The Nature of the Beast


by Rebecca
R.E.M. - Recalled Emotional Memories 4



Angel turned the shower on to a searing temperature and stepped under the water, letting it hammer into his skin. He had woken after a few hours sleep, to find Spike neatly curled around his body. As much as he enjoyed the feeling, and had been loathe to leave, the dark haired vampire had extricated from his childe's vice-like embrace, gathered Spike's and his clothes up, throwing them into the washing machine and headed straight into the bathroom, where he proceeded to try and scald the skin from his body.

Despite his seemingly outwards indifference to Spike's presence, inside he was a raging river of emotion. It had been so long since anyone had needed him like Spike needed him... it had been so long since *Spike* had needed him like he did now... and as much as he hated to admit -- and would *never* admit to anyone else -- Angel craved his childe's dependence.

Making Penn had been all about molding a little Angelus. Showing his sire he too could create and teach. Drusilla, who came later, was the fulfillment of a sick and twisted obsession -- an experiment into how much the human mind, strong and pure of faith could endure before finally giving way to madness and evil.

Spike was the product of a desire to have a companion. Not a student, and not a broken doll, but a friend, a lover, a comrade. And in that respect, he was successful beyond his wildest imaginings. One look into those ice-blue eyes over masses of people in an overcrowded London bar one evening, and he had known that this was the individual whom he had been searching for.

Over the next few weeks Angelus had stalked this human with the dark wavy hair and cheekbones cut from marble with fervor, culminating in the starless night William the petty thief had become William the Bloody, Childe of Angelus, Scourge of Europe.

They called him the Right Hand of Death itself, if Death were an angel-faced demon. Angelus and William had been unstoppable, carving a blood-soaked swath across Europe. Darla, despite initially having a few reservations about William, and how much of her beloved childe's time he consumed, was ultimately impressed with Angelus' choice. She went on to sire other childer, but always kept close to her Favoured, and his progeny.

The bond between William and Angelus had been incredibly powerful. While the younger vampire had the tendency to be stubborn, willful and downright disobedient, he always eventually submitted to his sire. Their relationship, based on this domination and subsequent submission was abnormal even for the vampire world though -- sires didn't usually love their childer more than they loved say, a doting pet.

Angelus loved William.

It was a love borne of passion and death and blood, but it was still love. Angelus' demon clamoured for William like nothing else on this earth. He remembered quite vividly the night William had gone off to hunt with a few of the minions, and had not returned by the allotted time. Disobedient he was, but never tardy when his sire was firm. Angelus had waited for hours, his worry mounting by the second. Dawn approached fast and still his childe had not returned.

Panic gripped the dark haired vampire like a vice. It was a suffocating, all-encompassing fear. The thought that something might have happened to his childe, that he would never see his sweet William again filled him with such anxiety that Angelus felt as if someone were pressing a stake into his heart and he was dying slowly all over again.

Hours passed, and still no sign of William. His demon raged and screamed, and it was through the strongest of personal control that Angelus maintained his human features at all, although his liquid brown eyes were ringed dangerously with gold. Angelus paced and wrung his hands, which disgusted him, recognising them as clearly mortal traits. All thoughts of punishing the boy for making him act in such a human fashion died when his childe limped through the door.

And Angelus, Childe of Darla, Scourge of Europe, wept.

The older vampire grabbed his childe and held him close, stroking back the dark waves of hair with a comforting methodical rhythm. It did nothing to alleviate his fears when William had begun to sob quietly into his silk-clad chest. Angelus could no longer maintain his human mask when his boy was crying like this. His demon ached for the blood of whoever had injured and frightened his childe, whoever had kept them separated for so long. And although the need for revenge was great, the urge to make William stop crying was greater.

Angelus forced his vampiric countenance down and picked up his childe, carrying him over to the scented sheets of his bed, and began to comfort his distressed boy the only way he knew how. Angelus' loving brand of dominance was well-known to his childer. Stripping off his clothes, and then William's, Angelus kissed and licked his childe's cool skin, all the while emitting a deep purr that rumbled throughout the room.

Eventually, the younger vampire stopped trembling and began to respond to his sire's tender solace. After a few hours of this kind of consolation, William fell into a deep sleep in the tight embrace of his sire. Angelus stayed awake to watch over his childe's inert form, grasped onto him as if he were a lifeline. It frightened the older vampire beyond belief that this one man could scare him so much. Could terrify him with his absence, when there was nothing on this earth that he feared.

The demon loved him fiercely, unconditionally, wholly, exclusively -- until a dark haired girl, pure as the driven snow with the gift of foresight came into their lives. Angelus became hell-bent on his corruption of her spirit, and did not seem to have enough time for his Favoured boy as he used to. It was in those years, when his own memories were focussed more on Drusilla, that his William had become Spike.

It had taken time, but eventually the three of them had formed a tight-knit family, who hunted and played together with equal ardor. Angelus encouraged the relationship between Spike and Drusilla, hoping they would keep the home fires burning for him at times when Darla called him away from them and to her side. One night he was summoned to her side in Romania, and the next time he had laid eyes on his beloved childer was one hundred years later in a little town in California perched right over the Mouth of Hell.

Once released from the confines of a soul, Angelus' demon had set about destroying the lingering relationship between his childer -- one with the broken mind, one with the broken body. The reasons still weren't entirely clear, but Angel could easily guess why. He had loved them. Truly loved his childer. The demon figured that it was this weakness in itself that allowed the soul to love Buffy, who it hated and reviled with passion.

Coming between their obvious love for one another filled him with some perverse satisfaction. It was also a kick in the face for his boy, who had enjoyed unmitigated access to the older vampire's newest toy for a century, before Angelus had had *proper* time to play with her. Spike needed a lesson in propriety, and Angelus was just the demon to give it to him.

Angel sighed at the thoughts those dark months dragged up. Not only his campaign of terror against his former lover and her friends, but remembering the grief etched plainly on that sculpted face as he took away the only thing Spike had left to lose. The demon was a master of pain and torture, both physical and mental, and no-one who used to love him was spared its barbed edge.

The dark haired vampire forcibly pulled himself out of his painful memories and leant heavily against the tiled wall of his shower. Angel watched the final remnants of muck and grime from his battle with the Toska'ar demon wash off, swirl around his toes and disappear down the drain.

He closed the taps and stepped out of the shower, wrapping a pale, clean towel around his waist. Angel put his hands on the sink and looked into the fogged mirror, staring blankly into the space where his reflection should be.

It was in his nature to want to protect his childe with all that he had.

It was in his nature to want to be needed, just like Spike used to need him, just like Spike needed him *now*.

But... was it *right*?

His instincts screamed at him to reclaim his wayward childe, his prodigal son and begin again. Also playing through his head were a number of scenarios in which he tried to explain his decision to his coworkers and ex friends in Sunnydale -- all of which ended pretty much with him being run through with something large, wooden and sharp. Angel exhaled purposefully. A decision needed to be made, and made quickly.

When did it stop being about what was right or wrong, and start being about the nature of the beast?



*****

Spike stirred, stretching languidly. He was disoriented, and judging by the lingering pain in his leg, injured. In his half conscious state he deduced he was not in his crypt in Sunnyhell, his home having a much less appealing odor. Spike inhaled deeply, taking in the scent of freshly laundered, clean sheets, slightly acrid medicinal antiseptic, and something that he couldn't quite put his finger on, but his brain automatically triggered the word 'home'. The blond vampire burrowed his face into the soft, downy pillows, trying to identify this 'home' scent. It was musky, smelling faintly of sweat and expensive soap and leather and-

Angel.

It was his sire's scent.

Spike's eyes blinked open and he drearily took in his surroundings. Sure enough -- Angel's bedroom. Angel's *bed*, even. The younger vampire's brow crinkled as he tried to remember exactly how he had ended up -- after a quick peek under the sheets -- yep, completely naked, in his sire's bed in L.A.

Gradually, memories of his assignment to retrieve pages to defeat the Toska'ar, and his subsequent battle at Angel's side to kill the selfsame demon came trickling back. He hissed in pain. As did the injury the slimy prick caused.

Pulling back the covers, Spike sat up and gingerly unwrapped his bandaged leg to reveal a wicked looking puckering gash that began mid-thigh, skirted the knee and stopped somewhere around the calf of his left leg. The younger vampire sighed and dropped back onto the bed, right into the Angel-sized indentation on the left side of the mattress. He immediately felt comforted, then disgusted that just lying in the place his sire had vacated could make him feel as if all was right in the world.

Spike closed his eyes and heard faint sounds of water from the shower in the adjoining bathroom. No matter how much he tried to quash it, the feeling of being completely and utterly safe because he was in Angel's bed with his sire just in the next room taking a shower would not go away. The blond vampire remembered what it was like to know the safety of Angel's embrace -- what it was like to be scared, terrified even, and know that his sire would do anything to protect him.

It had been a dark and smoggy night when he had gone hunting with the minions without his sire. Angelus did not mind, but had told him to be home precisely as the clock struck two. William had smiled that cheeky, crooked grin and told his sire that he would be back ten minutes before the allotted time, forseeing no reason that he might be late.

Except on the account of a Slayer.

Spike had just drained a young whip of a girl who had stupidly snuck out to meet her sweetheart by moonlight when he was struck from behind by a force he had never before encountered -- not even on a night when Angelus was particularly brutal.

The Slayer's name was Sondra. She was tall for a girl, and had auburn hair. The minions fanned out, fighting desperately the urge to run. They knew their unlives were forfeit if they let Angelus' favourite fight a Slayer on his own.

Spike put up a valiant effort. He faired better than his companions -- many of whom were dusted -- by virtue of the fact childer were schooled more thoroughly than minions, who were basically expendable. Spike's inexperience with the Chosen One was balanced out by the Slayer's obvious naivete in dealing with a childe of a Master vampire, who was particularly strong.

Spike was scared. They were so evenly matched. Just when it seemed he had the upper hand, the Slayer pulled out a reserve of strength he would have thought long depleted. The younger vampire had never fought anyone who -- when knocked down repeatedly -- refused to stay down and die. It was interesting. Even arousing to a point, but he could do without the hard on while fighting a mortal enemy.

The battle raged on, neither party ready to give up. Sondra's long hair was matted with both her blood and Spike's. Cuts and bruises marred the two combatants, and clothing was torn raggedly. Sondra sent him flying over a pile of rubbish and into a closed-off alleyway. Spike groaned and opened his eyes. Panicked at what he saw, the younger vampire scrambled to his feet. The pink glow of the false dawn loomed on the horizon. And the only thought that ran through his brain was of Angelus.

The thought of never seeing his sire again caused the stolen blood in his veins to turn to ice. The Slayer bore down on him, face bruised and battered, but still defiant and arrogant to the last. Adrenalin coursed through Spike's body and he used this final burst of energy to take his enemy down. A kick to her already weakened shins shattered her right tibia beyond the realms of her accellerated healing capability.

Sondra fell to the ground with a muffled cry. Spike was so tempted to finish her off, but he did not have enough strength left in his body to perform the act before the sun rose and killed him. Deciding discretion was the better part of valour -- and returning home battered was better than being dust in the wind -- Spike limped off in the shadows, just one world going around in his mind.

Angelus..Angelus..Angelus..

He should have been home hours ago.. Angelus would be particularly savage seeing as how he'd promised to be earlier than his 'curfew'. The younger vampire staggered into his sire's home and headed straight for the master bedroom...

...to be confronted with a hysterical and distraught sire. Angelus gathered him up in a tight embrace, where Spike could no longer contain the fear and pain the Slayer had induced. He wept into the older vampire's chest, the terror and panic that their kind's mortal enemy had allowed to surface in him making him feel vulnerable. The real possibility that he could have lost Angelus forever brought a new wave of grief.

But before he knew it, he was undressed and lying on the bed, while Angelus did his best to make the hurt go away. How he always knew exactly what to do, Spike would never know. His sire's attempts at comfort resulted in a night of unbridled tenderness that had never been equalled.

The corners of the blond's lips turned up in memory. No matter what had happened, Spike had never been able to completely erase the memory from his mind. He could never fully quell the sensation of pleasure he got when Angelus had claimed ownership over him. To belong to him... to be at the centre of his world -- that was more addictive than niccotine.

To know Angelus' devotion was to know the true meaning of the word.

Back then, he had fought against it, not realising what he had until it was gone... Spike never realised how much his existence revolved around his sire until he thought him dust.

Over the past week, after Angel's impromptu housecall, Spike had spent most- okay *all* of his time thinking about what this meant for him. Angel would never be Angelus again. And quite frankly, Spike was glad, seeing as how the last incarnation of Angelus didn't care too much for him.

Angel was a souled vampire, with all the drive and passion of his demon, but without the niggly killing and eating humans aspect.

And now, with the implant, that's exactly what Spike was.

Well, except the part about having a soul.

Spike missed the companionship, the protection, and yes, even the love his sire offered him. The demon within him cried out to its creator in a world that had left it unable to defend itself from its prey. Ostracised by other demons because of his behaviour modification chip, Spike craved the only one who knew how he felt.

Who knew what it was like to have a caged beast inside, chanting for blood and death, and not being able to comply.

Who knew what it was like to be alone.

Spike needed Angel.

Not Angelus, *Angel*.

Spike sighed and dropped a pillow over his face. On the remote chance Angel actually even *wanted* to still have anything to do with him, could he even accept his sire's domination now after a century of being his own master? The demon answered his question.

{Yes} it answered {You were sired of Angelus, the line of Aurelias. His blood is Your blood. It cries to Us, to have Him mold us to His will. You are His Childe, and nothing short of Eternal Death will alter His claim on You. You are His now, as You always have, and shall always be}

The younger vampire exhaled a deep, shuddering breath and gripped the pillowcase reflexively.

Did Angel need, or even want him, though?

End



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