PAIRING: Spike/Angel (slash)
SPOILERS: set in a happy future after AtS S5, but no spoilers
Written for Deborah

Just Like Old Times, Only at the Other End of the Black and White Spectrum
By Tania and Estepheia

"Say, would you have thought, ten years ago, we'd end up like this?" Spike pondered, feet propped up, chair tilting precariously. He picked up the stack of unopened mail before him.

"Like what?" Angel asked absent-mindedly. He frowned at the computer in front of him, a hopelessly outdated model, cautiously pressed a key and relaxed when the printer began to whine. A moment later Angel picked up the freshly printed invoice and showed it to Spike with great satisfaction.

Spike affected an eyeroll and proceeded to flick through the stack: Bills, bills, bills, junk mail, take away menues, a postcard, and one letter that felt like it might contain a cheque. There was also a letter addressed to Mr. William S. Bloody. "Oh, you know," Spike muttered, shuffling the mail into two stacks, keeping the postcard and the two letters and tossing all the unopened bills across the thin line that separated his own cluttered messy desk from Angel's tidy work surface. "Donning the proverbial cape together, fighting the good fight, helping the helpless, an' all? Side by side, just like old times, only…"

"Where are the stamps?" Angel began to rummage through the drawers of his battered desk.

"…At the other end of the black n' white spectrum.…" Spike continued, studying the topmost postcard. Katmandou? He turned it over and started to read, ignoring the fact that it was addressed to Angel. Nice to know that wolf-girl was enjoying her trip to the other side of the world. He took aim and the postcard flew across the desk to join the telephone bill.

"I bought stamps. Now where are they?" Angel's voice boomed out of the depths of his bottom drawer.

Spike tore open the letter addressed to him and scanned its content. "Look at that!" He exclaimed.

"Spike? The stamps?" Angel interrupted, looking up from his search.

"Remember your old office? The plush carpet, the ancient katanas on the wall, the leather chair, the…" Spike asked wistfully.

"The high definition TV set, yeah, I remember," Angel groused. His sour look intensified into a glare. "What about it?"

"Hey, don't look at me like that," Spike said with one hand on his heart, batting his eyelashes. "Wasn't my fault that the W&H gig didn't pan out as planned. Least we brought the house down."

Their shabby office was indeed a far cry from Angel's plush office at Wolfram & Hart. Most of the furniture had been bought second (or third) hand, but the shelves held a few of Angel's surviving first editions and their weapons cabinet housed a wide selection of reliable weapons, even though they had little value as antiques.

It wasn't much, but it was enough, and both were proud of the sign outside the office that said "Aurelius Investigations" even though Angel still maintained it should read "Angel & Spike" while Spike insisted that "Spike & Angel" had a much nicer ring to it.

Like a dog with a bone, unwilling to let go once committed to a cause, Angel glowered at his partner. "You took them, didn't you?" Angel accused. "How am I supposed to send out our invoices, when you always steal the stamps!"

"Wouldn't call it stealing, mate," Spike replied, unfazed. "Think of it as an investment."

"Participating in every give away you come across is not an investment, Spike. When will you get it into your thick skull that you're never gonna win anything."

"Why not?"

"Because… because we're not the kind of people who get something for free."

"Again I say, why not?"

"Uh… because that's not how it works?" Angel suggested, unable to produce a logical explanation but utterly certain of the truth in his words.

Spike held up the letter he'd received. "Looks like the rules've just been changed. I just won us the best entertainment system money can buy, flatscreen TV, DVD and all kinds of other initials. We'll probably need months to figure out all the features." Enthusiasm lit up his face.

"Hockey," Angel said dreamily.

"Porn," Spike said happily, looking almost boyish.

Angel rolled his eyes in exasperation, but his lips threatened to curl into a genuine, heart-felt smile.

"Tell me there is at least one stamp buried in your pile," Angel waved a hand at the stacks of half read magazines and files containing notes jotted in a nearly illegible hand.

When Spike made no effort to look for a stamp Angel gingerly lifted the corner of a stack of files, the small movement sending a cascade of paper to the floor with a fluttering whoosh of sound.

"What are you doing?" Spike yelled, jumping up from his chair and standing over Angel like a scolding parent. "Got a bloody system here."

"You have a system?" Angel asked, keeping his tone level and unaccusatory.

"Yeah, a good one too, but it's only a system if you don't go tossin' my work to the ground."

Angel leaned over and pulled one of the files from the floor. "This one just says 'git was right, wife's a tramp'." Angel held the paper for Spike to see, "there's not even a record of how much time you spent following her. How are we supposed to bill him?"

"I get that you're serious, but I've got better things to do than crunch numbers."

"Name one thing."

"Well," Spike started.

"One thing that does not involve winning more electronics than we could possibly fit in our apartment if we got rid of everything but the bed."

"Oh, um," Spike shot a flustered look at Angel, "well, I...I need to clean my desk."

"Let me help you with that." Angel stood up and walked around to Spike's side, sweeping an arm across the desk and sending the remaining clutter to floor with a satisfying clang of staplers and shattered glass.

"You call that helping?" Spike muttered.

"I'm not so much cleaning as avoiding a mess," Angel enlightened him, grabbing the front of Spike's shirt and pulling him into a kiss.

"Have a feeling things are still gonna get messy," Spike breathed into Angel's neck as he moved to strip Angel of his jeans before unbuckling his own.

Angel gently pushed Spike over the desk and kissed the back of his neck. Just as he started to press himself forward Spike let out an excited yelp.

"Hey!"

"What?" Angel asked, backing up.

Spike lifted the phone up from the desk and triumphantly held up a small strip of paper, "I found the stamps."

"Give that to me," Angel snatched the stamps out of Spike's hands. "I'll see you when I get back from the post office." Angel quickly pulled his trousers back up, gave Spike an absent-minded pat on the shoulder, grabbed the invoice from his side of the desk and rushed out the door.

"Oh, for crying out loud," Spike said to the empty room, throwing himself back into his chair. He had barely put himself away again, when the door was opened and slammed shut. A second later, a key was turned in the lock.

"Post office is open for another hour."

Spike barely had time to smile before the chair was whirled around and Angel's smiling mouth crushed against his.

END