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Protective Custody – 3

Spike couldn't help let the thought cross his mind that he'd been right, training had not been the best thing for them both to be doing. But, given their history, there was very little they could do together that would not bring back unwelcome memories.

Angel stood up and started to put away the weapons. Spike stood silently and helped him. He glanced across at Angel every so often when Angel's back was turned to him. This was something he had not reckoned on. Angel wanted him.

This confused Spike on so many levels he didn't know where to start being paranoid about it. There was Buffy for one thing. He was so close: all that stalking, all that lurking, he couldn't bear for it all to go to waste. Then there was him. He was not William and did not want to be so again. He most certainly did not want Angelus either. That left Angel. Did he want Angel? Well, ask him if he wanted to go to the moon…err, wow…have to think about that one…do I get to come back again? It was like asking him if he wanted to be human again. How the fuck did he know? It was such an unknown quantity. What was Angel? Who was Angel? Spike hardly knew this Angel; he was so different from Angelus. Did he want him? He thought he might like to give it a try. Which left the last bloody problem and the thing that confused him the most.

Angel wanted him, but Angel, apparently, was not going to allow himself to have him. Spike had rarely seen such an angry, stiff back on anyone. Angel radiated pain and desperate control. He didn't once look at Spike, but when all the weapons were away, he did manage to speak.' I'm going to shower. This will not happen again. I cannot train with you. Do you understand?'

'My comprehension doesn't really seem necessary if you've decreed "it shall not happen", does it?' Angel wasn't sure if this was agreement or not, but started to make his way slowly to the door.

'You may use this room to train in when I'm not here. And the weapons, help yourself.'

'Sure, why not.' Spike tried to put a bit of sophisticated irony into his voice, but wasn't too sure it didn't make him just sound like a petulant fuck-up. He sat down and studied his hand for a while. It didn't really need his close attention, but it gave him the chance to steady himself before he faced the rest of this sorry day.

It looked so innocent, just a hand, but it had lain in Angel's lap, on Angel's erection, and it had felt the truth there.

Angel was in a very bad way. It was clear he had had no relief of any kind for a long while. Although he had joked about being a wanker, in his heart of hearts, Spike knew that Angel had foresworn even that necessary activity.

Angel had clearly lied to him when he'd implied that he gave himself relief. He had said on that first night… I'm still a vampire. Spike tried to picture what it would be like not to take away that constant pain. They were blood; it's what made them stand up and walk and talk like men... and the blood needed to be relieved.

Angel's erection had almost been obscene.

It had felt angry and unnatural. It radiated pain through Spike's hand and into his brain and maybe he was just a Pavlovian puppy dog, but that pain had called to Spike.

He felt a whole lifetime of need there.

He wanted to help Angel but did not have the least idea how to do it. Other than the obvious that is, and that, he was not allowed to do.

Angel turned on his shower, stripped off his pants and stepped under the hot stream. He put his forehead to the wall to allow himself his only indulgence: a good brood. He was fucking this up big time, and he knew it. He'd brought Spike here. He'd bought the alcohol and started talking about the past. He'd suggested they train together, breaking his own stupid rules at their first test. What was he doing? He felt a bit like a serial killer leaving deliberate clues to his identity so he could be caught. Did he want to be caught? What did he want? He had known exactly what he had wanted when Spike's hand had played unconsciously with his erection. If Spike had left his hand there a moment longer, Angel thought he would have cum, just from those few soft rubs. He sighed and looked down. It was always there, taunting him, hurting him so much he feared sometimes he might just lie down and die from the pain of it. Why couldn't it leave him alone? He wished he could cut it off sometimes. He kept his hands braced on the wall. This was the difficult time. After training - even with Gunn, or Wesley - he was in agony from the lack of relief. How easy it would be to put a hand down, to just circle the base with his fist, to just.…

'Hey, thought you could use a beer.…'

'Spike! Get out!' Angel turned his back to the hideous intrusion and tried to hitch the shower curtain further over. Spike, completely unconcerned at this, perched himself on the edge of the tub and waved the beer in Angel's direction.

'Come on… it's cold.'

'Go… I said.…'

'Yeah, yeah, I know, the rules. But I thought we were each having a freebie today.'


'A freebie… one break of the rules each. You had the training… I'm having a chat over your erection.'

Angel groaned and kept his back turned away, but he started to continue slowly with his shower, hoping Spike might just go.



'What do you do here, in LA?'

'You know what I do. I help people. Cordelia has a vision from the Powers, and we help.'

'Uh huh. So, you need to be in good shape to do that then?'

'Yes, I do, why?'

'You need full strength, stamina, concentration….'

'Yes, yes, and, again, yes, and can we have this conversation later? Bit occupied here….'

Spike took absolutely no notice of Angel's discomfort and embarrassment and continued to sip his beer thoughtfully. 'Hmm. Well, I reckon you're short-changing these Power Rangers then.'

'What do you mean?' Angel wondered for a moment if Spike thought he was out of condition. He wondered what he looked like naked from the back. Did he look fat?

'I reckon you must spend so much time thinking about how you need to punish yourself with this.…' Spike reached around Angel's hips and ran one finger lightly up Angel's erection, '…that you ain't thinking 'bout what you ought to be thinking on. You're cutting off your nose to spite yourself; if you get my meaning.'

Angel was by now bent double in the bathtub. The feel of Spike's finger on his cock had caused his balls to burn with a fire that seemed to consume him. He felt himself about to erupt and was trying to use every ounce of his strength to contain that imminent release.

'See, proving my theory right there. What if you had a ninja attack right… now!' Spike suddenly slapped Angel on his wet, naked backside. The crack of the impact resounded around the room. Angel howled - more from shock at the unexpected liberty than from actual pain. Unfortunately, he flung himself upright too quickly, lost his balance on the wet, soapy porcelain, and slipped over the edge of the tub, falling extremely hard and painfully onto the tiled floor. He grunted and sat up slowly.

Spike slid gracefully and cautiously to the other side of the room. 'Woops, sorry, mate. Honestly, didn't mean that to happen, I was just trying to make a point, 'bout that.' Now exposed on the floor, Angel could no longer deny the sad state he was in. He cradled his knees, laying his forehead down to rest on his arms. Spike silently handed him a towel and, when he didn't take it, knelt down beside him and pressed it to the wound where his temple had hit the floor.

'I'm sorry, Angel.'

'Do you know, Spike, some holy men punish themselves for their erections by pulling down their foreskins and inserting thorns and sharps sticks under them and sewing them up again.'

Spike visibly winced and squeezed his legs together slightly. 'Fuck, Angel. You don't admire that, do you? That's sick.'

'I don't know. I deserve it.'

Spike found himself sitting on the floor almost leaning on Angel who still had his face buried against his folded arms. He put down the towel and gently inspected the wound. It had stopped bleeding. Spike surreptitiously slipped a finger into his mouth, just in case there was a faint taste of blood lingering there. He sucked and looked thoughtfully at Angel. Eventually he risked a light hand on Angel's arm. When this was not rejected, he moved it to Angel's hair. Again, Angel did not move. Spike very gently started to pull Angel's head towards him and, without either of them knowing quite who wanted it more, Angel buried his face into Spike's chest, and Spike's arms wrapped protectively around him.

Angel's sobbing rent Spike in two.

This creature had created him. It was like finding that God needs you, more than you need him. The whole foundation of Spike's reason for existence shifted under him. He felt as if the earth had trembled. He felt he needed to howl like a dog that feels that tremble and fears what it portends. He felt as if the earth was being breeched, and he wondered what was being born from this breech birth.

They sat like that for a long time. Angel's crying gradually stilled, but Spike did not release his hold nor stop the gentle rocking motion he was making. He felt Angel's body beginning to shake, more from the shock perhaps than from the cold, but Angel was very, very cold, even for a vampire. Spike tried draping the towel over him, but it was small and not much use. Eventually, therefore, he released his hold and pushed Angel's face away to look at him. He tipped his head on one side and began to speak. He could think of nothing to say so, instead, bent his face down and broke what he assumed might be another rule. He kissed Angel's eyes and licked at the tears on his face then leant his forehead gently against Angel's. 'You need to feed and get warm.'

When Angel did not respond Spike stood up and pulled him to his feet. Spike's room was closest and, although he doubted this fifteen-foot difference would hold up in court if he ever had to defend this decision, he decided to put Angel into his bed. Tucking the new fleece blankets securely around him, and noting with some distress his vacant, bleak expression, Spike ran down to the kitchen to fetch some blood from the supply.

Unfortunately, he had to run a gauntlet of humans when he got there.

'Eeew, wear a shirt, will you?We have a business to run here!'

'Hey man, where's the boss? You been training all this time?'

'Spike, please don't….'

Wesley's words were lost as he ran back upstairs with the blood. It was cold and disgusting so, looking at Angel on the bed, Spike decided to drink it himself and give his Sire something warmer and a little fresher.

He crawled onto the bed alongside Angel ripping open the blood bags and downing the contents quickly. Angel turned to watch him, but he seemed listless and disinterested. Spike threw the empty bags into a corner and offered his wrist to Angel. Angel made a very human face of disgust and turned away. Spike, not put off, slipped into game face and opened up a good sized wound, holding his arm up so the flow of blood dripped onto Angel's bare chest.

Angel groaned as the warm drops hit him. You would have thought they were drops of holy water for the pain Spike could see on his face. He persevered. He moved his arm so the drops started hitting Angel's neck, then his chin, and then his cheek. He made them drip onto his closed mouth, and Angel could resist no longer. He flicked out a tongue and caught a few drops, groaned once more, and almost tore Spike's arm off at the socket in his urgency to take more fluid from the source.

When he was sure Angel was lost to the feeding, Spike slid down comfortably next to him, sliding his other arm under Angel's head. Spike's face lay next to Angel's wet hair, and he rubbed it in lightly. He licked at the damp silky strands, taking a small section of hair into his mouth and sucking it. He bent his leg over Angel's groin and tucked it around, pulling Angel against him. He wanted to envelop Angel. He wanted to be what Angel needed and, as he had no idea what that was, he thought complete emersion might cover all the bases.

Angel continued to feed hungrily.Spike wondered how often Angel fed like this, uninhibited, greedy swallows. Did he ever allow himself vampire blood?

Spike could never have enough of this exquisite feeling of blood loss. The closest he ever came to it these days was drinking. It was like the moment before losing yourself to the drink, the moment when you are just beautiful, clever and funny, and when things are magnified and clearer. That's what he felt now. He wondered if Angel could hear his thoughts.

When Spike felt that Angel had taken enough, he pulled his wrist away and watched as Angel's face resumed its mask of human beauty. He spooned Angel into his embrace and felt him warm and relaxed. Spike lay watching the shafts of sunlight from tiny chinks in the shutters make their way across the room as the day passed them by. He watched it darken, heard the humans leaving and calling to each other. Still Angel slept, and Spike had the impression that he had not slept this deeply or this long for many, many years. Gently, Spike eased away, and sat up looking down at him. He pushed the coverings slowly away and studied Angel from head to toe. There was evidence of old injuries: bruises and cuts that were taking a long time to heal. Spike wondered just how bad they would have had to be to take so long to clear. The injuries Angel had sustained that day were still fresh. Spike's had already healed with no trace. Angel had clearly not been feeding well for a long, long time. But most obvious to Spike on this close inspection, was Angel's erection. Even deeply asleep, it was urgent, dark, old, and raw looking. It made Spike wince and long to reach out and relieve it.

Instead, he lay back down and wrapped himself entirely around Angel's body again. He had some thinking to do and, as he never found this particularly easy, he wanted to be comfortable. He could think of nowhere he had ever been more comfortable. He wished he could lay Angel's arms down and let him rest at last, wished he could slay his demons and make him forget the past. He wished he could stay there, his stalwart, forever standing fast, but knew Angel's memories were standing in the way.

Angel awoke near midnight. He'd slept for about ten hours: ten deep, undisturbed, blood-replete hours of sleep. Spike watched him as his eyelids fluttered, then opened as consciousness returned. With that consciousness came the awareness of what had happened: how he'd been stripped bare in front of Spike; how all his pretense - built up so carefully all these years - had been taken from him. He was naked and raw. He closed his eyes again, as if by doing that it would all go away, and he could return to the person he had been before that hand in his lap had undone him.

'That won't help, pet.' Spike's voice was quiet and low with no hint of confrontation or sarcasm.

'Helps me.'

'Ain't gonna change what happened. Ain't gonna make it go away.' Spike was only referring to Angel's breakdown earlier, but Angel, his sensitivity acute, took his words to be referring to their whole history.

Tears started to form at the corners of his closed eyes. 'You were right, Spike. It was nothing but abuse, all of it.'

'Hey, luv.' Spike punched Angel lightly on the arm, which forced him to open his eyes. 'What did I say to you, in the school?'

Spike's rapid changing of the subject amazed and confused Angel in equal measure.

'Err… sorry?'

'Angel.…' Spike sat cross-legged staring at Angel. As he'd spent hours thinking this through, he wanted Angel to be in no doubt just how clear he was on all of this. 'I thought you were dead for over a hundred years. I saw you for the first time in the Slayer's school, remember? You had Harris under your arm, and you were trying to fool me that you were still Angelus. What did I say to you?'

Angel frowned. He could sense that Spike was very serious about something, but he could not see where this was leading. 'You called me by name and came over… I don't remember anything else especially.'

'Yeah, I called you by name and came over, didn't I? I embraced you, Angel.'

'I remember.'


'I'm sorry, Spike, I really don't see.…'

'Angel… fucking wake up! If I really thought you'd abused me and made my unlife miserable, if you were such a fucking awful Sire, why would I do that?Angel… I was pleased to see you. Fuck it… I was delighted to see you. I called you my Yoda. Not my abuser, my Yoda. You don't lie when you're caught off-guard like that. That was the truth. I can hide behind any lie I want and blame Angelus for everything that's gone wrong in my life, but it's all just that… just lies. You were my Yoda, man. I loved you. I shouldn’t have said all that stuff last night. It wasn’t all like that. I remember just as well as you do. I fucking couldn’t have enough of you, and not just your cock. I wanted it all. I reveled in you. I was proud of you. Angel, I loved you.'


'No! No buts. Not of that kind anyway. This has to stop.You have to stop. I meant what I said last night, mate. You're fucking cracking up here.' Spike whipped the blankets off Angel and reveled his broken, beaten, neglected body. Angel turned over on his stomach for modesty, but he knew Spike was partially right.


'Shut up, Angel. You've done nothing but talk at me since I got here. It's my turn now.My turn to lay down a few rules.…'

'But.…' That earned Angel a smack, so he kept quiet, but Spike saw a faint spark had returned to his eye; he almost had a small grin on his face. He put his head down and turned his eyes up to Spike. Spike wondered if Angel had any idea of the effect of that look. He became irresistible.

He tried to get back on track. 'Rules, Angel. My rules. Firstly, you will feed every day, and I'm gonna watch and make sure you do. Secondly, we're going to train every day.…' As Angel opened his mouth to protest, Spike raised his hand again threatening to smack him once more. Angel gave a grin and pretended to continue, so Spike brought his hand down hard on Angel's naked backside. He had a feeling Angel was enjoying this too much and tried not to laugh. 'Second rule then: training every day. I'm gonna get that lardy butt of yours in shape, and you're going to work off some of that black angst. Hard exercise, Angel, that's what you need. And that leads me on to my third rule.' Angel propped himself up on one elbow, and Spike groaned inwardly. He had to concentrate. 'Rule three, Angel. After every training session, you will go into your room, or the bathroom, or any fucking place you like, and get rid of that.' Spike pointed at Angel's erection that was lying mere inches from his crossed legs.

At this Angel, sat up and pulled the blankets over his naked body. 'Spike, I've told you.…'

'That's it! I'm not hearing that shit again. You are a liability like that. You are not a monk or a holy man. You are a fighter. You are a friggin' hero. You walk through the fire every bleedin' day, and you need to be sharp. Your self-flagellation will get you killed, Angel. Then what the fuck am I supposed to do? I'll be stuck in here like an exhibit in a peepshow. Your bloody humans could charge entry fees… " come see, Spike, the trapped vampire" ….it's not fair, Angel. You have to be able to concentrate when you work, and you can't with that. No one could. So, rule three. You have no option. And if you make a fuss I'll bloody well come and watch, and make sure you do it right.'

Angel didn't look at Spike and kept his voice low and even. 'You seem to have forgotten that I brought you here, Spike. You're the one who has to follow rules.'

'Well, that's where you are wrong, Angel. I'm not the one who fucking broke down last night and sobbed his heart out. That was you… so you know what, Angel? That's exactly what this is now… you're in my custody - my protective custody - and I'm going sort you out, mate.'

Angel looked at Spike, a direct, long look that went right through his eyes into his dead heart. He smiled faintly and nodded. 'Err… Spike? I've always wanted to ask, but it just never seemed the right time.'

Spike knew he'd won this round and could afford to be magnanimous. 'What, pet?'

'What is a yoda?'

Spike's idea of protective custody was a little more rigorous than Angel's. He didn’t spend much time getting things just right for his captive. In fact, he actually went into Angel's room and confiscated anything that he thought was not good for the brood boy. He took away all his philosophy books, anything that wasn't written in English, and anything that looked boring. The empty shelf glared at him, so he retrieved some of his CDs and put them there instead. He figured Angel would want to try them and moved his system in, too. If he wanted to listen to his own music? Well then, he'd just have come in here to do it, wouldn't he?

He decided to strike while the iron was hot and at six o'clock the next morning, Angel awoke in his own bed to find Spike sitting alongside him. Even Angel, with all his delight in self-imposed hardship and angst, didn't much like getting up at that time in the morning. He mumbled an obscenity at Spike and burrowed back under the blanket.

Spike ripped the covering off and said with glee, 'Up, up, up.'

'Bugger off, Spike.'

'Angel. You've got a lot to fit in today, and time's a wasting. Get up, now.'

Angel continued to ignore him and knew he'd won the contest when it went quiet. He snuggled back into the spot it had taken him all night to warm and felt himself falling back… 'UGG! Jesus!Spike!'

Spike had pulled the blanket back off and tipped his ice bucket over Angel. Angel leapt out of the bed, picking ice cubes off his body. He was completely speechless and could only stare as Spike, completely unconcerned, handed him a mug of warmed blood.

'Drink up. There's more after that.'

'You've just ruined my bed; are you a complete moron, Spike?'

'Stop being a drama queen, Angel. I bet you've spilt worse in that bed… now come on, I'm not doing this for my health, you know. Get with the programme.'

Angel drank his blood and, with every sip, wished it were the last few drops of his childe's blood slipping down his throat. When he finished the mug, Spike took it from him and handed him another.

'I've had enough.'

'Angel, if you don't drink this, I'll….'

'Yes, what will you do, Spike?Tell me, what could you possibly do that would force me to comply with any of this plan of yours?'

Spike wandered slowly around the room, picking the occasional thing up and putting it down again. He'd thought it might come to this. During the long night of holding Angel, he had feared that Angel might resist. After all, he had himself. He had tried to stake Angel when he'd arrived here. If Gunn had not interceded, Spike thought he might actually have gone through with it. So, he had a plan: a foolproof plan to get Angel's compliance. He reached the window and stood with his back to Angel, then said in a low voice.

'If you don't do as I want, Angel, I'll open this curtain on myself.'

'What!' Angel tried to keep the panic out of his voice; he knew this was a hollow threat. Spike was all bark and no bite; he knew that.

'You heard me the first time, Angel. Are you going to comply?'

'Not in your dreams… Jesus… Spike… no!'

Angel crossed the room so fast, Spike only had time to catch one arm on fire, but that burnt fiercely with a sickening smell. The impact as Angel's body crashed into him sent them both into a heap in the corner. Angel rolled onto Spike's bare arm, putting out the flames, scorching himself in the process. He pulled Spike to his feet and dragged him out of the room, away from the tempting, dangerous streaks of light.

'You fool, Spike. You could have… it spreads… it's not like ordinary fire, Spike. Oh, God… I nearly lost… damn you, Spike.'

Spike was in considerable pain, but he didn't let it show. 'Will you do as I ask? Please, Angel.' Perhaps he should have just said please to start with, for this, more even than the immolation attempt, seemed to break Angel's resistance to the plan.

'Yes. Alright. For a few days. I'll see. But Spike….' He took Spike's face in his hands and shook him a little. 'I'm your Sire.However meaningless that may be to you, you can never, ever know what it is like to see your childe do something like that. Please….'

Spike nodded and, for a split second, he though Angel was going to kiss him. It would have been the first time. They'd done a lot together over the years. A lot with other people. Some things with animals. One or two things with creatures that were hard to classify as either of those. But they had never shared something as intimate and loving as a kiss. That, they had avoided. Angel closed his eyes and sighed, and the moment was lost. He took Spike into the bathroom and bathed and dressed his arm. They were both silent. Spike felt a bit foolish now, and Angel was still too angry and shocked to resume this continual battle of words. When he was satisfied with his first aid work, he leant on the sink and said resignedly, 'So, what's first on this plan of yours?'

Spike grinned, 'We're on number two already', and with that, he punched Angel in the belly with his good arm and dashed out of sight calling back over his shoulder, 'Too slow, old man.'

Even through the pain, Angel couldn't help but grin. He followed Spike out, but could find no trace of him. He went into his room, pulled on some jeans, and walked slowly around the hotel, looking in rooms, checking spaces, and opening up recesses. Nothing. No Spike. He was genuinely impressed. He could not sense Spike anywhere. He made his way down the stairs and stood thoughtfully in the lobby. It was nearly seven; the others would be arriving soon. He contemplated starting some breakfast for them, was turning in the direction of the kitchen, when he was flattened painfully and embarrassingly under Spike's flying body. Spike had come to the top of the stairs behind him and had launched himself off in a pretty good imitation of a flying squirrel. Angel's jaw connected with the floor, and he felt it crack. They skidded together across the marble and ended up in a heap against the counter. Spike scrambled to his feet, kicked Angel in the backside, and ran back up the stairs shouting, 'Too easy.'

That was it. Angel let Angelus out to play; he slipped into character and effortless caught Spike before he reached the top. He rugby-tackled him down and pounded his head on the stairs for a while. Spike only laughed, waited for him to tire of the lesson, and kicked him backwards as he scrambled up and off down the corridor. Angel followed a great deal faster than Spike anticipated. He only just made it to the training room before Angel, once more, propelled him to the floor, but Spike had a little surprise ready for Angel. He rolled to one side, making Angel skid into a small pool on the floor. Angel screamed and flipped to standing, his belly smoking and raw.

'What the fuck?'

'Hey, language, pet, there are children present.'

'Holy water? You put holy water on the floor of my training… ow!' Angel had stepped in another small splash of the offending liquid.

Spike sniggered to himself. 'You are one sorry dark avenger, Angel. I've punched you, evaded you, broken your jaw, and burnt you, and what have I got? Oh, look… a splinter… ow!'

They looked at each other. Angel started to laugh, tried to sit down, but sat in some more water, so collapsed against the wall, tears streaming down his face. Spike came over to sit next to him, their laughter ringing out in the empty hotel.

After a while, Angel turned to Spike and said, 'Do you laugh much with her?'

Spike turned away a little. 'No. Not much laughing there. Can't say her sense of humour is part of her attraction.' He turned back to look at Angel. 'What about you? You ever laugh these days?'

'I tried it once last week, but they all screamed and grabbed for crosses.'

Spike smiled. 'That's exactly it, isn't? That's your problem. Hit the nail right on the head there.'

Angel frowned at him, clearly not following his train of thought.

'Look, pet. You've started to think that everything to do with Angelus equals evil. They've made you think like that. So, torture: evil. Feeding: evil. Hunting: evil. Fun: evil. Sex: evil. Laughing: evil. You're like some hideous fucking puritan who thinks the road to redemption is lined with hair shirt. You've got to lighten up a bit. Do you know, Angel, when I came across you and the hood training yesterday, I actually thought, for one second, that I was hearing you self-flagellating. Now how sick is that?'

'Yeah, I save that 'til I'm really broody.'

It was fortunate that Angel was smiling as he said this, or he would have earned himself another smack.

'Some things about being a vampire are good, Angel. You should revel in the power.'

'So, where should I start then?To have some fun. I never seem to know.…'

'One way comes to mind.' Spike only twitched his eyebrow a fraction of the amount he was able to twitch it, but he could see Angel was practically creaming on the spot.

'No! That's not going to happen, Spike. Something I can keep my clothes on and do.…' Spike twitched it some more. 'Stop that! Something I can keep them zipped up as well.…' More twitching. 'Stop! Mouth closed, hands behind my back, clothes on, zipped up fun….' Angel was laughing again by the time he finished this recitation.

'See, you're already half there, luv.'

'So, what's next?'

Spike ran one finger down Angel's cheek. Angel went to pull away but seemed to have a change of heart and actually leant into the caress for a moment. 'Rule three.'

Angel's eyes flew open wide.Spike grinned. 'Come on, back to your room. And I'll be in to check you've done it properly, if I think you’ve cheated.'

He tried to pull Angel to his feet, but the extremely reluctant vampire had suddenly put on about a hundred pounds. 'Angel… remember, there are a lot of windows in this hotel. I'm warning you….'

Angel allowed himself to be maneuvered back to his bedroom. He sat on the bed and looked despondently at Spike. 'Even if I wanted to, I can't knowing you'll be listening now.'

Spike put his hands up innocently. 'Hey, I'm going downstairs to cook breakfast. I won't even think about you. Promise.'

'Cook? What? With my pans?'

'Relax, I'm a good cook.' Spike had never cooked anything in his entire life and had no intension of going anywhere near raw human food, but he knew the poof was now worrying about that and not about being overheard. With a last, 'I'll know if you've cheated', over his shoulder, he left with a show of closing the door securely.

He went around the corner, waited until Angel had done the so-obvious check to make sure he wasn't there listening, waited for him to check a second time, then when he heard the door finally closed, went and put his ear to the thin wood.

He pictured Angel lying on his back on the bed. He pictured him prevaricating, brooding, and arguing with himself. He waited until he heard a low groan followed by a deep intake of hissed breath and crept quietly away.

He was enjoying this protective custody shit.. .and he had a feeling that Angel was now as well.

Angel kept a silly grin on his face all the way through breakfast. Every time anyone spoke to him he seemed to go almost 'goofy'. Spike found this utterly hilarious, so the humans were treated to the two vampires sharing some private joke that made them only more stupid any time one of them tried to find out what was so funny.

It all got too much for Spike when Wesley offered Angel a sausage. He choked on the blood he was trying to drink, splattering it over most of the food. Cordelia screeched and furiously asked him if he had a problem. He had slid from his chair to the floor, shaking his head in a desperate attempt to speak. Angel just grabbed his arm and dragged him out of the door.

By the time he'd gotten the hysterical blob to the foot of the stairs, Spike had calmed down enough to crawl slowly up the first few himself. He knew if he didn't picture Wesley's face, he'd be able to get a grip and stand up. He made a few attempts and decided that sitting out the day on the stairs was as good as anywhere. Angel hesitated between returning to the humans and staying with Spike. He sat down, and they stayed companionably side-by-side.

Eventually Spike said, 'Better?'

Angel didn't even trust himself to speak, he just nodded, feeling the foolish grin returning to his face.

As Gunn passed by to go to the office, Angel called to him, and asked him to wash down the training room, explaining that, as it was holy water that had been spilt, he couldn’t do it himself. Gunn hesitated, but Angel said quietly, 'Spike and I want to train together this morning. Please.'

Spike felt his dead heart swell, and he couldn’t make out whether this was for the casual way Angel included him, or the way Angel had acquiesced to his rules. Whatever, it made Spike feel important and needed.He realised, with a shock, that he had not felt that since he'd cared for Dru, and her need of him had been so chaotic and desperate it had worn him out, not built him up. This was different.This was something he had not experienced before.Someone actually wanted him. He had wanted to be wanted now for so long, he had almost given up hope of it ever coming to pass.

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