The Clockwork Vampire

by Spirit

Xander held the weapon as though it might suddenly catch fire and burn his hands off. In some ways, he felt kind of liberated by Angel's sudden show of trust. It wasn't everyday someone passed a bastard sword into his hands and growled 'stop them'. Whilst he appreciated the trust, he wasn't sure if he could handle it. And he wasn't sure if he was talking about the sword or the responsibility... Possibly both. Lindsay sniggered, although from his beaten in face, the sound was something between a hiss and a rattle. Xander hefted the sword into both hands and nodded at him. 'Oh yeah, you're laughing now, but wait until you see me use this thing.' 'Use it? You can barely lift it.' Xander frowned as Angel crashed against the wall behind them, fighting with the cowled intruder. Trust Angel to go for the obvious bad guy - he couldn't have stayed here and dealt with lawyer boy. Oh no, he had to go off and do the heroic thing, like Xander didn't have the guts to fight...well, as far as he could tell, a mad monk with a huge inside leg and a bad response to vampires. But Xander was all up to fighting that, anything but stay guard over... 'So, boy, you got the guts to wield that thing?' Xander raised an eyebrow at Lindsay, very aware that being mocked was not high on his to do list for the day. He'd half hoped that being away from Spike would have prevented this kind of treatment, but hey, no such luck. 'Just shut up,' he managed, 'shut up or I'll...' 'You'll what? Fall over and threaten my feet?' And look there, Angel's hogging getting strangled now. Just showing off the not needing to breathe thing. I could do that, Xander thought...if I was dead and strong as...a vampire. I could do that whole...yeah, struggling back and managing to get up and fight cowl guy again. 'And five are dead...' 'Yet they live.' 'Will you stop that?' said Xander desperately, 'or I'm going to have to...' 'Et illi quinque sacrificum est et illi que est mortuus vivet.' Oh God, not the Latin stuff again. With a growl, Angel smacked against the tethered vampires in the centre of the room. Cowl guy was on him almost instantly, but it didn't seem to bother dead boy. He was fighting with an aggression Xander recognised - it usually meant one of his family was in danger and, Xander accepted, Doyle had come into that category. Which meant they all had more at stake than a random soul. Okay then, what are *you* made of? 'Dum vita et mors non duas res sed unas sunt...' 'Stop that!' Lindsay ignored him and looked at the scroll in his hand. 'In tenebris lux est, in luge tenebrae sunt...' Xander looked up to Angel, wanting to beg help, ask anything, ask what he should do. But the vampire was definitely occupied and there was no-one else to talk to. It always comes down to fear, he reminded himself, and I'm damned afraid, cause whatever they've got that needs five vampires tied to it ain't gonna be good. He looked up at Lindsay, saw the satisfaction in those pale eyes. 'Serge!' And it was all so clear. 'Serge!' Xander grinned. 'Se...' I don't have to lift this - I just have it bring it down. The sword crashed forward, severing the lawyer's hand from the scroll, tearing the papers to the floor. As Lindsay howled, the freakish wind that had begun ceased immediately, and Xander had the feeling of catastrophe narrowly avoided. Blood spattered the scrolls and the boy snatched them up before he could think about anything else. Like having cut a man's hand off, that sort of thing. Shut up, Xander! He glanced over to Angel, watching as the vampire swung the great scythe up into cowl guy's exposed belly. There was a sickening hiss and then nothing. Silence echoed in the temple, broken by Lindsay's pain-wracked howls. Definitely a cue. Xander scrambled to his feet and headed to the door, Angel's footsteps heavy behind him. He held the scroll tight to his chest, his arms aching from the effort of slamming the sword home. The vampire took the blade off him and concealed it under his coat once more, out pacing Xander easily, but for once, Mr Harris didn't care. 'You got the scroll.' It was almost a question, and Xander tried not to be offended by the surprise in Angel's tone. 'I got the scroll, yeah. How about that - Xander Harris saves the day?' Angel turned briefly, a frown covering his face once more. 'The day isn't over, yet.' Xander threw his hands in the air. 'What do you want, Angel? An authorised miracle?' Angel rounded the door and looked for the car. 'Doyle's not safe yet.' 'But he will be,' countered Xander, 'we got the whosit to cure him, right?' 'I think so.' 'Then let's get with the yay! We done good, dead boy.' Angel stopped and scowled. 'I'm your boss - you could at least break with the insults.' Xander grinned and opened the door. 'After everything Spike says on your behalf, you're lucky I'm just going with dead boy.' * 'Take a left' Wesley tried hard not to think about the fact that the easy London tones by his ear came from a vampire. It really didn't do his self preservation tactics any good to know that he'd taken off his helmet in order that Spike could give him directions. He found himself repeating 'Spike can't hurt me' as he steered the bike through LA, edging towards Angel's unknown whereabouts. But he could feel the chiselled face by his neck, could almost sense the fangs against his skin. What would it be like, he wondered, to be bitten? The question had occured to him before, but from more of a 'aagh a vampire - he'll bite and kill me!'. But Wesley had been privy to moments few mortals had ever seen. Ever seen and lived to tell the tale, that was. He'd seen Spike and Angel in the heat of passion, biting and drinking as the beasts they were. And alongside the natural cry of pain, there was something else, something more exotic in their shared growls. Sharing blood, sharing a soul...sharing a bond that no human could possibly achieve. He understood all that, understood that vampires were a creature apart from all demons - caught between the living and the dead, unable to be either. And Spike and Angel were more different still, hampered by curses and technology, a breed apart from their own kind. Whatever deal Spike had struck with the Oracles, Wesley knew it was born out of a need to stay with the only other creature like him. Selfish, yes, as all Spike's decisions were, but there was love here, something warm eminating from the coldness of their bodies. A sense of that hurt him now, leaving Wesley floundering until they got Doyle back. He wasn't sure if he felt better that the Oracles seemed to dismiss the problem, or worse - their reaction being very much apathetic. They could afford to be, living outside time, but it didn't help Wesley very much now. At least not when Spike would insist on holding onto him so tightly. 'Oi, pet, you're missing the turning.' Wesley blinked and leaned into the curve, wondering what was different about the resonant voice. Vampires are seductive creatures by nature, whether it's for food or for a fuck, and whilst that was increased tenfold whenever Spike happened to open his mouth, there was something missing here. He wanted to stop the bike and insist on knowing what had passed between Spike and the Oracles, but knees gripped him almost as firmly as the hands on his waist, and it was all he could do to keep his balance. And the teeth at his neck, breath failing to flutter on his skin, words echoing in his ear without Doyle's customary warmth. Yes, there was danger here, but passion was a great equalizer, and some part of him still longed to know what it was like to be loved by such a creature. He was ashamed for even thinking it and he knew where his heart belonged...but still, there was a gnawing in his gut, working his instincts - perhaps a byproduct of trying to understand Spike's motives for anything. And it worked him over and over, mantra kicking in again, insisting on the truth. There isn't the time. 'Over there.' Kicking the bike to a standstill, Wesley looked toward the lonely structure, wondering why he'd never noticed it before. He didn't notice much, he admitted, but such buildings were his bread and water - observing nuances was part of a watcher's stock in trade and Wesley had never seen this before. But you're not a watcher anymore, are you? 'They're over there,' sniffed Spike, reaching in his coat, then drawing his hand out quickly. 'Best get your arse in gear and see what's been doing.' 'Right,' said Wesley,' arse, gear, got it.' He turned to walk toward Angel's unseen frame before whirling back on Spike. 'Aren't you coming?' It seemed to amuse him. Spike threw his head back and laughed, but there was no humour there, and that gnawing feeling was growing. And all he could think was wolf. The vampire seemed to gather himself together. 'Nah, mate, I'm not coming...not now.' Spike's hand rested on the handlebars and Wesley covered it, forcing the vampire to look up at him. 'You're leaving.' Dark eyebrows rose. 'Yeah, Wes - I'm buggering off since danger's been averted and my arse doesn't need to go on the line.' Wesley shook his head. 'Thats not what I mean and you bloody know it.' Spike glared at him and then beyond to where the others approached, before knocking Wesley's hand away. 'I don't have time for this.' 'Oh really? You're actually going away and not giving me any explanation. I'd say you could damn well make time for that!' Spike revved the engine, as if trying to remember how the thing worked, before looking up. And Wesley had never been more scared. Sad beyond measure, lost beyond hope. And yet there was something. 'Tell him..' 'Yes?' And there was that grin again, the downfall of angels, the redemption of one. 'Tell him the silly fucker was right.' 'About what?' He couldn't see, but Wesley would swear the others had broken into a run. 'I am his fucking reward.' And the roar of the engine rang in his ears, drowning out everything else, and only when the siren cry of the vampire came closer, did Wesley turn. And the look on Angel's face outweighed everything, knowing that this was the price of owning a soul. Sometimes, it was all you had left. * 'Where the fuck am I?' Spike paused on the corner, waiting to get his bearings. Yeah, that's all he was doing, he certainly wasn't delaying the whole business to give Angel time to catch up. It wouldn't be going along with the big knobs plan, that - giving his sire the chance to stop him before... Fuck it. ...before he walked away. The vampire half chuckled to himself at the absurdity. To get them to drop this pointless reward system they'd sorted for Angel, the Oracles had asked him what Spike would be willing to give up. The 'everything' had slipped from his mind before instinct had kicked in. Or maybe that was instinct - that of the beloved, rather than the canny vampire who'd outlived most of his siblings. William the Bloody was a pansy to his emotions. Spike huffed and reached into his pocket to find his fags. Oh this was bloody priceless - he was out of them as well as being out of a good shag for the next few years. He looked around to see if there was a handy shop, or, preferably failing that, some mug who wasn't stoned enough to think his vampire face was a mask. But the street was surprisingly empty, nothing but cars - closed off places to his limited fear capacity. I can't live without you. I can't live period. He snarled and forced himself back to the issue in hand. Fags - I need to get some and then I'll just hike it out of here and find somewhere new. Some place where they're still scared enough of vampires to make good with...what? Blood bags and 200 filterless imports. And somewhere he could hole up and wait... I hate bloody waiting. The wind picked up and whipped at him, banging Wesley's now battered bike against his legs. Been a long time since you've been on one of these and fuck it...if I've shagged the gears, it'll just have to...huh...well, break down. Not like I was planning on giving it back to Weasly. He'll have to get a piggy back fom the Mick - when he recovered anyway. And how long would it be until Angel scored with his reward? How many years was Spike going to behave like a bloody tamed cat - no balls anymore and no fucking... I can't do it. I can't be such a wimp. I wouldn't be a vampire if I just toadied for a couple of years. He chuckled, and although the wind took the sound away, he could hear it in his head, and the almost sibilant echo of Angel's rarely heard laugh alongside it. It hurt - this wasn't supposed to hurt. He was a creature of the bloody night for God's sake - something that prowled before the daylight came, taking advantage of bedtime fears and the unsuspecting virgin. Not that he'd come across many of those over the years. Bedtime fears had a way of corrupting the innocent before Spike had even come close. Although, he'd never really been into that Dracula shit - it was more Angellus' territory - the pure were usually that way for a reason. And the reason usually turned out to be six or seven great hulking brothers, each one equipped with a good sized stake and string upon string of garlic. And it wasn't as if garlic actually affected vampires, but he hated the stuff anyway - take that arseholing time he and Angellus had spent in Italy... All the fucking roads led back to Angellus. They always had, but now they also led to Angel, and for more than just a closet trip out to torture him. Not unless he begged anyway. He looked around, refusing to admit that he'd looked behind him, refusing to admit his heart wanted to skip a beat. Refusing to admit that he'd even thought about getting the old pump working again, even if it was just to bump as Angel came into view. But the vampire didn't appear. He wasn't coming to stop him - and as rewards go, he hoped his sire worked bloody quickly. He kicked the bike back into action and moved into the night. * 'What the hell do you mean, he's gone?' Wesley pushed his glasses up his nose and tried to outstare Angel. It wasn't happening in this lifetime, and the ex-watcher figured he was doing well enough just standing here under the onslaught of the once scourge of Europe. 'He's gone,' Wesley said softly. 'He took my bike and left.' 'Okay,' said Xander, 'when you say gone, you mean...' 'I mean he's bloody gone,' snapped Wesley. 'He stole my bike and hiked out of here.' Angel stared at him for a minute before turning toward the car. As he strode toward it, the mortals struggled to keep up. 'Angel... he said he'd made a deal with the Oracles.' The vampire didn't turn, simply quickened his pace. 'He's coming back.' Xander exchanged a quick look with Wesley before hurrying after Angel. 'Angel man, I'm getting that this isn't just a trip into town for a bite to eat...' 'He's coming back,' repeated Angel and reached the car. Wesley slammed his hand down on the windscreen. 'Dammit Angel - he's gone! And I need the scrolls to get Doyle better.' The vampire said nothing, just glared at Wesley until he removed his hand. That feeling repeated within the Englishman's belly - there isn't the time. There will never be enough time. 'I need the scrolls,' he said more calmly. 'Got 'em,' mumbled Xander, passing them over. He nodded in thanks and opened the car door. 'Right, if you drop Xander and myself off at Dr. Sussman's, I can cure Doyle and then we'll try and figure out where Spike...' He yelped as Angel slammed the door, stopping him climbing in. The vampire pushed him back and pressed his wallet into Wesley's hands. 'Get. A. Cab.' The vampire yanked open the door and climbed in, his face grim, unquestionably set in his task. But Doyle...Doyle was at risk and nothing was worth losing him. Nothing came before curing him... not even the retrieval of the only other man he trusted. Because love always has to come first. In the end, it's all you really own. He banged on the window. 'Angel, you bloody well take us to Doyle. if he dies...I'll...' Angel turned. 'Kill me?' He shook his head, eyes seeming to glow in the darkness. 'If I don't get him back, I'll hand you the stake.' A cab rounded the corner almost on cue, and Angel gestured to Wesley. 'I'd get in that if I were you.' Wesley could feel himself breathing harshly, every breath filling his lungs with a weird calm, and he felt the storm coming. It seeped into his bones, chiling every inch of skin, but it came all the same, and even if he didn't say it, Angel could feel it too. He nodded. 'All right, I'll go.' Xander gestured the cab over, pinning it down with his biggest ass kissing grin, whilst Wesley pulled away from the car. He breathed out, and felt some of that tension slip from him. Doyle was waiting, and he wouldn't fail him. And still... 'You'll cure him, Wes.' The Englishan nodded again and moved away. He remained silent as Xander gave the instructions to the cab driver, lips closed as they approached the surgery. And though most of his mind registered the scrolls the boy pushed into his hand, most of him trying to find the passage the Oracles had told him about, the storm was passing, not away from all of them, but from the humans, moving back to the vampires who started it. All they had to do was wait out the damage, and hope they could rebuild. * 'Fucking thing!' Spike kicked the punctured tyre and glared at the glass which had done it. Skidding into a wall was not his idea of a good time, not even on his worst days. Especially not when it resulted in pants with the arse torn out of them. If that's not a fucking irony, I don't know what is. He growled, the wind carrying the noise away before it reached his ears. And that bloody thing's been picking up too - reminds me of that time when Dru ran naked through Prague, breeze nipping every bit of her, hair streaking behind her tail. And when I found her, when I pulled her away from that crowd, she'd said it called to her, told her about the storm that was coming. And she'd wanted to be a part of it, feel it whirling around her body, biting cold against her skin. Poor, bitch. Poor deluded bitch. It's all for him, it's always been for him. He drove her mad with cruelty and he must have driven me mad with l...lust. Or love...with him it comes to the same thing. I'm still stealing away in the night, going to find somewhere until they decide he's suffered enough and that his punishment is over. And then I get to come out, arms wide open, ready to fuck him into eternity. That's such a sodding wipe out. He huffed into the air, half wishing he could see his breath, feeling the breeze pushing against his skin, threatening to grow stronger, to force him against the wall. I'm hallucinating, he decided, I'm actually thinking about Angel's arty farty poetry. Bugger - I'll be quoting Keats next, and then there'll be no hope. It's just one step away from the nuthouse for me. With a final kick to Wesley's bike, Spike pulled his duster closer and walked away. *

'Unbind, unbind, unbind.' The fitting slowly ceased at Wesley's words, but it was a good minute before dark eyes flashed open, still red round the edges; tired, but no longer suffering an unending vision. They flitted past Xander's cheerfully aghast expression, Cordelia's surprisingly gentle concern to Wesley. And the Englishman had never seemed so drained. 'How are you feeling?' asked Wesley quietly, passing his hand through Doyle's tangled hair. Doyle winced. 'Like some bugger's been drilling my head with a chainsaw.' 'Descriptive,' muttered Xander before Cordelia's elbow quieted him. The Irishman tried to right himself, but is arms felt weak and he slumped back down. Actually - he checked - everything felt weak, and aside from needing a stiff whiskey, he thought he could stay in this recumbent position all week. 'I think I'm fucked.' Wesley smiled painfully and picked up Doyle's hand, turning it over until he made sure the sigil was gone. Then he pressed the clean palm against his mouth, breathing in the smell, and Doyle guessed he was reassuring himself that the Irishman was back. That and checking that the recent nightmare was over. 'Ye missed me?' Wesley nodded and Cordelia rolled her eyes, before grabbing hold of Xander and dragging him back toward the door. 'Hey, I wasn't done here, yet.' 'Sure you weren't, sensitive guy, you just wanted to wait to see a reunion smooch.' ', I'm gone, I'm gone.' The door whispered shut as Doyle strained to see them leave. Wesley still held his hand, but those aggressive lines stretched out across his forehead, and Doyle guessed they weren't all the way out of the water yet. 'So...' 'So,' agreed Wesley. Doyle frowned faintly at him. 'Battled any demons lately?' Wesley struggled to hide a grin. 'Some.' 'Beat them?' 'Inner demons...maybe. Tried to revive one.' Doyle raised an eyebrow at him. 'An inner demon?' Wesley nodded. 'Something like that. I saw the Oracles.' Doyle risked looking down toward Wesley's feet. 'Well, yer not a frog now, are ye, so I'm guessing it went well.' And that grin was definitely more evident now. 'Compassionate sorts, aren't they?' Doyle tried a shrug. 'They're the powers that be, Wes. I don't think they're all up for Hallmark moments.' 'No,' murmured Wesley, 'I don't think they're good in any way that I know.' 'It's a big battle, Wes. They're just warriors, same as Angel and Spike.' Was it his imagination, or did Wesley's face darken? 'Then I say we opt out of the battle for the moment.' The Irishman frowned. 'Opt out?' Wesley turned away from him. 'Perhaps, we should go away for a while, give you some rest.' 'I don't think they're going to hold off with the visions, just because I got a triple whammy.' Wesley bent forward, resting his cool cheek against Doyle's warm one. 'More than triple...and I don't want to go through that again.' Doyle shifted his seemingly heavy arm up and draped it round Wesley's neck. 'Come on there, Wes - we've been through worse.' 'No, we haven't.' Doyle considered. 'No, all right, ye got me there, but that's no reason to turn tail and go a running, now is it?' Wesley breathed heavily against Doyle's cheek. 'And if I said I just wanted you to myself for a while?' The Irishman smiled, nuzzling against the heavy fall of hair, wishing he had strength to do more than just hold him. But security, affection was here, and he deserved a shot at taking it. 'Aye then, we'll hole up against the world for a while. I'll even order take-out.' Wesley chuckled. 'You always order take-out.' 'Then it's home comforts as well. Come on Wes, we'll hole up, like you say. And when one of them migraines comes to split me head open again, we'll phone Angel...' Wesley froze against his shoulder. 'What?' Wesley sat back. 'It's Angel.' 'What about him?' Wesley looked at him a moment before leaning back down, entwining his fingers with Doyle's and resting on the hard bed. 'Nothing,' he said softly. 'I'm just seeing shadows.' * Angel pulled the car to a halt along the pavement, before he'd actually registered what he'd seen. He screeched against the curb, probably costing him a few months on each tyre, before yanking the door open and pouncing on the discarded bike. Crashed and burned, although there were no ashes nearby. This was definitely of Spike's doing - there was one vampire who couldn't ride a bicycle without stabilisers. And since the engine was still warm, he couldn't be too far away. But which way, thought Angel, looking up. The wind was blowing in the wrong direction, and he couldn't smell anything. Not one tiny whisper of tobacco and whiskey. Nothing, not even the deep smell of the undead...tainted with sex and desire. No odour in the air. Except... He wasn't smelling it, he could feel it - his childe, his lover, close, and hurting. That bond was stronger than either of them allowed for, and he'd battle Hell, and Heaven if it came down to it, before he'd give this up. Angel closed his eyes and stood up, trying to feel where the English vampire lay, willing him to stop and turn back. They were so close now, and yet it felt as though everything was now conspiring to keep a distance between the vampires. Not in my town, he thought, not him, and not ever. He walked on. * 'You are such a...gimboid!' Xander blinked and looked at Cordelia, wondering where the term came from. He might have been imagining things, but the way she said was almost a term of endearment. Maybe he should press is luck. 'So Cordy, you manage to whisk anything up on the net?' She nodded. 'They're having a great sale over at Chartroise, and there's a pair of pumps...' 'About Wolfram and Hart?' She looked at him, stunned. 'I didn't look.' Xander blinked, then turned away, recognising the standard waiting room colour, wondering how they managed to get it the same everywhere. He and Angel had been in danger, Doyle was in danger, dammit, even Wesley and Spike had been in danger, and Cordelia hadn't even been bothered to look up what Wolfram and Hart might be doing with the scrolls. Okay, so she probably couldn't have found out about anything. 'I wasn't going to find out any of their top secret stuff, so...' See, you're right again, Xander. ' I didn't see the need to waste my time.' He turned back to her, hands raised in incomprehension. 'Cordelia - you didn't even look.' She raised her eyebrows at him. 'Doyle's okay now, isn't he?' 'Well yeah, but...' 'And we have the scrolls back before the lawyers could do any big nasty calling, don't we?' 'Yeah.' She shrugged. 'So why are we having this conversation?' She didn't get it, she just didn't get any of it. 'Cordy - do you ever think of anyone else but yourself?' Okay, she's going with the annoyed 'you are scum' face. Not good. 'And who else would think of me, if I didn't?' He dropped his hands and tried to turn his mind around the way she thought. How could he love a woman like this? How could he want to spend time...did he just mention love? Hold that, did he just mention love and Cordelia in the same sentence, whilst she was in the room? 'I didn't say that aloud, did I?' 'Say *what*? Xander, you're getting weirder.' Yeah, maybe I am. 'Cordy...' 'What?' She looked at him blankly, as if waiting for his next insane act, and when it came, she neither pulled away, nor wrapped her arms round his neck. But her lips pressd against his eagerly enough, and he could feel her heart beat faster. And that same heat rushed through his skin, warming him, taking his mind to other, more secluded places. She broke away, panting lightly. 'This does not mean I'm looking for a closet.' He grinned and shrugged easily. 'I'm easy. We could graduate to an office.' 'Pah!' She shot him her best glare, spun on her heel and out the door. He watched as her curvy frame exited and then sank into the chair, waiting for Doyle and Wesley. There would be other times to find out how shallow she really was. Xander tasted the lipstick at the side of his mouth and grinned. There would definitely be other times. * Spike patted his pockets again, before snarling at himself in annoyance. You haven't got any, you pratt. You have to get to the shop and scare some out of the assistant...and get some dosh whilst you're there. Just get your bloody act together and sort yourself out. You can't mope about this - it's not in your nature, and you will get the big poof back. Just not for a few years. God this sucked in such a fucking big way. *what would you give?* *everything* 'I know,' he screamed at himself. 'I sodding well know!' 'Oh good, I'm glad you know.' He turned, hearing the voice over the rising tone of the wind. Angel walked toward him, hands firmly entrenched in his pockets. But his face was impassive, and although Spike felt something, he couldn't define what his sire was thinking. But he could hear him, reverberating round his head...and he knew he should run now, that it might all be over, but that bloody voice - he couldn't escape that, not if he left for a thousand years. 'Care to explain it to me.' It wasn't even a question. And Spike found his mouth opening to tell everything, before instinct kicked in. He turned away, and began to walk. He hadn't made five feet before Angel's hand gripped his arm. He didn't look back. 'Piss off Angel.' The hand didn't fall. Go away, let me go. Let me just fucking do this. I can walk, I can leave you now, but don't give me an option. I don't want to know that you think maybe there's some other bloody way we can do this. I can't risk it. Losing you for the moment is one thing. But I can't...I can't lose you forever. I've been there, I've seen a century without and you and it sucked. No, I don't think that covers it. You showed me what a vampire could be, taught me all the wickedness of my kind and then you were gone. And I thought the moon had fallen. Yeah, imagine that, me thinking poetry. But I can't explain it any other way. You were a God to me, an idol. But idols fall, and I lost you to that skag of a Dru. And I gave you up for the wanker you'd become. But Angel...ah, I never dreamt I'd find a soul mate. I never dreamt... *everything* He turned to look at those dark eyes. 'Piss off, Angel.' Don't make me do this. Angel relaxed his grip and just stood there, daring Spike to walk away. 'Go on then. Leave. Just tell me why this, why this was the deal.' Spike swallowed, and found that longing for a cig increased tenfold. Angel dug into his duster and tossed out a pack to the other vampire. Spike caught it and drew one out, feeling the chill round his shoulders. Dead things shouldn't be able to feel this. I shouldn't be able to feel this...or anything. He lit the cigarette and flicked his lighter shut, wondering why his hands were trying to shake. He was William the fucking Bloody, for Christ's sake! He was a fucking vampire, and if he couldn't just mouth his way out of this... 'Tell me.' Spike took a drag and met Angel's eyes. Just tell him and go. he'll understand, he's used to brooding. He'll understand. he'll let you go. 'I made a deal.' 'Yeah, I got that.' The wind seemed to echo in his ears, nipping at his face, but he could still hear Angel, could feel him in his head. 'You don't have to become human.' Angel threw his head back and laughed. 'And what use is that, if you're leaving me?' Spike dug his hands into his pockets, feeling older than he had in...well, forever. 'I come back.' 'What was that?' He gulped down a lungful of nicotine and regarded Angel as stonily as he could. 'I come back, you pillock. You just have to serve out your time and then...' 'That's not acceptable.' Spike chuckled in spite of everything. 'This is not a fucking game, Angel. It's the only way I could get them buggers to...' 'To what? To make you leave me?' He checked his cig to make sure the wind hadn't blown it out. 'I told you, I come back.' Angel shook his head. 'That's not enough.' 'Why? Because some great poof says so? Because you're still the big I am?' The dark vampire looked down briefly before staring back into the blue. 'You know that's not it.' 'No? Well how about you tell me what is it? Cause I'm fucked if I know, love.' He bit his lip - should have stuck to calling him Angel, shouldn't have mentioned that, shouldn't have called him love. But Spike looked up all the same, waiting for something, waiting for the words he wanted to feel. Waiting again, and he hate it, but for Angel... Angel looked torn, but Spike wasn't giving him an out. If anything ever mattered, it mattered now. And if he could say it, he needed to tell him now. The older vampire stepped closer. 'I save people. I save souls, but I wake up every night, knowing you're there. And it gives me a reason to keep going.' 'You'll still have a bloody reason, pet.' Angel shook his head. 'I don't want to live for the future. I want the now.' He raised his hand to touch Spike's face. 'I want *you* now.' *what would you give up to be given what you want?* *I have what I want* They stood in silence for almost a minute as the wind died down, and he could hear the cigarette crackling in his hands. And the grin crept up to his lips, only matched by the rare sight of Angel's own. 'So how's this gonna work, pet? Cause I don't think them fuckers were lying.' Angel shrugged. 'If my heart starts beating, you turn me.' Spike chuckled. 'What and get that wanker, Angellus? No fucking way, mate.' Angel gestured into the distance. 'There are scrolls, curses, we'll find one.' 'Oh? And how about this little chip? I can't turn you even if I want to.' The dark vampire frowned a moment before turning back to him. 'We'd best go get that sorted, right?' Spike raised an eyebrow at him. 'Go back to Sunnyhell?' 'You know another place that deals with neutered vampires?' 'Disabled! Or no more shagging!' Angel grinned and slipped his arms easily round Spike's back. 'Now we can't have that, can we?' Spike grabbed the back of Angel's neck and pulled him closer, lips twitching, moments away. 'We'll have everything we bloody want, love.' And before lips descended onto his own, he felt the barest breeze against his skin. This really wasn't expected. * Epilogue 'Serge!' There was a flash of blinding light, and the ash of several generations burst through the temple. As the box was quickly moved away, the speaker cocked her head and watched as the lawyers sprang back into play. 'I still do not know if this is a wise move.' Her companion stepped forward and watched along side her. 'This was foretold. If this does not happen...' She nodded. 'I know. And yet...' He raised his eyes to hers and made a difficult gesture with his fingers. 'Come then, we're done here.' She watched until the box moved out of sight, then joined him. The doorway closed, leaving the Oracles back outside time. And in the real world, life -- and unlife -- moved on. * The End