Fred was gone, and Angel was…tired.

Exhausted, really, would have been a better word. Another choice that needed to be made, and another friend lost. Cordelia's vision dancing in his skull. His head felt too full and crowded, and he was only grateful that the old voices had not started up their screaming again. The ghosts of this life were more than enough for now.

He was not going to sleep now, he knew. Angel was too tired for it. So with a sigh of resignation, he took the elevator down to the office and resigned himself to working until the others were awake. It was funny, he mused, how nearly his schedule now fit with a normal human's, despite the fact that he had never felt further from exactly that.

The elevator doors opened and Angel found Spike sitting in his desk chair, boots up on the desk itself. Angel stopped. He didn't think he could put up with Spike. Not tonight.

"Don't look so worried," Spike said. There was something dull in his voice. "Not here to bother you. Least not right now. Figured you'd be down in a bit."

"I'm surprised you're still here," Angel said. If he had a bit more energy, felt less – beaten down – he would have gone out to kill something by now. He was still considering it.

Spike shrugged, and looked at the necro-tempered windows. "Funny," he said. "Just – what, little over a day ago? We were arguing about cavemen and astronauts…"

Things go bad so fast, Angel thought, but didn't say. He just looked at Spike, waiting, and eventually the younger vampire looked back at him, an expression on his face Angel didn't think he'd ever seen before. Not a smirk, not anger, but sorrow plain and simple, even with the corner of his mouth turned up. "Want to go kill something?" Spike said, and Angel thought of the alternative, the piles of papers and folders and corruption on his desk.

Thought of Fred, slight and slender and fearless.

"Yes," he said, "Please."

~.~

It was a little like old times. Times when Darla and Drusilla had been off being women and it was just him and Spike, stalking the streets. Different prey, now, though. And something different between them as well, more complicated. Not hate; part of Angel wondered if it ever had been.

They moved in perfect, silent, synchronicity, united by anger and frustration and grief. They hunted, they found, they killed, they moved on. It never lasted long enough. There was never enough blood.

After one particularly messy kill, slime and guts strewn across the alley from the demon they'd literally had to hack to bits, Spike turned and flashed a grin at him that was familiar in its unfamiliarity. "This helping?" he asked.

"Is it helping you?" Angel responded. Spike cracked his neck and looked at the bits of demon, ran a hand through his hair leaving slime amid the bleached strands.

"Maybe a little," he said, and then paused. "Not really, no."

Angel just nodded. He took a deep breath and regretted it. Whatever the species, guts stank. "We still didn't save her," he said. Spike looked at him for a long moment, mouth twitching at the corners.

"We," he said, in a strange sort of voice. Then he said, "Want to come back to my apartment?"

Angel blinked, surprised. Out of everything he'd expected, that hadn't been it. He'd half expected Spike to ask for a good brawl. He probably even would have obliged. The articulate answer that emerged was, "What?"

"My apartment," Spike repeated, slowly, as though Angel were a dullard. "Just thinking. Wolfram & bloody Hart will live without you for a day, won't it?"

Angel thought about it. Gunn was recovering. Wesley was falling apart. In all likelihood, Wolfram and bloody Hart could not live without him for a day. But he wasn't sure he could live with it for much longer either. And there was so much he still had to do. He needed…something. Truth be told, he never wanted to go back. He wanted to go back to the Hyperion, solve cases one at a time. "Probably not," Angel said, finally. "But fuck them."

They left the alley and walked shoulder to shoulder. It was early yet, but the city was starting to wake up. Far away, Angel could hear a siren. He reached over on an impulse and wiped some slime from Spike's face. When Spike glanced at him, seeming surprised, Angel showed him the green smear on his fingers.

"You're a mess," he said. Spike made a harsh sound like a bark that Angel supposed was probably a laugh.

"Not much better, are you?" Spike said, and Angel had a strange feeling that his childe was talking about something other than demon residue. "I'll let you have first shower, Peaches. Since you're the guest and all."

~.~

The clothes, Angel realized after he got out of the shower, were hopeless. He stared at them, feeling slightly forlorn, and finally surrendered and put them back on with a sigh. He emerged from the bathroom to find Spike had changed and was nursing a beer in his kitchen. His hair still had traces of demon gunk in it, but he seemed to be ignoring it.

Spike held up the beer. "Want one?"

Angel rolled his shoulders back. "Anything stronger?" He heard himself say, before he could think better of it. Spike smirked, though his eyes retained that curious expression that in anyone else Angel would have termed compassion.

"Sure I do. I'm just saving it."

"Are you going to shower?" Angel asked, pointedly. "You smell."

"S'not me, it's the demon," Spike said. Angel glowered at him, and Spike grinned, though the expression was thin and slightly manic. "Used to be you didn't mind the smell of me."

"Used to be a lot of things," Angel said, neutrally. He had a sense he was being baited, but wasn't sure what towards. "But I don't think I ever enjoyed the smell of Grkarrl innards."

"Oh, all right then," Spike said. "If you insist. Sire." Again, that flicker of a smirk touched with something else, and Spike detached himself from the table and headed for the shower, shedding his shirt along the way. Angel watched his back, the play of the muscles under pale skin, and tensed.

He searched through Spike's kitchen until he found the liquor stash, and poured himself a liberal splash of whiskey. Angel drank the whole thing fast and let it tingle down his throat, reflecting that the burn felt almost, a little, like rich and warm blood fresh from the vein.

He nearly winced at the guilty thought, and pressed it down into oblivion, where it belonged. The aftertaste of it lingered, though, much like the whiskey.

Angel listened to the shower running and thought about Fred, some, and about Cordelia a little more, and about what he had to do with the time that was left. His thoughts wandered, though, and he was thinking about Spike, naked under the flow of hot water, skin warmed like living flesh as the streams coursed over his lean chest and the angular line of his hipbones, about the way his slender fingers might…

Angel jerked his thoughts away and found his hand white knuckled around the bottle. It was just…grief. Grief, and whatever had been changing between himself and his erstwhile wayward childe, and that was all. This room was saturated with the scent of him, familiar but somehow altered, still spiced with cigarette smoke but touched with something other as well.

He heard the bathroom door open and turned his head with a guilty jerk, only to find Spike leaning against the wall with a towel loosely around his hips and absolutely nothing else.

One incongruously dark eyebrow quirked up, probably at his expression. "Something wrong?"

Angel thought he was going to choke on his own tongue. On the other hand, other parts of his body had leaped abruptly to attention. "Spike," he started to say.

"Here's the thing," the younger vampire interrupted him. "Whatever you're going to say, Peaches, I'm going to know it's a lie. I can smell it." He tapped his nose, and the towel slipped downward slightly, revealing one pale hipbone, exactly as Angel had imagined it. "Along with everything else."

Angel found himself eying that hipbone hungrily. Imagining licking a line downwards and inwards. Drawing a couple drops of blood and sucking them away-

If his cock had been attentive before, it was now nearly uncomfortable.

"So I figure," Spike was saying, "we can go back and forth, same song and dance, bicker over old memories. And maybe you can sit there and brood and twist yourself up into knots and think about how much you'd like to fuck me – or be fucked, dunno how your tastes run these days – and maybe I can go put some clothes on and go have a smoke and think about what a nice girl Fred was and how I might've done better since she tried for me, and about how I'm curious if you're as good as the girls always made you sound. But I'm more one for personal experience, you know?"

Angel stared. Swallowed.

"Honestly," Spike said, a moment later, derisively, "What did you think when I asked you back to my buggering apartment, you git?"

He dropped the towel, and moved.

~.~

Spike was really, Angel reflected, quite the effective kisser. Oh, true, he was all teeth and tongue, but Angel found that he really did not mind at all. Not even when Spike bit through his lip and sucked out a few mostly forbidden drops of blood.

That might have been because the younger vampire was naked, straddling his legs, and was rubbing his palm persistently against his erection until Angel felt more like warm putty than a person, the noise in his throat caught somewhere between a purr and a moan. Spike moved against him and Angel could feel Spike's own turgid cock pressing against his thighs through the silk of his pants.

"What's it going to be," Spike was murmuring in his ear, his voice so husky it couldn't be anything but filthy. "What do you want, Angel, what do you want-"

Spike squeezed and Angel's brain went out the window, or into the sewers, or somewhere that was not inside his skull. The sound that squeezed out between his teeth could only be described as a whine. "Anything, I don't care, anything," he gasped, and it had been so long, god, so long-

And Spike's fingers were just as deft as he had imagined. For a moment, he almost envied Drusilla, having this for all those years. This was better, though. By far.

Spike's mouth settled on his collarbone and suckled. Angel grabbed his hair and dragged his mouth up to crash their lips together, getting enough brain working to snake his hand down and wrap it around the base of Spike's cock, stroke up and down once, rough.

He was slightly edified by the half gasp, half choke sound that the other vampire made. "Wearing a lot of clothes," Spike said, when Angel let him up for a moment. "Get them off."

Angel's instincts prickled and he growled. "Don't order," he started to say, and with a movement too quick and skillful to follow, Spike popped open the buttons and undid the zipper on Angel's pants and slipped his hand inside.

Angel grabbed his wrist with the hand that wasn't playing with Spike. "Bastard," he snarled. Or purred. He wasn't sure which. "Get off. Just a minute."

Spike withdrew and stepped back, leaning against the refrigerator. He stood tall, naked and shameless as Adam might have been in the days before sin. His smile, however, was a good deal less innocent.

Angel stripped hurriedly. His groin felt tight and if he'd had a heartbeat Angel was sure he would have felt it thudding down in his cock. "Couch?" Spike suggested, and Angel just nodded, and then moved to press Spike against the door of the fridge and thrust his tongue down his throat. Spike rocked his hips deliberately forward, rubbing them together in delicious friction. Spike's hands trailed down his spine and between the crack of his buttocks, and before Angel could say a word one long finger had been thrust decisively into his arsehole.

"Fuck-" Angel's entire body went rigid. His cock jerked, pre-cum leaking from the slit. He bit down, deliberately, on Spike's tongue, but he could feel the other vampire grinning. The digit inside his body wiggled, and as the initial pain passed (and the combined pleasure, Angel couldn't deny that) the stretch-burn was…

"You said anything," Spike said, when Angel drew back, panting needlessly. The finger moved, thrusting in and then out. On the out-stroke, Angel felt Spike press back and the shock-jerk of pleasure took him by surprise. For a moment, his knees felt weak. "Regretting that?"

Anything, part of Angel thought, why did I say that? While the rest of him was gibbering more, please, do it again, more of that, just that.

He settled for silence, which only resulted in the addition of a second finger. That had him quivering all over again, head tossing back while Spike scraped blunt teeth across his throat in a gesture that made Angel shiver. "Couch," he managed to say. Spike chuckled, and Angel resented the fact that he could sound so amused when he could very well feel the other vampire's manhood bobbing and jerking against his thigh.

Spike, he told himself, had not been celibate for three years.

~.~

They made it to the couch eventually. Angel wasn't entirely sure how. At that point, he was busy leaving bruise-marks down Spike's throat, and Spike was busy ramming three fingers into his ass and spreading them slowly until Angel was ready to scream with pain/pleasure/desire.

His cock was nearly purple when he finally gave in and snarled, "Come on, just do it already, I don't need," and that was all he got out before Spike, who had just been waiting for that, the bastard, slammed into him hard enough to make Angel have to bite back a howl.

Twisted together, they were both moving at once, bodies crashing and writhing and Angel felt his body tear and didn't care, didn't care about the smell of blood that brought both their demonic faces to the fore and had them nuzzling at each others' throats, barely holding back. Spike's body was hard and lean against his own, and it wasn't synchronicity but it was something better.

Angel knew when Spike came because he lost the fight and fangs sank through flesh like butter, the other vampire taking long pulls of blood and it pushed Angel over the edge as well.

They came down slowly and didn't move at all, at least not right away. Spike's tongue laved the wound he'd left a couple times and then he just slumped limply, the two of them wedged onto a couch that was really too small.

"Unf," Angel said eventually.

"Mmmhm," Spike responded. He sounded sated. Understandable, Angel thought with only the vaguest of irritations. He'd just had as good as a solid meal. They lay in silence for a couple more minutes.

"I forgot about the curse," Angel said, feeling a momentary concern.

"Don't worry," Spike said lazily. "If you look like losing your soul, I promise I'll kill you right quick."

"Fucker," Angel accused, but without rancor. Spike smirked.

"You'd know, wouldn't you?" He paused. "Go on then, say it. I had a good idea."

"You had a good idea," Angel said. Spike looked triumphant. Angel narrowed his eyes and flipped them over, putting Spike on his back. His eyes found the hipbone he'd been watching earlier. "Don't look so proud of yourself," he warned. "I'm not done yet."

He had an idea to explore.

~.~

The phone rang at one point. Neither of them answered it. After nightfall, they gathered clothes and got dressed, both of them somewhat gingerly. Spike offered Angel some blood, which he accepted. "What happens now?" he asked, finally, before they headed for the door. Spike looked at him, and shrugged.

"Does it matter?"

A century of history between them, Angel thought, and this was what it came to.

There were still terrible things coming. Still trials, and probably nothing good at the end of them. But at least, Angel mused, there was this. Whatever it was.

That was all right.