"Not there! Put it against the wall."

"Sod off!! You want it there so badly, come move it yourself. Stupid git." Spike ducked as a wad of newspaper sailed towards him. He glared at Will over stacks of brown packing boxes.

"If you mess it up, we'll just have to do it again later," Will primly informed him. Spike scowled at his twin's upper crust accent.

"Why thank ya, Ma. I just wasn't thinking with mah head, darn tootin'." Will goggled at Spike's horrendous version of a Southern accent. It was...really kind of terrifying, those crawling vowels creeping from Spike's snarky mouth.

"Please...never do that again," Will said archly, shuddering delicately. Spike sighed and pushed aside his annoyance to reposition the couch...again. Will was being anal about their new apartment, and Spike was very, very happy that he hadn't actually bought him that feng shui book as a joke.

"Does that meet his highness' standards?" he asked sarcastically. Spike turned around and was promptly toppled onto the newly positioned couch.

"It'll do," Will laughed with a cheeky grin.

"Spike! We're going to be LATE. Move your arse!" Spike popped his head out of the bathroom to glare at Will.

"It wasn't MY arse that made us late!" he yelled around his toothbrush. Will smirked, a dangerous and flirty look that most of the world never got to see but that never failed to make Spike's pulse race.


"Don't. Say it." Spike ducked back into the bathroom before his dopy grin could give him away. He rinsed his mouth and looked at the mirror. He was wearing a crisp tailored suit, a green tie that set off his eyes, and a smart button-up shirt. He looked like a perfectly respectable business man until you got to his shock of platinum hair, which was slicked back. He looked professionally dangerous, which was the exact look he was going for.

"Vanity will not get us to work on time," Will griped from the doorway. Spike met his eyes in the mirror and scowled at him, though he couldn't help but notice that Will appreciated his ensemble. Spike spun on his heel and pushed past Will, grabbing up his wallet and briefcase and heading out the door. He paused, turned back to Will and arched an eyebrow.

"Are you coming? We don't want to be late." Will seriously considered chucking the briefcase at his brother's head.

Will was emphatically not fidgeting. He was totally cool, calm, and collected. He was all the relevant Cs.

"Calm down," Spike growled tersely. Will shot him a nasty look.

"I am calm. And cool. And collected." Spike shot him a disbelieving look.

"If you get anymore worked up, you'll need a new shirt!" Will kept his gaze fixed straight ahead and concentrated on keeping his breathing even. He almost jumped out of his skin when Spike's hand gripped the back of his neck, one thumb rubbing against his flushed skin. "You'll be fine. Just...pretend you're talking to me. You don't have a problem ordering ME around." Will flushed slightly at Spike's lascivious grin.

"Yes, well. Different circumstances." Spike snorted and squeezed Will's neck before reclaiming his hand.

"You could always consider it extended foreplay." Will rolled his eyes and shook his head. "No one would ever believe you top." Will smirked at Spike, but the doors chimed and opened and the nervousness (calm, cool, collected) was back full force.

"Oh, for fuck's sake!" Spike grabbed Will's arm and hauled him forward. He stopped at the receptionist's kiosk. The receptionist held up an imperious finger.

"Yes, I understand that sir, but unless you have the name of an exec or someone who works here, you're not getting through. No? Goodbye." She turned back to her computer and pressed the receiver on her bluetooth phone. "Lira publishing, how may I direct your call? Molly! Hey, girl! I haven't seen Chris today, but I know Sara's in. Though you might not get through, there are some new big wigs starting today, nepa-tee-asam at work. Yeah, I'll transfer you. Bye!" Spike waited with growing impatience as the girl scanned through the list at her side, transferred the call, and made some sort of notation on her computer. When she was done, she finally deigned to look at him. She seemed thoroughly unimpressed. "How can I help you?"

Spike leaned over and graced her with his laziest smirk.

"Nepotism." Her brow furrowed and she frowned.

"I'm sorry?"

"The word you were looking for? Nepotism. You said nepa-tee-asam."

"Um, OK, whatever. What do you want?" the receptionist asked crossly. Will made an impatient noise in the back of his throat.

"Well, we'd be the nepotistic big wigs starting today." Spike grinned as the receptionist's life flashed before her eye. He felt Will shaking with silent laughter behind him. "Care to tell us where we're goin', pet?"

"Y-yes sir. Of course. The, uh, corporate boardroom is up one floor. Your fa...boss is there with all of the execs. Is there...um...is there anything else I can do for you, sir? Sirs?" Spike glanced down at the name tag on the desk.

"Not at all, Kennedy. You've already done quite enough. Ta, pet."

Will and Spike settled in to the Lira family with ease and aplomb. Well, ease and aplomb on Spike's part. Will tended to hole himself up in his office and read manuscripts all day. Spike had to drag his resisting brother out of his office every once in a while to prove that, yes, he did exist. Most the people working for Lyra thought Will was an office urban legend.

So it was a shock to Spike, the marketing department, and the hapless artists who were present at a their quarterly meeting, when Will burst in like a whirling dervish.

"The people who work here are idiots, utter fools who wouldn't know a decent work of literature if the iComplete Works of Shakespeare/i beaned 'em in the head!" Will snarled, grabbing Spike's arm. He hauled his bemused brother out of his chair towards the door, shocked faces looking on. Halfway down the hall, Will paused, let go of Spike's arm, and ran back to the room. "Sorry about that, need him, carry on, don't destroy the company." Everyone jumped when the door slammed shut behind him.

The various employees of Lyra Publishing glanced at one another in the sudden silence.

"I thought he was a mute?" one of the junior execs offered weakly.

"Will?" Spike asked, trying to make sense of his brother's nattering. Not that he minded being manhandled out of his office by Will—or really manhandled in any way by Will—but it would be nice to know why there were, apparently, making their way to Da's office before they actually got there. Will didn't give him a chance.

Rupert Giles was about to imbibe in a completely deserved, wholly necessary scotch when his door burst open and he spilled his drink down his front.

"Bugger." Giles extracted his pocket handkerchief and dabbed at the dark stains on his shirt, and Spike deftly relieved Giles of what was left of his drink and propped himself by his Da's desk to watch the fireworks. He took a sip of the scotch—the good stuff that Da saved for his best hiding places.

"Careful there, Rupes," his son said with a smirk. Giles shot him a withering stare that got colder when he saw Spike drinking his 200 scotch.

"Yes, well, far be it for me not to expect a herd of savages to barge in unannounced." Will blushed in consternation, but Spike just shook his head.

"Da. We hardly qualify as a HERD."

"You'd be surprised, James." It was Giles' turn to smirk as his son's eyes narrowed into a glare. No matter how many times they had this fight, Rupert Giles would NEVER call one of his sons...Spike. Though if he'd known how much trouble James was going to be, he would have named him Randy. "So to what do I owe this...pleasure?"

Spike turned to look at Will, since he was as in the dark as his Da. Will suddenly found himself at the center of his family's attention.

"Ah, w-well, yes, I was just...reading...and, ah--"

"Will thinks you've hired a bunch of idiots," Spike volunteered helpfully.

"Ponce," Will growled, inventing creative ways to get back at Spike. Wipe that smirk off that's for sure. Spike's grin deepened and his eyes challenged Will to do his worst.

"I hired you," Giles pointed out smugly.

"Er, right, but I can tell the difference between shite and brilliance. Your readers...cannot." Will tossed a manuscript at Giles' chest, which the older man barely caught.

"I don't suppose I could have the Cliff's Notes version?" Giles asked wearily. He was holding a thick tome of at least 400 pages. Will made a strangled, impatient sound.

"This work is...brilliant. Revolutionary. It absorbs and subverts the major symbols of Western culture. The themes, the story, the message...this is master storytelling. And your readers, whose only job is to read manuscripts and pick out the good ones, wanted to PASS." Will looked truly affronted. Giles glanced at Spike, who shrugged and motioned for the manuscript. Giles handed it over without protest.

"So, you think--"

"We need to sign the writer immediately. Yesterday. We need to find the contact info for this--" Spike blinked as the manuscript was ripped out of his hands--"Jasmine"--the thick sheaf of paper was dropped back into place--"and sign her. NOW."


"Da! Bloody hell! This book is gonna be HUGE. It's going to sell millions of copies in hardback alone, you cannot let this pass us--"

"Will!" Will ground to a halt, chest heaving, eyes bright, and Spike thought he'd never looked hotter. "You can sign her."


"I didn't hire you because you're my sons. I hired you because you're both damned good at what you do and you understand the literary world. Even you," he said pointedly, fixing James with a look, "who did NOT pop out of your dear mother's womb with a head full of shock white hair and that horrendous accent." Spike cheekily stuck his tongue out at his father.

"Oh. Right. Er. Thanks?" Will ventured. Giles rolled his eyes and started herding the savages towards the door.

"You're welcome, good, yes, right, I'll see you for dinner tomorrow good bye." When the door to his office closed, Giles let out a huge sign of relief. About that scotch...

"Stop. Fidgeting." Spike growled.

"I'm not fidgeting," Will whispered back. Spike cocked one eyebrow and looked pointedly at the tie Will was continuously smoothing. His brother blushed and shoved his hands under the table. Spike used the table cloth as cover, putting his hand on Will's knee and squeezing it reassuringly.

"You'll be fine, luv, just to remember to breathe. Bint's gonna sign us, no worries," Spike soothed; he slipped his hand underneath Will's suit and rubbed his brother's lower back. Will shot his brother a disbelieving look.

"Are you insane? Her work...she could sign anyone! Any publisher at all!"

"Shut it! No one else has picked up on her yet, she's still unknown, and as long as we don't undermine our bargaining position we'll be fine." Will blinked. "What?"

"You sounded almost smart just then."

"Ponce," Spike growled, squeezing the pressure points in Will's leg. Will jumped, banging his knee on the underside of the table, and let out an unmanly yelp.

"Are you...Lira?" Will blushed, the tips of his ears turning pink. Spike slouched in his seat and grinned lazily at the attractive black woman hovering over their table. Will elbowed him and stood, extending his hand.

"I'm Will Giles, this is my brother Spike. You must be Jasmine." Jasmine looked down at the hand and hesitated. Her handshake was reticent and perfunctory, and when she was done her quiet personal assistant was there with a wipe.

"Spike?" she queried, her gaze assessing the still-seated man.

"Ta, pet," Spike said with a sardonic smirk and a half-assed salute with his drink. Will stifled the flair of irritation (and bit of jealousy) that coursed through him. How Spike could be so...Spike and get away with it? Spike shifted his attention to the woman hovering at Jasmine's side. "And you are?" Spike asked, finally deigning to stand. He gathered the assistant's hand and laid a delicate kiss on the back. She blushed prettily and ducked her head.

"T-t-tara. I-I'm Tara."

"Well, I'm Tara, shall we be seated?" Spike pulled out her chair and ushered her into it. Will did the same for Jasmine, his stomach in his throat. This was their first client, who they discovered and—hopefully after tonight—signed. First chance to prove to the publishing world that they were more than just daddy's sons, but executives in their own right.

The dinner was...amazingly productive. Spike managed to coax Tara out of her shell and get the gentle woman talking. She was more than just Jasmine's assistant; they were dating, going on three years. She had a stutter whenever she got nervous, but Spike was suave and managed to keep most of the chatter light. By the end of the night, they had a three-book agreement signed and ready to file with their lawyers.

They'd barely crossed the threshold before Spike pounced on Will. Will was pressed against the wall, smiling widely at Spike's scattered assault. His hands were everywhere, his mouth attacking any naked flesh he could get to. Somehow, Spike got coordinated enough to strip most of Will's clothes off.

"Y'could help," Spike grumbled as he pushed and pulled Will into an appropriate panting position.

"But you're doing so well on your own." Spike glared at his lover, pulling the dress slacks down without care. "Oi! These are expensive!" Spike smirked. He could make Will forget his concern with his expensive trousers.

Will forgot how to breath. Spike's mouth was suctioned around his cock, the wet warmth exquisite torture...and no one was as experienced in torturing him as Spike. Will scrambled for something, anything, that might ground him, keep him from flying off in a million different directions. The smooth drywall didn't give him anything to hold on to, and all he could feel was Spike's mouth, the rough buds on his lover's tongue, the slick wetness of saliva. God, he was intoxicating.

Spike worked Will, pulled out all the stops and used all his tricks. He wanted Will panting and begging for it, pants be damned. He pulled back and concentrated on the head, tracing its contours and playing along the seams. He hummed a little tune, power rushing through him when Will whimpered and smacked his head against the wall. He was moments away from coming when Spike pulled off and pinched the base of Will's dick.

"Not yet Willy m'boy!" Spike said gleefully. Will hit his head against the wall a couple of times, trying to talk himself down. He tried to form some kind of coherent thought between sharp gasps of air.

"You're...a...nurgh ponce!"

Spike laughed evilly and stood up. He licked the shell of Will's ear and whispered, "You won't be saying that when you find out what I've got planned!"

Jasmine's book hit the Bestseller list a week after its release. People were raving about it; there was even talk of Pulitzer prizes and Nobel consideration. Will and Spike were the toast of the town, and all eyes were on Lira's newest Twin Executives of Terror. Things had gotten so crazy they'd had to hire a personal assistant, something they'd both balked at and refused to do when they were just starting. However, the deluge of phone calls and social invitations had become overwhelming, and they couldn't keep tying up the executive secretary.

Which was how they met Anya Christina Emmanuella Jenkins. She was a divorced Swedish-American (who held dual citizenship with Sweden and the US), a keen business sense (which helped her filter out the frauds), and an amusingly blunt manner of speech. THAT particular 'gift' kept all but the most serious vultures away. She was perfect.

Plus, Spike got to watch Will blush on a regular basis. It had lead to more than one office fantasy on Spike's part. He was startled out of his current daydream when Anya dropped a stack of manuscripts on his desk.

"Read them, make money," she instructed.

"Yes, thank you Anya, I was wondering what they pay me to do." She just looked at him, completely missing the sarcasm.

"I could write it on a piece of paper for you if you forget." Spike narrowed his eyes. There were times when he was pretty sure Anya was fucking with him, but he was never quite sure.

"I'll keep that in mind," he said dryly. Anya handed him a piece of paper and turned to leave. "Wait wait wait, what the bloody hell is this?!"

"The Jasmine premiere party. It's tonight at 9:30. The company rented out SkyBar." Spike paled.

"Shit." Anya looked on with her slightly-curious expression. "Pet, I need you to save m'life. And Will's. We need two tuxes, you have our sizes, a car and driver to get us there. I'll need a fairly expensive gift for Jasmine, somethin' feminine and from Rodeo drive. Get Tara something too, I like her. I need to know if Da's going, an updated guest list, and a flask of Jack. Oh, and tell Will?"

Anya didn't move. They stared at one another for a long moment.


"I want a raise." Spike's eyebrows climbed into his hairline.

"You've been here for three months!" Anya crossed her arms and got that look that meant she was dealing with money and therefore deadly serious. And honestly, she was a far better assistant than either he or his brother had ever imagined. "Fine. Ten percent."

"Twenty-three point six percent," she countered.

"What? How do you figure?"

"I'm planning a trip to Hawaii. At a twenty-three point six percent raise, I can take a full two weeks off in four months, which is when my vacations days officially start. Therefore, I can fund my travels without straining my living budget and get paid to sit on a beach where there are no rabbits. I am also worth well more than the extra cost, but I predict it will take another two months and one week to prove that to you, so in the interim...twenty-three point six." Spike grinned in spite of himself.

"Ta, pet." Anya beamed. "Now, if you could--"

"I had your tuxedos delivered to your house, they're hanging in the foyer, please don't mess them up BEFORE the party; I've been told that it is more appropriate to play after such events, and that alcohol makes the process much more fun if sloppier. Howard will be outside of your house at eight forty-five sharp. There are two packages sitting on my desk from Gucci, gift tags attached, in each women's respective sizes, I got a very good deal on them. Your father plans to spend exactly one hour and fifteen minutes at the party before escaping the 'ungodly charade of the rich and tasteless, bugger American New Money.' Check your e-mail, and I stashed a handle in your bottom left drawer." She swept out of the room.

"Twenty-three point six," Spike muttered, shaking his head. He was pretty sure it wouldn't take Anya that long to get her next raise. "Wait...play?"

"Cor, pet," Spike breathed. Will ducked his head, looking up coyly from beneath his lashes.

"Like it?" Spike reached out and fingered the expensive material. Will was wearing an Armani tux, perfectly tailored. His platinum hair was slicked back, but there was one ringlet that refused to stay tucked in framing the corner of Will's left eye.

"Wish we had time to show you how much," Spike said silkily, curling his tongue behind his teeth. Will's blue eyes turned dark and possessive, and he stepped into Spike's space.

"Don't look so bad y'self," Will said thickly. The air between them was thick and getting thicker.

"We gotta go," Spike said breathily.

"Uh huh." Will refused to let him go, his gaze commanding Spike's acquiescence. Spike could only watch as Will pushed him against the wall, his hands stroking Spike's Alexander McQueen tux. Will ducked down, his lips millimeters from Spike's, when someone started pounding on their door.

"Gotta go!" Spike squeaked, eyes still firmly affixed to Will's lips.

"Bugger," Will groaned. Spike ducked in for a quick, lips-only kiss before darting away. He grabbed the presents and opened the door to find Howard the chauffeur on the other side. Will wore a stony, slightly pained expression the entire trip to SkyBar.

When they got there, reporters and photographers were snapping pictures of the rich and famous. Right before their limo slid into the red carpet line, Spike leaned over and said, "If you're very, very good, I'll blow you when we get home." Will stumbled out of the limo, leading to some gossip-rag speculation as to whether or not one of the Giles-twins had a drinking problem.

Will was ready to go the second they got inside. He hated these things, and all he wanted to do was get home and get to know Spike's tux very, very intimately. He huffed and threw back his Jack in one gulp, savoring the burn of the alcohol. It was something real against the background of fake smiles and perfectly crafted faces.

"Wow, that's impressive," an amused voice said. Will whipped around and found himself facing a short, young-looking woman with light eyes and a pretty smile. He flushed a bit and glanced self consciously at his empty glass. The woman giggled and lifted her full champagne flute in mock salute before throwing her head back and draining it. A bit spilled out of the corner of her mouth, and they laughed as she tried to avoid getting any on her dress.

"Now THAT is impressive, pet. I'm Will." The woman, she couldn't be much out of her mid-20s, took his hand in a firm grip.

"Eve." Her smile was open and fresh, and it didn't look like a surgeon's scalpel had ever touched her flesh. It was refreshing.

"So, Eve. What is it that you do?" She blushed demurely and Will was taken with her candidness.

"It's going to sound silly, but I'm doing the whole LA actress thing. I mean, I'm from Wyoming, and I did the whole get a job after college thing for a while but...I figured, I'm young, why not give it a shot? So...here I am." She peeked up though her lashes as if to gauge Will's reaction. He snagged them two flutes of champagne. He proffered the glass with a bow and then raised his to a toast.

"Well pet, that's an admirable vocation, chasin' your dreams. To your dreams."

"To my dreams." They clinked their glasses and downed them in one go, giggling like schoolchildren afterwards.

Will made it his personal crusade to shepherd Eve around. He introduced her to everyone, tucking her hand into the crook of his arm when she started getting a little glassy-eyed with all the glitz and glamour and celebrity. She was cute and charming, and the photographers couldn't seem to get enough pictures of the two of them. All in all, Will was quite impressed with the way Eve handled herself.

"Who do you keep looking for?" she asked, when they'd snuck into a secluded corner to escape for a little while.

"M'brother. Spike. He's probably pissed that I haven't found him." Will flashed a brilliant smile at her. "You'll like him." Eve smiled back and took a sip of her drink as she scanned the crowd of faces, acutely aware of the man beside her. She spied the mirroring shock of white-blond hair off to the left and subtly maneuvered Will in the opposite direction. She wanted a little more time with Mr. William Giles before she had to share him with anyone.

Just as Will turned towards his left, Eve swayed unsteadily on her feet. Will was there in an instant, arm on her elbow, watching her with concern in his eyes.

"Are you alright pet?" Eve smiled weakly at him and fanned herself.

"I think so. Must be the heat, it's sweltering in here. Is there a balcony or something?"

"Of course, luv, follow me."

They climbed up a winding staircase to a secluded outdoor bar area. It was a much more quite and intimate setting, small knots of people talking low amongst themselves. Perfect. Eve chose a small love seat to encourage closeness. They couldn't help brushing against one another as they talked.

Ever regaled Will with tales of her childhood on a small farm. Her family had money, not a lot but enough to live comfortably on and keep a few horses. Will reminisced about his childhood in England, riding horses with the various Noble children of London and the surrounding areas. Eve was well versed in various poets, and they had a heated—albeit friendly—argument about the merits of Chaucer, Kertzer's study of modern poetry, and the themes of Eliot's iThe Hollow Men/i. Eve was well read and well reasoned, though her discourse lacked a certain amount of academic depth. While they talked, hours slipped away.

Spike was Not Pleased. Capital letters. He and Will had split up to try and divide and conquer the party—most people couldn't tell them apart and there were the refreshing few who didn't realize they were identical twins—but Will had never found him again, and he couldn't find Will for the life of him. He'd done his pleasantries with Jasmine, who was a brilliant writer but kind of creepy, and started circulating but still...no Will. It seemed like his brother had deserted him, but Will wouldn't do that. Plus, they'd shared a car.

It also didn't help that giggling sycophants kept trying to corner him and gush about the color of paper or some equivalent nonsense. All they wanted was a roll in the hay and some of his family's money. That's all these type of people wanted. So Spike snagged a befuddled-looking Tara and sat them down in the furthest booth he could find. Tara looked so grateful he had to smile.

"Looking a bit piqued there, pet." His words only slurred a little. Tara blushed and ducked her head.

"I'm n-not good a-a-at these things."

"Psssstttt." Spike waved his hand to encompass the whole room. "Only pe'ple good at these things's people lookin' fer money. Any way they c'n get it." Tara looked a little shocked at his cynical view of her girlfriend's premiere party. Spike shot her a wry smile and drank the shot of Jack in front of him.

"Sorry, pet. 'm blunt when 'm drunk." She giggled a little and boldly drained the rest of her vodka-cranberry. They laughed, Spike toasting her with his own mix drink. "Ta to tha' luv."

Tara was hiccuping, and Spike was pretty sure she was the most adorable drunk he'd ever met. She treated every drink like it was a naughty prize she was hiding from her teachers. Spike couldn't remember when he'd been that...well, whatever Tara was at the moment; his words were kind of escaping him. He propped his head on his hand and gazed at his friend.

"What?" she asked, sipping her sugary cocktail.

"Nothin. 'S just...why're you with her?" Tara flushed and looked down, her demeanor closing down.

"We...I mean...I love her." Spike wasn't convinced. He'd seen people in love, been in love himself; this wasn't love.

"Love or loved, pet?" Tara blushed furiously, and Spike felt like an ass for making her feel bad. "Least you know where your date is, though. Mine left me out t'dry."

"Y-you had a date?" Tara asked in surprise. Spike caught his mistake and tried to backpedal.

"I mean, you know, not like, that, was just Will and he...we're...it's just a...bugger." His head hit the table with a dull thump. Tara's giggle floated to him, so at least he'd made her laugh. "Just pretend that I didn't speak."

"To waste the spoken word is the work of an unstructured mind." Spike bolted upright, just barely keeping the scowl off his face. The more he got to know Jasmine, the more she rubbed him the wrong way. Her eyes burned with something more than life, and she was fast entering cultish territory if he was reading her rhetoric correctly. But he liked Tara. She was an amazing human being with a huge heart and Jasmine treated her more like a minion than her girlfriend of many years. But Jasmine was a brilliant writer, no way around it.

"Fair enough," Spike agreed with false cheer.

"Thank you for the party, Mr. Giles. It was lovely. I enjoyed meeting so many people. It's good to know my Word is being read. But it's time for me to retire. Good night."

"Jasmine. Tara." The two women left, Tara shooting him one last friendly wave. The crowd had thinned considerably, and Spike was pretty sure he could see real light coming in from the front of the club. He was seriously considering taking the car and letting Will do...whatever when he heard a very familiar laugh.

Spike spun around in time to see his brother walk out of the back rooms with a woman hanging off his arm. They were laughing like old chums, their body language intimate and close. Anger flooded through Spike. Will had blown him off to talk with some gold digging wanna-be actress type. Spike chugged the rest of his drink and slammed it on the table. He was ready to get out of her. He stalked towards the pair, ignoring the pleased smile Will shot him.

"Spike, hey, I—" Spike grabbed Will and started hauling him towards the door. "Spike! What are you doing?" Will wrenched his arm away, pissed and embarrassed by his brother's actions, especially in front of Eve.

"I'm ready to go. I've been ready to go, but YOU were no where to be found. The. Whole. NIGHT." Will looked at his watch in surprise. He'd been talking to Eve for hours.

"Sorry, I lost track of time—"

"For seven hours?!" Will blushed but refused to be cowed by Spike.

"I'm sorry for forgetting, but Eve wasn't feeling well so we went outside. It wasn't intentional, you're drunk and we're not having this conversation now." Spike's gaze flicked to the woman in question. His eyes travelled the length of her body, blatantly assessing her and finding her wanting. When he got to her eyes, he scowled. She was assessing him as frankly as he had assessed her, and her eyes spoke volumes. They were cold and calculating, but as soon as Will glanced her way, they were warm and inviting. Spike snorted at how she was trying to play his brother, who wouldn't fall for such an absurd act.

"Fine, whatever, I'll have Howard pull the car around." He strode off, one ear attuned to the couple behind him. Luckily, Howard was an efficient man and had the car ready in five minutes. Spike had never been more grateful to see a sleek black limo to save his life. He climbed halfway in before he realized Will wasn't following him. He turned around questioningly, waiting not-so-patiently.

"Are you good to get home?" Will asked Eve with concern. Her eyes flicked deliberately to the steaming Spike.

"Yeah, I'll just grab a cab, it's fine."

"No, please, let us give you a ride home." Eve smiled and let her gaze slide to Spike again, who looked thunderous.

"I...that's really OK. I wouldn't want to put you...or your brother...through any inconvenience. I can get home, it's not a big deal—"

"Will!" Will turned and glared at Spike before turning back to Eve.

"It's late, you shouldn't be going home alone."

"But I can't—"

"What if I ride with you? To your place?"

"But Spi—"

"Spike can go on in the car, I have cash on me, it'll be fine. Yeah?" Eve smiled timorously at him.

"I'd...I'd like that. Thank you."

"No problem, pet. Give me a mo." Will jogged over to the limo, frowning at his obviously agitated brother. "Hey."

"Can we go?" Will sighed deeply; sometimes Spike could be a huge pain in the ass.

"Look, I'm going to ride with Eve to her place, just to make sure she's—"

"Oh LOVELY. Are you serious?" Will sighed; he could feel the fight brewing in his bones, and he really didn't want to ruin what had, to this point, been a pretty good evening.

"Look, she lives alone and I wouldn't feel right—"

"Whatever," Spike growled, throwing himself in the car. "I'll see you in the morning." He closed the door on Will's "I'm coming home!" and ordered Howard to get them the hell out of there.

Will watched the limo pull away with growing anger. Spike was being ridiculous and petty and childish and any other number of words and Will REALLY didn't feel like dealing with him tonight. He turned to find Eve waiting for him by a taxi looking unsure. He smiled soothingly and climbed in with her.

"Sorry about that, he can be...difficult when he's drunk." Eve grinned.

"Yeah, I get that. Two older brothers."

The rest of the ride was made in friendly silence, and when the cab pulled up to her apartment building, Eve invited Will up.

"Oh, I don't...um..."

"Oh! Oh no! I just thought, with the fight and the drunkenness...in my spare room! Not with, um..." She ducked her head and blushed. Will thought about it. If he went home in the morning, Spike would be sober and Will would be calmer.

"Yeah, that could work."

Spike went to bed pissed and woke up angry. Will hadn't come home. Will had gone off with that, that...trollop and apparently... Spike turned over and yelled into his pillow, letting all the frustration of last night leech out of him. Fine. Will would come home, they'd talk about it, and hopefully this Eve character would be over and done with.

But Will didn't come back.

Spike puttered around the house, made brunch, watched some TV, even read a manuscript. The sun started setting and Will was still out and about with...he couldn't even think the bint's name anymore. Had she really managed to snow his brother? The calm, centered one of them? Spike growled and slammed his dishes down a little more forcefully than he needed to.

Will didn't get in until pushing five o'clock, and Spike had worked himself into a right snit.

"Spike?" He kept his silence, wiping down the countertop, trying to control the irrational surge of anger he felt. "Spike, are you here?" He sighed and resigned himself to talking to Will when the cadence of a feminine voice floated to him and set his teeth on edge. He wouldn't.

Will and Eve were standing in the living room, smiling at each other like lovesick fools. Spike glared at the happy picture of gold diggery.

"Spike! There you are! I—" Spike pushed past Will and headed towards the bedroom. HIS bedroom, not...the other one. "Spike! Spike! What are you—" Will grabbed his brother and spun him around. "What's your problem?"

"My problem? My problem is you ditched me last night to hang with a gold digging bint and t'add insult to injury, she's IN MY LIVING ROOM." Spike stepped up to Will, his blue eyes blazing. "Get. Her. Out." Will snorted and folded his arms.

"You can stop being jealous, nothing happened, and even if it did we have an agreement—"

"I'm not jealous you wanker. I'm pissed that you DITCHED ME at the party last night! I'm pissed that you're apparently thinking with your cock when it comes to that twat trap, who's gonna fuck you stupid and leave with all yer money." Will growled and slammed Spike up against the wall.

"Don't talk about her like that." Spike shoved back, sending Will stumbling several steps away.

"Just callin' it like I see it," Spike said with an angry, antagonistic smirk. It was guaranteed to piss Will the fuck off, and it worked like a charm. "'snot my fault you're blinded by a little bit of T'n'A."

"I want you out of here, Spike," Will growled, sweeping his arms out in a grand gesture that encompassed their shared room, though they told everyone it was Will's. He saw the flash of hurt that passed through Spike's eyes, but it was soon replaced by intense anger.

"There is nothing you could say to me that would make me want to stay." Will glared at his brother and stepped forward to give Spike a piece of his mind, but Spike was ready for him. They wrestled with each other, each man trying to get the upper hand. Their anger didn't dissipate with the physical combat, it grew with every angry touch. Eventually, they wore themselves out, and Will pulled away panting heavily. Spike reached out to grab Will's hand, something in him crying out not to let Will leave this way, when he found himself on the ground, dazed and in pain. He opened tear-filled eyes, focusing blearily on the figure standing over him. He felt his heart break a little when Will shot him a disgusted look and stormed out of the room, slamming the door in his wake.

"Are you OK?" Eve shot a look at her silent companion. She'd snuck back and overheard the fight between the brothers, heard Will's ultimatum and the dull sound of fists on flesh. Inside, she was positively gleeful; the brother's closeness had been her biggest hurdle, one she seemed to have jumped without even trying. Will was already eating out of her hand, and halfway in her pocket already; she'd have to be stupid or an amateur to mess this up now, and she was neither.

"Fine." Will's hands tightened on the steering wheel, the whites of his knuckles showing.

"I...I'm sorry for causing you trouble," she said in a small voice, trying to sound and sincere as she could, drawing in on herself. A warm hand settled on her shoulder, rubbing soothing circles.

"It's not your fault, luv. We're...it's complicated." Eve shot him a watery smile. "How about some dinner?" Will offered with cheer he didn't feel. Luckily, Eve didn't seem inclined to call him on it, and that in-and-of itself proved to him that Spike was just acting out of jealousy.

Will returned to a silent, oppressive apartment. He and Eve had spent a lovely time together. They'd had lunch at Will's favorite Indian place before migrating to Santa Monica. They spent the day wandering around the Santa Monica pier, then walked down to the Venice Beach Pier a few miles away when they got bored. It was a lovely walk with the sun setting in the background, and when they were done they impulsively stopped in for a movie, the mindless comedy lifting Will's spirits somewhat. Will found Eve easy company, their conversation flowing effortlessly. He'd invited Eve to dinner and realized half way through that they were on a date. And he kind of liked it.

The somber mood in the apartment chased away his improved mood.

A quick survey of his room proved that Spike had done exactly what Will had asked; he'd moved out. To the other room a few paces away, but...it felt like farther. They'd been sharing a room since birth, and while they occasionally maintained separate spaces when one or the both of them had a 'special someone,' it never lasted long. Somewhere along the way they'd both come to believe that they'd eventually end up with someone who wanted both of them. Together.

Will sighed and sunk down on the bed. They'd had fights before. Bad fights. Fights where Spike disappeared for weeks at a time, but always came back so they could fight some more and then get over it. But this...this felt different. It felt...final. Irreparable. And for the first time, Will had no idea how to make this right. Spike's vicious attack of Eve was unfounded and harsh, but Will should have handled the situation better and he definitely shouldn't have hit Spike. But he knew his brother, and he knew himself; neither of them were going to step up and apologize. Not for a long time, and not without a clear indication of who was in the wrong.


Spike spent the next few months miserable. He lived in the same apartment as Will, worked in the same office, rode the same elevator and said maybe twenty words to each other in that whole time, mostly at corporate meetings where the rules were clear and there was no chance for things to disintegrate. Things had gotten so tense that even Anya had noticed, though not even she could break through the stoney wall of silence.

Spike split his time between his room, the office, and the bar a couple of streets away. He was seriously considering moving out because things were getting unbearable. Eve spent almost every night at their apartment, and he could hear her voice and Will's laughter through his closed door. It hurt every damn time.

They started out 'just friends.' Will had gone out of his way to drop that information into their non-existent conversations. Spike snorted every time, because Eve wasn't gunning for 'just friends.' She had her claws in Will and she was in it for the long haul. Spike tried to spend the least amount of time in her company, because when they were together the temperature of the air around them could give someone frost bite.

Eve continued to worm her way into Will's good graces. She brought him his favorite foods, cooked for him, debated the great works of literature. Spike couldn't figure out how Will missed the practiced air of her speeches, the lack of passion, the fact that she'd read some essay or book and was regurgitating the information without really feeling the artistry of the works. Will was blinded by something, and fuck if Spike could figure out what or why.

So they drifted apart, day by day, hour by hour, until Will was a ghost in their apartment and Spike hadn't seen the sunshine in months. This rift between them was killing him, and he had no idea how to fix it. A growing pessimistic part of him was positive there was no coming back from this place for them. What they'd had, what they'd been, was no more and would never be again.

Since they hadn't spoken more than twenty words to one another over the past month, Spike was understandably surprised when Will knocked on his door one night. Spike watched with inscrutable eyes as his brother hovered nervously on the threshold, shifting his weight from side to side. Spike's heart broke a little, because not too long ago Will would have never felt uncomfortable around him, when he'd have known his lover's secrets almost the moment they happened. Had ibeen/i his lover's secret keeper for longer than either of them could remember. This farce they'd been living, this distance...it was killing him, one day at a time. He realized he was tired of this bullshit, tired of the anger and the recrimination. He wanted to make things right, to get back what they'd lost. Spike took a deep breath when Will blurted out, "I'm getting married."

Spike felt like someone had sucker punched him in the gut, all the air whooshing out of his lungs. He felt...numb. He stared at his brother unflinchingly.

"I, ah, asked Eve. Last week." That hurt more than Spike wanted to admit. "And I'd...I thought you should hear it. From me. Before you heard it around the office." Will tried to open his mouth, to get the words out, to tell Spike how much this separation sucked, but they just wouldn't come out. He'd been holding them back so long he'd forgotten how to say them. There was a flurry of movement and Spike pushed past him, heading for the front door.

"Spike! Wait!" Will cringed as the front door slammed closed. That had gone as well as expected.

Spike started walking without any destination in mind because this was LA and when he'd walked himself out, he was pretty sure he could find a bar within two feet of where he stopped. He wanted forget the last five minutes of his life had ever happened, because he'd been so fucking naive to think his life couldn't get any more pathetic.

Where the hell did Will get off marrying that trollop?!

Spike walked for what felt like hours, hands shoved into his pocket, people giving him a wide berth as he stalked down the streets. He only stopped when the pain of what had to be the mother of all blisters demanded he stop walking. He found a bar and ordered himself a bottomless Jack Daniels on the rocks.

They kicked him out around half a bottle. Spike stumbled around a bit, his balance precarious. Despite his best efforts, Spike ended up tumbling ass-over-ankles, sprawled out on the sidewalk under a garish neon light. 'Tattoo' flashed brightly over his head.

The tattoo artist looked nothing like what he'd imagined. He was a she for starters, and her tattoos bore an unusual elegance. They ghosted along her skin, coming alive as her muscles moved and flexed as if each image was alive. Then again, he was pretty drunk, so it could all be in his head.

"What can I do for you handsome?" Spike leaned forward, beckoning her closer.

"I've had a bit of a heartbreak," he told her with the intense seriousness of the drunk. "And I'd like to commiserate it."

"You mean commemorate there, gorgeous?" Spike considered it and shrugged; he didn't really see the difference. "Now why would you want to go and do a thing like that? You'd be better off movin' on." She gave him an appreciative once over. Spike snorted and reached for a nonexistent drink. "What'd she do sugar?"

"'s gettin' married, right? T'this absolute fuck of a human bein'. Ponce."

"Aw, sugar, love's a bitch some time." Spike started laughing, drunken giggles that still conveyed the pain he was in.

"That's me. Love's bitch. Should get that tattooed on m'ass." The tattoo artist chuckled and stroked her hands through the shock of bleach-bottle hair. Poor boy was hurtin' bad. She grabbed a water from underneath the counter and handed it to him. He stared at the water for a moment before he shrugged and tilted his head back, chugging it in large gulps. Claire admired the arc of his long neck, the way his Adam's apple bobbed as he drank. He was a handsome lad, she couldn't imagine who gave all that up.

"Now sugar, let's hear the whole sordid tale." She set another bottle of water in front of the handsome stranger. "Tell me about the woman that broke your heart." He snorted.

"The bitch's name's Eve. Eve. Downfall of man, she is."

"Eve huh? Broke your heart, fed you the poisoned apple?" She grabbed her pen and started sketching.

"Nah. Feedin' Will the poison. I just got caught in the crossfire."

"So she's a he?" Spike giggled again.

"Schwat I thought 'bout you!" Claire smiled benevolently, shaking her head at the drunken man. His humor was short lived, and she winced at the curtain of pain in his eyes. "Yeah, Will. Love of m'fuckin' life and he's off marrying some piece of ass with nice tits and an eye fer his bank account. Gold digging whore." Claire chuckled and shook her head, her hands skating along the paper in front of her.

"See, Will 'n me...we go way way way far back..." Claire listened to the man spin his tale of woe, words of love and lust and intense hurt. His wore his lover's defection as clearly as any physical wound she'd ever seen. Her heart went out to the two of them. To have found such love and then just thrown it away... She popped open Spike's pants and eased them down around his hips; boy was well put together, had muscles his wry frame hid well. She picked out the perfect spot for her creation and shaved the fine hairs away.

The more she heard about this Will, the more her heart hurt for the broken man in her chair. His love was palpable, as much as his despair. She paused to switch needles, the red flowing from her thicker tool and staining the pale skin, a visual representation of the bleeding heart before her. This man, who hadn't even told her his name, spun the most delicate story of love and loss she'd heard in many a year of being a tattoo artist, and she'd heard quite a few. He wound down just as she put the final touches on her work of art, both a symbol of the present and her hope for the future.

A single red heart stood out vividly from the pale, fine skin, outlined in black with an angular 'W' racing thought the center, breaking the heart and holding the pieces together.

"All done, sugar," she said kindly, taping a bandage on. The bottle blond raised his head blinking owlishly at her.

"Wazzat?" She laughed and buttoned his pants.

"You're all tatted up. Need me to call someone for you?" Spike shook his head.

"Naaaaaah. How much?" He fumbled with his wallet, but Claire stopped him.

"Not interested in your money, sweets. Consider it a present. You sure I can't call you a cab or somethin'?" Spike smiled a little at her and pocketed his wallet. The water and the chair time had sobered him up a bit, and he wasn't quite ready for that.

"Ta, luv. Appreciate it." Claire sighed as the man slipped out of her studio, murmuring a prayer for his lost soul and broken heart.

"He was really upset," Will said for the umpteenth time. Eve suppressed the urge to sigh and roll her eyes. She was so tired of hearing about Spike. Will carried on about his mopey brother incessantly. Coupled with the way Spike was acting about the engagement and their relationship...well, if they hadn't been brothers, she'd have suspected something.

"He's so stubborn, what if he gets himself hurt? Spike can be really stupid when he drinks and—"

"Honey," Eve interrupted saccharine-sweet, "Spike's a big boy, I'm sure he can take care of himself. How about we go to bed, and if he's not back in the morning, we'll go look for him." Will smiled at her and drew her into his arms.

"What would I do without you?" Will breathed in her scent, letting it calm him, ignoring the little voice that accused him of driving Spike to this, of neglecting his brother and ignoring him. Eve rolled her eyes again, but played the part of the dutiful fiancée. She was counting down the days until they were married and she had everything she wanted.

She was half asleep when she heard the phone ring. Will stirred beneath her, but she soothed him back to sleep. Slipping out of the room, she picked up the phone in the kitchen.


"Hi, this is Cabo's Cantina. Dude's drunk, he gave us this number to call. You know a...James Giles?" Eve let a small, vicious grin settle on her face.

"He's my fiancee's brother. I'll be there in a few minutes."

"Hey. Buddy. Your ride's here." Spike grumbled and pulled his head up, forcing his eyes to focus. He gritted his teeth when Eve's scowling face came into view.

"Wassatere?" he slurred. Stupid bitch, what the hell was she doing here, interrupting his drunk. She should be holed up with Will having socially appropriate, disgustingly heterosexual sex.

Eve wrinkled her nose at the smell and sight of Spike. God, he was disgusting. She'd picked the right brother without a doubt. The bartender helped her get Spike into her car.

"You sure you're alright?" Eve sent the guy a flirty smile; he was kind of hot and had been VERY helpful.

"I think I've got this all sewn up," Eve said with a grin. The bartender nodded, looked her over one more time, and gave Spike a disgusted glance. Eve concurred completely. She climbed into the car and started heading back to Will's apartment. She pulled out her cell phone after making sure Spike was well and truly passed out.

"Hello vixen."

"Kyle, darling, I need your help."

"Anything. What kind of help do you need?"

"Can I get a witness?"

"Ah, would this be related to your current...conquest and his annoying twin?"

"You know me so well."

"I'll be there."

"I know."

Spike was still passed out when they pulled up to the apartment complex. Smirking, Eve thwaped Spike on the side of the head.

"Oi! Th' fuck..."

"Get up. We're home."

"Bitch," he growled under his breath, opening the door and stumbling out of the car. He wove unsteadily on his feet. He tried to walk forward and almost crashed into Eve. He shook his head and tried to get away from the brother-stealing whore, but they only ended up more tangled. Spike tried to clear his head and disentangle himself, but Eve was like a limpet and everything he did only made things worse.

"Geroff me you blimey bint!"

"Spike!" Eve yelled, struggling against him while pulling him closer. Spike frowned and started moving against her, his drunken clumsiness making it easy to keep him off balance. "Spike, get off me! Help! HELP!"

"What're you on about?" Spike growled. He tried to stand up, but Eve pulled him down on her. He fell forward with a grunt and a curse.

"Someone, please--"

Spike was roughly hauled up and off of Eve. A blinding pain radiated from Spike's jaw, and he stumbled back into the car so hard the alarm went off.

"You fuckin' pervert!" Spike's head snapped backwards as his assailant popped him in the nose. His head was still swimming with alcohol. Someone jacked him against the car door, bending Spike's arm so that it was pinned uncomfortably behind him. He turned his head and saw Eve crying in someone's arms. His last conscious memory was of the car door coming towards his face really really fast.

Spike came too with a violent headache. Even moving his eyes beneath his lids caused spikes of pain to course through him. Nausea roiled through him when he tensed his jaw, the extra spike of pain too much bear. God, he hurt. Everywhere. He tried to remember what had happened last night, but came up with flashes of some heavily tattooed woman and alcohol. Lots of alcohol. He groaned in pain and finally managed to open his eyes.

"Will?" Only it came out slurred and unintelligible, but it got his brother's attention. Will's eyes were red and troubled. He looked like he'd been crying, and there was stubble on his face; wow, whatever had happened must have been as bad as he felt.

"Will..." Spike trailed off into a moan, fighting the urge to vomit.

"Spike." The word hits Spike like a physical blow, cold and formal and dark. Even at their lowest low, Will's never said his name like that. Spike forces his head to the side so he can face his brother head-on, despite the way the world swam and went fuzzy. Will looked...wrecked. Spike tried to reach out to his brother, but his ribs protested and he didn't seem to be in control of his body. Regardless, Will pulled away, wrapping his arms tightly around his waist and watching Spike with fathomless blue eyes.

"Do you hate me that much?" Spike opened his mouth, but no words came out because he didn't understand. He loves Will; he's in love with Will. How can he want anything less than Will's complete and utter happiness?

"I...I...what?" Will dropped his head in his hands and laughed hysterically.

"You attacked Eve! You ATTACKED her, Spike! I mean...I know you don't like her, and I know you can be a complete twat when you're drunk but...I never would have thought you capable of..." Will shook his head and Spike felt himself die a little inside. Because Will actually thought...was actually accusing him of...

Spike felt nausea welling up in him, completely different from the pain-inspired queasiness. He closed his eyes and tried to let go, to forget the look in Will's eyes, to just forget.

"I can't be around you anymore," Will said, voice pitched low with contained anger. "You're...I don't know what's happened to you, Spike. Just...I'm moving in with Eve. She can't be alone right now, not after..." what you did. The silence stretched between them. "Get yourself help, Spike. Please."

Spike refused to open his eyes, refused to let the moisture gathered behind his eyelids escape.

"Come to bed, sweetie, brooding doesn't suit you." Will smiled wanly up at Eve, who looked so fragile wearing his overly large clothes. A dark bruise peeked out from under her collar and he looked away, pain welling up in him.

"I know. I just...I'll be in in a minute." Eve studied him for a moment before nodding and kissing him gently on the lips.

"Don't be too long."

Will admired her long, beautiful legs as she left the room. He sighed and downed his glass of whisky in one long gulp.

Before he knew it, he was staring at the remnants of the glass littering the floor, ice and whisky-water trailing down the wall.

FUCK. What had Spike been thinking? They'd been at odds for months now, but he hadn't honestly thought that Spike was in such bad shape to have...attacked Eve like he had. Like she said he had. Will shook off the cynical voice in the back of his mind. He liked Eve. He was happy with Eve. She talked about Chaucer and Vonnegut and intertextuality. She was (too) perfect.

And yeah, there was that part of him that longed for Spike, that felt listless and unfulfilled without his brother but... Will fisted his hands in his hair.

He should not be this wrapped up in his brother. They shouldn't even be...have ever been...

Jesus, was he fucking Eve, was he getting down on bended knee and proposing forever just because he had some latent issues about fucking his brother for the past decade plus? He winced, because Spike was the crude one. He was startled out of his moroseness by a knock on the door.

Will felt like he was 80 years-old as he made his way to the door. He was surprised to find his father on the other said.

"Da. What—"

Giles brushed past his son with nary a word. He glanced at the decimated tumbler and poured himself a double. Everyone always commented on how stubborn Spike was, how impossible it was to get him to waver from what he'd decided to do once he got it into his thick skull. Spike had nothing on Will.

"Da?" Giles slammed his glass down and turned towards his son, eyes hard. He was satisfied to see Will swallow and take a step back. At least the boy had some sense in his bleached head. He pulled a business card out of his breast pocket and laid it on the table.

"You—" Giles couldn't even get the words out he was so angry. "For the first time in my life, I'm ashamed of you." Will's jaw dropped and he reeled as if slapped. His father's voice was colder than he'd ever heard it. "I raised you boys. And I know I wasn't the best father all the time, but you both turned out well. I watched you two grow up, I watched you two grow into...the men you are today. Together. You love each other and you have a bond that I can't begin to fathom, so for you to...say such things about Spike, about your brother..." Giles shook his head and looked away, jaw clenched as he fought the anger down. He hadn't meant to attack Will, but he was just so ANGRY. He tapped the business card imperiously and, still not looking at Will, continued, "When you first started dating this Eve woman, I was pleased. When I saw your relationship with Spike start to deteriorate, I grew suspicious. I hired a private investigator to look in to Eve."

Will opened his mouth to protest, but Giles cut him off.

"I haven't read the report. I know nothing about the girl other than what you've told me and what I've observed. However, should you ever have suspicions about your wife-to-be"—Giles' piercing gaze told Will in no uncertain terms that Giles had plenty of his own suspicions—"call that number. He'll tell you everything you need to know."

Will was still staring at the scrap of paper long after Giles had left. It looked so innocuous sitting there, taunting him.

Will wiped his sweaty hands against his pants. He hated waiting. He glanced around the diner and shredded the paper napkin in his hands.

"Mr. Giles?" Will started and found himself looking up at bald black man with aviator sunglasses. He half rose out of his seat, trying to decide whether or not to shake the PI's hand. The man smiled easily and slid into the booth opposite. "Charles Gunn."

"William Giles." They shook hands and Will fidgeted in his seat. Gunn watched him with thinly veiled amusement and waved their waitress over.

"Can I have a Shirley Temple?" The waitress grinned at the tough-looking black man.

"A Shirley Temple?" Will asked incredulously. Gunn flashed him a smile.

"Puts people at ease. And they're great." Will let out a strangled chuckle, working his way through his second napkin.

"So, uh, my Dad hired you and...I think...I mean, I want..."

"Do you want to know?" Gunn asked seriously.

"What?" Gunn sighed and leaned forward.

"I'm a cop. I do this stuff to pad my paycheck, but it's not my career. So if you don't want to know—really want to know—what I've found out, I'm not going to tell you. You have to be sure that you want to know whatever I've found out...for good or for bad." Will stared at his hands, twisted around the ragged remains of his napkin. He sighed and put it carefully on the table top.

"My fiancée is accusing my brother of assault, battery, and attempted rape. He...I—" Will choked off, his eyes brimming. "He wouldn't." It was whispered, forced out. It was giving voice to something Will had been denying and repressing since this whole debacle started. "I need to know. I need...I love him and..." He glanced up and Gunn and saw understanding tempered by slight suspicion in the other man's eyes.

"Eve Lassiter was born Karen Adelle. She's been accumulating a nice nest egg from her various divorces over the past ten years..."

Spike stared morosely out the window of his hospital room, trying to keep his heart rate down. The nurses had already chided him four times about his blood pressure today.

That matched the four times the cops had been by, once to Mirandize him and take his statement—which mostly consisted of 'I didn't do it. I was drunk and don't remember anything but I didn't do it'—take his statement again, question him, and advise him that as soon as he was released, he was under arrest. Life was swell.

He heard a knock on his door and sighed.

"Nothing's changed, I'm not gonna run, can we do this later?"

"If you'd like." Spike started at the sound of his father's voice. He shifted over and met his father's eyes, gritting his teeth at the ridiculous tears that wanted to fall.

"Da." He was wrapped in his father's arms before he knew it, all his defenses shattered. He cried for the first time in years, tears of bitter frustration, heartache, betrayal and forgiveness. He let the build up of the past months leech into his father's shirt.

Giles held on to his son, his heart breaking all over again. Things were so broken in his family. His boys had been his one constant, the one thing in this world that had remained constant, even after his wife died. They were...special, his boys. He knew that. But to see them hurting so badly was killing him in side. All he could do was lay the groundwork for them to reconcile, but that would take time.

For now, he would take care of James.

Spike pulled away and looked at his father with wild eyes.

"Da. I didn't...I didn't do what she says I did, I was drunk but I couldn't, would never—"


"—do something like that. I hate the bloody bitch, there's something about her, but I would never, NEVER—"


"—do anything to hurt Will, or anyone he l-loves. It's—"

"SPIKE." The boy ground to a halt, looking at his father in overwhelmed shock. "I know." Spike's eyes watered all over again, and he let his father gather him up in a crushing, comforting hug.

Spike signed his release papers and shrugged into his jacket. Giles squeezed his shoulder reassuringly.

"It'll be fine, son. The lawyer will have you out before they're done processing you, I promise." Spike tried to smile at his father, but he couldn't muster up anything but resignation. Will hadn't returned to see him after their ill-fated conversation three days ago. His father and lawyer had been in and out discussing legal strategy, and Spike was done. He just wanted to go home and sleep and never wake up. But he had to go to jail first.

"Let's get this over with," he said solemnly.

"Spike, I want to make sure you understand—"

"I get it, Lindsey. No talking to them, no answering questions, no doing anything to make them mad." They marched up to the waiting detective, currently on his phone. Spike grew increasingly agitated the longer the detective stayed on his phone, making affirmative noises and generally ignoring them.

"Right, I understand. Thanks." The hulk of a man flipped his phone shut and turned to Spike. "Charges have been dropped. You're free to go." The detective walked away, leaving the three men gaping after him.

"I don't...understand," Spike managed. Lindsey and Giles held a silent conversation over Spike's head and Lindsey headed off to figure out what the hell was going on.

"Let's get you home, son."

Home. Spike snorted and looked around the musty apartment. It was obvious no one had been in it for quite some time. It felt empty and abandoned, and emphatically not like home.

He looked into his room. The guest room. The guest room that had become his room. It all felt so wrong. He needed to find another place to live, and place without all the memories.

The doorbell rang, and Spike seriously considered not answering it. When it rand again, he figured that if it was Da, he might start worrying and either wouldn't go away or would work himself into a tizzy and call the police. So Spike dragged himself to the door and was completely floored to see Will standing outside, nervously shifting from foot to foot.

"Hi." Spike stared at him mutely. "I, uh. Can I come in?" Spike stepped back on autopilot, closing the door and walking into the living room without actually remembering any of it. Will was hovering uncertainly around the entertainment station, looking everywhere but at Spike.

"I didn't—"

"I wanted—"

They looked at each other awkwardly, but Spike couldn't bear to keep his brother's gaze.

"Go ahead."

"No, please, I...you go." Spike shrugged and decided to hell with it, he might as well get this whole debacle over with.

"I'm sorry for whatever happened with Eve. I didn't do...anything, I swear, but..."

"I know," Will said softly. Spike's head snapped up, and Will winced as he got a good look at his brother's bruised and battered face. "I, Dad, she...fuck, Spike." All the fight seemed to drain out of Will. "I fucked up. So badly. She set you up. Eve, she was...only in it for the money. She saw you as a threat so she, uh, set out to eliminate you. As a threat."

Spike stared at Will for a moment before he very calmly stood up, picked up a picture frame, and threw it against the far wall.

Spike was shaking.

"Spike—" Spike cut him off with a violent slashing motion. When he turned back around, his blue eyes were stony.

"You chose her."

"I know."

"You chose her."


"You chose her."

"I made her drop the charges. Threatened to swear out a warrant for her arrest and sue her for fraud if she didn't. I took out a restraining order and contacted a few of Dad's friends so they could keep an eye on her." Will glanced up at his brother. "I wanted...I needed to make her gone. Because I love you." Spike snorted contemptuously and turned away. Will reached out towards his brother, who twisted Will's wrist in his hand.

They started tussling, Spike reacting out of blind fury and Will trying to wear Spike down so they could actually talk. It was a short rumble; Spike was far too worn down from the roller coaster of the past week to put up a good fight. He ended up pinned on his back, Will hovering over him. He closed his eyes, trying to beat back the world.

"Spike," Will whispered coaxingly. Spike's eyes remained firmly shut. "Spike." He shook his head a little. Will bent closer, his lips hovering a millimeter above Spike's. "Spike." It was a whispered benediction, a promise.

Spike whimpered and Will closed the gap between them, pressing against lips he knew so well. He flicked his tongue against the seam of Spike's lips, asking for entrance, asking for the chance to say 'I'm sorry' with a kiss. But Spike's mouth stayed closed and firm, and Will felt his world stutter to a halt. He broke the kiss and pressed his forehead against Spike's, breathing in the spicy scent of his oldest lover, the love of his life, one last time. Just as he moved to pull away, Spike whimpered again and jerked Will down into him. His mouth was hungry and desperate, and Will's heart ached that he'd put that there, he'd exposed Spike's weaknesses.

Spike tried to wrap himself around Will, to get as close and humanly possible through the layers of clothes between them. Because as much as they'd been though, as betrayed as he felt, he needed Will like nothing else in this world.

"I'm sorry," Will breathed between kisses. "I love you. Never...again." Spike pulled back at that, his hands framing Will's face, blue eyes piercing. "I mean it. I was...struggling with some things. But I've made my choice. I don't...I missed you. She couldn't...no one can ever compare to what you do to me, how you make me feel. I don't want anyone who doesn't want you too." It all came out in a huge, jumbled rush, Will trying to put everything into one space so Spike couldn't get away or cut him off. "You're the most import—mphf!"

Spike cut him of with a chaste kiss, just enough pressure to stop Will from talking.

"I—" his voice cracked. "I'm not ready to forgive you." Will tensed, and the misery-guilt crashed back over him. He tried to jerk away but Spike held on, held him close. "But I will be. In time. I just...need time."

"Anything you want," Will promised. They laid there on the hard floor, more content than they'd been in ages.

"Anything?" Spike finally asked, his voice resonating in his chest, the vibrations crawling over Will's skin and he shivered. How the hell had he ever given this up? Will stroked along Spike's chest.

"Anything at all."

"We're getting a new apartment."


"Seriously? You want the Sony?" Spike shot Will an annoyed glance that had Will immediately backpedaling. "Sure, if that's what you want, we can go with the Sony." Spike tamped down the flash of irritation at Will's meekness. They'd both been walking on eggshells around each other the past month, and it was starting to wear at Spike. Will never argued with him anymore, was rarely ever assertive; he seemed trapped in apology-mode, always pandering to what he thought Spike wanted to hear. It was almost as bad as when he'd been dating Eve.

Spike shook his head and turned on his heel, needing to get the hell out of the claustrophobic store.

"Spike—" Spike shook his brother's hand off his arm.

"Jus'...give me a mo, yeah?" Will slumped forward and sighed as he watched his brother leave. He was trying, but nothing ever seemed to work. Spike's temper was short and frayed, and Will was doing everything in his power not to make things worse. If he could fast forward time to the point where they were whole and complete again, life would be good.

"Sir?" the bored-looking salesperson called.

"Yeah, we'll get back to you on the television." Will wandered towards the front of the store in search for his brother.

They made the trip back to the new apartment in silence. A new home for new memories, or that had been the plan. So far, nothing much had changed. They still kept separate rooms, and the house felt as empty as when they'd first bought it. It was barren and impersonal; their knick knacks and pictures were still sitting in boxes, neither one of them motivated enough to fish them out and really decorate their apartment.

Spike made a bee-line for his room the moment they were in the door, the soft click of the door more damning than a slam.

Will grit his teeth in frustration. Any amount of emotion from Spike, even something as trivial as getting pissed enough to slam the fucking door, would've been preferable to the emotional limbo they'd been living in. Will picked up closest lamp and hurled it against the wall, suddenly irrationally angry. He was breathing hard, his chest heaving, and every fiber in his being wanted to cause massive, widespread destruction to everything in his path. It was a futile, impotent anger that was eating away at his soul.

Spike heard the muffled thump and crash outside and winced. This was all so fucked up. Things were supposed to be better. Will had apologized, Spike had sort of forgiven him. So why couldn't he move on? Why couldn't he just...get over it? He pulled his pillow over his face and screamed into it.

This was all so fucked up.

Giles watched his sons dance around their broken relationship and his heart broke. His boys were hurting, and there was nothing he could do. He let out a long suffering sigh as Spike walked away from Will, missing the longing look thrown after him.

"You raised them too British," a voice pipped up behind him. Giles turned and raised a questioning eyebrow at Anya.

"I assure you, while Will may have a scoche of British gentleman in his bones, Spike has not even a drop in him." Anya huffed and slapped two heavy tomes in his arms. She was amazingly disrespectful for a secretary.

"I am an administrative assistant. And they need to yell."


"At one another. Yell and scream and maybe flex their very impressive muscles and beat each other up. It's all very masculine and cathartic. A little hot. But it helps and is a good segue into reestablishing se—"

"AHEM Yes, Anya, I think I get the, uh, picture." Giles fought the urge to remove his glasses and clean them off. He glanced over to catch Anya's sharp, assessing look and wondered if he was being tested in some capacity. She seemed inordinately pleased with him at the moment. He turned his gaze back to Will, who was watching his brother disappear down the hall with an intense look of longing.

"Is there anything I can do to, ah, facilitate their reconciliation?" Anya frowned.

"With anyone else, I might be able to do something. But your twins are something else."

Spike growled and paced the length of his room. Another tense night spent in his tense apartment with Will mere feet away and...he growled and spun around, pacing to the other side. He couldn't take much more of this. Couldn't do this anymore.

Feeling wild and unpredictable, Spike threw his door open and strode out, intent and focused.

"Spike?" He spared a fleeting glance for Will but didn't answer. "What are you—"

"Out," Spike growled, wrenching open the door and disappearing into the night.

He walked to the closest bar, a small hole-in-the wall with dark corners and low lighting. They served strong drinks and you could find anything you wanted there, and right now Spike wanted to fuck.

He walked in like he owned the place, eyes darting around and surveying the scene. No one quite fit what he wanted, but the night was still young. Spike ordered a double shot and tossed it back, enjoying the vicious burn and how it settled in his stomach. The waitress brought him a double Jack without him even asking and he smirked at her in thanks. He wandered over to a side booth and settled in to wait. For what, he wasn't sure, but he'd know it when he saw it.

He'd been there for about an hour, nursing his second drink, when what he wanted walked in. The man was tall and dark, his black hair gelled up, his eyes hooded and intense. He was about as far away from Will as anyone could get. And Spike wanted him. The man surveyed the room, his dark eyes zeroing in on Spike in moments. Spike smirked at him and raised his glass in greeting. The other man let his eyes wander over Spike, undressing him one article of clothing at a time.

"Hello." Spike smirked up at his chosen target, nodding his head lazily.

"'allo." The man slid into the booth beside Spike, his thigh brushing against Spike's. Spike tilted his head back and drained his glass. Mr. Dark and Handsome smirked at him. "Wanna get out of here?" The man tilted his own glass back and drained the contents, turning a blinding smile on the smaller man.


Will heard the door open and scrambled out of bed. He and Spike needed to talk, needed to clear the air before this thing destroyed them both, ate away at what they had until there was nothing left to salvage. He stopped dead in his tracks when he saw Spike plastered against some hulking brute, devouring the taller man's mouth. He swallowed hard and backed down the hall when Spike's aroused moan reached his ears, bile rising in Will's mouth.

Spike reached for the man's belt, unbuckling it and pulling the worn leather out in one quick motion. The man chuckled against Spike's mouth, breath hot and unfamiliar. They stumbled down the hall, hands roving, shirts being pulled out, rucked up so their hands could feel taught skin. Spike kicked open his door and steered the nameless man into his room.

Before he quite knows how it happened, Spike is shirtless and sprawled on his bed, watching his random hookup strip out of his shirt.

"What's your name?" Tall dark and handsome dropped his shirt on the floor and teasingly popped open the top button of his jeans.

"What?" TD&H chuckled and crawled on the bed, straddling Spike's supine form. One big hand dipped into Spike's jeans, knuckles rubbing against his semi-hard cock.

"Your name, boy."

"S-Spike. God, it's Spike!" The dark laugh crept up Spike's spine, making him shiver in pleasure and guilt; this felt dirty and illicit in a way sex never had before.

"I'm Angel." Spike keened high in his throat as the man wrapped his hand around his cock. God, after so long it felt so good. Angel stripped his pants the rest of the way off, pressed wet kisses down the length of his conquest's chest. He paused over the boy's hip and traced the tattoo he found there. "What's this?"

"Naguhr?" Spike mumbled incoherently. He felt the brush of Angel's fingertips along his hipbone, the sensitive skin sending shivers of sensation along his flesh.

"This. Your tattoo." Angel pressed a kiss over it, biting into the delicate flesh, and Spike bucked him off. Angel scowled from his new position on the floor. "What the fuck?"

"Sorry, sorry, I..." Spike trailed off, his attention caught by his reflection. He hadn't really looked at it, the impulsive tattoo a sympathetic artist had given him for free. The think black outline, the dark red of the heart, the wide gash that lanced through its center. The gash that broke the heart in two, a stylized W that divided each side. He winced when Angel walked up behind him and pressed against his back, feeling dwarfed and smothered by his bulk so different...so different...

"It's alright. I like a little rough and tumble." Spike spun away from his wandering hand, casting around for something to cover himself.

"Yeah, about that, I don't think—" Angel growled darkly and stepped threateningly towards the blonde.

"You don't get to back out now, boy, get back over here and—" Angel never got to finish the sentence because the urge to enact mindless violence reared up and Spike decked Angel. While Angel was groaning on the floor, Spike pulled on his sweat pants and gathered up Angel's shirts. He threw them at the other man with a sneer.

"Think it's time you leave, ponce." He was spoiling for a fight, and something in Angel seemed to sense that.

"You fucking fag," the darker man growled. Spike rolled his eyes.

"Creative and effective, mate. You come up with that yourself?" Angel glared daggers at Spike, swearing vengeance on the other man. He turned and wrenched open the door, stalking out of the apartment, Spike hot on his heels to make sure Angel didn't get 'lost.' He barely noticed Will poke his head out at the commotion. At the door, Angel turned around and narrowed his eyes.

"You'll be sorry you did this," he growled angrily. Spike laughed in his face.

"Already am." He slammed the door closed and punched the wall in fury.

"Spike?" Will took a step back at the wildness in his brother's eyes.

"William." Will swallowed at the heat in his brother's eyes, the dangerous glint of them.

"Are you OK?" Spike started laughing, the sound harsh and bordering on hysterical.

"OK? Am I OK?! No. No, I'm not OK! I am so far from OK I can't see the shoreline!" Will hunched in on himself.

"I'm sorry—"

"STOP. Stop being fucking sorry. I don't want you to be sorry. I'm fucking tired of you being sorry all the goddamned time!"

"Well what do you want, Spike? Because we may be twins, but I can't actually read your mind!" Will yelled, his own feelings bubbling to the surface.

"This! I want you angry and pissed and real and not treating me like I'm made of glass! I want to get mad at you without you backing down, I want...fuck!" Spike turned around and sent his fist through the dry wall, reveling in the brilliant flash of pain that travelled up his arm. He was spun around, Will pushing him up against the wall, pinning him there with his hips and a thigh between Spike's legs. "Get off."

"No." Will pressed a firm kiss to Spike's lips. He pulled back and Spike opened his mouth. "Shut up." Will growled at Spike's mutinous expression and shook his brother, slamming him back against the wall.

"Seriously, shut up. I'm sorry." He moved his thigh up when Spike's expression hardened and turned mulish. "I'm sorry I caused you so much pain. I'm sorry you were so hurt, and I'm sorry I couldn't find the words to make this better. But Eve showed me somethin' important, somethin' I needed to know." Spike rolled his eyes, but Will ignored it. This was too important. He ducked down, forcing Spike to look him in the eye.

"You're it." Spike's breath caught in his throat as Will laid his soul bare. "I don't want to live my life without you in it, by my side, in our bed. I had, ah, some lingering issues involving our...particular situation...that I let influence that whole situation. I never loved her. I never came close. I missed you every moment of every day, and every time you pulled away, I..." Will choked off and laid his forehead against Spike's.

"You have to talk to me," Spike murmured, his hands flexing on Will's hips. "You can't, you can't keep that stuff bottled up. You have to tell me—"

"I know. I know, luv. And I'm so—" Spike stopped the apology with a gentle finger to Will's lips, the tension finally bleeding out of him. For the first time in too long, Spike felt some semblance of peace.

"I think I get it. Finally." And Spike smiled, really smiled, for the first time in a year and four months. He pressed a kiss to Will's lips, a vow and forgiveness wrapped in one sacred act. "I accept."

A/N: Thanks to Jenn and Gemmi999 for the beta. That third section is all Gemmi's fault. If you want to request a Twinlets story, please feel free. :) I'm working on their wedding/first kid right now. Thanks for reading!