TITLE: "Dancing About Architecture" (0a/?) *PREQUEL*
AUTHOR: Marie-Claude Danis
EMAIL: mc@verticalcrawl.com
SITE: http://verticalcrawl.com/fic
FEEDBACK: *pointed look*
DISTRIBUTION: My site, list archives. Or just ask.
SPOILERS: Through S2 of Angel.
RATING: R for m/m nummies.
PAIRING: A/Wm (this part)
SUMMARY: William needs his Sire to deal with his newly-regained humanity.

* * *

I refuse to look up. I know what she's doing, I can feel her stare boring into the side of my head. She's relentless. But, I can deal with that. I've spent most of my existence with relentless females; Cordelia Chase and her stare-downs are barely a threat. I ignore her and keep humming.

It's a beautiful summer day. Sunny and breezy, even from in here. The atmosphere in the Hyperion is great; everybody - me included - feels energized and unusually happy. And yes, I'm humming. Leaning against the counter reading through a file Wesley threw in my direction earlier. What a nifty little team we've got here. I flip a page and change songs. She snaps.

"Angel, are you *humming*??"

"Yes, Cordy. I'm humming."

"Well, cut it out! It's wrong! You don't hum. You brood. Brood!"

I look up at her and smile. "It's a beautiful day, Cordelia. Enjoy it."

She gives me a look and shivers. "You're creeping me out."

I grab another file from the pile. "Well, I'll make sure to go back to my usual gloomy self soon, just for your peace of mind."

"Damn straight."

Wesley appears from the back with bottles of juice for himself and Cordy, and a nice warm glass of blood for me. With a straw in it. I throw him a look and take it out, flinging it in the wastebasket. "Cute."

He smirks at me and loosens his tie a little. He's already rolled his sleeves up, and small sweat stains are appearing through his blue shirt under his arms and on his back. Cordelia periodically tucks a stray strand of hair behind her ear, and her golden skin is covered by a thin sheen of sweat. Okay, so it's a little hot. I wouldn't know.

The doors swing open behind me and with perhaps a little too much enthusiasm I twirl (yeah, twirl) around on my heels to greet our newest client.

And suddenly it doesn't feel so sunny anymore.

My throat dries up and I wish I'd taken a sip of that blood. I take a few steps forward. The floor feels uneven.

"... Spike?" Cordelia. I just stand there, mouth open, unable to make a sound.

That is not Spike. Not my Spike. Dirty clothes, disheveled hair, sunken cheeks. How he stands, submissive, broken, eyes pleading.

"Please, please you've got to help me. I can't... Angelus, you have to..." His voice breaks into a sob, and tears steam down reddened cheeks. His eyes are wary and there isn't a trace of blue in them. All grey. My hands tighten into shaky fists.

"Spike, what's the matter." I sound a lot calmer than I am.

He stumbles forward and almost falls down the few stairs, and I rush to help him, only I stop before I can reach him. Sunlight shines directly onto the marble floor before me. Mind reeling, I look up at my childe who's standing in the light, crying and walking to me. Then he's against me, his arms wrapped tightly around me, holding on like his very existence depended on it. And a hundred years just slip away.

I wrap my arms around him tightly, his small body nestled against mine, and bury my face in his hair, inhaling deeply, closing my eyes. Something inside me tightens at the smell, confirming my suspicions. But I push it away, focusing on making it better, protecting him, whatever it is he needs so urgently. He felt he could come to me, and it's making Angelus come back full-force. Angelus, who would kill whole villages for his family. And right now, it's like he never left.

"Angel, you--"

My head snaps up and I hiss out a warning at the intruder, game face on. Cordelia stops mid-movement and stares at me, wide-eyed, frozen into place. It briefly occurs to me that I should apologize, that this is my friend, Cordy, that... that she doesn't want to hurt him. But it doesn't come out, and I'm left just peering at her with golden eyes, battling conflicting emotions.

Wesley hurries to her and takes her gently by the shoulders, backing her away from us slowly. God bless him, he knows. His understanding of what I'm going through right this second might be purely academic, but at least there's that. There's someone who knows Angel and Angelus are the same person, separated by a very thin, very tempting line. Fought against every single day, and so easily crossed.

His movements are slow and deliberate, and he avoids looking directly at me. "Angel. Do you need anything for Spike." His voice is careful and even.

I consider the shaking body against me, the... the *human* smell coming off it in terrified waves. I'm not ready to deal with that just yet. It takes a moment for me to make sense of my jumbled thoughts. "Food... he needs food. Bring him food."

Wesley nods over Cordelia's shoulder, while she's still looking at me with a horrified look in her eyes, betraying her otherwise calm expression. Her heart is thumping madly in her chest, and the sound, suddenly enhanced, only feeds my confusion over everything going on around me. Angelus wouldn't be this disoriented.

"Go away," I let out before shutting the rest of the world off, barely noticing my coworkers cowering away as soon as the words are out of my mouth.

Soon I am only aware of him, and I sink gently to the ground, cradling him closely. I bring a hand to his wet cheek, caressing, desperate to soothe away some of the nameless pain. Shakily, I smooth his hair away from his brow. Strangled sobs shake him and he lets me touch him, nestled in the crook of my arm, impossibly close. He'd climb into me if he could, and I'd let him. I run my hand over his arm, his back, his leg, feeling for anything wrong, anything hurt. All I find is this warmth, this unsettling warmth, and the beat of a heart under my palm, against his skin. I blink away sudden tears, unsure what they are.

Human. Spike's human again. He's... William, just like I remember him. His smell has never left me since that night in London, when Drusilla turned him and I took him as my own. It was almost a shame to lose that boy, to make him bad; his innocence had something infinitely tantalizing about it. I adored Spike, what I'd made him become, because he was William according to Angelus. And now... Whatever this is, it makes both sides of my psyche ache with an unexpected, passionate need to protect. To heal.

Forcing my human guise to come to the fore, I bring a heated kiss to his warm forehead, shifting my hold on him to support him as he grows weaker. "It's okay. I'm here. You'll be okay, childe."

"Angel... what happened..." His voice is broken and hoarse, and rings of panic dulled by exhaustion.

I run a gentle thumb over his cracked lips, swallowing my own uncertainty. "We'll figure it out. You'll be okay. You need to rest. Spike..."

He looks up at me under heavy lids, dark circles under his eyes. I can see a tinge of azure in the dull grey of his irises. That gives me hope. His grip tightens on my shirt. I hug him fiercely to me.

"You'll be okay. I'll make it okay."