* Spike walked quickly down the concrete stairs, hearing the clatter of Megan's heels behind him. 'Take them bloody things off.' She looked at him, confused. 'What?' He pushed her and she sat down hard on the step. 'Ow!' Spike wrenched the shoes from her feet and dropped the tattered remains on the floor. 'Can't be stealthy in heels, Pet.' She got to her feet angrily and glared at him. 'You could have just told me.' Spike shrugged. 'And you could have just stayed with lover boy.' 'I wanted to help.' He started moving further down the stairs. 'I've got a use for you,' he smirked. 'Yeah?' 'Yeah, bait.' * Angel watched as Trepkos walked back inside, Malish defeated, his body probably flung into a pit, or the furnace on the far side of this level. Of all the creatures held here, he was the least aggressive outside the ring. The vampire had watched him kill the little demon quickly and guessed that he had been trying to extend the only courtesy he could down here. As he walked back up to their paltry space, Angel caught his arm. 'We don't fight each other, no one dies.' Doyle looked at him. 'Well that wasn't a bit obvious, was it?' 'Doesn't make any difference,' said Angel. 'They've got nothing without us.' Cribb, the reptilian demon laughed. 'Quit moping. You win, you stay alive.' Angel didn't look at him, willing Trepkos to listen. 'We can fight them, but only if we stop fighting each other.' Trepkos looked at the intense vampire for a moment, then moved away, walking into his own personal darkness. Doyle patted Angel on the shoulder. 'I don't think they're gonna listen, Man.' Angel shook his head. 'Maybe I'm just not saying it right.' Cribb laughed at Angel again and gestured to the doors. 'You really have a death wish, vampire. No one here cares. We just want twenty one kills and we're out of here.' Angel stared at him. 'That's how you want to pay for your freedom? With twenty one bodies?' Cribb shrugged. 'I'll take it any way I can get it.' Doyle sighed. 'You can't save everyone, Angel.' 'No,' said Angel, 'But that doesn't mean I shouldn't try.' 'If you say so, Man,' said Doyle, 'But I'm just worried about coming out of there Brachen kebab.' 'I won't let that happen,' said Angel. Doyle laughed, but there was no humour in his voice. 'I don't think you can do much to stop it. They don't exactly work this as a tag team event.' 'I won't let that happen,' repeated Angel. 'You're bloody stubborn, you know that, Pet?' They turned towards the door, which had been previously guarded by the now unconscious guard. Megan stood behind Spike, sucking her fingers and wondering why punching someone had to hurt so much. The blond vampire lifted the door off its hinges and swaggered over to the red line. He grinned at Angel. 'See what happens when you go out without me?' Angel half-smiled, worried what would happen when they found his lover down here. 'Spike, you have to get away. If they find you here.........' Spike laughed and gestured to Megan. 'Don't think they'll be too much of a problem. Seems a handy left hook runs in the family.' Megan stopped sucking her rapidly bruising fist for a moment to nod in acknowledgement to Angel and Doyle before trying to nurse some life back into her fingers. 'So how do we get you out of here then, Pet?' Angel showed him the bracelet. 'I don't know how they work, but we can't cross the red line.' 'What happens then?' asked Megan. 'We disintegrate,' said Doyle sombrely. 'And I wasn't looking to leave this mortal coil just yet.' 'Eww, no,' agreed the girl. 'Is there a key anywhere?' Angel nodded. 'One of the Macnamara's must have it. You get to see it after your twenty first kill.' 'I don't see you staying here that long, Love,' said Spike. He looked at Angel tenderly, resisting the temptation to stroke his face. In this place of death and slavery, the last thing the vampire needed was to be seen as soft. But Angel looked so haunted and Spike desperately wanted to offer him some comfort. Why couldn't it have been him brought down here? He would have enjoyed the chance to let go, to feel some freedom and kick the shit of someone just for kicks. He'd not been down the tunnels since Dru.........it brought back too many bad memories. So the only fighting he'd done was at Angel's side and he'd actually started to enjoy it. Not the good fight. He was stuffed if he cared about that. But he protected what was his and finding Angel trapped here, and Doyle, for that matter, frustrated the Hell out of him. He'd find this Macnamara bloke and.........shit, he couldn't even hit him.........but then, that was what he'd brought her for. Arm her with that guard's tazar and see what other instruments of torture he could use. See if the gift for torment had passed unharmed through the generations. He nodded to Angel, hoping that the vampire could sense how much he wanted to comfort him. Hoping that he knew why he wasn't. 'We'll get you out of here in a bit, Pet.' 'They're well guarded, Spike.' 'I know, Love. We'll sort it, don't you worry.' And then, the compulsion overtaking him, he stroked his hand over Angel's own. 'I won't leave you here.' Angel caught Spike's fingers and squeezed them softly. 'Just be careful.' Spike snorted and Angel smiled. 'I don't want to have to come back here to free you, do I?' The English vampire laughed briefly and moved backwards. 'We'll be quick.' Megan picked up the tazar and headed back toward the door. 'We'll kick some bloody ass!' The pair walked out of the room, Spike sharing a last lingering look with Angel. Doyle nudged the dark vampire. 'Is it me, or could she double for him at a pinch?' Angel smiled, thinking of Spike's lean body arching under his own, erection pressing against his belly and strong arms wrapped round his chest. 'Not at everything, no.' Doyle raised an eyebrow. 'That's a place I don't want to go, isn't it?' Angel smiled. 'It's somewhere I never want to leave.' * Cribb watched the vampire walk back into his cell and waited until his exhausted companion had fallen asleep. He had recognised the blond piece when he'd walked in their prison, swanking about like he knew what was what and had the biggest wrinklies in the joint. Yeah, he knew that vampire. Knew him in a way that was all too familiar and took scars to explain. Oh yeah, he'd known the arrogant little fucker, had been on the wrong end of an ambush from him. It was his damned fault Cribb was in here in the first place. After the stupid little vampire had beaten the crap out of him, Cribb had stalked the tunnels, looking for the bastard, waiting to deliver a bit of well-timed payback. Instead, he'd run into the Macnamara brothers and wound up tethered down here, twenty other demons waiting to take a piece out of him to earn their freedom. He'd wondered what bothered him more, the fact that he was down here, forced to fight for the entertainment of others, or that the vampire he'd been after was walking around free. Was still walking around free. Cribb didn't like that at all. But whilst he was enjoying his liberty, people he was bothered about were within Cribb's reach, playing martyr and refusing to fight. When I get that little one in the ring, I'll tear his head from his shoulders and laugh as Spike watches me take away one of his companions. Let him see what revenge I can make when there won't be anything he can do about it. But the piece de resistance, the ultimate revenge had just occurred to him. And he'd enjoy the Hell out of it. He'd heard all the myths about vampires - what they were allergic to, what could kill them.........how they interacted. He knew vampires used each other, being dominant and powerful, that they obeyed a lore and that the bond between sire and child was more than just sharing a meal. But what he'd just seen confirmed the rumour he'd heard earlier. The vampire they'd trapped was supposed to have a soul, something to war against the darkness. He'd be capable of human emotions, their arrogance, their anger.........their passion. If this one could feel anger that people were being killed, he wasn't like anything Cribb had met before. He had a conscience, an ability to care and consequently, to love. And from the look on Spike's face, it wasn't unrequited. Somehow, William the Bloody had dumped that insane vampiress he'd protected for years and moved on to the vampire with a soul. There was a passion between them that was all too human. Cribb could smell the heat in the air, taste the change in hormones as the one came in contact with the other. This wasn't just something Spike owned, this was his lover, his beloved. And Cribb had found the perfect way to make him suffer. He slipped the belt from his pants and moved to the edge of his cage, the one backing onto Angel's own. As the half-demon slept, the vampire watched over him. Protecting him, Cribb guessed, but didn't care. He's going to need protection of his own before I'm through, he grinned. Angel stirred slightly and rested one hand on the floor. It was all the invitation Cribb needed. He slipped the belt through the mesh and fastened it painfully round Angel's hand. As the vampire turned in surprise and tried to free it, Cribb secured the other wrist too, fastening the belt and ensuring that Angel couldn't move away from the side of the cage. 'What the fu.........?' Cribb grinned and moved out of his cage and into the vampire's. 'Let's just say you're gonna do me a little favour, vampire.' Angel looked at him, still confused as to what was wanted. As Cribb started to unbuckle his pants, the vampire gaped and strained at the makeshift bonds. He was strong enough to break it, he knew that, but it would take him a while and Cribb didn't look as though he was in the mood for bargaining. He wet his lips and started trying to talk. 'Cribb, you can't do this.' The demon's only answer was to backhand his face, Angel rocking backwards under the blow. Bastard was strong, Angel thought as he reeled. Bastard was too fucking strong. Cribb laughed, the sound tinny and painful in the darkness of their cell. 'I can do whatever I want, vampire.' 'No.' Cribb gestured to Doyle. 'Oh? You want me to do your little mutt instead?' Angel looked over at the sleeping Doyle, knowing he'd have no chance against Cribb's brutality. He pulled again at the bonds, but it was so tight and the awkwardness of the angle didn't give him much to pull against. 'Leave Doyle alone. He's not yours.' Cribb grinned and moved in close. 'You are though, Angel,' he hissed. The vampire felt Cribb's clammy fingers against his waistband. He huffed and automatically tried to kick out, get away, but the demon was sure, measured and had control of himself. Every outward kick from the vampire was answered with a crushing blow to the ribs. He stopped struggling, determined to save his strength and work out how to stop this. But Cribb's fingers forced the zipper on his jeans and yanked his pants unceremoniously down to his knees. Cold, unwelcome fingers probed at his ass and Angel flinched, pulling away and into another kick. As they slid uncomfortably inside him, the vampire moaned, not so much at the pain as the humiliation. He heard Cribb's hushed laughter and shuddered. 'A little loose, vampire. Spike been slipping you it a lot, huh?' Angel closed his eyes. So that was it. One of the demons Spike had crossed in the past was in the position for some payback. And Angel was the message. He had to try and stop this. 'He's just someone I know.' Cribb's tongue flicked out and slapped brutally against his ear. 'Don't even try it, Soul Boy. I saw the way you two looked at one another. He cares about you.' A third finger pushed against him and Angel winced. 'He just wants me out of here cause I owe him money.' Cribb laughed. 'Then why are you wearing his name on your ass?' Angel squeezed his eyes closed and pulled on the bonds. The fingers withdrew and Cribb pulled him round roughly, sinking his mouth over the vampire's own. The tongue he'd seen working flicked out and Angel gagged as it shot down his throat, its barbed edge cutting against his soft flesh. He choked as Cribb pulled it out again and coughed hard, blood lining his mouth. As he spat the taste of the demon onto the floor, Cribb thrust forward without warning, clasping his hand over Angel's screaming mouth. Each time he pushed forward, Angel could feel something tearing in his ass. He pressed his head against the mesh and tried to take his mind away, knowing that if his screaming woke Doyle, the Irishman would likely suffer the same fate. He'd been in this position before, but then, it had always been his own fault that he was punished, his own actions that had brought him to this kind of brutalising touch. Hell was somewhere he didn't want to think about, but Cribb was bringing back memories of that bestial place with a vengeance. He'd almost forgotten what it was like to be savaged, even Spike's most violent touches had been born out of arousal and they'd never forced one another. It hadn't been necessary. Both vampires were hungry for one another the whole time, everything had been a game, a loving affirmation of something Spike couldn't say. This wasn't Hell, but it was damned close. Cribb was thrusting harder now, he hadn't hit Angel in over a minute and the vampire was thankful for small mercies. He healed fast, but the injuries Cribb had inflicted were harsh, the demon's strength being what it was. He could feel the mesh imprint against his face and prayed, to whatever Gods listen to vampires that it would be over soon, and that he could forget this had ever happened. 'Hmmm.........Angel?' The vampire heard Doyle's voice, soft from sleep and a tear slipped from his eye. He couldn't let Cribb do anything to him. He wouldn't allow it. Cribb grunted hard and pulled quickly out of Angel's bleeding ass. 'So the mutt's awake. I was just going to kill you in the ring, but since you're awake.........' He moved forward, ready to pounce on the tired half-demon when Angel kicked out and knocked the legs from under him. The vampire wrenched at the bonds and as the leather started to tear, bent his fangs to the material and shredded it. Cribb struggled back to his feet, huge erection slathered in the vampire's blood, a careless grin on his face. 'Everytime your little vampire fucks you, you'll remember that I've been there, and just see if your cock'll stay hard then.' Angel got to his feet and pulled his jeans up, ignoring the searing pain in his ass and faced down the demon. 'Everyone lives but you.' Cribb chuckled. 'You couldn't take me on your best day. How you gonna do it when you can't walk?' Angel ignored him and pushed the demon slowly out of the cage. 'Everyone lives, except you.' Cribb just laughed and returned to his own prison, leaning against the wall and humming a happy tune. Angel pulled his pants up, closed the door and moved to the other side of the cell, sitting down and ignoring every pain, concentrating on revenge. Doyle breathed hard, unable to accept what he'd just seen, and not wanting to know what he'd missed. 'Angel, I.........I'm sorry, Man.' Angel looked at him and for the first time, Doyle knew what it was to be afraid of the vampire. 'You never mention this again.' 'But.........Spike.........' Angel grabbed the Irishman's collar and pulled him to eye level, his demon face evident and angry. 'He doesn't find out. No one finds out. Got it?' Doyle nodded quickly, aware for the first time in Angel's presence of the beat of his own pulse. I never want to know what Angellus was like, he thought. I don't want to know anything capable of that brutality. 'You got it, Angel. I'll never tell anyone.' Angel looked at him for a moment, debating whether the half-demon understood. He sat back, his face slowly returning to its human guise. 'We're getting out of here. And Cribb dies when we do. This all dies with him.' Doyle nodded slowly. 'If that's what you want.' Angel stared at the grinning demon in the opposite cell. 'It isn't even half of what I want.' *
The Macnamara's were sitting in their office, congratulating each other on a good evening's entertainment. Each demon had fought brutally, killing each other with ruthless efficiency and some crowd impressing moves. The rumours they'd started about the besouled vampire and the half demon in the basement had caused even more interest, the odds depending on how the soul affected the blood sucker's performance. 'Well, Jack, that was a fine performance from me, if I do say so,' grinned Darin. 'Suckered them in with that, "poor innocent me and my misguided brother" act.' 'Yeah,' grinned Jack, 'I like the touch about how you'd leave me to get Ernie's "special treatment".' 'Mmm, I was going to add how he sometimes takes things too far, but I didn't want to provide your corpse.' Jack laughed, pulling up a glass of champagne and sipping it. 'You know, sometimes you seem as if you might actually off me.' Darin ran the glass under his lips. 'Maybe someday. When you get too annoying.' Jack laughed, missing the serious tone and knocked back the rest of the glass. He missed Darin's intense gaze, not realising that his life was just five heart beats into his brother's hands. 'Well now, isn't this a fab do.' The brothers turned to the door, seeing a blond vampire and a girl with what looked like incredibly bruised fingers. The vampire was grinning and smoking casually, as if he found this whole thing very amusing and the pair of them his night's entertainment. 'Very nice,' said Spike moving forward. 'Very relaxing.' 'Who is this?' asked Jack. 'Doesn't matter,' said Darin, 'I'm calling security.' 'Oh yeah, security,' grinned Spike, 'Got hard heads, them blokes.' 'Tell me about it,' muttered Megan. 'He's lying,' said Darin and moved to pick up the phone. Spike threw back his head and laughed. 'Nah, I don't think so, pet. See, me and my.........' 'Companions,' said Megan helpfully. 'Minions,' said Spike. 'I've always liked minions better. Don't you, mate?' he asked of the fat man. 'People don't threaten me, I threaten them and then I deal out the punishment.' Spike nodded as if he understood and blew a mouthful of smoke in Darin's face. As the fat man coughed, Cordelia and Wesley hurried into the room. 'There's only the cells downstairs left,' said Wesley. 'All we need are the keys.' Spike nodded and tossed the crossbow he'd hidden under his coat to the Englishman. 'That torture thing you were doing earlier. Care to show these wankers what it was?' Wesley snatched the crossbow into his arms and aimed carefully at Jack's head. 'With pleasure,' he said coldly. 'Gentlemen, gentlemen,' said Darin, realising that he wasn't going to get out of here that easily. 'I'm sure we can come to some arrangement.' Spike nodded and Cordelia stepped forward, picking up the champagne they'd been drinking. 'You're drinking Dom? My boyfriend is in your basement and you're drinking Dom?' 'Er, Cordelia,' began Wesley, but she wasn't to be stopped. 'God, I spent years watching my parents drink themselves into a stupor at parties drinking this stuff. It's the one thing I could be assured of was of the good and you lowlifes are drinking it when I can't afford any.' She shook her head. 'Shoot them Wesley. They're bad.' Spike grinned and puffed hard on his cigarette. 'Now now, Pet. We need the key off them first.' She huffed. 'So get the key and then shoot them.' 'Cordelia,' said Wesley warily, 'You really haven't got the concept of threats yet, have you?' 'Sure I have,' said the ex-cheerleader confidently, 'Give me the keys or I'll make sure Spike gets his drinkies for the next week feeding off your fat corpse.' They looked at her a moment and Wesley shrugged and re-aimed. 'I take it back.' Spike chuckled and stubbed out his smoke on Darin's coat. 'She gets a little PMTish when anyone nicks her bloke.' Jack looked at Megan's bruised fingers and sneered. 'You want to get some ice on that.' She glared at him for a moment, before turning to Spike. 'Do we need this one conscious?' Spike looked at the younger brother and pretended to consider. 'Shouldn't think so for a second, Pet.' She grinned. 'Good.' Jack looked a little confused until the English girl threw her full weight behind a hefty punch to his jaw. He rocked back and hit his head against the wall, effectively knocking him out. Spike nodded. 'Nice right, too.' Megan grinned and Wesley leaned over. 'Where did you learn to hit like that?' She took the bottle out of the champagne cooler and plumped both her hands in. 'You grow up with three brothers, you learn to hit hard and fast.' 'Ah.' Spike leaned over Darin, who was sweating profusely. 'I wouldn't bother getting the gun out, Pet. I'd have your guts for garters before you got anywhere near pulling the trigger.' He sat down on the desk and lit a second cigarette, twirling it in his fingers and nearing Macnamara's sweaty hand. So he couldn't bite the fat man, which was a total waste. He didn't know that, did he? And whilst he was sweating it out, Spike could get some fun. He'd tell Angel how well they'd all worked as a team. That should put a smile on his mopey face. Bloody humans keeping demons as slaves. It sucked big time and Spike wasn't having that. They'd get the key, set the demons loose, otherwise Angel'd only panic that they hadn't done the right thing and then go home and drink the night away. And then they'd go to bed and Spike would remind Angel just how much more fun they could have together. See if he didn't take him on every bloody case from then on. God, now that they were close to getting them back, Spike was feeling horny again. The evening's unsurety having faded away as the four of them had worked through the Macnamaras' limited security. They'd been so concerned about the demons getting out, that they hadn't even considered anyone coming in. Stupid assholes, Spike thought, didn't think about all the options. He grinned. Didn't count on us either. He concentrated on Macnamara again and moved the lit end closer to his hand. 'You're not being very vocal, Pet. Do I have to persuade you?' Darin looked at the four of them and grunted in defeat. Best thing he could do was to let this lot go, let them free this lot of demons and move somewhere else.........start again. And leave his stupid brother for a start. 'Okay,' he said carefully, 'Have the key. Just leave quickly and don't hurt me.' Spike rolled his eyes as though hurting the fat man would just be boring and snatched the device off him. 'Thanks, Pet. Knew you could do it if you tried.' 'It won't help you though,' Darin panted out as Spike walked away, 'Your friend's in the Ring now, and I'm laying odds against him getting out.' Spike just waved. They started to leave the room and Darin's hand strayed to the phone. Spike turned back and looked at Megan, her hands still bathed in the ice. 'Think he's going to tattle on us, Love. Could you.........?' Wesley looked at her and saw the faint pain lines etched across her face. He had heard a crack in that last punch and hoped he was wrong about a broken finger. Dream on Spike, he thought. She can't hit anything with those bruises. Megan looked at Spike and shrugged. Then she swung round, her fists still in the ice bucket and slammed the lot into the fat man's face. His chair went out from under him and he collapsed on the floor with a satisfying grunt. 'Okay,' she said walking to the door, 'Done.' Wesley watched as she left the room, his mouth agape. Spike patted him on the back. 'Wonderful thing, family.' * Doyle breathed hard against the slats. He'd watched the odd fist fight in his time, even bet on the outcome of a few, but at least all of the combatants were willing contestants. This is brutal, man, he wanted to say to someone, but in the presence of these demons, he didn't know who was your friend and who was just looking for an excuse to rip your head off. And after what he'd seen earlier......... He'd come to Angel originally because of the Powers that Be, but he'd stayed for two reasons. The first was that Cordelia was as hot a piece of flesh as he was ever likely to see, and now that she'd condescended, (her words, he chuckled) to let him touch her, Doyle wasn't going anywhere. But the second reason he'd stayed had been Angel himself. The vampire was colder than Doyle could ever imagine, his willingness to prevent people from succumbing to the darkness was as frightening in its intensity. When Doyle had pointed out that the temptation to drink human blood would grow all consuming, the vampire had stopped and thought. And that in itself was amazing - a vampire who would listen and maybe make changes because of that advice. As a result, Angel had welcomed both Doyle and Cordelia into his life, making an effort to reintegrate into human lives. Okay so he didn't manage it all that well, but he'd lived on the Earth for two hundred years plus, and in Hell for an unknown amount of time, which had to count for his lack of people skills. They'd managed, the three of them for a while, slowly becoming friends and defending against the darkness, but Angel still hid, staying away from the people he saved. And then Spike had come along. Doyle was aware of the vampire and had some idea of the relationships vampires forged. He didn't think that there had been another one like this in all of history. After he'd come to terms with the idea that Angel was gay, he'd had to deal with the fact that his lover was a muzzled homicidal maniac. He'd said as such to Angel once and been overheard by Spike. The younger vampire hadn't minded in the least, grinning to know he still inspired such fear. But despite its unlikeliness, Spike had achieved something that neither he nor Cordelia were able to do. The blond had admitted that Spike the vampire wasn't much different than Spike the man, which was kind of disturbing. But the Englishman had retained much of his human qualities. He was as au fait with the world as Doyle was, relishing its little touches, albeit from a highly deadly point of view. Defanged as he was, Spike's natural wit had kept its bite, and Angel, accepting his childe as his lover and companion, had started to understand what made someone human. He had begun to take an interest in people, not just in how they could be saved. His friendships had developed, making decisions that didn't just depend on a do or die situation. Along with Wesley and Cordelia, they'd grown used to the vampires, enjoying seeing a lighter side of their employer. Spike was as annoying as Hell, but even he'd changed his attitude in some small way. Doyle had always trusted Angel when his back was against the wall, knowing that the vampire would come through for him, but now, he'd trust Spike too. Whether it was because Spike knew that Angel would be angry and possibly not want to do the wild thing, or because Spike himself actually cared what happened to them, the vampire had put himself between the humans and danger more times than any of them could discount as a fluke. Doyle shuddered as he realised that everything might change as a consequence of today. The shame evident on Angel's face was something that quite literally struck at his heart. All the anger and threats that had come after it seemed to pale to Doyle, the knowledge that Cribb had done this because of Spike shadowing everything else. Angel had been so forceful about keeping this quiet. He'd been adamant that Spike was not to know. Is that the definition of love, wondered Doyle, hiding the pain from the one you cared about? He wasn't sure, but he owed it to Angel to keep his mouth shut. He was going to do everything he could to help the vampire leave this alone, if that's what he wanted. Once they got out of here, he'd make sure no one heard about it from him. If they got out of here. If Angel survived this fight. In the centre of the Ring, Cribb circled the vampire with a hungry grin across his face. He could see the blood stains dribbled down Angel's vest and was aware of the bruises and cuts beneath it. He wasn't sure if the vampire could've taken him in top condition, but he was pretty certain that in his dishevelled state there was no way Angel was walking out this Ring. 'Might as well lie down now, Angel,' sneered Cribb. Angel didn't answer, simply edged around him, waiting for the perfect blow. Cribb grinned as he saw the vampire limp slightly, aware that the ruptures in his ass had caused it. 'I thought screwing your lax ass would be pleasant enough,' smirked Cribb, 'but your friend can tell him that after he finds your ashes.' Angel drew back his fist and slammed it into Cribb's face, drawing blood and sending the demon back against the wall. He shifted to his vampire face and felt the demon within him start to howl. He suppressed the urge so long, felt the need to keep his humanity was so important that he hadn't risked letting go in a long while. Perhaps he'd been wrong about that. Perhaps Angel couldn't deal with this creature. But he knew a demon who could. Throwing his head back and growling, Angel gave in to the demon who owned his body. He sighed hard as his morality was suppressed, his vow to protect sliding away as his more brutal side rose to fill the core. It both scared and thrilled him to give way, feeling the pleasure from his demon as it realised the violence at hand. Cribb rocked back on his feet and grinned. 'So you do have a set after all.' The vampire stared at him and moment and then kicked out at Cribb's shin, smashing the cartilage that protruded. He ran his tongue over his fangs and gave a lazy grin. 'Yeah I got a pair.' He kicked again, this time knocking Cribb off his feet. 'Yours.' Cribb growled and rolled as the vampire came after him. 'This isn't that brotherly love spiel you were giving out earlier.' Angellus walked toward the wall, casually kicking at Cribb with every step. 'What can I say,' Angel slammed his heel against Cribb's spine. 'You showed me the light.' The demon howled in pain and struggled to get away from the vampire's relentless hammering. 'You're dead, vampire.' Angellus laughed and reached for both staffs that had just clattered down. 'Yeah? How about you come join the club?' The crowd roared. * Spike pushed open the doors and looked about the room. All the demons were pressed up against one wall, presumably watching the fight. He caught sight of Doyle and walked over to him, barging the other demons out of the way, ignoring their indignant complaints. 'Here you go, first prize ticket out of here, courtesy of your Uncle Spike.' Doyle spun on his heel and watched incredulously as the bracelet fell off under Spike's gadget. The vampire tossed the object to Wesley and the demon hunter set about freeing the other demons. He looked back at Doyle, expecting some kind of quippy gratitude, but the Irishman offered none. He looked haunted and Spike looked around, expecting to see a little pile of ash on the floor. When he'd grasped that there was none, he turned back to the half-demon and grabbed him. 'Where's Angel?' he snarled. Doyle seemed to shake himself out of his reverie and gestured through the window. 'In there.' Spike dropped him and walked to the opening. There were no guards in there making them fight. There was no manager taking bets upstairs, he'd seen to that, but the crowd had returned and were cheering on the mayhem as a demon who looked vaguely familiar was taking the pounding of his life from the vampire. 'What happened,' growled Spike. Doyle thought hard on his promise. 'Angel and Cribb had a falling out. When they called out for a fight, they went in willingly.' Spike watched the melee carefully. 'Cribb.........I know this demon. Kicked seven kinds of shit out of him a few months ago.' 'Yeah,' managed Doyle, 'I think that's what this is about.' Oh good call, Doyle, the half-demon thought to himself, that's close enough without telling everything, isn't it? Spike closed his eyes a minute, wondering just what had happened between his lover and that demon. 'More than just a few bad words, Pet.' 'They didn't like each other,' offered Doyle. Spike spun to look at him, vampire eyes blazing. 'It's more than that.' 'What makes you say that?' asked Wesley, coming up to them. Spike gestured to the ring. 'Because that's not Angel fighting.' They looked at him, incredulous. 'It's Angellus,' he replied simply. * Angellus got as close to Cribb's foul breath as he could stomach and rammed the broken staff through his left shoulder. 'You know,' he began as Cribb tried to bend over in pain, 'I was always good at this.' He pulled the demon back upright and rammed the other shaft through. 'I think the longest I managed to keep anyone alive was six days, and he was human.' As Cribb moaned in pain, Angellus grabbed both sides and started pulling at them, tearing through the muscle of the demon's arms. 'I wonder how long I could do it with a demon.' He laughed and let go of Cribb briefly, snapping the staff across his knee. 'Of course, you'd know all about that,' he smirked. He leant in to where Cribb was panting hard, trying to right himself. 'Bit of a mistake, raping a vampire.' He rammed the broken wood through the demon's thigh, eliciting a howl that was lost in the cries of the human above them. 'Course, I don't think it's one you're going to make again.' Cribb mumbled something and Angellus bent down to listen. 'What was that?' 'Just kill me,' panted Cribb. 'If you've got the balls to kill me, that is.' Angellus laughed. 'I don't think you get off that easily.' He shoved the remaining section of staff through Cribb's belly and stood up. 'Oops, all out of weapons. What else we can use?' He ripped at some of the bone on the demon's shoulder. As Cribb howled, he grinned and looked at his bleeding prize. 'Now that, is handy,' he smirked. 'Got your own set of weapons attached. I like your style.' 'Hello Angellus.' The vampire turned to the open doors. Spike walked in lighting his cigarette. He looked up to his sire. 'And what brings you here, Pet?' The vampire smiled, but there was none of Angel's loving regard in his expression. 'Clearing up business,' he said, kicking the wood in Cribb's belly. Spike nodded and breathed out the smoke. 'Care to share on that, Love?' Angellus shook his head. 'I don't share with the neutered.' Spike sniffed and walked closer. 'Yeah, I forgot how charming you could be, Angellus.' The vampire visibly preened and stepped backwards, his feet resting on Cribb's prone form. 'Well you should know, lover boy. See you fell into the old role again. How does it feel to be a Slayer substitute?' Spike puffed on the cigarette, repeating to himself that Angellus was just reaching, that he was just trying to get a rise out of him. 'Yeah, you're the king of wit, Pet. Don't know how we struggled by without you.' Angellus grinned and moved towards his childe. 'So why don't we deal with that "you betrayed" me issue?' Spike shrugged. 'Because I know something you've forgotten.' Angellus was scant inches away. 'And what's that?' Spike grinned. 'The curse still stands.' He roared and smacked his sire with his left hand. Angellus fell backward and hit the floor. In that moment when he was disorientated, Angel resumed control, fighting the demon back down before he could harm his lover. When he looked up, Spike was there, concern in his cool blue eyes, hand outstretched to pull him to his feet. 'All right, Pet?' Angel nodded and grasped Spike's fingers. 'Thanks for that. I wasn't sure how to come back.' 'Well that's what happens when you let him out to play.' 'Yeah, I guess.' Spike grinned and looked up to where the crowd were booing, wondering what would happen next. 'So what are we going to do about him?' Angel looked to the crippled demon. Cribb was barely moving, but Angel couldn't find any semblance of pity that he'd suffered at Angellus' hands. He turned to Spike, praying the perceptive vampire wouldn't figure it out. 'He doesn't matter, let's just leave him.' Spike stared at Angel. Something wasn't right here - Angel wouldn't let Angellus out for anybody. Whatever had happened before was darker than anything they'd faced before and his lover wasn't telling him. He stunk of the demon and Spike couldn't work out if there was an extra tinge there, something more sinister than sweat and blood. And Angel wasn't telling. 'You want to give him the key?' Angel shook his head slowly. 'Leave him.' Spike heard the coldness in Angel's voice and knew when to leave it. He nodded slowly and wrapped his arms round the battered vampire. The crowd cried out and jeered at this abandoned fight, but both vampires ignored them, heading towards the door and their companions. 'So you're not going to leave me again, are you?' asked Spike. Angel leant his weight on the vampire, wanting nothing more than to get home and sleep in their bed, Spike's body pressed against him, driving away his recent memories. 'Never again,' he whispered. They went home.