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Time is the Fire in Which we Burn

Episode 7- Chapter 6

If Angel had ever been glad that he meditated, he was glad of it for the rest of that day. He went back to the hotel, his back rigid, his face devoid of emotion, and went down to the basement.

Sitting in the dark, he focused intently on something very small and very restful inside himself and shut other thoughts outside, where they could not hurt him. He sat all day in the dark, until his muscles cramped and cried out for pity, but he gave them none.

He'd done enough pity for one day.

He became so calm, so away from himself, that when the alarm went, he sat up with a cry of distress. Spike turned and looked at him, and they came softly into each other's arms. At the same time, they said hesitantly, 'I'm sorry.'

Angel eased Spike away a little to look at his face then hugged him back. 'It's over. We're here.'

Spike pulled away. 'You know what he did wrong now. This time….'

'NO!' Angel didn't care that his shout had probably been heard downstairs. 'No. No way. Not again. Fucking hell, Spike! I had to stake you! Do you have any idea of what that did to me? What that was like? Could you have done that to me?'

Spike clenched his teeth. 'Please.'


'Then I'll go alone and try to talk him through it.'

'Oh, God. Don't make me do this, Spike.'

Spike lowered his head to his knees, and Angel put a hand reassuringly on the shaking shoulders. 'Shhh. Don't, please.'

Spike raised tear-streaked cheekbones. 'I can't live like this anymore. That fucking bitch was able to shove me into a torture chamber, Luv! A woman! A human woman stronger than me! I'm utterly defenceless, and I can't live like it anymore.'

Angel's expression suddenly changed as he remembered his own fear for his lover's safety. Slowly, he nodded. 'All right.'

Spike's shoulders slumped with relief. 'Let's go.'

With heavy hearts, they got dressed, avoided the lobby, and left the hotel by the back stairs.

They burst in through the door, and this time Angel went straight up to the doctor and put the gun to his chest. 'You're taking a metal device out of his head. Speak when you are spoken to. Get on with it.'

'How DARE you! Get….' Angel sent a round into the chamber.

The man swallowed and walked toward the prone figure on the table. He pulled the anaesthetic machine over, but Angel stopped him. 'No use. Just get on with it.'

The man's eyes widened. 'Is this a joke? You want me to cut into a man's skull without…?'

The gun barrel was shifted to the pale cheek. The doctor swallowed and nodded, but when he picked up an instrument, he hesitated. 'He's shaking too much.'

Angel moaned and tried not to look down. 'Just fucking get on with it. When you see something metal, stop.'

When the chip was visible, Angel laid a hand on the doctor's arm. 'Don't pull on it at all, just ease around and see what's underneath.'

Still swallowing as if he'd been drinking heavily, the man began to probe gently around the small metal device. He made a soft, interested sound, and Angel bent to look. Underneath the chip, small metal filaments reached down like tiny tentacles into Spike's brain, anchoring themselves to the soft organ. Angel hissed and the man glanced at him. 'What should I do?'

Angel felt like shouting. He wanted to hit something in his impotence. Instead, he said through gritted teeth, 'Cut them away - CAREFULLY.'

One by one, the tiny graspers were cut away from the soft tissue, minute slices of brain being sliced off to leave them hanging uselessly away from the main organ. It took over an hour of painstaking work for the chip to be released, then at Angel's grim nod, the doctor lifted it out and dropped it, shaking, to a small tray. Angel grinned and went round to see Spike, saying gleefully, 'Sew him up.'

He bent to Spike's face. 'Hey, Baby, it's out.'

Spike did not appear to hear. He stayed staring up at the ceiling.

Angel grabbed the doctor and dragged him around. The man bent to Spike, lifted his eyelids, tapped and tested and then stepped back, paling. 'I'm so sorry.'


'I don't understand what has happened here or what you people are… that he could lie like that with me cutting… but his brain… sliced away… frontal lobes… I'm not a brain surgeon… I'm so sorry. It's irreversible.'

'What? Freaking talk to me!'

'He's irreversibly brain-damaged. He may be able to hear us quite well. He may be able to understand us just as he ever did, but I doubt very much that you will ever find that out. He may not move from that position again.'

Angel bit his lip and laid his forehead gently to Spike's. 'Come on, let's get you home.'

The doctor looked panicked. 'You can't just take him home! God, what have we done here? He'll need round the clock care….'

Angel gave him a look as he carried the deathly figure draped over his arms. 'He'll get it.'

He didn't go to the hotel; too many questions would await him there. He carried Spike to his apartment and laid him gently on the bed. He sat over him for some time, staring into the blue eyes, trying to see if, as the doctor had said, some faint trace of his lover lay inside the immobile body. He could see nothing in the blue depths, so made his childe as comfortable as he could and then stretched out on the bed alongside him.

He wondered briefly why he didn't stake him again - the second time would be easier, but instead, he lay thinking about the still figure next to him. It came as a shock, but a very welcome one, to discover that Spike's body was not the main reason he loved him. It wasn't even very high up on the list. He missed Spike more than he cared to dwell on, yet he had the body next to him. It was what lay inside that he wanted, so he stretched out on the bed, closed his eyes and waited until that came back to him.

The alarm went, and Angel turned immediately and kissed Spike with a passion, yet gentleness that they both knew he had never done before. Spike pulled away. 'I couldn't move.'

Angel's eyes widened. 'You knew?'

Spike nodded sadly. 'It was a long day.'

Angel sighed. 'I'd have tried to amuse you, if I'd known.'

'You could have read to me.'

Angel gave a sly smile. 'Sartre all day. That would have been nice.'

Spike stretched. 'So, not pulling it out and not slicing it away. What next?'

Angel looked at him.

Spike refused to catch his eye, so Angel just lay down alongside him, trying to hide the fear that stabbed at his dead heart.

Angel held the gun to the doctor's chest, went through his spiel, and they began work. When the tendrils were exposed, Angel cautioned him once more and peered at the tiny enemy he could not seem to defeat. The doctor watched him. 'What now?'

Angel bit his lip uncertainly. 'They can't be cut away.'

There was an awkward pause, and the doctor, as if to fill it and appear useful and professional, reached over to put on an eye-scope. Angel began to knead his hand gently on Spike's shoulder, trying not to let the despair he felt transmit to his lover.

He glanced over at the prone figure, noting the tense whiteness of the knuckles as they gripped the edge of the table.

Suddenly, there was a small sound like an escape of air, and Angel jerked back as all the tiny filaments that were enmeshed in Spike's brain sprung loose and retracted into the chip.

'What the fuck!'

The doctor held something up to him, and Angel snatched at the lapels of his coat. 'What did you do?'

Patronisingly, the doctor snapped, 'I cut this.' Angel looked down at the tiny piece of wire. 'It was attached to something with a voltage symbol. It seemed like a good idea.'

'That's all? That's all it took?'

Angel looked at the inert chip, now resting loosely on the surface of the brain and gingerly lifted it out. Silence. He went around to look at Spike and the pale face turned to him. 'What the soddin' hell's happening back there?'

Angel started to laugh, but the sound of it seemed to alarm Spike even more, so he tried to bring himself under control. He took Spike's hand, uncurled the stiff fingers and placed the chip into his palm, reforming his grasp around it. 'Present.'

Spike's eyes widened, and he brought the object into his line of sight. With almost no intonation, he said deceptively casually, 'Sew me up then.'

Angel nodded at the doctor, and within a few minutes, Spike was sitting on the edge of the table. He hopped off, shrugged on his coat and said cheerfully, 'Right. That's good then.'

Angel glanced at the human arranging his instruments for his more usual extractions and said off-handed, 'Aren't you going to test it?'

Spike smiled slyly. 'Not on him, no.'

Angel trailed back after Spike through the tunnels, a sense of anti-climax making him feel flat and a nagging fear of something else eating around the edges of his pleasure for Spike.

They make their way up to their floor unobserved from downstairs, and Spike went immediately to stand in the shadows, looking down to where Wesley was working quietly on the computer. 'Time to make it two all.'

He felt a hand on his arm and looked down. Angel tugged him gently back away from view and held his wrist loosely. 'He doesn't want us.'

Spike didn't seem to understand, so he repeated, 'He doesn't want us.'

Spike then opened his mouth as if to challenge this, and Angel said carefully, 'He wants me. He wants you. I guess he could want us together if we weren't… together. Every time we've taken him, Spike, it's been wrong for him.'

'Angel! He's fucked himself brainless.'

'Yeah, he's needed the release; I know that. But afterwards he's regretted it: every time.' He saw Spike thunderous face and said uncertainly, 'I'm a bad man, Will - you said it yourself. But I'm trying to do what's right here - I've been thinking about it since the last time: in my office. It's wrong. He doesn't want it. You don't know him like I do - things in the past…. He has issues, and somehow when he fucks with us, he loses something that's precious. I think it's the anticipation he likes: the promise that we will do it one day, because that intimacy binds us all together. When the day came, he didn't really want it at all.'

Spike stared at him for a long time, nodded then turned and went back to his room.

Once more, Angel trailed miserably behind him. He watched Spike stretch luxuriously and say with a deep grin, 'Who cares? I'm free at last.'

Angel studied a small flaw in an otherwise immaculate nail. 'And that means…?' He heard the catch in his voice and hoped that Spike had not.

Spike came over though and grabbed him by the arms. 'Angel! What do you think? That I'm going to start killing again?'


'That I'll slam and bash and batter my way through the human population of LA?'


'What then?'

Angel wrenched away. 'That you'll find you've no reason to stay with me anymore. That you don't need my protection now. That it's me you're free of!'

Spike stood back, stunned, and then suddenly play-punched him with a grin at the slow reaction back. 'Wassock! I'm free to be a good man without you all thinking it's just the chip holding me back! Jeez, you really do ask for a good smacking sometimes.'

Angel glanced up through lowered lids, and the expression made Spike chuckle. He advanced and entwined himself around Angel's body, pressing them together, feeling swelling greeting his erotic movement.

Angel led them toward the bed and was about to push Spike back onto it, but Spike twisted away and crawled toward the wall safe. Keeping his eyes firmly fixed on Angel, he took out the orb. They sat next to each other, looking at it. Spike suddenly tossed it to Angel. Angel almost dropped it and tossed it back as if it were hot. Spike stood up. 'Me or you?'

Angel joined him. 'Together - as always now.'

Spike smiled, and together they stamped until the glow was extinguished.

The alarm went, and Spike stared at it, bewildered. 'No….'

Angel propped his chin on Spike's shoulder. Spike's hand crept to his head, and he repeated softly, 'No!'

He leapt out of bed and ran to their vantage point overlooking the lobby. He flung himself on his belly and peered over the edge. Angel followed, and they lay side-by-side in the, by now, eerily familiar scenario.

Spike hissed quietly, more to himself than his companion, 'It's over. It has to be.' Angel put his hand reassuringly over Spike's, but they could both feel the tense anxiety through the apparently confident touch. Wesley came out of the office, and Spike groaned. Angel's grip became painful.

The telephone went, and Wesley answered it. Spike turned his head away and buried his face into his folded arm. Angel wanted to kill something if only that would make this day change for his childe.

Suddenly, Cordelia burst in, and although not looking, Spike heard her, and his groan was one of utter despair. She flung her bag on a couch and said anxiously, 'Are they back yet?'

Wesley looked up. 'I've not had a chance to check, but they were still missing after you'd gone last night.'

Spike turned back, his face saying all there was to say. Angel let out a breath he didn't know he'd been holding and said almost without thinking, 'You're free.'

The genuine pleasure with which he said this made Spike turn to him with a long, frank appraisal. Still not needing words, he pulled Angel's mouth closer and said all he needed to with lips and tongue, silently.

Suddenly, they heard a small cough behind them. They spun around to find three men in paint-splattered coveralls watching them. The younger two turned incredulously, and with some degree of awe, to the older one, as if something he'd told them - but that they'd not believed - had now been confirmed.

Angel and Spike rose to their feet. Angel shrugged, the slight dismissive movement causing his rock-hard erection to wobble against his belly, a bead of precum loosening and trickling pleasantly down the side. Mustering all the dignity his considerable years gave him, he turned on his heel and walked confidently back to Spike's room. Spike grinned at the men and then suddenly, without warning, punched the youngest lightly in the belly. He paused for a moment as if waiting for something then punched in the air and whooped at the boy's startled expression, 'Welcome to tomorrow, Mate.'

He ran, shouting, 'Yesss!' at the top of his voice back to the bedroom.

They fell on each other hungrily - hungry for sex, hungry for blood, hungry to relieve the almost constant tension they'd lived with for the last three non-existent days.

Angel peeled away and shut the door, bolting it securely. He stood with his back to the door, looking at Spike, and the realisation hit them at the same time, that now, for the first time, they were equals.

Spike stood up and came over to him, his head tipped a little to one side. He smiled shyly. Angel smiled back and said, 'I've never felt less like your sire.'

Spike blinked. 'I can have anyone I want now, and I've never wanted you more.'

When they came together, there was no urgency or hungry need left. There was wonder at what they shared - what bound them together - and respect for their differences. There was a sense of being equal partners in a unique relationship that had weathered many storms.

They kissed, standing by the door, then Spike took Angel's fingers and pulled him by the most unnecessary of tows to the bed. They crawled on and lay side-by-side, sharing their bodies generously - giving and receiving equal pleasure, and as if to seal this new equality, neither made a move to top the other, nor offer himself as bottom. Each held the other's erection and brought him off, only tongues penetrating and mouths receiving in a small, intimate mimicry of their usual, enthusiastic coupling.

They lay in the aftermath of their orgasms, sticky hands discovering skin as if for the first time, penises lying soft and spent across hard bellies.

'Wesley's wondering where we are, Luv.'

'I know.'

'We'd better go down - reassure him.

Angel nodded then said quietly, 'I have a witch to visit and question. I'm thinking you've got plans too.'

Spike was quiet for a moment then nodded. 'I've got a few people to look up, yeah.'

Angel turned to him, kissed him and then stood up to dress, no questioning now needed between them.

Spike waited in the shadows behind a pillar until he heard the familiar clicking of heels across the concrete floor. He peeled away from his cover and faced her. 'Hello, Luv.'

Instinctively, Lilah's hands fumbled to undo her purse, but then she seemed to recall who faced her, and she grinned. 'Hello, Vampire.' She glanced around, sensed he was alone and continued toward her car. 'I'm busy. What do you want?'

Spike turned and accompanied her, offering her a cigarette. She turned, slightly surprised, but took it, and they stood, heads bent as he lit hers from his. She glanced up into the too close blue eyes and said, as if not concerned with the reply, 'Are you free of that damn priest?'

Spike stood up and nodded. 'Yeah. I am. Thanks to you.'

She nodded. He laid a hand on her arm. 'Not everyone sees it that way, Pet. Stay away from Angel and Wes, yeah?'

She shrugged him off and went toward a small, immaculate Mercedes sports car. Spike whistled his appreciation and ran his hands over the smooth lines. She smirked. 'I'm rising.'

He looked at her. 'I know that feeling.'

Lilah looked back to see if she heard right, then came closer, sliding in between Spike and the car. She spread her arms out over the soft top and licked her lips.

Spike glanced down at her tiny skirt riding up over pale thighs, the tops of stockings clearly visible. He suddenly slammed her harder against the car and grinned as he slid a hand up a sliver of exposed flesh.

She sucked her breath in with just a tiny flicker of something in her eyes that gave away her confusion, her attempt to remember something she thought she ought to, before he slid two fingers under a layer of silk that provided no resistance to him at all.

She glanced around the garage very briefly then opened her legs wider, allowing his fingers to enter her. He worked them gently inside, pressing down where he knew she'd enjoy it with his thumb.

She gritted her teeth in a triumphant gesture and flung herself further back onto the hood of the car. Spike lifted her thighs and worked harder. Suddenly, she lifted her head and cupped him savagely around the back of the neck. 'Just fucking do it.'

He stared back at her then fumbled with his zip, lowering it just enough to free his erection. She glanced down with a deep sigh of anticipation, and he tore aside the damp strip of silk.

He spread her wider, lifted her up so he could watch her expression, waited until he could see nothing but anticipation for the slick, cool, delicious entry and then stabbed hard into somewhere far dryer, more resistant and very, very unwelcome.

Her eyes widened in shock, and Spike could see that this was as much for the pain of the totally unexpected entry, as for the fact that she'd just remembered what she ought to have remembered - that he should not be able to slam her against cars.

He gave her some credit though; she recovered her composure as only a woman accustomed to not showing pain or humiliation could. Instead of a more usual response, she just hissed. 'That's not doing much for me.'

Spike shoved himself right in and pulled her face up to his. 'Six fucking bullets in the back didn't do much for me either!'

She'd not got it until then. Once more, Spike gave her credit as she realised his revenge was to be this humiliation. Instead of fighting, she just shrugged, levered herself up slightly on the lapels of his coat and hissed in his ear, 'Get it over with, and then we're even.'

Nodding in recognition of her balls, he thumped into her, watching with fascination as pain flickered across her features. It didn't take him long, and he didn't stop to analyse just how much her pain contributed to the speed with which he crashed to orgasm. He just flooded her with his semen and pulled out, watching as a small trail of the opaque fluid ran out and down the perfect silver door. He grinned and drew a small happy face of cum.

He let her down and helped her adjust her clothing. She glanced at his head. 'How?'

'Long story.'

'What's holding you back now then?'

He placed both arms around her, pinning her to the car and nuzzled her neck. 'My desire to do good - but, Luv,' he took her hand and forced something into it, 'don't push me so far next time.'

She glanced down at the small shell casing in her fist and closed her fingers around it. 'No. I'll remember this.'

'You do that.' He began to walk away, tucking himself back in nonchalantly.


He turned.

'I'm still glad he didn't get you. I don't like priests.' She turned to get in her car.


She turned.

'I'm leaving the assassin business - doesn't go with the new me. I'm just gonna do bodyguard work now… don't forget that, will you? You have a knack of making enemies. There'll always be competitive rates for you.' With that, he turned and walked away, well aware that she watched him go with a small smile of mutual attraction that seemed to belie the main feature of this strange meeting.

He came back to the hotel just as Angel was crossing the lobby toward his office. They intercepted each other, questions being asked and replies given with silence, glances and soft brushes of fingers on hands. Angel nodded at Spike's resolution to his problems; Spike raised his eyes expectantly at Angel, thinking about the visit to the witch, and the older vampire nodded at the human taking a message on the phone. Spike turned, incredulous, and mouthed, more to himself than to Angel, 'Wes did it?'

Casually, Angel went toward the human and laid a hand on his back, waiting for him to finish the call.

When he was done, Angel seemed intrigued by the scribbles on the pad, but said softly, 'Why did you visit the witch?'

Wesley didn't start or look guilty. He looked angry and pushed Angel out of his way. 'In case you two haven't worked it out yet, I have a life away from this place - away from you - and I don't have to answer to you for that.'

Angel ignored the anger, took the human's arm and propelled him into the office, leaning on the door to prevent his escape; the irony of the moment, not lost to him. With no small amount of guilt for another imprisonment in this office, Angel moderated the tone he'd been intending to use and said softly, 'What you arranged with her affected us all, Wes. A spell - a powerful one - has been working here….'

'That's impossible.'

They faced each other mutinously, and then Wesley seemed to take the pragmatic approach, for he rolled his eyes slightly and said, 'I had some unpleasant news from home. I went and discussed possibilities with her. She said something would be in place should I require it. I decided against using it, and as far as I know, nothing else occurred.'

Angel frowned. 'She put an orb in the hotel which affected things.'

Wesley stood his ground. 'I did NOT make a wish.'

'What was the news?'

For the first time, Wesley looked flustered, and he faltered. Angel waited patiently. 'My father is very ill - not expected to live. I was summoned home.'

Angel frowned once more. 'And you thought you could heal him with a spell?'

Wesley started. 'No! Christ, no.' He turned away and said very softly, trying to control his features, 'I wanted him to die alone and frightened.' He seemed to hear how this sounded out loud, for he pouted and added, 'It was silly and childish - a reaction to things happening here rather than….'

'My punishing Spike?'

Wesley finally caught his eye. 'Yes. Bad memories. So, you see - no spell. I went home, had some tea and reconsidered - he can die any damn way he likes, as long as no one expects me to be there. Someone else must have made a wish… the orb was here… I guess it picked up on… what were the effects? Perhaps we can narrow it down with that.'

Angel's face suddenly paled more than usual, and Wesley narrowed his eyes at him. 'What?

Angel gave him a disarming smile, all the while thinking about a blond vampire leaving him to fuck with others, and his angry wish for things to stay just as they were. He patted Wesley affectionately, 'So, that's all sorted. Good. Now, how's the case load?'

Wesley watched him leave with a fond smile, wondering why he'd not felt the influence of the spell and whether he'd missed anything interesting in his ignorance.

Spike took one look at Angel's nonchalant attempt to take an interest in an in-tray and began to laugh. He wandered over and brushed his hand against Angel's. 'I guess I have to thank you in more ways than one.'

Angel was too engrossed in the paperwork to dignify this with a response, so Spike sighed, went up to Wesley, seized him by the hair and kissed him deeply. He pulled away, patted the enraged man and sauntered off to pass the day thinking about the coming evening.

It was dark when he got to his next appointment, but he hung in the cover of the trees, nevertheless.

When he sensed the man close, he stepped out. 'Hello.'

The priest came to a halt and wiped his face with a small towel slung around his neck.

'Spike. I didn't think I'd see you again.'

Spike shrugged. 'Small city.'

'What do you want?'

'To talk.'

The man turned away and began to refasten his trainers. 'We have absolutely nothing to say to each other.'

Spike ignored the bent, turned back, took a deep breath and began. 'I was one of the greatest vampires that had ever been sired, Nate. I was the childe of Angelus, William the Bloody, and my name was feared throughout Europe. But I wasn't…. I wasn't just a demon. I've always been different, and one day that difference led me to try and recapture what I had once been: a man - a good man. I did it. I got my soul back, but I was more confused and lost than I'd ever been in my whole time on this earth. I turned to my sire, but he was more confused than me, and what we discovered about each other - how we felt - only made things more difficult. Just as things were at their worst, when I'd seen a glimpse of the hell that still awaited me, I found you. I came to you for help because I was lost and scared and I had no one to turn to. Angel is not like me; he can't lead me to the light, but he's the reason I want it. I needed you, but you just spun a web of irrelevant piety around me.'

The man straightened and began to mop his face once more, no indication that he'd heard anything that Spike said. Spike watched this small show for a moment and then turned sadly away.

A small touch on his back stopped him. 'Walk with me.' Without waiting, the human began to pace slowly back the way he had come.

When he sensed Spike just behind him, he murmured, 'My parents were murdered in front of me when I was five.' He coughed, and continued slightly louder, 'They were missionaries, and I was sent home to my Grandmother to be raised. She'd lost her only child - her daughter - and now she had a traumatised infant to raise. She never spoke of her grief or mine - instead, she baked. She baked her grief away; we went to church, and we lived a simple life, and in time, I healed. When I was eight, she called me into her room and told me that she'd seen an angel - that he'd sat on her bed and talked to her for a long time. He told her that he was coming back for her that Saturday, that he wanted her to have time to say goodbye. He was taking her to place where she wouldn't be old anymore and where her daughter was waiting for her. She was needed to bake for God. That's what she told me, and I believed her. That Saturday, I went to wake her up and found her dead. She was my only living relative, my whole world, and when she went my life became very… different.' He glanced over to his silent audience. 'Despite the things that happened to me then, I spent my entire life trying to make that angel appear to me. I studied them; I became their champion; I gave up the so-called pleasures of the flesh for them, and then, one day, you came to me.' He heard a small murmur, but silenced it with a hand on Spike's arm. 'I know you are a demon, but, Spike, you were so strong, so beautiful, so innocent in a way, and in my mind, I began to confuse you with my elusive angel.' He stopped and held Spike still, forcing him to face him. 'And then I walked in and saw you with him. Everything I thought about you was destroyed. You weren't an angel, and you couldn't bring her back; I was alone, and there was no heaven. It was all lies, and I'd spent my life following a useless myth. I was so angry, so scared, and I lashed out with what I had: power over you. It worked. I separated you from the baseness; I made you holy and oh so fucking self-righteous, but as I succeeded, I failed, because you were further and further away from what I wanted. I have no right to this vocation. I've failed myself, and I've failed God.'

They had reached the entrance to the park, and the man looked around wildly as if unsure of which way to go.

Spike stood in front of him his jaw clenched tightly, willing the man to look at him. 'Sometimes life gives us second chances. I got given quite a few of them recently. I came here because…. I wanted to see if we could find some common ground, Nate. Maybe when you need someone strong and fearless, when you just aren't quite powerful enough, or the evil is too great, you could come to me. When I need someone who can advise me when I get lost on my path, I can come to someone who once saw something good in me even though I felt rotten with evil. I won't ask you to love your God any less, and I won't ever love Angel less than I do now.'

The man finally looked into Spike's eyes, and if he wasn't seeing an angel, he appeared to see something in this offer that gave him back his direction, for he shook his shoulders and glanced at the exit of the park.

Tentatively, as if he knew he no right, he put his arm over Spike's shoulders and said softly, 'I could always use a personal trainer.'

Spike prodded him gently in the side and with the feel of the arm embracing him, he left with the priest, more content in his body and his soul than he had been since his earliest memories as a human man.

The End


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