Everything Has Its Place


by Saber ShadowKitten




Part Four





Cordelia had an amused smile on her face when Angel joined her and Giles back in the living room. "Have fun?" she asked him.

Angel shrugged, suppressing a smile. "Some."

"Er, you didn't stake him, did you?" Giles asked.

Angel couldn't stop the laugh that bubbled up from inside him and escaped. Cordelia arched a dark brow and Giles just looked at him in confusion, adding to his mirth.

"Well, he's not dust," he answered after he smothered his laughter.

"Um, eew," Cordelia said, holding up her hand. "I so didn't need to hear that subtext." Angel waggled his brows at her and she scowled in return. "Can we get back to work before my therapy bill totally skyrockets because of you and your icky vampireness? It's bad enough as it is because of Doyle's dumb sacrifice and having to work with Wesley everyday."

"Am I paying for this therapy?" Angel asked.

"Of course," Cordelia said. "It's part of the new benefits package you instituted a couple months ago."

"New benefits package?"

Cordelia gave Angel a brilliant smile. "Yeah, it was really nice of you to provide it, too. It includes-"

Angel raised his hand to ward off her explanation. "I don't want to know. As long as you're happy, I'm happy."

"I'd be happier with a raise," Cordelia hinted.

"Sure, you can have a raise," Angel said. He smirked. "We'll just take it out of your benefits money."

"The raise can wait," she told him.

"Glad to hear it," Angel said. "Now, back to that work you mentioned before. Did Wesley call?"

"Yes," Cordelia replied. She picked up the small notepad that was sitting on the table beside her and read from it. "After you left, I picked Giles's brain and got a name for you: Professor Maggie Walsh. She works at the college and is somehow a part of this Initiative group. I got in touch with the brown-noser and he dug into her background for us. She has Doctorates in both psychology and physiology, wrote lots of papers on behavior modification and, get this, the most recent one she wrote was sub-titled: 'Behavior Modification of Predatory Species Using Electro-Neurological Stimuli.'"

"What a coincidence," Angel said wryly.

"I thought so, too," Cordelia said. "Wesley told me he'd email us the article summaries if we can get to a computer."

"I don't know if we'll need them yet or not," Angel said. "I think I should go to this Professor's office and see what I can find first. Let me go get Spike and then I'll drop you and him off at the mansion before I head over to the college."

"Why do I always get stuck with babysitting duty?" Cordelia complained.

Before Angel could answer, there was a knock at the door a moment before it opened. "Giles, it's Willow," Willow called as she entered. "I have that book you wanted..." She spotted Angel and she gasped in shock. "Angel!"

Angel smiled at the hacker. "Hello, Willow."

"What are you doing here? Is Buffy in danger? Does she know you're here? She doesn't, does she, because if she did, she would have told me and she didn't tell me, so she doesn't know that you're here. You are going to tell her you're here, right? Because if you don't tell her, I will and then she'll be all mad that I was the one to tell her and not you-"

"Oh, please, can't you speak without babbling like a teeny-bopper?" Cordelia interrupted the redhead. "It's annoying."

"Cordelia," Angel said softly in reprimand. Cordelia rolled her eyes and began to doodle on her notepad. The vampire turned his attention to Willow. "To answer one of your questions: no I haven't told her I'm here, but it's not a secret. If you see her before I do, feel free to tell her."

"Is Buffy in danger again?" Willow asked. "Should I call in the cavalry for a research party?"

"Actually, it's Spike that they're here for," Giles said.

"Spike?" Willow said incredulously. "The vampire Spike?"

"You know of another Spike?" Cordelia said. Then she put her hand to her mouth and spoke around her fingers. "Oh my god, I sound like Wesley!"

Angel laughed, causing Willow to gape at him. "You-you're laughing!"

"It's usually what one does when highly amused," Angel said dryly. Then, he groaned. "Great, now I sound like Wesley."

"I think I deserve hazard pay," Cordelia said. "Working with Wesley is a danger to my vocabulary."

"I'll keep it in mind," Angel said. He glanced at the clock on the mantle. "We'd better get going if I'm going to investigate Professor Walsh's office before sunrise."

"Her office is located in Langerstrom Hall," Giles supplied. "Room 109."

"Thanks," Angel said. He turned to Willow. "Willow, do you think you can show me where it's at?"

"Sure," Willow agreed enthusiastically. "Are we breaking-and-entering?"

Angel gave her a half-smile. "Are you up for it?"

"Oh, I'm way up for that," Willow replied. "It's one of my specialties. I'm a one-woman B-and-E team... although, with a team, you usually have more than one person... and I usually go with Buffy or Xander when we snoop around somewhere, so technically I'm not alone..."

*****

"Well?"

"Oh my god." Cordelia stared at Angel in stunned disbelief. "Angel, what in the world did you do to yourself?"

Angel glanced down at his too-small brown suit, white socks and highly-polished burgundy shoes. The white dress shirt he wore was one size too big, the sleeves extending past the brown jacket sleeves and the thin black tie he'd put on was a retro-blast from the eighties. A pocket protector bulging with pens and pencils, as well as a small flip notepad, was crammed into his shirt pocket. "What? You don't like it?"

"You look like a nerd!" Cordelia exclaimed.

Angel's eyes were twinkling with humor as he returned his gaze to her. He lifted his hand to his hair, which he'd purposely brushed flat in a Jerry Lewis style, and smoothed it down with an effeminate gesture. Then, he pulled a pair of horn-rimmed glasses out of his pocket, complete with white scotch tape holding one earpiece to the main part of the frame, and slipped them on his nose.

Cordelia burst into laughter, falling back onto the couch and clutching her middle. "Oh... my... god... You... look... so... ridiculous!" she gasped between laughs.

Angel smiled with an off-kilter boyishness that had the brunette almost falling onto the floor. Her laughter echoed against the stone walls of the mansion, where they had spent the night. A small bit of sunlight streamed through the crack in the heavy curtains over the broken doors to the sunken garden, helping to make the place less gloomy.

The dark-haired vampire heard footsteps and he turned to see Spike amble into the main room. The younger man's step faltered when he saw Angel, his blue eyes growing huge with disbelief. "Angel?" he said in a faint voice.

Angel clicked his heels together and gave Spike a half-nod. "Please, call me Dr. Lorn A. Doone," he said in a nasally voice.

"Lorn A. Doone!" Cordelia said in a high-pitched screech of laughter. "Lorn A. Doone! Cookies!"

"Cordelia, I won't be able to revive you if you die of laughter," Angel said in his own voice as he removed the fake glasses. He tucked them back into his pocket and walked over to the coffee table where piles of paper and a battered briefcase sat waiting for him.

"If Doyle could only see what you've become," Cordelia told him as she tried to stifle her laughter.

"Yeah," Angel said wistfully, a genuine smile crossing his face. "He probably would have died from laughter."

"Well, his opinion on your attractiveness certainly would have taken a nosedive," she commented as she pulled herself together. "Goodbye, Mr. Mysterious Hunk; Hello, Urkel."

"That's Mr. Mysterious Hunk with the Overhanging Brow," Angel corrected with a wink at her.

Cordelia studied his face. "You do sort of have the Neanderthal forehead going for you."

"Oh, thank you for pointing that out to me. What would I do without you to boost my ego?" Angel said in a flat tone of voice. He glanced up and saw that Spike was still standing near the edge of the room. He mentally smirked. "Come here, Spike."

Spike blinked twice, as if he were coming out of a shocked daze, then quickly walked across the room to Angel's side. The dark-haired vampire's mental smirk grew. Spike had definitely been put into place, Angel thought.

"Cordelia's going to drive me to my appointment with Professor Walsh," Angel said as he began putting the bound printouts of the Professor's behavior modification papers in the briefcase.

Willow had allowed them the use of her computer the previous night after their little breaking-and-entering adventure that resulted in nothing except for Angel penciling himself into the Professor's appointment book for the following afternoon at three. Luckily, her office had no windows, and the sunlight could be easily avoided throughout the rest of Lagerstrom Hall.

"While we're gone, I want you to write down every single detail you remember about being captured and the events subsequent thereto," Angel told Spike. "I want to know what you felt, who you talked to, what the place you were held at looked like, what color clothes people were wearing -- everything."

"Everything, right," Spike said. "Do you want that in triplicate?"

Angel reached out and cuffed Spike none-too-lightly across the back of the head. "There's blood leftover in the cooler if you get hungry. I'll pick up some more tonight, so don't worry if you finish it all."

"I wasn't worried," Spike muttered under his non-existent breath.

Angel pinned his Childe with a hard gaze. "What did you say?"

"I said: 'Yes, Angel. Thank you, Angel. You're so kind, Angel,'" Spike replied sarcastically.

"You know, Cordelia and I don't really have to leave for another half-hour," Angel said in an off-handed manner. "Why don't we step into the other room..." He let his sentence dangle, a cruel smile pulling at the corners of his lips.

Spike swallowed visibly and took a step backwards. "That's okay, mate. You just go ahead and I'll get writing."

"If you're sure..."

Spike nodded quickly. "I'm sure."

"Okay then." Angel turned and shut the briefcase, then picked it up. "Ready, Cordelia?"

"Yes," Cordelia said. She smirked at Spike. "Do we need to take Spike out for a last minute tinkle before we go?"

"I think he can hold it," Angel said. He glanced back at the blond vampire with a threat in his eyes that gave seriousness to his joking words. "If he doesn't, I'll just have to punish him."

Spike dropped his head in a submissive gesture and said nothing. Angel nodded once in satisfaction, then looked back at Cordelia and gestured in the direction of the attached garage. "Let's go."





Part Five





"It's an honor to meet you, Professor Walsh," Angel said in the nasally voice he affected for the character he was playing. He shook Maggie Walsh's hand enthusiastically and he was smiling so wide, his cheeks hurt.

"And you, Mister...," Maggie prompted.

"Doone," Angel supplied, still pumping her hand. "Dr. Lorn A. Doone, but everyone calls me by my middle name: Angel."

"Well, uh, Angel," Maggie said, trying to extract her hand from Angel's. "It's nice to meet you."

"No, it's nice to meet you," Angel said, firmly stressing the last word. He hoped his brown eyes behind the horn-rims looked worshipful rather than idiotic, like he felt.

"So, what can I do for you, Angel?" Maggie asked.

Angel released her hand abruptly, causing the Professor to take a step back to keep her balance. He lifted his briefcase and clutched it in front of him as if he were hugging it and gave her a dopey grin. "Oh, I was on my way to the behavioral science conference in Hammersmith," he began. According to Willow, there was such a conference being held in Hammersmith, and he'd learned that having a supportable false background made detective life less detrimental to his or his friends' health. "And I'd read at the end of your last published paper that you were teaching here, so since I was driving by Sunnydale anyway..."

"Driving from where?" Maggie said as she sat down.

The way she phrased the question was as if she were truly interested in him, but Angel could tell by the way she looked at him that he was being tested. Luckily, he had mapped out a cover story that included why he'd be in Sunnydale on top of why he'd be visiting the Professor.

"Connorsville," Angel replied, naming a semi-large town near Sunnydale. "I was visiting with my mother. I don't get to see her that often because my research keeps me very busy. Well, you know how it is when you're involved in researching."

"Yes, I do," Maggie said, giving him a small smile. "Quite often, time slips away without my even noticing. If I may ask, what is it that you're currently working on?"

"Cause and effect of chemical stimuli in the mating behavior of homo sapiens," Angel answered with another broad, moronic grin. "Or, as my assistants call the project, 'The Sure Thing.'" He snorted loudly and obnoxiously, as if what he'd just said was the funniest thing in the world.

He felt like a total idiot.

"It sounds interesting," Maggie said.

"How about you?" Angel asked, as he sat down across from her. "Are you working on a new project?"

"Somewhat new," she answered cautiously.

"Is it in relation to your last one on behavior modification using electro-neuro stimuli?" Angel said, his nasally voice full of excitement. He hoped that by acting as a young scientist with a strong case of hero-worship for her she'd speak more freely about her research. "I've read your last paper a couple hundred times," he opened the briefcase on his lap and pulled out the research paper in question, "and I found that the conclusions you were able to draw were amazing."

"Thank you, Angel," Maggie said, a slight flush of pleasure tinting her cheeks.

"I was wondering if you had thought of and application for electro-neuro stimulus to humans?" Angel said. He shut the briefcase and held the bound printout in his hands like it was the original copy of the Declaration of Independence. "It was inferred, but never outright stated, in your conclusions."

"Human experimentation is against the law," Maggie said bluntly.

"Oh, I know that," Angel said. "I was just hypothesizing on the benefits to mankind." He leaned forward in his chair, bouncing in fake enthusiasm. "I mean, think about it! Instead of spending all this money on building jails for convicted murderers and rapists, they're implanted with a device of some sort that utilizes your principles and prevents them from acting on their horrible impulses!"

"That was one of the directions I was going with my research," Maggie said, warming to the subject. "I agree with you about the benefits an electro-neuro device could have."

Angel mentally whooped -- she took the bait.

"Since my last published paper," she gestured to the bound printout in his hand, "I've been able to create such a device, small enough to be implanted and acts independently, rather than through operator control."

Angel purposely widened his eyes and said with nasally wonder, "Really?"

"Yes," Maggie confirmed. "And so far, experimentation indicates that the device works."

"How did you get it to work independently?" Angel asked.

"Through years of trial and error," Maggie told him with a shared-researcher's chuckle. "I've managed to pinpoint the precise area in the brain that controls predatory impulses. Whenever the neurons and synapses in that location flare, the device is activated by the brain's own electrical energy. The device then sends a high-powered shock directly into the brain itself, causing the predator to feel immense pain long enough that it halts the predatory behavior, but does no permanent damage."

"So it is like shock therapy?" Angel said. He noticed that the Professor had relaxed her posture and was speaking more freely, as if he really was a colleague, and he mentally sighed in relief at his apparent success.

"To a degree," Maggie replied. "The shocks are more powerful, but in short bursts in direct relation to the undesirable behavior."

"Can the device ever be removed?" Angel asked.

Maggie shook her head. "Not at this time. After the device was removed in the test subjects, the first time that portion of the brain was utilized, the subjects became frenzied. They attacked anything that moved, seemed not to be able to feel physical sensations and some gnawed their own limbs off."

"I take it that the test subjects that still have the device adapted to their new limitations?" Angel said.

"Yes," she said. "Twenty-four percent have become gentle, docile creatures. Sixteen percent have found other ways to still be predators that does not cause the device to react. Eleven percent have become withdrawn and angry, and three percent became unresponsive all together."

"What about the other forty-six percent?"

"They committed some form of suicide," Maggie replied. "The most repetitive method was by bleeding to death from a wound caused by the test subject's own teeth or claws."

Angel tapped a finger against his lips, acting like the nerdy scientist he was portraying. "Hmm. I gather that the more predatory the test subject, the more likely it was a part of the percentage that committed suicide?"

"Very astute," Maggie said. "The more predatory of the species' that were tested chose not to adapt."

"What about your current project?" Angel prompted, having learned all that he felt he would about what was stopping Spike from acting on his natural impulses. "Are you working on an adaptation of this device or on something else?"

"I am, for the most part, researching how physiology relates to behavior, which also includes continuing work on my electro-neuro device," Maggie replied.

When she didn't go on, Angel concluded that he'd more than likely reached the end of this particular avenue of investigation. "Well, as one behavioral psychologist to another, I will truly be looking forward to your next published paper."

"I will be sure to watch for yours, as well," Maggie said.

Angel gave her the same off-kilter grin that had Cordelia practically rolling on the floor in laughter. "Oh, that would be such an honor to me. I would love to receive your opinions after it's published."

Maggie stood and held out her hand. "Then I'll be certain to send them to you."

Angel stood as well, tucking the briefcase under his left arm in order to shake her hand with great enthusiasm again. "Thank you for seeing me. I cannot wait to tell my colleagues that I met the Margaret Walsh."

Maggie gave him a small smile. "It was nice to meet you, too, Angel."

Angel released her hand and ducked his head in shyness. "Um, would you mind if I, uh... asked you to sign my copy of your latest paper?" He held out the bound printout towards her.

"I'd be happy to," she replied, taking it from him. She quickly signed her name to the front page before handing it back to him.

"Thanks!" he said. "Now I'll be the envy of the conference!"

Maggie laughed. "Goodbye, Angel."

Angel sent her another cheesy grin before heading to the door. "Goodbye," he said as he clumsily juggled the signed paper and briefcase as he turned the doorknob. "It was a pleasure meeting-"

"Angel?"

Angel whipped his head around and his voice returned to normal as he gasped, "Buffy?"

Buffy, wearing a soft yellow dress, stood on the other side of the doorway, her hand poised to knock. The combination of confusion and surprise on her face struck Angel right in the heart. Unbelievable longing speared him, making his mouth go dry and his eyes water as he stared at her.

Angel suddenly dropped the things in his hands and yanked Buffy into his arms. His lips claimed hers without hesitation, his tongue plunging into the warmth of her mouth. He heard a sigh and realized that he was the one who had made the satisfied sound.

He lifted Buffy up and turned so he could press her back against the door. Buffy wrapped her legs around his waist and her arms around his neck. He could feel the heat radiating from her core, which was pressed firmly against the erection that had formed the second he'd heard her voice.

Angel's hands cupped Buffy's firm ass, his fingers kneading her supple flesh beneath the material of her clothing. She whimpered in the back of her throat and wiggled in his arms, causing him to groan into the kiss. He wanted her with an intensity that defined logic.

Shifting his weight, he supported her with one hand and he brought the other between their bodies. Somehow, he managed to free himself from the confines of his too-small pants. His fingers sought and found the edges of her panties beneath her dress and he pushed them aside.

The dark-haired vampire growled in completion as he thrust home. Her heat caressed him, burned him, cursed him to a life of never wanting another mate. He couldn't get enough of her. He'd never be able to get enough of her. He loved her wholly and completely and with his entire soul.

The demon inside of him growled in disgust. The demon inside of him wanted nothing to do with her. The demon inside of him wanted to hit and bite and punish and dominate. The demon inside of him wanted his own mate, the one he'd claimed decades ago, the one who made the demon inside of him whole and complete.

Angel forcefully shoved his demon away as he pounded into his woman. Buffy was the one he wanted... Buffy was the one he needed... Buffy was the one he loved... Spike was the one he craved... Spike was the one he obsessed about... Spike was the one he wanted to dominate...

Buffy's inner walls grasped at him and he groaned. She broke the kiss and breathed his name as her climax approached. "Angel."

Angel thrust faster and harder, wanting to push her over the edge and join him in oblivion.

"Angel."

Buffy, yes, Buffy, he thought. Buffy, Buffy, Buffy, Buffy, Buffy...

"Angel." The gentle hand on his arm snapped him out of his daydream and Angel found himself looking down into concerned blue-grey eyes. "Angel, are you okay?" Buffy asked him softly.

Oh crap, Angel thought, remembering where he was, who he was with and the fact that he looked like a red-faced escapee from a Revenge of the Nerds reunion. If Buffy blew his cover, he was up shit creek without a paddle.

Think fast, old man, he told himself. Abruptly, he let out a loud laugh that sounded like a donkey braying. He wrapped his arms around Buffy and, with an "oomph" from her, he gave her an enthusiastic hug, the briefcase in his hand hitting her hard in the back. "Buffy! It's so good to see you again!" he exclaimed in his nasally voice.

"It's, uh, good to see you, too, Angel," Buffy said with wariness.

He released her and gave her a goofy grin. "It's been so long. The last time I saw you, you were in pig-tails and had skinned knees. Now, look at you, you're all grown up."

"That's me. Grown-up Buffy," Buffy said, looking at him as if he'd grown another head. Of course, his second head had grown to full proportions and his ill-fitting jacket was doing little to hide it... and he really needed to stay on track if he was going to get himself out of this situation.

Angel turned to look back at Professor Walsh, who was looking at both of them suspiciously. "I used to mow this little moppet's lawn. I remember the one day she insisted on helping me and the mower almost ran off with her." He let out another obnoxious laugh.

"So, Angel, what are you doing here?" Buffy asked him pointedly.

"Why, to see the Margaret Walsh, of course," Angel answered her. He shook his head and glanced back at Maggie as if to say 'can you believe her?'

"Buffy, was there something I could help you with?" Maggie said.

"Well, I'll let you get back to work," Angel said to Maggie. "Goodbye, again... again." He gave the Professor his off-kilter grin before turning it on Buffy. "Buffy, it was wonderful to see you. Tell your folks I said hello, okay?"

"Er, sure, Angel," Buffy said. "I'll do that."

"Good, good," Angel said. "Bye."

Angel ever-so-gently pushed by Buffy and scurried out of the office. He practically bolted for the exit to Langerstrom Hall, where Cordelia was waiting with the car. He waved to her under the safety of the overhang and she pulled as close to the curb as she could before opening the passenger door.

He quickly darted from his safe haven to the car and jumped in, slamming the door shut behind him and pulling a tarp over his body. He was only a little singed from the sun, but he was burned to a crisp from his encounter with Buffy.

"Well?" Cordelia asked as she put the car in gear.

"Next time, we ignore visions about Spike," came Angel's muffled reply. "And we never, ever come back to Sunnydale."

"Ah, you must have seen Buffy," Cordelia said.

Angel peeked out from behind the tarp. "That obvious, huh?"

"Oh yeah, it's that obvious."

Angel sighed and he let his thoughts drift back to his encounter with Buffy, his daydream... and his thoughts about Spike. "Cordelia."

"Hmm?"

"I want you to know that I trust you more than anyone else in this world. You're family to me, the only family I have, so I feel safe in telling you that I'm going crazy."

Cordelia glanced over at him. "Crazy how?"

"I keep having possessive and erotic thoughts..."

"Well, you are male," Cordelia said.

"...about Spike."

Cordelia shot another look at him. "You're not serious."

Angel peered at her over the tops of the horn-rimmed glasses still on his nose. "I'm dead serious."

"Ha, ha," she said sarcastically. She turned her attention back to the road.

Angel waited, and when Cordelia didn't question him, he frowned in confusion. "Cordelia, aren't you going to ask me why I'm having dreams involving Spike?"

"Why should I?" Cordelia replied. "It's obvious that you're having vampirey needs and are hungering for something only another vampire can provide. It probably came about because you denied your demon the opportunity to fight in that sicko game and, before that, Penn was giving you wet dreams tied to the past."

"But why Spike?" Angel asked, intrigued by her insight. "Why not Penn or any other vampire?"

"Well, for one thing, Penn's dust," Cordelia said. "You saw it happen. But, the last you knew, Spike was dead and kicking still, instead of just dead. And there's no way the demon part of you would let anyone close that you didn't know."

"Then why not Drusilla?"

"Drusilla is a crazy lunatic," Cordelia replied. "Spike is a passionate sociopath. Which would you rather have in your bed?"

"Spike," Angel answered without hesitation.

"Then there you go."

"But it's still Spike."

"Angel, I know what you did in Giles's bathroom," Cordelia told him bluntly. "First off, it's beyond tacky to screw someone in another person's house. Secondly, if I didn't know that vampires have sex with anything that moves, I'd wonder if your love-angst relationship with Buffy totally messed up your brain."

"Hey." Angel glared at her.

"Third," Cordelia continued, undaunted. "Because it's Spike, you know that you can get it on without worrying about losing your soul. If you got a happy from him, I'd seriously think about taking up sunbathing. And finally, you've got a yen to pay him back for torturing you and what better way to do that than to do that dominance thing I've read vampires thrive on. You're not...him, but you're still a vampire, and you have vampirey needs."

She gave him a bright smile. "I went full circle. That's so cool."





Part Six





Spike was pacing back and forth like a tiger in a cage, and it was starting to annoy Angel to no end. The dark-haired vampire looked up and glared at the younger man. "Spike," Angel addressed his Childe in a dominating tone. He snapped his fingers and pointed to the floor beside his legs. "Sit."

Spike pursed his lips and practically stomped over to Angel's side. He dropped down to the floor, leaned back against the couch and rested his wrists on his bent knees. Angel could hear him muttering obscenities under his non-existent breath and the older man rolled his eyes before going back to reading what Spike had written on the legal pad on his lap.

The blond vampire hadn't written very much. According to what Angel had read, Spike remembered getting shocked from behind and waking up in a white-walled room, with one wall made of electrified glass. A blood bag had dropped from a panel in the ceiling about an hour after he'd awoken, but the vampire in the cell next to him told Spike that it was drugged.

As Angel continued to read what Spike had written, he absently reached out and began to run his fingers through Spike's hair.

The blond's chicken-scratchings reported that he had thought it was Buffy who'd caught him and had made plans to kill her while he waited for a chance to escape. When it hadn't looked like whomever captured him would come by to check on him, he had started his own plan of escape by pretending to drink the drugged blood and fall unconscious.

Spike then went on to write that, as he'd hoped, someone came and opened the cell. Spike wrote that he waited until he was moved out before he attacked and made his escape. He gave the details that he could remember of what the scientists and soldiers he'd seen looked like and were wearing, as well as writing about the other vampire he'd briefly freed. He also described the creatures he'd seen in the cells across from him, only one of which he was able to name. Finally, at the end, Spike detailed his almost-recapture and added a few questions which he wanted to find answers for.

"You were able to somewhat attack these scientists, but now you can't even bump into someone without your head hurting?" Angel said, summarizing one of the questions at the bottom of the legal pad.

"Yeah," Spike replied. "And I don't get it. I squeezed that one git's throat pretty fucking hard and nothing happened."

"Perhaps the device needed to warm up first, like our copier does," Angel said.

"Great, now I'm an effin' office machine," Spike grumbled.

Angel glanced at Spike and realized that he was petting the blond's hair. Spike was also leaning against Angel's right leg and fiddling with the cuff of the older vampire's pants.

Angel instantly felt like he'd jumped into a time machine and traveled back a hundred years. The setting was exactly as it had been all those years ago -- a large mansion, a crackling fire, his Childe sitting at his feet and him running his fingers through the younger man's hair. All that was missing was Drusilla dancing around to music only she could hear, telling them what the moon was whispering to her.

The dark-haired vampire leaned his head back on the couch and closed his eyes. For once, the memories of the past didn't pain him. He continued to comb his fingers through Spike's hair as he let his mind drift over several not-unpleasant memories of times with his Childer before he came back to the problems at hand.

Angel hadn't told Spike that the device in his head couldn't be removed, nor was Angel sure that he wanted to tell the younger man. Willow had filled him in the night before about Spike's attempted suicide before the blond vampire had found out he could at least fight other demons. It was possible that the news that Spike would have the device permanently would send him back into the black spiral of depression.

It was looking more and more likely that the only option the older vampire had was to bring his Childe with him back to LA. Perhaps that was the intentions of the Powers That Be in sending Angel to help Spike. If he could convince the younger vampire to help, Angel would have a formidable fighting partner, and there wouldn't be much that the two of them couldn't beat.

Of course, convincing a soulless vampire to help humans for non-self-gratifying reasons was quite near the impossible end of the scale. Angel could force Spike to help if he wanted to by keeping the younger man thoroughly dominated -- which wasn't too bad of an idea -- but then Angel would have to worry that Spike may drop the ball in a crucial moment and get the dark-haired vampire or one of his friends killed. No, it was better if Spike chose to help freely and thus give Angel another true partner in his fight against evil.

"You two look cozy."

Angel's head shot up and he saw Buffy standing in the garden doorway, twilight casting an ethereal glow around her body as she held the heavy curtain open. "Buffy," he said with both surprise and pleasure.

He felt Spike stiffen and the hem of his pants tighten around his lower leg as Spike's fingers curled the material. Angel purposely continued to lightly run his fingers through the younger man's hair, hoping the action would relax Spike again like it was doing for himself.

No wonder humans had pets, Angel thought. His lips curled up into an amused smile when he pictured Spike's reaction to being compared with a pussycat.

Angel's attention was caught by Buffy again when she ventured into the mansion, still wearing the yellow dress he'd seen her in earlier. The light material rode up high on her thighs when she sat down on the couch across from him, making him focus instantly on her legs.

His eyes started at her trim ankles and slowly traveled up the long expanse of exposed skin. His gaze caressed the curve of her calf, the small bump of her knee, the smoothness of her thigh, the slight patch of dark curls he could see by the way she was laying across his bed, the dip of her waist leading his eyes further up to her small breasts that rose and fell with every breath she took, her blond hair spilling partially over the surface of her tanned skin of her upper chest and the hand propping her head up, while the fingers of her other hand repeatedly ran over Spike's hair as he sat on his heels on the floor beside the bed, blood slowly tracing a path from the twin holes in his neck down the front of his chest, over the ridges of his abdomen muscles until disappearing into the thatch of dark hair surrounding the erection that swelled and twitched under Angel's hungry eyes...

"What do you want, Slayer?"

Angel blinked several times at the sound of Spike's voice. Oh hell, he thought when he realized he'd been fantasizing again. He pulled at the hem of his untucked shirt, making sure it helped to cover the raging hard on that was making his trousers extremely tight. He definitely needed to get out of Sunnydale. Antarctica was pleasant this time of year.

"I came to find out what's going on," Buffy replied. "Willow sort of filled me in when I saw her after I went to have my vision checked."

"Is there something wrong with your eyes?" Angel asked in concern.

"Yeah, I thought they were playing tricks on me when I saw you in Professor Walsh's office, considering you're supposed to be in LA," Buffy said. "Turns out I was just blinded by that hideous outfit you were wearing."

"I admit it's not my usual style," Angel said.

Buffy smiled at his humor and Angel reciprocated with a half-grin. "So, tell me, what's up? Did you come to take the neutered one home with you, I hope, I hope?" she said.

Spike growled at her and Angel lightly hit the blond on his head before continuing to pet him. "I may end up taking him back to LA with me if it continues to be unsafe for him here in Sunnydale," Angel answered Buffy.

"Who says I'll go with you?" Spike snapped as he glared up at his Sire.

"You'll do whatever I tell you to do," Angel said.

"Yeah, ri-" Spike stopped mid-word and dropped his eyes when Angel gave him a hard look.

Angel returned his eyes to Buffy and saw that she was watching him with a puzzled expression on her face. He really didn't want to explain about Spike's current behavior -- or his own for that matter -- so he went into investigator mode to stay her questions.

"Tell me what you know about the Initiative," Angel said, his fingers moving down to trace a random pattern on the nape of Spike's neck. He hid his pleasure when the younger vampire dropped his chin slightly to expose more of his neck to Angel's touch. A luscious neck that Angel wanted to sink his fangs into and...

"Other than catching demons and turning them into fluffy bunnies, not much," Buffy said, stopping Angel's mind from going completely off-track.

Angel mentally cursed himself. What was wrong with him? He'd gone celibate for more than eighty years before and now he couldn't even go twenty-four hours?

"I know they're military operated complete with hush-hush, need-to-know secrets," Buffy continued. "And they have all sorts of hi-tech equipment they use when hunting."

"So you don't know what happens to the good demons that they catch?" Angel asked for confirmation.

"There are good demons?" Buffy asked in reply.

Spike snorted. "Are there evil humans?"

"Yes, Buffy, there are a lot of species of demons that are harmless... like Spike," Angel told her with a small smirk.

"Very funny, mate," Spike grumbled.

"I thought so," Angel said.

"How come I've never met any of these good demons then?" Buffy said.

"Why would you have?" Angel said. "Evil makes the chaos you battle, not good."

"Do you know any demons that are on the side of good? I mean, personally?" Buffy asked. "And Cordelia doesn't count."

Angel threw his head back and laughed. Cordelia would kill him if he ever repeated that. Wesley, though, would get chuckle out of it, so he might risk the brunette's wrath to share.

When he stopped laughing, he found Buffy looking at him in amazement. "You know, I think that's the first time I've ever heard you really laugh before," she said.

"It's a must when dealing with Cordelia day-in and day-out," Angel said with a wink. "And, to answer your question, I've known several demons and half-demons who were on the side of good. One of my best friends was a half-Brachen demon and a complete Irish drunkard."

"Are there any other kind of Irishmen?" Spike muttered. Angel flicked the back of the younger vampire's neck then continued his random finger-tracing.

"Who is it?" Buffy said. "Have I met him?"

"You met Doyle only very briefly," Angel replied. He felt his heart start to ache for both his heroic comrade and for the day that Buffy had met Doyle, making his throat close up. He lowered his chin and briefly closed his eyes against the pain. It was funny how quickly things could go from laughter to tears.

"I think I remember him," Buffy said. "He's the guy who gets the visions, right?"

"Yeah, that was him." Angel stood and paced across to the fireplace, needing to distance himself from both her and the memories. "He died back in December."

And only a week after the best day of his unlife became the day that never happened, he added silently.

"The mick's dead?" Spike said happily. "How'd he go? Was he ripped into barely identifiable pieces? Or did he do the pansy-assed, dramatic death scene?" He closed his eyes, put his hands over his heart and continued in falsetto, "'Oh, Angel, you must go on without me. Our love will always li-'"

CRACK.

Angel's booted foot caught the underside of Spike's chin when his leg snapped forward in a rage-filled snap-kick. Spike's jaw slammed shut, the crack of his lower teeth against his upper ones splintering the room. The kick flung Spike's head back and caused his mouth to fill with blood as the impact shifted his upper teeth.

The dark-haired vampire then picked Spike up by the front of the younger man's shirt. Furious gold eyes bore into blue ones. "You are never to say anything about Doyle again," Angel hissed. "Understand?"

Spike nodded.

Angel narrowed his eyes, his ridges becoming more pronounced. "No, I don't think you do," he said in a deadly tone. "And from your remarks, its seems you didn't learn your place the first time."

"Yes, I did," Spike said quickly, blood dribbling from his mouth as he spoke. "I did, Sire. I did."

"Buffy, would you excuse us, please?" Angel said, not removing his eyes from Spike.

"Uh, yeah, sure," Buffy said.

Angel nodded once and practically dragged Spike out of the room. The sound of a door slamming echoed against the mansion's stone walls.

Then, silence.



Continued