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Time is the Fire in Which we Burn

Episode 8- Chapter 3

Angel sensed that Spike did not sleep that night, but he left him alone to work through what was bothering him. They didn't need forced sympathy now; if Spike wanted to speak, he would.

When he woke he knew he was alone and turned to find a note on the pillow. 'Gone home wanker' was all the information he got, but it made him smile, nevertheless.

Spike emerged into the basement of his apartment block and made his way thoughtfully along the hallway to his door. He jerked back in surprise at a figure apparently about to knock and then grinned. 'Hi ya!'

Nate smiled back and then frowned. 'You've been….'

'Out feeding the homeless, Luv. You know me. No rest for the….'


On that small cynical comment, Spike let them both into the apartment and went immediately to put the kettle on. 'Tea?'

'That would be nice.'

'What brings you here? Big nasty?'


'Demon trouble?'

'Only with you.'


Nate smiled and perched on the edge of the desk. 'I didn't think I'd be taking you up on your offer this soon.'

Spike came in with two mugs and handed one to the man. The uncanny repeat of a scene he'd already played out with this figure made him smile, and he gave the human a small punch. 'It is you… yeah?'

Nate frowned and Spike waved off the moment and sat to drink his tea. 'What can I help you with?'

'Do you remember Father Jon?'

'No, should I?'

'He was the elderly priest you first spoke….'

'Oh! That fucker. Sorry. Yeah, he really needs a crash course in keeping his customers happy.'

'That's the problem, I think he's been keeping them far too happy.'

'Oh… sex in the…?'

'God no! It's just that all those he sees in the confessional….' He trailed off and ran his fingers through his hair. 'This sounds stupid out loud.'

Spike chuckled. 'As stupid as a drag queen casting a spell of envy on me?'


'As stupid as time reversing on itself?'


'As stupid as someone telling a dead person that they were immoral?'

Nate looked at him squarely. 'No. Not as stupid as that. He runs a class for some of his parishioners - bible study, he says. But I don't think that is all there is to it. I've tried to speak to him, speak to some of them, but it's like a closed shop. They avoid me whenever they see me.'

'It's not quite the big, scary demon I had in mind when I said I'd help. What can I do?'

He looked innocently at the man until realization dawned. 'No. Oh, Nate, please don't tell me I've got to go to….'

Nate gave him a small smile and said softly, 'Just make sure you don't touch the Bibles.'

Spike hung around the church until he saw the old priest come out of the confessional box then made a point of looking disappointed that he'd missed his chance to speak with him. The priest saw him looking wistfully at the box and came over. 'I know you.'

Spike shook his head. 'Don't think so.'

'Yes. You came in before, said you wanted to know about the soul.'

Spike cursed under his breath but said pointedly, 'Some fucking help you were too, I seem to remember.'

Perhaps taken aback at being addressed like that the old man started then smiled. 'I think I've changed my mind. I think I might be able to help you.' He put a hand on Spike's arm and began to lead him toward the confessional. Spike pulled back.

'Sorry, but I'm not a believer.'

'Who is?' He glanced at the box but then added, 'I run a class - we'll be assembled tonight. Why not come to that. I think it will answer most of your questions.'

Spike noted the time and location and, feeling that he was rivaling Angel in his detective skills, went back to his apartment to wait for darkness to fall.

Angel looked up when Spike came into the lobby and smiled at him: he'd not expected him that night and surprised himself by the stab of pleasure that cut through him at the sight of the slim form.

He went back to his conversation with Wesley but, after a moment, looked again. Spike wasn't doing anything; he was just leaning against the wall, smoking, watching him. Angel held his gaze for a moment across the space between them and then he put a hand lightly on Wesley's arm to excuse himself and went pointedly up the stairs toward the bedroom, waiting to make sure that Spike followed.

Shrugging off the wall and flicking his cigarette out in a tiny red arc, Spike went lazily up the stairs after him. Angel was standing in the middle of the bedroom, and he waited until Spike made the first move.

Watching him carefully, Spike came over and kissed him lightly. When that brought very little reaction, he began to unbutton Angel's shirt. Angel let him. Spike undid the leather belt and pulled it out sensuously, slowly, keeping Angel's gaze the whole time. He pushed Angel back to the bed and crawled over him, shedding his duster as he did.

Angel laid back, watchful, neutral, and allowed Spike to get him out. He waited to see who was taking the lead and hissed slightly as Spike sank an eager mouth around his stiffening penis. It took longer than usual, and Spike gave the erection his full attention until it shot a stream of cum, which he swallowed noisily. With a grin, he sat back on his heels with a small sigh. Seeing that Angel still wasn't going to reciprocate, he turned and sat on the edge of the bed, humming softly.

With a glance behind him, Spike rummaged in his pocket and took out a small black bottle and proceeded, with great concentration, to paint his nails.

When he'd finished, he turned and gave Angel a look. 'You know, don't you?'

Angel didn't reply to the obvious.

Spike shrugged and went back to blowing lightly on his nails. He looked at the black shine. 'Guess I should have gone for something fluffy - pink, maybe.'

'I knew as soon as you came in.'

Spike turned, surprised. 'Huh. Now, that's a nice trick. I can't do that. I didn't smell your fucking soul at all when you got it.'

'I'm very observant where you're concerned. Why did you come here like this?'

Spike shrugged. 'I dunno really. I wanted to see if it was the same.'

'Do you seriously think it could be?'

Spike stood and went over to the window, lighting a cigarette. 'Guess not.'

Angel sat up and fastened his pants. 'I think you came here for my help.'

Spike turned with an amused look and Angel came closer. 'I think you want your soul back again.'

Spike laughed, but there was a hollow sound to it. 'That's not bleedin' likely now, is it?'

'You fought hard enough for it the first time.'

'Yeah, well, then I had this,' he tapped his head viciously, 'in me fucking cranium. I was pretty useless anyway, what difference the soul?'

'That's not true, and we both know it. You are more than a demon, Spike, and you wanted to be a good man. You can want that again.'

Spike looked down and pouted. 'No. It's gone. I felt it.'

Angel came closer again. 'Tell me what happened when you left here.'

Spike shrugged. 'I went home. Nate was….' He turned at Angel's intake of breath and grinned. 'Nate was there, and he wanted me to help him with something in the church.'


'The old Father - something odd about him.'

'And what did you do?'

'I agreed to go to a meeting. I went… and I don't remember anything else.'

'You're lying.'

Spike shrugged. 'He took my soul, Angel. What more do you need to know?'

'You came here to me.'

Maddeningly, Spike shrugged again.

Angel came closer and put a hand on his arm. 'Let's go.'

Spike pulled away. 'Don't.'

'At least come back with me and see him - surely you want that much?' He gave a small, sad smile. 'You always hated people stealing anything from you - even as a fledgling.'

'I want - I…. I don't know what I want.'

'You're still remembering your soul.'

'Yeah. Still remember thinking the things I thought then - about you.'

'Then come with me now.'

Spike gritted his teeth, and Angel added subtly, 'Come on, you can take your sword - give the old fucker a shock, at least.'

Spike grinned and nodded. 'Yeah. I'll cut his throat and eat him.'

'I was thinking more along the lines of getting your soul back, but we'll play it by ear.'

Spike went to fetch his coat and sauntered out of the room.

Angel staggered against the wall and bit savagely into his hand to stifle a scream of desperate, shocked fury.

Angel followed Spike into a small meeting room under the church. It was dark, but he could see well enough. There were a few chairs in a circle and some books lying open on the floor.

He frowned. 'This is where it hap…?' Before he could finish he felt something sting his neck. He turned, and something caught him in the chest. He looked down at the small dart then turned back to Spike.

Spike chuckled. 'You always were a gullible fuck, Angel.' Angel felt his knees give way, and he crumpled to the ground.

When he came round he was in a cage in the middle of the floor, and all around him were humans: naked, blood decorated and chanting. He felt something deep inside him stirring at the chanting and recoiled to the back of the cage.

With a huge effort to stay calm, he said to a figure lounging against the wall, 'You still have time to stop this, Spike. You don't want Angelus back any more than I do.'

Spike pushed off and came closer - just out of reach of a lunge. 'I don't particularly, no. But I don't want you around trying to stop me. Stop all my fun.'

Angel heard the words, but the expression did not support them. There was something in Spike's eyes that he could not define, and he didn't have time to try and work out what it was. He said quietly, 'Why not just stake me?'

Spike nodded. 'Thought about it. You're strong though. And 'sides, all your little fucker friends would be after me then - not to mention the Slayer - this way, you kill them for me, then I may stake you.'

Angel nodded as he only heard lie upon lie and said pointedly, 'You're lying. That's all total bullshit.'

Spike didn't reply but turned quickly. He looked to the naked priest and said curtly, 'Get the fuck on with it.'

The man nodded and the chanting got louder.

Spike watched for a while, but then told himself he was bored and went out to see if he could find a snack.

It was quiet when he got back, and he was about to go into the room where Angel was imprisoned when he heard a chuckle from the shadows. He stepped back warily. 'Angelus?'

The dark figure pushed off the wall and came forward. He was covered in blood, and he came up close to Spike. Spike stood, unsure what he was supposed to do next and then a huge fist punched into his belly. He doubled over and then dropped to his knees. The bloodied vampire bent over him. 'You EVER try to trick me again, Childe, and I'll stake you. Now, I've got some friends back at the Hyperion to look up. I suggest you get to your feet, keep your mouth shut, and follow me.' With a vicious kick to Spike's head, he sauntered off, licking something off the corner of his mouth.

Spike stayed on the floor for a moment to recover and then trailed after the swift vampire.

'You should have taken Angel's offer to get your soul back.'


A pair of dark eyes fastened on him. 'I've always hated you, and now I've got so much ammunition to use against you.'

'Fuck off, Angelus. What?'

An eerie smile flitted across the handsome face. 'I'm thinking you'll never make it two-all.'


The smile just increased.

They walked along in silence for a while and then Spike suddenly bent over with a small curse. 'Damn boot.' He glanced up and said dismissively, 'I'll catch you up.'

The other vampire nodded and walked on out of sight. Spike fished for his cellphone and punched in a number, but jumped visibly when the small instrument was snatched out of his hand.

'Let's see who you're calling…. The Hyperion? Hey, don't tell me you're trying to book a room for us! I'm touched.' He dropped the phone and ground it into pieces with his heel.

Furious, Spike looked down. 'That was a present.'

The laughing vampire chucked him under the chin. 'I know, I was there.'

He swung around and swept inexorably toward his destination.

When they came up from the basement, Spike saw Wesley leaning on the counter, reading. He looked up when they came in and straightened. 'Angel.'

Spike came forward, frowning, but before he could say anything, he heard a soft voice behind him. 'I'm okay, Wes. Do it.' He whirled around and felt something thud into his back. He lunged at Angel but was held in strong arms as another dart thudded in to join the first. He struggled against the effects of the tranquilizer and murmured, 'Don't, Angel. I don't want it back…' and then fell into unconsciousness.

Wesley stood alongside the bed, watching Angel wrap his unconscious childe in chains. He held the gun ready with a dark, serious expression. 'What happened?'

Angel didn't turn but said neutrally, 'I let Angelus out to play and stayed out of sight. He was so pissed at being caged by a naked old priest that he didn't get they were trying to free him for good. When they stopped the extraction spell, I put him back in his box.'

'I can't….' Wesley suddenly sat on the edge of the bed and put a hand over his face. He shook Angel's hand off. 'I'm just so BLOODY pissed off, Angel! After everything he's gone through - for THIS to happen to him. It's SO UNFAIR!' He stopped his rant when he heard a small choked sound and suddenly found himself giving comfort when he'd thought he had none to give. He stroked Angel's hair for a while and let him grieve. It was like a death, and he felt the tears were justified.

Eventually, Spike secure, they went sadly downstairs together. Angel turned to him. 'He wants his soul back.'

Wesley stared at him incredulously. 'I think that's unlikely.'

Angel seemed to ignore the tone and continued, 'He came to me for help.'

'He came to you to trick you into losing your soul as well.'

'No, he didn't. I think he didn't want me to suffer - without him.'

'What!' Wesley tried to moderate his tone and said more encouragingly, 'What?'

Angel didn't catch Wesley's eye and said quickly, 'I saw it in his eyes when I was in that damn cage: he just knew how much I'd suffer, so somewhere in that warped brain of his, he thought he'd save me from that.'

'Angel! That's utter rot!'

Angel pushed angrily past the incredulous human and went into his office then suddenly came out again and poked Wesley in the chest. 'He tried to warn you that I was coming for you - in the tunnels, he tried to phone you.'

'Is that what he said?'

Angel hesitated. 'Well, no, of course not, but that's what he was doing.'

'Angel, I think you are very, very mistaken about this. Spike is not… Spike anymore. He's got no soul - no conscience… where are you going?'

'I'm going to set him free.'

'What! NO!' Wesley stood in front of Angel and rather pathetically tried to bar his way. 'You can't do this…. He's a vicious killer, and you'll be putting us all at risk. Christ! He has access to all our homes….'

'Get out of my way.'

'Angel! When I… after I… I staked Darla because you were too… obsessed with her and you said I did the right thing, I'm only….'

'That was DARLA! This is SPIKE!'

Wesley thumped him on the chest. 'It's ALWAYS about Spike with you!'

Angel stood back and looked at him, and Wesley came forward, fury etched over his face. 'Spike, Spike, Spike until you can't think straight! You're a lovesick puppy where Spike is concerned. Hell, Angel, you don't even have the detachment of a teenage girl to do to him what she once did to you! You CANNOT set that THING up there free, I totally forb….'

Wesley found it hard to forbid anything sprawled on the ground, his nose broken, and his face covered in blood. He could only watch as Angel stepped deliberately over him and went up the stairs.

When Spike came around Angel was sitting on the edge of the bed, tossing a key idly between his hands. He groaned, just to catch Angel's attention and then tried a smile. 'I had to try, ya know? How did you stop the fuckers?'

Angel pouted. 'How do you know I did? Perhaps I'm playing a complex game of double-bluff with the humans.'

Spike laughed. 'Nah, that was you holding me. I mean Angel. You. THAT difference, I could tell.'

Angel shrugged and put the key into one of the padlocks.

'What are you doing? I mean, that's obvious, but why…?'

'I think you came to me for help. I'm going to give it to you - help you get your soul back.'

'No! You're wrong!'

'So everyone keeps telling me.'

'Oh, you've upset the pet? Now, that wasn't nice.'

'He'll get over it.'

'Maybe I'll kill him and spread his blood….'

'And maybe you tried to warn him that I was coming.'

This silenced Spike for some time, and he just watched with a sort of morbid fascination as his chains were removed. Eventually he roused and said softly, 'I could kill you.'

Angel leant in very close, right up to Spike's cheek and said equally softly, 'I've never, not once, let you see my true strength. There is nothing in this world that can defeat me, Spike. Nothing. I've shown you a pale ghost of my power. I've treated you like a father treats a precious child. You think I can't do the sire thing anymore? Well, think again… you're not the precious childe I adore. I'll be your sire until I get him back. So, these are the rules. You will be at my side at all times. You will speak only when you are spoken to. You will obey instantly if I command you to do something. Do you understand?'

Spike yawned then gave him the finger.

Angel smiled. 'What's the strongest bone in the human body?'

Spike suddenly looked wary. 'Dunno. Little toe?'

'You know the human body like a soldier knows the map of his objective, Spike. Every nook that can cause pain, every place where the blood flows strongest. So, tell me, what's the strongest bone in the human body?'

'The femur, Wanker.'

'Okay then.' Angel took Spike's leg in both his hands and snapped it through the femur as if it were a twig.

He waited until the howling and writhing died down and then said softly, 'I will be the Sire from Hell if I have to be to get you back. Now, rest here until that heals. Do not leave this room until I tell you that you can. I'll bring some blood up for you later.'

Spike eyed him through tears of pain and then spat copiously in his face. Angel sighed and broke his other thighbone.

Go to Chapter 4

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