Darla: I went back before dawn. They were still cowering there, praying to their God for salvation. They didn't know that their only savior was at the waterfront, dining on rats.

 Shanghai, China 1900 

The walls of the city vibrated with riotous drumming. War chants and screaming filled the air, echoing behind the hot snap of fire and the crackle of gunshots. Spike's favourite part, however, was the smell. Terror, waves of it, thickened the smell of the city, touched with the slight sweetness of aggression. Fury. Delicious. 

 

The waterfront was almost deserted. Thin, dirty, the Huangpu river seemed stagnant in this part of the city, the poorest part. It lay lank and greasy against muddy banks, and reflected a horizon lit up by burning buildings, and splintered by the tall tapering masts of junks resting over night.

 

He ran down the wooden slatted path that led to the riverbank, inhaling deeply and then regretting it. Down here by the water, the foul smell of rotting wood and old vegetables was almost overwhelming – especially for vampire senses. But he couldn't stay inside.

 

Hotter than the buildings, Spike's skin was still burning from his earlier killing. He could feel her blood rushing through him, making him stronger, faster, more alive. It was exhilarating. He wanted to fight and fuck and everything in between. He wanted to kill. So he'd snuck out, leaving Drusilla sleeping (he'd never need to sleep again) and crept between the riots and missionaries to find a kill he could take a nice long time over.

 

He had spotted the young woman crouched over a stinking dead body in a doorway. He had shown her his true face to make her run, and then chased her down here. Against the water he could hear the butterfly-flutter of her racing heartbeat.

 

He stilled, focusing on the sound, on where she was hiding. A breeze picked up her scent and carried it to him. She was just ahead of him. Moving forward silently he followed the smell, the sound, every tell tale sign that told him where she was, until he came to the water's edge. The heartbeat stuttered and increased. Spike grinned. She was here, tucked almost underneath a small rickety dock, and she was shivering.

 

Without ceremony, he reached down and dragged her out by her long black hair. She was crying, stuttering in Chinese. He didn't need to speak the lingo to know what she was saying – pleading was an international language.

 

Spike took her arms and lifted her up until her head was level with his, her toes just dancing on the floor, and he grinned as she struggled and kicked. A well-aimed foot made him wince briefly and he shook her, feeling her bones giving and shifting. She bit her tongue. The smell of her blood filled the air, and she licked her lips, coating them in red.

 

She screamed as Spike snapped back into game-face. He could feel her heartbeat pounding through her veins, his still body picking up the vibrations. For these few precious moments he had a heartbeat again. His head made to swoop down, eyes focused on that delicious blue vein in her throat.

 

“Not full yet boy?”

 

Spike's head snapped back up. His body jerked taut as for the first time he started to assess his surroundings. He picked up movement from the corner of his eye, and for a moment the gloom danced and flickered and he couldn't trust his senses, couldn't see who it was.

 

Then the blurs solidified and Angelus stepped out of the shadow of a boat nearby. What light there was lit his face harshly, making him look even harder and colder than usual.

 

“Just having a quick nibble.” Spike said jauntily, though he couldn't quite manage a smile. This new Angelus, this only recently returned Angelus, was an unknown entity. Spike had found himself increasingly unnerved by the watchful stillness, especially when they were alone. He didn't know now how this Angelus would react to things. Spike hadn't felt this feeble hesitancy since he was first turned. It was… unnerving. He didn't like it.

 

“You were in full light.” Angelus said quietly, casually inspecting his nails. “And didn't even bother to check for danger. Careless. Thought I taught you better than that.”

 

Spike glared. Angelus was criticising first – some things never changed. “Well I forgot a lot of things in the two years you were gone. Like how to take orders.”

 

He expected a frown, but Angelus surprised him with the hint of a wry smile. “Darla must be losing her touch.”

 

Spike conceded this with a nod. Then he spoke again, the words pulsing out of him before he could stop them; a life of their own. “You forgot things too. Forgot to say goodbye. Forgot to say when you'd be back. Forgot my name is Spike, now. Not Boy, or Sweet William, or any other pansy name you have for me. Spike.”

 

Angelus just looked at him impassively, unimpressed. Spike shook his head once, snappily, and sighed. He was irritated with himself for saying the things that had been going round in his head since he'd walked into Darla's suite and seen Angelus there, reclining on her bed as though he'd never been away.

 

His hands tightened around the girl who had gone limp in his hands. She'd fainted. Fuck, it was so much more fun when they were awake. He shook her, trying to rouse her, stepping closer to Angelus as he did. He wanted to get away from whining Will and be Spike again. Spike wouldn't give a fuck what Angelus did.

 

“Fancy a drink? I could be persuaded to share.” He let a shred of flippancy into his voice.

 

Angelus hesitated, eyes darkening as his looked at the girl. He looked hungry. HE stepped forward, almost stumbling, and then stopped. “No… thank you. I just ate.”

 

Spike's eyebrows rose in surprise. “Never known you to refuse a meal before.”

 

Angelus glowered. “She isn't much of a meal.”

 

“Yeah, scrawny little thing, for sure.” He shrugged. “Oh well, your loss and all that…” He bent his head to her neck, then noticed that Angelus had turned away.

 

“What? Not even gonna watch?” Angelus was definitely not himself.

 

“You eat like a pig,” was all the response he got.

 

Spike snorted a laugh. “Oink.” He said, and returned to his meal. He sank his fangs slowly into her neck, enjoying the layers of flesh. He shook his head messily to maximise the damage and flow. Blood gushed into his mouth. Young, delicious, hot… God she was so hot.

 

He tightened his grip, losing himself in the sensation of draining her. He felt her wake up with the kick of her heartbeat, and the muscles under his teeth flexed as she tried to gasp. Instead a gush of blood filled her throat where his fangs had completely pierced, and she started to choke and splutter. He grinned around the bite.

 

Suddenly he found himself eating air.

 

“Hey!” he said, stumbling with the loss of her weight to keep his balance. He looked up to see Angelus holding her by the arm.

 

"That's enough.” Angelus said briefly, before turning to the girl. “Get lost.” He shook her once, roughly, to make sure she didn't pass out again.

 

“What the fuck was that?” Spike asked, watching as his dinner staggered up the bank. He was too shocked to even attempt to stop her escaping. “Angelus?”

 

Angelus stayed silent, staring into the dirty water. As always, Spike could handle anything except silence.

 

“Angelus. What's going on?” He stared at Angelus' back. “You got something better in mind? Or is this some new kink? Saving people? C'mon, what's the game?”

 

“It's not a game.” Angelus glanced up, looked as though he were about to turn away again, when his attention was snagged. He walked towards Spike slowly, and Spike didn't know whether to back away or meet him in the middle. He settled for shifting nervously on his feet. Had he done something to warrant a beating? He couldn't remember. He could never remember.

 

Angelus stopped when the toes of his shoes touched the tips of Spike's much dirtier ones. Spike tipped his head back slightly to meet his gaze. But Angelus wasn't looking at his eyes. He brought a hand up and stroked a finger diagonally across Spike's forehead.

 

The silence was deafening. Angelus traced the finger down Spike's face, finally hooking it under his jaw and pushing his chin up.

 

Spike's throat tightened with the movement and he didn't know whether he wanted to laugh or the other thing. Angelus was behaving so oddly. Did he want to fuck? He didn't usually waste time with gentle touches. Maybe he was looking for a fight, but, well, ditto. Spike swallowed through the constriction, and Angelus' eyes followed the movement.

 

“A-” His throat seized up. He tried again. “Angelu—”

 

“Shut up, boy.” said Angelus, his eyes sliding down the column of Spike's neck.

 

Spike paused, then said, very very softly but clearly. “I'm not your fucking boy.”

 

He expected to be hit. Maybe even wanted it. But Angelus merely responded quietly with: “No. You're not.”

 

Spike was unsure how to respond to that. So he got cocky. He tipped his head back. “That's right. I'm better. I killed a slayer not four hours ago. And I don't fucking save people. You really are living up to your name, Angel.” He taunted.

 

 

“Yes,” said Angelus bitterly. “That's right. I'm an Angel.” He wrapped his hands around Spike's upper arms and bent his head to Spike's neck, inhaling deeply before dragging his tongue along the length. Spike was so surprised he let out a faint yelp and felt immediately ashamed. But it was brief and wet and almost ticklish and felt surprisingly… good. Angelus pulled back, his eyes dilated, licking his lips vaguely.Angelus lowered his head again, lips against Spike's neck. “How did it taste?” he muttered, and Spike shivered as his felt Angelus' lips, breath and voice against his skin.

 

“Huh?” He felt dazed, these two caresses more intimate-seeming than years of fucking.

 

Angelus' head came up, close and frowning. “The girl, her blood, I want to know how it tasted.” He shook him slightly.

 

Spike frowned. “Well, like blood. You know how that tastes.”

 

Angelus growled. “Just fucking tell me. Describe it to me.”

 

Spike felt bewildered. Again. Fucking hell, what does he want from me? he thought. Angelus' eyes were black in the light, his body pressed so tightly that Spike felt the automatic need for fresh air for the first time in years.

 

“Um… hot.” He said, not sure what the game was. But then, Angelus had said it wasn't a game, hadn't he? “Yeah, hot and kind of spicy. Rich, and sweet ‘cause I'd been chasing her, and you know how you always said that made it sweeter.”

 

Angelus closed his eyes, crowded in even further. Their foreheads touched. “Yes. I remember. Don't stop.”

 

Spike wasn't sure he had much more to say, but knew when not to disobey. He started to get creative. Perhaps it wasn't so bad, this poetry stuff, after all. “It sort of exploded into my mouth as her flesh gave; popped. It was juicy, like figs, and slick, pumping into me, heating me. She tasted like honey and butter together, sweat and blood…”

 

Angelus was panting ever so slightly now. It was the first time Spike had ever seen his Sire do something so blatantly human. It made his voice stutter to a halt, and Angelus to opened his eyes. He looked hazy and languid, like a long slow fuck. Spike felt himself harden.

 

Angelus looked at his forehead again, then at his neck, then at his mouth, and lowered his head once more. Spike expected a kiss, and parted his lips, but instead felt Angelus' tongue stroke lightly at the corner of his mouth, just a taste. He pulled back for just a second, and Spike licked his lips automatically. Their tongues touched.

 

There was a long pause in which neither of them moved. Then suddenly Angelus lunged, pushing into Spike's lips roughly, making his head snap back. This was more of a bite than a kiss, it was unsubtle and rough and painful and there was some blood.

 

Spike had been surprised at how much he'd liked the gentle touches. But this he knew he loved. His fingers twitched at his side, wanting something to touch, to grab. Angelus' tongue pushed into his mouth, and he caressed it with his own, winding his body around Angelus' at the same time as his mouth opened and he let his head fall back, passive and accepting. It was a response that had been half beaten into him years earlier, and one which he had down to a fine art.

 

But, he realised, this kiss was different to any they'd shared before. For the first time Spike didn't really feel like Angelus was kissing him. This was… different. This was more like Dru's kisses, he realised. When she kissed him she was almost never really there. Sometimes, certainly, it was carnal and immediate and bloody wonderful. But sometimes it was something else. Something distracted and not a kiss, but as though she were searching for something else. She often had visions during sex.

 

This kiss was like that, and Spike wondered what Angelus was searching for. He was being kissed breathlessly, deeply, Angelus' tongue searching his mouth as though… suddenly, Spike understood. This wasn't about him. This was about blood. It had all been about blood. The touch to the forehead – he hadn't washed since killing the slayer; the lick on his neck – where the girl's blood had trickled down; and this kiss. He wanted a taste.

 

Spike's eyes opened and he tried to pull away, wanting to tell Angelus to find his own dinner, but Angelus brought a hand up and tangled it in Spike's hair. The kiss, if possible, deepened. Angelus stopped demanding, and started stroking, and it made Spike, against his better judgment, want to purr. Any protest hazed away and his eyes drifted closed again. This was probably the longest kiss they'd ever shared and Spike felt himself losing to it. To Angelus. He didn't mind.

 

Spike moved closer and felt a bulge pressing against his hip. He rubbed his body against Angelus', who in turn thrust back, pushing and stumbling until Spike realised they were in the shadow of the ship where Angelus had been lurking.

 

He felt the cold wood of the junk against his back, and as Angelus pushed against him again, getting into a rhythm, echoing the drumbeats that made the shacks along the waterfront shudder. He felt little splinters work into his skin through his top. Fuck, that hurt. Miniature stakes, he supposed.

 

Their mouths parted briefly and Spike was left gasping. He hadn't realised that he'd missed this. Angelus gave him a darkling look in the half-light and pushed a hand in between their bodies, worming his way into the front of Spike's trousers.

 

Spike felt the easy tug of familiar routines pull at him. There was nothing quite like this feeling of being bound down, at someone's mercy. At Angelus' mercy. It was titillating and daunting and uncomfortable and… right all at the same time. And he hated it as much as he craved it.

 

At the same time as he felt Angelus' cool hand touch his erection, Spike felt equally cool lips return to nuzzle at his neck. The two together sent a flash of electricity through his system and he moaned, his head jerking back and banging into the boat behind. He saw stars.

 

“Fuck.” He panted. “Angelus.” For a second his neck felt the press of teeth. Then Angelus pulled away. He was a discomposed as Spike had ever seen him; collar askew, coat crumpled, eyes hazy.

 

“Angel, remember? I'm an Angel. Call me Angel.”

 

There was a bitter edge to his voice and Spike looked uncertain. He retreated once more into bravado. “Call me Spike.” Angelus grabbed Spike's hair and smacked his head back into the boat behind.

 

“Fuck!” Spike reeled.

 

Angelus' mouth returned to his neck, and Spike felt the insistent tug of sucking. Right over the place where he had been bitten for the first time. It turned Spike's knees to water.

 

The hand on his cock was working him rhythmically, but without much focus - all of Angelus' attention was on his neck, and the pull of suction slowly started to become painful. Spike bit his lip and tasted blood; his blood, the girls, Angelus' and a hint of slayer. It zinged through him and made him harder. He brought a hand to the front of Angelus' trousers, but as he slipped the first button through its opening Angelus growled and grabbed his wrist. He slammed it back against the boat, away from his erection.

 

Spike felt little points of pain-pleasure running through his body. Starting with his wrist it spread down to his neck and shoulder, pinned uncomfortably back against the junk, along his spine, stretched and rigid, and ending at his cock. It was taut and made his head spin.

 

Teeth. Angelus' face had changed and Spike hadn't noticed. He felt the pull of lips become the press of teeth, hesitant and suspended. Spike tilted his head back, offering, almost pleading. Angelus' body shook with a helpless groan, and then his control snapped and he lunged, finally burying his teeth in Spike's neck.

 

Spike let out a strangled yelp as he felt his throat constrict, tighten around the fangs, and he closed his eyes, finally, completely, giving in. He felt great surging pulls drawn out of him as Angelus dropped his still-hard cock and instead gripped both his shoulders, bearing down with his teeth. Spike felt his erection subsiding, but didn't care.

 

Everything was slowly washing away and he could almost hear the waves as the world receded. Drum beats became dull echoes and then shadows; a baby's crying fizzled and rippled away; the sound of Angelus' throat working as he swallowed the still-warm blood muted and died. All Spike felt was the connection. Teeth, blood, flesh. It was like being turned all over again. He could almost feel his heartbeat slowing.

 

“Wait.”

 

The word whispered.

 

“Wait.” Louder this time, dully resounding. He wasn't sure if he had said it or Angelus.

 

“This has to stop.” There is was again, louder this time. More concrete.

 

The teeth in his neck had gone, and Angelus was holding him up.

 

“Are you alright?” he heard Angelus say, but couldn't find the energy to lift his head – it lolled on his shoulders like one of Dru's dolls that had been bad and mangled.

 

Spike felt warm and sated. Lazy, like a heavy sleep that you can't shake off. He tried to grin.

 

The plunge of river water shocked him back to coherence. He gasped again – turning into a bloody fish, he thought – as he was pulled out by the scruff of his neck.

 

“With me now?” Angelus asked, staring at Spike solemnly, dropping his grimy collar.

 

Spike pushed his wet hair off his forehead, grimaced at the taste of the water. Foul. “Just about.” He said. He was still breathing heavily, like an idiot. He half-tensed, remembering the number of times he'd been cuffed for displaying such a human weakness, but then realised that at some point Angelus had been breathing too. The memory almost made him grin. Ha.

 

Angelus glanced down then looked quickly away, and Spike realised that his cock was still hanging out. He tucked himself away and did up his trousers. He felt weak. Almost drained, of course.

 

“Sorry.” Angelus said quietly.

 

Spike looked up in surprise. Had Angelus ever apologised for anything before? Ever? He didn't know how to react. Maybe it really wasn't him. There was a long pause.

 

“Don't fret about it. I've had worse.”

 

“It was just—” he stopped and brought a hand to his forehead as though he felt dizzy. “You were so… hot.”

 

“Blood'll do that.”

 

Angelus looked away. He was so… timid, thought Spike. Apologetic.

 

The world was coming back to him in guttering bursts; heat, fire, smoke, blood, death, screams, river, China, Slayer, Dru. He started at that last thought, feeling – rather ridiculously – like he'd betrayed her. God knows why – this was nothing new. It was because of Angelus, he realised. He was changed, subtly so, and it did feel like he was leaving Dru out of something new and different.

 

“What's up with you?” Spike asked quietly. “What happened when you were… gone?”

 

Angelus glanced at him sharply, pulling further away. “Nothing. Nothing happened. I'm fine.”

 

Spike shook his head in disbelief. Fine. If that's the way he wants to play it. “Well of course. You've had a full meal.” He brought a hand to his neck. It was throbbing and felt hot and raw. Angelus watched him, looking ravenous again for a second before he shuttered his eyes and turned away.

 

Standing in the darkness like strangers, Spike hadn't felt this awkward since that time he'd had to escort his cousin Emily to the dressmakers. He glanced away, down, and was disgusted to notice two dead rats on the floor at his feet. He kicked one into the water.

 

Angelus twitched at the dull splash, and muttered, “Darla. I have to get back.” He turned abruptly, and made his way to the uneven wooden path. He didn't wait to see if Spike followed. Spike didn't tell him to stop. It seemed a lot like running away.

 

Typical Angelus, thought Spike, tipping his head back with a dry grin. Takes what he wants and then fucks off. Just before he went out of sight, Angelus stopped, turned his head slightly and looked at Spike from the corner of his eye. He nodded slightly in acknowledgement. In goodbye.

 

“Spike,” he said.

 

Spike's head jerked up, but Angelus was already gone.

 

He wiped the blood and river water away from his mouth with the back of his hand. “Angel.” 

 

The End