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Time is the Fire in Which we Burn

Episode 8- Chapter 4

Wesley glared at Angel when he came down and continued dabbing his nose. Angel looked around and glanced at his watch. 'Where is everyone?'

Wesley laughed. 'Do you think I'd let them come into this? I told them to stay away - go away, in fact.'

Angel came right up to him, toe-to-toe. 'You had no right. How will he believe in himself if we don't believe in him?'

Wesley gave him another incredulous look and said angrily, 'I don't think the quote is "greater love hath no man than he lay down the lives of his brothers for his soulless bloody lover!"

'You're still here.'

'Yes. I am. I don't know why really. At this very moment, to be truthful, Angel, I don't care much one way or the other. I'm sick of you, and I'm sick of Spike - I'm sick of vampires in general.'

'Go then. I don't want you here.'

'And leave you to that soulless bastard upstairs? I don't think so.'

The contradiction in Wesley's last two statements was fairly obvious to both of them, and Angel suddenly lost some of his anger. He bit his lip in a nervous gesture and then said, 'I know I'm obsessed with him, Wes, I don't deny that - how could I? You've seen me with him over these months, but that doesn't alter the fact that I KNOW him - I lived with him for over twenty years. He was never like Angelus. Never. He came to me, and I'm going to help him.'

'You think he'll be able to resist the pull of the blood, the power of his nature? You saw how he was when he got the chip out - he told me he felt like a master of the universe. What do you think he will be like now?'

'I can control him. He's my childe, and we may have lost those roles somewhere along the….'

'You lost them up his backside, Angel.' Wesley saw the look Angel gave him but ploughed on nevertheless. 'You can't make love to someone and then expect to exert any real control over them.'

'I didn't make… I didn't fuck this Spike.'

Wesley took a deep breath. 'I'm wasting my time. You won't listen to me.'

Angel nodded as if this was a victory of some sort and went toward the kitchen. 'He needs blood.'

Wesley couldn't help himself and said bitterly, 'Tell him he can't have mine.'

Tensing as if the words were daggers, Angel slammed the door shut between them.

Spike had an arm thrown over his eyes and was lying very still when Angel returned with the blood. He checked the breaks and realigned them slightly, ignoring the soft cry of pain. He handed over the warmed blood, pulling Spike's arm away.

Spike clenched his jaw and tossed the bags to the floor. 'I'm not eating that shit anymore.'

Angel shrugged. 'I don't care whether you feed or not. But you'll heal faster if you do.'

Spike replaced the arm over his face and appeared to ignore Angel, but after a short time he said, 'This won't work. It's gone. It's been sold.'


'My soul. He said he was selling them. Said mine would fetch a high price.'

'Then I'll buy it back. Nothing in this world is irreversible. We proved that with the chip.'

Spike removed his arm and looked at him. 'I can't stay here with you while you….'

'You have to. I'm not having you roaming around reverting to the….'

'I didn't mean that. I can't be here with… you. Like this. Me like this… you still like that.'

Angel looked to a small flaw in his nail and seemed to study it with great interest. Spike laid a hand over his. 'Don't. You always do that when you want to avoid a conversation.'

Angel looked up, confused, his eyes anguished. 'You're him, but you're not!'

Spike nodded. 'I know.'

'We can do this, Will. If you want it enough, we can do it together.'

Spike bit his lip and looked sharply up at the ceiling as if to control some deep emotion and said softly, 'I want it now, but it's slipping away, Angel. I don't know how much longer I'll want it for.'

Angel cupped the back of his neck and pulled him in close. 'Heal, Childe. Let me worry about your soul. I'm your sire, and I won't fail you.'

He felt Spike nod and pulled away before the feel of Spike in his arms again totally compromised the power he needed to retain over him. He walked to the door then turned and said distinctly, 'I will know where you are, Spike. Leave this room and I will know it. Do I make myself very clear - without another demonstration?'

Spike nodded dumbly and, satisfied, Angel went out.

He returned to the lobby and said to Wesley, 'Spike's immobile for a few days. I need to go back to the church and find the old priest; you'll be quite safe.'

Wesley gave him a look, and Angel sighed. 'Don't stay here then.'

'I wouldn't put it past him to drag himself out; I'm not leaving.'

Angel shrugged and left.

Wesley went to his desk and took out the things he always kept ready for Angelus' return, laying them out in a line. He studied the rather pathetic looking objects for a moment, but then glanced upstairs with a thoughtful expression. Suddenly, he clenched his jaw as if for strength and picked up a bottle.

Wesley was surprised the next day to see Angel come slowly down the stairs, followed much more slowly by Spike. He took each step very cautiously as if he feared his control over his legs, but he made it safely to the bottom. Angel wasn't helping, and he wasn't waiting, but nevertheless, he did not begin to move across the lobby until Spike was safely down. Wesley watched Spike closely and was rewarded by a look that sent shivers down his spine: the blond vampire grinning at him and licking his lips. He was about to protest, but without turning around or changing his pace Angel said softly, 'Stop it.' The look was whipped swiftly off Spike's face, and he followed Angel into the office. The door was firmly shut and Wesley saw no more of them that morning.

Spike hesitated until Angel indicated a chair for him. 'Sit there and don't speak.'

Spike did as he was told, and Angel went to his desk and switched on his computer. It was very quiet for a while, and Angel became engrossed in his research until he became increasingly aware of fidgeting. He made a small censorious noise, but instead of the obedience he wanted, Spike said petulantly, 'Can I smoke?'

Angel narrowed his eyes at him and said, 'This isn't a game like last time, Spike. I'm not trying to piss you off for the fun of it. Of course you can fucking smoke if you want.'

Spike looked surprised, but wasted no time in lighting up. Once more things became quiet until with a sigh, Angel said softly, 'What?'

'Nothing! I'm not doing anything!'

'You're thinking things. I can feel it.'

'What are you looking at on that?'

Angel glanced at him. 'I'm trying to see if I can find any background information on the priest, Father Jon. If he's done this here, in LA, chances are he's done it before in other places.'

'Oh. Can I… help?'

Angel frowned but nodded at a chair that Spike could pull around next to his. A little slowly and with obvious pain on his face, Spike sat alongside Angel and stared at the screen. 'So, how are you gonna find him?'

Angel repressed a small smile. 'I tried something you should never do: typing his name into Google and seeing what came up. Then I described the events and tried that too.'

'Huh. And…?'

Angel clicked back a few pages for him to see. 'I think this was him here, in Italy. And possibly here in Romania in the eighties. All the accounts are the same - people forming unusual cults with very specific behaviour patterns….'

'The people in the tunnels! Angel! They were without their souls!'

Angel nodded curtly and Spike frowned. 'What's wrong?'

Angel swallowed. 'You are so like… you, it's scary.'

Spike shook his shoulders. 'I'm evil, Angel - VERY evil, and you'd better believe it.'

Angel tried to repress the smile, but failed miserably, and when Spike saw Angel laughing, he play-punched him on the arm and said pointedly, 'I don't think a really good sire would find that funny.'

Feeling as if his whole world were spinning confusedly around him, Angel gave him a censorious look and went back to the screen. 'Here, in London, there's a huge amount of speculation as to what caused the demonic behaviour in the group studied. Obviously, no one suspected missing souls. They thought the subjects had reverted to primal instincts - the feeding and fucking you saw.'

'Like the wolf-people….'

Angel looked puzzled, and Spike said softly, as if being this helpful really didn't go with being evil, 'In France, in the nineteenth century, they found people in a wood and thought they had been abandoned as babies and brought up with wolves. They tried to humanize them, but it didn't work.'

'But I sensed the priest was human. That couldn't have been him that long ago.'

Spike looked disdainfully at him. 'I don't think he wants the souls for himself, do you? He said he was selling them. Whatever's buying them could have been around for… like… ever!'

Angel leant back in his chair. 'I'm going to email some of these people, see if they have anything that could help us. You need to feed now - you're not healing fast enough.'

'I'm not eating pig's blood ever again, Angel.'

'I'll buy in some human then.'

Spike gritted his teeth. 'No.'


'I'd rather starve.'

'Then starve. You aren't feeding….'

'Naturally? Is that the word you're struggling for?'

'No, I was going to say demonically.'

'No you weren't, liar.'

Angel stared at him for a moment then said distinctly, 'Do you want me to punish you? Is that what this is about? Do you really want the pain you know I could give you?'

Spike pouted. 'No. But, Angel, I told you it was going to be difficult with us here like this.' He looked down and rested his hand lightly on Angel's thigh. 'I don't think of you as Angelus, my sire, anymore. You're just Angel - the person I love.'

Angel reared back away from the temptation. 'You can't love, Spike. Remember you're talking to ME here. I KNOW. You're a soulless demon, and you can't love!'

'That's bloody rubbish, and you know it Angel. I loved Drusilla well enough for long enough. I looked after her for over a century - in sickness and in health, 'til death us did part? I call that love. Hell, I loved Buffy - so much so I actually had a robot-her made and shagged that instead.'

'You said it yourself: that was you with the chip.'

'So what? Chip didn't enable me to love! I did that well enough on my own!' He stood up and came closer to Angel. 'Don't you remember how you felt about Darla? Angel! You must! You were passionate about her!'

'I - She - No, that wasn't - I mean….'

Spike cupped him around the back of the neck and eased his lips slowly to him. 'It's still me, Angel, and I love you.' He kissed Angel and slid his hand down the hard bulge that marred the smooth lines of Angel's pants. He smiled into the kiss as it was returned and then gasped with pain as his roving hand was captured around the wrist. Angel frowned at him.

'It's utterly irrelevant whether you love me or not, Spike. You're kinda missing the point. I don't love or want you. You're defective - deficient. I've had the perfect version now, and I don't want to settle for less. Now, we spoke of pain. You seem to forget it so soon. What will make you learn?'

He increased the pressure around Spike's wrist, and Spike sank to his knees, wincing. With a frown, Angel asked softly, 'Is this your smoking hand? Yes, it is….'

'It's my wanking hand, so be…. Ahhhhh!'

One by one, Angel twisted Spike's fingers until they popped out of their sockets, then he snapped the wrist back to the forearm, shattering it until shards of bone emerged through the skin.

He heaved the sobbing vampire up until they were face to face and breathed softly into the pain-distorted face. 'When you followed that damn priest, I told Wesley that I would kill everyone in LA to get you back, and he didn't believe me. He was wrong. I will do whatever it takes to get your soul restored - to restore you to me - and if that means hurting you now, then so be it. You will obey me. You will treat me with the respect I am owed as your sire, and you will stop trying to seduce me. Do - you - understand?'

Spike nodded, and the small gesture made tears spill out from his eyes. Angel watched dispassionately as they rolled down the perfect cheekbones and then went back to his research. Spike perched back on his chair the other side of the desk and tried as best he could not to attract any more attention.

At lunchtime, Wesley looked up from his own research as the vampires came out of the office. Spike looked green, and Wesley rose automatically until he remembered that he didn't like this Spike or care whether he was hurt. Nevertheless, he couldn't help but glance at the hand, badly wrapped by a piece of T-shirt. He looked at Angel. 'I'll look at that, if you stay close by.'

Clearly surprised, Angel nodded and indicated for Spike to sit down. He did and kept his eyes lowered. Wesley went to his first aid box and gingerly took off the rag-bandage. 'Bloody hell! Angel!'

'Mind your own business, Wesley. Help if you want to, but don't pass judgment on what you don't understand.'

Wesley gritted his teeth and bent to his task. Angel watched the little scene carefully until the telephone rang, and with a frown at this small normality in his otherwise surreal life, he picked it up.

Spike waited for a moment until Angel was speaking, and then murmured lowly, 'Thanks for this, Pet.'

'Don't thank me, Spike. I'm doing it for Angel.'

'Oh. Well, ta anyway.' He gave a small, wistful sigh. 'I should 'ave made it two-all, ya know? He got to fuck you twice; it's so damn unfair.'

The hands working on his injuries stilled, and Wesley looked up. 'Don't spin your web of lies around me, Spike.'

Spike shrugged. 'Sorry. I forgot you don't remember the days that repeated. I do. Jeez, every day, watching Angel fuck you. That was such a turn on. And you sucked….'


Spike grinned inwardly. He recognized the human's tone, knew he was desperately trying not to believe what he was inevitably beginning to believe.

He was so good at making mischief it was criminal he didn't get to practice more often.

''S the first thing he wanted to do, Mate: shag you. Course, only cus you wouldn't remember it. Oh, you were so grateful, you were embarrassing. You've got a nice 'ole though; I'll give you that. Angel got his fist right in - course, you preferred his cock. Begged for that. We made you crawl for it - made you call him daddy - it was SO funny. Locked you in 'til you cried and said you'd be good. And you were - weird that - you sucked like a pro when he said you were his good little boy.'

Wesley pushed the chair back, and it fell with a crash as he rose to his feet. Angel put the phone down and looked at them both. Wesley kept his gaze and said deceptively casually, 'What did you do in the missing time? I assumed you'd run around LA saving people. Perhaps I watch the wrong films.'

Angel looked at Spike, incredulous that he'd betrayed them, but assuming he'd told just the truth. Wesley paled. 'He's not lying, is he? My God! You've…? Repeatedly…? Taken advantage of…. I told you that in confidence…. My God!'

Angel didn't seem to know where to turn. He couldn't deny what he assumed he was being accused of - knew that Wesley would see the truth in his face. At last, he said lamely, 'It was just for fun….'

'Fun! Fun! Fucking hell!' Wesley pushed past him and looked wildly around then went into the kitchen, slamming the door.

Spike looked down at his shattered wrist thoughtfully. 'It's always best to tell the truth, but it's so hard trying to be good and honest, isn't…?' He lost consciousness when he was punched into the desk, and he slipped to the floor, falling on the arm that was still so badly damaged.

Angel circled the unconscious, suspended figure, biting his nails, talking softly. He feared he was going insane and there was nothing or no one who could help him. He didn't want to hurt Spike, but he had to delay the onset of the demonic tendencies in him. He knew his childe could still remember the influence of his soul, but as Spike had pointed out, that influence would wane daily - possibly hourly - as the call of the blood overcame him.

He had to bind Spike to his side - obedient and harmless - until he could be restored. Angel had no idea how else to do it except with fear and intimidation. The irony of the situation, though, made him continue the insane circling: restore Spike's soul and possibly lose his own through the pain of that restoration. Causing pain to this slim, more than familiar body, tore him apart, but his suffering was nothing compared to what he intended to inflict on Spike.

He'd brought down all his toys - Angelus' favourites. He sensed Spike coming back to consciousness, stopped his restless pacing and put his bitten, torn fingernails out of sight in his pocket.

Spike opened his eyes and groaned with pain, glancing up at where he was suspended by his damaged wrist. Then he looked wildly around and groaned even more loudly. Angel frowned. 'What?'

Spike shook his head and clenched his jaw. Angel took him by the jaw and forced him to answer. Spike looked down and said very quietly, 'This is how we played, Angel. When it was all so good.'

Angel stepped back and looked at him with an unreadable expression. 'That upsets you more than the pain, more than this?' He waved his hand over the torture instruments.

Spike tipped his head back and wailed, 'I don't fucking know, Angel! I came to you! I wanted you! I don't know; maybe I did want my soul back!' He tried to swing closer and then said bitterly, 'This pain makes it harder to want though. I feel the demon in me spreading and the memories just getting fainter.'

Clenching his jaw, Angel suddenly flung to him and lifted him off the hook. He cradled him in his arms and carried him up to the lobby and then swiftly up the stairs to the bedroom. He put him on the bed, and with total concentration, bound his wrist, setting it perfectly and realigning the twisted fingers.

When he was finished, he brushed a lock of hair out of Spike's eyes. 'I'm so stupid. I wanted to keep you here with me until I found a cure. I thought only of physical imprisonment, but there's another way to hold you.' He bent down and kissed him, hard, passionately, desperately, putting all his own pain and fear and longing into the press of his lips and the eager seeking of his tongue. Spike moaned and held Angel with his good hand, running his fingers through the dark hair. Angel pulled off slightly. 'Can we do this? Can we find common ground with our bodies?'

Spike glanced down and the effect made Angel groan with desire. 'I'm just me, Luv. Same body. Same… needs.'

Angel caught almost painfully at Spike's chin and forced him to look up. 'Will it be love? Can we make love?'

'I don't know! I'm beginning to forget what that was like for us. I know I want you like I wanted Dru. I know I want to have your body inside me. Is that love?'

Angel shook his head softly. 'No, Baby, it's not, but it will hold you to me until I can remind you what it really is.' He began to undo Spike's shirt, and when his childe was totally naked and ready, he stood and began to undress himself. Spike lay bruised and damaged, pliant and defenseless on the bed, and he had never looked more souled or more human.

Angel opened his nightstand drawer and took out a tub of lube. 'Pain is for demons.'

'I remember.' Spike smiled. 'It was our first real time.'

Angel nodded, pleased. 'The first time I told you I loved you.'

'You never told me enough, Angel. I always wanted to hear it so much.'

Angel lowered his eyes as he scooped some of the slick gel into his palm, 'I thought it all the time.'

'If I get my….'


'When then…. When I get my soul back, will you tell me everyday?'

'I'll show you everyday.'

Spike smiled slyly. 'Show me now. I'm forgetting again.'

Angel laughed and parted the bruised thighs. He inserted a gel-slick finger into Spike and explored around the channel he knew so well. He closed his eyes, and for a moment, it was his Spike, and nothing had changed.

He felt a hand on his cheek. He opened his eyes to see Spike's fingers were wet from tears he hadn't realized he was shedding. 'I lied, Spike. I do love you. I love you as much as I love you with your soul. I can't help it.'

Spike nodded. 'I know, Pet. But it will fade for you too if we can't help me. As I revert to what I am, you will begin to hate me. Just like Buffy did with you….'

Angel looked at him sharply, suddenly remembering that slow disillusionment of a teenage girl in love, remembering just how much he'd had to hurt her and her friends for the love to die enough for her to see what he really was: enough for her to kill him.

He hissed. 'It won't come to that.'

'It might' was the soft rejoinder.

Angel suddenly knelt up to Spike's hole and began to rub his erection over the cool gel. 'I will stop it happening. I told you I was invincible. I told you nothing could defeat me, Spike. I meant it. I am strong enough for the both of us, while you need that strength.'

Spike put his hand back on Angel's face with a look of wonder. 'Make love to me, Angel. Keep me here with you.'

Angel pushed in, and they both groaned at the familiar intimacy. There was no question this time lasting five minutes. The afternoon slid away unnoticed as Angel rode gently in and out of his childe's body. They held each other's gaze and spoke in soft voices, as Angel tried to evoke their love between them. They laughed and remembered the friendship they'd shared. Angel drew out the exquisite sex until Spike began to beg for release just as loudly and urgently as Angel had planned for him to beg for mercy. As he listened to the soft demands, he leant down onto the supine form and whispered urgently, 'Do you love me?'

Spike shook his head from side to side like a dog trying to shake off unwanted water. 'I can't remember. Angel, please, I just can't.'

'Do you love me? Do you remember, Will, what we had? Do you want it back?'

'The blood calls to me. All of them: their hearts, beating out their need for me. I can't stop it pulling me down.'

'Do you love me? Do you want me to love you like this forever?'

'YES! Yes, I do! For God's sake, Angel, I do! Please, help me stay with you. I don't want to leave you.'

Angel grunted softly and released his semen into Spike, working his childe's shaft for him so skillfully that they matched, shot for shot.

He eased down carefully onto the sticky pool, lying between Spike's still healing thighs and smothered his childe with his strong arms and hands. 'I'll never let you go.'

'I'll never leave you.' Spike closed his eyes and tried not to hear the devil's soft whispers in his ear. He felt something against his lips and moaned with pleasure as blood began to pool into his mouth. When he looked to the source, a demon grinned at him with flashing amber eyes. He reverted to his true face too and began to feed. Angel cradled his head and murmured, 'I'm a demon too, Childe; never forget that. I do understand.'

Spike nodded but not enough to dislodge the wrist pressed to his mouth.

Angel could not have picked a better way to bind Spike to him while they fought for his soul. Spike now wanted to be with him all the time, followed him helplessly, did as he was told because Angel wanted it, because Angel still loved him, and he was trying so hard with everything in him - demon, human, memory of soul - to love Angel back. They played familiar music: Spike's raucous fuck-music, as he called it; Angel's soaring Bach - anything that elicited memories they could use to keep Spike's mind focused on their goal. They played old games: hunting each other through the hotel, daring the other with bizarre bets. As they played, though, Angel sensed Spike's demonic nature returning, reasserting itself over the fading, soulful associations. When Spike caught him, Angel's punishment became vicious. When they fucked, Spike's face would demonize before he ejaculated, and his cries of pleasure were harsh and guttural. Although Angel used all the endearments he could, constantly trying to pull Spike back to him, he sensed Spike derided him for them, preferring far more the brutal aspects of sex.

For all this though, Angel found it hard to remind himself that this was not his lover and his best friend. He occasionally caught himself thinking that if they could not restore Spike's soul, he would eventually learn to live with this Spike quite happily. These thoughts only spurred him on to new efforts, consumed as he then was with guilt and confusion.

On the third evening, Spike jogged down the stairs to find Sam and Jordan coming in, laughing through the door. He skidded to a halt and murmured under his breath, 'Go away.'

Not hearing this, they came over to him and messed him up for a while, until he said nervously, 'This isn't a good time. I'm sorry but….'

'The Inedible Hulk invited us!'

'Angel invited you?' Spike saw Sam glance up and turned to see Angel, sauntering down the stairs. He smiled at Spike and came over to stand close behind him. 'I thought you'd like to see your friends.'

Spike spun around, grabbed him by the arm and dragged him into the kitchen, closing the door so they could not be overheard. 'You told them!'

Angel shook his head. 'They don't need to know.'


'What, Spike? What are you going to do? Tear them limb from limb! Torture them to death in ways that are hard to even speak about? No, I don't think so. That's what humans did to each other - that's what humans specialize in devising. Demons learnt everything they know about torture from humans. So, why shouldn't you enjoy your friends! They've come to play cards and do whatever else you indulge in together. You're not going to freaking suck their blood, are you!'

Spike didn't reply too directly to this, avoiding Angel's eye, but he murmured softly, 'I can't. I don't trust….'

'I'll stay with you if you want. I didn't want to… intrude.'

Spike felt the huge concession and nodded. 'Okay. They'll think it odd though.'

'I'll pretend to be enjoying myself.'

Suddenly, Spike grinned and came up to him, his normal ebullience returning. 'If you stay, you won't have to pretend. They're… fun, Angel. You have NO idea.'

He swaggered back to the lobby and clasped the slightly confused pair around the shoulders. 'Who's dealing?'

Sam grinned and gave him a very intense, direct look, fingering his neck slightly. Spike took a deep breath, and it steadied him, making him feel more human. He sensed Angel's strong presence behind him and felt strong enough to face the fun.

They lounged as usual on Spike's bed. Angel lurked by the window, just a dark shadow that the others soon forgot about. Spike's senses were so acute though that he fancied he could feel the hard sill that Angel sat on through his own jeans, but he put this down to the emotional strain he was under. He didn't pretend that it was anything other than a strain. Sam's neck was still red and swollen were he'd fed from him. The memory of the human's vulnerable neck under his power was almost too much to bear; it made him hard, drained the blood from his brain where his control lay and only made him feel more and more demonic as the game went on.

Jordan didn't help. He amused himself by sliding in and out of bodies that he knew Spike fancied. Spike ignored him until a soft shift made him chuckle.

He felt Angel coming closer. 'Change back.'

Spike shook his head wearily at Angel. ''S no good. I've told 'im not to do it, but you've gotta admit: it's a good likeness.'

Angel was torn between being genuinely furious and desperately pleased that Spike was enjoying himself with his friends - the friends he could only keep by getting his soul back. He tried to look censorious and said firmly, 'I don't know. I don't have a reflection.'

Spike tweaked up an eyebrow and leant into Jordan's lips, kissing the dark familiarity, keeping his gaze fixed provocatively on Angel. When he drew back, he said seductively, 'Do you like watching me with… you?'

Suddenly, the Angel facsimile rose from the bed and seamlessly changed once more. Sam laughed in delight at the vampires' expressions and tried to pin Spike to the bed as a blond copy advanced on Angel.

'Come on, Luv; kiss me.'

Spike shouted in outrage. 'I do NOT speak like that!'

Jordan gave a small, Spike-like swagger and caught Angel around the back of the neck. Angel pushed him off, and Jordan laughed. 'Sorry, Pet, I forgot you've got other tastes.'

Once more he changed.

The room became very still.

Angel glanced in furious incredulity at Spike. Spike began to laugh, and the sound of his soulless childe, laughing with as much child-like pleasure as he ever did, made Angel smile. At the smile, the very young blond girl came to him and pushed him back against the wall.

'Oh, Vampire, take me.'

Spike and Sam were helpless on the bed. Angel growled slightly at the audacity of the young demon. The little girl's face took on a look of fear and in a slightly valley voice murmured, 'You are so masterful, Angel. Kiss me. Give me your love stick.'

That did it. Angel picked her up and moved her to one side and came over to Spike. He was trying hard not to look amused. 'You talk too much.'

Spike wiped his eyes. 'Jordan should 'ave done a lollypop too. She could have sucked on it for you.'

Jordan changed back to his usual look and climbed back on the bed. With a sly glance at Angel, he picked up the cards to deal again. Spike took them off him and very pointedly dealt four hands. He shuffled along so the only space available was next to him and waited patiently.

Angel looked at him for a moment, trying to gauge his motives then kicked off his shoes and sat very close.

Spike leant on him; he played and laughed and cheated just as he always did, and Angel was the only one who knew just how much effort it took for him to appear so normal in front of his friends.

Go to Chapter 5

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