<pre>

Judge Me

"Just sit there and keep your gob shut."

Angel sat on the kitchen table, skin tingling from the sharp sting of Spike' s slap to his rump. Being woken up in the middle of the afternoon wasn't his idea of a good rest, nor, from the look of Spike's already willing body, was he in any chance of getting one. But since the body in question was Spike's, and the grin that accompanied it had more than its usual share of devilment, he leaned back onto the oak, fingers scratching at the surface as he waited to see what the blond had in mind.

Spike rattled through the cupboard before he pulled out a roll of tape, knocking a tumble of crammed in objects to the floor. He tossed it backwards, hitting the other vampire on the shin.

"Hey!"

Angel picked it up as Spike turned back round, trying to keep the stern glare on his face. He might as well have stamped 'come fuck me now' on his forehead.

"What?"

"You threw this at me."

Spike shook his head and turned back to the cupboards.

"Bloody did not."

"You did," said Angel, unpleasantly aware that he was sounding like a petulant child, " just be more careful."

"Of what? Death by Sellotape?"

"I bruise."

He winced as the blond's shoulders shrugged up and down.

"You bruise? Right, going ten rounds with that Carnyss demon didn't do it, but one roll of sticky tape's going to leave a permanent mark. I'll remember that in future."

Spike tugged open another drawer. "Wanker."

Ignoring him, Angel tried to lean over and see what the blond was doing. Aside from tossing everything out of the cupboards, he couldn't see method in the madness. He ducked as a bottle of disinfectant passed over his head, watching it bounce off the table and onto the floor. He opened his mouth to complain and Spike raised his hand in warning.

"Don't say anything - just move that great lard arse out of the way next time."

"Lard ass?"

He reached over and dragged Spike's towards him, forcing one hand down towards his rear.

"Does this feel like a lard ass to you?"

He grinned as Spike gave it an affectionate squeeze.

"Feels like a tight fucking arse, now let me go and get sorted."

Angel leaned in and ran his tongue over Spike's temple.

"I don't feel like getting peppered with the contents of my kitchen, so you' re going to tell me what you're doing."

"Being grappled by the world's biggest undead spoilsport. Now get off."

But the hands that pulled at him weren't forcing the issue and Angel tugged again, feeling Spike's thighs slap against the table, feeling his already roused body tense at the contact. Spike's fingers squeezed him and he yelped, but didn't break his grip.

"You gonna tell me what you're doing?"

"You going to get that stick out of your arse?"

Angel let go and sat back, knees slightly bent as his long lean form rested on the table.

"Everything's ass with you today..." he paused and thought, "...ever."

Spike grinned and bent over to pick up a bottle.

"Well, when it's your arse, Pet. Can you blame me?"

Angel paused a moment, unable to tear his eyes away from the clean lines of Spike's back, noting how even when he squirmed the elegance of his bone structure drew art and malevolence for all to see.

For Angel to see.

Evil and simplicity frequently seemed to be one and the same and in so many ways, Spike was the epitome of that. Angel knew that Spike craved chaos and danger, thrived on the nearness of death, making its threat yet another aphrodisiac. But whilst he'd always gone all out, risked everything to be the victor, he was mature enough to know when to walk away, overriding his basic instincts and hauling ass. And as the years piled up, that moment became more defined - Angel had watched Spike think his options over and forgo the thrill of violence for tactical withdrawal. He wouldn't risk losing the bounty; wouldn't risk losing Angel.

And there was just something fundamentally wrong about it.

Angel didn't want this careful, tentative side to grow and embrace the childe he loved. He hated to know that each time Spike walked away from a fight, (still a rare occurrence) it was due to his affection for Angel. Fates had interfered, lawyers had interfered and still they both walked freely through the night, Angel saving the innocent, Spike cleaving the guilty - taking down those who stood against them with a clear and decisive stroke. But each time Spike drew him away without the promise of love by moonlight, each time he just shrugged and walked off, Angel winced, cursing the technology that had given him his prize and was crippling its contents.

He wanted to sleep in lean fair arms, feeling the length of leg against his own, feeling the arm that would at some point come up and land heavily across his neck, Spike ready to shift in bed from starfish to lover. And as he watched, the frame he knew intimately would turn towards him, still sleeping, but welcome and willing. He had only to touch once, feel the static beneath his fingertips as evil magic worked its vampiric will. And then...

Spike, despite being a heavy sleeper, always stirred at contact. Knowing eyes flashed open, lips drew back to reveal teeth that threatened razor edges. But amongst the death of the demon, there was life to be had - thrilling in the urgency with which Spike loved. And the body Angel clung to, craved in his dreams and in his nightmares, was always there ready for him. Always open and ready to meet him match for match, bite for bite and always the hunger crept closer and bid them both to crescendo - a point that neither faded from for hhours after.

And as they bathed in the glow, Angel would wonder what he had given to gain such a prize. His redemption was a work in process, something that threatened to consume him day by day until he felt Spike's hand on his, mouth against mouth in the half-light. He wondered and he feared - some day this might all end, and despite reassurances in an English accent, he wanted to know when this would be taken from him and his punishment would truly begin. Angel wanted to protect and not need to. He wanted to touch and not have to fear that this was building up a debt, something he'd have to pay for as his childe slipped into the distance.

He knew how to do it - where to find the balance, but wandering back to Sunnydale with its churches and mistress raised other memories and Angel wasn't sure he could find the courage to do it. Spike had said surprisingly little about removing the chip, perhaps aware that to remove something ordained by fate could screw them both over. Whilst he raised fear and anarchy within LA's demonic population, Spike could crow into the night, still the Big Bad, even if he occasionally killed them in the process of doing good. He always had a warm bed with a cold occupant to greet him, always had food and drink on hand, always seemed to fear Angel looking at him and asking where the evil had gone.

And that bothered Angel more than anything - he hadn't seen Spike fear even the largest enemy - had barely seen him flinch under Angelus' predatory contact. And they both knew what it would take and of the trust needed to do it. To be able and not to touch, to be evil and not to propagate that evil was something they barely whispered in the darkness. And in daylight they remained hidden from the light, couched in each other's arms and willing the Sun to disappear and grant them solace. Love, clearly felt and returned was threatened by a lack of choice and the day Angel set him free grew closer. He wanted to open the cage door...then watch as the slim shadow filled it again.

"You reckon diesel's worth a go?"

Angel blinked and looked at the black bottle in disgust before raising his head to Spike's mocking grin.

"I take it you're joking."

Spike flexed an eyebrow and climbed onto the table, thighs uncomfortably close, more than welcome, touching with a still illicit thrill.

"It's lubrication, love - damn stuff is slippy. What do you say? We put it on the list?"

"We have a list?"

"Imaginary list."

Angel looked carefully blank as Spike huffed and inched closer.

"You. Me. Eternity - it's going to take a bit of imagination to stop using the same bloody things all the time."

The older vampire frowned.

"We're making a sex to-do list?"

"Sex is always to-do, pet. I'm just trying to figure out what we can use in this inadequate kitchen to do it with. Have to tell you, aside from Weasly's condiment fetish, we're basically looking at," he looked down at the bottles in his hands, "diesel oil and washing up liquid. And I'm pretty sure one of them stings."

Angel noted Spike's look of disappointed concentration and tried to ignore the spill of bottles and tubs on the kitchen floor. If he didn't look at it, it wasn't there. Spike's knee nudged against his inner thigh and he decided to make an attempt into this conversation.

"I'm not using diesel oil."

"It'll keep your joints squeak free."

"It'll keep the bed..."

"...doesn't have to be the bed."

"It will keep *wherever* covered in sticky blackness. And I don't want to dip any body part in there."

Spike chuckled and dropped the bottle to the floor, waving the other one at Angel.

"So it's this, then, Pet."

"No."

"Why? It's not like it's going to get anything dirty, oh fucking anally retented one."

Angel closed his eyes to the annoyingly seductive grin framed on his lover's face.

"Watching bubbles come out of your ass when we're..."

"...fucking..."

"...it's a scary thought. And one I don't want to act on."

Spike tossed the bottle over his shoulder and knelt up, teeth barely an inch from Angel's neck. The older vampire shivered at the closeness, body parts twitching and growing in anticipation. He ground his knuckles into the table, stopping himself from pushing up and into the willing form next to him. He could do it, he could take and be welcome, but Spike's ingenuity was always worth waiting for.

Spike ran his tongue along Angel's collarbone and pressed teeth into the flesh, hard, but still human.

"So you know what this means, then?"

Angel felt breath catch in his throat, tenseness causing him to forget and to inhale, just to smell the coarseness of Spike's skin.

"What does it mean?"

Spike moved away from his neck and pressed his forehead against Angel's own, matching blue to brown as the older vampire caught the smirk and waited for the punch line.

"That you have no fucking imagination at all. And we're stuck with blood and ice cream for the next millennium."

Angel tensed as Spike chuckled against him, thighs pressing against his own with the ease of the comfortable. And it just wasn't fair, not one iota, because Angel didn't feel comfortable at all, and the floor was a mess, the only things on offer were either going to burn or stain him and damn it all - Spike was laughing at him.

And he was doing it naked.

Angel grinned and eased a hand up to catch the back of Spike's neck.

"I don't have a problem with blood."

Spike flicked his tongue out and touched his lower lip.

"Oh you don't. Hmmm," the vampire leaned in and nipped at Angel's mouth, "except when you have to get the stains out."

Angel tipped his head to gesture at the cleaning assembly on the floor.

"I don't see that being an issue."

He slid his hands down Spike's torso and reached his hips, pulling at the lean flesh, drawing him closer. Spike murmured at the touch and bent easily, allowing Angel further access to the lively flesh in his lap. But Angel wasn't prepared to give in that easily and restricted his feather brushes to Spike's hips, turning each finger gently along a well-shaped hipbone, waiting for the moment when Spike would tire of the game and pounce. Waiting to see if he could resist for long enough to possess.

"We've got chocolate mint chip."

Angel brushed against Spike's mouth, lips barely touching, seeing the sizzle reflected in blue eyes.

"I don't like the lumps."

Bad move, bad move - all that innuendo and you didn't pick up on it.

Spike caught his hands and drew them, carefully, skillfully into his lap, making Angel feel the weight of the sac that hung there softly in his fingers. Not even a soul could stop him relishing the pleasure of free range on such a creature, and Angel ran his fingertips up, touching and memorizing the texture of the soft skin, feeling the pull as they drew closer to Spike' s body. He looked deliberately down, false breath catching as he watched his fingers coax Spike's already stiffening erection into a hard pulsing length. He heard the hidden groan and pulled back, half-grinning when it turned to a more obvious sound of complaint.

"And where the fuck do you think you're taking those talented fingers?"

Angel leaned back and looked at him, years of torture readily available in the grin he afforded Spike.

"Talented?"

Spike sat back on his knees and reached for Angel's hands, running fingers over fingers, tracing hand shapes with the light sheen of sweat that covered them both. Slowly, he leaned forward and slipped his thighs over Angel's own, pushing back against the firmness. His fingers crept up and along the more muscular arms, reaching for the exposed neck, sinking his teeth in and sucking at the broken flesh. Angel moaned unwillingly and clutched at the blond head, hips bucking against hips as his blood was torn from his body. All pain, all pleasure and Angel clenched his thighs and tried to think of something else, tried not to think about the clarity the act brought.

I could force him to do anything I want.

He snarled as Spike drew his mouth away, laving at the wound as it began healing slowly, already showing signs of congealing and becoming whole once more. There was hunger in his face and in his body and Angel shivered as the supple lips brushed his skin, each touch a moist mark of 'mine'. Each lip print glowing on his skin, he closed his eyes, longing to believe that every caress was through choice. And that each time he felt Spike against him, against his skin, inside him, it was because he wanted to be there. The growing fear that his childe had nowhere else to go clawed at his memory, tainting the rare declarations of love and ridiculing his belief in this affection.

It didn't matter how many times he'd seen Spike refuse death, it didn't matter how many moments the vampire could turn and walk into the distance. Because the beast inside the man was still cloaked in mystery and betrayal. And until the demon was brought to heel, he couldn't bring himself to believe that his eternity was at hand. He wanted to, craved the knowledge and put everything else aside just to spend a moment beloved of something he couldn't control. And whilst the beast howled at this torture, the man moaned his adoration and took Angel to places Darla had only whispered about. But it was no longer enough. He couldn't settle for half a creature anymore.

And it was destroying them both.

"Will?"

Spike ignored his moan and reached the first tendrils of hair that nestled against his belly, nuzzling at them and promising more. It took all Angel's strength to reach out and stop him, catching the exasperated look on the vampire's face with a feeling of grief.

This could be it. This could be all.

"Will?"

"You know you're really scudding up a good fantasy here, mate."

Angel swallowed and eased himself out from under the vampire, swinging his legs over the side of the table and trying not to think about the mess. He could feel Spike behind him, still waiting for an explanation he didn't know how to give.

"We need to..."

"Talk? What are we, girls now? I thought you wanted to shag?"

Angel smiled softly and turned back, leaning against the smooth skin, his arousal still alert enough to notice.

"We could do both."

Spike huffed and leaned over to the side, grabbing the pack of cigarettes and taking one out.

"One of us is a multi-asker, Pet," he said, lighting up and waving the end at Angel, "and it isn't you."

He sat back on the tabletop, legs splayed out and one elbow compensating his weight. If it was just about sight, thought Angel, I'd be lost. I'd never leave this damn room.

"So come on then, get the brooding over so I can get back to the important stuff."

"This is important."

Spike raised an eyebrow and exhaled, smoke billowing out from his lips.

"You're naked. I'm naked. Nothing else could ever be important."

Angels smile slipped away.

"Come on, I'm waiting!"

He could hear the impatience in Spike's voice, but below that, the fear was still audible, lingering in stilted English syllables. And if he could still hear it, then Spike had to be aware of it. There was nothing he'd missed yet and Angel wasn't sure if that made this harder...or just more expected.

"Would you still be with me if you could feed?"

Spike stared at him for a second, before taking a couple of drags on his cigarette and stubbing it out on the table edge.

"Don't do that."

"Huh? You ask me that and you're worried about fag burns? You're one sick fucking puppy Angel."

"I didn't ask you to give anything up for me. I'm asking..."

"I know what you're asking."

Spike shook his head and climbed off the table, stamping on the crushed cupboard contents and cursing.

"Where are you going?"

"To get a pint."

Angel followed him into the bedroom, watching as Spike reached for his clothes, wishing he wouldn't.

"It's the middle of the day."

Spike pulled his jeans on and started buttoning them up, refusing to look at the shadow in the doorway.

"You know, I think bursting into flames is a better option than sitting here and listening to this crap."

"I need to know."

"For what? I've done everything you've ever asked me to. I haven't laid one bloody finger on a human in a year and you still don't get it."

Angel shook his head, stepping forward and laying his hand firmly on Spike's arm, wincing when the vampire pulled it away.

"I get that you love me. I get that you think you need me."

"And how about me fucking wanting you? Forty years...one year and I still want you."

"If you could bite, if you could kill...you wouldn't be aching to chomp down on the nearest nubile neck?"

Spike glared at him.

"You would be the nearest nubile neck. It doesn't take a chipectomy to make me want to bite that."

"And the next one? You'd give it up, just like that."

Spike reached out and grabbed for Angel's neck, pulling him closer. But as his fingers closed, nails digging in and threatening to tear, Angel felt the tension dissipate from the familiar hands. He could feel the strength in the muscle, gliding over his skin, almost a caress.

Almost a suggestion of surrender.

"You need to get rid of the chip to know that?"

His voice, so unusually soft, a tone Angel had learnt to understand long ago, when Dru was being particularly obstinate, particularly irrational. Loving, guiding and above all committing to an act, to a person, and directed at him, in spite of his foolishness.

But he had to know.

"I trust you."

"But?"

"I don't think it's just me who wonders about it."

The hand fell away from his neck and Spike sat back on the bed, shirt snatched into his hands, strangely bewildered at the accusation. Angel moved closer, his whole body trying to tremble with expectancy. Just tell me it's okay, that you don't want to bite. Just let me believe it for the moment so I can pretend this is real forever. Tell me that you at least can resist the hunger.

Tell me you're stronger than I am.

Spike closed his eyes, tongue flickering on his lips as though touching a distant physical memory.

"You remember your first kill?"

As Angel winced, Spike snorted.

"Stupid question, you remember every bit of fun you had - whoever you had it with."

"It's not all been fun."

Spike's eyes flashed open.

"Really. You're going to lie about that? To me?"

Angel said nothing, his memory trying to creep in and insinuate itself in the present, coating even his finer prayers with its plush taint. He met Spike's gaze until the younger vampire turned away, looking into the middle distance as his own mind sought refuge.

"I remember the fear. The moment before when everything was clenched, all tight. Every muscle pinched as I watched her walk quicker, feeling power inside me, building up, pushing against my skin like it wanted to break free.

"And she turned, knew it was me - knew she was gonna die and she couldn't walk away."

He sniffed and reached for his cigarettes again.

"Some of them fight, some of them run, but she just stood there, bottom lip quivering. All chest and skin and heat."

Pressing the cigarette to his lips, Spike smiled.

"I didn't know whether to fuck her or kill her first."

"You killed her," said Angel, sure of the answer.

"Yeah," nodded Spike, "but I was damn tempted. And you know the best thing to do with temptation, mate."

Angel nodded.

"I pulled her close, brushed her hair back, feeling her shiver in my arms, all trapped and ready to die. I could see her pulse throb, beating against starchy white skin like it'd just been waiting for me.

"So I bent in, licking her neck, just wanting to taste the whole thing, knowing she wouldn't scream. And I swear that when I bit down I could hear her skin tearing."

He lit the end of his cigarette and inhaled deeply.

"It's all liquid fire then, isn't it? Just pours down your throat and coats your insides. You can feel warmth in it, all coming away from them into you. And before she died, she just let out this one long whimper."

He turned to Angel, lust and fire in his features.

"You gave me my first feed, but you didn't tell me about the kill. And I lived on that like a King."

Angel wanted to reach out and touch the desire, but he clenched his hands into fists, refusing to acknowledge his defeat.

"It's too hard to resist, isn't it?"

Spike shrugged.

"To resist? Yeah."

He ran a hand along Angel's bare thigh, causing the older vampire's sudden shiver.

"To replace? Well..."

Spike grinned and drew his fingers towards the neglected crease between torso and thigh. Angel drew in a breath, skin stirring with the promise and the pleasure.

"You don't want to kill?"

Spike shook his head.

"Yeah, I want to kill," he dipped his fingers against the newly roused flesh and leaned in, finding Angel's lips willing beneath his own, "I just want you more."

Angel watched as Spike closed his eyes, kissing him insistently, hands cool but welcome as they wrought desire in his body. He couldn't seem to stop kissing him back, tongue finding Spike's own and teasing along the supple flesh, finding teeth elongated, demons clawing, men loving. His hands stretched round Spike's back, tearing at the unnecessary jeans and finding skin on skin, all familiar and old. And through every caress he watched the agile body against his own, wanting to memorize mouth and grin, trying to recall if it ever changed, promising to etch marks in it with the turn of each century it belonged to him. Promising to make the same marks on his own as he gave all to the creature that consumed him.

He kissed along the exposed neckline, finding the place where a pulse should beat and licking it, sucking at the dip between collarbone and spine before sinking his teeth in. Spike howled at the pain, clutching at the back of Angel's neck, clawing down the tattoo and opening blood to scent. Angel couldn't distinguish growls from groans, but the copper tang sifted down his throat, binding him to Spike, binding him here in the present, willing to change the future. Hands crept everywhere, thighs clambering up and wrapping round his hips as he suddenly wished he had the contents of the kitchen at hand.

He broke away to look before feeling Spike tugging insistently at his neck, drawing his face back down and into kisses he'd never experienced with another. And those fingers, taught through decades of ingenuity were now touching him again, coated in something even colder than himself. Angel lifted up, staring at Spike's hands and trying to get his brain to kick in and tell him why they were green.

"Is that my hair gel?"

"It's jelly. Lime jelly. Useful right about," he slid his fingers over Angel 's willing erection, "now, I'd say."

Angel groaned and pushed into Spike's guiding hands.

"We have blood."

"We have jelly. Don't mix the two."

Angel frowned and began to ask why, but then he was inside, hips flush against Spike's and his brain ceased to think about anything but the enclosure. His lips found Spike's again, nipping at the edges and then no pressure, no sense of anything but the two of them, the world fading to an indigo sunset as their bodies found an ancient rhythm.

And as he surged into the abyss, he saw the door opening, freeing Spike and himself from the uncertainty that had plagued him. He could see the freedom he was offering, could feel his desire for his companion to return, not because he was lonely, but because he belonged. He heard Spike howl and groan, felt the warmth and wetness on his body, and his mind Spike turned at the freedom, blowing him a kiss. And as he caught it, the world fell down, all cages breaking apart with a fire that coated them both.

Love me forever. Love me for now.

He slipped forward onto Spike's body, burying his face against the neck that would never be warm, relishing its difference. Arms wrapped round him, drawing Angel closer, Spike kissing him again, grin pressed against his cheek as they basked. It took all his energy to lean onto his elbows, meeting sleepy blue, still desire laden, still his.

"I'm an ass."

"Uptight arse, yeah."

He grinned and kissed Spike's eyelids as the vampire began to snore.

"Sleep, Pet. I need your energy."

Angel nuzzled down, slipping off and drawing the already spread-eagled vampire back into his arms.

"We'll go to Sunnydale - get your head fixed."

"Fine," Spike mumbled into the sheets, "as long as you get yours seen to as well."

Angel smiled and closed his eyes, relishing a future that promised freedom and redemption, company along its stony path. He dreamt of passion in the forever, love in the present, drawing him on into the unknown. And whilst none of it could be trouble free, he could taste Heaven's edges, could feel the soaring within his soul and Spike beside him into eternity.

And with him, the ever present smell of jello.

~finis~

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