this pleasure?’

‘Don’t be a total arse, Wesley. I need your help, and I’m not too proud to ask for it. I think Angel is still alive, trapped in the old school somehow.’ He could actually hear Wesley stand up and frown. ‘I need to go back there. Tonight. You have to book the jet for me then come here and look after Liam. And bring Fred; he doesn’t like you.’

‘It’s not possible, Spike. They are the same person. It’s physically impossible for two people to occupy….’

‘An’ I’m in all the science textbooks, am I?’

‘Good point. When do you want to leave?’

‘As soon as you can get here.’

‘Should I bring something for…? I mean, what does he…? I’ve never looked after a child before. Yes, I’ll call Fred. Good idea.’

Spike put the phone down and ran his fingers through his hair. ‘Want a free trip home?’

Daniel shrugged. He caught Spike’s eyes. ‘I’m sorry, but you’re heading for a fall, Spike.’

Spike copied his shrug. ‘I bounce well.’

* * * * * * *

His nails were chewed to stubs by the time they landed. The drive churned his guts. Wesley had called Dublin, thanked them for their previous assistance, and pointed out that some of their favourite causes within the Republic were funded by money from the L.A. branch, and wouldn’t they like that to continue? A car had been waiting for Spike at the airport.

Daniel wanted to accompany him, but however much Spike wanted his company, he didn’t want the responsibility of looking out for him.

By the time he reached the, by now, familiar road down to the old school, it was near to dawn.

As the car engine died, all other things came to a halt as well.

Like a clockwork toy left unattended, Spike just wound down. He sat slumped in the car with the certain knowledge that Daniel was right: he was heading for the longest fall of his life. And it wasn’t just that he feared that Angel was not here. He half-feared that he was. Angel, and what they had shared together, was beginning to seem unreal. Liam was real. Murphy was real. The old house was real. They were real, together
his first real family. What if Angel was here? Would he return destroy that? What if he was trapped in the school and by freeing him, he instantly destroyed Liam: wiped him off the face of the earth. He was at home now, probably just going to bed, convincing Wesley that he always had five stories and was allowed not to brush his teeth at night if he’d brushed them in the morning. If he broke into the school and freed Angel, he might never see Liam again. Why had he come? Had that image of Angel thumping the window called to him like some residual memory carried by all vampires of that first moment of waking up in a coffin, trapped? It surely wasn’t desire to have back the Angel who had visited him at night these past weeks. Except his body told him it was… he had stirred and hardened at just the thought of Angel still alive. Had his flight to the telephone and his anxious call to Wesley been just the result of deep, distressing physical need? Was he about to destroy his child for the sake of his dick?  As he crossed the space between the car and the school, he had never felt so worthless.

He climbed in and felt that the place was empty, and conversely his mood began to soar. It had all been a mistake. He would check for himself, reassure himself that Angel wasn’t here, and then go home. He might be back in time to take Liam to the mall to get him the watch he’d promised. He wanted one that lit up at night
with a GI Joe strap.

Half-heartedly, he began to recite the summoning spell. It didn’t need his commitment, just the words, and Wesley had corrected the Latin for him.

As he completed the first recitation, he felt the hairs on the back of his neck prickle. The temperature plummeted. He heard a familiar series of retorts, like shots from a gun, and a brief gust of wind from a door shutting blew over his face.

Somewhere, out of the darkness, he heard a crooned, ‘Come to me, my pretty; come to me.’

And, shouted in reply, from another part of the building, he heard Angel reply, ‘Fucking come and find me if you want me!’

Spike’s legs gave out, and he put a hand to the wall behind him, then summoning breath he rarely needed, he screamed out louder than both of them, ‘Angel!’


Oh, Christ. Angel! Where are you?’

‘You can’t have him!’ Something clawed at his neck, and he spun around, cursing that he’d forgotten to check the wall. The arms were coming at him from the stonework, fingers clawing for him. He picked up a piece of wood and hit one. With a howl, they disappeared. He began to run wildly toward the sound of Angel’s voice, but his feet slowed up, stuck as if in one Ireland’s infamous bogs. He looked down and saw with a shiver of revulsion that he was wading through half-decayed corpses. They grinned up at him and lifted their ragged flesh to claw at him. He ploughed on, sinking inexorably until he reached a spar of the roof, which had fallen and was blocking the hallway. He heaved himself up, away from the rotten arms and mouths and lay for a moment on the rubble, panting. ‘Angel?’

Where the fuck are you?’

‘Where are you?’

I’m here.’ The voice was whispered against his ear, and he rolled off the pile of rubble with the demon scrabbling after him. ‘You can’t have him. He owes me. It was because of me that he got eternal life. He owes me.’

‘Send him a memo.’ Spike punched the demon in the face and nearly gagged when his fist came back covered in yellowy puss.

‘You’ll never escape. I’ll have you both now: flies in my—.’

‘Fuck off. Go frighten a seven year old somewhere.’ He took to his heels and began to run to where he had heard Angel’s voice. A figure moved in the shadows, and for a moment, Spike saw the priest as he had once looked: intensely beautiful, as if those chosen by God were closer to his image. He stopped, and they regarded one another. He had the sense that it was taking the demon a vast amount of energy to retain this shape now, a suspicion that was confirmed when he saw a door wavering slightly.

‘You left him trapped under the rubble for two weeks. I fed off him as he lay there, helpless.’

Although he knew what the demon was doing—feeding off his own fears, just as it had done with Liam—he found this hard to ignore. He went closer, pushing aside some more debris from the collapsed roof as he did.

‘He’ll hate you now. He’ll stay with me.’

Closer still. ‘What do you want from him? What is your obsession with Angel that you go to all this trouble to bring him back?’

The priest smiled, a sad, sweet smile. ‘You know the answer to that, Spike.  I roamed around in your mind, remember? I know what you feel for Angel. I know what you’ve always felt for him.’ He giggled. ‘That Angel’s gone now. You’ll never have him—.’ Spike speared him with the jagged piece of wood he’d held behind his back. Through the stomach, out of the back, catching on the spine, the wood was hard to push at the end, but he felt it scrape the stone and let go. Impaled, the final burst of energy left the figure, and something of its natural form emerged. Revolted, Spike turned away and called out once more, ‘Angel?’

As he began to run, a croak followed him, ‘Never Angel again….’ Then he heard a squelching sound like something being pulled slowly out of wet flesh.

* * * * * *

He could hear running feet coming toward him, footfalls he’d have known anywhere, and he felt as if his heart could burst back to life with anticipation.

He rounded a corner; a dark figure ran into him. He was knocked off his feet. Angel heaved him up. ‘About time, moron! Run!’ Dizzy, and not just from the fall, Spike took to his heels and tried to keep up with Angel.  ‘Angel….’

‘Shut up and run! We have to make it to the basement; he doesn’t go down there.’

Angel skidded down the steps, laughing, and Spike fell after him into the dark. A pair of strong arms caught him. Lips pressed to his. ‘Shit, I’ve missed you.’ Angel’s tongue probed his mouth, and for a moment Spike thought he was going to have an instant orgasm, but the feeling subsided
oddly as Angel’s hand sought him out. Spike wrenched the hand out of his pants.

‘What the bloody hell is happening here?’

‘You tell me! I was looking at you from a window, then I woke up under a freaking pile of rubble, starving. I reckon I’d been out about two weeks? Then this damn skanky priest is licking me and saying I owe him, and he’s somehow sealed me up in the freaking place. He’s not such a pretty boy now; looks like someone blew him up.’

‘Long story.’ He tried to light a cigarette, but discovered his hand was shaking. ‘So… I mean… are you okay?’

‘Sure. Five by five. Come on, let’s go kill a demon and get out of this place. I want a shower, and I want to feed. And when I’ve done those two things, I want to hear why you left me here.’

‘That’s not fair, Angel. I didn’t leave you; I thought I had found…. It’s a long story.’

‘It better be a good one.’

In the privacy of the dark, Spike wiped his sleeve over his eyes; this wasn’t how he’d pictured his reunion with Angel at all. On this thought, he suddenly asked, ‘Have you been projecting to me… or something? Have you been visiting me?’

‘Not that I know of
—been dreaming a lot. Guess I’d have stayed with you if I’d been there for real. Why, you enjoyed a good fuck while I was away?’

Spike tried to keep his incredulity at Angel’s inappropriateness out of his voice. ‘Not particularly.’

‘Maybe I’m losing my touch. Come on, we don’t have time for this shit now. Any ideas how to defeat this thing and get out of here?’

‘Yeah. I have.’ He resisted the thought of just leaving on his own, and said quietly, ‘Follow me.’

* * * * * * *

He found the priest’s hole and crouched down to enter it. Angel held onto the back of his coat. ‘What about the demon?’

‘Leave it. Let’s get out first.’

‘I’m not going to let him get away with fucking me around!’

‘Do what you want, Angel. I’m leaving.’

They went along in silence. Spike could feel Angel’s anger, and suddenly, he wondered if that was all that was wrong. Angel had suffered hell of an ordeal. It was natural he’d be pissed off with everything, including him—especially him.

‘I’m sorry I left you, Angel. But I had good reason.’

‘I’m breathless with anticipation to hear what it was.’

They came to the end of the tunnel, and Spike climbed out, putting down a hand to help Angel. Angel grasped it, and when he’d climbed out, held on for a moment. He looked terrible in the pre-dawn light: thin and pale and very dirty. He pulled Spike close and rubbed his face against Spike’s hair. ‘Maybe I’ll do something else before that shower. You look… edible.’

Spike felt himself being torn in half, one half plummeting with need for Angel, responding to him despite the oddities of his mood; the other, holding back, resisting for some reason. He pulled away and nodded to the school. ‘Wesley packed some stuff to do it in for good. It’s in the car.’

‘Good old Wesley. Jesus, I so need to get back to work!’

They stood in the place where, three hundred years earlier, Liam had stood and watched his schoolfellows burn—or would have stood if he had been allowed to stay in his own time. Or, perhaps, did stand
the other Liam who had existed in his own time. Spike’s head hurt with it all. He glanced curiously at Angel. ‘Do you remember everything now?’

Angel nodded, his eyes fixed on the building but also a very long way away. Spike felt a wave of intense affection and pity grip him once more, and he put his hand on Angel’s arm. ‘The demon lied, Luv. It wasn’t your fault they died.’

‘Well, duh! All those years believing his shit. What a dumb little fuck I was. And do you know, Spike? I think my father believed it, too. Maybe because I believed it. He always hated me. He always… feared me.’

Spike stared at the untroubled eyes. ‘You don’t blame yourself anymore?’

‘Why should I? All I wanted was to go home but no one was listening. Come on, I wanna finish this now. I don’t want to hear about this place or think about any of this ever again. It’s over.’ He smiled at Spike, a cool, assessing smile. ‘One good thing came out of it though.’

Spike incipient headache turned into a painful thumping. It was all too confusing.

They turned away from the school, scaled the fence and walked the long way round to keep away from the influence of the demon. When Angel was distracted, looking for something he could catch and eat, Spike dug out his cell phone. Closing his eyes, he whispered, ‘Please’ then dialled his new number.


‘It’s me, is everything…?’

‘Oh, thank God; it’s you. All’s well this end. Angel?’

Spike sat down on the damp ground, cradling the phone to his ear. He couldn’t think what to say, so he just said, ‘Yes. I’ve got him. Are you sure Liam is okay?’ There was a pause and Spike frowned. ‘Wesley? What’s wrong?’

Quickly, Wesley said, ‘Nothing. Liam’s fine. But we may have come up with some explanation of what has happened. I couldn’t say anything until you’d resolved things over there—one way or another. It can wait until you get back though.’

‘Is something wrong with Angel? Wesley, has Angel lost his soul?’

‘Why do you say that? Does he appear to be Angelus?’

‘No…. Not exactly.’

‘All right. Just take things coolly with him until you get here.’

‘Who’re you talking to?’

Spike cursed softly and looked up at the tall figure. ‘Wesley. I… needed to ask him how to work this spell.’

Angel grinned and snatched the phone from him. ‘Wesley!’

Spike could only hear Angel’s half of the conversation, but listened to a rapid-fire exchange about… work. He trusted the human to have the common sense not to mention the boy, and by the tenor of the conversation, he didn’t.

Finally, Angel snapped it off then gave a satisfied burp. ‘Remind me not to eat rabbit for a while
—tasty, but the fur kinda sticks in the teeth.

‘What’s wrong, Angel?’

Angel handed back the phone with a frown. ‘Wrong? Nothing. Why?’

‘You’re… different.’

Angel winked. “Angel winked?” ‘Maybe you are.’

‘Huh?’ Spike felt a chill run down his spine. The truth of this possibility suddenly struck him. He wasn’t the same person he had been when he’d last seen Angel. How could he be? He’d experienced the two most life-changing events of his life: living with the belief that he’d lost Angel, and living with Liam.

Suddenly, Angel laughed and caught him in his arms. ‘But you look the same to me. So, did you miss me?’

Spike felt his doubts fade. Maybe it was just the strangeness of their reunion throwing him. He responded in kind, kissing Angel deeply. ‘Yeah. I did. A lot.’

Angel smirked and cupped him. ‘How much?’

Spike laughed. ‘Can’t you feel?’

Angel dropped to his knees and, confused, Spike stepped back. ‘Not now!’

‘Why not?’ He lunged and caught him round the waist, burying his face into the soft denim, which did little to hide the hardness beneath.

‘Because I don’t want a bloody blowjob! Not now. Not here. We have a demon to kill?’

Angel climbed back to his feet, wiping his mouth. ‘Sure.’ He punched Spike in the arm. ‘We’ve got all the time in the world for fucking. Let’s go.’

Chapter 17

For all the trouble it had given them, treated with the right magic, the demon was removed as easily as a stain with the right detergent. Given what he knew, Spike feared that eventually it would come back—be recreated in the hearts of the new people who were to live here. It had taken hundreds of years for it to reach its full strength the first time round though, so he hoped that would hold true this time.

As they walked back to the car together, Spike tried to work out why his heart felt so heavy. He should be metaphorically walking on air. He had Angel alongside him, and they were going home. All he could think about though was Liam: Liam’s reaction to Angel, Angel’s to him....

‘You’re quiet. Maybe you’d like to take this opportunity to tell me why the fuck you left me here.’

Spike began to pull the car away from the school, heading back to the airport. He pursed his lips, glancing at the dark building in the rear view mirror. ‘I kinda need to show you—when we get home.’

Angel shrugged. ‘Whatever. What’s the caseload been like while I’ve been away?’


‘Work? Have you been busy?’

‘I’ve not really been in.’

‘Jesus, Spike! Who’s been running things?’

‘I don’t know. Wesley?’

‘You are so irresponsible. It’s important work we do, you know?’

‘Yeah, making life easy for some demons by killing others. I guess I just have trouble working out which part of that is important.’

‘Oh, grow up, Spike.

Spike gritted his teeth and drove the rest of way in silence.

* * * * * *

After a few drinks, Angel began casting him looks, which Spike recognised only too well. They were somewhere over the North Atlantic, and other than accepting a beer, he’d not spoken to Angel after the outburst in the car. That Angel now had sex on his mind really pissed him off. Not that his body was saying that, only his heart and mind, but two against one, body lost out.

Angel suddenly moved seats, sliding into the one next to him. ‘Stop sulking.’

‘I don’t know who you are, Angel. Leave me alone.’

Angel stood up and unbuttoned his shirt. Spike made a small noise of protest, but it was cut off when Angel unzipped his pants and stepped out of them. ‘This is who I am.’

He was very thin, every muscle defined, particularly those that formed that ball-clenchingly beautiful cradle for his pelvis. Like an anatomical drawing, Angel stood naked in front of Spike, unconcerned. ‘Remember me?’

Spike swallowed reflexively as he stared at the wet tip of Angel’s cock, which peeped from the thick foreskin. At Spike’s stare, Angel’s cock rose and emerged fully, the head bulging out of the now tight constriction. ‘You’ve sucked this cock. You’ve sat on it. You’ve clenched it deep inside your arse. What part of me don’t you know?’ He took a step forward and leant on the back of Spike’s seat, gripping it with both hands. Moving his hips gently, he wiped his cock around Spike’s face, letting the fleshy tip come to rest on his lips. ‘Taste the same?’

Unable to resist, Spike’s tongue darted out to see, and Angel arched, his head going back, neck stretched. A long groan of need preceded an urgent, ‘Suck it... suck my dick....’

On the thought that even now with all that he had—Angel back with him, Angel undamaged and beautiful, Angel wanting him, Angel’s cock on his lips—he still wanted more, Spike realised that he was the one that was wrong. He had to be. On the promise that he would try to accept life as it was, and stop this constant seeking some elusive perfection that could not be his, he opened his mouth and willingly took Angel to the back of his throat. Angel almost screamed with pleasure and began to thrust, holding Spike’s head, digging his fingers into the blond strands. ‘I’ve thought about this everyday, Spike. Even under that damn rubble when I couldn’t move, I passed the time thinking about you. You’re better than I remember. Shit, you’re so hot. Mmm, suck my balls... yeah, that’s good.’

Angel’s soft sac rolled around in Spike’s mouth and tasted so familiar, so good that he didn’t want to let it drop and run his tongue back up the hard length. But he did. He found a prominent vein and traced it, wetting the shaft so it glistened in the low light of the cabin. Angel cupped his own balls, playing with them as Spike licked and explored his slit, probing it with his tongue. When he thrust back in, the tightness of Spike’s mouth in contrast was too much, and he gasped and began to shudder. One strong shot of come jumped from Angel’s cock and hit the back of Spike’s throat to be followed by less violent spills, which pooled on his tongue, thick and salty and begging to be swallowed. He let Angel’s softening cock fall from his mouth, stood up and grabbed Angel’s face, opening his mouth wide and tonguing the release back to its owner. Angel made a slight face, but let him, cupping the back of his neck and gently grinding his hips to Spike’s just to carry on the pleasure of the last few moments of his orgasm. At last, he breathed into Spike’s mouth, ‘I needed that. Thank you.’

Perhaps he did have it all after all.

Angel sank back into the seat and stretched his legs out, his heavy, glistening cock softening on his thigh. He turned and raised an eyebrow, sliding his hand with a grin over Spike’s jeans. ‘Oh, yeah.’ He twisted around in the seat and unzipped him, pushing his hand roughly into the hair beneath. ‘So, who have you been fucking while I’ve been away?’


Angel kissed around his face as he played in Spike’s jeans. ‘I don’t believe you’ve not had this attended to for three weeks! Was it a guy? Or a girl…. Come on; tell me something you’ve done….’

Watching Angel’s mouth move as he talked, with the concentration of a deaf person, Spike finally got that Angel didn’t mean: I’m jealous and worried you had someone else. He meant: it’ll turn me on to hear about you fucking other people. Spike was beginning to wonder if he hadn’t just changed, but if he’d fallen into another bloody universe. He held Angel off for a moment and stilled his hand. ‘You told me you loved me.’

‘I do! What makes you think I don’t?’ With a wicked grin, he freed Spike’s cock and said laughing, ‘I love this.’ Before Spike could point out the utter irrelevance of this reply to what he had meant, Angel had him in tight suction strong enough to draw down his saliva. He rose off the seat, crying out at the pressure and the pleasure. Spasms began to shoot through his groin as his balls hardened and rose. Angel was murmuring encouragement as he sucked and there was nothing held back or faked in the tone of his voice. It made Spike’s skin tingle to hear such need, such desire for him, and when he filled Angel’s mouth with come, and Angel swallowed noisily, he realised that for the first time in three weeks he had not had one thought of a small child in his mind.

Angel lay for a fraction of a second before he lifted his mouth off Spike’s slippery cock and began to dress. ‘What time do we land?’

Still quivering, still telling himself that nothing had changed, Spike zipped up carefully and began to discuss schedules.

* * * * * * *

They landed and taxied into a hanger.  Angel was last off, ushering Spike out first. Then he emerged, almost presidential, and paused at the top of the steps, smiled faintly. He jogged down, spoke briefly to the driver, much to the man’s delight, and slid with a contented sigh into the luxurious interior. Then he began to make and return calls. Spike twiddled his thumbs (metaphorically) and imagined Liam’s face when he arrived home.

 * * * * * * *

Angel was sucked back into the work of the firm as soon as he’d showered and fed. He went on a walkabout of the whole building
from the expressions on many of the faces, this was the first time he’d ever been seen in some departments. Spike watched him, waiting for something, but as he didn’t know himself what that something was, he felt it was a little unfair expecting Angel to know either. Angel appeared to be in his element. He said just enough and just the right thing to each person. His presence was almost kingly and a small wake of awe was left in each department when he moved on.

As they entered the Research Department, Wesley appeared for the first time, looking slightly flustered. Angel embraced him then pulled away with a disgusted face. ‘What the fuck is that on your shirt? Now on mine!’

Wesley glanced down. ‘Oh, just jam… er, jelly?’

Spike’s heart flipped over, and he had to look at his shoes not to grin. Angel, wiping his hands, buttoning his jacket over the stain, began to move on to the next office.

Wesley made an odd gesture. Spike frowned and mouthed, ‘What?’ Wesley looked pained at his lack of comprehension then when Angel was talking to someone, whispered, ‘Fred’s taken him to see a movie. I thought it might be best. Can you get away?’

Spike put on his very thoughtful look. ‘Well, I’m not sure…. Angel might keel over and die of grief if I left his side. Oh, no, look, he’s gone on without bothering ‘bout me again.’

‘Facetiousness doesn’t become you. My office?’

Spike nodded glumly and thrust his hands in his pocket. ‘What movie?’

‘I’m sorry?’

‘What movie did they go see? I hope it was suitable.’

‘No, she took him to the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. What do you think? This is Fred we’re talking about. Liam’s tastes in movies are probably more sophisticated.’

‘So…?’ Spike nudged him.

Wesley tutted but said in a low tone, ‘Yes, he’s utterly delightful—if that’s what you want to hear.’

It was, and it carried Spike happily into the office where he flung himself in an armchair and lit a cigarette. ‘So, what’s with all the secrecy?’

‘It was the first time that I’d had a chance to be alone with him without your rather scary mother hen impression.’

‘If I wasn’t so tired, I’d object to that.’

Wesley smiled shyly. ‘Don’t ever stop objecting to my provocation, Spike. I’d rather miss it if you did.’

Spike twitched up his eyebrow, but otherwise made no comment about the gradual thawing of their relationship.

Wesley took his glasses off and began to polish them absentmindedly. ‘So, it was the first chance I had to… study him. And it rather confirmed my suspicions: he’s not real.’

Despite his avowed tiredness, Spike stood up sharply. Wesley added quickly, ‘Well, he’s real—skin, heart, bone, human soul… whatever human reality is. Only he’s not…. I’m not explaining this very well. It might be easier if you…. Describe him to me.’

‘Huh? I’m not playing parlour games with you while—.’

‘This isn’t a game. Far from it. Don’t patronise me. Describe him.’

‘Okay! He’s small for his age, brown hair—.’

‘Not physical characteristics.’

Spike gritted his teeth. ‘He’s… sweet… innocent, ya know?’ He smiled suddenly and warmed to his favourite theme. ‘He’s really thoughtful and kind and gentle. And he’s patient—never gets a strop on really. And he’s like a little inquisitive monkey—all day asking questions: what’s this or why that…. And he’s kinda brimming over with love—everyone gets it. ‘Cept you, course, cus he doesn’t like you. I guess he’s too vulnerable, too trusting, maybe? He’s got this amazing empathy thing—did I tell you ‘bout the time he came in from the sun for me? And he’s only seven. Isn’t that amazing? He’s easily scared—fragile, I suppose. And a bit nervous sometimes. He’s got this amazing imagination….’ He trailed off and took a long drag of his cigarette. ‘I dunno. I don’t really think about him all that much.’

Wesley looked profoundly sad and said gently, ‘I’m so very sorry I doubted you, Spike. However this works out, I want you to know that I think you did a wonderful job looking after him.’

Spike blushed faintly. ‘What do you mean: however this works out?’

Wesley sighed. ‘Describe Angel now—not the one I knew, but the one you last knew in Ireland, just before he was lost.’

Spike blushed even deeper. ‘World of no to that, Mate.’

‘Again, not the physical… thank God.’

‘Oh. Okay.  He was… this is harder…. He was Angel: bossy, dumb but really smart where it counts. Stubborn. But he was really funny, too. He was… sweet—like he can be with Fred. Gentle. But he was really focused, too, and hard—determined. He knew what he wanted and how he was going to get it. Like the true predator he is, I guess. And angry! He was impatient—did I mention that already? But you know what? Mostly, he was just full of love for the first time.’ He turned his face away on the pretence of blowing the smoke away from Wesley and added with his expression hidden, ‘He was in love for the first time….’

‘All right. I’m sorry. I know this is hard, but…. Spike? Do you need a few moments?’

Spike shook his head and turned back, his expression controlled. ‘So, what does all that tell you?’

‘You tell me. Take one away from the other, Spike. Do the maths, as they say.’

Spike stared at him, his mind racing. He licked his lips nervously. ‘You saying Angel is…? Liam is…? Bloody hell.’

‘My reaction exactly. I think instead of restoring Angel’s memory as you wanted the spell to do, or plunging Angel back into the time when his memories were formed, as you surmised it had done, I think that the damn spell split him. It separated him into the parts of him that were vulnerable to the memories and the parts that weren’t: the child and the adult. If you like, his inner child was ripped out.’

Spike sat for some time digesting this before saying deceptively casually, ‘All the good parts were ripped out of him.’

‘I don’t think that’s entirely fair. They aren’t all good. Vulnerability? Fear? It’s not so much a case of good versus bad, but balance. We need a balance of these things—vulnerability, drive, love, anger—to make up well-rounded human beings.’

‘But Liam’s only a kiddie. You wouldn’t expect him to have any adult qualities.’

‘I’m not an expert on child psychology by any means, but he does seem a little too good to be true. I’ve never subscribed to Blake’s view that children come trailing clouds of glory; they come with their DNA decided, and in that lies the genes that give them, amongst other things, the adult desire to survive, but can you imagine Liam surviving a Lord of Flies scenario?’

Spike shuddered visibly. When he finally found his voice, it was ragged and forced, ‘What about Angel?’

‘Ah yes. The other half of the equation. I think what you had with Angel in Ireland, just before all this ghastly business happened, contributed to this extreme manifestation of the purpose of the spell. You raised all these better feeling in him—his inner child was right to the fore of his personality, responding to you, at the very moment the spell hit him. If it had happened when he was here, before this…thing… with you erupted, I think his inner child would have been buried much deeper. I doubt an extinction level event could have shifted it then.’

‘I was a comet in his life.’

‘I’d make a quip about heavenly bodies if it didn’t sound suspiciously gay.’

Spike tried to smile, but it was very weak. ‘So, Angel got left all the bad parts….’

‘No! Stop thinking in those simplistic terms! He’ll have drive and energy and ambition and great strength of mind… clear-sightedness.’

‘I’ve been with him for the last twelve hours
he’s mean and he’s cynical. He’s… aggressive.’

‘I think physically he’ll be… what’s the word I’m looking for?’

‘Horny as hell?’

‘That’s three, but they’ll do. He won’t be reined in by any self-doubt or weakness, that’s probably true. His behaviour might seem inappropriate in a world where inner doubts curb most people’s extreme responses.’

‘My God, what are we going to do?’

Smiling at the use of the word we, Wesley asked quietly, ‘Have they met yet?’

Spike shook his head. ‘He’s coming over in the morning—thinks he’s coming to… see… me. How is this possibly going to work?’

‘You never know: they may click. They may see something in the other that they’re missing… albeit unconsciously.’ Spike knew Wesley didn’t believe this. He didn’t believe it himself.

They were proved right.

Angel and Liam took an instant dislike to each other. Within two minutes, once he’d overcome the shock of Spike’s explanation, Angel had made Liam cry, which made Spike furious, which made Angel leave, which made Spike feel like crying. He blamed his inner child for this pathetic weakness, scooped up his real one and began to read Treasure Island to him, something he had been promising to do for days.

To his intense surprise, just after Liam went to bed, Angel returned. He knocked on the door and grinned as Spike opened it. ‘Sorry.’ He held out some flowers and an ugly plastic car, both of which had clearly been purchased in a hurry at a filling station. ‘Peace offering.’

Spike couldn’t believe how inappropriate the gifts were, but Angel took his stunned silence for approval and thrust the flowers at him, tossing the car onto the couch. ‘So, has he gone?’

‘To bed, yeah. Not for good.’

‘Semantics. So… how are we gonna pass the evening, I wonder?’ He flashed a small, feral grin and advanced on Spike.

Spike backed off. ‘You’ve just met your own self as a child and learnt that you’ve been split in two but you want to have sex with me?’

Angel waved his hand dismissively. ‘It’s crap, Spike, and you know it. You’ve been seduced into listening to Wesley’s psychobabble. I can assure you there’s nothing missing here. Want me to strip and prove it again?’

Spike sat down, and with a theatrical roll of his eyes, Angel swept the car onto the floor and sat next to him, twisting around so he could play with Spike’s hair. ‘Give me the lecture then….’

Spike couldn’t help a small grin at Angel’s obviously fake contriteness. Angel seized on this moment of weakness and kissed him, pushing him back onto the couch, exploring and taking his mouth to be his own. He eased off just enough to say, ‘I want to slide something into you. Any preferences?’

Spike surrendered. He just felt all his opposition melt in the heat of Angel’s desire for him. He’d wanted this for so long, missed Angel so much, that he pushed other concerns into a tiny box and slammed the lid shut for the night.

He lowered his eyelids and murmured, ‘Give me a sample of each and then I’ll decide.’ He just had enough of his rational mind left to add, ‘Upstairs,’ before he rolled out from under the heavy body and half-staggered, half-ran to the stairs. Angel pounded after him. Spike rounded on him, finger to lips then walked backward into the bedroom, seductively unbuckling his belt.

Angel came in and leant on the door, locking it. ‘Now you’re all mine.’

Spike couldn’t help the thought popping out of his lock-down that all of Angel was now his—except in two different locations. It took the edge off the moment until Angel sucked in his abdominal muscles and ripped his shirt over his head in one go. The sight of his smooth chest drove Spike to distraction, all other thoughts but Angel driven from him. Angel seemed to sense this because he appeared to relax fractionally, as if he knew, having stalked his prey, it had now surrendered willingly and he need hunt no longer.

He came up to Spike and cupped his ass appreciatively, fondling him through the thin denim. Suddenly, with a grin, he pushed him back onto the bed and flipped him over. Spike lifted up to be stripped, but Angel held him down. With a small, evil chuckle, he bent to the material and bit and ripped a small, ragged hole. It was exactly where he wanted it, and he spread the sides to admire the view beneath. Very slowly, waiting for Spike to twist around and watch, he licked his finger, taking his time to push it in deeply and work it around, wetting it thoroughly.

He crawled onto the bed and straddled Spike’s calves then pointedly removed his finger from his mouth with a wet slurp.

He spread the hole in the jeans once more, but this time probed deeper and spread Spike, too, murmuring appreciatively at the exposed pink walls. He circled his wet finger gently around then began to twist it against the tightness.

Spike lifted off the bed fractionally, a move that could have been coincidence. His cry of pleasure wasn’t, and Angel grinned. ‘Mmm. He likes that.’ He wriggled harder then let the tip slip in, just until the bed of the nail was hidden in the tight, pink folds.

He watched avidly as the raw, inside flesh quivered, acclimatising to the assault, and then grunted, pushing in to the first knuckle. He laughed. ‘Ah…. He likes that better.’ Twisting his wrist, he swirled his finger inside the tightness, hooking and stretching Spike until he wriggled like a fish on a hook.

‘There. That’s option number one.’ He withdrew his finger and sucked it appreciatively as he watched the twitching pinkness. Then he slid back until he was standing and heaved Spike’s backside up to his mouth. With none of the preparation he’d used for the finger, he dug his tongue deep, pressing his teeth into the soft skin as he pushed.

His tongue was surprisingly strong, rigid yet soft, and it worked Spike thoroughly until he was panting and crying out at the pleasure.

Laughing at Spike’s reaction, Angel let him drop back to the bed and slowly lay over the smooth back. ‘Number two was great. I’ll take that moaning as a compliment.’

Spike could feel fumbling and heard a zipper. He braced and then the large head of Angel’s cock pressed against his wetness.

Breathing out the word, ‘Three,’ Angel pushed in. He had to rip the hole in the material wider, and the sound of the tearing sent shivers into Spike’s balls, as if he were hearing his own flesh rip to Angel’s entry. When he was in, so deep that his pubic hair scratched inside Spike’s walls, Angel lay still and heavy over him. He pressed his thumbs hard to the back of Spike’s neck, running them up into his hairline. ‘Did I tell you how much I missed you?’

Spike turned his face and they kissed awkwardly, smiling into each other’s mouths, licking and teasing lips. But Angel held all the power, and they both knew it. He withdrew his mouth and twitched his hips to remind Spike of the matter in hand. ‘Your choice.’ Suddenly, he laughed. ‘Wanna a quick resume?’ He pulled out, thrust in his finger and used it like a thin bony cock to ram in and out, then he thrust in his tongue, and just as Spike was groaning from those sensations, he fumbled for his cock and reinserted it.

He pulled out and rolled off onto his back, his cock standing proud from the dark material of his pants. He worked it idly as he mocked Spike with his eyes. ‘He can’t decide…. Maybe he wants them all….’

Spike slid closer and kissed the side of the mocking mouth. ‘It’s too difficult to decide. Wanna try one for yourself?’

Angel’s hand stilled then before Spike could react to the sudden tenseness in the powerful body, Angel hit him. ‘Fuck off.’ He slid off the bed and began to pace, seemed to realise how he looked with his cock sticking out of his zipper and tore off his pants. ‘Don’t ever forget your position in this relationship, Spike.’

Spike pushed back against the headboard, as much to sit on the hole in his jeans as for any other better reason. ‘My position?’ He appeared to mull this over. ‘My position. Explain that one to me, Angel. Is that my position as your rescuer? Or perhaps as your lover. I forget.’

Angel put his hands on the bed and leant in close to Spike’s face. ‘Don’t get smart with me.’

‘What exactly do you remember about that night in Ireland, Angel?’

Angel flinched as if Spike had returned the slap and straightened. ‘I was under the influence of that damn demon. Nothing I said or did then means shit.’

‘No!’ Spike climbed off the bed. ‘That’s not true…. Don’t you see, Pet? You had it stripped out of you: the need to be loved back, the willingness to share your body…. If you hit me again, Angel, I’ll hit back, and I’m pretty sure you don’t want to go there.’

‘Why? What will you do, Childe?’ He threw up his hands in mock fear. ‘I’m so scared.’

‘Oh, you might beat me. Who knows—I beat you last time. But one thing’s for sure: you won’t be in my bed, or my body come to that, ever again. You willing to risk that?’ Spike kept his face angry to hide the sudden and intense fear that Angel would shrug and say that he was.

Angel suddenly chucked Spike under the chin. ‘Feisty. Mmm, I like that. Come back to bed, Spike.’ He looked down. ‘I think my cock has just answered your question for you.’

Angel wasn’t playful then. He clearly just wanted to get off then go to sleep. He did both with equal lack of involvement apparently required from Spike.

Spike was glad when he heard the regular breathing of sleep. He pulled his legs up to his chest and lay leaking Angel’s sperm out of his body as happiness leaked from heart. He’d come copiously. He’d enjoyed it. Angel, heavy and hard inside his body, had felt like heaven, but it was a shallow heaven
one which you could drag yourself out of barely wet. It wasn’t the deep, dark blue heaven of still midnight pools, which held you forever in their all-forgiving embrace. 

Before dawn, he left the bed and quietly unlocking the door went downstairs to smoke and watch the light creep slowly over the land. He felt something hot at his side and put his hand idly down and scratched the dog’s ears. ‘What am I going to do, Mate?’ For one freaky moment he wondered if the dog would break cover and reply, but if he did, it was only by scratching vigorously at his ear.

Chapter 18

Angel woke to the unfamiliar feeling of being watched. Thinking it was Spike, he grinned and said, eyes still closed, ‘Morning, Baby.’

‘I’m not a baby. I’m seven.’

Angel’s eyes snapped open. He found himself staring into them, recreated, a few feet away, but as he hadn’t seen his own eyes for three centuries, and then only in crude mirrors, he didn’t get the paradox. He saw the boy’s eyes flick to the empty side of the bed and grinned. ‘I get to have the morning snuggle now. Get lost.’

‘Where are your pyjamas?’

Angel was tempted to give an interesting reply, but he didn’t want to push his luck with Spike. He had discovered, to his extreme surprise, that an orgasm inside Spike’s rectum was the best that sex could be, and he wasn’t about to give that up for the sake of educating a seven-year-old child. ‘So… when are you being sent to an orphanage? Tell me soon, please.’

The boy’s face creased with distress. ‘I live with Spike!’

‘Nooo… Spike’s coming back where he belongs—with me. No room for you, Sonny Jim.’

To his intense disgust (and slight alarm), Liam burst into tears and fled the room. Well aware how the boy might distort his bit of helpful advice, Angel pulled on his pants and skittered downstairs to catch the tail end of a recitation of woe and tears.

Before Spike could react, he patted Liam on the back and said, ‘Joke? Okay, I’m cooking breakfast. Eggs?’ Whistling tunelessly, he began to rummage in the fridge to hide his smirk.

Spike distracted the boy by producing their favourite box of cereal and miming pushing his hand in to get the toy, which was now only a couple of days away from being uncovered. Liam giggled and pulled the box close so he could study the picture some more.

Angel turned with a couple of plates of eggs and put them down with a flourish. ‘Hey, look.’ He plunged his hand into the box, pulled out the small water pistol, which had been so eagerly anticipated over the preceding days and pretended to shoot the boy. ‘I’ve always wanted one of these.’ He pushed it into his pocket and went back to cooking.

Spike and Liam stared at each other. Spike knew it was time to choose—wondered briefly if this was exactly what Angel had intended.

‘Give it back.’

Liam gave him a loving smile of relief but glanced anxiously at Angel.

‘Angel. Give it back.’

Angel turned his head and looked at him. Spike held his look. Angel pursed his lips. ‘You think he has more right to it than me?’

Spike frowned. ‘It’s a dumb kid’s toy. Don’t do this.’

‘But it’s mine.’

‘No, it’s not. It’s my cereal, and I’m giving it to Liam. Jesus, Angel, are we really having this conversation?’

‘But….’ This was the point he’d clearly been waiting to make, and he appeared to savour the moment. ‘This house and everything in it belongs to… me. I think it was paid for by Wolfram and Hart. Am I wrong?’

Spike had not foreseen this. He wanted to slap his forehead for being so dumb: he’d assumed the battle lines had been drawn over his love—which one of them he would side with. They’d apparently been drawn over who exercised the most power. In that, he was not so certain of victory.

Liam said to Angel in a tiny voice, ‘I can pay for it out of my allowance if you want.’

It was too much for Spike. He pushed away from the table and went into the living room, standing by the open doors to the garden, his arms wrapped tightly around his bare torso. He felt possessive arms wrap around him, and he tensed. ‘I don’t want to do this either, Spike. I don’t care if you keep this house. Whatever. But don’t cross me. Especially don’t cross me in front of him.’

‘Give it back to him, Angel.’

Clearly surprised that his generosity of spirit had been so easily dismissed, Angel said with an edge to his voice, ‘What?’

‘Give – him – back – the - toy.’ Spike shoved Angel off and turned to face him.

Angel folded his arms. ‘Are you gonna threaten to withdraw your favours again, Spike? Because, you know, that could wear kinda thin after a while. I’m thinking I wouldn’t find it too hard to fill your side of the bed. What do you think?’

‘Give it back.’

‘You’re going to wreck what we have over a dumb kid’s toy.’

Give it back.’

At that moment, the rising sun crested the tall line of trees behind Spike’s back. Although it wasn’t strong enough to threaten either of them yet, it did illuminate their confrontation. For one moment, before Angel masked it, Spike saw something in the expression that did not match with either the stance or the words.

Then, suddenly, it hit him with the force of a bullet to the gut, that this wasn’t Angel being deliberately cruel. This wasn’t really Angel at all—it was Angel… damaged. Most the things that he’d valued in Angel were sitting at the kitchen table, and through no fault of his own, Angel was trying to survive in a world of emotions and relationships that he could neither understand nor join. He had no empathy. He had no kindness or gentleness. He could not lose
or accept victory in others. He was an emotional cripple, but his limp was hidden behind the beautiful face and the obvious trappings of power.

He was willing to carry the child; could he do less for the man? He closed his eyes, fearful lest Angel see the pity he knew would be in them.

Then he opened them and ducked his head in a small nod of apology. Very cautiously, aware he was dealing with a dangerous animal, he put his hand on Angel’s chest and spread his fingers. Then he glanced up through lowered lids and said seductively, ‘Bet I could wrestle it out of your pocket.’ Then he pounced, plunging his hand in and rummaging for anything but the small plastic toy. Angel laughed and fought him off then pulled him in for a tight hug. ‘Who’s the boss, Spike?’

‘You are. And I really appreciate you letting us live here.’

Magnanimous now that he’d won, Angel cuffed him affectionately. ‘Do you need anything? Either of you? You only have to ask.’

Spike nodded seriously. ‘Those eggs might be nice.’  Angel patted his backside and sauntered into the kitchen. As he passed a very glum looking Liam, he tossed him the object that had caused all the fuss. ‘Wanna come down to the range with me and learn to shoot a real one?’

Liam’s face lit up, and he turned to Spike. ‘Can I?’

Spike put on the best smile he had ever faked. ‘Whatever Angel says, yeah?’

* * * * * * *

It was like treading in a minefield, holding their hands, one on either side of him. If he stepped one way, the one on his right got hurt, if he stepped to the other, the left. He didn’t care if his own legs got blown clean away; he’d cut them off himself if he could only ease their path.

Gradually Angel and Liam came to a kind of truce: they ignored each other. As Angel tended to only arrive after the boy had gone to bed, and leave after breakfast this ignoring wasn’t too hard.

That Liam was curious about Angel’s presence was evident. Spike could sense his looks occasionally and finally the day arrived when, just after the door slammed behind Angel one morning, he plucked up the courage to ask, ‘Why does Angel have to come here and sleep with you?’

Having anticipated this question, Spike was able to reply calmly, ‘Cus he’s afraid of the dark.’

Liam’s eyes widened. He was silent for a long time, clearly mulling this over. Finally, he asked hesitantly, ‘Can I give him my flashlight?’ 

Spike nodded. ‘He’d like that.’

Now the ice had been broken, Spike saw a flood of questions heading his way.

‘Is Angel a… like you?’

Spike lifted his eyebrow, gave the child the benefit of the doubt that he meant a vampire and nodded.

Liam took another mouthful of cereal. ‘Why doesn’t he like me?’

‘Do you like him?’

He hesitated then said honestly, ‘Maybe being scared makes him mean. Like that old cat when Murphy chased him.’

Spike had trouble seeing Angel as an old cat hissing from a tree branch, but he just nodded again.

‘Is Angel my father?’


‘He looks like my father.’ He frowned. ‘His hair is different, but he does. Is he?’

‘No. He’s not your father.’

‘Are you?’

Spike laughed. ‘You know I’m not. You remember: I found you, yeah?’

‘Yeah. Who’s your father?’

‘I don’t remember him.’

‘Is Angel your…?’ He suddenly looked miserable and finished, ‘You’ll laugh.’

‘I’m pretty sure I won’t. What? Is Angel my what?’

‘Your… boyfriend.’

‘Where did you hear about boyfriends?’

‘Emma has a boyfriend, and she says he has a tattoo, too.’


‘Angel has a tattoo.’

‘I know he has.’

‘So he must be your boyfriend.’

‘Would all men who had a tattoo be my boyfriend as well then?’

The boy blushed. ‘I guess not. Am I? Am I your boyfriend?’

‘Well, you’re a boy, and you’re my friend….’

‘Okay. Good. I’ll tell Angel, cus he said I wasn’t. He said you’d be arrested and sent to prison for a very long time if I was.’

Spike tried to hide his smile. ‘You don’t need to take too much notice of anything Angel says, okay?’

‘Okay. He said he loved you.’

‘Oh. Well, that, I guess, you can take notice of.’

‘Can I go out and play?’

Spike nodded like a torture victim might do to the offer of a coffee break.

Later that day, he drove Liam back into the firm for the promised range visit with Angel. Angel was too busy to see them. Spike consoled the boy by taking him to the canteen and letting him loose on the food machines.  He was happily engaged with this activity when Fred found them. She bent down and kissed Liam then straightened. ‘I’m glad you’re in. Wesley’s ordered some follow-up tests.’

‘Where’s my kiss?’

Liam giggled. ‘Fred loves Wesley.’

Fred blushed deeply. ‘That was a secret, Liam. Do you remember I told you what a secret was?’

‘But I don’t keep secrets from Spike.’

Spike tried to look nonchalant, and Fred held out her hand to the boy. ‘Tests?’ Spike nodded. It wasn’t as much fun for either of them as shooting with Angel, but he had little choice.

Knowing his charge was being well looked after, he wandered in the direction of Wesley’s office, passing Harmony in the lobby. She jumped up and dashed around her console. ‘Is that…? Is that really Angel? He’s so cute!’

Spike nodded toward the office. ‘What’s he so busy with?’

She wrinkled her nose. ‘Work, work, work. He’s, like, obsessed? He’s called all these high level meetings. Reorganised departments. So, anytime you need a babysitter, Spike, you only have to ask!’

Spike nodded his head as if he were actually agreeing to let a soulless vampire care for Liam and went in search of Wesley.

‘What’s up?’ He flung himself into a chair and lit up.

Wesley barely glanced up. ‘I’m sorry. I’m really rather busy today. And yesterday and every day since he got back.’

‘Bad huh?’

‘Well, no, good really. We are making some incredible progress. He seems to have this uncanny knack to appeal to our most undesirable demon clients, whilst still pursuing our own agenda. He’s much more adroit at it now than he was before.’

‘Being an evil megalomaniac can be an advantage at the top of any profession.’

Wesley smiled softly. ‘But you still love him.’

‘If he had lost a leg, would I love him less? He’s been injured, Wesley, through no fault of his own.’

‘Some would say he’s been improved.’

‘I think we’d been coming from different perspectives there then.’

‘No one else is coming quite from your perspective, I’d hazard a guess.’

Unwilling to get into that conversation, Spike stood up. ‘I’ll go watch the tests.’

‘Ah, excellent. Fred’s started them today….’

‘What’s that tone of voice mean?’

Wesley finally looked up. ‘Nothing. I just think we need to verify some of our earlier readings
monitor changes… if there have been any.’


‘All living things change, and I don’t question that both Liam and Angel are alive. Therein may lie our…. Anyway, will we see you back at work anytime soon?’

‘Nah. I didn’t like the old fumble-and-do-our-best approach to evil; I’m sure I won’t like the way he’s running things now.’

‘You mean he doesn’t break off a meeting to see you, Spike. That’s a little childish, if I may say so.’

The sickening suspicion suddenly crept into Spike’s mind that he wasn’t the only one Angel had seduced… was seducing… was fucking, possibly. Why this had occurred to him now, was a mystery. He didn’t think Angel was fucking Wesley, but the way the man spoke of him, it was as if he held some loyalty to Angel beyond the obvious of being in his employ. Perhaps Angel was using his entire arsenal to shape things as he wanted, and Spike could see quite clearly that this new, dispassionate Angel might see his body as just one of a number of impressive weapons, or rewards, he could use in that endeavour. Although he knew that this Angel was not real, or whole, or however else people termed it—not his, anyway—it still hurt deeply to think of him with someone else. Troubled, he rose and went in search of the one who always cheered him.

Wesley watched him with a similar troubled face, only for a very different reason.

* * * * * *

Liam was tired on the way home. His promised treat had turned into an unpleasant ordeal of giving blood and other intrusive tests. They stopped for ice cream, which they both felt they needed.

Spike perched opposite the small figure and licked some ice cream off his spoon. ‘So… does Angel talk about work much with you?’

Liam shook his head but then added helpfully, ‘He said he’d fired someone the other day.’

‘Uh huh. Why did he tell you that?’

Liam blushed deeply. ‘I was playing with your lighter, and he said not to and said he’d just fired someone and it wasn’t pretty.’

Spike laughed. ‘You’re getting mixed up, Pet. To fire someone means you don’t let them come to work anymore, that’s all.’

‘Oh. But he said he took a long time to die and that the flames were really hot.’

‘Eat your ice cream. So… does he talk about anyone else at work?’

‘Wesley sometimes.’

Nonchalant his middle name, Spike continued, ‘I think he likes Wesley. What do you think?’

Liam wrinkled his nose. ‘He calls him an old woman.’

Spike crowed, ‘Yesss,’ in a gleeful tone, then added more responsibly, ‘It’s not nice to call people names. You finished?’ He glanced up at the clock. It was only when he looked back at Liam’s bowl that it struck him that something was wrong. He looked again. The second hand on the clock was running backward. He glanced around to see if anyone else had noticed, and for a moment, it appeared to him that the room wavered slightly. He looked back at the clock but it was now working fine.

He shook the moment off, half-planning to mention it to Wesley and half-planning not to for fear of looking dumb. ‘Come on, finish up.’

‘I’ve only just started!’

Spike felt a cold trickle of alarm run down his spine. Both their bowls were full of ice cream once more. Trying to sound calm, he asked, ‘Did I just ask you some stuff about Angel?’

‘No. Look, Fred gave me a Band-Aid with Mr Incredible on. She said I was incredible, too.’

‘I’d have to agree.’ He glanced at the clock once more and watched Liam eat the second ice cream. ‘Don’t play with my lighter anymore: it’s dangerous.’

‘He told you! Angel said he wouldn’t tell you! I hate him!’

‘He didn’t tell me. I have eyes in the back of my head; I’ve told you that. Eat up. We need to get home.’ He wanted to get to a place of greater safety. He wanted to climb under the covers of his bed with Liam and never let him go. Time had been sucked the wrong way for a moment, and he could not shake the image of waves, suddenly turning the wrong way on a beach and sucking far back out to sea.  He knew what that portended.

* * * * * * *

Liam seemed to pick up on his mood and became even more clingy than usual that night. They watched TV, and Spike let him sleep in his bed. He let Murphy climb on, too, and the dog lay with his head on his paws, alert and watching the window. He too seemed to be waiting for waves.

Spike needed a drink, but he didn’t want to risk the temptation of just getting drunk. His skin felt as if he were passing a huge electrical turbine: all the hairs on his arms were standing proud.

The knock at the door made him jump, and he swallowed hard before answering it. Angel pushed in. ‘Did I leave my frigging key here?’

Spike shook his head, but it had been a rhetorical question, and Angel had already gone on into the living room. ‘I need a drink. Weird day.’

Spike wrapped his arms around his body. ‘You too?’

‘Sorry about the range thing. I’ll make it up to him.’

‘Why did you say weird?’

Angel laughed. ‘Wolfram and Hart? It’s always weird.’ He snagged out a hand and pulled Spike close for a kiss. ‘I’ve been thinking about you.’ He pushed his hands into Spike’s jeans and cupped his backside. ‘Let’s go upstairs.’

Spike made to move then groaned. ‘Liam’s in the bed.’

‘Shit, Spike! You have no boundaries with that kid!’

Suddenly, something hit the window with the power of a bullet, cracking the glass and sending it showering to the carpet. They both ducked instinctively. When nothing else occurred they went over, feeling glass crunch beneath their boots. ‘Bloody hell. What was that?’

What it was was lying in the garden, its neck apparently broken, staring sightlessly at them. It didn’t help much. Angel toed it and frowned. ‘What is it?’

Spike hesitated then said, ‘I think it’s a dinosaur.’

A small voice from the upper window piped up, ‘Dinosaurs can’t fly! It’s one of the pterosaurs
—but I’m not sure which. I haven’t got that sticker yet.’

Spike and Angel looked at each other, and Spike said automatically, ‘Go back to bed.’

Angel took his arm and led him into the house. ‘I’ll call Wesley.’


‘Don’t be dumb, Spike. We’ve just been hit by a low-flying fucking dinosaur! I think this kinda calls for his expertise, don’t you?’

‘No!’ On a hunch, he went out into the garden, but the obscene thing was still there. He picked it up gingerly and threw it further into the dark. ‘Go back where you belong.’

Angel was watching him from the shattered window. ‘I’m going back to the office.’

Spike wrapped his arms around his body and stared at him, appealing with his eyes. ‘Is this the end?’

‘Don’t be melodramatic. And it will smell if you leave it there.’ With that helpful comment, Angel turned and let himself out of the house.

Spike could hear the roar of the waves very close now. He wanted to run. He wanted to pick Liam up and run for higher ground. But he didn’t know, in this situation for which he had no precedence, where that higher ground lay.

Chapter 19

When he woke the next morning, the light was blinking on the answer machine. It was ominous, reminding him of a heartbeat for some reason. He ignored it and made Liam his favourite breakfast. Half an hour later, Fred arrived and said cheerfully, ‘Can you go in, Spike? Wesley wants to talk to you.’

‘No. We’ve got plans.’

Her smiled faded. ‘Sorry. I’ve kinda been sent to…. I’ll take Liam to the mall!’

‘No! He stays here. I’ll go in, but he stays in the house.’

* * * * * * *

Wesley rubbed his glasses on his sleeve and reiterated what he’d said a number of times already. He could see that Spike wasn’t getting it. ‘They are the same person. They are occupying two places in a universe that can only hold one. It’s similar to when you became corporeal, only much worse. The fabric of the universe is splitting apart. Now, I don’t want to sound melodramatic—.’

‘Oh, goody, let’s go for the news about the splitting apart of the universe that isn’t melodramatic, shall we?’

‘It’s happening very slowly, but like any tear in fabric, it could suddenly, under the right pressure, just let rip….’

‘So? So what, Wesley? What are you really telling me here?’ He puffed desperately on his cigarette wondering if these next few words were to be his tsunami.

‘They can’t both exist.’

Spike got up and shook his head.  Mentally, he began to run, seeking higher ground. He paused for a moment, stared Wesley straight in the eye and said distinctly, ‘Then let it rip.’

A dark figure watched him leave then peeled out of the shadows. ‘How long do we have?’

Wesley ran his fingers through his hair and replaced his glasses. ‘I don’t know, but it’s speeding up. We’ve had reports of bizarre events coming in all around the city.’

‘You can’t expect him to choose, Wesley. Who could?’

‘Are you afraid he’d choose Liam?’

Angel sighed and came closer, perching on the desk. ‘You know I can’t let that happen. I can survive without the qualities the child holds. Hell….’ He looked around, thoughtfully, ‘I thrive without them in a place like this. But Liam? You’ve seen him. He’ll always be what he is now. You all seem to think that it’s cute
—now he’s seven. But I wonder if you’ll think that when he’s thirty.’

‘You can’t do this to Spike.’

‘Spike is a survivor. He’s lost more than that in his long life, and he will do again.’

‘You’re wrong. You can’t see it precisely because you lack the very qualities Liam holds.’

‘Nevertheless, I have no choice. I want to see all your research, all the results from the tests and any other relevant information
—idle doodles on scraps of paper: I want to see it all.’

‘It’s all rather… technical.’

‘Jesus, Wesley. Don’t patronise me. Do you think I’ve survived three hundred years because I’m pretty?’

Wesley smiled. ‘I always suspected you were cleverer than you… let on.’

‘All the research. Oh, and I want the number for the Dublin branch. I think it’s time to thank them personally for their… assistance.’

* * * * * * *

Spike got home and chatted idly to Fred for a while, watching Liam and Murphy play dinosaurs in the garden.

As soon as she left, he whirled around and said, ‘Pack. We’re… going on a trip.’

‘A trip! Where? Why?’

‘Just pack a small bag.’

‘What about all my things? Can I bring my—?’ Spike dropped to his knees and held the thin arms gently. ‘Don’t worry, Pet, we’ll be coming home soon. Everything’ll be safe here. Just a bag—and hurry.’

Liam scampered off happily. Spike needed nothing but to escape and paced restlessly, planning. By the time Liam came down, lugging a large bag and a number of toys, he was still no further in deciding where they could go.

He bundled Liam into the front seat and Murphy into the back and slid behind the wheel. ‘Wait!’

‘No, Pet! We don’t have time!’

Liam began to cry. ‘I want my puppy.’

‘Oh—.’ He put his forehead to the wheel. ‘Wait here. I’ll get ‘im.’ He let himself in once more and ran up the stairs. He couldn’t find the damn toy and swore loudly. Then he remembered waking with it under the small of his back. He ran to his room and snatched it out of the bed. Suddenly, there was a crescendo of furious barking from the car, and he tore back down to find a man standing by Liam’s window. Murphy was snarling and flinging himself against the inside of the glass. Spike shouted, and the man turned to him. He had his eyes and mouth sown up. Spike didn’t hesitate; he made to charge the figure, but at the last moment, opened the door to the car. The dog, all one hundred and fifty pounds of him, landed on the all too familiar figure. The struggle was brief. Spike ushered the dog back into the car, jumped in and slammed into first gear. He looked across at Liam. ‘You okay, Mate?’

Liam hugged his stuffed dog to his chest and nodded mutely.

* * * * * *

He had no plan because he had nowhere to go. There was no high ground for them. This thing was coming, and it would sweep them away as inconsequential as trees lining a sun-kissed beach.

He could not make this impossible choice. He would not. Let someone else do it.

No passports, no identities, they could not run as far as he wanted, but this was a big country, and they would find a place to be safe. Liam slept as they drove, which suited Spike just fine. He wasn’t up to questions.

He could not help but wonder what Angel would think about his flight. Would he see it as betrayal—as making that impossible choice? He wasn’t. He wasn’t saying Angel must die instead of Liam. He wasn’t. He couldn’t say that anymore than he could say it should be Liam to save Angel. But Liam was so tiny and so fragile compared to Angel. He was just evening the odds.

He sped up, gripped the wheel tighter and concentrated on running. He had not consciously done it, but he had turned away from the ocean, heading into the depths of the vast continent. Surely he could find somewhere where they could be safe.

* * * * * *

They stopped at an out-of-the-way filling station, and Spike bought some food for the boy and Murphy. He was about to use the card Wesley had given him when he hesitated. Instead, he fished out some cash and paid that way. When he got back outside, he tore the card in two and tossed the halves into a dumpster. He didn’t need a temptation that risked them being traced.

Liam ate and talked and played and then went back to sleep. Spike continued to drive, his eyes beginning to feel gritty. It was very dark in the desert and very cold, and he put the radio on for the company of another voice.

It woke Liam, and he said urgently, ‘I need to pee!’

Spike gestured to the vast space around them. ‘Any preference?’ He pulled over and opened the door. The boy jumped out, followed by the dog.

Spike climbed out, too, and lit a cigarette, keeping a wary eye on them both. It was a beautiful night, but he tried to resist the temptation to look up at the stars. He didn’t need to see them winking out or anything else weird… which is why the movement off to his left caught his attention. He turned to look.

A sharp tremor of shock coursed through his body.

Distinctly, but trying not to panic the child, he ordered, ‘Get back in the jeep.’

‘But I—.’


He began to back up, but ten pairs of eyes watched every step. Emerging from the darkness, the Indian braves were soon illuminated in the headlights. They were in full regalia, their faces painted with white and black and red in fearsome geometric designs. The ponies snuffled and stomped, eager to be off. One brave kicked his pony forward, walking it slowly toward Spike. ‘Get in the jeep.’ He had no argument this time, and he heard the door close with relief. Even more reassuring, he felt fur brush his hand as a low rumbled warning issued from the dog.

The brave was beautiful. His hair shone with natural oils that had never been washed out and hung in a swinging curtain down his lean, naked body. He edged closer.

In a fluid movement, faster than any human could have done it, Spike opened the jeep, shoved the dog in and slid alongside him, slamming down the locks.  The young brave screamed something and brought his pony right up to the vehicle, pressing his face against the window, the paint leaving steaks on the glass. He screamed threateningly at them again. Spike had had enough. He changed face and screamed back, pressed up to the glass on his side.

The man almost lost his seating on the pony. He swung it around, its forefeet kicking high, then steadied it.

Suddenly, Spike felt the ground rumbling even through the structure of the car.

He frowned and peered down, alarmed to see the brave do the same thing. The dog suddenly let out a furious volley of barks. The Indians screamed in chorus and took off into the night, streaming around them like water parting to a rock.

For a moment, Spike thought it was over, but then he realised the trembling of the ground was worsening. ‘What is it?’ Liam’s frightened voice made him reach out instinctively and pull the boy into his arms.

‘I dunno. Earthquake maybe?’ But he knew it wasn’t. It was something else, and it was coming right at them, and a feeling of enormous vulnerability hit him, even though he was surrounded by strong metal.

The dog’s barking turned to howling, and Spike wanted to join in. The whole car was shaking now, and the noise was deafening, like a million drums beating inside his head. And then the wave hit them. It flowed around them, black and stinking and inexorable. But it wasn’t water— it was almost more deadly. Muscle, hair, hooves, saliva and blood slammed into the jeep. Liam began to scream. Spike held him and felt the jeep pushed along, scraped as easily as driftwood over the road. It went on for what seemed like hours, but after the first wave hit the jeep, the rest of the herd parted around them, only the occasional one losing its footing and slamming into them.

And then it was over.

It was deathly quiet, and the stars still shone.

Spike tried to open the door, but it was too distorted to open naturally. He used a foot instead. Staggering out, he lifted Liam into his arms, and they silently regarded the vehicle. Suddenly, Spike began to laugh, and when Liam looked at him with terrified eyes, he hiccupped, ‘I’m just imaging explaining this to a bloke in a garage: got hit by a herd of buffalo, Mate. Come on, Pet, shall we see if it can still drive?’

The engine kicked to life. The steering was badly off; a strange grinding noise came out of the wheel bearings, but other than that, it worked.

Spike knew it wouldn’t get them as far as he needed to go. But then, no car could do that.

* * * * * *

They arrived in a town, the streets almost deserted at this time of the morning. Spike pulled into a motel and counted what little money he had left. ‘We have a major cash flow problem.’

‘We could rob a bank.’

‘Good idea. Come on, let’s go get a room and plan it.’

* * * * * *

Spike let Liam watch some TV for a while but then he insisted he went to bed. He needed some peace. When the boy was breathing steadily, he told the dog to guard him and went out for a cigarette. To his immense surprise, he saw that his hand was shaking badly. He watched it for a while, fascinated. The restaurant lights were on, and he suddenly had a craving for coffee, or rather for the routine normality of sitting down, cradling the hot liquid in a mug, and pretending life was going to work out. He could see the door to their room if he sat in the window, so he reckoned it was safe to leave the boy for ten minutes.

He opened the door of the eatery and a tiny bell jingled. He was the only customer, and he ordered coffee and a couple of doughnuts and went to sit in the window. A boy put his order on the table. ‘What happened to your jeep, man?’

Spike was too tired to enjoy the moment, so he just said, ‘Got hit.’

‘Hey, I love that accent. What is that? Australian?’

‘Yeah. Something like that.’

He closed his eyes for a moment and leant back. He needed money. He needed to get a new car. The bank job was sounding more and more attractive. He wasn’t entirely a novice in that department….

He heard the doorbell jingle and opened his eyes to see who was up and about at this time of night.

Angel came straight over to his booth and slid in next to him, preventing him leaving.  Spike tried nevertheless, but Angel clamped his hand on his wrist and forced him back to sitting. He ordered coffee as if they were on a date.

‘How did you…?’ Spike’s voice gave out, and he left the rest to Angel’s imagination.

‘The car. They are all bugged, Spike. Tracking devices.’

Spike saw options like small bursts of flares in his mind. But he knew there was only one really. He stubbed out his cigarette and said calmly, ‘What now?’

‘Now you come back with me.’

Spike nodded. ‘But I want to talk with Wesley and Fred before….’

‘Just come back, and then we can talk all you want.’

Angel drank his coffee quickly then rose. Spike slid across and stood up, too. Angel tossed some money on the table, and they walked out together.

Spike shook his head ruefully. ‘What about the jeep?’

Angel turned to look at it, and Spike took his only option. He spun-kicked Angel’s head with all the power he could muster.

Angel went down onto one knee with a surprised grunt. When he was down, Spike interlocked his fingers then punched him with both fists in the side of the head. Angel sprawled into the dirt. Spike ran for the jeep, flipped open the boot and pulled out the tyre iron.

Angel was rising, so Spike struck him across his back, sending him into the dirt again. Then he swung the iron like a golf club against his temples.

Angel did not rise that time.  Spike knelt and checked his pockets, finding his wallet and removing what little cash there was. Suddenly, a hand shot out and clamped on his wrist. Angel groaned and pushed to his knees, not letting Spike go. Spike tried to swing the tire iron again, but Angel took it off him and jabbed it hard into his belly. Spike doubled over and spat some vomit into the dust. Angel hit him in the head. Spike couldn’t focus, but he head-butted the dark figure, hugging him around the waist as they crashed backward into the side of the jeep. It rocked on its chassis, and Spike almost felt sorry for it: buffalo and now vampires
it had taken a lot of punishment that night.

They were both bleeding badly from head wounds, and dirt stuck to the blood, clotting it unnaturally. ‘Give it up, Spike.’

Spike thumped his fist into Angel’s belly in reply. Winded, Angel caught hold of Spike’s hair then punched him in the jaw. Spike felt it dislocate, and he tasted blood in his mouth. He brought up his knee and caught Angel’s balls.

Angel gasped, went green and fell to his knees. Spike ran toward the door of the bedroom until a flare of incredible pain spread out from his spine. He fell face first into the dirt and put his hand around, fumbling to discover the source of the pain. Angel had thrown the tyre iron like a javelin, and it had buried deep into his back. He tried to pull it free, but it was embedded too far. He tried to stand, but his legs wouldn’t obey him. Then he felt his hands going numb, then his arms, until all he could feel was the soft dirt against his cheek.

Angel stepped over him and opened the bedroom door. There was a short bark cut off, and then a thump of a body hitting the floor. Angel emerged, holding the still sleeping child draped over his arms. He looked down at Spike. ‘I will try everything else before he has to die, Spike. Everything. Trust me that I will do that much. I don’t know exactly what I am, and hurting you tonight has confused me more than I anticipated, but I have a soul, and I am not a monster. I will not hurt one hair on his head until that is the only solution left to me.’

He began to stride off into the dark toward his limo.


Angel didn’t turn around, but he did stop.

Spike swallowed blood and begged raggedly, ‘Please, Angel, take Murphy, too. I don’t want Liam to… be… alone.’

Angel’s shoulders hunched but he continued to walk toward the limo. He put the boy onto the back seat, made to open the driver’s door, but hesitated.

He turned, strode back to the bedroom and came out carrying the huge dog. He put him in the back seat too and drove off, leaving Spike impaled through his spine in the dirt.

Chapter 20

Spike knew that he’d died in the carpark of the motel and that he was now a ghost. He’d been incorporeal, so he reckoned he knew something about not being real. This was even worse than that terrible time with Pervane. At least then he’d only been about to be sucked into hell. Now he was already there. And it wasn’t the hell he’d always imagined—fire, brimstone, physical pain, regret and endless crying out to a God who was conveniently deaf. This didn’t really hurt physically, except the self-inflicted wounds he caused to try and feel something—anything but this ghostly death. It was like plummeting forever in an elevator shaft that left his stomach and heart far behind and knowing they would never catch up.

The boy in the eatery pulled the spear out of his back, despite much gagging and shock and protest. Once it had gone, feeling came back, and he was able to stand.

Then he had begun to drive back to L.A. in a damaged body inside a damaged jeep that was full of Liam’s things. The purple puppy lay on the seat, where the boy had forgotten to take it with him into the motel. He would wake in Angel’s limo with none of his toys. Or him.

Spike didn’t want to think about that.

He got back to the house three days later, for the jeep finally broke down, and abandoning it, he had been forced to travel only at night with the little money he’d stolen from Angel, which involved walking with his pain-racked body and trying to hitch rides carrying a stuffed purple dog and large bag of tiny clothes with their fake size labels. He couldn’t leave anything; he wouldn’t leave anything: Liam would need his clothes.

* * * * * * *

The house was the same as when he left it, except it was filled with regret and memories that made the dying begin. He’d been half-hoping someone might have taken the opportunity given by the broken glass to break in and take the memories away.

Bit by bit, he faded, until the fact that he was a ghost and he had never risen from the carpark seemed the only option.

He spent the first day in Liam’s bed, healing physically but dying in other, less noticeable ways. Liam’s book lay open where they had last read it together. He put it carefully on the floor so they would not loose their page. He was too big for the small car bed, but he was hoping Liam’s vehicle might have more luck keeping them safe than his.

He heard the telephone ring, but he felt as if his hand would move through it if he tried to answer it, and his legs would not carry the weight that was in his heart if he left the sanctuary of the bed. So he didn’t. He lay there all day, his eyes open but not blinking, and not breathing or moving.

By night, he had healed enough to begin hurting himself. He drew a knife over his wrist, slowly, so he could watch the blood well and feel the pain. But it wasn’t enough pain. He was still there and still thinking and still full of the kind of pain with which this petty red blossom could not compete. So he slammed the point into his palm and ground it in. That was better. That hurt so much that for a moment he almost couldn’t feel the greater pain. Then he opened his eyes and saw a painting on the refrigerator door. It was of him and Murphy, although he had not liked to ask the boy which was which. His hand hardly hurt at all after seeing that.

* * * * * * *

There was nowhere to go now. His life had been so full of the child that every room, every piece of furniture, every object in the rooms spoke to him of Liam. He walked, dripping a stream of blood into the garden. That didn’t help because high-pitched laughter haunted him there. So he cut his other wrist, but properly this time, from inside the elbow to the centre of his palm, as deep as he could hack the knife through flesh, severing his artery.

He tipped his head to the stars and regarded their cold, uncaring aspect. How could something so small fill the entire universe with pain? He held his bleeding hands up to the night sky as an offering to any God that might care to accept it. Total indifference greeted his gesture, and the blood ran unwanted to the soft ground.

He sensed that he was being watched, but he was dead, so he ignored it. He took the knife and held it to his face, drifting it over his lips and nose.

Then he placed it against one eyeball and pushed.

Arms seized him. The knife was wrenched from him. It didn’t take much effort: bloody fingers gave up their prize quite easily.

The stars wavered and one by one began to go out, and letting them take the last residual light from his heart, Spike surrendered to darkness and to the peace of death.

* * * * * * *

He jerked back to wakefulness with a searing pain in one wrist and a dull ache in the other. His eye didn’t feel too good either.

Then he remembered. With a shudder, he felt his stomach contract, and he vomited, but he couldn’t rid himself of the memories however hard he heaved. A cool hand stroked his forehead and he heard a whisper, ‘I’ve given you something to sleep, Spike. Go to sleep and don’t dream.’

* * * * * * *

There was a drumming in his ears and a herd of ghost buffalo ran bellowing through him. Liam was torn out of his arms and carried away. The priest smirked at him and crooned, ‘I’ve collected; I’ve collected….’ Liam was in the garden, burying his puppy, but it was too pink and the earth wouldn’t accept it. It rose, feral, and bit the child in his eye until it stung, even in the dream. He tried to choose clothes to lay the boy out in his coffin, but everything was too big for him, until he realised that it was actually Liam shrinking. He tried to stop him getting smaller, holding onto tiny fingers and pulling them back into shape, but as soon as he’d done one part, another began to shrink. Finally, he was nothing more than a crumb on his finger, and he brushed him away, annoyed that there was so much mess in his bed.

* * * * * *

He woke with a huge gasp and sat up. Angel was alongside him and pulled him into his arms. ‘Shhh.’

Spike pulled away and felt the wound in his wrist reopen. Angel’s presence could only mean one thing. He tried to hurt him, but the bandages bounced off, unable to inflict any damage. ‘Spike, stop it. It’s me. It’s me; it’s Liam. It’s both of us. We remerged, Spike. I’m in here, still with you.’

Spike stared at him for a moment then before Angel could stop him, he pushed him hard, backward off the bed. Spike scrambled off and ran into Liam’s room. He came back with a cricket bat and swung it at the rising figure.

Angel took the blow on his arm, and Spike heard it crack. Angel winced and said through gritted teeth, ‘You bought that for me because you said it was God’s game and that was as close to God as you were ever likely to get. See? I remember what he remembers.’

Spike held the bat still in his hands, confusion making him feel like vomiting again.

Angel swallowed and cradled his broken arm. ‘They hoped you would get the spell wrong! They thought that it would rip my soul out of me
—not some damn other half. They didn’t want me in charge at this branch in case I began to investigate some of their funding. It’s what they thought I’d come back to do!  Once Wesley had a sample of what magic they’d used, Fred was able to adapt some more to reintegrate me—us.’

‘You’re lying. I just want him back.’

Angel closed his eyes then he wiped them with his good hand. ‘I’m right here, Spike, and I want you back, too.’

He opened his eyes and took a step closer. Very slowly, Spike dropped the bat, and Angel put a hand on his cheek.

With a slight catch in his voice, Spike said, ‘He took you from me; I tried to protect you.’ He put his hand up to Angel’s cheek, in a mirror position. ‘The world was cracking up, Pet. But I thought I could keep you safe.’

‘You did. While we were running away, Wesley had time to work the right magic. If they’d taken me before they might have been forced to….’

‘Did it… hurt?’

Angel shook his head. ‘It hurt to be separate. It feels right to be back with… him.’

‘But you don’t like… Angel. I mean… you.’

Angel grinned. ‘Jeez. Deep inner self-loathing. Nothing changed here then.’

Spike’s face quivered, and he turned away and went downstairs. Murphy was sitting in the garden, and he trotted in when Spike appeared, went straight past him and over to Angel who had followed him down. He did not seem to share Spike’s confusion of identity. Angel sat down and began to scratch behind his ears idly. With a grunt, Murphy settled at his feet.

Without looking at Spike, he said softly, ‘We’re still separate inside, which is really weird. I can think like Liam, or I can think like Angel, and they’re totally incompatible, if you get what I mean. I keep making him cry and then he makes me laugh or I get really mad with him. Wesley said it will be like this for a while until things blend better. I hope he’s right. And I guess I’ll stop talking now, because you’re not really interested in any of this, are you? And you’re never going to love me again.’ He stood up so suddenly Murphy woke with a startled bark.

Spike said woodenly, ‘I don’t know who you are. I’m not sure I have any thing left to care one way or the other.’

Angel’s arms went round his body as if he was cold, and he nodded. ‘Okay. I need to be away from you for a while, too. Can I take some of my things?’

‘Wh—? What?’

‘From my room…. Can I—?’ His face creased up, and he began to cry. ‘You don’t love me anymore.’ Then he thumped one fist into his palm. ‘Stop it! You fricking baby!’

He stepped blindly around the dog and pushed past Spike toward the door. Spike caught at his bad arm, and Angel cried out. Spike let go quickly then held it gently, ‘This needs setting.’ Without waiting for an argument, he went upstairs.

Angel watched him go then trailed sadly after him.

* * * * * *

Spike emerged from the bathroom with a box and nodded to the bed. Angel sat down and stripped off his coat and shirt. He wiped his eyes and sniffed. Spike knelt down and took the arm at elbow and wrist, fumbling slightly because of his own bandages. ‘This is—.’ He pulled and reset it while Angel was expecting the rest of that trite comment.

Pale, Angel hissed, ‘Shit!’

Spike hunched his shoulders and began to rummage in the box. His hand stilled. Angel looked down. He’d found a box of Band-Aids with Thunderbirds designs. Spike moved his hand away, but strong fingers took it gently and, after a tiny pause, moved it back. Angel stroked one finger over the back of Spike’s hand, watching his lowered eyes.

Not really knowing how he felt any more, Spike took one of the Band-Aids and peeled off the backing. Very gently, he stuck Thunderbird 2 on the wound he had made with the bat.

‘That’s my favourite.’

‘I know.’

Angel put his hand to Spike’s head and drew him gently to his bare chest. He rested his chin on the blond hair, and they stayed that way for a long time, Angel stroking the back of Spike’s neck with his thumb. Finally, Spike asked, ‘Has the world gone back to normal? Did it work?’

Angel nodded.

Spike pushed to his feet and ripped the bandages off his hands. He dropped them to the ground, flexing the stiffness. ‘So, that’s that then. I guess I’d better move out of this place.’

‘We took it for six months….’

Spike blinked at the we but tried to stay on track. ‘I don’t—.’

‘Wait until the morning. Don’t decide anything until then.’ Angel eased back into his shirt then stood up, holding his coat. ‘I’ll come over… maybe?’

Spike shrugged and picked the First Aid box up and went into the bathroom, shutting the door.

* * * * * *

His eye still hurt, but as he couldn’t see it in the mirror, he didn’t bother trying to find out why.  He went back through the bedroom and into the hallway. Suddenly, he heard a noise in Liam’s room. He froze with more fear in his heart than if he’d thought it was a ghost. Very slowly he eased the door open.

Angel was standing at the window, rearranging the toys cars that were lined up upon it. Carefully, he drove one, with a small engine sound, past the others. He heard Spike and whirled around with a small self-deprecating laugh. ‘Sorry. I never had toys before.’ He looked down then quickly back up at Spike. ‘Can I stay here—just for tonight?’

Spike backed away and went unsteadily down the stairs. He tried to pour himself a drink, but his hands hurt too much. Stronger ones took over for him. Angel poured them both a very large drink and passed one over.

They sat in the kitchen, Spike drinking steadily, not saying much. All the things they wanted to say hung heavy between them, thickening the air until their heads hurt with the tension.

Angel swirled the amber liquid in his glass not drinking and asked despondently, ‘What else could I have done, Spike? You were willing to sacrifice yourself for the world. Could I do less?’

Spike flicked his eyes up to Angel’s, but the brown ones were lowered, fixed on the drink. ‘It wasn’t you though; it was him, and he was alive…. He was mine.’

Angel pouted slightly. ‘You said I was yours once. Why don’t you want me anymore?’

Spike pushed his chair away from the table then gripped the edge unsteadily. ‘I’m going to bed.’

He turned and stumbled toward the stairs.

If he paused to see if Angel followed; it was only a very short pause and could have been mistaken for another stumble.

* * * * * *

He lay in bed with the room spinning around him, pain in his back, his head and his hands. The emotional pain still rivalled them all but, he noticed (even in his inebriated state), did not now outdo them. It was all pretty much balanced in his body, and he could not deny that the thought of Liam’s bedroom still occupied helped create this new equilibrium.

He was nearing sleep, hearing the dull thump of a nightmare approaching, when he sensed another person in the room. ‘Can I sleep in your bed?’

Opening his eyes, Spike said angrily, disbelievingly, ‘Don’t bloody do this, Angel. What? Are you afraid of the dark?’

Angel looked surprised at the vicious, sarcastic tone. ‘Hardly. Only the bed’s too small….’

Spike rolled over and turned his back to Angel, neither an invitation nor a denial.

Angel took it the way he wanted and slid noiselessly in beside the tense back.

* * * * * *

When Spike woke to the sense of sunlight piercing through chinks in the drapes, he discovered his arms full of a softly breathing body. It wasn’t Liam’s, but it was warm, the skin soft and sweet-smelling, the hair thick and even sweeter smelling against his cheek. Empty spaces in his heart, which had felt as if they’d been stripped of all feeling, began to trickle-fill once more. He kissed into the hair, and Angel turned in his arms; he appeared to have been awake some time. ‘Hi.’ The tone was hesitant, as if uncertain of his reception. Spike could not have rightly said which Angel, of the many he had known over their long acquaintance, this one now was.

Every part of his body lay along a part of Angel’s, strong flesh meeting strong flesh, warmth transferring. Spike trailed his finger over Angel’s eyes, closing them, then across his strong nose and smooth lips. Was he seeking similarity to another, or was he relearning to accept the features in an adult man?

Angel opened his eyes. ‘Kiss me.’ It was not quite a question or quite a command. Spike hesitated then lightly brushed their lips together in a chaste kiss. Angel frowned and tried to deepen the intimacy with his tongue.

Spike jerked away.

Angel grabbed his arm. ‘Don’t tell me you’re not aroused.’ He grabbed something else, and Spike cried out in guilty confusion. Angel stroked him once then said in an almost inaudible tone, ‘Don’t make me beg.’ He kissed hard into Spike’s neck. ‘Please, don’t make me beg for you.’

Spike felt fury surge in his gut, not for Angel, but for what had happened to them both. He bit down on it and tasted it like blood in his mouth. In an equally low tone he replied, ‘I can’t.’ Then the fury broke through his restraint. ‘How can I? You’re my….’

Angel pinned him down and rolled on top of him. ‘No. I’m… just me, Spike. I’m the one who made love to you for twenty-four hours without a break. I’m the one who told you things I’ve never told anyone else.’

‘You’re the one I held when he was sick, the one I bathed and loved and let die.’

‘You didn’t let me die! I… went home!’

‘You left me.’

No! I’m still here, Spike! I’m still Liam!’

Spike pushed him off. ‘That’s what I was trying to say.’ He pulled on some jeans over his inappropriate erection and swiftly left the room.

* * * * * *

Angel came down later, dressed. He stood watching Spike at the kitchen table for a while then said deceptively calmly, ‘I think I need to stay away from you for a while. This is too hard, Spike. I feel like I’m dying inside.’

Spike glanced up, surprised. Once more, the identity of this Angel confused him. That had been a particularly uncharacteristic comment.  With a catch in his voice he asked, ‘What should I do with all the things… upstairs?’

Angel came forward. ‘I don’t want you to throw away any of my stuff! You gave it to me.’

Spike stared at him. Stuff? He shrugged. ‘What about the dog?’

Angel face creased up. ‘What do you want me to say? I can’t take him! I live in that damn apartment, and I have to work all day!’

‘All right! All right, Pet. I’ll keep him here for you….’

‘But I want to see him….’

The same thought seemed to occur to them both at the same time. Angel was the one to voice it. ‘I’ll come over, maybe? To see him…?’

‘I guess he’d like that.’

‘Cus… he’ll miss me if I don’t.’

Cus? ‘Yeah, he will.’


Spike repressed a smile and just nodded.

* * * * * *

Angel arrived much too early for it to be called night by anyone, but Spike let it go. He’d brought a blanket for Murphy with his name embroidered on it. He handed it over to Spike with a shy shrug. ‘It was something we said we’d buy him, remember?’ Spike did, but he didn’t let on. He was stunned to silence by Angel handing him a small package. ‘This is for you.’ Angel snatched it back. ‘No. It’s gonna upset you.’ Then he passed it back over. ‘Everything hurts anyway.’ Spike draped the blanket over the end of the stair rail and peeled the corner off his present. He glanced up to gauge Angel’s reaction. Angel looked away quickly.

Spike tore the rest of the paper off and turned over a picture frame. He knew what it was before he saw it.

Angel, watching his expression, said sadly, ‘Fred took me to have it done when we went to the movies.’

Liam grinned back at him from the picture as beautiful as he had been in life. Spike looked up into deeply worried eyes. He had been about to say one thing, but looking into those troubled depths, he only wanted to take the fear away. He smiled and could not believe the pleasure it gave him to see the relief on Angel’s face.  Before he could change his mind, he leant forward and kissed him in thanks. Angel let himself be kissed then held Spike’s face still, inches from his. ‘Don’t keep doing this if you don’t want more.’

Spike’s felt the dark eyes drilling into his soul. He felt they would be able to see the truth there anyway, so let himself be kissed and kissed again then kissed some more.

Spike held the picture loosely in his fingers, and as he accepted Angel’s tongue into his mouth, he knew that that is where Liam must now reside: a smiling face in an old photo frame and a sharp, joyful memory in his heart.

Chapter 21

Angel was chattering.

Spike couldn’t believe it. He sat at the kitchen table, the photo of Liam propped up against the wall, listening to Angel chatter.

Besides the gifts, he’d brought a box of groceries and was now cooking dinner for them while he… chattered. He talked about the office. He talked about Wesley. He talked about himself, and Spike sat there listening with a greater sense of unreality than he’d felt in the dreams. Angel didn’t even look all that familiar. He was wearing old jeans that rivalled Spike’s dishevelment and a T-shirt faded with years of washing. Not that any of this—the chattering and the scruffy appearance—was bad. It wasn’t. It was anything but bad. But it was weird.

Finally, Angel put two plates down and slid into the seat opposite. Spike didn’t consciously name it as Liam’s chair, but he glanced to the picture for a moment before picking up his knife and fork.

The contrast to their only other meal together could not have been more marked. No seductive restaurant lighting, no romantic ambience, no testosterone-fuelling food. Angel had cooked pasta. The kitchen was homely. They ate off a bare table on chipped plates. But for all this, they both sensed something of great significance was happening. It was as if they were getting the rare chance to date the start of momentous events. As if throughout whatever life would bring them, they would be able to say, ‘Do you remember that first meal we had in the kitchen of that old house?’

Spike suddenly grinned at nothing and buried the expression in a concentration on the food. Angel didn’t appear to see the look, but suddenly, he slid his foot forward and rested it against Spike’s. Looking absurdly pleased with himself he speared his last piece of pasta on his fork and held it out to Spike.

Spike parted his lips and Angel eased the food in, watching Spike chew. Spike licked his lips. ‘We should have wine.’

Angel wrinkled his nose. ‘My taste buds are kinda weird still.’

Spike hesitated then said gently, ‘We’ve got some soda.’

Angel nodded happily to this suggestion, and Spike brought two cans to the table.  As he opened his, he asked with a surprising amount of calm detachment in his voice, ‘Are you staying tonight?’

Angel hesitated then said, ‘I don’t know. Wanna take Murphy for a walk now?’

Spike wasn’t sure he could see the connection between these two—if there was one—but he nodded, and this seemed to please Angel.

* * * * * *

Their usual route took them down to a park where Liam had played while Spike and Murphy stood around smoking or pretending to take some exercise. Spike turned the other way, and after a moment’s confusion, Angel turned back and jogged to catch him up. Seemingly without any embarrassment, he draped his arm over Spike’s shoulder as they walked along. Again, this confused Spike. He doubted the old Angel would ever have publicly demonstrated affection. Again, it wasn’t bad. It wasn’t bad at all; it was just confusing. Perhaps Angel did not mean this display of affection in the way Spike was taking it though….

They drew some glances as they strolled along, but Spike realised to his surprise that they were anything but hostile.

All he could see of Angel, without making scrutiny obvious, were his feet, his legs and some of his groin. Favourable parts, all of them. With a surge of excitement, Spike knew that he wanted Angel to stay that night. He wanted this very much. He wanted the feet and the legs and most definitely the groin in his bed that night. Possibly every night…(with the rest of him, too, of course). He laughed at his added thought, and when Angel asked him what was funny said it was something the dog was doing.

Angel began to tell a story about the time he’d lived in the Hyperion, which made Spike laugh. Angel was a good storyteller. Spike knew he was embellishing to suit his audience, but it flattered him that Angel knew him so well that he could do this. As he listened, the startling thought came to Spike that he not only wanted Angel to stay for his undoubted physical attributes, but he wanted him to stay for the pleasure he got in his company. That was certainly new. Like the chattering, the old clothes and the amusing stories, pleasant-to-be-around Angel was very novel.

He did not feel entirely comfortable with these new feelings. Only a few hours before, he’d felt like his world had coalesced to a memory forever trapped in a photograph.  He was mulling over his fickleness when he realised they’d arrived home. He ushered Murphy into the house and began to ask Angel if he wanted a drink when realised that Angel had not come in with him. He was leaning on the rail of the veranda, staring out into the night.

‘I’m going back to my apartment.’

‘Why?’ Spike cursed at the childish disappointment he’d heard in his tone. Angel seemed to have heard it, too, for he turned and regarded Spike thoughtfully.

‘I think it’s best, that’s all.’

‘Best for whom?’

‘Not necessarily for anyone, Spike. Just best in general.’

Spike gritted his teeth. ‘But you don’t like it there.’

Angel nodded sadly and glanced up at the house. ‘I’m homesick.’

Something shifted in Spike’s belly, and he put his hand on Angel’s arm. ‘Stay then.’

Angel shook his head. ‘Will you come in tomorrow? I need you back. At work.’

The afterthought was not lost on Spike, and caught in the pleasure that just at work was not what Angel meant at all, he nodded.  Angel turned to go then suddenly turned back and kissed him, breathing into his ear, ‘If you’re good, I’ll hold your hand under the table during the meeting.’ He kissed him again then walked swiftly to his car and left. The thin jeans had hidden nothing.

Spike walked thoughtfully back into the empty house, wondering if the fabric of reality was still tearing apart around him.

Now the house seemed depressingly empty. Murphy seemed to feel it, too. He lay with his head on his front paws, moaning softly. When Spike patted the couch next to him, he readily acquiesced. Every sound in the old house was magnified by the unaccustomed silence.

Spike was close to falling into a well of unwanted self-pity when the phone rang. Surprised, he picked it up cautiously, ‘Yeah?’

‘It’s me.’

Spike grinned. ‘Uh huh.’

‘I think I made a mistake not staying.’

‘Wanker. I think you did, too.’

‘I wasn’t…. Damn. You’re right. I hate this place.’

‘Come back here.’

There was a pause. ‘I can’t. I have to work early tomorrow.’

‘I have an alarm.’ He didn’t, but he wasn’t going to let details defeat him.

‘Yeah. Like I’d be sleeping if I came back….’

Spike grinned and switched the phone to the other ear, his fingers tugging restlessly at Murphy’s fur. ‘That’s true: you left the kitchen in a state. You’d be bloody clearing up, Mate.’

‘You want me in the kitchen?’

The cue was too obvious, so he avoided it. Suddenly he had a brainwave. ‘Dog’s missing ya. Won’t eat. Won’t sleep—pining.’

‘Is that so?’ Spike could hear Angel’s amusement. ‘Guess that alters things then.’ He sighed. ‘Look, I do have to be up real early. Come in? We can talk then.’

Spike couldn’t believe that Angel was not going to come back. He’d been hardening as they spoke, images of Angel’s smooth, sweet body running through his mind like a song he couldn’t stop playing.


‘Okay.’ He couldn’t keep the petulance out of his voice, nor stop himself from pointedly snapping the phone off with no further communication. And he did not miss the fact that from some angles, it could be argued that the maturity shared between them had just shifted alarming onto Angel’s side of the equation.

The phone rang again.

Spike pouted but answered it.

Angel said, ‘I love you,’ then clicked his off again.

Spike sat for a long time, tapping the receiver against his thigh. For the first time since his re-emergence from the amulet, he was looking forward to going into Wolfram and Hart.

* * * * * * *

Angel had some clients in the office when Spike arrived. He glanced up and saw him through the window but had to drag his attention back to the men before him.  Spike didn’t mind. What had passed between them in that tiny glance was sufficient. He wandered down to the lab to see Fred, but she wasn’t there, so he hung out with Harmony for a while, just passing the time.

Eventually, the suits came out, accompanied by Angel, also dressed in one of his expensive suits. The contrast to the Angel he now knew was fairly stark, and Spike turned away from the trio until he could have Angel to himself.

He heard a tail end of the conversation, and then Angel went back into his office alone. Spike walked in after him and shut the door.

Angel darkened the glass, and as soon as they had some privacy, he sank into the couch. ‘I hate this!’

Once again, this was so unexpected and so uncharacteristic that whatever else Spike had expected or wanted when the glass had been darkened was forgotten. He sat next to the troubled figure and patted his thigh, ineffectually.

‘I score this tiny victory.’ Angel illustrated with his fingers, ‘But they win on this grand cosmic scale. It’s so unfair.’

As Spike agreed with this assessment he felt a fraud saying calmly, ‘It’s better than doing nothing, Pet.’

‘Is it?’ Angel slumped back and began to worry at a nail. Suddenly, he checked his watch and groaned. ‘I have to do it all again now!’

Spike wanted to tear the whole edifice down and take Angel somewhere where he wouldn’t have to make these compromises. Instead, he said with what he hoped was suitable intent, ‘Wanna have a working lunch… with me?’

‘You? Working?’ Angel laughed, suddenly cheered up as Spike had intended, although not quite for the right reason. ‘Yeah. I do.’ His buzzer went. He plunged back into gloom. Spike leant over swiftly and kissed him, an intimate, tongued kiss.

When he pulled away he put a finger to Angel’s lips. ‘Keep that thought till lunchtime.’

Sauntering out past Harmony and the two nearly identical suits to the ones that had just left, he did not notice the thoughtful, almost troubled expression that accompanied his exit.

* * * * * * *

Angel couldn’t get away lunchtime. He threw him a glance from an angry meeting in the conference room.

Two minutes later the meeting was interrupted when Angel’s cellphone rang. After everyone else had patted pockets for a while startled, he rummaged for his and answered it. ‘Yes?’


Angel coughed behind his hand and stood up, apologising to the assembled lawyers and going to the window. ‘Hi.’


‘Profits are down. I think. The graph went up, but that wasn’t good—apparently.’

‘Bugger the profits. Turn around.’

Angel snapped his head around and groaned softly at the figure making faces at him against the glass. ‘Go away….’

Spike gave him a long, slow finger and sauntered off.

* * * * * *

Angel appeared equally busy all afternoon, and when Spike went back up to the office to intercept him at the end of the day, he’d gone out.

Angry, frustrated, and full of other less familiar emotions, Spike went home on his own. At least the dog was pleased to see him.  Having done nothing all day, Spike wasn’t tired. He felt out of his skin, an old familiar feeling that left him bouncing off walls not sure what it was he did want. Sensory oblivion seemed urgent. He grabbed his duster and strode into the night; just this act of decisiveness making him feel more in control of a life that he was beginning to feel was slipping more and more out of his command.

The neighbourhood surprised him. It had a quirky and eclectic nightlife, which suited him. He chose a bar advertising a live band and settled into a corner, nursing a bottle of whisky. It quickly became a mellow evening. The band was the best he’d ever heard play anywhere. Girls who chatted him up were gorgeous
and he told them so. The bartender became his best mate by the end of the evening, and when he left, with another bottle tucked under his arm, he couldn’t remember why he had felt so miserable earlier.

He soon remembered though. A dark figure was sitting on the veranda waiting for him when he walked very stiffly in between the overgrown hedges.

‘Where the fuck have you been?’

Spike was watching the house sway, fascinated by the way in went in a converse direction to the way he moved his head. Who needed to murder children to control the fabric of reality?

‘I went out.’

Now he was going in, but Angel was in his way. Angel was very large really when viewed from some angles.

This was a mistake: leaning too far over to appreciate the view, Spike tipped and fell heavily to the ground. However, it was very, very nice lying down. There were no stars, so he guessed they’d gone out as he’d feared. He closed his eyes and waited for oblivion to take him.

He was slightly pissed off, therefore, to be hoisted up and slung over Angel’s shoulder. Not that the vomiting was a deliberate act to register this protest. He blamed Angel, who should have known better than to bend him and jiggle him with his head hanging down.

Fortunately, they had not yet entered the house, so only Angel and the grass got the benefit of the second hand alcohol and something else interesting that he appeared to have eaten on the way home. Upside down it was hard to identify.

For some reason he found himself back on the grass
face down, this time. It was cool and damp and very pleasant. It was very damp. No… that was water being sprayed on him. He sat up, cursing to find Angel stripping and hosing himself down. He tried to stand up to join in the fun, but the ground was sodden and muddy, and he slipped back into his comforting puddle.   Then, apparently, it was his turn. When he realised that Angel intended to strip him and hose him down, too, he protested. Violently. But he was dressed and Angel was naked and it was very hard to get a grip on wet slippery flesh, whereas Angel seemed to have no trouble at all getting a grip on him.

The only thing Spike refused to give up was his bottle of whisky, so he lay naked in the mud, cuddling it to his chest like a baby.

Angel stood over him, his legs straddling Spike’s waist.

Spike could see an endless amount to fun to be had from the situation and reached up to grab the most tempting thing he could see (besides his bottle). Angel brought the hose around from behind his back and doused him liberally in the face with the cold water.

‘Are you done?’

Spike didn’t get this cryptic comment done doing what? and while he was puzzling out how to reply, he felt himself being hoisted once more over Angel’s shoulder. It was much more pleasant being naked over a naked shoulder, and he admired the view of Angel’s buttocks clenching as he was being carried into the house and up the stairs.

* * * * * *

He passed out for a while and came to in a bathtub full of hot water. He was considerably sobered, which was terrible and felt like death
—only not the nice variety of that where you got to be a super—cool vampire.

Before he could motivate his limbs to lift him out of the water, Angel came into the bathroom carrying an armful of wet, muddy clothes, which he dropped into the shower stall with a curse. Without saying anything to Spike, he shoved him forward and climbed into the bath behind him.

Waves slopped over the rim and washed over the floor, which, combined with the mud, made Spike felt intensely guilty—until he remembered it was his house and he could make as much mess as he liked. And he now needed to think about something else very quickly before he had to think about the fact that he was sharing a bath with Angel. Of all the weirdness that had happened to him recently, this was pretty much the weirdest thing of all. Which, given the things that had happened, was saying a lot.

He hadn’t actually leant back onto Angel yet, but was still in the hunched position he’d been pushed into when Angel had climbed in.

Very gradually, therefore, he began to lie back. Angel sighed and stretched his long legs down either side of him.

Spike felt an apology or an explanation was in order, but he wasn’t too sure who needed to do this more. He had a suspicion that one from him wouldn’t come amiss, but as his faults had been entirely a reaction to Angel’s this seemed unfair.

Suddenly he asked, ‘Where’s Murphy?’

Angel grunted. ‘So you do remember about him.’

‘What’s that supposed to mean?’

‘No one had fed him; his water was empty, and he needed to be let out. If you can’t take better care of him, I’ll take him back with me.’

Spike was tempted to say that if Angel came home where he belonged everyone would be happy, including the dog, but he didn’t. He wasn’t sure he liked being chastised by Angel very much.

In many ways, it seemed to Spike, Angel had lost the natural right he had to monitor and criticise his life....

He began to climb out of the water, but a hand on his shoulder held him in. This angered him as much as it pleased him, both of these reactions then confusing him to the extent that he allowed himself to be kept in the bath.

He wondered where his bottle of whisky had gone, but the thought of alcohol suddenly made him groan and sit forward, clasping his knees.

‘You okay?’

He nodded. Angel began to knead his shoulders and neck, strong fingers working even stronger muscles, until with a very different kind of groan, he slid his hands slowly up Angel’s thighs.

Angel patted his shoulder and heaved out of the water, rubbing his hair as he went into the bedroom.

Spike had been given slaps that were not so obviously meant as a rejection.

He had no idea what was happening. The only conclusion he could come with was that Angel had changed his mind. About them.  But Angel was the one who had initially wanted more then he’d been willing to give. Don’t make me beg…. What had happened to the don’t make me beg? He wondered if someone had said something about him. He guessed it wouldn’t be hard to be put off him. He was off himself at the moment….

Maybe it was his desire for Angel that was putting Angel off. Was he….?

‘That water is cold.’

Spike jerked back to the moment to find Angel standing naked, holding out a towel for him.  They regarded each other for a moment then Spike asked almost inaudibly, ‘Why do you hate me again?’

Angel laughed. ‘Yeah. Hate you. Get out of the water, Spike.’ He threw the towel at him and went out, saying casually, ‘I need some clean clothes.’

Spike didn’t like to point out that he had a whole closet full them only, aged five, they wouldn’t fit him.

* * * * * * *

By the time he got downstairs, dressed in some old hangover-comfort sweatpants, he was feeling very much worse for wear. The highs of the binge were completely worn off, and now he felt as if his powerful body was punishing him for punishing it. He sat at the kitchen table and put his head in his hands. He felt something on his thigh and looked down to see the dog resting his chin, looking up at him. Very slowly and carefully, aware that his skull was fragile and on the point of splitting apart, he bent down and whispered, ‘Sorry, Mate.’

‘Apology accepted.’

Spike sat up so suddenly that he had to steady himself on the wall and grasp the table. When he got that Angel had spoken and not the dog, he cursed. Angel was bending over, naked, feeding the washing machine with his ruined clothing.

Spike swallowed, and not from the bile that had risen at the swift righting. His body suddenly decided to punish him some more by rising, swelling, throbbing and aching in direct proportion to the amount Angel bent over and stretched. He actually saw himself rise and walk toward the naked figure and stand tight behind him; actually felt Angel’s waist under his hands and his backside stretched against his hot groin. The feeling of inserting a finger into that tempting pinkness actually made the tips of his fingers tingle with anticipation. He looked down at his lap. Tented, damp and aching to be touched, he blushed and slid further under the table.

Angel straightened and started the machine. He leant casually on the counter, staring out of the window.

Spike felt sick. He’d just fantasised about taking Angel. They’d never done that
even during that one night of intense passion. This had not been spoken about but accepted as the natural order of things.

Suddenly, Spike realised that he wanted to make love to Angel more than he wanted anything else. Even glancing at Liam’s picture, which was still propped up against the wall, did not alter this startling realisation. He wanted to lie over Angel and push into him. He wanted to feel Angel from the inside, pleasure him inside and out and make him… mine. The word seared into his pain-fogged mind, sharpening it, clearing his headache.  With a lurch in his belly, Spike realised that Angel must have picked up on some of what he felt. Had he been radiating this need? Had a beacon somewhere on his body been signalling these predatory thoughts to Angel? Was he angry because of this presumption that the great Angelus might be taken by his childe? But who was more the childe, who more the sire? Who more the adopted child and who the surrogate father?

With a cry of distress, rising from the table, Spike suddenly saw the most violent objection to his desire to take Angel. And it was nothing to do with ancient, vampire roles. He stepped over the dog and went into the hallway. He couldn’t turn his head as he passed and look at the picture of the one he had just betrayed so profoundly. Had he subconsciously wanted this with him? No! He hadn’t. Not one fragment of his being told him that. But he wanted it now. He wanted to push Angel onto a bed and take him. He wanted him to submit and lie replete beneath him. Mine.

He’d expected Angel to follow him out. When he didn’t, he turned his head to look back into the kitchen. Angel had turned, too and was watching him over his shoulder. Spike could not tell what his expression held, but as nothing was said between them, the suspicion began to grow that it was disgust.

Chapter 22

When Angel came into the living room, he had wrapped a towel around his waist. He sat on the end of the couch and said in a low voice, ‘I’ll go as soon as my clothes are finished.’

Spike nodded and turned on the television so they would not have to speak.

After a while, clearly not listening to the programme, Angel ventured, ‘I’m sorry I messed up lunch today.’

‘’S all right.’

‘Clearly it wasn’t.’

‘Look, Mate, I went out for a few drinks. It was nothing to do with you. Had a shitty few weeks, ya know?’

‘Oh. I thought you enjoyed….’ He trailed off and began to bite at a fingernail.

Spike wanted to punch himself. ‘I didn’t mean that. This week has been bad, that’s all.’ He couldn’t help but notice that the towel had opened over one sleek thigh. It was all he could do to not take Angel there and then on the couch.  He closed his eyes so he could not see the temptationbut that was worse: he’d always had a good imagination.

With a curse he got up and went to the window, tracing the spider web cracks with a finger.

The machine running in the kitchen clicked off, and the silence was startling, despite the noise from the television. Angel rose uncertainly. He seemed about to say something, but when Spike did not look at him, he went out.

He did not say goodbye. Spike heard the front door close with a sense of dreadful finality.

* * * * * *

He caught up with Angel as he was opening his car door. Spike slammed it shut then folded his arms around his bare torso. ‘I thought you’d drop everything for me—at work today. Put me before that damned place. I put you before everything these last few weeks, Angel. Your needs….’

‘I was seven you are over a hundred.’

‘Is that relevant?’ He kinda got that it was, so didn’t pursue it. ‘You deliberately shut me out all day!’

‘Yeah. I know. I did.’

The confession startled Spike. It appeared to have worried Angel slightly, too. He toed the ground. Spike asked, bewildered, ‘Why?’

‘I dunno.’ Then he looked up. ‘You would have wanted me to….’ Unable to complete his accusation, he trailed off and stared miserably at the ground once more.

Spike poked his chest, almost glad that they were now having this argument. ‘I would have wanted what? To take you up to the apartment for a shag? You were the one who wanted more.’

Angel nodded. ‘Part of me, yeah.’

Spike stepped back, not wanting the truth of this to actually touch him.

Angel, clearly not getting that this stepping back also meant he wasn’t to speak of this any more, added, ‘I told you: then I was still separate inside. I could think like one of them or the other, and when I thought about you, it was the… other. But I’m together now, inside, both of them… us….’ He looked directly up at Spike. ‘And it’s very confusing.’

‘Confusing? Confusing? You’re confused?’ He wanted to laugh but his head still hurt too much.

Suddenly, as is the way sometimes, Angel smiled and, seemingly embarrassed at this inappropriate reaction, looked at his feet. Then he began to laugh and couldn’t hide it. He glanced up at Spike and when he saw the outrage on his face, the laugher broke out so badly he bit the side of his hand in an attempt to rein it in.

Then Spike smiled too and punched him, a contradictory pair of events that only made Angel laugh more. Before Spike could stop him or even protest, Angel pulled him against him and kissed him. It wasn’t chaste; it wasn’t familial; it wasn’t particularly erotic. It was just a kiss between them, in their unique circumstances, which Spike could take to mean anything he wanted. He took it exactly how he wanted it and said with a catch in his voice, ‘We’ve found our way back to where we were in Ireland.’

Angel pursed his lips and trailed his finger all the way down the sensitive skin on Spike’s side. ‘Not exactly.’

Spike felt a tiny chill of fear but Angel seemed to sense it, too, and quickly reassured him with a kiss. When their mouths were just far enough apart for him to speak, still tasting Spike on his lips and tongue, Angel said tenderly, ‘The Angel you knew in Ireland, before this happened, was a product of… unfortunate circumstances. I kinda had a difficult childhood, Spike, and I guess we know why now. Can you imagine living with the belief that you’d deliberately murdered your schoolfellows? Believing that your father believed you did too? No wonder there was no love lost between us….’ For a moment he seemed lost in his own sad memories, but he snapped back to the present and kissed Spike once more. ‘Then I became a vampire, and the rest, as they say, is history—your history, too.’

Spike opened his mouth to speak, but Angel clamped his hand over it. Spike raised his eyes in disdain at this childish gesture and mumbled anyway, ‘So?’

‘Don’t you see? I’m not that Angel anymore. I have your Liam within me now. Liam who was very much loved; Liam who felt safe and secure and happy; Liam who was taught how to love and how to show that love—who had been shown so much love—by you.’ He leant back against the car, opening his thighs and pulling Spike between them. ‘I’m your creation—partially.’ He closed his eyes for a moment then glanced at the silent Spike. ‘Wesley’s not happy with me at all.’

Spike wasn’t dumb. He’d gotten here way before Angel. With a note of wonder mixed with pleasure, he spread his fingers on Angel’s chest and said, ‘You don’t like that place now. You think about it like I do.’

Angel caught at his fingers, playing with them. ‘I didn’t like it before; the problem is now I’m not prepared to make the effort to hide that dislike.’

‘You’ve… lost your ability to dissemble.’

Angel grinned. ‘I thought I’d just become like you, but that’ll do.’

Spike grinned, too, and settled himself more comfortably between the strong thighs. In this spirit of breaking new ground from old confusing territory, he suggested hesitantly, ‘Why don’t you come and live here, Angel? We can work it out however you want. Separate rooms….’

‘I remember asking you to move in with me….’

‘Yeah, an’ I didn’t even get offered a proper bloody bed!’

Angel smiled shyly. ‘No. You found one soon enough though.’

Memory flared desire within them.  The light touches that had followed the kissthe leaning against each other, the position of Spike between Angel’s thighsbecame more intent. Angel trickled his fingers to the prominent nipples on Spike’s bare chest, grazing them with his nails. Then mouth sought mouth, both moaning with undisguised pleasure.

Suddenly, resolutely, Angel took hold of Spike’s wrist and began to walk backwards to the house. Urgency overcame them, and they stopped on the stairs, lying in a tangle of limbs, kissing.

Somewhere in the part of his brain that wasn’t full of Angel’s taste and shape and scent, Spike registered that this was very different to what they had done in Ireland. That had almost been spiritual in the sense of awe it had engendered within him: he had made love with his sire, Angel. This wasn’t particularly Angel, this one laughingly delving into his pants with exploring fingers and sucking on his nipple: it was a man made up of many parts, each one of which he now knew intimately. They weren’t particularly making anything either—they were fooling around on the stairs and enjoying themselves. He suddenly kissed Angel ferociously, making the perfect lips bleed and then kissing the blood. Angel belonged to him body and soul more fully than could ever have been possible before, and if there was a flicker of awareness that the child, Liam, was also inside this sexy, powerful man, then Spike allowed that flicker to remain. That was just life, in all its complexities, and if they were to have one together, they both needed to acknowledge this.

Angel’s fumbling in Spike’s jeans became more directed. He ripped them open so he could free the long, pale cock, which blossomed to a deep, rosy pink at its tip. There was just one moment when a look of reverence and deep significance crossed his face but then he murmured something rude with a small laugh of delight and sucked the pink into his mouth.

Spike arched, which was uncomfortable to do on the wooden stairs. He wove his fingers into Angel’s hair and tried to push him lower, but Angel resisted then punished him by pulling off completely and coming back up for a kiss. Spike breathed, ‘Bastard,’ into his mouth, and Angel nodded complacently, all the while running his thumb over the sensitive tip his tongue had just enjoyed.

Despite his hangover, Spike’s groin flooded with sensation as blood flowed into his erection. He could feel wetness on the tip, coolness where Angel’s saliva dried, and most acutely an aching need to be touched again. Once more, despite trying to prevent the thought, he saw himself pushing into Angel’s clenching hole. He groaned against Angel’s lips and inserted his tongue between them, wriggling it as if it had to combat tightness of muscle. Angel increased the activity of his thumb, the feeling of Spike’s invading tongue clearly exciting him. As soon as he’d gained entry, Spike withdrew then pushed again, beginning a rhythm of fucking Angel’s mouth with his darting tongue. Angel was pushed back onto the stairs, and Spike climbed over him, holding him down, taking him. As he slid his tongue sensuously into Angel’s mouth, he pushed his cock against the flat belly under Angel’s shirt, holding it down, letting it run through his fingers as the fleshy wet tip rubbed against the smooth skin.

Angel’s hands fell uselessly to his side for a moment, as if the sensation of being taken confused him, but then he parted his thighs and cupped Spike’s jeans-clad backside, urging him on harder. One hand crept between them to take over holding the rigid penis, and he directed it into his belly button. Spike entirely lost the rhythm of his tongue. His eyes widened. He looked down and then cried out as the tip of his cock pushed against the knotted indentation. It seemed to have a similar effect on Angel, for as Spike penetrated this tiny hole, he struggled to free his own cock.

It was awkward and messy and wet. They tried to stay kissing but wanted to watch cocks and holes and fingers, and in the end, they came with shuddering orgasms anywhere and everywhere, sperm shooting out against the wall and the stairs, dripping off hair and skin then bubbling over onto fingers to lie quivering as the shudders consumed them.

Angel’s belly button was full of thick cream. Spike looked up at him through seductively half-closed lids then lowered his face to the pool and lapped at it. Angel swore loud and long, only stopping when Spike dipped his finger into the fluid and fed it to him, too. When his fingers were sucked clean, he scooped some more off Angel’s chest, pushing all his fingers clumsily into the welcoming mouth as his tongue returned to the knotty hole.

For the first time, they began to notice the uncomfortable surroundings. Angel sat up and tried to see his back, which was covered in horizontal red welts where he’d been pushed against the sharp edges. They were both sticky and sore and there seemed to be only one solution. Spike twitched up his eyebrow and murmured, ‘Another bath?’

Angel nodded, but before he actually did anything about moving, he caught Spike around the back of his neck and kissed him deeply. Spike could taste the intense flavours they’d shared between them, and it made his cock twitch hopefully. It appeared to have the same effect on Angel for the kiss deepened considerably and tongues came into play once more. At the same time though they pulled apart and said, ‘Bath!’ laughing as they struggled to their feet with the erect evidence of their passion still so obvious between them.  Raising one eyebrow and biting his lip in amusement, Spike caught hold of Angel’s thick cock, feeling it like a velvet rope between his fingers. He began to walk backward up the stairs, forcing Angel to follow. The erection stiffened as he held it; its strong life throbbed, and if he closed his eyes, Spike could imagine he was holding Angel’s pulsing heart in his hand.

They kissed as the water ran, enjoying their bodies, sharing the pleasure of touch and taste. There was no hiding what they felt: cocks were tight with need, swollen and pink with blood. Angel climbed into the steaming water and opened his legs so Spike could lie between them, adjusting his cock so it lay rigid, squeezed between them. Spike’s, Angel noted with considerable pleasure, occasionally appeared above the surface of the foamy water. Every time the pink, puffy slit emerged, he felt a tweak of pleasure deep in his balls.  Angel began to cup water over Spike’s hair, running his fingers through the dark blond locks. He reached around for the shampoo and came back with one Spike had bought for him because it was gentle and didn’t sting his eyes. It made his eyes water for another reason, but he kept the bottle out of Spike’s eye line and poured some on, massaging it in.

He needn’t have worried about Spike seeing the bottle. Spike was asleep. Angel frowned and peered over the pale shoulder when Spike made no response to the novelty of having his hair washed for him.

Angel hugged him closer and relaxed into the warmth of the water. He was nearly asleep too, and he didn’t have the misfortune of a hangover to contend with.

The confusion hadn’t gone, but it was considerably lessened by what they had done on the stairs. It didn’t seem to matter too much now how he saw this man—as lover, childe, father, friend—he wanted him. He’d never wanted him as much as he did now; now that Spike was so much more than just his childe. Perhaps the most confusing thing now was that he still wanted all the things he’d had with Spike when they had shared this house together. Angel was pretty certain that Spike, despite being told, had not grasped the true significance of him absorbing Liam’s memories to be his own. Angel could remember sitting in this bath and playing with his toys—the toys Spike had bought for him. He could remember Spike coming in to fetch him out, then staying to play, too. He’d told him a story of being on a real submarine as they’d played with a toy one, a version Angel now knew through his firsthand knowledge of those events had been heavily edited. Angel still wanted that loving man—the man Spike had shown to a child. He suspected that Spike had never revealed that side of his nature to anyone before, and he didn’t want him to go back to seeing him as some all powerful sire for whom defensive masks had to be worn. He was fairly sure, from Spike’s actions on the stairs, that Spike was thinking along similar lines. It had not escaped Angel’s attention (indeed, his belly button was still sore) that their lovemaking had taken a new and interesting twist since the old patterns of behaviour, which had been followed in Ireland.

To all intents and purposes, Spike had fucked him.

To all intents and purposes, he’d lain back and been very happily fucked.

Lying in the cooling water with Spike asleep in his arms, Angel could not deny that he wanted this shift in their roles to be explored further. He wanted to turn over to Spike’s command and be taken. He wanted Spike to have power over him, to own him fully.

Although he would never admit this to anyone, not even to Spike, when that hard cock had pushed against his belly, his anus had throbbed in response, wanting it. Even now after all he had done with Spike, this thought made him blush. Some part of his complex psyche still called it sodomy. Somewhere inside his brain he saw such penetration, such taking of men as demeaning. He still had the disturbingly arousing memories of torturing victims with his cock. Yet now he wanted Spike to sodomise him? Now he wanted to be demeaned by him?

The need won out, and he stretched luxuriously and unconcerned to the thought of Spike kneeling behind him, mounting him and giving him the pleasure that Spike undoubtedly took from this act.

Very carefully, trying not to wake Spike, he eased out from behind sleeping figure. Inevitably, it did wake him, although he denied he’d been asleep at all. Both feeling drained, by emotions as much as events, they curled up together wet on the bed and pulled the blankets high.

* * * * * *

Spike slept so soundly, enveloped in the warmth that was Angel’s strong body, that when something landed lightly on his face, he woke as a human might: groggy and confused. Murphy stared at him and tapped him with his paw once more. There was a clear threat in his expression. Spike grunted and extricated himself, still half-asleep, from the tangle of limbs that held him. He padded naked down the stairs and let the dog out of the French doors.

Brain still in neutral, he went back up to his bedroom.

In the muted, early morning sun, the room seemed almost dense with light. He felt as if he could hold out his hand and have it trickle thick and sweet, tinting his pale skin. And in the middle of this light, almost the source of it, as it seemed to Spike, lay Angel. He was naked, uncovered by the early morning rising. He lay on his belly, sprawled, almost fluid in his beauty, like the light. As Spike let his eyes travel slowly and longingly over the muscular, long frame, he could not help the thought in God’s image creep into his mind. It was unbidden but once thought it clarified in his mind how he felt about his man: he was everything now. He was the child he missed, the lover he adored, the sire he still needed, the friend whose company he cherished. Spike’s whole world lay asleep on his bed, and for the first time, his restless need for something more was quelled.

With a sense more of inevitability than fear, he crawled onto the bed and woke Angel.

As soon as Angel woke to Spike’s touch, he knew what was about to happen. If was as if his last thought in the bath the previous night had carried on through sleep to this moment.

Spike kissed down his spine, parting his cheeks. Angel moaned permission, encouragement, need, and opened his legs.

With a hiss of desire, Spike pulled him closer and buried his mouth to the tight puckering, loosening it with saliva and a strong tongue, probing so intently and so erotically that it began to quiver and give up its secret pink centre.

Angel arched into the warm sheets, rubbing his body, his hand going down to touch a stiff, morning erection. Spike’s stood snug against his belly, aching for touch of a different kind.

With one hand on the bed for support and one on his erection to guide it, Spike leant over Angel. ‘Are you sure?’

Angel’s only reply was to put a hand back and guide him in himself.

Spike cried out at the sight of Angel feeding his long, hard erection into his body. He spread his fingers on the smooth cheeks and parted them some more, stretching and exposing the pink walls of the slowly filling channel. Sensation seemed to overcome Angel; his hand fell away; he groaned. Spike leant over his strong back and finished the job, mounting him entirely in one strong push to his core.

On his hands and knees, mounted from behind, Angel could not stop the thought that he was now demeaned. And he welcomed it. He had found the one person he would allow this with, and the intimacy of that thought made him cry out with pleasure and thrust back onto the hardness taking him. Spike had the right to take him. Spike had created this need within him to be enveloped, owned, wanted and loved.

Spike took him with a skill neither of them knew he’d possessed. Long even strokes right up into Angel’s body, until Angel’s neck stretched as if he were making room for the deep penetration, then exquisitely slow withdrawals, right out until the sensitive ring of muscle closed ready to be stretched open once more. For Spike, every stroke was like the best hand job, the most educated tongue. Angel was so tight inside, so inviolate, that his cockhead stretched the walls anew on each thrust. His cock throbbed with the intense pleasure of this friction, pouring a stream of pre-ejaculate into the quivering rectum.

Unnaturally strong and fit, they soon needed more. Spike grabbed the headboard; long and slow became hard, uncontrolled, heavy, loud slaps into Angel’s backside. Angel spread his thighs further and jerked back into every stroke. Suddenly, he lifted up and grabbed onto the headboard, too, and Spike was jerking into him as they pressed belly to back, squeezing him in an impossible embrace as he levered his cock deep inside his taut body.

With a ragged cry that increased in volume, Angel’s orgasm ripped through his body. Untouched, his cock jerked with the high pressure release, sending the first shots of thick cream straight up, where it hit their faces and hung sticky over the sweat-slick skin. The first intensity over, his cock lowered a little and began to soak the pillows with its remaining powerful squirts.  He had not touched himself. Angel looked down unable to believe that after three hundred years he’d had his first, uncontrolled orgasm. And still, delicious shuddering filled his balls and cock and a last spill bubbled out of his slit and plopped heavy to the bed.

Spike slowed right down, milking Angel, enjoying watching him come. But Angel was a generous lover; he dropped back to his hands and knees and with a ragged groan urged, ‘Take me.’

If Spike did take him, then they were both completely lost, for he had no awareness of time or place, except for the hot tightness of Angel and his own body jack-knifing ever closer to that much desired and intensely pleasurable release.

Angel let his body be ravaged and thumped, sensing Spike getting closer to what they both wanted. He wanted to take this offering. Accepting Spike’s essence into his body seemed to Angel to have a far deeper significance than two men banging each other on a bed. When it came, it was cool and abundant, flooding into places that were hot with need, raw with being unfilled for so long.

When he finally lay face down on the bed, Spike’s strong body covering him, Angel knew a sense of peace that he had not known could exist. Spike wrapped his arms around his broad neck and laid his cheek between his shoulder blades. He was still embedded, and every so often a tremor coursing down his spine would thicken and stiffen him, making Angel clench his backside with pleasure.

Angel brought his hands up to hold Spike’s arms, stroking his thumbs idly over the smooth hardness, tracing a vein on the pale translucence. ‘I love you.’

Spike lifted his face and regarded Angel’s profile, studying the lips that had just opened and spoken. He heard many voices in that seemingly simple declaration, each one adding its own subtle definition to the term love. And he was content. He could not want more for he had everything he had spent his life seeking right here in this one complex package. He lay back down and replied softly, ‘Good. You can go cook breakfast for me in that case. Only… no matches.

Or lighters.

Or candles….’

Angel slapped him, hard, and with something of their more normal relationship re-established, they fell into deep and utterly dreamless sleep.

The End

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