The Clockwork Vampire


by Spirit






'These sheets are disgusting.' Spike opened an eye reluctantly. He wasn't the type of vampire, (or, for that matter, the type of man) who wanted to get cleaned up after sex, and despite Angel's anal urges, wasn't going to start being Miss Spray and Shine now. 'Sleep on the couch then, Pet.' Angel frowned at him and Spike closed his eyes again, chuckling. He stopped abruptly when his sire grabbed hold of the sheets and pulled them, magician style, off the bed, turfing the blond vampire onto the floor. As Spike scrambled angrily to his feet, he heard Angel laughing and growled, looking up at the vampire with the fudge covered sheets in his hand. 'That,' snarled Spike, 'Wasn't funny, Love.' 'Oh I thought it was fairly funny. Although,' said Angel, scratching his head, 'Isn't everything supposed to stay put? Maybe you could get back on and I'll give it another shot.' Spike scowled and Angel dumped the sheets in the laundry basket, grinning his way into the kitchen. He filled two mugs and began warming them in the microwave, aware his lover had meandered in, naked, after him. 'They'll be here in ten minutes, Spike. Why don't you get dressed?' 'Because I wasn't finished.' Angel raised an eyebrow and turned to see Spike grinning maniacally at him. He was wearing, and Angel blinked twice to make sure he had it right, nothing but a big smear of chocolate fudge across his belly, dripping down towards the.........the......... He sighed and then attempted a frown. 'Put.........some clothes on,' he said through gritted teeth. Spike leaned back against the counter. 'Make me, Love.' 'I'm not playing this game. They're going to be here in,' he looked at the clock, 'Less than ten minutes. Just cover up.' 'Ashamed of me, Pet?' said Spike, gently encircling his aroused cock and squeezing it. Angel shook his head. 'You know I'm not, but.........' 'But what? I'm not bothered if Little Miss Blabberbox and co see me in the buff. Why should you be, Love?' And all the time, Spike's erection was growing harder and firmer and longer and......... 'So why, Pet?' Angel growled and grabbed the table. 'Because I'm the only one who gets to fuck you.' Spike threw back his head and laughed. 'So you reckon that one glimpse of me like this and Doyle'll have me spread across the table in no time?' Angel growled low again, feeling certain demon urges being suppressed by his own desire for the body across the room. 'Dress.' Spike started bucking his hips against his hand, the head disappearing beneath torturously sensitive fingers and the smudgy fudge smearing across the length, warmed by all the friction. Angel could feel his tongue, desperate to hang out and envelope that throbbing shaft, but he didn't. he mustn't. This was something between them and, whether Spike had been serious or not, he had noticed something different about Doyle lately. He'd been looking at them both.........almost admirably. And Wesley.........he wasn't quite as disapproving. Something had happened, but he didn't know what. And something needed to happen right now. Yeah, you could get your ass over there and suck that boy dry. True. Fun. Not enough time. Time for plan B. Spike groaned as he brought himself closer to what would be his fourth orgasm this evening and was unprepared for Angel's assault. The dark vampire launched himself across the table and knocked Spike to the floor, pinning his arms away from his needy cock. Spike roared, but, strong though he was, Angel was ever so slightly more powerful - size being what it was. And his sire had him pinned to the ground - something not wholly unpleasant, but......... 'Hey!' Angel grinned briefly as he pulled the jeans onto his lover. Spike was squirming in his grasp, but Angel was determined. Sex could come later. They both could come later. And if he didn't hide this body, he was going to wind up getting no work done. Again. He just couldn't think when he had such pleasures to keep him away from the penitent stuff. Who could refuse Spike's taught body pressed up against them? He pulled the T-shirt over Spike's protesting arms. 'This sucks, Pet!' 'Yeah, well, so will I.........afterwards.' Spike growled and Angel struggled to fasten the button fly on his jeans. The vampire was thrusting that hard cock up into his hands and Angel had to bite down hard on his lip not to just enclose it in his fingers and have Spike orgasm all over him. Think! Oh yeah.........God I love this man.........Not with your dick! Think. Cordelia? Wesley? Doyle? Angel sighed and fastened the jeans, pulling Spike to his knees and kissing him fiercely. He pulled away with a gasp, lust spread deeply over his handsome features. 'When they've gone I'm gonna fuck you so hard you're going to beg me to stop.' Spike chuckled at the statement. Angel was capable of many things during sex - he loved to bite and be bitten and they had touched on bondage slightly, but anything remotely painful triggered off Angellus memories. Whilst Spike still remembered certain things fondly about the beast his sire had been, the thought that he was the same creature was guaranteed to make Angel lose his erection. Begging, in their new roles, had become very human - a tease, something to increase desire, but never, never to hurt. It was a part of their relationship that Spike could live without. Angel knew, for example, that the back of the blond vampire's knees were highly sensitive. As Angellus, he'd whipped them continually until Spike came hard, his cock untouched. As Angel, he'd spent countless hours licking, sucking and tracing patient little designs over the tingly flesh. To Spike, it didn't matter how he dealt with his erogenous zones. What mattered to him was that Angel knew what aroused him and paid attention. Though personally, his favourite moments were when Angel lost complete control and bit deep into the flesh. The blood spilling deep into Angel's throat made his cock throb harder and the sheer desire reflected in Angel's demonic eyes was enough to send him over the edge. He grinned at Angel. 'You can try, Pet.' 'I will,' grinned Angel, 'You can count on it.' 'Can't you two ever get your minds out of the gutter?' Angel peered over the table. Cordelia and Wesley had arrived, Doyle's arms draped over their shoulders. The Irishman didn't smell drunk, but his head was slumped, his body limp in the arms of his friends. 'Vision?' asked Angel. 'Well, duh!' exclaimed Cordelia, 'Like I'd carry him down here otherwise.' 'He collapsed in the office,' said Wesley, concern sweeping his face. 'Whispered something about a boy and then fainted. It must have been quite a powerful apparition.' 'Yeah,' said Angel and helped the Irishman onto the table. Doyle groaned and started to wake up. 'Aww, Wes, you didn't have to do it that hard.........' He paused, seeming to realize where he was. 'Hey Spike.........Angel.' 'Evening, Pet,' said Spike, getting to his bare feet. 'Had a little vision did we? Mind numbingly painful?' 'Yeah.' Spike grinned. 'Yeah,' he sighed, 'I thought it was.' Angel raised a warning eyebrow and Doyle sat upright on the table, accidentally putting his hand in a puddle of chocolate fudge. He stared suspiciously at Spike, who returned a grin. Angel handed him the cloth apologetically and set about clearing up the remnants on the wood. 'So, the vision,' said Angel, staring at the table. 'What was it?' Doyle shook his head. Wesley took a glass to the faucet and poured out a good amount. He looked at the contents, smelled it abstractedly and tipped it down the drain before pulling out a Doyle sized whisky bottle from his pocket. Spike raised an eyebrow. 'You brought him a hanky as well, Pet?' Wesley passed the bottle over and glared at Spike. 'I realise that as a creature of evil you enjoy seeing suffering, but I prefer not to watch a friend in discomfort.' 'Easy tiger,' said Angel, 'I'm sure Spike was just.........' 'I am quite aware what Spike was implying,' said Wesley defensively, 'I am simply pointing out that some of us are not evil demons.' 'No, some of us are missing a party to be working tonight. Now what did you see?' Doyle looked at Cordelia, hearing the sharpness in her voice. It wasn't evident in her face and he smiled gently at the girl, before turning to Angel. 'I saw a house and some kids, a boy and.........a little girl, I think. There was a man there.........and so much fear.' Angel threw the cloth into the bowl and reached for his coat. 'Where was this?' Doyle blinked and wrote down the address. 'They're really scared, Angel, but.........I don't know.' 'What?' asked the vampire. Doyle sighed and knocked back some of the whiskey. 'I think this is something that's been going on a while. There was fear, but not surprise. You're going to have to be careful.' He looked at Cordelia again, 'They're good at hiding it.' Spike started pulling his boots on, one eye on Wesley, who, he had noticed, hadn't taken his eyes off Doyle since he'd arrived. Interesting, especially considering the proximity of Cordelia. 'So what's the plan, Pet?' Angel paused for a moment, before rattling off instructions. 'Doyle, you stay here with Cordelia. See if the pair of you can find anything out about the address. See if you can get any information on the people there, who's been there previously. Anything.' 'Amityville, right,' said Cordelia, 'You want the whole scope.' 'Wesley, Spike, you come with me.' Spike nudged the ex-watcher. 'Triffic, Pet. We get to go driving together.' Wesley raised an eyebrow. 'I'm going nowhere if you're driving.' 'What's wrong with it? Just because I haven't got a license.........' 'No license, no skills, no idea of safety.........' 'What am I going to do? Die?' '.........and no care of anyone else on the road. Frankly, I'm surprised that Angel allows you to back the car out of the garage.' Spike growled whilst Angel, Cordelia and Doyle exchanged glances. 'Angel. Doesn't. Control. Me.' Wesley was unflapped. 'I never suggested he did.' He smiled. 'I'm sure if control was in question, he'd use a much shorter rope.' Wesley walked past towards the basement having delivered the zinger and Spike moved to attack him. Angel grasped his shoulder before he caused himself damage and the blond spun to glare at him. Angel flashed him a quick smile and Spike was surprised to feel some of his tension drain away. 'I'll drive,' said Angel. 'You don't trust me with your bloody car, do you?' 'It's not that exactly,' said Angel, walking past him down the stairs. 'Then what is it like, Pet?' Angel paused and reached for his car keys. 'I don't trust either of you to drive.' The vampire growled and followed his sire down to the car. Doyle shook his head and slipped off the table, screwing the lid back on the bottle and slipping it into his coat pocket. He followed Cordelia up to the office and sat down on the desk as she tapped away on the keyboard. He smiled to himself as she flipped quickly through appropriate screens. She was getting better. Even her typing skills had improved, if not to perfection, at least to a state where she didn't hand out invoices from Angle Investigations. She noticed him looking at her and glanced up. 'What?' she asked. 'Nothing,' said Doyle. She raised an eyebrow. 'I was just admiring your net skills.' Cordelia laughed dryly and flipped to the next screen. 'Yeah, after I laughed at Willow so long in school, I'm now fumbling in her footsteps. Irony or what?' Doyle brushed a stray hair from her forehead and she smiled at him. 'So,' she continued, 'How's it feel, living with Mr Uptight?' Doyle shrugged. 'He's not that uptight. Just needs to let his hair down every now and again.' 'Oh!' said Cordelia, 'your kind of man, hey?' 'It's not like that.' 'Like what?' asked Cordelia. 'Like two guys who live together?' 'Share a flat.' 'Whatever,' said Cordelia. She hit the search button and then laughed. 'You know, I was actually feeling jealous.' Doyle smiled and slid down into the chair next to her. 'Jealous? Of what?' 'There,' she said, pointing to the screen. 'Oh, well, it just seemed like you and Wesley were all buddy buddy and I was out of it.' 'Well you wanted out of it, Princess. You wanted to meet non-demon types. Saw plenty of those at your party.' She scowled at him. 'I'm not dating any of those guys.' 'Hmm, what's this?' asked Doyle, looking at the address list. 'How come?' Cordelia turned the printer on and clicked the Print button on the screen. She turned to Doyle. 'I don't know. I guess,' she paused and sighed. 'I used to want a guy with money, good looks and strictly of the non-demon variety.' 'And?' 'And now I want most of that.........but, I want him to be brave and heroic as well. I hate not being shallow.' Doyle flicked the screen to a newspaper cutting. 'That's strange.' 'Well yeah, I mean, tell me about it! It's like, everything that Mom told me isn't true.' 'No,' said Doyle, printing out the cutting, 'I mean, this is strange. A family friend went missing in Akron. They've moved an awful lot.' 'Oh,' said Cordelia, moving next to him. He could smell her perfume, faint, feminine. Intoxicating. 'Wow,' exclaimed the girl as she read the article. 'These guys like trouble.' She rested her head over Doyle's shoulder and read the next page. The half demon closed his eyes briefly, wondering why she did this. It wasn't as if there could be anything between them. She'd made that quite clear. And Wesley.........he wasn't even sure there was a situation there that needed dealing with. 'Princess?' 'Mm?' He smiled and tried hard not to think about the svelte body pressed against his back. 'Who are you dating?' He could feel her soft laugh against his neck. 'No one.' He grinned and felt her hand creep round to click on the file for Akron. 'Non demon guys can't hack it?' She was so close. 'Something like that.........' Cordelia's hands dropped from the mouse and covered his own softly. Doyle stared at it for a moment before turning round. She looked so young, and he felt so old right now. But if there was ever a moment to seize, this was it and he grinned gently, willing his Irish charm to work its magic now. 'So,' he paused, brushing a hand lightly down her cheek, 'D'you think there's any chance for a poor, homely looking, half-demon type.........' 'You forgot to mention heroic,' murmured Cordelia, her tongue flickering over her bottom lip, 'And badly dressed.' 'Right, so.........Any chance for someone like.........' She tilted her mouth up to meet his and he swore he could feel electricity pass between them as Cordelia's tongue sought refuge in his mouth. Doyle wrapped his arms around her and pulled Cordelia tight against his chest. Her hands crept up, stroking along his hairline, feeling the coarse hair on the back of his neck. He could feel her smile against his mouth and moved his hips away slightly, not wanting to betray the tenderness of this kiss with his own needs. But she moved against him again and Doyle ran his hands, finally, through her luxuriant hair, touching each tendril as he had so many times in his dreams. As the kiss deepened, he caught himself thinking of Wesley and his passion abated slightly. Despite the knowledge that they'd been drunk, that it had been the mood, the atmosphere and most of all, Doyle who had initiated it, he was aware that Wesley had reacted differently towards him afterwards. Neither men had mentioned the kiss, but it hung there between them - something unspoken and threatening. He drew back from Cordelia's kiss and held her there, panting, passion rising and met, but tinged by his guilt. It's ironic, he thought, she's all I've wanted.........for months, she's all I've wanted and now.........I'm feeling guilty because someone else cares about me. Fate fucks with us all. 'Cordy, Love.........' 'What? She breathed. 'I.........cats and dogs?' 'Huh?' Doyle looked on the screen past her. 'Cats and dogs, all found, butchered everywhere they've lived.' 'Oh,' she said. 'The case, right.' He squeezed her hand and she moved next to him. 'This doesn't look good,' murmured Doyle. Cordelia nodded. 'Everywhere they go, there've been reports of disturbances.' 'Something's really wrong with that family,' he paused, 'We should go tell Angel.' She sighed and pulled him against her again. 'Do you want to go be heroic?' He was still mulling the question over when she kissed him again. And then he wasn't thinking about anything other than the softness of her caress. *

'I was driving when they still had some stupid bugger waving a red flag!' 'That does not make you a better driver, Spike. I took my advanced driving test and passed with flying colours.' 'Flying colours! That was vomit you daft get!' Angel winced and pulled over to the side of the road. He didn't know what was causing it, but Wesley had become unusually argumentative lately and Spike, was, as always, happy to oblige. The dark vampire was currently weighing up his options. He either wanted to drag Spike into the back seat and fill his mouth with his more than ample cock, or kill them both. Since his soul was too battered to accept a death and Wesley would more than comment on an impromptu blow job, he was going to have to settle for C, ignore them both. 'I am not even rising to that bait, Spike. I have a perfect safety record. Unlike you.' 'I'm alive aren't I?' 'No.' 'You know what I mean, Pet. If I was that bad a driver, I'd have gone up in flames by now.' There was a pause. 'Just because you haven't crashed personally, does not mean that others have not crashed as a result of your actions.' 'Yeah? Act on this, Pet!' Angel looked in the rear view mirror and caught sight of two fingers raised to the fellow Englishman. He sighed again, wondering if they'd hear him this time and take the hint. 'And now you're resorting to crudity as you've run out of reason.' Apparently not. 'Well I'd rather take a chance and actually get there on time, rather than arse about at the *exact* speed limit and piss everybody off.' 'Speed limits are there for a reason.........' 'We're here,' said Angel quietly. 'It's a bloody rule. And all bloody rules are there to be broken!' Wesley sighed. 'A society works because of its in-built rules and.........' he paused and noticed Spike's raised eyebrow. 'I must have lost my mind - I'm trying to explain social structure to a vampire.' 'Hey, Pet. Vampires know all about social structure.' 'Really,' said Wesley, folding his arms. 'I find that highly unlikely.' 'Guys,' said Angel, noticing something across the road. 'Sure, Pet. It goes - Vampires on top, humans on the bottom, demons somewhere in the middle.' 'Wonderful analysis,' said Wesley, 'Who needs Marx when they have you?' 'And Nytol's a fucking waste of money when you can just talk people to sleep.' 'He's sleepwalking.' Angel climbed out of the car and saw the boy step into the road. The roar of the car was very close and he had to turn speed at a vampiric level to cross the road in time. His body rolled to the pavement as the car honked its way past, the boy pressed close to his chest, his little heart still beating with the slowness of the sleeping. But he was no longer asleep. He looked at Angel stoically, as if strangers rescuing him from roads was something that happened all the time. There was a tear in Angel's coat and a wound had opened beneath it. The blond boy stared at the cut and then up to Angel's face, a taunting tone in his young voice. 'You're bleeding. Are you going to cry?' Angel blinked and then thought. How do you talk to children? 'I don't think so,' he paused and looked at the cut, 'I don't know, huh, let me think.' He paused a second and pretended serious contemplation. 'Ah, no.........yeah.........uh no, not going to cry.' He smiled at the boy and as the child smiled back, he felt some small amount of tension release. Cathy.........his mind threw up and he quashed it before his depression could begin afresh. 'What's your name?' 'Ryan' 'Ryan, you want to tell me what you were doing outside?' As he looked up, he saw a man and woman, presumably the boy's parents rushing over the lawn. She was screaming her sons name and was close to hysteria. As the father berated the boy, his mother enfolded him in her arms and kissed him tenderly, repeating a mantra of protection - you're safe now, you're safe now......... The father was harsh, but he was relieved to see his son in tact. His gratitude to Angel didn't ring true though. Paige, the boy's mother, insisted on tending to Angel's wound and since the vampire had an invite, he followed them all in the house, wondering if he could get past Seth's guarded attitude. Wesley and Spike watched from the car. 'Oh that's just marvellous. I've been here sitting with you and obviously missed Angel's instructions to assist him.' Spike raised an eyebrow. 'You've seen him haven't you, Pet? Tall dark, handsome and attractive. If he's going to charm the pants of that silly cow in there, he's hardly going to want Mr Magoo to go with him and louse it up.' Wesley climbed out of the car and headed over to the house. 'He isn't going to need some Billy Idol wannabe, either. Is he?' Spike growled and Wesley rolled his eyes. 'I suggest that you and I search the perimeter of the house for clues.' Spike groaned and picked up the torch. 'Thought I left the Scooby Gang back in Sunnyhell.' Wesley took the torch off the vampire and moved quietly round to the rear of the house. 'This is not a cartoon, Spike! This is a serious matter.' Spike watched as Wesley opened the trashcan. 'Where's it written that groping in scuzzy pizza boxes is serious investigating?' Wesley ignored the vampire and moved the offending article aside. There was a doll below it. As he picked it up and frightened himself with its squeak, Spike had moved towards something interesting on the stairs. 'Oh, Weasly, get your arse over here.' Wesley frowned and put the doll back in the trashcan, before adjusting his glasses and looking where Spike was bending down. There was a fluorescent substance coating the wall below a window with burglar bars across it. 'Oh dear,' sighed Wesley. 'Too fucking right,' said Spike. 'Bloody Ethros demon.' Wesley removed a small jar from his coat and scraped an amount of the slime into it. Spike watched him, then looked up to see a small girl watching them from the window. She smiled pleasantly at the vampire and he scowled. It seemed to amuse her, so Spike started doing his Big Bad act, wondering whether she'd laugh when he showed her his demon face. She grinned at him and as he found himself growling again, he knew that if she was close, he would be intoxicated by the heat of her blood and the pulse......... 'Spike?' Spike looked away from the window and toward the demon hunter. Wesley was watching him looking at the child and the vampire stared at him wildly, bloodlust a mere second away. He was breathing hard, panting with desire and Wesley stepped forward, recognising that if the chip in Spike's head failed.........even for a minute, he was the walking dead. 'We have to get you out of here.' Spike swallowed hard and stared up at window, as the girl tilted her head, as if she was assessing what he was. She saw his demonic face, the vampire's final appearance to the victim before death, and she was not afraid. Wesley stepped toward the car, pulling on Spike's long duster. The vampire tensed, unwilling to follow anyone, but the girl's inquisitive gaze disturbed him and he turned deliberately away. Wesley said nothing until they reached the car and opened the door for Spike, wary as the vampire sunk peacefully into the seats. Spike stared out of the window, his bloodlust ebbing away, but the lack of reaction, the peace and acceptance was driving into him like nothing he'd ever known. Wesley sat down next to him, looking at the phosphorescent jar and speaking quietly. 'It still happens then?' 'What?' growled Spike. 'The Bloodlust. I'd suspected, but I'd never seen before.' Spike snorted. 'What am I? Bloody experiment?' 'Well actually,' said Wesley, removing his glasses, '.........that's precisely what you are. A product of this.........' 'Initiative' 'Initiative's conditioning.' He breathed deeply and concentrated on the jar again. 'I studied Angel's form in the Watcher's diaries. Mr Giles was unclear on several points, but he did mention that Angel was still subject to the bloodlust. I had wondered, since I learnt of your condition, if you suffered from the same process.' 'It's not suffering,' snarled Spike. Wesley sighed again. 'For a normal vampire, that would be true. But you are, whether you like it or not, a unique case. As far as I am aware, this has not happened ever.' Spike snorted. 'You saying that no other vamp's had his fangs capped?' 'In a manner of speaking. There have been cases, where the vampire in question was subject to a spell for a certain amount of time.' 'And they got fixed?' asked the vampire, her face still in front of him. 'Well in some cases, the effects eventually wore off in one manner or other.' 'And the others?' Wesley put his glasses back on. 'Come on Pet, you can tell me. I'm the Big Bad, remember?' Wesley looked at Spike. 'As they were unable to defend themselves, they died, either from starvation, or brutalized at the hands of the humans they needed to feed from' Spike picked at his nails and stared at the house, wondering what his fate would have been, had Angel not intervened. He sniffed and reached in his pocket for a smoke. As he lit it up, he turned to Wesley, aware that the ex-watcher's face was concerned, not only for the safety of those around them, but for Spike's own well being. He grinned. 'Is that a Watcher bothered about a Vampire?' Wesley raised an eyebrow. 'I'm no longer a Watcher.' Spike blew out a smoke bubble and grinned. 'And I'm not exactly the Big Bad anymore.' 'Spike.........' began Wesley. 'Save it, Pet. I know what I am. I know why I'm still here.' He stubbed out the cig on the palm of his hand. 'Doesn't mean I have to like it all the bloody time, though.' Angel came out of the door and headed toward the car. Wesley slipped the jar into his pocket and Spike stared at him. The demon hunter shook his head. 'I won't say anything to him.' 'Right,' said Spike and grinned, 'Or I'll beat the crap out of you.' Wesley snorted. 'Now that I would like to see.' He looked up as the worried vampire climbed back in the car. 'Angel?' Angel closed the door and looked at both of them. 'Something is wrong in that house. The wife wants to talk, but the husband keeps getting in her way.' Spike looked at Wesley, thinking about the substance they'd found behind the house. Angel stared at the front door. 'I'm going to come back tomorrow night.' 'Be careful,' said Wesley. 'I always am,' said Angel, looking at Spike and seeing the burn mark on his hand. 'Be especially careful,' said Wesley, pulling out the jar of plakticine. Angel stared at the substance and up to his companions. 'Plakticine?' 'Covered the foundations, Pet. Weasly and me saw it coming from a window upstairs.' 'So now we know,' sighed Angel. 'Yeah, Love,' said Spike, looking toward the house. 'Some poor fucker in that house is possessed.' * There is a point in which you make a choice in any kiss. For Doyle, it was the moment when his fingers touched the clasp of Cordelia's bra - a thin stretch of material that marked out one side of a relationship from another. She hadn't stopped him, her body pressed against his and her mouth torturously sliding against his own. They'd been kissing on and off over the course of the past hour, gathering information and then succumbing to a newly accepted passion. Heat burnt in both of them, but Doyle was very aware of the circumstances and that he could not, at least at the moment, invite her back to his place to further their explorations. And Phantom Dennis was always evident at Cordelia's boudoir. No where to be alone. Except here and now. 'Mm, Cordelia?' She strained to kiss him and touched along his neck, exciting the Irishman in ways he had almost forgotten about. 'What?' she murmured between caresses. She was shifting her hips teasingly against his own. He breathed deeply, unwilling to admit what he was going to say. 'We have to stop.........Angel.........' 'Is always embarrassing us with Spike.........' she purred against him, 'He's not going to mind.........' Doyle could feel the flimsiness of the material beneath his fingers. One little move and that step would be taken......... He couldn't. 'Wesley might be with them.' She almost laughed. 'Wesley? Wesley's stopping you.........' 'He likes you, Princess. It's a bit cruel to blast it in his face.' She pulled away and looked at him. 'You are actually blowing me off because of Wesley?' He stared at the beautiful girl in front of him. Her lips were swollen from his kisses, her hair, usually so neat was tousled and half stuck against her head. She was so hot - for him. He could take her now. She wanted it now, wanted him.........and everything pounded in his heart, his whole body needed.........to think this through. 'I can't sweetheart. I've wanted you so long, and I just wanted it to be with the two of us.' She raised an eyebrow at him, and looked pointedly round at the office. 'There's no one here!' 'We're back!' She shrugged and tried to right her hair. 'Okay, so now there's someone here.' Wesley walked in the room brandishing the glowing jar and passed it to Cordelia who tilted it up to the light. 'This is pretty. What is it?' Spike and Angel walked in, both smelled the air and looked at Doyle, who shook his head. Spike opened his mouth, grinning at the news, ready to ask all sorts of compromising questions. Doyle winced as he waited for the onslaught but Angel grasped Spike, pulling him into a big clinch. The younger vampire was stunned, though not displeased, and started kissing his sire with a passion. 'It's the excretion of an Ethros demon.' Spike broke away from Angel, his lips puffed up and a trickle of blood leaking from the very edge. He turned to Wesley with some effort. 'Anyone tell you not to talk shop when I'm getting some.' Cordelia put the jar down on the desk and wiped her hands on her skirt. 'Couldn't anyone have said demon poo *before* I picked it up?' 'Oh it can't hurt you,' said Wesley, reaching for a book on the shelf. 'Only the demon itself is dangerous.' 'How dangerous?' asked Doyle. Wesley sat down at the desk with his tome, flicking through to the right page. 'You've heard of Lizzie Borden. She killed her parents with an axe?' 'Child's play,' muttered Spike. Cordelia glared at him. 'I remember the children's rhyme. And how come they're all full of death and cradles falling, and mice getting tails cut off?' 'Facts of life, Pet,' said Spike. 'They weren't supposed to be nice, they were supposed to be a warning.' 'Against eggs falling off walls?' 'Against strangers and such,' grinned Spike. 'Blood's always been a common theme in children's stories.' 'Oh,' said Cordelia. A thought seemed to strike her. 'And the mice?' 'Dunno, Pet. Beware of farmer's wives?' Angel chuckled. 'What?' 'I think you're probably right. All the farmer's wives I've ever.........' 'Eaten?' asked Cordelia. '.........Met,' said Angel pointedly, 'Didn't take kindly to strangers.' Cordelia shrugged. 'Anyway, the whole thing needs a rating system. Don't you think?' Wesley shook his head, he'd found the page he was looking for. 'Well anyway, what the rhyme doesn't say is that she was possessed by an Ethros demon.' 'An adolescent one,' murmured Angel. 'With this much plakticine, we've got ourselves a grown up.' 'Which would explain all this,' said Doyle, laying out the printouts next to Wesley's book. 'Oh my,' said Wesley. 'A family friend went missing.' Cordelia nodded. 'They've moved about a lot.' 'Let me guess,' said Angel. 'Couldn't shake the black cloud.' 'Like it was fitted with chin straps.' Spike sat down on the desk, reading the papers. 'Someone in that house is possessed,' said Wesley, 'We're going to need to do an exorcism.' 'Animal deaths?' murmured Spike as he read. 'Oh yeah,' said Cordelia. 'Like everywhere they went, more bodies.' 'Not human though,' mused the vampire. 'Spike?' Angel walked over to where Spike sat and looked as the vampire ran his finger down the suspicious circumstances. 'What is it?' Spike reached in his pocket and lit up a smoke. 'Ethros demon - mass murdering psycho?' 'Like you, yeah,' said Cordelia. 'What of it?' He lit the cigarette. 'If I was possessing someone, I'd be doing a whole lot more than butchering rabbits.' 'What are you getting at?' asked Doyle. 'What I'm getting at, Pet,' said Spike, inhaling deeply, 'Is that none of this says Ethros demon to me.' 'But the plakticine?' said Wesley. 'Oh, I'm not denying that some bugger's got an Ethros sitting on its shoulder. But there's worse things than possession.' 'Like you,' repeated Cordelia. 'Or,' said Spike, 'Like someone with the deep down crazies.' The stared at him and he calmly finished his cigarette. Wesley shook his head. 'That's a big leap you're taking. We have the evidence.' 'Yeah,' said Spike, 'Of evil. And of an Ethros. Trust me though, you don't have to be possessed to torture stuff.' Angel looked down, wondering if his childe was right. 'Let's just deal with the Ethros first.' Cordelia picked up the phone. 'Who are we exorcising though? Which one's the demon?' Angel shook his head. 'The father seemed kind of off. They were afraid of him.' 'A father doesn't need to be possessed to terrify his children. He just has to.........' Wesley trailed off, aware that he'd been revealing too much. He caught Angel's pitying glance and steeled himself. He was more than that man had ever expected. 'We'll find out soon enough. The first step in confronting the demon is getting him to show himself. A little psylis eucalipsis powder ingested by the host.........' 'And what?' asked Cordelia. 'Dad goes grr and his head spins around.' She stared at them. 'Are we talking pea soup here?' Spike grinned and lit up again. 'If it is, pet. I'll get them to aim in your direction.'

Continued

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