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Returning Feelings

Chapter 2

Wesley seemed excited by something he had found in one of his books. He showed Angel the page then bobbed his head deferentially when he realized that Angel could not read the arcane language.

'The demon's looking for a champion, Angel. It's why it found you two, I should think. But this may be its very weakness, too-- champion. One. This reference implies that it won't be able to see you both at the same time… or perhaps more like see the danger that the other could represent. It won't be able to separate you into two. It's a huge tactical advantage, and one we can use to destroy it.'

Angel sat down in one of the armchairs. 'You mean one of us distracts it; the other one kills it?'

Wesley nodded.

Angel set his jaw. 'How do I kill it?'

'Why you?' Spike's tone cut the atmosphere like a knife.

Angel's jaw tightened, but he didn't look in Spike's direction. He replied, as if to the human, 'Spike will be seen more clearly, right?'

Wesley glanced nervously at Spike, leaning so deceptively in the doorway to the bedroom, and nodded. 'I would think so. The demon may be able to tap into the residual energy of the amulet.'

Spike's gaze never wavered from Angel's face. 'You think I'm the champion it's looking for?'

Angel stood up, not returning the frank scrutiny. 'No. I just know I'm not. Now. Killing that thing… I'm thinking we won't be allowed to stay here much longer.'

Wesley glanced at the window. 'We might. It's day. I assume we'll be safe here until nightfall. I'll find a way, Angel.'

Angel nodded and rubbed a hand wearily over his hair. He went toward the bedroom, paused, waiting for Spike to move out of the way, then lay on the bed and folded himself into his own thoughts, still and silent.

Spike watched the human for a while, biting one nail, scraping the chipped polish off with his teeth, until he realised what he was doing and cursed, inspecting the one clean nail with distaste. 'Don't suppose you've got…?' He trailed off, answering his own question in his head. With a sigh, he rolled lazily around the doorframe and regarded Angel, stretched out on the bed.

He knew Angel knew he was being watched and smiled a little at his sire's self-control, even more at the thought that Angel would now be desperately wanting to open his eyes and frown at him.

Amused by this thought, he smirked and strode around the bed to the other side. He made a show of sniffing the sheets, still aware that Angel could sense every move he made, and then he stretched out on the other side and mirrored his sire in the flawless impression of the dead.

He counted slowly, placing bets on how long Angel would be able to resist, and promising himself increasingly elaborate rewards if he were proved right.

At just under one thousand, Angel said menacingly, 'Stop it.'

Spike grinned to himself and folded his arms comfortably across his chest.

Suddenly, Spike felt himself under scrutiny, and he turned to find Angel's brown eyes fixed on him. 'Tell me what you know about these games.'

Spike folded his arms under his head and stared up at the ceiling. 'Not much. He only gave it to me today. Yesterday? How long have we been doing this?'

Angel ignored the question. 'You've never played one before?'



Spike turned his head to find Angel now frowning darkly at the ceiling. 'There are levels. I was on Level Six. The first ones were easy; if I bogged up, I got to go back to the beginning of a level.'

Angel's face became less threatening, and he said in a more conversational tone, 'Just like us.'

Spike relaxed at the tone, and it was only then that he realised how tense he'd been before.

'What else?'

'Well, there's things you can collect along the way-- to help you. You don't see 'em at first, but after a few knock-backs….'

'Like Wesley.'


'What's the aim of it all?'

When Spike didn't reply immediately, Angel turned his head and then, after another moment, nudged him with his foot. 'What?'

Spike roused with a small shudder. 'I was going say the aim was to win, ya know? Getting to the last level and being the champion, but….'

Angel rolled onto his side and propped his head on his hand. 'What?'

'Maybe it's not. I mean… if you did that, you'd never play again, but that's not how it works. People buy new games and do it all again. So, I was just thinkin': maybe it's not the winning, it's just the playing they like.'

'Are you saying that we should be enjoying this?'

'No. Not us. The bastards who put us in here. Maybe there is no win or lose…..'

'Just the taking part?'

'Yeah. Scary, huh?'

Angel returned to lying on his back. 'Not really. That's just like real life then.'

Spike frowned, pursed his lips, but did not say what he wanted to. Instead, he sat up and shrugged off his coat, pulling out his pack of cigarettes and letting the garment drop to the floor. He passed Angel his lighter, bent to have a light, and then folded an arm under his head, smoking quietly as Angel lay silent alongside him. Streaks of sunlight crept up the walls, and it grew warm in the room. When the light betrayed that it was midday, Spike said softly, 'I'm hungry.'

Angel opened his eyes. 'This isn't real. The hunger is just an illusion.'

'Uh huh. That so? So… you're not seeing blood dripping down the walls instead of that yellow light? You're not tasting the bright, metallic well of blood on your….'

'I won't become their pawn.'

'Knights have to eat too, Luv.'

'You're the frigging champion, Spike. Not me.'

'You're really hung up on that, aren't you?'

Angel sat up and swung his legs off the bed. 'What if we didn't leave this place-- if we refuse to play their games? If I refuse.'

Spike sat up, too, cross-legged, watching Angel's back hunched under the leather coat. 'I don't know. I guess we would just stay here. Might put hunger in a whole new light though. And kinda boring, ya know? I'd rather go down fighting-- always known I would.'

'You don't go down, Spike; that's your trouble.'

There was a significant pause, and then Angel chuckled and ran his fingers through his hair. 'You need to take that in context, yeah?'

Spike laughed, surprised at Angel's sudden lightening of mood. He crawled forward until he was sitting next to him and turned his head to look at the despondent profile. Very hesitantly, he put his hand briefly on Angel's shoulder. 'Did it occur to you, Angel, that all this might be for the good?' He snatched his hand off when Angel's dark eyes swiveled to him thoughtfully.


'Well, yeah.' He gave Angel a small, encouraging smile. 'Get you back on track, Hero.'

Angel pursed his lips. 'You think I'll fight through these levels and find… myself?'

'Could be. Why not?'

'Why are you here then?'


'If I'm working through some kind of inner angst, why are you here? And I think I just answered my own question. You're always there at the worst moments of my life, Spike. Why is that?'

'I wasn't there when you accepted that damn job.'

Angel blinked. 'Would you have tried to stop me?'

There was something in this question that Spike couldn't immediately place. The words were challenging, but the tone it was said in gave him pause, so instead of rising to an implied challenge, he diffused the moment by giving Angel a small, mock punch in the arm. 'Like I could stop you doing anything you wanted to.'

'You stopped me drinking from the Cup of Perpetual Torment.'

Spike shook his head censoriously. 'Jeez, Angel. We've already had this conversation… this is me, yeah? You can swagger round with as many bruises as you think will give that story some cred, but this is me. You didn't want it enough to beat me. I didn't win it; you lost it.'

At the mention of the bruises, on cue, they both looked down to where Angel was trailing a finger over the inside of his arm, the leather sleeve pushed up, revealing the pale skin.

Spike hesitated a long time, waiting for an invitation that he knew would never come. Sighing at something that he feared his small, first move implied about their relative positions in this strange relationship, he lifted his hand to put his fingers on the reddened swelling. He snatched his hand back in confusion when, at the same time, Angel laid his arm lightly on his thighs and looked up at him through veiled, but clearly inviting eyes.

Spike tore his gaze away and watched, entranced, as his fingers lowered to the soft skin. Just as before, sparks of feeling flickered and then strengthened in his fingers, as if the severed nerves were responding to some energy given off by Angel's skin.

Angel groaned faintly, his head tipped back and his eyes closed.

Spike held his hand around the strangely heated skin, his palm itching with returning life. He swapped hands and laid his other palm to the warmth. Pointedly, Angel put his free hand on Spike's and guided his fingers, until they stroked up and down the forearm once more. When he was satisfied with the touch, he leant back on his free hand, the only sign he was getting any pleasure from the touch was the slight nudging of his arm closer to Spike's fingers at any indication that the stroking was ceasing.

Spike shifted so he sat comfortably sideward, one leg bent up, and concentrated on his fingers, each one given their turn on this strange stimulation. When he felt the numbness leave one, he began to stroke with another. A one point, he splayed all his fingers onto Angel's arm as if about to strike a chord, but Angel made a small noise in his throat, and with a smile, Spike continued to stroke him.

Hungry, senses acute, Spike could not fail to notice the effect he was having on Angel.

It was something that had hovered around their stormy relationship since its bloody inception, but something neither had given words to. There was an air of unreality about where they were and what they were doing, however, that prevented him from stopping-- something he most assuredly would have done had he ever sensed such a reaction from Angel before. Rather, he closed his eyes and sniffed the air gently, rocking slightly into the mattress as his fingers stroked and pressed and kneaded the ripe flesh of Angel's arm.

Suddenly, with a curse, Angel leant sharply forward and snatched his arm away, hunching over, his face screwed up with effort as if something pained him.

Spike's hands fell leaden to his side, numbness returning. He hung his head, unsure what to do, unsure what they had just done. Before he could attempt to rationalise it with Angel, the larger vampire rose and went stiffly toward the bathroom, shutting the door with an unnecessary force. The scent he left in the room was so potent Spike hovered his hands in the air for a moment as if it could bring back the feelings the more corporeal presence had just given him.

Spike was sitting with Wesley when Angel reappeared. They were drinking tea and discussing something in one of the books.

Angel went to the kitchen and leant on the counter, his back to the room. 'It'll be dark in two hours. I want to know how to kill that thing.'

'It was telling you how.'

Angel turned, and Wesley added, 'I've translated the chant. It's a ritual to suck the soul of the champion. As soon as it starts, a conduit is opened, and the creature becomes vulnerable. You need to stab down into that conduit and seal it shut.' At Angel's still mystified expression, he said slightly exasperated, 'Shove something long and pointy down its throat, Angel.'

With a small choked off sound, Spike abruptly left the room. Wesley frowned. 'Something I said?'

Angel only said under his breath, 'I need to get out of here.'

Wesley nodded. 'Two hours and you will.'

Picking a book at random, Angel sat in an armchair and refused to be disturbed again, neither by Spike's return nor his fidgeting and restlessness. He refused to look up when Spike asked Wesley if he had real blood. He turned a page pointedly when the vampire tried in vain to get the human to volunteer for a tasting session. When a heated argument blew up on the merits of working for Wolfram and Hart, he shaded his eyes with his hand and continued reading. Only when Spike finally flung himself into a chair opposite and kicked him in the ankle did he look up. Even then, he looked at somewhere on Spike's chest when he said evenly, 'What now?'

'It's dark.'

Springing up, Angel crashed out of the apartment, leaving the other two to trail in his wake. He eyed the street then suddenly turned to Spike. 'Your job is to distract it long enough for me to kill it. No heroics, Spike. I'm not doing this fucking level again.'

Unable to resist this time, Spike bit back, 'Not liking the recreational elements, Angel? Not the impression I got.'

'You're numb, remember? You don't get shit.'

'Yeah…?' If Spike had been leading up to a more mature retort, he lost his chance, for they broke off the simmering argument when they heard the familiar pounding footsteps.

Wesley backed into a doorway and murmured, 'The chant, Angel. It's your opportunity.'

With a grim look, Angel broke off a five-foot piece of iron railing, testing the spike at the top with relish. He nodded at Spike.

Still rankling from the argument he felt he'd uncharacteristically lost, Spike hunched his shoulders and went to stand in the middle of the street. He planted his feet wide, held his hands in fists at his side and shouted, 'Come and get it, Bastard! At least one fucker will get what he wants tonight….' He cast a small, spiteful look at Angel, which was totally ignored, and then tensed when the demon rounded the corner and began to march toward him.

The chanting began.

Angel stepped out from the shadows, testing his invisibility. The demon totally ignored him. Swinging the improvised weapon, Angel advanced, still wary. Suddenly, Spike gasped and fell to his knees. Angel shouted, saw Spike topple over, and then he saw nothing but the maw of the demon's throat, red in a wash before his eyes, and then black as his face slammed into the street.

By the silence and stillness, he reckoned the penetrating iron had done its job.

He ran to Spike and turned him over. Spike was breathing deeply, something that unnerved Angel for no reason he could particularly think of. He turned to check on Wesley and frowned. 'Where did he go?'

Spike sat up.

Angel looked back to him. 'Okay?'

Spike nodded. 'Bloody soul-sucking freak.'

'Wesley's gone.'

'P'raps he's not supposed to be in this level.' By the other's expression, Spike realised that Angel had not remembered they had merely stepped up to another level. He pulled his arm out of Angel's hold and stood up, eyeing the dead demon.

Angel rose as well. 'What now?'

'Now?' Spike looked around the empty streets. 'Now we win Level Four, too.'

They walked aimlessly along for a while, until with a curse, Angel said in a low voice, 'We need to feed.'

'I thought hunger was an illusion.'

'That was yours. Mine's real.'

'Now, that's… odd….'

Angel turned at Spike's soft comment and followed his gaze to a small figure walking down the street. He frowned and looked around. The child appeared to be about eight years old and dressed in nightclothes: bare feet and a nightdress covered in small sewn-on angels.

Spike began to follow the child. Sensing that, ultimately, he would not be given much choice, Angel trailed after him.

They turned the corner and discovered that the child had been joined by another-- also in nightclothes, also barefoot.

Angel cursed and said under his breath, 'Are we supposed to be understanding this?'

He got no response, but was distracted from Spike's lack of reply by a figure that appeared at the end of the street. He stopped and regarded the creature with a shudder of revulsion. Something in the pale, shadowy face reminded him of a childhood nightmare, more real and more affecting than some of the very real nightmares he had encountered in hell. Bells jingled on the creature's pointed shoes as it hopped gleefully down the street. Long, sharp fangs, rat-like, poked out of its mouth, the lips drawn back as if in death over their yellowy rottenness. As the creature wavered down the street, it produced a small instrument and began a tune, breaking off to sing in a voice that reminded Angel of biting on metal: "Girls and boys come out to play; the moon doth shine as bright as day."

By the time it had rounded the next corner, Angel counted at least twenty children in the street, following, zombie-like, after the dancing demon.

He turned and caught Spike's arm. 'I'm thinking…. Uhh.' He doubled over at the blow Spike gave to his belly, putting his hand down briefly to the ground. When the pain subsided, he jogged angrily after Spike and spun him around.

Spike hit him again, but before Angel could punch back, he noticed that the children had turned and were watching this development, their small, dead-like expressions strangely more intent for the very lack of emotion they showed. Angel didn't hit Spike; he studied him. He swallowed deeply, not realizing before just how much animation Spike's face always contained until it was absent.

He stepped back and let Spike join his playfellows in the street.

Angel stalked the demon, half an eye on Spike and half on the dancing figure. He didn't know if it was aware of his presence until the creature stopped and hissed, 'You can't come; there's no good will-- not at all.'

Angel walked around the still figure to face it. 'I don't want to come.'

'Oh, I think you do.' It looked up through puss-crusted eyelids and smiled, foul breath wafting over to Angel despite the distance that separated them. It suddenly nodded back at Spike. 'He wants you to come.'

'I've made a habit of never giving Spike what he wants. What do you want?'

The demon did a small jig and chuckled. 'A penny loaf.'

'Yeah?' Angel spun-kicked the demon, but it sidestepped, jigging in delight at his anger. Then, with a smile, it stepped to one side and waved imperiously at the now large crowd of children watching them. 'What will you do when the loaf is gone?' They bayed their fury and approached Angel.

Angel ignored them; he had eyes only for Spike-- one of the crowd, incongruous with his height and dress. Angel barked at the demon, 'Let him go.'

There was a giggle and a whispered, 'You need to make him come.'

Angel grimaced and began to fight off the children, distracted by their apparent vulnerability, despite the damage they began to do with teeth and small, insistent fists.

He hissed when a child began to bite savagely at his hand, shaking the small figure off like a terrier.

A small breath of desire came from the shadows. 'Now we'll eat.'

One by one, the children closed in on Angel, pulling him down by sheer force of numbers, until under their tiny bare feet, he was unable to rise. Teeth were everywhere on his body; chubby fists pummeled into his flesh; ten, twenty, a hundred children, piling on him; feet in his mouth and his eyes; powdered skin against his nose; blood running back into his throat, his blood; and then hands, dozens of them, pulling at him; head, legs, pulling and pulling, until he felt the bones of his neck surrender to the pressure.

This time when he rose from the demon's body, he grabbed Spike and pulled him into the nearest building.

'What the fuck got into you?'

Spike tore his arm free of the hold and shouted back, 'The fucker was sucking my soul out!'

'Why did you start to follow it?'

'You told me to fucking distract it!'

Spike's eyes were wide with outrage, and Angel suddenly said woodenly, 'You don't remember the dancing demon.' He turned away, surprised by the sense of desolation he suddenly felt that, for the first time, Spike's perceptions of this strange world were not in tune with his. He turned back to try to explain the events of Level Four to find him turned to the door, listening to something.

With a curse, Angel pulled him around to encounter a blank expression. Cursing, he hit him. Spike hit back, and before he could stop him, the blond vampire ran out into the street, clearly trying to source the sound of the music only he seemed able to hear.

Angel flipped to standing and ran out after him. He could see one child in the distance, and took his opportunity, grabbing Spike's arm and hitting him, harder than before.

Spike spun and kicked him, and for the first time, some of the blank intensity left his face. Angel caught him around the neck, pulling him in close, hissing in his ear. 'Spike, switch on! You're being suckered by a pissant demon, and I just know how you hate that.' He tightened his hold, causing Spike to kick back at his shins. 'There's the freakin' demon that just tried to suck out your courage, Spike! Did he do it? He looks fucking dead to me-- nice big spike in his throat.' He seemed to find this a distracting thought and released his hold. Spike began to attack once more, forcing Angel into fighting stance. 'Come on, Spike! You know you want me.' He beckoned his finger at Spike, encouraging him closer. 'You've always wanted me; come get me.'

There was a hiss of pleasure from the shadows. 'Come with good will or not at all.'

Angel suddenly, seemed to lose his focus. He stumbled backward, letting Spike drive him toward the dead body of their previous conquest. The delighted hissing got louder, tinkling bells now accompanying the crooning voice. He glanced nervously behind and saw the massed ranks of children coming toward them. As if in defeat, he fell on one hand and seemed pausing for breath.

The demon came out of the shadows, a grin of victory splitting its lips over the jagged, rotting teeth. 'Come with a hoop, come with a call.'

Angel rose. 'Sorry, not got any of those. Will this do?' He flipped the iron spike up with his foot, caught it, and launched it like a javelin. It sang, splitting the air, then cut off with a sickening thwump as it embedded in the demon's skull. A leaking, wriggling fluid spilled out of the split mass. Angel averted his eyes, fixing them on Spike instead.

Spike was staring back at him, blood running out of a small cut on his lip.

Angel came forward and put a hand on his arm. 'You okay?'

He was getting a little tired of the staggering and the rapid changes of pace. He was particularly angered at being plunged into darkness this time. Suddenly, he felt something pressed into his hand by cool, familiar fingers. He hesitated, then transferred the lighter to his other hand and clicked it on, keeping hold of Spike's fingers tightly in his other.

As he ran the light from the weak flame over their new location, he murmured, 'So? Okay?'

Spike nodded, his face dark and angry, as it flickered with shadows cast from the tiny light.

The lighter became hot, and Angel clicked it off. He felt Spike pull away, and then a disembodied voice from the darkness said, 'Ding, dong, pussy's down a well.'

'It's some kind of holding pit, I'd say.'

He heard rustling of clothing, as if Spike were sitting down, and the voice replied, 'Holding for what?'

Angel squatted down as well.


Thinking Spike wanted to examine their prison once more, Angel clicked the lighter again, only to find Spike leaning toward him, cigarette in mouth.

As Angel lit the slim column for him, Spike tipped his face up. 'Think you could climb up?'

Not able to see the top, Angel hesitated, then dropped the lighter to Spike and deftly scaled the walls. 'There's a grid over the top.'

'Surprise, surprise. Preternatural strength demonstration then?'

Angel grasped the solid metal of the bars and began to push his shoulder against them as best he could from his precarious position.

Suddenly, there was a shout, and a light wavered toward them. Spike, standing and craning his neck up, saw Angel suddenly silhouetted against the weak light of a flashlight. Angel shouted angrily, snatched his hand back, and then fell, losing his grip on the rough wall. He landed heavily, swearing, then immediately climbed back up, shouting at the retreating light. 'Hey! You there! Who are you?'

There were voices and murmurings from elsewhere, but a shout seemed to silence them. Angel looked down at the darkness, whispered a warning, and then dropped off the wall and landed gracefully. 'Bastard stamped on my damn fingers.'

Angel heard Spike drop to the floor once more, felt for him with his foot, found a leg, and sat next to him, leaning back on the stone cold walls.

'There's others in here with us.'

Angel nodded, even though Spike would not see this in the dark.

They did not speak again for some time. Angel just watched the faint glow from Spike's cigarette rise and fall, rise and fall, from lap to lips, lap to lips, until when Spike did finally speak, Angel jumped as if hypnotized by the red beacon.

'He called me the pure one.'


Angel sensed that Spike had turned his head to look at him. 'The singing demon. He said I had a good heart and that I should follow him.'

'None of this is real, Spike.'

There was a distinct pause. 'Some of it has been.'

Angel pursed his lips, refusing to go down that line of thought, but had a momentary jab of memory: flesh on flesh and desperate arousal.

He stood up and began to pace around the small prison.

After some considerable time, long after the faint glow from the cigarette was extinguished, he heard a sigh, and then Spike said wearily, 'Angel…?'

Angel grunted, appearing to test the walls for their solidity.

'This is Level Five, yeah?'

Angel seemed relieved by the simplicity of this question and flung himself back next to Spike. 'What of it?'

'Well, I was just thinking… in the real game… that's the level you lost your… invincibility.'


He heard Spike shift slightly, and the voice seemed closer when it replied. 'When we cock up - so to speak… or not - we just return to the beginning of a level, yeah?'

'So what?'

'Level Five got serious. One go at getting it right or….'

'Or what? Or what, Spike?'

'Well, you kinda got up, had a beer and watched some telly for a while instead, but I'm thinking that's not gonna happen here.'

'Are you saying that if we get this wrong, it will be… the end?'

There was a silence, and Angel had his answer in Spike's unwillingness to say the words out loud. Suddenly, he said, 'No more taking stupid risks, Spike.'

'Me! I've just been tagging along with your bright ideas so far, Mate.'

'I'm just saying that we need to take this one easy-- use our heads.'

Spike didn't reply, and after a few moments, Angel asked, 'How are the hands?' He'd been thinking of what might lie ahead, making lists of their tactical advantages and disadvantages, and had not thought of the subtleties that might be heard beneath his straightforward question. He wished he could take it back, have it not asked, and for the first time, welcomed the darkness that concealed the flush of embarrassment that spread over his cheeks.

Spike took a while to reply, and when he did, his answer seemed neutral enough. 'Good. How's the arm?'


They sat in silence for the rest of the night. Angel reflected bitterly that it might have been better to openly name the small, charged incident in the bedroom, for it could not have hung between them any more forcibly than in this heavy silence.

They both jumped when bright florescent lighting came on overhead. Their sensitive eyes hurting, they squinted up to watch the metal grid rolling back. Angel squared his shoulders and leapt for the wall. He paused on the edge then stood up and watched, bemused, as the same small scene was repeated from half a dozen pits in the floor. He bent as if to help Spike over the lip but whispered urgently, 'Remember: heads-- be quiet; be clever.'

Spike nodded, but then shouted in an outraged tone, 'Hey!' He strode over to a man who was beating a small figure with a baton. He caught hold of the man's arm. 'Pick on someone your own bloody size!'

The guard did. He thumped the baton into Spike's belly, and when he went down, clicked a collar around his neck. He did the same to the smaller figure lying on the floor then straightened.

When Spike lifted his head, he saw Angel, four men holding him down, a collar now fastened around his neck as well.

As soon as all the occupants of the pits were collared, the guards moved off through a large doorway. Angel went over to Spike and took his arm, propelling him back to the wall. 'That's using your fucking head, is it?'

Spike removed his arm from Angel's hold but otherwise didn't rise to the provocation. He began to examine Angel's collar, unable to see his own.

Angel let him finger around it and said bitterly, 'I'm guessing this is for inflicting pain. I've been somewhere like this before-- it's some kind of fight club. We'll have to fight our way out of here, demon by demon.'

Spike frowned and glanced over Angel's shoulder. 'No. It's something else.'

Angel turned and watched the other demons with Spike. They were all male, which didn't surprise him, but their slender forms did. They were all…. He frowned deeply, unwilling to admit it to himself. Spike, seeing the frown, filled in for him. 'Pretty boys, huh?'

Instinctively, Angel put his back more squarely to the wall, but he snagged Spike's sleeve and hissed, 'Whatever you have to do to survive, Spike-- you do it. Do you hear me?'

Spike snarled back his lip and suddenly poked him hard in the chest. 'You've made too many damn compromises, Angel! You never used to compromise anything. What's happened to you?'

Pulling Spike very close, glaring into the dilated blue eyes, he spat back, 'I grew up, and I made impossible choices-- to protect the ones I love. Now, I say again: do whatever you have to do, Spike. This is not real. Nothing they make you do here will be real.'

For the first time, Spike lost some of his anger. He flicked his eyes back to the other occupants of the room. 'What do you think this is then?'

Angel grimaced. 'I think we're about to find out.'  

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