Disclaimer: Joss owns all and is to be worshipped. And James Still owns the poem at the beginning.

Timeline: Season Two Ats. Major spoilers up to Redefinition.

A/N: I've taken some liberties in regards to the layout of the Hyperion because I don't have cable anymore nor any Angel DVD's in which they are still at the hotel, so I can't go back to old eps to study what the place looks like.

Changes to the Season 2 plotline have been made, so in a way, this fic is AU (but nothing extreme; the boys are still vamps and Spike hasn't somehow ended up in a band)

Rated R for m/m, violence, and language.


I asked the fox to forgive me.
He spat as he died.
I asked God to forgive me.
I don't believe He will.
Is there no pardon anywhere?

-"Death of a Fox" by James Still

.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.

Thwump, thwump, thwump, thwump. Persistent pounding on my door which I fully intend to ignore until—

Thwump!

"Oi!"

I fumble with my book, having nearly dropped it out of shock, and set it on the table.

Thwump! "Hey!"

I know that voice.

Thwump! "Open the bloody fuck up!"

I manage to bring together my only two properly functioning brain cells long enough to grab a stake while he continues ranting slurred, muffled words through the thick wood of the door. God. What the hell is he doing here?

"–an' I can hear ya bleedin' wheels turning in that Cro-Magnon Nancy skull o' yours so don'tcha sodding pretend you're not insi—"

I swing open the door and he falls silent. Though I knew for a fact he'd be there, it's still…alarming. That's the only word I can come up with right now.

One of his hands is still curled in a fist and held up as though he's about to knock again. I can detect the strong scent of blood—his own blood—and whiskey on him. The source of the latter dangles from the black-nailed fingers of his other hand in the form of a nearly empty bottle. Clenched between bloody, split lips is a smoldering cigarette. Faded black jeans hang low on bony hips, the top button missing. His belt dangles from the loops, only partially buckled and carelessly so at that. Normally bright blue irises are dark, the depths not quite sane.

But these are not the things I pay any particular attention to. No, what I pay most attention to is, he's here.

He's here and all I can do is stare at him. I'm not sure if I want to take him in and wrap him up and make sure he's safe or slam the door shut in his face.

Never tearing his gaze away from mine, Spike lowers his arm carefully. It takes him several tries, but he eventually manages to work out the hand-eye coordination needed to remove the cigarette from his lips. He expels a stream of smoke in my direction, then stumbles over empty air. His hand shoots up to grip the doorframe in an effort to keep himself from falling flat on his face.

"You gonna lemme in, peaches, or 'm I 'sposed to camp out here all night?"

I set aside the stake, buying time as well as getting rid of the thing. It seems silly to have it now, considering a) he's swaying like a leaf in a windstorm and b) he's already impatient sober. When drunk, Spike will make sure you know his intentions the moment he spots you five miles away.

Especially if that "you"happens to be me.

He lifts a questioning eyebrow. With a sigh, I step back to let him through. What else am I to do? He is the boy Drusilla happily dumped into my arms a hundred and something years ago, he is the fledgling who grew to be my mortal enemy, he is my goddamned liability.

He is mine, whether I want him or not.

Spike shuffles through the doorway and trips on the doorjamb in the process, plunging forward. I catch him and as I do, I am shocked to feel the individual pieces of his ribs shifting beneath my touch. Not to mention the fact that I can feel his ribs, really feel them. Christ. What the hell did he get himself into? He's always been thin, but this is ridiculous—I'm almost afraid to touch him. Seems like the slightest pressure will snap him in two.

The exact moment he regains his footing, Spike pushes me off stubbornly. The movement appears to be too much for him and he nearly collapses again with a curse. I help him up once more and this time I let go before he can shove me off and fall over yet again.

He looks like he's going to bolt any second now, even as he places one careful, unsteady foot after the other in an attempt to move up the stairs. Five steps up, he carelessly sets down the green-glass bottle. It perches precariously on the edge of a step before tipping over. There's a thunk and a crash and I decide I'll make Cordelia clean up the mess in the morning.

Spike, clearly not registering the fact that the bottle has been reduced to broken bits, drops his cigarette on the steps as though it were still there. I snatch up the burning one-inch stub before the entire hotel can go ablaze.

Spike pauses and turns around, a deep frown creasing his forehead. His eyes travel to the empty spot where his whiskey was just there a few moments ago. He blinks twice, then turns back and continues the rest of the way up. Several minutes later, he stops short before my room, no doubt recognizing it from its scent.

"In there," I say, shattering the silence for one brief second.

He hesitates. Bloodshot eyes dart uncertainly to me before returning to his boot-clad feet.

"In there, Spike." There's a touch of annoyance in my words and he raises both hands in a defensive gesture. He perches on the edge of my mattress.

I start to run a hand through my hair, but stop, startled, when I notice a cigarette still between my thumb and forefinger.

With a frown, I scan the room for somewhere to put it while Spike shrugs off his duster. Eventually deciding that there is no better home for this smoldering item—which is scattering ash all over my carpet—I drop it into an empty glass of blood. When I turn back, I almost trip over empty air, too. My mouth hangs open and I stare in a sort of horrified fascination.

Spike has stripped off his t-shirt to reveal a pale chest marred with deep purple bruises where his ribs have snapped and a large, bloody gash across his stomach.

"Looks worse," he says indifferently.

((and you've done worse to him, haven't you?))

"What happened?" I ask. It isn't until he responds with a, "Nothing wrong with my hearing, mate," that I realize I'd spoken too loud. Too loud in order to

((done worse to him, haven't you))

bury the accusing thought. Bury the nights of scarlet raindrops and blooming blue-black flowers on a perfectly smooth alabaster landscape, decorated only with thin red crisscrossing rivers.

I shake myself, intent on focusing solely on Spike and the present. I can't deal with both him and memories, thoughts, best left untouched.

"Sorry," I say, lowering my voice. "What happened?"

His only response to my inquiry is a shake of his head.

"Oh." I try to come up with something better to say, but I can't and to be honest, I probably shouldn't. Conversation has never been my strong suit; conversation with Spike even less so.

Perhaps going back to the basics is a good idea. Basics. Right. Which is to get Spike fed.

After debating for several seconds, I drop my fangs briefly, long enough to slash open my wrist.

Yes, I am perfectly aware that I own a completely serviceable microwave in which I could heat up a some blood for him instead. Yes, I am also perfectly aware that Spike probably doesn't want to partake in an activity as intimate as drinking from me.

But the practical angle of it is that pig's blood isn't going to get him healed. As for the not so practical angle, I refuse to entertain it.

Spike watches the blood well from my cut. It's so quiet I can hear the individual spatters as several drops hit the floor.

I check the urge to tell him to drop his pride for once and feed already.

"It'll help you heal faster," I say instead. "Don't tell me you want to spend any more time here than you have to."

Unable to deny the truth of my words, he scowls and takes my wrist, and begins to sip cautiously.

He has only been allowed to drink from me twice. Once when he'd taken on more than he could handle and had bled enough to keep him lying in bed for a whole twenty-four hours, probably more if I hadn't disregarded my own sire's demands that I not let him take blood from me.

I had a lovely scratch down the side of my face to show for my disobedience the rest of the day.

The second time was when Darla had lost her temper

(("stop bringing that idiot child our bed!"))

with the both of us. I hadn't faired much better than he had, but I was still decades older and quicker to recover.

When he has had his fill, I set to work cleaning and bandaging his wounds. I try to ignore the way his eyes follow me beneath half-lowered lids in a manner I would deem curious if I didn't know better. There is something about those blue depths that can carry a strange childlike innocence.

But Spike is far from curious. What he is doing is reading me.

He used to think I wouldn't know when he was watching me, used to think the way he hooded his eyes with those long lashes would fool me. He started like a frightened mouse when I finally told him that he might be fooling himself, but he certainly wasn't fooling me. He knows better now, but the habit stays nevertheless.

And I don't bother to hide whatever emotions I am currently experiencing. As much as I hate to admit it, it is nearly impossible to hide how I'm feeling from Spike; he spent a good part of twenty years mastering the art of evaluating me in an attempt to escape—or sometimes to provoke—the worst of my moods. If it's not what I say, it's what I do or even the way I stand.

As I wrap a bandage around his midsection, my fingers brush his smooth, pale skin and I hear his breath catch. Not expecting such a reaction from him, I glance up and he sets his jaw angrily.

I decide not to comment.

I can't help but wonder what he was doing in L.A. in the first place—he was obviously here prior to getting hurt. I doubt he drove all the way from Sunnydale just so he could get patched up by me. That he came to me at all is surprising enough.

The exact instant I put the finishing touches on the last bandage, Spike shoots up unsteadily and reaches for his shirt, as though he has been readying himself to do so for some time now.

My fingers close around his wrist to stop him and he literally jumps under my touch. Startled, I pull back. But he's stopped trying to dress.

"Spike, you can't leave," I say. "You can't even stand on your own two feet."

He gives a derisive snort. "Can too, ya bloody, sodding ponce of a tosser, 's not like 'm an invalid or sumthin' and ya know even then I was—"

"Spike." I interrupt his nonsensical rambling. "Stay for a night at least. You're completely drunk, anyway, and I'm not risking any unfortunate L.A. residents who might cross paths with you and your lack driving skills."

He glares at me. Anger and frustration with a hint of wariness. Five seconds tick by. Six. Seven…

And as they do, I begin to question the brilliance of making such an invitation. Because

(("someone wasn't wooorthy"))

(("she really is just kind of fickle"))

(("i said SHUT UP!"))

Spike and I have managed to redefine the phrase "not getting along" over the past hundred years or so. And the last time he was around

(("well, what say i grab a pair of needle-nosed pliers and give a hand?"))

I ended up with a few extra holes in my body.

So why is it that I feel so relieved when he sits back down on the bed?

His hands travel to the ragged waistband of his jeans and he begins to tug down his zipper—

I quickly reposition my eyes to a spot on the wall behind his head, willing them not to gravitate downward. Christ, why does it take so much willing? Years, countless years, apart, and you'd think I'd have gotten over it by now…forgotten even. But I'm not one to forget. I can remember every one of my victims and I can remember every moment with my boy, from a rain-soaked cemetery over some unknown tomb to that time I

((chained him to the ceiling for four days when he dared choose Drusilla's bed over mine))

that time I…

(("you've a lovely scream, boy"))

…I…Oh, screw it. Hadn't I, only moments ago, promised myself I would only concentrate on Spike?

Right.

Spike. Spike, who is wearing that damnable smirk of his. When I finally bring myself to meet his gaze, he wiggles his eyebrows and tilts his head suggestively.

He knows. Of course he knows I want him. And dammit, I don't even care. I just want him to get his ass in bed and nicely covered up. Which he does eventually, cocooning himself in the cotton sheets, dark lashes resting lightly on pale skin.

And as I watch, I so desperately want to crawl in there next to him. A century ago, I would have. A century ago he would've snuggled against me and I'd have run my fingers through his soft, brown hair.

But I am stuck with the reality that this is not a century ago. This is now and Spike's hair has long since turned blond.

So I bring in a chair and take up residence in that instead.

.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.

Sometimes I come to L.A. for no real reason. Maybe I'm tired of listening to Harm chatter on and on. Maybe I get bored of Sunnydale. It's certainly not because I want to see him, but am too chicken shit to go knocking on his door.

Either way, I come here, get drunk in a bar somewhere, and head back.

Always drive past his apartment, I do. Even gotten out of my car once or twice, though I've never gone in. Tonight probably would've been no different, either, if it weren't…well, if it weren't for the chip, really.

Because I can fight off demons twice my size, I can hold my own in a brawl with eight other vampires, but I cannot stop myself from getting…cornered…in an abandoned alley by a bunch of sodding mortals. Of course, the fact that the alleyway was in all swirly may have had to do the fact that I ran into them in the first place.

Anyway, I'm not sure how I managed, but I somehow found my way to that enormous, penis-envy castle of his—'cause the last place apparently wasn't large enough—while bleeding all over my car seat and while the streetlamps and cars in front of me did weird wiggly dances.

Really wish I hadn't come. Why did I come? Why the fuck didn't I just drag myself into my car and drive back to my crypt? Given a day and a hefty amount of whiskey, I would've been fine.

At least I've had my hefty amount of whiskey…though I'm starting to think it may not be such a good idea. 'Cause there're two Angels now and God knows one of the tosser is more than enough. Then there's also the fact that I can't seem to stay on my feet properly, which means the pouf has to go all heroic and catch me. At the very least, he could've let himself be dragged down in the process. Mm. Remember what it was like to be on top of him, I do.

No, actually, that's not true. He was always on top of me. But either way, it was nice…

Oh, Jesus. Apparently, I'm not wasted enough to stop these goddamn thoughts.

Goddamn vampire constitution.

I need more. Lots more. Why didn't I bring another bottle with me? And why is the bastard still holding onto me?

I push him off, but the room spins wildly at an alarming rate and I lose my balance once more.

Bloody hell.

He catches me again and those annoying brown eyes fly open when he feels my ribs shift. Not entirely sure why. I mean, I can't hardly feel a twinge, ta very much to the wonders of alcohol. But what the hell. Let him carry my pain, he's got everyone else's.

The second time he sets me back on my feet, I manage to stay there and, through much concentration, even make it up the steps and into his room. Like a bloody showroom for anal-retentiveness, Angel's room is. Everything's properly tucked into their respective places. I briefly consider moving his lamp an inch to see if he'd have a nervous breakdown or something, but it's too far and it keeps splitting into twos, then fours, then twos again. It's making me right nauseous.

I slip off my jacket and shirt myself 'cause no way in hell am I gonna let Angel undress me. I'm not that drunk. Fortunately. Or, wasn't I thinking that was unfortunately just a few moments ago?

Ah, fuck it. Whatever.

Sire's looking all wide-eyed again. As if he hasn't seen worse on me plenty of times. As if he hasn't caused worse plenty of times. Foreplay, he called it. Unlike with Darla, with him it was always foreplay and never punishment—his libido too often got the better of him for it to remain punishment.

Even now he wants to fuck me. I can smell it on him, see him attempting to hide it as he moves about the room, digging out bandages and shit and desperately hoping, but doubting, that I won't notice. Under normal circumstances, I would find this extremely amusing but he distracts me by standing there with blood dripping out of his wrist. His blood. What?

I blink. Twice. Nope, it's not a hallucination.

Which is really too bad. 'Cause, fuck all, I don't wanna take it. I won't take it. I'm not gonna take handouts from him. Jesus Christ, it's bad enough I crawled here, I'm not gonna bloody let him feed me, too.

But the sharp smell of his blood is

((safe))

enticing and

((familiar))

to be perfectly honest, starving doesn't do my current state justice. Why couldn't the stupid git just give me pig's blood or something? Is it really that hard to open a sodding microwave and press a button? Why does he have to bloody go and complicate everything the fuck up?

"Don't tell me you want to spend any more time here than you have to."

I glare at him. Arrogant, assuming son of a bitch. Who just happens to be right.

No, what am I saying? He's never right. He's an idiot with as many brain cells as his hair gel and I'm not going to take it, except it's already too late 'cause I can feel sweet, coppery taste flow past my lips and down my throat. Even when he pulls away, the thrilling sensation is still there, and it only doubles when his fingers run lightly along my stomach.

Apparently having caught my reaction, Angel glances up.

Sodding hell. That's it. I'm gonna go. As soon as he's done, I'm gonna grab my stuff and go. Because he can't know how I feel about him. He can't, he threw away that right long ago. Threw away the right to know that I will never be completely free of him.

As proven when I finally do turn tail to run and he grabs a hold of me.

And I stay. I stay and it's not because I can't stand on my own. We both know that's a lie.

But for now, I'll pretend it's not.

Besides, he may be right about the being plastered bit. Though it appears as though the Angels have merged into one again.

I strip off my jeans and he predictably averts his gaze, chaste little girl that he is. He hasn't offered me his bed, but he doesn't need to. I know his guilt-ridden shoulders will prevent him from making me sleep on the floor. Or not. It doesn't matter; I'm not sleeping on the goddamned floor either way.

I climb into his bed without any prompting and lay there, surrounded by his scent as I pretend to sleep.

He doesn't join me, of course. It's been too long for that, and even back then, we rarely slept in a bed together. Most times, he'd fuck me and then kick me out of the room before Darla could find us. I almost always spent my time in Drusilla's bed.

But I still remember what he smells like, of vanillachocolateice. He still does.

I can feel him staring at me, as he sits in his chair, and I'd really like to open my eyes because this is stupid, me feigning sleep. Us, actually—I know that as soon as my eyes open, Angel's would immediately snap shut. And I want to cut the bullshit. At the very least, I want him

((here with me))

to quit

((here))

watching me, for God's sake, I want him to stop watching me, I don't want him here…and

Bloody hell. Fuck it.

Deny it as I might, the fact remains that I do…I do want him here with me. Because I still remember. Still remember those two hours in January, heavy snow outside, and the two of us curled by the fireplace, with him reading the few pieces of poetry I'd kept, hidden, until he'd somehow managed to dig them out. Still remember those few nights of tender kisses…and all right, so tender might be overstating it a tad—Angelus was never one for tender anything, particularly when in the throes of passion—but tender enough for him. For me. I remember it all, little moments, precious and rare and stuffed in between the blood and betrayal.

Does he remember? Does he remember anything other than his sins, his bloody incessant guilt, guilt he so wrongly believes will make everything better?

Probably not.

On a whim, I

((remember dammit don't you remember?))

sit up. As predicted, Angel's lids slam down immediately, but open again half a second later when he realizes that he's just being a moron.

We stare at each other in a silent confrontation.

"Angel?" I whisper finally.

"What is it, Spike?"

((holdmesireholdmekissmeyoubastardneedyouhateyouwantyou))

I lie back down. "Forget it."

Five minutes later, I hear a soft scraping as his chair shifts. By the time I wake up in the late afternoon, he's gone, but the chair is now only inches away from the bed.


The End! Just kidding. 'Twill be continued...

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