Final Score

Author: Jane Davitt

Spoilers: slight spoilers for Ats season 5

Rating: R

Pairing: Spike/Angelus, Spike/Angel

Disclaimer: All belongs to Joss.

Author's notes: Heartfelt thanks to my three beta readers, Appomattoxo, Carolyn Claire and Romanyg, who helped so much when I really needed it.

Summary: A conversation in a pub has Spike's thoughts going back to his first year as a vampire - and that has him knocking on Angel's door.


Spike glanced around the Cat and Fiddle, still decked out in dusty tinsel midway through January, trying to imagine that he was in an English pub, as the owners obviously wanted him to do. He started to count up what they'd got wrong, starting with waitresses bringing drinks, and lost interest when he spotted a dart board and had to cross one off his list.

Ready to scream from boredom and unaccustomed loneliness, and keenly aware that he had no money for another drink, he felt nothing but pleasure when Wesley and Gunn walked in, looking tired and in dire need of something to lift their spirits. "Hey! Over here!" Spike stopped himself from whistling and settled for an imperious wave of his hand. They hesitated and then changed direction and joined him.

"I'm sorry," Spike said coldly, their reluctance not lost on him. "Did I interfere with your plans to ignore me? Going to get in trouble with the big boss if you're caught fraternising or something?"

"I think you over-estimate your significance," Wesley said mildly. "Or Angel's animosity."

"Besides," Gunn said, "for some reason, this is the only table with empty seats."

Spike pushed aside the sad fact that no one had even tried to join him, and smiled. "Like my space. Didn't need to show my fangs to get it either. Still; could do with some company. Cheer me up after all I've been through and this bloody rain, rain, rain's getting me down. Might as well be back in England."

"It's winter," Gunn said with a shrug. "Not like you'd be out sunbathing anyway."

"Doesn't mean I want a gallon of water tipped over me every time I step outside."

"You could use an umbrella," Wesley said, trying - and failing - to keep his face straight at the image of Spike with a brolly.

Gunn burst out laughing and Spike huffed indignantly. "If you're quite done taking the piss, Wesley, mine's a beer. Or you could just stick the empty glass out of the window for a minute; doubt I'd notice the difference."

"You can't resist, can you?" Gunn said. "Always with the digs at American beer." He shook his head sadly. "If you didn't drink so much of it, you might sound more convincing."

The waitress arrived and saved Spike from coming up with a convincing rebuttal. A slightly sticky silence fell over the group and Spike rolled his eyes impatiently and began to watch the television over the bar. Just having someone sitting with him had lifted his spirits a little; the pub was filled with couples and groups of friends and he'd been feeling an unaccustomed loneliness. Gunn and Wes weren't exactly close, but they were better than nothing.

"Look at that," he said a moment later. "Election's months off and all your bloody telly shows is a bunch of politicians every time I look at it. By voting night, I'm surprised anyone cares enough to toddle off and put their crosses in the boxes."

"They don't do it like that here," Wesley said hastily, seeing Gunn suck in a breath and prepare to begin a stultifyingly dull lecture on the American political process.

"Don't know, don't care," Spike said. He gave Howard Dean's speech three seconds of his undivided attention and then yawned. "Suppose you lot have all the big names signed up with you? Ideal clients, right?"

"At the branch offices, probably, but here in L.A, no," Gunn replied. "Angel hadn't been in charge a month when he told us to get rid of every politician on our books. Said he'd done a lot in his time, but helping them get elected wasn't going to be on his conscience."

Spike took a long drink and studied the screen again. "He's getting soft in his old age. Won't make a blind bit of difference. All a bunch of wankers, in it for themselves." The television switched to a football game and Spike turned back to the table. "Not that it's anything new. Wasn't any different way back when." He pursed his lips, remembering. "Year I was turned was an election year, come to think of it. Not that I bothered to vote, being dead and all."

Wesley's brow creased in thought. "1880 wasn't it? Gladstone beat Disraeli?" he hazarded.

Spike gave him an approving nod and a speculative glance, wondering if Wesley would carry on buying him drinks in return for a few tales of Angel in his glory days. "Glad you know your history. Yeah; he got in and it cost me. Tell you about it, if you like. Might explain why Angel's got a down on the politicians too; we had this wager, you see."

"I thought you said you weren't interested in politics," Gunn objected. "But go ahead. Got nothing better to do than listen to you, and believe me, that's worrying. What bet?"

Spike shook his head. "I wasn't interested; bored me stiff. Angelus was like me; didn't give a toss beyond the next throat to rip out, the next..." Spike's voice trailed off. "God, we were a nasty pair. So when he started ranting one day about how Gladstone was the man, I thought he was winding me up."

Wesley looked up. "He approved of Gladstone's plans for Ireland, I take it. Home Rule, the Irish Land Act with the guarantee of -"

"Wesley, put a sock in it before Gunn falls asleep over his empty glass."

"I can take a hint," Wesley said, gesturing to the waitress for more drinks, before adding defensively, "not that your story's any more enthralling. I suppose you'll get to the point eventually? Or are you trying to keep us from noticing that you're drinking a lot and we're going to end up paying for it?"

That stung. Spike wasn't denying it was true, but it still stung that Wes could spot that motive and not the fact that he also wanted to keep them with him for the company. "Just getting to the good bits," he said. "So there we were; him on one side, me on the other. Wasn't the first time, even that early on, and it sure as hell wasn't the last."

"I'm having real trouble picturing you and Angelus chatting away about politics," Gunn said, laughing.

"Not surprised. Never happened. He came in bawling away about it being a disgrace, so it was to be sure, or something similar, with his brogue as thick as his head, and I made a comment about how he sounded with his Irish up and--"

"And what?" Wesley said, as Spike's eyes went distant and a smile began to curve his lips.

"We fought," Spike said simply, taking his glass from the waitress and giving her a charming smile.

"Go on then," Gunn prompted. "I've seen him and I'm guessing you're not bad yourself. What happened?"

Spike's eyes shifted. "Hundred and twenty odd years and you expect me to remember a punch up? We fought, he hammered me into the ground, the way he always bloody did and it ended up the way all our fights did."

"How?" Wesley asked, giving Spike a curious look.

Spike pursed his lips, studied Wesley's face and then shrugged, seeing a chance to get a small revenge for being accused of mooching drinks. Wesley probably knew a lot about Angelus in theory but he was willing to bet the Council didn't write everything down in those books of theirs. "Kissed and made up, didn't we?" he said blandly.

"We're talking figure of speech here, right?" Gunn said. Wesley was silent, staring down at the table.

"We're not, but moving on..."

"Yes, do move on, Spike," Wesley said, his voice tight. "Either finish this bloody story or leave us in peace."

"I was here first," Spike reminded him, letting his eyes linger on the faint flush on Wesley's face. Shocked? Or jealous? Hard to say. Having gained the small victory, he didn't comment on it. "When the dust settled, we made a bet on the election result. Couldn't kill each other over it; Dru and Darla were having fits over us fighting all the time, so we did the gentlemanly thing and wagered on it."

"What were the stakes?" Gunn asked, not even trying to hide his smile.

"You're so sharp, you'll cut yourself, aren't you?" Spike said tolerantly. "Bloody comedian. Stakes? Not money; that never counted for much with us. Not like we ever paid for anything we took."

"So what did you use?" Wesley asked, leaning back in his chair and watching Spike through narrowed eyes, his composure restored.


Gunn and Wesley glanced at each other. Spike had said it without emotion but it opened up a world of images and all of them were scarlet-tinged, with screams as the background music.

"Whose blood?" Wesley said carefully, tentatively, as though he knew he wasn't going to like the answer.

"Ours, of course, you soft head. Who else's? I'd never tasted him you see; never tasted any vampire back then, apart from Dru when she turned me, and that was different. Got me curious. He'd tried to drink from me before when -- oh, look, this is bloody daft. Sick of arsing around trying to protect his reputation. You both know what he was like. He'd fuck me and want to finish up with drinking, yes? Can't live on our blood but it's like blood from a Slayer; special. Sign of trust, in one way, or that you're in charge; plus it's something to do to just make it all that much better at the end there; nice flash of pain to send you over -" He looked at their stunned faces and sighed impatiently. "You can't tell me you didn't know we'd--"

Wesley's eyes were fixed on Spike's face, an intrigued look on his face. "I... guessed," he said finally. "From hints in the data we -- that is, the Council -- have, it seemed clear that you shared--"

"We shared nothing," Spike said harshly. "Anything of mine he wanted, he took -- and he never gave anything back. No sharing. Which is why I wanted to taste him. Knew it'd make a difference. And he wanted me to hold still and let him, instead of struggling and screaming so he couldn't enjoy it properly. Real romantic, wasn't he?"

"But Gladstone won," Gunn said, looking as if he was determined to ignore everything Spike had just said.

"That he did," Spike agreed.

"So I don't get why it put Angel off politics. He won the bet, didn't he?"

"In a way," Spike said. "That's your lot."

"Huh? You've sat here, drinking on our tab, promising us a story and that's the best you can do? Tell us Angel and you had a thing, and don't think that's not going to give me nightmares, drop a shitload of hints and that's it?" Gunn shook his head. "Man, that was lame."

"All I've got," Spike said, with a finality that drew a thick black line under the conversation. He wasn't surprised to see them both prepare to leave. Always the way; people got what they wanted from him and then left.

Gunn rolled his eyes in disgust and stood up. "I'm out of here," he announced, taking out some money and tossing it on the table. "Got a busy day tomorrow. Wes? You done?"

"In a moment," Wesley said, indicating his half-full glass. Gunn shrugged and left, moving away through the crowd and not looking back.

"You can push off, too, Wes," Spike said, the words sounding harsher than he'd intended. "Not like we've got much to say to each other, now is it?"

"I can stay if you want some company," Wes said. "And if you need money--"

"Do I look like a sodding charity case?" Spike demanded. He snatched the glass out of Wesley's hands, drained it and slammed it back on the table. "There. You're done. Now piss off."

Wesley stood, opened his mouth and then closed it without speaking. He took out some cash and placed it beside the money Gunn had left and then walked away. He didn't look back either.

Spike finished his drink without rushing, trying to ignore the memory of Wesley's concerned, mildly annoyed face, and left, pocketing some of the money after making sure there was enough on the table to allow for a decent tip when the bill was handed to him. He didn't mind the place, for all its shortcomings, and it paid to keep in good with the staff. He emerged into the night, noticing with distant approval that it had stopped raining, let the fumes that passed for fresh air enter his body as he inhaled in an automatic check for lurking danger, and began to walk home.

He wasn't sure what had kept him from telling the story properly. Some lingering sense of loyalty? Vamps against humans, rah, rah, rah? Angelus would have laughed himself sick at that.

We fought, he hammered me into the ground, the way he always bloody did...

Spike's thoughts slipped back through the years to that first winter as a vampire and he shivered reflexively, remembering the things Angelus had done to him. He'd learned to deal with him eventually; got the knack of dodging the sledgehammer blows, come to anticipate the moves he made when he was fighting; worked out when falling to his knees, smiling lips parted and ready, would be a wise move, not the prelude to worse pain than the beating Angelus had been primed for...

The fight over the election -- God, had it really been that long ago? Spike's hand came up and touched his mouth, running his fingers over his lower lip. Angel's knuckles had split it open with his first punch and Spike had spent the rest of the fight with his own blood thick and heavy in his mouth. Angelus had looked down at his hand and grinned, raising it up and licking the smeared blood from it with his eyes gleaming.

"First blood to me, Spike," he'd said. "But you know that's not the sweetest. You taste best when you're under me, begging and mewling. Makes your blood fizz like champagne, so it does."

Spike closed his eyes for a second. He wasn't sure if it was the soul that made that memory sting, but it did.

"Didn't beg," he muttered, his steps quickening, kicking up sprays of water from the puddles on the sidewalk. "Never begged –"

He'd come to crave it though, those moments when Angelus' attention was on him to the exclusion of all else, when their bodies were joined and he came, sobbing or screaming a word that was never a name, never... because he knew enough to hold something back, even as green as he'd been back then, he knew that much. Drusilla's soft, cruel hands, soothing away the pain she'd inflicted as she giggled and sighed, had teased and tormented him and he'd loved every minute, but she'd never come close to Angelus' strength of body or will. Drusilla would show him mercy; Angelus had none. It'd made beating him, just once, an obsession with Spike, and that, rather than the knowledge that Drusilla would choose Angelus over him in a showdown, had kept him from leaving.

Never did know when to back down from a fight, he thought, rounding a corner and resisting the urge to slam his fist against a wall just to feel the bones splinter and the pain wash away the humiliation.

That fight had ended fast enough though; they'd knocked over a table, sending wine splashing and spilling over Darla's new dress, draped across a chair while she fussed with her hair before a mirror, dressed in her shift. Spike had never worked out why she and Dru did that; primped and preened before an empty, silvered pane of glass, as though it would throw back a reflection if she got each curl perfectly placed. She'd leapt up, lips tight with anger and jerked her head at Dru who was sitting wide-eyed and whispering, watching them fight as though it was a show put on to amuse her.

"Drusilla," she'd hissed, "tame your pet, before I geld him. And you, Angelus, you clumsy brute--" He'd swung around to her and got a crack across the face from a hand heavy with rings. "Resolve this in some other fashion before all I have to wear is rags."

He'd bowed low to her and apologised in three different languages, swearing to have her decked out in the finest silk, soothed her ill-temper and petted her into smiling -- then turned on Spike.

"You heard the lady; there's to be an end to this unseemly brawling--"

"But I like it!" Drusilla had pouted. "Like to see my men fight and bleed. Makes me feel -- oh, all warm and tingly." She'd pirouetted around the room, giggling as she got dizzy, and collapsing into a chair.

Spike had looked at Angelus and wondered if he was even meant to believe Angelus would give up the pleasure of fighting, hurting and winning, no matter how much Darla sulked. Angelus had frowned and then spread his hands wide.

"We'll not argue any more about who's best fitted to rule this land, Spike my boy. Let the electors fight for us, eh? We'll sit back and wait, like true gentlemen, and place a wager on the outcome. What do you say?"

"What would you wager?" he'd asked, caution and curiosity warring. Darla and Drusilla had lost interest in them and were sighing over the ruined dress. Angelus had drawn him to one side, forcing Spike to back up until the wall was cool against his shoulders, leaning over him and smiling. "I have some money..."

"You've only one thing I wish for," Angelus had whispered, bending his head and kissing the corner of Spike's mouth swift and hard, his teeth tearing open the half-healed cut and his tongue darting out to taste the fresh blood that welled up. "And I know it's all you dream of taking from me."

"You'd let me feed from you?" Spike had asked. It wouldn't be the same as forcing Angelus to bare his neck after winning a fight but it would be something to savour.

Angelus had widened his eyes, grinning. "More than that, my boy. You can fuck me too, if you've a mind to it. I'll send the girls away and we'll have a night of it and I'll refuse you nothing."

Spike's cock had hardened at the thought of it, but he'd learned caution early on. Angelus loved tricking him, leading him on. "What if I lose?" he'd asked, pushing Angelus away and wiping an angry hand across his bleeding mouth.

Angelus' smile had never looked friendlier. "You give me what I'm tired of demanding." He'd let one hand trail down Spike's neck, letting his fingers rest where his fangs would pierce if he fed. "You let me take you, own you, feed from you without struggling. You give me a night where I don't have to hurt you to get you to obey." For a moment, his eyes had filled with appeal but then it flickered and died. "Because, to tell you the truth, boy, you're starting to bore me--" Spike had snarled then, wordless defiance and Angelus had nodded slowly. "It's true. And tell me--" he'd leaned in and spoke the words in Spike's ear, so they rang in his head, clanging and loud, for all that they were whispered so soft, "you know what I do to you when you're bad; don't you wonder what you'll get when you're on your best behaviour?"

He'd moved off then, swinging around without another glance at Spike, leaving him against the wall, hard and aching and hungry for a fruit he knew was rotten, a sweet he knew would set his teeth on edge.

And he'd lost the bet three weeks later, going out into the frost-sharp air to feed, letting the hot blood warm him and hearing the newspaper sellers proclaiming victory for Gladstone on every corner, tainting each swallow he took until he thrust the woman he'd hunted and caught from him and let her die alone, not bothering to feel her heart stutter and stop under his splayed fingers. He'd returned to their house to find Angelus waiting in the silence, smiling and sleek with satisfaction.

Spike stared up at the Wolfram and Hart building, trying to convince himself he'd walked there aimlessly, knowing it had been deliberate. He sat down on the low boundary wall, ignoring the rain that began to patter down, and turning his back on Angel's own private kingdom.

Losing the bet had stripped away the last illusion that he'd ever get the better of Angelus. He'd spent three weeks dreaming of Angelus beneath him, on his knees, tamed and tortured, taught respect. If it had been a choice between the stake and relating even one of the scenarios he'd spun out of air and weighed down with hope, he'd have gone for the stake and thanked the person wielding it as they struck. But he wouldn't have to, he'd realised, looking into eyes filled with darkly knowing merriment. Angelus already knew.

"Going to make good on your debt?" Angelus had said, standing up and walking towards him with silent steps, his hair loose around his face.

"Of course," he'd replied haughtily, slipping back unconsciously into his old way of speech. "A gambling debt is something no gentleman would ever renege upon."

The words had merely broadened Angelus' smile, but even as he spoke them, Spike found an answer. No gentleman would fail to pay a debt of honour... but he was no longer of that class, no longer bound to obey any rules. He'd lowered his eyes to hide the triumph he was sure must be clear on his face and waited.

Angelus had prowled around him as he stood and then sighed. "Come with me."

The bed in the room Angelus shared with Darla was huge, heaped high with soft sheets and thick blankets, the thick posts marred by grooves where chains had bit deeply into the wood. Spike had lain spread out on that bed more than once, tugging at fetters and ropes until the blood had trickled down his wrists in cool rivulets, and knelt beside it, his tongue busy between Drusilla's thighs as Angel stole the cries of pleasure from her lips with bruising, brutal kisses. If anything was heaven and hell in one place, it was that bed.

Angelus had laughed softly and urged him forward. "Nothing to fear tonight, Spike," he'd said. "Because you're going to give in, aren't you? Going to submit without even trying to fight."

"Yes, Angelus," Spike had said, his voice flat and dull.

Angelus had frowned, suspicion rising and Spike had met his gaze without flinching. Through the hours that followed, he'd obeyed every command, every order, passive and listless, refusing to respond, and cheating Angelus of his victory without ever breaking his word. Angelus' anger had risen, a cold, icy anger Spike had never seen before. He'd waited for the ice to crack and the rage to erupt, bracing himself for pain beyond anything he'd had to endure, and knowing there was one command Angelus had yet to give.

When it came, he tilted his head, eyes blank and empty, waiting for the fangs to slice through flesh and the hungry mouth to drain him. Could be killed that way? He didn't know. He thought not... but it would hurt.

Angelus had run his hand over the exposed curve of his neck and let his hand curl around it possessively. "You're proud of yourself, I've no doubt," he'd said, his voice as cool as snow-melt. "Cleverly done and a fine revenge. Except -- will you tell me now, what I did to deserve this treatment?"

Spike had twisted free of his grasp, anger and disbelief animating his face for the first time that night. "You won!" he'd said, spitting the words out. "You always win..."

Angelus had looked at him with contempt. "Get out of here, Spike. You sicken me. I'd sooner drink from a rat as taste your blood tonight."

And he'd gone, dressing with trembling fingers under Angelus' stare, stumbling out into streets white with the first snowfall, the bitter chill striking through his thin shirt, avoiding the stares from the passers by, muffled with furs, their breath puffing out into the winter air. He'd ducked his head, slunk down an alleyway and stayed there until Drusilla found him, a bare half hour before sunrise and persuaded him to return.

Spike stood and smoothed back his rain-drenched hair. Right. Angel would moan about his carpet getting wet, but it didn't matter. He headed toward the building and Angel's apartment, drumming impatient fingers as he waited for the elevator, cursing it as it crawled upwards. The doors opened and he took two steps forward before the impetus that had brought him this far died away.

"What the fuck am I doing?" he muttered.

Angel appeared out of the shadows. "Good question, Spike. I'd say you were intruding, getting the carpet wet and generally doing what you always do; piss me off."

"Angel," Spike said. "This is important so stop being so bloody minded."

Angel raised his eyebrows, studied Spike for a moment and walked away, returning with a towel. "Here. Dry off and try not to move much."

Spike scrubbed the towel over his head, patted at his hair gingerly and glared as Angel began to laugh. "What?"

"It's gone all... fluffy," Angel said.

"Pot, kettle, mate, okay? And I didn't come here to get hair care advice."

"I'm sure you didn't. Mind telling me why you did come here?"

Spike shrugged out of his coat and, after looking at the expanse of pale carpet, his boots. Angel sighed, but didn't try to stop him. "I suppose you want a drink," he said.

"Wouldn't say anything but 'yes' to that," Spike said.

Angel poured him a whisky and watched Spike swallow it at a gulp. "Now I'm starting to get worried. Did you wreck another car? Kill someone who owes us money? What?"

Spike walked over to Angel and stood in front of him. Angel didn't step back, but he folded his arms across his chest, his face unsmiling.

"Angel, I owe you something."

"Well, the company picks up the tab on the car so strictly speaking--"

"You stupid, thick headed git, I'm not talking about now! I'm talking about--"

"The bet we had over the election, "Angel interrupted. He smiled slightly. "Well, that's shut you up. Didn't think it was possible."

"How did you know?" Spike said tightly. "Reading my mind now?"

"Oh, Spike, "Angel said, "you're a fucking open book and always have been. Wes called me; told me what you'd been saying, wanting to know what it was all about."

"Did, did he? Charming."

"He's loyal to me, Spike," Angel said. "You'd do well to remember that. He's also inclined to like you for some strange reason, not unconnected with you saving Fred's life, and he thought you were acting a little weird and I should know about it."

"Yeah, because you're so keen on helping me out when I'm in trouble," Spike said bitterly.

"It's true I think you're capable of looking after yourself; does that bother you?"


"You always did want it all handed to you, didn't you, Spike?" Angel's face was calm, his voice reflective. "You wanted Dru's love, my respect, a name for yourself to equal or better mine... and you wanted it all right away. No patience, no sense of your own limitations, no caution. I liked that about you, even though you used to drive me mad, until I itched to stake you and be done with you."

"I was younger then," Spike said. "I've changed -- look, never mind all that. I'm here to pay up. A century and change late, but I'm here."

Angel stared at him. "You really mean it, don't you? Thousands of deaths and you're guilty over a bet you welshed on? Got to love your sense of priorities, Spike. Anyway, forget it; I'm not interested. And by the way, thanks for telling Wes and Gunn I used to have worse taste in lovers than Harmony has in clothes."

"You condescending bastard," Spike said. "I don't need this. I've beaten you once, over that fucking cup and I've proved--"

"One fight," Angel scoffed. "Proves nothing."

Spike's fist sent Angel staggering. "You will bloody well let me pay this debt, Angel," he said, punctuating each word with a blow.

Angel rode out each punch and waited for Spike to leave himself open before grabbing his wrists and squeezing them so tightly that Spike heard his bones begin to splinter. Angel eased off and raised his eyebrows. "Going to behave now?" he asked. Spike nodded sullenly. "Glad to hear it." He hesitated. "I'm sorry, Spike. I can't do it. I release you from it, okay? It was a stupid idea anyway."

"What was?" Spike said rubbing his wrists as Angel released them.

"The bet. You must have figured out what I was after."

"You wanted to break me," Spike said. "If I'd done what you wanted, that would have been it. You'd have got rid of me; wouldn't have been a challenge anymore, would I?"

Angel frowned. "That... that really wasn't what I had in mind. You thought... Spike, either you're the fool or I am."

"What, then?" Spike said. "Going to tell me you really wanted one night when we could just... oh God."

"One night where we could just have fun, yes. No struggling, no competition. I... well, I liked you. You, Darla, Dru; you were family. I got a kick out of hurting you, sure, but don't ever tell me you didn't get off on it. I used to watch your face when you came and you looked like you'd seen heaven some nights. Envied you that joy. I could only find it through the kill and sometimes that got a little old." Angel looked thoughtful. "Only sometimes, though."

"So why didn't you just say that?"

Angel smiled. "Yeah, right. You'd have seen it as a weakness -- not sure it wasn't -- and you'd have been so full of yourself I probably would have had to stake you just let the hot air out."

Spike looked at him. "So, what now?"

Angel shrugged. "Can't go back, Spike. Angelus and his boy don't exist."

"You know better than that," Spike said.

"Maybe. Doesn't matter. You, me; never going to happen."

Spike pursed his lips. "Want to bet on that?"

Angel shook his head. "Don't you ever take 'no' for an answer?"

Spike walked over to the remote and flipped on the television. "Hockey game. Right. Which team do you fancy to win? I'll have the buggers in the blue shirts; they look a lively bunch."

"They're also leading, three - nil," Angel pointed out dryly.

"So? Get me another drink and let's watch the game. Same stakes as before; I win, I get you, you win, you get me -- and this time, no arsing around. One night only, no kiss and telling, and no one the wiser."

Angel shrugged. "If it'll really make you feel better," he murmured, getting them drinks and settling down to watch the game he'd watched earlier that was being repeated - the game where the Blues lost four – three.

Spike might not have had any patience but Angel had. Lots of it.

The game ended and Spike turned to Angel. "Right. As ever, you win." He sounded far from resigned and equally far from bitter. He stood up and stretched, hands locked behind his head, back arched. Angel appreciated the show, but he wondered if Spike knew that the arousal Angel felt had been building steadily over the last hour, fuelled not by anything as blatant as the display Spike was putting on now, but by just watching Spike's face, eager and intent, alight with amusement or anger. Spike knew less about hockey than Harmony, but it hadn't stopped him giving a running, scathing and entertaining commentary on the game.

Angel still hadn't quite worked out if this was one bet Spike wanted to lose, but as he'd always known that he'd end up winning, he didn't spend much time pondering that. Didn't really matter, did it? Spike owed him this night and Angel had decided, almost coldly, that he was going to collect. Angel's defeat in their last fight, his self-doubt about his destiny -- that couldn't be wiped clean by having Spike under him for a few hours, but Angel was honest enough to admit that it would be sweet.

"I win. So tell me, Spike; just what did I win? Let's get it all clear before we start."

Spike relaxed, sitting back down beside Angel on the couch and folding his arms. "You win me. Body and blood. No fighting, no struggling, just me... obeying you."

Angel felt his lips twist in a smile. "You can't even say it easily, can you?" He moved so that he was facing Spike fully and reached out a hand, cupping Spike's face. Slowly, he rubbed his thumb across Spike's full lower lip, remembering how it tasted, blood-slicked and swollen. "I broke Drusilla, but you, you never yielded, no matter how much I hurt you. Took me a while to work out why." Spike was keeping still under his touch, holding himself in place by an effort of will that Angel found himself admiring. "You wanted to be like me, didn't you? And I never broke, so you couldn't either."

"You broke when you got your soul. When Darla threw you out," Spike said, not defiantly, but with a certain curiosity. "Didn't know what was going on back then, but I could see you'd changed."

Angel let his fingers tighten around the face before him, waiting and watching for the moment when Spike winced. It came sooner than he expected and something deep inside him stirred and awoke when he realised Spike was already playing, already giving Angel what he wanted without resisting. Spike was tense because he was trying to spot his cues, guess what Angel wanted, not because he was in any way apprehensive. Angel knew he should be merciful and give Spike orders; make it easy for him, make it simple. But making Spike work was far more satisfying. And did he mention gratifying? That Spike still knew him this well was... nice.

Part of Angel wanted to hurry and rush. Wanted to strip Spike bare, and touch a body his hands had never forgotten, wanted to take the edge off his hunger and slake his thirst... but they had all night. He leaned forward and kissed Spike, letting his hand slide around Spike's neck, squeezing it gently. Spike's mouth opened under his immediately, returning the kiss, and Angel pulled back sharply.

"What?" Spike whispered, his eyes already hazing over with arousal.

"You..." Angel swallowed. He'd never kissed Spike often, and when he had, it had been the prelude to pain. Kisses were excuses to bite and he'd taught Spike to mistrust his mouth when it pressed delicate, airy touches against Spike's flesh. Angel had loved to time the downward slash of fangs so that they plunged or scraped against a body beginning to relax as pleasure suffused it. The betrayal and shock that threaded through Spike's cry of pain had never grown old.

Spike shook his head impatiently, clearly guessing some of what was going through Angel's mind. "Don't think so much, Angel. Don't remember." He held Angel's gaze. "This is new. That's the whole point of it."

Angel bit his lip. "Too new," he confessed. "Or I'm out of practice."

Spike stared at him. "Out of... Angel, you spent two decades fucking me. You've come in me, on me and in front of me. There's not a square inch of your body I haven't touched and not an inch of mine you haven't left bruises on." He stood up and began to unbutton his shirt. "Let me refresh your memory."

Angel watched the shirt buttons pop open under impatient fingers and stood just as Spike began to shrug out of it. He reached out and took hold of Spike's wrists, clamping down just this side of pain. Wordlessly, he let his hands slide along Spike's arms and up to the collar of the shirt. He could have ripped it off Spike, or pulled it down so that Spike's arms were trapped, but he chose to simply push it back off his shoulders and let it fall to the floor. Spike stood, holding position, his face carefully blank and Angel chuckled. "Relax, Spike," he murmured, the feel of cool skin beneath his hands calming and exciting him at the same time. "I'm not going to bite-- oh, wait. Yeah. I probably am."

Spike tilted his head, offering his neck in what Angel knew was just a gesture. They both knew that would come later, not now, but he rewarded the token with a kiss; not on Spike's mouth, not yet, not again, but on his neck, feeling Spike shudder and lean towards him, his arms going around Angel.

Angel felt a shock of surprise at that. For a moment he almost felt anger. Spike hadn't been told to move -- then it faded. Angelus would never have allowed Spike that much freedom, would probably have found that a willing Spike wasn't quite what he'd expected... but Angelus wasn't in charge. Not tonight. Not ever again, Angel hoped.

Angel moved closer to Spike, silently encouraging him to continue, letting his mouth move lower, trailing kisses across Spike's throat. He could feel Spike's hands on his back through the silk shirt he wore, stroking his back, soft and slow. Angel smiled and bit down hard enough to hurt and felt Spike's fingers curl and his nails dig in as he followed Angel's lead. It was like tugging on a string and watching a marionette dance and he was sure Angelus would have loved that, but he wanted more.

He stepped back, smiling lazily at Spike, and nodded his head at Spike's jeans. "Off."

Spike pouted. He'd forgotten Spike did that and how provocative it looked. He'd wiped it off those lips with a fist, or, if Spike tried it when he was already on the ground, he'd used his boot. Now he wanted to stop Spike doing it in other ways; with a kiss so that the pout softened, with a tickle, strong fingers digging mercilessly into ribs until Spike spluttered with laughter, lips stretched wide in a grin... or by pushing fingers or cock against those closed lips until they parted obediently.

He might have tried the kiss, but Spike was already wriggling out of his jeans, making even that look graceful, kicking them aside carelessly and standing there naked without seeming to care that Angel's gaze had dropped automatically. Not that Spike had anything to be ashamed of. The body he remembered was as perfect as ever, pale skin smooth over hard muscles.

Angel sighed out a breath he hadn't known he'd taken and moved forward, one arm going around Spike, the other going for that cock, impudently bobbing, hard and ready. Without thinking, he scooped it up and slightly to the side so that he could get in closer and so that it lay along the groove of Angel's hip. Spike thrust into that groove, starting to sense Angel's tolerance of him acting independently.

It had its limits though. When Spike began to tug at Angel's shirt, hard enough for the stitches to tear on a seam, Angel growled, the noise rising within him instinctively. Spike's hands dropped immediately and Angel felt a pang of regret. He took Spike's hands and brought them up.

"Do it carefully," he said. "Slowly. We're not in a race here."

Spike grinned, Angel's lighter tone clearly reassuring him. "Speak for yourself, mate. I've been hard since I got here. Can't we just..."

Angel growled again, this time making sure Spike saw the lack of real threat behind it. "You always were too impatient, Spike."

He let Spike strip him of his shirt and then undid his own trousers, letting them slide to the floor and stepping out of them. He hooked his fingers in his shorts but Spike knocked his hands away gently and sank to his knees, kissing along the length of Angel's cock, using his tongue and teeth, until the thin fabric clung damply and Angel moaned, wanting to feel Spike's mouth on his flesh. "Those you can tear," he said hoarsely.

"About fucking time," Spike muttered, his hands busy.

Angel's hands went to Spike's hair, regretting its shortness. He'd liked running his hands through it, gripping and cupping Spike's head, feeling the curve of his skull hard against his palms. Now his hands slipped over short, slicked strands, but it was still enough to anchor him as he threw his head back and drove into Spike's open mouth, all thoughts of drawing this out forgotten.

Too long. Too long since he'd had this from Spike. Angel heard himself making sounds that were frantic, desperate noises, not words, as he felt Spike's hands on his ass, clawing at him, encouraging him to go faster. Cool wetness engulfed his cock, coating it, caressing it, then Spike's hands pulled him open and he felt a finger brush against his opening, not even needing to do more than that to make him come, hips jerking helplessly, throat torn by sounds he'd forgotten he could voice, sounds he would have normally stifled -- but not here and now.

Because this was Spike, and Spike didn't matter. And Spike would have known exactly what Angel meant by that.

Angel pulled free of Spike and fell to his knees beside him so they were staring at each other, eyes wide. Spike reached out after a moment and took Angel's hand, pulling it against his cock. Angel felt the heavy fullness strain and jump as he touched it and pushed Spike back, following him so that they were lying together, kissing him as he worked Spike's cock with a total lack of finesse. Spike was writhing and bucking, thrusting up into Angel's fist, his mouth fierce against Angel's. Angel jerked his head away, wanting to see Spike's face when he came.

"That's it," he murmured, flicking his thumb over the wet head of Spike's cock as his hand slipped upwards, "come for me, Spike. Come as hard as you like."

He moved so that he was lying beside Spike, one leg thrown over Spike's to hold him still, and glanced down. His hand was blurring now, moving with a speed that gave Spike nothing to do but give in to the sensations ripping through his body. Angel went back to staring at Spike's face, watching the pleasure twist it and darken Spike's eyes. Then Spike came, his head going back and his eyes closing – he always did close them, Angel remembered, no matter how often he was punished for it – and Angel's grip tightened just a little more before he released Spike.

Angel reached out and grabbed his shorts, using them to clean his hand and, as an afterthought, Spike's stomach. Spike chuckled. "Time was, you weren't so fussy."

Angel shrugged, bringing his hand up to Spike's mouth. "Feel free to finish the job."

Spike met his gaze and bent his head forward, letting his tongue flicker over Angel's palm teasingly. Angel let him do it, enjoying the feel of Spike's tongue and, if he was being honest, getting a kick out of the sight of Spike lying there, relaxed and easy with him.

Angel stood and reached down a hand to Spike. "Come here. I want you on a bed next time."

Spike allowed himself to be pulled up but didn't move towards the bedroom. Angel paused and turned around. "Spike? There a problem?"

Spike shook his head. "No. Just – I was about to tell you if you wanted me there, you'd have to make – sorry. Not the plan, yeah? Old habits."

He took a step towards Angel and then stopped again as Angel held up his hand. "Oh, I think a little bit of resistance is fine, Spike," he said, walking over. "I think I can handle that..."

Spike caught his mood and his meaning and gave him his best impish grin. "Prove it. Get me from here to there in under a minute and I'll -"

He never got chance to finish. Angel ran at him in a sudden burst of speed, tackled him and they began to wrestle, dodging each others feet and fists; playing at it with no intent to do real harm, until Spike said, "Twenty seconds left..." and Angel scooped him up and began to walk towards the bedroom. Spike carried on struggling, but he was laughing too hard to do it properly.

Angel dropped him on the bed and glared at him. "Five seconds outside the limit. You weren't supposed to struggle that hard."

Spike lounged on the bed, laughing up at him. "Kiss my ass," he said flippantly. "Day you can't manage to – hey!"

Angel looked down at a nicely positioned Spike and smiled. "Well, I couldn't kiss it when you were lying on your back, now could I?" he asked reasonably.

Spike twisted his head around and pulled a face. Angel had grabbed him, rolled him over and put a knee in the small of Spike's back. "Could have just asked."

"I could have, yes. Didn't. Stay still," Angel said, moving to kneel beside Spike. "Let me see. Yes, this looks like a good a spot as any..."

Spike relaxed, pillowing his head on his arms and wriggling his backside just a little. "Now, this is new," he said.

The kiss was swift and hard and the slap that chased it was even harder. Spike yelped and began to roll over, but Angel stopped him. "No. I want you like this. Lie still, don't move and let me –"

"Let you do what?" Spike said. "Put me over your knee? That didn't end so well last time, did it now?"

Angel's hand patted Spike's backside lightly. "I remember that," he said. "Paris, wasn't it? You'd done something to make me angry. Like waking up. Or opening your mouth. Go on; refresh my memory."

"I killed the girlfriend of the man you were doing a deal with and you lost the chance to get Darla a present she'd set her heart on."

"Oh, yes. That. Which is why I let her and Dru watch. Tell me, Spike," Angel's hand came down hard against Spike's flesh, "if they hadn't been watching would you still have tried to stake me when I was done?"

Spike growled low in his throat and Angel slapped him again. "Want to know, Spike." His voice was inflexible. "Not supposed to make me fight to get anything out of you tonight. That includes the truth."

"Fine. No, I bloody well wouldn't have. I'd have done what I always did when you'd finished hurting me."

"Spread those legs of yours and waited for me to make it all better. Something to look forward to when I was hurting you, was it?"

Spike turned his face away so that all Angel could see was the back of his head. "Think that's fucking hilarious, do you?"

Angel ran his hand over the quickly fading handprints he'd left on Spike's backside. "No. Just wish sometimes it had worked."

That brought Spike's head around, blue eyes staring up at Angel with a mixture of suspicion and confusion. "It did, you daft bugger. What makes you think it didn't?"

"I tortured you, Spike. Anytime you stepped over a line I'd drawn, or even if you didn't."

"Yeah," Spike drawled, "and I let you. Right pair, weren't we? 'Course, we still are. Don't see why having a soul makes much difference to a bloke's cock." He rolled onto his side and glanced down, smiling, then resumed his position. "Do what you want, Angel. Still a vampire. I can take as much as you give, always could, always will."

"You're so full of it, Spike," Angel said softly. "Not making any promises about the future, but I'm not planning on hurting you tonight."

"Pity," said Spike.

"No, it's not," Angel said, keeping his voice steady. "I broke you, Spike. Broke you into pieces and built you back crooked because that was the only way I knew how to do it."

Spike sighed. "Least you didn't leave me in pieces. Look, Angel, don't go adding me to your list of things to brood over. Just – don't. It's not worth it."

Angel glanced away and then forced himself to look directly at Spike. "Spike? Got to tell you something. That game tonight? I knew the result."

He waited for Spike's reaction, cursing the sudden impulse that had made him confess and waiting for Spike to hit him and storm off.

Spike shrugged. "Me too. It was on in the bar earlier, before Wes and Gunn arrived. So?"

Angel stared at him. "You knew and you still picked the other team?"

"Well, of course I bloody did! Came here feeling guilty, didn't I? I wanted to lose. Wanted you to win. That was the point of it. Or I'd have walked out feeling even worse."

"Guilt? You?"

"I'm all over it now," Spike assured him. "Now I'm just feeling frustrated. For God's sake will you just get on with it? I'm naked here and you're sitting yards away bloody yapping on! Are you trying to hurt my feelings?"

Angel couldn't help looking. "I see that," he said uncomfortably. "The naked part. And no, I'm not. I just..."

The heat that had led to them rolling around all over the carpet seemed to have died down, quenched by his own conditioned reflex: good times on the horizon? Turn and run away fast. And that wasn't what he wanted. He wanted to lie beside Spike, wanted to try kissing him to see what it felt like, long, slow kisses with hands stroking and touching, kisses getting harder, more demanding, until...

"Want me to make this easier?" Spike said, scrambling off the bed. Angel watched him saunter over to their clothes and bend over. His fist clenched as he fought the urge to walk over there, so silently even Spike couldn't hear him, grab Spike's hips and push him down, holding him in place and rubbing his cock over that impudent arse until Spike was making those needy little whimpers, the ones that had always made Angelus smile, the ones Angel could still hear if he tried.

Spike stood, holding two belts in his hands and walked back slowly. He stood beside Angel, tossing one belt to the bed and offered him the other. Angel took it because he didn't know what else to do. Spike held out his hands, wrists crossed. "Bind them."

Angel hesitated. "Why?" he asked. "Weren't we supposed to be not doing the forcing and the -"

"Just do it," Spike ordered. His eyes softened a little. "Trust me," he said.

"Yes, because that's such a habit of mine," Angel muttered. He looked at Spike, bit his lip, and then did as he was told; not letting himself think about what had always followed when he'd bound Spike in the past.

Spike flexed his wrists and nodded. "That'll do." He knelt on the bed and wriggled, his movements hampered, until he was lying in the middle on his back. He raised his arms above his head and looked meaningfully at Angel, who was caught in memories, trapped in the past. "This would be where you get the other belt and hook me up to the bed," he said.

Angel picked up the belt and looped it between Spike's wrists and then the bar across the top of his bed. "Don't go using a granny knot," Spike said.

"As if," Angel said, his fingers moving quickly. "There. Now what, since you seem to be in charge of this production."

Spike lay, arms curved and taut, body open and caught his lower lip between his teeth, gazing at Angel with limpid blue eyes. "Production? More like a charade, I'd say."

Angel frowned. "I don't get it."

Spike spread his legs and arched up, just a fraction of an inch and Angel's cock hardened before Spike had settled back down again.

"I'm helpless, Angel," Spike said, his voice husky and low. "Helpless and in pain. You help the helpless, don't you? Help me."

"Pain?" Angel said. "What pain?"

Spike rolled his eyes. "Give me strength. Look down there. Does that look comfortable?"

Angel shook his head. " That is so – and I knew what you meant."

"So where's the helping hand? Or mouth - whatever. Not fussy."

Angel looked him over, moving to kneel between Spike's legs at the foot of the bed. "You sure you want to be like this, Spike? All... helpless?"

A look of uncertainty passed over Spike's face as he nodded and Angel ducked his head quickly so Spike couldn't see his grin – or see his face change, shifting with that paper tearing sound as muscles and skin shifted and fangs came down. He raised his head slowly, looking at Spike through eyes that saw him differently, all his senses heightened and refined. To the demon within, the kill was all that mattered and every bit of sensory input was geared towards that goal. Spike looked good enough to eat either way.

"See anything to make you change your mind?" he challenged.

Spike let his own face alter, just for a moment. "Not really."

"Good. Because I don't want you scared, Spike. And I don't want you thinking you're in charge here."

Spike tugged sharply at his wrists. "Do I look like I think I am?"

Angel moved up the bed, straddling Spike's chest and took hold of the belt that linked Spike's wrists to the bed. It wasn't easy to snap it but Angel wasn't in the mood to fail. It parted and he grunted with satisfaction and threw it aside, letting his face slip back to human again. He moved off Spike and nodded to him. "Think you can do that to the other?" he asked.

"Rather not," Spike answered. "That was your belt you just broke; I'm sure you've got a dozen more. This is the only one I own."

"Break it, Spike," Angel said, his voice flat.

Spike brought his hands in front of him, sighed in a martyred fashion and tried to twist and tug his wrists apart. The leather strained, held, then tore and he let the pieces fall away. "Well, at least it means I get to touch you," Spike said, reaching out a hand and running it along Angel's chest. "In all sorts of interesting places..."

Angel caught at his hand. "Except you still don't get it, Spike. On your back, hands above your head and hang on to the bed. If you move again without being told, I'll make Paris seem like a fond memory. Unless you don't mind getting your ass turned red in front of an audience."

"You wouldn't bloody well dare!"

"Would. In front of anyone who wanted to see. You've annoyed a lot of people here in a short space of time. I'm guessing standing room only. Why aren't you moving? I asked you to do something. You're supposed to do it without arguing. Not feeling the obedience, Spike, really not."

"I was like this two minutes ago!" Spike protested, moving back and reaching up to wrap his fingers around the bar of the head board.

Angel shook his head. "No, you weren't. You were pushing me into doing it your way. You always did like pushing me, Spike, seeing how far I'd let you go. Well, that was it. That far. Not an inch more. Got it?"

Spike nodded and Angel's face hardened. "This would be the part where you say something. And you even start to roll your eyes and you can do this blindfolded."

"I get it, Angel. Okay? I get it."

"That's much better," Angel said, patting Spike's leg approvingly. "Wait here."

He stood and walked into the bathroom and found a small bottle of lube, seal unbroken in a cupboard on the wall. He'd seen it there when he explored his new apartment, stocked with everything he'd have bought for himself and a hundred things he'd never have thought of, and wondered why it had been included when Wolfram and Hart, of all people, must have known he wasn't likely to be using it. He opened it and stared into the blank expanse of mirror. That wasn't needed either, but it was there. For the first time, he wondered who had lived here before him.

Then he opened it and went back to Spike.

The vampire was still in position and Angel smiled. "Good boy," he said, moving to kneel between Spike's legs again and this time patting Spike's cock. The look Spike gave him would have melted stone. Angel grinned  – pissing Spike off always cheered him up - and shifted to game face.

"You going to feed from me now?" Spike asked, his head moving restlessly against the pillows, his arousal.

Angel looked thoughtful. "Think appetiser, not main meal," he said.


"You know, not talking would work well here. How about that? Whimpering, moaning, maybe the odd slip as you scream my name followed by 'more', 'please' or 'I don't remember it being that big', but other than that, let's have a silent Spike, shall we? You can just nod this time."

Spike looked speechless which was just perfect. Angel sighed happily and bent over, running the edge of a fang in a short line along the inside of Spike's thigh, lapping up the blood as it appeared, the cut so shallow it healed as he licked it. Spike gasped, either at the flicker of pain or the feel of Angel's mouth. Angel didn't care which. He knew Spike wasn't unhappy, for all his indignation. There was persuasive proof of that a few inches away. He'd get to it soon...

Angel moved over Spike's body, striking at random, sometimes sinking his fangs in deep enough to leave a mark, sometimes kissing Spike with a gentle, lingering pressure that left no more than a faint warmth and a gloss of dampness. Spike was moaning now, making plaintive, hungry sounds Angel had never coaxed from him before, begging wordlessly without restraint, without caring how vulnerable he sounded. Angel rolled him over, still making him keep his hands over his head, hands that were clutching desperately in the few moments that they were free, hands that wanted to touch Angel's body, wanted to caress and explore as they never had before. Angel worked his way down Spike's back, scoring it, marking it, claiming it and then paused, just as he reached the curve of Spike's backside.

"On your back again," he whispered.

Spike took a second to respond, not, Angel knew, because he was reluctant – not now – but because he was beyond the point where words meant anything. Angel had seen Spike's face shift back and forth between human and vampire and knew that the hundreds of tiny bites had Spike's demon howling inside him, thirsting to taste the blood of his attacker. The air in the room was rich with the tang of fresh blood, intoxicating and arousing to them both. Angel knew that he could keep his own demon in check; it was part of the fun in any fight; channeling and controlling the strength the demon gave, without ever letting it dictate. Even as he was now, his body held still by an effort of will, his lips spilling 'please' with every touch from Angel's mouth, Spike was doing the same and Angel felt pride stir within him.

Spike moved at last, releasing the bar he held, rolling to his back and reaching up to anchor himself once more. Angel stopped him, moving Spike's arms to his side. "No. I want you to be able to touch me. And you can speak, if you like."

Spike's lips parted and he looked up at Angel. "Fuck me? Please?"

Angel reached for the lube and let it drizzle into his hand in a cool, clear stream. "Plan on it," he told Spike. "I really do."

He wrapped his hand around his own cock first, shuddering at the touch, allowing himself one swift stroke before turning to Spike.

"You don't need to take your time, Angel," Spike said as Angel opened him with careful fingers. "God!" He writhed against Angel's hand, pushing down, his control shattered. "Going to come..."

"Didn't say you couldn't," Angel reminded him. He used his free hand to hold Spike's cock and added a third finger as his mouth came down to take Spike in as deeply as he could. Spike made an incredulous sound and then Angel pulled his fingers out and shoved them back in hard, and Spike came, helpless and howling. Angel waited for him to finish, letting the taste of Spike's come mix with the lingering taste of his blood, and then took his hand and mouth away and rolled Spike over, pulling him into position on his hands and knees.

"But you'd better be able to do it again," Angel said, rubbing his cock slowly over Spike's opening and leaning forward just enough to let it move in an inch. "Because if you don't come when I'm in you, I'm going to be hurt."

He began to move, rocking his hips forward in a steadily quickening rhythm and Spike's head turned. "Not a problem," he said.

Angel left one hand on Spike's hip and slid the other along the length of his back until it cupped the back of his neck. He squeezed until Spike lowered his head in submission and then brought it back to Spike's hip.



The morning found them sleeping side by side, heads away from each other; Spike sprawled out on his stomach, Angel on his back.

But their hands were touching, and as they woke their fingers curled and held fast to what they had won.


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