One of the worst, if most mundane, things of all in a long miserable un/life is how often you think the same thought. So often that it might as well be engraved on calling cards and left at the mental foyer.
Angel cuts down sidestreets and hurries through alleys. He's used to this, of course, which is a large part of how annoying this all is. Guilt over the fact that he now gets to feel annoyed by such trivialities slips sourly in his gut, joins the rest of it that's been gathering and steaming rottenly ever since he returned. Another night spent fighting with Buffy, for which he ought to be grateful; even if Spike *was* there, he should be grateful. Out of hell, back on the path, fighting the good --
"Slow down, man. Where's the fire?"
Spike steps out from the shadows, shadows Angel should have been watching, and grins. One hand in his pocket, the other behind his back, he sways a bit on his heels.
"Weren't you leaving?" Angel asks.
"Couple loose ends," Spike says. His other hand comes into view, sweeping a long chain. Spike spins the chain playfully, eyes darting between his pseudo-lasso and Angel. "Tie 'em up, and I'm out of your hair."
The laughter rises up his chest, and Angel barks it out. The mere sight of Spike is enough to weary and agitate him all at once, but the addition of his pathetic new toy is priceless. "This what you're reduced to, boy? Bicycle chains and dark alleys?"
Spike smirks. "Simplicity, pet."
"No dungeons? Intricate manacles, drawn-out torture?"
Spike shrugs. "Sometimes you want the classics, yeah? Decor, all the props, just get in the way."
Angel finds himself nodding.
He should have known Spike wouldn't simply vanish. It's just not how they do things. He felt Spike this morning, sniffing around the mansion, circling, anxiety glittering off him. Should have known then that this was coming. Like a ritual reduced to its essential elements: The two of them. Snarls. Some chains. Violence. Doesn't matter whether one or both of them feels up to it; the ritual's overtaken its protagonists.
Spike doubles up the chain, slapping it against his thigh, head tilted. Angel lets him look, lets impatience build for as long as it needs to.
This is just like punching a mirror. The question isn't whether he can do it, but *how* Spike will break this time, into which patterns, how long before the shards fall away.
"You know," Spike starts to say, stepping forward, whipping the chain now against his palm. "Thing about you is--"
Angel doesn't move except to shake his head. Spike stops immediately, jaw working furiously. Angel massages the back of his neck and shrugs, sees Spike building back up to something, setting up a good, long splutter.
He speaks before Spike can. "Enough speechifying for one night, don't you think?"
The chain cracks the air between them, once, and then again, before Spike spins on his heel. His fists are clenched and beat a slow tattoo against the leather of his coat as he stalks around Angel.
"Walking your lady love home? So chivalrous." Words bitten, toxic and harsh, too close to Angel's ear for comfort.
"Not my--" Angel takes two steps back, just to get him out of his face. Too close, too early. "Fuck off, Spike."
"Oh, she is. Just a shame you can't make the most of it."
Angel shoves him backward; as Spike stumbles, he gets in a good stomach kick, sending him sprawling.
"Can smell her all over you, man! You fucking *reek* of her!"
Angel has never known whether Spike's characteristic jealousy should strike him as endearing or infuriating. Eminently odd, anyway, that he should feel affronted by this out of everything.
"Like you? You and your great love?" Angel asks. "The fair Drusilla?"
Spike kneels, clutching one arm around his waist, grinning like a fat child with sweets up at Angel.
"Least I can find the cunt." Spike spits and works his jaw. "Christ. I'd swear Darla buggered you for so long it was a miracle you knew what to do to that slayer bitch."
Angel shrugs off his coat as he steps nearer and Spike grins even more widely. "That's it, Angel. Stay a spell."
He flips up to his feet, all pretense of pain gone. The chain whips and glitters from palm to palm as he tilts his head.
Angel stays quiet, watching the gleam of near-white hair battle the crazed grin.
"Were you scared?" Spike asks. "When she opened her legs? Must've been tight, eh, Angel? Nothing like that hag of a sire of yours."
The chain snakes out, lashing across Angel's chest; he feels himself still, taking in the pain like a sudden storm. Sharp, transient, unexpectedly welcome.
"Not that Darla'd take you back--"
"Hard to, when you're dust, ain't it?"
Entire seasons in hell, when he saw nothing but Darla, her tiny, inconsequential moue of surprise, laughter vanishing into dust, when he staked her. Seasons spent killing her, again and again under those blue lights, feeling nothing but terror and regret. He began longing for the demons with Buffy's face to return, set back to their slow, methodical flaying.
But Spike can't know that. Spike's just fumbling madly, as he always does, desperately seeking the right button to push. He learned more from Dru than he'll ever admit: how to knock down plate after plate, toss each doll in turn, until Daddy wheels around in fury and gives you the attention you're craving.
"Dust, I said," Spike shouts, whipping the chain harder, more recklessly. It bites across Angel's waist, sinks against skin and clings there, hot and sharp, before he grabs Spike's wrist and shoves him back.
"Quiet tonight," Spike says, stripping off his own jacket, shaking out his wrist. "Not so much fun this way."
"I'm not your toy."
Spike shrugs. "Starting to miss good ol' Angelus," he says. "Least he knew how to have *fun*."
It's a lie, and a transparent, petulant one at that, but it's also an opening. Angel takes it, rushes Spike before he can close his mouth, and pushes him against the wall. One hand grips the scrawny throat, the other clenches his groin.
"Fun?" Angel asks. "You're right. Knocking you out of that wheelchair. Watching you writhe on the floor. Ramming my dick down your throat until you coughed up blood and cum?"
Spike growls, gameface flashing in and out.
"My apologies. That *was* fun," Angel says, yanking Spike's throbbing dick through his jeans. "Good old days, eh? Such a messy boy, all sticky, lying there 'til Dru remembered you. If she did. I kept her pretty busy."
Spike wriggles, trying to dislodge him, spitting helplessly, but Angel will always be bigger and stronger. He pats Spike's cheek.
"And you're surprised *now* that she left you? After seeing you like that?"
Spike's demon face ripples back and he shoves hard. Angel releases him and watches, smiling, as the forward momentum crashes Spike back down to his hands and knees.
"You're pathetic, Spike," Angel says as Spike struggles back to his feet. "Always will be."
Spike weaves unsteadily backward, almost dancing from foot to foot, fists clenching, then loosening at his sides. Looped around one wrist, the bicycle chain rattles loose, forgotten, against his thigh, trailing over the ground. Blood runs slow and dark from the corner of his lip. Voice gone hoarse, he tilts up his chin and asks, "What do you know about that? Who'n hell are *you*?"
Angel dips to one knee, idly fingering the chain as it snakes through the grit and broken glass. He glances up, finds Spike blinking rapidly against the flow from the gash over his eye. Angel can't help but smile at the familiar set to his jaw, defiance glittering in his eyes. "*Your* sire. You'd do well to remember that."
Spike spits a fat gob of blood and phlegm. "Do better if I could *forget*."
"Is that so?"
Spike snorts, lip curling. Always has to get the last word; Angel banks on that, has a moment to grab the chain before Spike can speak. He wraps it around his fist and yanks Spike forward, off his feet. Rolling out of the way, then back on top of the snarling Spike.
His hand tight on the nape of Spike's neck, Angel grinds Spike's cheek into the pavement, knee against his kidneys. Brushes fingertips against bristly hair as softly as he'd calm a kitten. "Why'd you cut your hair? Hmm?"
Spike bucks under him, wriggling fiercely as Angel strokes the hair upward, thumb cupping his cheek. "Looks better--"
"You think?" Angel bends close, grazing the tip of his nose over the hollow of Spike's neck. Smells tobacco and salt, rage and lust billowing off Spike's skin. Some things never change. "Always was quite fond of your hair--"
Ghosts of heavy silken locks that tangled in his fists, crowded out furious blue eyes, radiated over pillows: He can still feel it, sliding through his grasp, slithering over his fingers. The way the smell of it, musky, always a bit charred and salty, would cling to him.
"What do I hold onto, Spike? Eh? What am I going to grab while I fuck you?"
Snarling, Spike struggles under him. "Not fucking--"
Spike bucks hard, tries to roll to his side; all this does is expose his neck. Angel wraps the chain around Spike's neck twice and jerks him up onto his knees.
"Go on, boy," he hisses into Spike's ear. "Do what you're told."
"Not my sire--"
"Always." He tugs on the chain, securely looped around his hand, until Spike nearly gasps.
"Fucking left, didn't you? Twice."
So they really are covering every inch of territory tonight. Angel wraps his free hand around Spike's waist, slipping it under his shirt, nails grazing a nipple before it plunges, working under the waistband.
"What?" He tugs on Spike's hard cock, twisting foreskin until Spike half-groans, half-mewls. "Daddy can't have some time away from the mewling brats?"
Spike writhes, grinding his hips against Angel's palm, choking on his whimpers. "Always leave--"
Angel swallows, impatience finally winning out. He rises, twisting the chain once around his wrist, until he stands before Spike.
On his knees, filthy, blood smeared and sticky with gravel over his face, Spike stares banefully up at Angel. Spike will never bow his head. He'll take everything Angel inflicts, but he will never look down. Infuriating and glorious in equal measure.
Angel tugs the chain and toes at Spike's groin. "Take them off."
His eyes unwavering, Spike shrugs. "What're you going to do? *Choke* me to death?"
Angel nudges his toe along Spike's crotch, then drags it down one thigh. "Could just cut them off," he says. "Your choice."
Spike's hands fly to his zipper and tug his jeans down to his knees. Without even being told, he unbuttons his shirt and shrugs it off.
"Happy?" Spike asks.
"With you? Never."
Angel takes a moment, looks his boy up and down. Studies the sneer that distorts a face more angelic than poor, piggish Liam could ever have dreamed of possessing, the lean body that belongs more to a boy, underfed and neglected, than a grown man. He wants him badly enough that he can taste bile.
"Sick of talking," Angel says. Kicks Spike until he's on his hands and knees and falls to his knees behind him.
"So? Never stopped me--"
"I'm going to fuck you until you shut the fuck up."
Angel grips his dick, heavy and throbbing against his palm. Hocks spit at Spike's ass and rubs it down the cleft with the head of his cock.
"Never gonna happen," Spike says, voice tight and high.
"Never say never." Angel jabs into Spike's hole, yanking back the chain until Spike's neck arches up. White and sharp against the dark. "Open up, boy."
And it's this -- the harsh heat of Spike's hole, muttered curses, skin slapping skin, chafing and protesting -- that Angel knows he'll never be able to escape. Someday he'll leave here, leave this town, leave Buffy and everything behind. Because Spike is right: He always leaves.
But this -- the gasps of his boy, slick skin tearing under him even as it grips his cock with something like love, his own pointless panting, and the way his spine stiffens into cement -- this will haunt him more than guilt or any ghost.
He never saw Spike (or, for that matter, William) in hell. Spike waits for him here. They will always find each other, snarl and spit with the fervor of self-hatred, fuck like dogs before parting again.
Angel rams his cock deeper, and Spike takes it, thrusts himself back hard enough to shatter bone, begging and cursing Angel in equal measure. The chain cuts into Angel's hand, cleaves the always-tender skin of Spike's neck so that Angel folds over him, vacuuming the blood out of the wound.
"Fuck, *yes*--" Spike shouts.
Angel jerks Spike's head over, kissing the side of his bloody mouth, teeth grinding on teeth, sucking his tongue out by the root, eating Spike's moans with cock and fist and mouth. Devouring what he despoiled.
Spike clutches him with one arm, pulling desperately at himself with the other. He shakes and rolls beneath Angel, clenching down strongly enough to break bruises out along the length of Angel's dick, hips slapping hips, groaning as Angel shoves him down into the filth and gravel.
Angel sinks his teeth deep in the muscle of a shoulder, swallowing blood, tearing flesh, as he grinds his cum far up Spike's hole.
When he comes, it blinds him, always empties his dick and his mind. Spike keens beneath his weight, shuddering and broken, and Angel heaves dryly, pelvis still pistoning as his throat closes up.
Time passes only insofar as his cock softens slowly and the friction-generated heat slips and fades away.
Angel goes back up on his knees, dropping the chain, tossing the remnants of Spike's shirt across his buttocks.
Angel scrubs his fist over his eyes. Finds his human face again.
Spike is laughing, hoarse, arid chuckles, as he pushes himself up.
Angel just wants to go home.
"Was it good for you?" Spike asks. He lights a cigarette and wobbles to his feet.
The physical bliss -- loose, heavy, buzzing over and throughout his body -- is what Angel hates most of all.
"Right," Spike says. "'Course it was. Silly me."
The dance is done; he never has anything to say afterward.
"Dawn soon. Might want to go home."
Alien familiarity comes back to Angel then, the coda that always occurs, that he always manages to forget. He forgets how easily he can break his hand on that mirror. How the shards slice into, then burrow under, his skin.
In case he has forgotten, Spike's choking laughter as he hobbles away is more than enough to remind him.