The Clockwork Vampire

by Spirit

'Are you sure you want to do this?' Vampires are adaptable creatures by nature. They have learnt to evolve with time and envelop the new trends and attitudes in order to survive. Those who do not, die. It's an easy choice. Spike raised an eyebrow at his lover and stretched his arms. The decision he'd made tonight had been less easy to make. But he had to know. He didn't like being scared of anything. 'Yeah, I'm sure, let's go meet the family.' They climbed out of the car, Angel carrying the brownies Doyle had made earlier. Cordelia had given him the recipe and he'd removed anything that he was pretty sure would kill them. What she didn't know wouldn't harm him or anyone else as long as he was cooking. Spike itched his collar. This getup sucked, but he could hardly turn up looking like his sire's vampire lover and expect to be invited in. So he'd asked Cordelia to help him pick out some clothes, which had helpfully distracted her from Doyle's culinary attempts. Wesley was busy elsewhere trying to find a priest, with little success. Secretary of the Year she may not be, but Cordelia was a shopping Queen by nature and found within moments, everything that Spike needed to appear the genial Englishman. When he looked down at himself, he found he looked mildly like Wesley - with attitude. Now, as he made his way to the door behind Angel, he worried that he shouldn't have come. It was a momentary worry though, Spike was used to making split second decisions and had long since quit questioning his judgement. His instincts had told him to face down the demon and as far as he was concerned, there was only one way to do that. The mother opened the door as Angel presented her with the brownies. 'I brought these,' said Angel. She smiled at him and looked past the vampire to Spike. 'And I brought him.' Spike stepped forward, his bad boy grin in place and felt the woman's heart beat faster, her blood rushing through her veins. He was used to women, (and some men, for that matter) reacting to his attraction, but it was the first time he'd hyped it up for someone he wasn't planning to eat. 'Nice to meet you, Love,' said Spike, 'Angel here promised to show me what a real American dinner is like and since he's cr.........not so good at cooking a roast, he brought me along to you.' She looked at him, slightly stunned and then up to Angel. 'He's my cousin,' Angel explained. 'He just came over today. If it's a problem, we can.........' 'No, no,' said Paige. 'I've got plenty. Come in, make yourself at home.' The vampires walked into the house and started to look around. Seth appeared at the door and glared at them both. 'I don't remember you.' Spike checked the pulse at the side of Seth's neck. Yeah, it was throbbing all right. And if he did turn out to be a demon and they couldn't get rid of the Ethros, he would always make a tasty snack. He could feel Angel's gaze on him and fixed his smile in place. Snack later, time to make nice with the meat. 'Pleased to meet you, Sir,' said Spike, his accent becoming crisper and, to Angel's amusement, something like Wesley's. 'I'm William Jennings.........from England.' 'Yeah,' said Seth, shaking the vampire's hand, 'I got that.' 'William's a guest of Angel's,' said Paige. 'I said there was more than enough to eat.' She looked at Seth and both vampires read the pleading look on her face. Please say yes. Please be nice. Please don't do anything to upset them. 'Fine,' said Seth, 'Why don't you two come on through.' * The dinner was pleasant, by Spike's standards. The one thing he'd missed since England was a good roast. Whilst he'd been alive it was a treat on Sundays after church. His mother had cooked up a huge batch of Yorkshire Puddings and loads of mushy veg and they'd all tucked in. It was something he'd not done after he was turned, but the tradition, along with the distinct taste of the food had stayed with him. 'More brussel sprouts, William?' 'Ta, Love,' said Spike, heaping some more onto his plate. He looked up to see Angel wincing, presumably thinking that if he ate any more carbohydrates their bedroom was going to reek. Spike, rediscovering the consequences of food in all its glory, didn't care. Paige had approximated his mother's cooking wonderfully. He'd waved a potato at Angel and grinned when the vampire had refused to react. 'For you, Angel?' The dark vampire shook his head. 'No thank you, I'm full. Everything was.........very good.' 'The roast was a little dry,' remarked Seth and Spike raised an eyebrow at the public insult of his wife's cooking. Angel leapt in pleasantly. 'No, it was full of.........roasty goodness.' He caught Spike's eyes and a moment passed unnoticed between them. He'd got that phrase, or at least its composition from the Slayer and they both knew it. One of these days they'd have to have that talk and neither vampire was looking forward to it. 'I'll go get the coffee,' said Paige and left the table, Seth following with a suspicious glance at the vampires. After the adults had left the room and Spike had polished off the last of the veg, they sat there, two age old demons and two children, regarding each other from across the table. Ryan spoke first. 'I didn't like the brussel sprouts. They were gross.' Angel smiled and looked at Stephanie. 'You seemed to like yours.' When she folded back her napkin and revealed the uneaten vegetables, Angel laughed and Spike grinned, relieved at this humanity. Angel leaned forward conspirationally. 'I buried one in my mashed potatoes, too.' The children laughed and Spike wondered if he was wrong. Stephanie had seemed like any other kid this evening. He admitted to himself that it was a long time since he'd had to deal with any children. He'd never been like Angellus, taking anything that happened to get in his path, and he wasn't claiming any virtuosity, he was a demon with a demon's needs. But Spike had never eaten children. They just didn't have enough blood in their system to sate the vampire. It was only that which stopped him. There wasn't any other reason. Certainly not a conscience. Seth walked back in as the children giggled and stared at them. 'What are you laughing at?' 'Angel's funny,' said Stephanie. 'Really?' said Seth, sitting back down. 'He hides it well.' Spike growled quietly and tensed his hands on the table, refusing to meet his lover's eye. Paige had come back in with the brownies and looked at him. 'Are you all right William?' 'I'm fine,' said Spike, before remembering his chosen role. 'Thank you. I'm fine, I just choked on something.' 'Are you sure?' she asked again. Nothing a little neck wouldn't cure, thought Spike to himself and he did meet Angel's gaze then, knowing that his sire had read his mind. He looked at Paige again and offered her his patented seduce a wench smile. 'Really, I'm fine, Love. That coffee smells good.' She poured him out a cup and Spike wondered if she'd be prepared to give Cordelia lessons. Then he grinned at the absurdity. 'Kids, look what Angel made us,' said Paige offering the brownies round. They each took one and whilst Angel's gaze never faltered from Seth's face, Spike watched the children, his own childhood coming back to haunt him. He could remember being cruel. He could remember catching pets and cruelly dismantling them. He could remember the evilness inherent in his play. Everyone said children could be cruel. No one remembered that it could be more than that. Children could make the evilest demon seem tame. 'No hot chocolate for you tonight kids, this is your treat.' The children both complained and Spike watched as Stephanie tasted the brownie and put it next to her discarded brussel sprouts. She was watching him intently, her pretty girl face aware she was being scrutinised. She shot him that same peaceful gaze that she'd used the night before and Spike remembered something he'd almost forgotten. Children were less easy to prey on because they *did* believe in things that went bump in the dark. Angel watched as Seth took a bite. He started coughing and the vampire was almost gratified to find the terror in such an easy way. When Stephanie started screaming, he was unprepared and Spike almost shot across the table to hold the boy down. 'Ryan?' asked Paige, moving to hold him. 'Ryan, baby, what's wrong?' 'Ryan's bad,' sobbed Stephanie. 'Ryan's always been bad.' 'Stephanie,' said Seth and his daughter fled the room. The boy collapsed onto the table and Spike picked him up, cradling the sleeping child in his arms, as Paige stroked his face, weeping at the change in her son's form. 'Paige, it's all right,' said Angel, determined for her to hear. 'He's okay.' Paige pulled at Ryan, trying to draw him into her arms like the baby he had once been. 'What do you mean he's okay!' 'I had to get the demon to show itself first.' She whirled on him and Angel was aware that a mother's ire is almost as scary as any demon he'd met. 'You did this to him?' She grabbed the boy out of Spike's arms and held him close. 'The demon was already there,' said Angel, trying to explain. 'I just used the brownies to.........' She rocked the boy back and forth as he lolled against her. 'You put something in our food? You poisoned him?' Angel opened and closed his mouth, aware that he was one step away from falling on his knees and begging forgiveness. He felt Spike's hand on his shoulder and calmed, knowing that they could only help now that the problem was visible. It has to hurt to heal, someone whispered in his memory and he shrugged it down, agreeing with advice, unwilling to remember who'd said it. She was glaring at him. 'What were you thinking?' she shook her head, 'I thought you were here to help us. You're not an angel at all.' He hung his head, but help has a way of being unexpected and Seth calmed his wife before turning to the vampires. 'You can help my son?' Spike looked at the child and wondered. They could get rid of the demon.........maybe, but there was something ingrained here. Something that went beyond the supernatural. Something entirely human. Angel nodded at Seth. 'All right. Answered the boy's father, tension visibly draining from his face. 'What do you need?' 'A phone,' said Angel. * When they arrived back at the office, Wesley was looking worried. 'We've found a priest, but I haven't actually been able to get in contact with him' 'Its fine,' said Angel, picking up a blanket. 'Cordelia, you and Doyle stay here whilst we go find him.' The girl walked up to the parents, smiling brightly. 'Hi, I'm Cordelia, sorry about the possession and everything.' Angel rolled his eyes and started to head out again. Spike caught his arm. 'I'm not going.' 'Why?' asked Angel, 'You'd prefer to stay here?' Spike looked at the child, sleeping on the bed. The nature of evil was very familiar to him, but something was going to happen. He could smell it, and he wasn't letting anything infiltrate the bed he shared with his lover. 'I'll just make sure the others don't fuck up.' Angel shrugged and headed out to the elevator, Wesley traipsing after him. Spike walked back into their bedroom, watching as Cordelia marked out the binding circle. As a vampire he was supposed to be in favour of evil and destruction and in certain times and places, he was all for it. He liked a bit of chaos, liked the terror and the sweetness as people ran scared. He had no regrets about his feeding habits. He was what he was and, since humans tended to off each other anyway - he'd been in enough wars to know that - he'd prefer it if they were a good meal first. He watched as Cordelia moved Seth and Paige into Angel's kitchen and as Doyle started making the coffee. They were busy, they had things to do and Spike was fine with that. He just wasn't prepared to let the boy stay in here alone. 'What are you?' he asked of the sleeping figure. 'And why am I about ready to drop a load because of it?' Ryan slept on. * Angel had dreamt about church. Much of it had been confused rememberings of Sundays with his family, experiences which added to his usual bout of sorrow when he woke up. Of course, he was usually prompted to action of a different sort when Spike's lazy grin widened and for that moment, his remorse was tempered. That moment, and, if Spike was in a particularly good mood, several moments later. And if he was in a bad mood, several hours later. Normally, the prospect of his lover and that oh so educated body would bring a smile to the vampire's face, but there was something about entering a church that made any creature of the night sober up. And this wasn't some tacky little preacher house. This was all out Catholic warfare on sinners. So much bigger than the buildings of his youth, but somehow, encompassing all the fear and reverence that they had contained. Wesley, unfettered by such challenging memories was at peace with himself. England was no longer a country ruled by religion and despite his school's strict assembly preachings, the students had left with little concept of practised belief. It had all been mixed in between announcements of house competitions and Wesley could remember mishearing an statement by the headmaster, that God would be playing soccer on Thursday for West House. As a consequence, and because of his own vague beliefs, Wesley had a scholars view of religions. He knew the practises, saw the rituals and understood the concepts, but he did not believe. He had no grounds to and the idea that a benevolent and kind God could place man in such mortal danger disturbed him. However, because of his knowledge of evil, he was more than prepared to accept that belief itself was a powerful weapon and as he saw the nun praying, his confidence that they could beat this depravity grew. She turned to look at them both, her face scrutinising the couple as they approached her. She watched as Angel's gaze kept shifting to the crucifix above them both and nodded sagely. Wesley smiled at her and began. 'Ah, sister? Good evening. Sorry to disturb your prayers.' She looked at him, and he backshifted, a habit he'd grown into long before he was a man. 'I hope we didn't make you lose your place.' 'Not at all. How can I.........' She watched Angel again and her expression calmed. 'You would come into a place of worship?' Angel looked at her and wished he could confess. But he could not. Some things are not available to the unclean. Yet still......... 'I'm not what you think.' No one ever is, mused Wesley. He looked up as the nun proved her perception and saw the shape in the shadows. There was someone there, watching them both. 'Okay, well maybe I am,' said the vampire. 'But I'm trying to help someone. A child. He's possessed by an Ethros demon.' Wesley stared into the aisle, seeing the shadow move forwards, trying to hear what was being said. He saw a whisper of brown hair across the delicate plane of a cheek, but before he could see any more, he was discovered and his shadow moved backwards, away from his sight, melting into the darkness once more. 'He's out behind the church,' said the nun lighting a candle. 'Thank you,' said Wesley before turning back to Angel. 'Progress at last!' 'The last grave on the left.' 'He's.........the father's dead?' And with that answer, Wesley offered a silent prayer for their hopes. Father Fredericks had been his only option, the exorcism having fallen under such scrutiny, both inside the church and out, that most priests refused to even entertain the idea. They had promised to help the child, but their options were.........not running out, they had ceased to exist. He could only see one further course of action and the severity of the act frightened him in a way that vampires no longer did. He sighed inwardly as he recognised his failure. In a way, he was worse than Angel, because the vampire had managed to find a way to compensate for his actions. Wesley, failed watcher, failed son, failed demon hunter had only accomplished what his father had predicted. 'Wesley?' asked Angel, 'Are you all right?' And the twist, the real kick in the tail was that there was something that he had done. Wesley had found employment with the only vampire who fought on the side of good. He lived with a seer, someone he trusted and with whom he still had unresolved feelings. He had begun to understand, not only Spike's reason for helping them, but how Angel could exist alongside the barbaric creature. He had become part of a family, and if that family comprised of various demonic entities, then so be it. He would not fail Them. 'Wesley?' The demon hunter turned to Angel and frowned. 'We're going to have to do it.' * 'Mommy? Where are you? I'm scared.........I need you.........Are you there?' Spike got to his feet and saw Paige, desperate to move towards the body that housed her son. He said nothing, but closed the door between them all, shutting himself in with the demon. 'You shouldn't have done that,' growled the demon on the bed. 'Shut a door?' asked Spike. 'Why? You afraid you won't be able to get your mits on Mummy?' Ryan shifted, so that his gaze was firmly on the Englishman. 'You're a vampire.' 'Burr!' said Spike, 'Score one for the squatter. Any other information, Pet? Only I'm missing ER for this.' Ryan turned his head, as if listening to something. 'You're afraid of me.' Spike shook his head. 'I'm not bloody afraid of anyone!' Ryan grinned. 'I can smell your fear.' 'That's just my after-shave, Pet. Eau de horny Angel.' The boy listened again. 'He pities you.' 'Who? The jolly green giant?' Ryan stared deep into the vampire's eyes. If he'd had a soul, the boy would be seeing it in all its worried glory right now. 'You love him completely and he pities what you have become. He cannot turn you away, for fear of what you might do, but he does not love you.' Spike sniffed and lit a cigarette. 'You say potahto and I say potayto. Love's hard to pin down.' Ryan laughed. 'You've never kept anyone you've loved. They've all left you in the end.' 'Love's bitch,' said Spike as he shook out the match. 'It's who I am.' He stared at Ryan, as if admitting his fallibility he had flummoxed the demon, but Ryan only smiled and Spike didn't know what he was facing down. He bit his lip at the next words. 'Don't worry about the next world. You'll always have me.' Drucilla. He almost dropped his cig. 'Yeah, very funny, Pet,' he said without a stroke of humour in his voice, 'Parlour tricks. Used them myself, once or twice.' He stood up and circled the demon child slowly. 'Just how scared are you?' Ryan stared at him. 'I don't need to be scared. I existed before they had a name to call me.' Spike snorted. 'So you're fucking old! Well, here's news, Precious, you haven't got any bloody wiser in all eternity.' He leaned closer, making sure his feet had not broken the circle. 'If you were as powerful as you keep claiming, you'd be killing everything in sight.' He grinned. 'Which begs the million dollar question, who really does the animal mutilations round here?' Ryan snarled and Spike laughed, before settling down back in his seat. 'You haven't got the balls, mate.' The door opened next to him. 'Spike?' asked Angel and despite his claims to the contrary, Spike hadn't been so pleased to see his lover since.........oh.........this morning. 'I'm here,' growled the vampire. 'Have you got the priest cause he's beginning to annoy me.' Wesley stepped into view and Spike took in the accoutrements. 'Oh, Weasly's having a bash, eh?' Wesley raised an eyebrow, but ignored the vampire and stepped into the room, opening the book and beginning the ritual. Angel watched him for a moment and then turned to Spike. 'Did he say anything to you?' Spike saw the obvious concern in Angel's eyes and smiled softly. 'I'm fine, Pet.' 'You sure?' Spike looked past him to the demon who laughed at Wesley's efforts. 'Can't leave Weasly alone, Love. He's gonna need your help.' 'Is there anything I can do?' asked Doyle. Spike looked at the half-demon, but his gaze was fixed on Wesley and the crucifix. Something there still, thought Spike, there's something......... Angel looked at them both and thought. 'Did you and Cordelia come up with something?' Doyle nodded. 'There's something called an Ethros box.' 'Stores the bugger, right?' Doyle nodded. 'Cordelia's gone to try and get one.' He looked to Seth and Paige, watching as they faced the pain of not knowing. 'I wouldn't be them for the world.' 'Seer!' They turned to the bed. Ryan was twitching his head, watching them all with a grin. 'You have failed them both, and you haven't the guts to show it.' 'What?' said Angel, but Ryan was staring at Doyle. 'He's not going to mind. Wesley won't mind.' purred Cordelia's voice from within the child, 'Why did we wait so long lover?' Wesley spun to the man, hurt written all over his face. 'That's not true, is it?' Doyle looked down before meeting Wesley's gaze. 'I'm sorry man, she just.........' Wesley gaped, then seemed to draw himself together and stood straight, turning his attention back to the possessed child. But it was busy enjoying itself with its taunts. 'All those hours locked up under the stairs and you still weren't good enough. Not good enough for Daddy, not good enough for the Council.' Spike stepped between Wesley and Ryan and grinned. 'Gonna have to try harder than that, Pet.' It snarled at him, but the vampire could smell the fear. 'So what if Weasly's dad was an arse. It doesn't make him the big turkey you're trying to throw out.' Ryan moved to the edge of the bed and stared at the vampire, speaking in Wesley's voice. 'Why don't you tell them how you're planning to kill them?' Spike laughed and turned to the stunned man behind him. 'It's not true,' said Wesley. 'No?' said Ryan. 'He's more afraid of you than me.' 'I'll show you fear!' yelled Wesley and thrust the cross forward, intending to press it against Ryan's chest. Spike stuck an arm out and gripped the cross, the pain searing his bones. Angel rushed forward instinctively, wanting to take the pain away, but Spike was holding on tight, bearing Wesley's weight and the heat that throbbed in his hand. As the demon hunter regained his balance, the vampire relinquished his grip and turned back to the bed, holding his outstretched hand. Doyle gasped as the burnt impression of the crucifix caused Ryan to draw back. 'I've faced my bloody fears, Ethros! And I know that you talk bollocks! We all know the truth ain't pleasant, and none of us give a damn!' Spike grinned, the pain throbbing in his hand. 'Thing is, Pet, we're not the ones stuck to an effing bed, are we?' Ryan howled and Spike turned back to Wesley. 'Do it.' Wesley blinked and stepped forward, reciting the Latin perfectly. 'I got the box!' said Cordelia, bringing it to the door. Angel reached for Spike and closed his hand in his own, searing the burn mark against his palm. He was proud of his childe, but not because he'd faced the demon down. Every step Spike had taken toward this point had been unsure and worrying, but Spike had protected Wesley, had demonstrated his responsibility to them all. He could deny it all he wanted, but he was a part of the good fight. And if redemption was a long way off, he had made a choice. Spike looked at his sire, a cocky grin etched across his face. 'Don't you go getting soppy on me, Pet.' 'I wasn't,' said Angel, before smiling at his lover. 'Well, okay, maybe a little.' 'Guys? Exorcism?' 'Later,' winked Spike. The vampires held the box between them as Wesley picked up the pace. 'Abrenuntias satanae?' 'Do you renounce Satan?' translated Angel. 'Et omnibus operibus eus?' 'And all of his works?' 'Omnibus pompis eus?' 'And all his pomps?' 'Exorcie te. Omnis spiritus immunde. Adaperiae!' 'Now get the Hell out?' smirked Spike to Angel. The demon glowed and writhed on the bed before something whooshed past the humans and shattered the box. Ryan fell back against the bed and Paige rushed in to comfort him, her husband following quickly. 'I did it,' said Wesley questioningly. 'Did good, man,' said Doyle slapping his shoulder. Wesley turned and glared at the half-demon, expressing in one look what words could not. Doyle took his hand away and stepped back. 'I'm sorry, Wes.' Wesley ignored the softly spoken words and walked to Cordelia. 'There's a show on at the Grand this evening. I thought perhaps you and Doyle might appreciate the tickets.' He walked up into the office, catching Angel's glance as he passed. The vampire wasn't surprised to see his own longing look reflected there, but he didn't know who the demon hunter was thinking about. It might not be Cordelia, he thought. Spike picked up his half of the splintered box. 'I think we can officially say, "Oh fuck!" at this point.' Angel moved away and looked at the walls. 'We didn't get it,' he said. 'No shit, Sherlock.' Angel shook his head and looked at the hugging trio on his.........their bed. 'We should send them home and look for this thing.' 'Wouldn't be too fast about that, Pet,' said Spike. 'Huh?' said Cordelia, 'We got rid of the big nasty. They're evil free these days.' 'Oh really, Love?' said Spike. He walked towards the bed and looked at the family. 'That demon wasn't powerful enough to do any of the stuff that's happened to you lot.' Seth looked up at him. 'What?' Spike took a smoke from his pocket and lit up slowly as Ryan looked past his mother to the matches in his hand. 'Ethros demons kill, but they don't do animals. It's beneath them.' 'What are you saying, Spike?' asked Angel. Spike breathed out and waved the match out, watching as Ryan followed the heat. 'Someone's been killing in your house, but it ain't a demon, Pet.' 'You got rid of the thing that's been making Ryan do these things. He's fine now,' said Paige, tears streaking her face. 'Well he's demon free,' agreed Spike, 'But he ain't fine, Love.' 'My son, is a good boy,' she snarled at him. 'He's.........' Seth stood up and shook his head. 'You said that if we did this it would be over.' 'Fine,' said Spike, 'Don't believe me.' He walked over to the kitchen table and sat down, aware he was the centre of attention. 'Go back to your happy little lives, settle down and wait until he gets bored one evening and kills you all.' He paused and lit up another match. 'Only if he does, pet. Call me first, because I could do with watching a good massacre.' 'Spike!' snarled Angel. 'Not helping.' 'No?' said Spike. 'Fine then, Love. Send them home. Doesn't bother me.' Ryan climbed out of Angel's bed. 'Ryan, Honey?' He walked towards Spike. 'Ryan?' Spike waved the match in front of the kid. 'Killing without conscience. I think the lab coats call it psychotic.' Ryan watched as the match moved from side to side. 'It's an easy way to live.' Ryan reached for the burning match. Spike closed his hand around the flames. 'Get him to the coats before he kills you all.' * 'Well that was.........' 'A shitty day?' Spike sat on the bed counting out the remainder of his smokes. 'Fuck, down to seven. Need to get some more.' He got up and slung his coat on, moving to the door before he heard Angel laughing. 'What?' The dark vampire cleaned the last of Ethros off his axe and turned to his lover. The family had left quickly after Spike's revelation, Paige cursing his name as she held her son. She refused to believe there was anything wrong with her son, but he thought he saw a different truth in her eyes. Seth said nothing, but he shook the vampire's hand and Angel guessed that he would at least get the boy checked out. They may not have solved the problem, but they had brought it into the open. The Ethros demon had been another matter. It hadn't taken them long to track the beast down, and when it had spoken, it had only confirmed what Spike had suspected. Ryan's soul was a lost cause, a child who committed acts without reason, or morality. Cordelia had smart assed that it took one soulless evil guy to know another soulless evil guy, but however they put it, Spike had been right and they could only hope that Seth did something before it was too late. Cordelia and Doyle had left soon after for the show, the girl thanking Wesley with a kiss. Doyle had been less appreciative, but they had exchanged a look before he shook the man's hand. Wesley was many things, but a sore loser was not one of them. He stayed behind for a while after the others had gone, filing and generally making himself busy. When Spike had hinted, (read 'Weasly, get your arse out, I wanna shag the boss!') he had bid them both goodnight and headed out into the dark. And now, Spike was getting ready to go out and buy some smokes. Angel couldn't help but grin at the domestication of the vampire. Less than a month ago, Spike had refused to even entertain the concept of paying for anything, preferring to have Cordelia or Doyle do his dirty work for him. He'd understood the concept of money, taking a salary from Angel without any qualms, but had been a little less happy about parting with it. Still, here he was, ready to go and donate some of that hard earned cash to a scared tobacconist. 'What?' repeated Spike. 'Nothing,' said Angel, 'Come home soon.' 'Very domestic, Pet,' said Spike with a grin. 'Get the tea on by the time I get back, Love!' Angel snorted and put the axe down. 'I was thinking, more of lying naked on the bed, with a bowl of vanilla ice cream and no spoon.' He walked across to the bed and its freshly changed sheets. Slowly, Angel slid off his top and pulled down his pants, kicking both items to the chair. He felt Spike's naked body pressed against his back and grinned, wondering how the English vampire managed to strip so quickly and silently. 'I thought you were going out to buy more smokes.' Spike chuckled. 'Can't get the hang of not biting the owner.' 'You can't bite.' 'No?' Angel moaned deeply as he felt Spike's teeth between his shoulder-blades. The cut was shallow, but the vampire sucked hard and Angel felt his blood flow into his childe's mouth. 'Can't bite, huh?' Angel laughed softly. 'You're not doing so bad.' 'Mm? How about this?' He felt the teeth sink into his ass and groaned hard, pressing back against Spike's mouth. The blood brimmed the younger vampire's mouth and he rubbed it gently against the tender cheeks. 'Better?' Angel groaned. 'Much better.' 'And this?' Oof! 'Ummm, keep going..........' Spike grinned. 'I love it when you're insatiable, Pet.' 'You just love a good shag.' 'That too, love, that too.' * Wesley waited at the top of the stairs for a moment before heading to the entrance. He didn't want to catch the vampires flagrante, but he wasn't all that keen on going home. At some point he and Doyle would discuss what had happened between them and its lack of impact on the half-demon. He was hardly likely to be thinking about Wesley when he had the beautiful girl they'd both hankered after in his arms. He sighed and picked up his bag of tricks, hearing the moaning and sighs from Angel's quarters. Whatever had happened, he didn't resent any of his friends. Happiness was something that happened so rarely and with the lives they lived, even rarer. He just wished that some of it would come his way every once in a while. Ah well. He paused as he walked towards the door. There was someone there. 'Hello?' The shadow moved backwards again, but Wesley wasn't in the mood to play games. 'Look, if someone's there, just say so.' There was silence and then......... 'I didn't mean to annoy you.' Wesley squinted to see the owner of the voice, a rich toned English woman by the sound of it, but he could see very little. 'Come in, please,' he asked. She stepped forward and Wesley felt himself catch his breath. She was garbed in jeans and a sweater, a bulky coat concealing whatever shape she might have. But her face was a delicate combination of light and shadows, its planes identifying her as the mystery figure in the church. 'And what can we do for you?' She smiled and Wesley had a sense of de ja vu. 'I need your help,' she said, 'I'm looking for someone.' Wesley laughed. 'Well, we do investigate here. Who would we be looking for?' She met his eyes and he wanted to step back from her piercing glare. 'A murderer.' *

Episode 16