The Clockwork Vampire

by Spirit

'It's bloody freezing in here!' 'You're a vampire, you have no body heat,' said Wesley pointedly, 'This shouldn't be an issue for you at all.' Spike stared at the demon hunter until Wesley gave in and walked away. Doyle rubbed his arms and walked forward to Angel, wondering if they were going to have to look hard for this corpse. 'Where did you say it was, Doyle?' 'In front of some freezer somewhere,' he looked around carefully and moved closer to the tall vampire. 'Angel, whatever killed this guy.........I don't wanna meet it. As in at all.' 'That vicious?' Doyle shook his head. 'I don't know, I didn't see. But dead guy was shit scared of whatever it was.' Angel saw the shoe on the floor and walked alongside the body attached to it. The box was open, it's hazardous waste sticker ripped, but clearly visible. 'Looks like he was right to be scared.' Wesley walked in, saw the burnt out body and breathed in deeply. Then he wished he hadn't and fled outside to get fresh air, whilst Spike chuckled behind him. The blond vampire bent down to have a smell of the body, to Doyle's disgust. 'Spike man, I know you can't bite anymore, but do you have to be so disgusting?' Spike looked up and Doyle saw his vampire features prominent. 'And that never fails to scare the living shit outta me.' Spike snorted and turned back to the body. 'Anything?' asked Angel. 'Nah,' said Spike, standing up, 'It's nothing I recognise.' 'Make a point of smelling demons, Spike?' 'Some of them,' admitted Spike, 'Then again, some of them I just beat to a pulp until they stop asking stupid questions.' Doyle backed up slightly, suddenly wondering if his being half-human was enough to stop Spike from attacking him. It hadn't been an issue before, but he suddenly felt its precedence. 'I don't get anything either,' said Angel. 'Must be something new.' Spike fished out the crispy wallet and sorted through it, picking out a couple of twenties and the guy's business card. 'Spike, we don't rob the grave.' 'He isn't in a grave,' complained the vampire. 'Besides, if you're finding out who killed him, we can consider this a fee.' 'You sure Cordelia didn't set you up to this?' 'Please,' said Spike, slipping the cash in his back pocket, 'As if I was going to share it with you.' 'I think that would be a no,' said Angel. 'Well, that was embarrassing,' said Wesley, coming back inside and wiping his mouth. 'I don't normally react like that to corpses.' 'I do,' said Doyle, rubbing his belly, 'Makes me sick. If I hadn't seen it beforehand.........I'd be outside with you, feeding the fishes.' 'Dry land, half breed,' said Spike, 'you just call it puking here.' 'Thanks, Spike.' But the vampire wasn't listening, distracted by something else. 'Spike?' asked Angel, then turned as he noticed the other presence. 'Is something amiss?' 'Quiet Wesley,' said Angel. 'There's someone here.' Spike sniffed. 'Demon.' He grinned. 'Glad I put my ass kicking boots on.' 'Down boy, we're not sure if it's what killed him, yet.' Spike raised an eyebrow at Angel. 'Like it matters. Corpse here, demon running about. You don't need a Watcher's brain to work out how that adds up.' 'Quite,' said Wesley, 'We must formulate a plan.........Spike!' Spike moved off in the direction of the noise, Angel at his side, both vampires following instincts the others hadn't access to. Spike was aware of everything in the building, from Wesley pulling out his handy fighting axe, to Doyle swallowing hard, unable to take his eyes away from the torched victim, to the movement to his left. He stuck his leg out. The creature tripped and went stumbling to the floor, before rolling and raising a sword at the vampire. Spike knocked it out of his hand and grabbed him by the neck, his demon self feeling the flow of blood and discounting it, since its owner wasn't human. Still, no reason to let the increasingly scared demon know that. 'Captain Inferno I presume.' Spike looked up at Angel and raised an eyebrow. Humour from Mr Broody? The demon struggled in Spike's arms and Angel looked at the demon, noticing the ridges along his forehead and wishing desperately that his lover hadn't grabbed something that could quite literally make your eyeballs pop. Vampires were immune to many things. Fire didn't happen to be one of them. He picked up a crowbar and pointed it at the demon's head. 'I'm not exactly much of a talker, I tend to let Him,' he gestured towards Spike, 'do the talking instead. I *am* good at putting these through heads though.' 'Angel, it's been burnt.' Wesley stepped forward and tugged at the ripped part of the demon's coat. Sure enough, it revealed a big burnt area. Spike groaned and stepped away, knowing that Angel wouldn't let him kick an innocent demon's ass. He was funny like that. Angel prodded the demon again. 'Who are you?' The demon looked at Spike, who was busy lighting up yet another cigarette and then back at Angel, who had yet to lower the crowbar. 'I am called Tay. I am not from your dimension.' 'Sort of guessing that.' Tay looked at the odd mix and glared at Angel. 'I was sent by my people to stop it That is my cause here.' Spike snorted and they looked at him. He realised they were staring at him and turned around. 'Every bugger has to have a cause. I'm just waiting for some sod to come right out and say, "Hi, I'm here to kick ass and raise hell" and have done with it.' Doyle stifled a laugh and watched as Angel sent pleading thoughts to his lover, just to be quiet for five minutes. The tall vampire shook his head and turned back to Tay. 'Stop what?' 'The Bringer of Chaos.' 'Is that a demon?' inquired Spike. Tay shook his head. 'More than a mere demon. It is a vessel of pure rage. It has almost destroyed my world and now it is loose in yours.' 'How can I kill it?' asked Angel. 'You won't be able to. It's stronger than one man.' 'But we *aren't* men, Pet,' said Spike, 'So tell us how we stop it, or I might just rethink my feeding schedule.' Tay looked at the crowbar and Angel lowered it, eyes fixed on his aggressive lover. 'If you and your people wish to live,' he walked to the exit. 'Stay away.' He moved quickly outside and as Spike went to follow him, Angel held his arm across the younger vampire's chest. 'Why?' demanded Spike. 'Because it's a sunny day and I don't fancy sharing my bed with a big pile of dust.' Spike looked at the rays and sighed. 'Good point,' he conceded. 'So what do we do now?' asked Wesley. 'I know what he said, but I don't exactly vote for leaving this "Chaos Bringer" to torch the rest of the city.' 'Yeah,' agreed Doyle, 'The Powers that Be didn't think we should let this one lie, and I don't want to deal with migraines telling us who's been killed next been next until we catch it.' 'Okay,' said Angel. 'Wesley, you get back to the office and try and identify what Tay is. Maybe that'll give us some hint how to destroy this thing.' 'Right,' said Wesley and started out to the car. He stopped and turned back. 'This does seem to work well doesn't it - us all collaborating, I mean.' Angel smiled and the Watcher nodded and walked back outside. Doyle stepped closer to Angel. 'You're going to offer him a job, aren't you?' Angel shrugged. 'The man's broke. Did you see how much he ate last night?' 'Actually, no,' said Spike with a wicked grin. 'I was looking at something much more tasty.' Angel coughed and Doyle shook his head. 'So,' said Spike, 'Do we have to clear out a locker or something?' 'You think it's a good idea?' asked Angel. 'Having Weasly on the team?' asked Spike. 'Well, Love, much as he's limper than a wet lettuce, the bloke can actually read some of those books you keep. Unlike you.' 'I read them,' started Angel. Spike raised an eyebrow and Doyle coughed. 'Well okay,' admitted Angel, 'Some of them came free with that Katash knife set.' He paused. 'I suppose he's in then. Doyle?' 'Okay with me.' They started to walk back to the car. Angel stared at the empty space where Wesley had taken the vehicle and groaned. 'Well done, Pet,' said Spike. 'You've just decided to employ the man who's getting us both sunburnt.' 'Telling you two wasn't binding or anything,' he looked at them, 'Was it?' Doyle shrugged. 'So what do we do now? Wait until dark for you two to be able to get out of here?' Angel shook his head. 'There has to be some tunnels below here.' 'There aren't,' said Spike, stamping out one cigarette and lighting a fresh one. 'Wesley was looking at the map on the way over.' He sat down on a box and smoked casually, before looking up and grinning at Angel.' 'Still, Love,' he said, patting the ice next to him, 'We can always check out Cordelia's theory, eh?' * 'Is this the building?' Angel nodded. 'Yeah, this is where he worked.' Angel looked at the gloomy building. 'Seems weird somehow, like a Bogart set or something.' Spike looked at Angel. 'Watched a few flicks then?' Angel tried the door - locked. 'One or two. I don't usually pay to sit in the dark.' Spike laughed. 'Really, Peaches? Would have thought it was right up your street.' Angel looked around for another way in. He spotted the drain pipe and started to fiddle around with his cuffs. 'Well.........the last time I went, it wasn't exactly what I had in mind.' 'Too gory for your soul?' Angel snorted and shook his head, before using the grapple hooks to the top of the building. 'Not gory.' 'What was it then, Pet? Some naughty movie?' Spike asked with a wiggle of his eyebrows. 'Something like that,' said Angel, moving towards the wall. 'Come on then' said Spike, I want to know what it was that got you all hot and bothered.' Angel started to climb up the wall, Spike holding onto his shoulders. 'Tell me.' 'Not whilst I'm climbing a wall.' Spike pushed his hips against Angel's ass, eliciting a moan from the concentrating vampire. 'Tell me, or I'll roll you on the roof top.' 'Spike, not now, okay?' Spike growled and as they landed on the flat surface. 'Really got to you, eh Peaches?' Angel turned and stared at him. It wasn't the issue as such. Le Banquet D'Amelia had been something of a revelation for the dark vampire. He hadn't seen a film like that in an open theatre. To be honest, he hadn't seen a film like *that* at all. He'd read books, seen the occasional play, but nothing that contended with the actual eating involved in that film. No, the reason he was uncomfortable was that he had been with Buffy. They'd talked about many things, over the past couple of months, but they hadn't touched on either of the women they'd loved. Spike hadn't mentioned Drucilla, except to reassure Angel that he shouldn't blame himself for her madness. And Buffy.........Angel knew that he wasn't in love with her any more and he thought he'd proved to Spike that he *was* in love with his childe. It just didn't feel right to bring up her name. Spike stared at him for a moment, watching as emotions actually passed Angel's beautiful face. From past experience it was either the Slayer or Cordelia's cooking. And since Cordelia had bought in last night, he had to assume it was Buffy. Bugger. He'd deliberately not dealt with his feelings about the Slayer. She didn't factor in their present lives, and since Angel didn't mention in ever, he wasn't going to raise that not particularly ugly head. Angel signed, resignedly. 'I promise, when we've finished here, I'll take you to see it.' 'That good?' Spike wiggled his eyebrows. 'You gonna get hard?' Angel huffed. 'Let's just get this done with?' He opened the door and walked up to Peter Wilkers office. The door was hanging open and the vampires walked in. Angel started to route through the desk whilst Spike snapped the lock on the drawer and pulled out a pile of folders. He dropped most of them to the floor, retaining the envelope addressed to the corpse. 'You don't have to make such a mess.' 'I don't have to be Mr Spray Clean either, Pet. Anyway,' he sniffed, removing the cash, 'I think this is what you were after.' Angel looked at the note and reached to take the money back from Spike. 'It doesn't belong to us.' 'Right, it belongs to the great frozen stiff and I'm collecting it for him.' 'It's not right, Spike.' 'Yeah? Well I hear that breaking and entering is still against the law, but you didn't have any problem with that, Peaches.' Angel was about to reply when a hand shot out and blasted him across the room, smoke rising from a burnt patch on his arm. Spike growled and moved instinctively towards the creature who'd hurt his mate. It stepped forward and pressed a burning hand against Spike's chest, searing him deeply, driving him away. Vampires aren't all that keen on immolation. He growled and fell back against the desk, seeing Angel move past him, swinging a chair at the woman who stepped forward. She blasted him again, but Angel was ready this time and hurled himself to the side. He brought down the chair across her back and as she fell to the floor, stepped on her neck. 'Get off me!' Spike snarled against the pain and walked towards the demon. Angel raised his hand. 'Remember what I said about bed sharing with ash?' 'Yeah, got your point, Pet.' He prodded the demon. 'Right then, Ducks, what are you doing blasting Brooding Boy and me.' 'Er, Spike?' Spike looked at Angel and saw the dark vampire gesture to his burnt arm. He looked down to the squirming woman on the floor as she tried to reach her hand to Angel's leg. 'This is the Bringer of Chaos? Isn't she a little bit.........easy to catch?' 'I am no Chaos bringer,' snarled the demon, 'I am Jhiera and you are fools, working for them.' 'Luv, I think you'd better rephrase that. Angel here and I aren't working for anyone.' Angel released his foot and she rolled away, standing up quickly. She glared at Angel and the vampire nodded his head. 'He's right. We're here to investigate his death,' he said, gesturing towards Wilker's desk. 'He was burnt alive. Know anyone who does that sort of thing?' She charged him, but Spike swung his fist into her midsection before she even came close. 'I don't think you've got who's asking the questions, Pet. Angel here's polite. I,' he said, bringing his elbow down on the back of her neck, 'Am not quite so nice.' Her cell phone fell out onto the floor, ringing as it hit the ground. She reached for it, but Angel got there first, picking it up and answering. 'Tonight, Jheira. Art restoration room. Be quick.' 'Who is this?' asked Angel, but the phone went dead. 'What did they say?' demanded Jheira, 'Tell me!' 'She's not good at this is she?' Spike grabbed her neck and stared into her tattooed face. Violet eyes glared back at him and he was aware of a tingly warmth from her body. There was something.........but the moment passed and she raised her hand to push him away, it's heat searing him once more. 'Oi, Pet. That's not nice.' 'Spike,' said Angel, ready to grab his lover away, 'Be nice to the lady with the flaming handshake.' Spike glared at her and she breathed deeply, her hand chilling as she turned back to Angel. 'What did they say? It's important.' 'What? So you can fry some other poor bugger?' He gestured to Angel. 'He's got rules about that, Pet. Doesn't like people killing on his turf.' 'What about you?' Spike grinned. 'Me? Well I'm a little less choosy. Can't kill humans anymore, but demons,' he vamped out, 'I can kick to the next dimension and back.' Jhiera glared at him and raised her hand to his face. 'Tell me or your friend dies.' Spike growled and kicked her hard, sending her flying backwards into the wall. 'Spike!' 'Well.........had enough of that kind of talk from the bloody Slayer. I'm not taking crap from some,' he walked to Angel, 'silly bint with a big Psylocke tattoo.' Angel watched as Jhiera got up. 'He said tonight in the Art restoration room.' Spike blinked at Angel. 'Did you just tell her where her next victim is?' Angel shook his head. 'I don't think she's looking for a victim.' 'Why?' He nodded towards her. 'Even *you* aren't that desperate for a kill.' Jhiera got to her feet and ran out the door, casting a dissolent look at Angel as she left. Spike looked at his burnt chest and then up at his lover. 'So what do you suggest we do now, Love. Since you've just let the big lead go!' Angel grinned at him. 'What?' 'You're actually involved in this aren't you?' Spike snorted. 'No. I'm still evil. Bad and all. It's just.........' 'Yeah?' Spike growled. 'She pissed me off. And I don't like that.' He pulled his coat over the tender skin. 'So we go get her and I deliver payback. Okay?' Angel smiled as Spike stormed out of the office. 'Whatever you say, Will.' *

'.........was actually a little taller and a lot drunker than he is depicted here.' Spike moved quietly toward the doors, for once hoping that his thuggish good looks weren't attracting attention. It was okay to have the cops see you when you could serve them as main course, not so good when they could sling you in a cell whilst you fry. He slid inside as Angel finished off his impromptu talk on the painting, noting to himself that he should definitely get his sire to tell him whether or not he'd finished off Baudelaire, or just watched him drink himself to death. He could feel that blasted demon ahead. The heat she gave off was intoxicating and addictive all in the same moment and Spike wasn't having that from anyone who kicked him about. He didn't like reacting to anything without his say so. Not after everything they'd done to him in Sunnydale. Well, to be honest, he'd never liked anyone mucking around with his emotions and Sunnydale was a synch after the torment Angellus had put him through last time. He could feel the floor vibrate and reached out to steady himself. Angel came up behind him and lay a protective hand around his torso. It had pleased him recently - Spike had noticed the way Angel had become used to touching him in public. Not, he admitted, that this could in any way be considered public. 'Is she in there?' 'Not a bloody mind reader Pet, but from all this disturbance, I'd say yeah.' Angel moved ahead of him and pushed open the door with some effort. As it shook open, the vampires watched as a naked girl fell from some swirling portal and clattered to the floor. Jhiera was there, holding her tightly, hissing quieting noises to calm her frightened form. 'Hello, Love. Remember us?' Jhiera turned her head. 'You! Go from here! This is nothing to do with you.' Angel stepped forward with a tapestry and wrapped it round the quivering girl before stepping back and looking closely at Jhiera. 'Who's Tay? What does he want?' 'I don't have time for this,' breathed Jhiera, 'I have to get her out.' 'Well, I think you should make time,' said Angel. 'If you didn't kill the guy in the ice factory, then who did?' Spike looked at the girl in Jhiera's arms. She was quivering all right, but it didn't seem to be from the cold. There was a kind of aura around her, and Spike wasn't sure that he could see things like that, so he looked harder. Yeah, it was there, not an aura, but heat. She was giving off the same kind of heat as the demon bird. As he looked at the ridges on her back, she turned and stared at him and Spike found himself growing increasingly aroused. He throbbed as he locked his gaze with hers, and it was growing stronger. 'It is not your concern. And we must go.' 'Well I think I'll stick around,' said Angel pointedly, before noticing the smell in the air. He shifted his focus to Spike and saw the look of excitement across his expressive face. 'Spike?' Spike shook his head and looked to Angel - desire was strong, but his sexual needs were only met by his sire. Burning women in tapestries couldn't change that. 'I.........' he began. The door blasted open. They all turned to see Tay and several like him pour in the room. Expressions set and determined to take what they wanted. Tay glared at Angel. 'I told you to stay away. This is not your concern. The traitor it and the other are ours. If you know what's good for you, you won't.........' 'Do that?' asked Angel and kicked out at Tay's midsection. Spike, shook his head, trying to break the unbearable sexual tension, but he was finding it hard. Bugger it, not hard, not hard. And look, Angel's fighting. Got to help. Got to stop......... He swung out and hit one of Tay's soldiers, growling at the knowledge that he wasn't doing the major ass-kicking he'd had in mind. Enraged by this new incapacity, he kicked out again, fighting with a feral need, that surpassed all other urges. Jhiera looked at the two vampires and made a swift decision. She wasn't compelled to help either of them, despite their assistance now. She had her purpose, and these two did not figure in it anywhere. And the girl was steaming - she had to get her to safety. Making her way past the fight, she blasted a couple of the men as they battled. Did not need to help, but......... She left quickly. The battle ensued, Angel and Spike fighting hard, stopping the males from leaving the room, beating them to an unceremonous pulp before Tay gave the word and they backed off, apparently in search of Jhiera and the girl. Spike panted hard against the floor as Angel moved to follow them. 'Angel.........they're not what they seem.' 'What?' Spike ran one hand through his closely cropped hair. 'They can mess with your head, Love.' Angel walked over, leaning one hand on Spike's shoulder. 'What did she do to you?' Spike shook his head. 'Not She Ra. Not her. The other one. Looked at me and there was this heat.........' He looked up at Angel. 'I wanted her, Peaches. I wanted to fuck her right here and now. And that's not me.' Angel stared at his lover, smelling the arousal on him. Spike was many things, but an easy lay wasn't one of them. Even back when he hunted with Angellus, he'd never taken a cheap bit of skirt. He just wasn't like that. It didn't do enough for him. ' can *really* make you hot.' He looked at the door, wondering whether or not to follow. 'I wonder if that has anything to do with what happened to Wilkers?' 'Angel?' The dark vampire turned and saw Spike leaning against the wall, as uncomfortable as he'd seen him in a long while. The musky scent permeated his every sense and Angel saw just how powerful the demon women were. 'Will? Are you okay?' Spike shook his head. 'I can't think.........' 'It's that strong?' Spike nodded, his hips squirming as he tried to get some release. 'I'm gonna have to.........Oh God, this is too bloody much!' Angel looked at him and made a swift decision. Spike wasn't averse to getting hot and horny when they were out, but most of the time, he could wait until they got home to ease the tension. But the blond vampire was in obvious pain and Angel wasn't standing for that. Spike's game face was visible, and Angel whirled him round, dropping to his knees and pulling at the zipper on his pants. As his pulsating cock sprung free, Spike let out a howl, as Angel covered his mouth with his hand, stifling the noise. The last thing either of them needed was a nosy security guard. Spike bit down on Angel's hand and the vampire groaned as he felt his blood flow into his lover's mouth. With his free fingers, he started caressing the shaft, before enveloping the throbbing head in his mouth, swirling his tongue over it. Spike pressed his hands against the wall, bracing himself, and started to thrust his hips against the willing warmth of Angel's mouth. The older vampire let Spike pump hard, feeling the tip push back past the resistance of his throat. This wasn't about making love. This wasn't about anything they'd done before. Spike needed to come, needed to get past the unbelievable heat the demon had imbued in him. He pushed harder, and Angel started grasping at Spike's ass, feeling the nearness, wanting to help, wanting the pain to go away, to leave his lover alone. With a final grunt, Spike pressed forward and felt the tension peak. Angel swallowed the liquid saltiness and stroked at the firm cheeks in his hands, relieved that it was over, that the control Jhiera's friend had over Spike had finally gone. The younger vampire growled deeply, something that was close to a purr as his body returned to being his own again. He straightened up slowly and looked down to Angel. What he saw there consoled him. Angel's eyes were full of concern, desire stifled by the knowledge that someone else had caused this. He bent down and pulled Angel close. 'I don't think she meant to do it.' Angel kissed his cheek gently and stroked his hair. 'It's something to do with the heat.........and being burnt.' 'Maybe that's why they needed the ice, Pet?' Angel nodded and took out the invoice. 'The shipping order. I'm guessing that Wilkers was working for Tay. He was trying to track them down.' Spike grinned slowly, feeling much more drained than he normally did after sex. 'So we take one step ahead and get to the demon chicks first.' He stood up and picked up the fire extinguisher. 'We call Wesley on the way. See if he's found out anything yet.' Angel nodded. 'And the fire extinguisher?' Spike grinned. 'Well, much as I like your lips round my cock, I prefer to do it on my own time, Peaches.' Angel smiled. 'Yeah, I've never defiled an art gallery before.' The blond chuckled. 'You'll just have to think of it as a work in progress.' * 'They're called the Vigories of Oden Tal,' said Wesley over the phone. 'I persuaded Doyle and Cordelia to come with me to the California Flower Mart.' Spike shifted the cell phone to his other ear and rolled his eyes at Angel. 'Silly bugger's taking them flower arranging.' 'Find out why,' said Angel, his eyes glued to the road and heading for the address on the invoice. 'Okay, why there, Pet?' 'The Vigories are herbivores. They need to consume half their body weight every day, so I deduced that they would have to be near the largest compost heap we have.' Spike nodded, impressed for once. 'Not as thick as you look, are you Pet?' There was the sound of Wesley coughing and then......... 'The women are enslaved to them. There's some mention of a Ko? Something that's removed from the females as they reach sexual maturity, to make them subservient.' Spike growled quietly. 'Well these ones must still have it.' 'Listen, Spike. These Vigories are said to be fierce Warriors and from what I've read, the women are considered their possessions. If you're going to stand between them.........' 'They're demons, Pet. Not a problem.' 'Are you sure? I could arrange for Doyle and I to meet you there?' The front of the Spa came into view and Angel looked away from the wheel for a second. 'It's risky. I don't want anyone else in danger.' Spike grinned. He didn't like having to make sure that the person he was beating up wasn't a companion. Angel tended to get turned off by stuff like that. 'Nah, Wes. The Pouf and I'll take care of it. You just sit on your Laurels,' he thought about the flower garden, 'Literally.' He clipped up the phone and tossed it in the back seat as Angel pulled round the driveway. The vampire parked and they got out, the tranquil site seemed to throb with the promise of violence. As they walked in the front entrance, a slender man walked toward them. He didn't look threatening, but his stance was defensive - he was hiding something and as Spike started to smell the air, he growled at what it was. The owner looked briefly at Spike and then turned back to Angel. 'Welcome Bro.' 'I need to see Jhiera. Now!' The man lifted his arms and gestured for them to stop. 'I'm sorry, no Jhiera here, but I already see I can help *you*. First lets talk about the clothes vibe.........' Spike moved to grab him and backed away as his head threatened to burst. As the owner looked at the groaning vampire, Angel grabbed him by his lapels and forced him to look at his angry face. 'If you don't want to see her and her girl friends dead, you tell me where she is, now!' 'And which dimension are you from?' Angel shook his head and pulled Spike to his feet. 'You don't want to know.' The vampires pushed past and followed Spike's nose to the room at the back. There were several baths, filled to the brim with ice and on each one, lay a female that they recognised as Oden Tal. Jhiera walked toward them. 'I thought I told you this was none of your business.' Spike growled and stepped against the wall, looking for the woman who'd had such an effect on him before. 'Listen Love, you don't think you're going to sneak all these nympho bitches into the world and no one'll take notice? Even vampires know how to keep a low profile.' Jhiera glared at Spike and the turned to the infinitely calmer Angel. 'You must leave. If they have followed you.........if they know you are here, we are all in danger.' 'Let me guess, you didn't fancy the slave life?' Jhiera glared at him and shook her head. 'You know why we escaped?' 'Got some idea. Why don't you tell me. Tell me how Wilkers got incinerated.' Spike spotted the girl from before and concentrated, wondering if he could feel the heat again. But whilst the ice steamed beneath her, he knew his head was his own, and that the desire he felt for Angel was no different than any other time. He moved toward Jhiera. 'What happens if they're not on ice?' The demon looked at them both and narrowed her eyes, trying to detect if she was in danger. With a shrug, she turned and showed them the ridges that protruded from her spine. 'In Oden Tal - what you call personality, our passions, those impulses.........sit in an area of the body we call the Ko.' 'And they take this from you?' Jhiera shrugged. 'From the women, yes. When the females come of age, Ko controls our physical and sexual power. But when it first emerges, the women can't control it. We come to your world in a fever.' Angel stepped towards Jhiera, feeling a heat similar to that which Spike had described. He shook his head and moved backwards again. He looked up at Spike and saw his lover watching him warily, aware of the power these women could arise. 'So you need the ice to keep cool? To stop you from burning up?' 'Yes. When I first arrived.........alone.........I thought I would die from the heat.........under my skin. And your people - the men? Some respond to the Ko involuntarily. They tried to force wasn't safe for me.........until I found the frozen water.' She looked at Angel and the vampire found the heat rising, aware of his every nerve wanting.........needing something. He began to pant, staring at Jhiera, trying hard to rid himself of the urge upon him. She was so close.........and he wanted......... Spike grabbed a big handful of ice and slammed it against Jhiera's neck. She jumped and Angel felt the lust die a little. Spike was right, these women were dangerous. 'So the security guard? Who killed him?' Jhiera glared at Spike, but the vampire had a handful of ice and didn't look as though he was prepared to listen to her abuse. She turned back to Angel. 'He tried to touch one of my girls. It was his own fault.' 'From what you're saying, he probably didn't mean to hurt her.' 'And the girl couldn't help killing him! It was an accident,' said Jhiera. Angel sighed. 'I understand what you're trying to do, and I'll help you if I can. But you can't just go around killing men on my world. 'I am the daughter to a King, sir. A king who promised happiness and a better life for everyone. I didn't denounce him and escape for my good alone. I did it to see his promise come true for all the women of Oden Tal. If a few have to die to protect my people...' Spike laughed dryly and flicked an ice cube at the demon. 'So, what? Your little refuges come here, kill a few blokes and we're supposed to look the other way? I don't think Peaches, or any of the other goody goodies will stand for that.' 'And you?' asked Jhiera. Angel looked at Spike, wondering for the first time why he was so interested in this case. 'Never liked people who thought they were better than me and mine.' He nodded at Angel. 'I suppose we help her fight off the others whilst she moves these sirens to somewhere else. That's what you're going to say, isn't it?' Angel nodded slowly. 'Pretty much.' He turned to Jhiera. 'If you vowed to protect the innocent it shouldn't matter which dimension they're from.' Jhiera glared at him. 'An easy sentiment when your people are free.' Spike snorted. 'You know, you bloody royal types just get on my wick every time.' 'Spike,' said Angel warningly. 'No, I've had it up to here,' growled the vampire. 'There's nothing special about these dozy cows. She Ra here says they're escaping some other dimension and we're just supposed to say, go ahead. Kill as many as you need.' He stepped toward her and grabbed the hand which was starting to glow. 'It's just not fucking on! If there's one thing I hate, it's ego driven freaks who think the world belongs to them.' 'Spike?' 'And you!' growled Spike, 'You're just the worst in a long line. I've known nutters with more bloody sense than you!' The hand enclosed in his hand was glowing brighter, but Spike didn't seem to notice. 'I've had it with the greater Good. They're no fucking better than Evil. At least we don't pretend to care about anything. You've got no bloody idea, bitch, and I'm fucked if I'm helping you.' He dropped her hand and moved to leave. Jhiera panted hard and glared at Angel, but the dark vampire's gaze was fixed on Spike. 'You're a threat to me,' she said to his retreating back. 'And you're a threat to everybody. Now just fuck off to someone else's dimension.' Jhiera roared and blasted Spike with fire. He yelled at the pain and threw himself against the ice, feeling the burning sensation flickering up his body. She moved forward, preparing to burn him again, but felt Angel's hand on her arm. 'He will tell Tay.' 'He won't,' said Angel, 'Leave him.' She sighed and let go. Spike got to his feet and glared at her before moving to the door again. She watched as he was about to leave. 'I cannot risk it.' There's a list somewhere, telling you at what temperature everything burns. The skin of a vampire, though human to a greater degree, is more durable. From the way Spike sizzled, it was clear she'd exceeded the heat for cooking. He screamed, his body reminding him that immortality is merely a point of view and Spike tried to remember what he knew about fire. Drop and roll, his agonised mind whispered. Drop and roll. As Spike flung himself to the floor, Jhiera walked forward, trying to finish him off. She was prevented by the kick Angel launched at her. The vampire was angrier than he could remember. He'd faced down so many things with his soul, given up so much, but he wasn't prepared to lose Spike under any circumstances. The vicious onslaught seemed strange under the tranquil lighting, but both demons were enraged, determined to win. As she readied her body for a further burning, Angel drew out his axe and swung deep into her belly. She gasped and the hiss of steam that came out of the gaping wound seared his fingers. Jhiera dropped to the floor and pulled the weapon loose, aware that her life's blood was seeping out over the ground. She looked to Angel, but the vampire had already lost interest in her and had moved toward his lover, dragging the ice from the baths and covering Spike's burnt body. He cradled the shuddering form in his arms and looked at Will's mostly untouched face. His coat had melted on his back and Angel didn't dare try and remove it yet, wondering if he'd caught his lover in time, if he had stopped the ultimate death of this vampire. Spike opened his eyes and Angel winced at the agony within them. He traced his fingers across the sweating brow and kissed him tenderly. He saw his love trying to say something and shushed him, hoping with everything his soul had allowed him, that he would recover. Jhiera stared at this unlikely couple, breathing deeply as she could, her belly spilling out the remainder of her life. She looked to Angel. 'You have condemned us all.' Angel refused to look anywhere other than Spike. 'You did it yourself.' He stroked Spike's moving lips and closed his eyes. 'I'll do what I can for your friends, but Spike was right. You put yourself above all of us.........' 'I did.........what I thought was.........right,' gasped Jhiera, the last of her strength dying. Angel finally turned to look at her. 'So did I.' * Spike rolled over slightly in bed, feeling the coolness of the sheets beneath his aching back. His resilience wasn't something he wanted to test all that often, but he was relieved that She Ra's low grade burning hadn't been the death of him. All he was now, was uncomfortable and compared to the blistering heat of the demon's touch, anything was better. He closed his eyes again and snuggled his face into the pillow. Spike usually had the energy of several hyperactive children, but right now, he wanted to sleep and sleep until all the pain went away. He felt Angel's hand brush over his forehead and sighed, with a childish relief that his lover was close. He heard Doyle's lilting tones from the kitchen and listened as he slipped back into unconsciousness. 'So we moved the girls to this place in the desert. I don't know if Jhiera had set up anyone else to come, but I don't fancy being the human torch for anyone. No matter how good she looks in a little bikini.' Angel almost laughed. 'Thanks Doyle.' He sighed. 'I was going to help her.' Doyle patted the brooding vampire on the shoulder. 'We've done what we can. The girl's are taken care of and maybe they can find some way, some better way of getting others out.' It didn't seem to help. 'I killed her. I lost my head and I killed her.' 'Angel, man,' began the Irishman. 'You had to make a choice. When it came down to it, you had to choose between what was right for her and what was right for you.' 'I was selfish.' 'Because you saved someone you loved?' Doyle laughed. 'That's not selfish, that's being human.' Angel looked to where his injured lover lay, healing slowly from the hideous burns, Jhiera had inflicted on him. He had chosen, had made the decision and it was his love for Spike that had come first. If paying back his penance meant giving up his lover, Angel knew now that he couldn't do it. He'd have to find some other way. 'I just.........I couldn't let him die.' Doyle moved towards the stairs, leaving the lovers alone. 'I know, Angel. I know it doesn't make things easier, but I think you did the right thing.' Angel looked at the Irishman, scrutinizing his face for a sign that this was just false comfort, but he found none. Spike had become, despite everything that should have made it otherwise, one of them. And you take care of your own. He nodded slowly and Doyle left. Angel moved over to the bed and lay down on the bed, consciously breathing in the scent of his lover. Spike rolled slightly, his body pressing up against Angel's, wanting the closeness even in sleep. Angel wrapped his arm around him and lay, still awake, watching over his childe, admitting his fallibility and knowing that he was one step closer to the humanity he'd lost. *

Episode 14