Spike crushed the butt of his cigarette, watching orange sparks hop-skip-jump across the bark.  Not near enough to start a fire—not that it’d take much.  Even by the sea like they were, days were hot and dry and wood started looking, well, withered. Dry, though he’d never really cared about how dry wood looked before.  He hadn’t needed to light a fire for warmth or heat in nearly a hundred years—and before then, he’d either had men to do it for him, or wood already properly dried and chopped, bundled into the small woodshed outside the house. 

Then again, that was in England.  Nothing was ever truly dry, there.

Lighting his third cigarette, Spike leaned more comfortably against his chosen tree.  Not the one in front, where he’d dropped so many butts nothing grew in a ring around the winding roots.  A different one, in the back.  One he’d stood at for a hundred and twelve nights, watching the window near the trellis, where roses were still blooming, and the soft golden light that shown through the drawn blinds.

“I should’ve known you’d be here.  Lurking.”

Spike puffed on the fag, his eyes never wavering from the window.  He wasn’t surprised to hear that voice—he’d been waiting one hundred and eleven days for it.  “Jealous, much?”

“Of you?” Angel scoffed.  “Hardly.”

“Meant the lurking.  Since you’ve probably got it patented, or something.”

Leaves rustled as a large body shifted.  “‘Jealous, much’?  You sound like—”  Angel broke off, staring at the same window Spike was.  “No.”

Ponce.  Spike ground out his cigarette and pawed through the pack, hoping there was a bent one he’d missed.  Nothing.  Crumpling the pack and shoving it in his pocket, he made a note to drop a word in with Harris; the truce between vampire and Scoobies was uneasy, but Spike’d discovered that if he happened to mention he was out of something, it’d appear on his door step a day or two later.  Thirteen days later he’d discovered the Spike Fund and toned down his complaining in deference.  “No?  Didn’t realize I was asking yes or no questions.”

“No.  No, you are not going near them.  Her.”

Spike didn’t bother to correct Angel.  Picking up a rock, he aimed for the wood surrounding the window and not the glass itself.  Three seconds after the thunk the window opened and a head was stuck out.  “Spi-ike!  It’s so early.”

“Ten thirty, nibblet.  Light’s out.”

A faint snort of derision was barely audible over Dawn’s huff-plus-eye-roll.  “Come on, Spike, please?  Just five more minutes?”

“If you’re still doing homework—”

“God, I’m not doing homework!  I finished it hours ago, which you know because you and Willow went over most of it.  Freak.”

She was strong, this girl.  Stronger even than her sister, in some ways, though he’d never say that out loud.  Keeping his chuckle internal, Spike said, “Could’ve been lying.  Certainly wouldn’t be the first time you’ve done that.”

Dawn huffed even louder this time, releasing the window sill to cross her arms beneath bittie breasts.  “It was just one time, Spike!  And it was just a stupid book report and—and I’m not lying!”

She was wheedling, now, which meant she truly wasn’t lying but she didn’t want him to know what she was doing, instead.  Spike had a decent idea of what it was, and wasn’t worried.  She wanted to read those kinds of magazines, that was fine with Spike—though he was definitely going to have to teach her better shoplifting techniques.  “Ten forty five now.  Light’s out, or I’ll pull the power.  Again.”

Emitting a credible growl, Dawn slammed the window shut, adding a screech of frustration that he heard clearly through the glass—Angel winced.  Five minutes later, her light was turned obediently out, the position of the shadows telling Spike she was in bed and her flashlight still tucked away in it’s cubby hole.

“Is that supposed to impress me?”

Spike didn’t bother responding to that.  He had his own patrols to do, now that Dawn was tucked safe and sound in her bed, Willow’s protective spells the only reason he wasn’t glued to Dawn’s side.  Angel followed silently, a hulking presence radiating suspicion and watchfulness—a lot like being around Ruper for more than ten minutes or so, actually.  Spike was used to ignoring it.

“You’re patrolling,” he said eventually.

“Brilliant observational skills, mate.”

“Don’t be an idiot,” Angel retorted, the expected come-back said almost fondly despite the annoyance.  “Um. Why are you patrolling?”

Spike paused, coat lapping at his shins as he looked directly at Angel for the first time that night.  “Are you here for a reason?  Or did you decide you missed playing the Stupid Questions game?”

Angel looking sheepish was a sight Spike would normal have basked in, taunting him to prolonge the expression.  Instead, he went back towards his crypt, leaving the door open behind him in silent invitation.

“I went to Tibet, you know.  Spent time with monks.  Course, they turned out to be demons, but it was nice for a while.  Peaceful.”

This was a good conversational starter?  Spike sucked down a blood bag cold, tossing one to Angel in a show of good manners.  “Good for you, then.”

“Yeah.  The fight was good.  Nice to work out some tensions. . . .”  He trailed off uncomfortably.  Probably realized how much like a toff he sounded, or some such.  Spike slumped into his chair, wishing Angel was gone so he could rub his head like an old man.  “You’re still here.”

Here it came.  Spike did rub his head then, not needing to be told how he should’ve saved her, or at least done the romantic thing and burned himself to ash the next sunrise.  Thereby taking care of two of Angel’s problems right there, while leaving the witches and Anya without their muscle, Harris and the Watcher without someone to mock, and Dawn without her guardian.  “Yeah, Angel.  I’m still here.  There you go with those brilliant observational skills.”

“Dammit, that’s not—I meant—”  Shifting nervously, Angel inviting himself to sit on Spike’s bed, crossing his legs like a proper gentlemen.  It always gave Spike perverse pleasure when he caught Angel acting like the high-born human he’d once been—since Angelus had given Spike grief about that very same thing.  “How do you do it?  Stay?”

The crypt always felt a little darker, a little danker after he spent time with Dawn.  Spike was never sure if he appreciated it more or less, only that it was there.  “You’re asking me?”  Angel couldn’t be serious.  Angel was never serious with him, treated him the way he used to treat Harris—an idiot best tolerated and never quite trusted.  “Right.  Those demon-monks suck the fire out of you?”

“I think they breathed fire, not—” Angel tossed him a glare at being caught out, before letting his gaze turn inward again.  “Yeah.  I’m asking you.”

Spike hadn’t heard that tone of voice in one hundred and two years, ninety eight days: the day before Darla came back and took Angelus attention away from him and Dru.  “Not like I can just leave them.  I—I promised.”

“You’d have stayed without the promise, Spike.”

Same voice, with a hint of badly remembered brogue giving the words a touch of lilt to bring back memories Spike had ruthlessly squashed.  “Mebbe.  Not your business, is it?  You left.”

Angel winced, but nodded.  “True.  But I’m not here because of B—her friends.  Or even her sister.”

Spike rubbed his head again.  That voice, telling him things he’d wanted to hear for so bloody long, was giving him a world class headache.  Angel wasn’t supposed to care about him.  He was supposed to be storming around, berating Spike for tainting the humans with his presence and simultaneously ordering him to do a better job of taking care of them.  Spike knew how to deal with that kind of Angel-hypocrisy, hell, he’d been preparing for it from almost the minute Angel showed up.  And now Angel was playing these insane mind games, and Spike was starting to get angry.

“What do you want, Angel,” he demanded flatly.  “Can sleep here if you want, but you left this town.  It’s mine now.  I stay because I bloody well want to stay, and that’s no business of yours.”

Angel nodded, like he’d expected that reaction.  “Before they tried to kill me, the monks talked to me about family.  They knew what I was, of course, and they said that even vampires have family, if they want them.”

Spike nearly groaned.  “Yeah, you do.  Cheerleader’s still waiting for you in L.A., isn’t she?  Go cry on her shoulder—view must be spectacular.”

The leer was automatic, an unconscious desire to piss Angel off the fastest way possible.  Angel ignored it, though, toying with a stray thread in his pants.  “Cordelia’s a friend, a good one.  But she isn’t family.”

His laughter sounded hollow, echoing wetly on the stone.  “Please.  Don’t embarrass yourself.”

“I let you forget,” Angel said softly, almost too himself.  “I thought you’d be better off without me, so I stayed away and ignored it.  Ignored you.  That was a mistake.”

“Look, I don’t know what the hell you’re—”

“I am your Sire, Spike, and you’ll let me finish.”

The flash of command, bright white and harsh, silenced Spike instantly.  Not because he was obeying, really, since William the Bloody didn’t obey anyone, least of all a jumped-up bog-trotter with a soul.  But because. . . he wanted that voice.  He’d missed it for decades and it was more than enough to make him shiver in surprise.  It made Angel sound like—like he really was Spike’s Sire.

“Better.  Giles called me a few times after you got chipped.  To let me know what was happening with you and ask—subtly, of course—if I would take you off his hands.”

Big surprise there.  Spike shifted irritably, but didn’t interrupt.  Not with that voice, and not that there was anything to really say.  He knew how much Giles tolerated him, up until the very end.  It was only with her acceptance came grudging—extremely grudging—trust from the others.

“When I told him no, he asked if I wanted to get in touch with you at all.  I told him no again.  That was a mistake.”

Spike abruptly stood, rummaging through the small chipped-out area that served as shelves, hoping there was a forgotten pack of cigarettes there.  Scrabbling through dust and rough-hewn stone, his fingers closed around the neck of a bottle. Not fags, but damn if it’ll do.  Almost weak-kneed with relief, Spike shook it, the sound of sloshing contents sweet music to his ears.  The whiskey tasted off, but the harsh thread of alcohol was still there, and Spike cared more about that than the taste.  “Good on you,” he said a bit roughly.  He didn’t have a clue what Angel was telling him, but that voice kept running through his head, keeping him quiet and waiting.

Angel stood abruptly and walked closer.  “You’re still here, Spike.  No girl for you to obsess over, no soul to make you care.  No real threat to make you stay.  But you’re still here.”

“I made a promise.”  The words felt like diamonds in his mouth, chipping teeth and tearing tongue and lips to ribbons.  He liked saying them, over and over until he could almost smell the blood.  “I keep my promises.”

Angel moved even closer.  “I’m sorry.”

The—Spike felt his eyes go wide and his head twitch up before got control of himself.  “For leaving her safety in my hands?  Yeah, can see how that’d make anyone sorry.  ’Cept that’s mostly your fault, since you should’ve been here.  You would have—”

“She didn’t need me.  There was this whole Pylea thing, but that’s not the point.  She didn’t need me.  But you. . . you do.”

The problem with Angel—and Angelus—was that the big rocks that rolled about in his head occasionally held still long enough for him to make some frighteningly accurate observations.  The kind that Spike hated, because they were usually the last observations he wanted anyone to make.  Yeah, he did need Angel.  Needed something to keep him in line because too many others were depending on his strength.  Needed to tell him that he wasn’t screwing everything up, or that he wasn’t getting in the way and better of breaking his promise.  But Spike couldn’t hear those things from Angel, hadn’t been able to in nearly a hundred years.

“Arrogant,” he spat out, a deep gulp of whiskey making his lips go shiny.  “So bloody arrogant.  I don’t need anything, least of all from you.”

“I am your Sire,” Angel tossed back.  Leaning on the arms of the couch, he got right into Spike’s face so suddenly that he couldn’t do anything to stop it.  “I am your Sire.  And it’s time that I reminded you of that.”

He bit Spike’s lower lip.  Hard.

The burst of pain mixed with the alcohol in his system, keeping him still when Angel gripped his wrists to hold him down.  “Don’t think this is what your demon monks had in mind when they said ‘family’,” he sneered.  “Less they’re lurking round outside, ready to sell the film rights to Anne sodding Rice.”

Angel bit him again, lips cool and strong and confident as they grazed Spike’s slightly closed ones.  “I’m your Sire, Spike.  If I want to fuck you, I will.”

Some of the anger immediately lessened, Spike tilting his head.  “If?  When’ve you ever not wanted to fuck me?”  Spike carefully didn’t mention that he wanted that fucking, desperately.  Anne Rice or not, that was how Angelus had always done things.

“Because I’m not going to fuck you tonight, Spike.  You don’t need that.”  Angel brought his mouth down a third time, kissing him properly.  “Because I don’t need that.”

Spike tried to pull away, tried to ask just what the hell Angel meant by that, but Angel’s mouth was demanding on his own, the remembered feel as intoxicating now as it was then.  Spike groaned, hating how weak he sounded, bringing his hands around Angel’s back to return the favor.  His hips thrust up, hard cock brushing against hard cock, and Spike stopped caring.  He did need this.  The intensity of their kissing grew deeper as Angel shifted to let his fangs out, cutting deeply into Spike’s mouth.

“I spent all summer searching for control,” he muttered, moving down Spike’s neck.  “All that time looking for some way to justify leaving the night of Joyce’s funeral, after graduation.  And you’ve been here, the entire time.  Struggling to stay in control.”

“Ironic,” Spike agreed.  He didn’t understand what Angel was telling him, but didn’t mention that little fact.  Angel was grinding against him like a two-dollar whore and Spike could feel himself shake inside Angel’s arms.  “Poofter.”

Angel chuckled, getting off Spike’s lap without moving his mouth from Spike’s skin.  Strong hands yanked him upright, then pushed him towards the saprophagous.  Spike went because it was just too much effort to fight, and having Angel touch him like this was—good.  Better than.  The plastic memory of the ’bot faded under the onslaught of Angel’s body, Angel’s scent, Angel’s touch, and for the first time since the tower, Spike knew he’d find some kind of relief.

“Tell me you had this planned,” he asked when he was stretched out fully on his bed, clothes torn off with big, eager hands.  “Tell me you showed up here just to maul me.”

Still game-faced, Angel shook his head.  “I didn’t, not until I saw you.  That’s when I knew.”

Totally naked, Spike sat up just enough to free Angel from his clothes.  Familiar skin, visible only due to a vampire’s night vision, was still as pale and as perfect as Spike remembered.  “Knew what?” he asked, diving for a pert nipple before Angel could tell him no.

“Childe.  My Childe.”  The formal term, used so rarely despite the over-use of ‘Sire’, made them both moan.

Angel was heavy enough to make not needing oxygen a good thing, Spike noted, busy arranging his body so the two of them were comfortable pressed together.  Nipples scraped his chest, his doing the same, while Angel wriggled and kissed him hard.  Blood dripped down their chins, the scents mixing and filling the room.  It was almost like it’d been so damnably long ago, with Angelus taking and using and Spike loving every second of it.

Spike moaned in disapproval when Angel abruptly sat up.  “Angelus’ Childe,” he countered.

Angel cuffed him, Spike crying out not from the pain but the pleasure.  Angelus’ love-play had always included a great deal of pain and Spike craved it.  “I am Angelus,” the darker vampire barked.  “And I am your Sire.”

And suddenly Spike knew the game.  Knew exactly what they both needed: to let go.  Just in slightly different ways.   “Prove it,” he demanded, wriggling under Angel’s weight.  “Prove it to me.”

Angel smiled, looking so much like Angelus that Spike almost moaned, almost smelled the jasmine Dru wore and the lilac Darla preferred, tasted the patchouli Angelus always burned when they were to stay somewhere for a while.  “Hold onto the edge,” Angel instructed, working his buttocks down Spike’s body until they rested in the cradle of Spike’s hips.  Well not in so much as on, since Angel was so much bigger.  Spike’s cock was rubbed with each position change, making him groan.

Offering Spike a wrist, Angel said, “Bite.”

Spike bit, familiar taste making him close his eyes, only to pop them back open to watch as Angel let his hand coat with blood.  Reaching back, he found Spike’s cock and ran his bloody hand all over it.  The feel was incredible, damned near blowing the top off Spike’s head.  “Jesus, Angel.”

“Sire.  Same thing.”  Angel lifted up and then settled back down, slowly forcing Spike inside.

Experience told Spike just how painful it was to take someone unprepared and with only a bit of blood for lube, but he wasn’t complaining.  Wasn’t doing anything but flying, groaning out meaningless words and sounds as his cock was worked deeper and deeper, tight muscle he’d felt only once before engulfing him.

“Let go, Childe,” Angel instructed, balls resting on Spike’s stomach.  Spike nearly whimpered when Angel clenched down, tightening around him as he slowly rose back up and slid back down.  Angel’s hand wandered over Spike’s chest, finding his nipples and twisting them painfully.  Spike wailed, grabbing onto Angel’s hips and thrusting even though Angelus would’ve beaten him raw for such presumption.  Not Angel—or maybe just not now, since Angel moaned in approval and found a rhythm to match.

Pressure, pleasure, and the sharply silver notes of pain spun through Spike’s mind.  It ripped through everything, laying a greater waste than any of the hotel rooms Spike had trashed, the carnage he and Dru had wrought.  This was carnage on an emotional scale, forcing him to stop counting days, stop worrying over a human brat he wasn’t supposed to care for, stop wondering if this was the day he’d screw up and it would all get yanked away from him yet again.  There was just fucking, just Angel riding his cock with abandon, telling him how much they’d needed this, the give and take, push and pull.  How much Angel had needed this, fire burning inside him, pushing at his confusion and dismay, forcing him to find the order inside it or get swept away entirely.

Spike came with a full-throated cry that echoed all around them.  There was wetness on his chest and belly, but neither of them stopped moving.  They rutted, nearly mindless, Angel constantly forcing his body to move, while Spike lay back and let him.  The role-reversal—each facet of it—was made more poignant as their bodies grew closer and closer to what passed for vampiric satiation, the sounds they made formed words.  Sire and Childe were traded back and forth, until Spike didn’t know if he was calling Angel Sire or Childe, and didn’t care.  The words were there, now, between them, and wouldn’t be hidden away again.

When Angel finally collapsed, Spike thought about demanding that he roll off.  But Spike didn’t have to breathe, and it was oddly comfortable, being so weighted down.  Covered.  “See?” Angel buzzed sleepily in his ear.  “My Childe.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Spike said, equally as exhausted.  “Whatever.”

Angel chuckled, the sound rolling through their chests.  “I’ll take that as agreement.  Unless you think you want more proof. . .”

They lay still for a while longer.  The cold didn’t bother them and while Angel usually preferred being clothed, Spike wasn’t going to be the one to suggest they move.  “Almost light out.  Thought you wanted to get back to L.A. tonight?”

“I do.”

“Right, then.”  Spike had no idea how awkward it could be to have your cock still half-up your partner’s ass, his weight holding you tighter than any chains.

“I’ll be back,” Angel said softly.  “Not soon.  But I will.”

Spike considered that a moment before shaking his head.  “No.  You’ve a reason to be down in L.A. and it’s a good one.  Well, good enough.”  Pushing Angel off, he found his jeans and tugged them back on.  Angel dressed as well, looking stunned in a disquieted way.  “However, I can take trips if I want.  Let the humans take care of what they’re supposed to for a night.  Or a weekend.”

“Ah.  I thought you might say that.”  Pulling on his coat, Angel fished something out of the pocket and handed it over.  “Come in the back way, Childe.”  Then he yanked Spike closer for a hard kiss, and disappeared.

Leaving Spike holding a key, and the directions to a place called the Hyperion Hotel.