He'd planned to argue, to start on the offensive and find out what evil schemes Spike was trying to pull off right under Buffy's nose. After all, there was no way in hell that he was going to leave her now, not after everything they'd shared, not after the perfection he'd experienced with her and the future that seemed to brighten with her promises to him. But then he'd caught sight of Spike's crew, and the first words blurted out of his mouth when Spike entered were something else entirely. "Bugs? I would laugh, but the idea of you as a bug lord is surprisingly fitting." Angel circled the captain's seat to stand before him, wincing at how utterly unthreatened the other vampire looked.

Spike rolled his eyes. "I wouldn't talk if I were you. A cape? LA really sent you off the deep end, didn't it? And aren't you supposed to be out there atoning or summat?"

"Like I'd leave her with you," Angel scoffed. Spike took a seat on the arm of the chair, and Angel in turn chose to remain standing, looming over his nemesis threateningly. "You're going to tell me what you're up to, and then I'm going to-"

"What? Save the day?" Spike laughed mockingly and Angel gritted his teeth. God, how he hated him. "In case you haven't noticed, while you and Buffy were having your fun in the sun, you also made a good case for destroying life as we know it. And I happen to be humanity's last hope."

"You're so full of it." Angel lunged forward, faster than light, and crushed the other man against the wall. Superhero speed had its perks, and one of them was watching Spike's eyes widen with the faintest trace of surprise at his new position. Hah. Every now and then, he could still startle Spike, and that in itself was good enough news to cheer him up. "What are you planning?"

Spike held up a hand, shoving against Angel's chest experimentally. Angel didn't budge. "I've been a white hat for years, something that you seem to have given up of late, so you're really not one to talk, are you, Superman?"

"You were never a white hat," Angel spat out.

A flicker of hurt passed through Spike's expression before he settled back to his usual smirk. "Sure I was. Even banged Buffy, as per the official white hat handbook rules."

He couldn't have stopped the superpowered punch to Spike's gut if he'd wanted to, and watched with satisfaction as the vampire let out a muffled growl of pain through gritted teeth and slumped forward against his chest. "You don't talk about her. You don't talk to her. You don't-"

"You don't own her!" Spike snapped, pulling himself up and stumbling back over to his chair. "And that little girl out there isn't the Buffy I knew, because last I checked, she'd rather stick a sword through your chest than accept the end of the world!"

"She didn't," Angel murmured, the sting of losing heaven hitting him again. Oh, he'd never really expected her to take it, had never known Buffy to give up on the world before, but there had been a part of him that had still hoped desperately for the peace that had been at his fingertips, the peace he was beginning to suspect that she'd never actually wanted. "She rejected it outright."

"And yet, she's still insisting that you're the good guy instead of the Big Bad," Spike spat out irately. "She's not herself. And the only chance of getting back the slayer is by splitting you lovebirds up, and I'll be damned if you screw that up. So get the bloody hell off of my ship!"

Angel heaved a frustrated sigh. "Spike. This isn't the time for jealousy. Buffy chose me, and no, that doesn't mean that she's suddenly been possessed or brainwashed. It's time for you accept it."

"I know." Spike shook his head, his face dark and grim. "You'll always come first, be her only…you think I don't know that I was just a diversion?" He shrugged away his sudden melancholy, rising again. "But that's not even the Buffy who chose you, not anymore. Something's changed.She's changed. And we need the old Buffy back."

Angel nodded, mollified. Because he wasn't blind, either. His seduction had gone well, overwhelmingly so, and Angel was nothing if not pessimistic, aware that everything had been going a little too well with Buffy. Whatever the Powers had done to soften her up, he didn't like it, didn't like the violation that it implied. "I can live with that."

"Good." And then there was a smug smirk playing at the edges of Spike's mouth. "Because the real slayer isn't going to forgive and forget the hundreds of her girls you had murdered, and you're not going to be able to win her absolution with futile attempts to fight on her side. And when that happens…" He cocked his head, regarding Angel thoughtfully. "I'll be waiting."

Angel snarled, hurling himself at Spike furiously until he had the other vampire bent against the closest control panel, his fangs in his face and his hands wrapped around his neck, squeezing with enough power to sever his head from his body. "Fuck you!"

"That was the idea," Spike managed, and sly, learned fingers probed their way down Angel's body as he spoke. "I didn't say I'd be waiting for her."

Angel paused, rage in his eyes fading to reveal his human face again, wary and suspicious. "What are you playing at, Spike?"

The other vampire's eyes glittered with unfettered lust, borne of desperation that came of being at death's door. He was panting hard, even after Angel released his throat, and it irritated him more than usual, seeing Spike's humanity emerging yet again, long after he'd expended so much effort in quashing it completely. It made him want to-

Damn him. Damn him to hell! –to smash his lips against the other man's and violently attack him, driving him to the ground until he was burrowed within him, forcing out all his frustrations on him for several long, minutes, finishing with a howl that he barely managed to stifle by sinking his teeth into the back of Spike's neck.

When it was over, he slumped against the wall, limp, empty, and, for the first time in a long time, clear-minded. "Ohh…"

Spike rubbed his rump, wincing, and twisted to sit beside him. "Don't tell me that was your first happy of the day," he mumbled, lighting a smoke and peering at his face dubiously. "Angel?"

He stared at the opposite wall blankly. "I really fucked up, didn't I."

"Yep," Spike said agreeably.

"I didn't think I did. Not until now. But Buffy fought it, and I couldn't just leave her…" He fell into silence for a pensive moment. "The Powers sent me to do this. They told me that it was right."

Spike shrugged. "Yeah? Powers are selfish, want what's best for themselves. For their world. They don't care about the current residents. We're expendable, haven't you noticed?" He blew out a cloud of smoke. "And since when do you buy that bollocks, anyway? Thought you were better than that destiny gig nowadays."

"I don't know anymore. I didn't know anything after LA." Loss. Angel had never really known that kind of loss, not until he'd seen the city he'd protected and taken responsibility for, the city where his friends had fallen and his son lay somewhere beneath the rubble.

"Yeah." They were both quiet, remembering all that had been taken from them that night. "'Sno excuse, though," Spike said seriously, turning to face him. "You could've gone off with the bugs, too."

Angel let out a hoarse laugh. "Not in a million years."

"Oi! At least I'm the one in charge here!" Spike said indignantly, but his voice held no real anger, and his expression was one of quiet pity.

Angel reached over to him, to rub a gentle finger against the bite he'd left in the back of Spike's neck. "You going to take care of h- them?"

"The bugs?" Spike snarked. "Because I seem to remember someone insisting to Buffy that I couldn't be trusted."

"Mm. Buffy trusts you." He scowled. "I hate that."

Spike patted his arm indulgently. "Yeah, you do."

"And I do trust you," Angel admitted grudgingly. "Which is probably idiocy on my part. What am I thinking?"

Spike smiled, a real, natural one that made him look just a tiny bit beautiful. "Good to know." His eyes gentled. "You're going to have to stay here. You won't do anything with us but piss people off, and-"

"-And you've already filled that slot. I got it." Angel stood, pulling Spike up with him and planting a soft kiss on his lips. "Be careful." He moved to leave, pausing at the door. "And Spike? Keep your mitts off my girl."

There was a very loud, snide snort from behind him, and Angel grinned to himself and moved on.

He had work to do.