Chapter 08

Angel was pleased to find Spike standing in the corner when he came to bed. The night, like the last few, had passed uneventfully. He was beginning to despair of ever having a case. The others needed the money they earned, despite having a permanent place of residence, because he couldn’t—and wouldn’t—dip into blood money in order to support them. At the same time, he was also grateful that the last few days had passed uneventfully. It meant that Cordelia had been given a break from the visions that were slowly killing her. And it was giving him time to get the whole mess with Gunn straightened out. He winced. Thinking of Cordy’s visions and her impending death if they couldn’t find someone who could help her wasn’t the best thought to try and sleep on. Doing his best to shake the morbid thoughts from his head, he turned to his Childe.

Spike stared at his Sire impassively, waiting silently for permission to move. His feet had long passed the point of being merely painful and gone into the realm of torture. And considering he’d had to force himself to stand in that corner and accept the pain, he had essentially tortured himself on his Sire’s command. Not unusual, in the demon world, but it still had a profound psychological effect.

Angel stared back, satisfied only when the blonde dropped his eyes subserviently to the floor. “I went out and bought you some clothes. I figured you’d want jeans and tee-shirts, not the style of clothes I wear.”

“Aye,” Spike said, voice little higher than a whisper.

Angel sat the shopping bags down on the bed and pulled out three pairs of jeans, four tee-shirts, three sets of two pairs of boxers, and a pack of socks. Spike watched him silently. He wished he could move from his spot against the wall, but he didn’t dare to do so until his Sire gave him permission.

Angel picked a pair of boxers at random and held them out towards Spike. “Here. Take these. Go take a shower.”

Spike took the first step out of the corner tentatively, gritting in his teeth as pain flared. He found himself clenching and unclenching his fists, taking deep breaths in an effort to keep himself calm. Slowly, he took the boxers from his Sire’s fingers and inched his way across the floor to the bathroom. Showering seemed like the worst idea in the world right then and also the best. He stunk, and he knew it, and he wanted nothing more than to be rid of his own stench. At the same time, letting water pool around his feet was going to be more torturous than standing in the corner had been.

Sighing to himself, he forced himself to bear it. Taking a shower would not only get rid of the stench he was carrying on, but cleaning his feet would help prevent any infection. He sat carefully on the edge of the sink and inspected the bottom of his feet. He’d expected the whip marks to have faded by now, but the welts stood out just as proudly as they had four hours before. Trying to consider the situation logically, the reason the whip marks hadn’t faded could simply be due to the fact that they hadn’t gotten any air. Oxygen always helped escalate healing, so having his feet sealed to the floor for the last few hours could be the culprit.

Eyeing his feet carefully, Spike took a deep breath as the realization set in that something was wrong. Risking Angel’s wrath seemed a bad idea, but Spike wasn’t about to make the same mistake he’d made earlier in not informing Angel. With a barely muffled scream, the blonde forced himself back to his feet and inched his way slowly into the bedroom.

Angel turned at the sound of his Childe entering the room, frowning. “Didn’t I tell you to take a shower?”

“Aye.” Spike looked at him through eyes laced with exhaustion only pain could cause.

“So why haven’t you taken one yet?”

“Sire, my feet haven’t healed yet.”

Angel frowned. “Show me.”

Spike motioned to the bed, silently asking permission to take a seat, and felt immensely relieved when Angel nodded his assent. He sat down on the edge of the bed and scooted backwards, straightening his legs so that Angel could look at his feet, but he made sure he scooted no further than absolutely necessary, which left his feet dangling off the end of the bed.

Angel crouched at the end of the bed, carefully lifting Spike’s feet to examine them. The blonde was right; they were welted still, and oozing a bit of blood. He wrinkled his nose in distaste. Blood might be a source of sustenance for him, but he hated the mess it made. “You’re still bleeding,” he said disdainfully.

Spike snorted. “Sorry, Peaches. Thought it would’ve stopped by now.”

The elder vampire scowled and smacked the sole of the foot he held, relishing the pained whimper the blonde made in response. “Have you eaten anything tonight?”

Spike squirmed uncomfortably. He’d been so busy setting everything up for Gunn’s interrogation that he hadn’t thought about feeding. And then the punishment had come up and it had driven all thought of eating from his mind. Shaking his head, he bit his lip and instinctively titled his neck towards Angel.

Angel felt his heart go out towards his Childe. The man had been so busy trying to make sure everything went well with the humans, he’d neglected his own health, and by doing so, was suffering needlessly. “No wonder these haven’t healed,” he said, tapping each foot lightly. To his credit, Spike didn’t flinch or squirm away. “Go take your shower,” Angel said abruptly, relinquishing his hold on Spike’s ankles. “We’ll figure this out afterwards.”

“Yes, Sire,” Spike said and carefully picked himself up off the bed. He wasn’t going to call Angel by any nicknames until he was sure the man was as far away from his feet as possible. The smack he’d earned earlier had been warning enough.
Showering was as painful as he’d expected it to be and he spent no more time in the tub than absolutely necessary. It was probably the quickest shower he’d taken in decades. He pulled on the boxers his Sire had handed him and shuffled back into the bedroom.

“Sit,” Angel said, motioning to the bed.

Spike obeyed immediately, not bothering to repress the sigh of relief he felt as he took his weight off his feet.

Angel sighed, his eyebrows furrowing as he considered the options before him. He could go downstairs and get a few packets of human blood that he got from the blood banks. Normally he made do with animal blood, but he kept a few packets of human blood around for emergencies. It was a good idea, but it wouldn’t help Spike as much as it should’ve. Angel suspected that the Slayer and her friends had been keeping him on the edge of starvation, since he couldn’t kill his prey and they wouldn’t have known to give him more than one pack of animal blood a night. The only humane option—and it was ironic that he was the one trying to figure out the kindest course of action—would be to allow Spike to drink from him. Something he hadn’t done since the man was a fledgling.

There were complications with that and very few of them had to do with how well Spike would heal. That wasn’t even an issue. No, the concern here was for Angel himself. He’d felt himself growing more and more attached to the blonde in the last few days and the whipping had pretty much cinched it for him. There was no way he’d be able to let the blonde walk out of his life again. Part of him knew that his Childe would be ecstatic about that; in fact, most of him knew that. But there was a minuscule part of him that shied away. He hadn’t shared his life with another being for nearly a century. It required a kind of commitment he wasn’t sure he was ready to make.

And opening the old Sire-Childe bond by letting Spike drink his blood would force him to face up to his feelings, whether he felt ready to do so or not. Angel sighed, thinking. Spike would probably have qualms of his own, but he wouldn’t protest a decision his Sire made. No vampire would. But Angel wasn’t sure he was ready to bare his soul so completely. Not to anyone, really, but especially not to Spike.

William always had this uncanny ability to look straight into the heart of the matter of any situation; it’s the biggest reason he’d become Angelus’ favored, and though he’d never told the blonde that, Angel was sure his Childe had known.

“Want me to go get the human blood you keep in the walk-in cooler, Peaches?” Spike said, breaking into his thoughts.

Angel met Spike’s startling blue eyes out of shock. Had the man read his thoughts? He assessed the blonde before him, but Spike was obviously in so much pain that trying to psychoanalyze anyone was completely out of the picture. “How do you know about that?” he asked, brain catching up.

Spike shrugged. “I got bored. Went exploring. Didn’t expect you to have human blood around though.”

Angel sighed in annoyance. “I only have it in case of emergencies. In case you didn’t notice, the fridge—

“I know, it’s stocked full of pigs blood.” Spike winced. Interrupting his Sire might not have been the best course of action. He tensed, waiting for a blow that never came.

Angel frowned at his Childe thoughtfully. He could take the easy way out, let his Childe heal by drinking human blood. No one would be the wiser, except himself. Only he would know that he’d chickened out. He sighed. He couldn’t do it. Taking the coward’s way out just wasn’t in him. And, he admitted out of practicality, there wasn’t enough blood to do Spike any good in this condition anyway.

Mind made up, he seated himself against the headboard, spreading his legs to make room. Sharing blood was always an intimate experience, but sharing blood from Sire to Childe was so rare that there was a special protocol in place to ensure the Sire kept dominance over the Childe during the entire encounter.

Spike watched him, curious. Nothing seemed odd or out of place to him. For all accounts and purposes, it just looked to him like Angel was getting himself ready for bed. “Want me to go get myself that blood, Sire?” he asked again.

Angel rolled his eyes and rolled up his cuff sleeves. “No, idiot. I want you to take your spot.” He patted the space in-between his legs.

Spike looked at the spot, then back at his Sire, obviously confused. “What?” he asked almost stupidly.

The elder vampire’s eyes closes as he drew a breath to keep his temper from fraying. This was already difficult enough without Spike making it harder. “I’m going to share my blood with you, Childe. Take your spot.” The words came out hard, harsher than he’d meant them to sound. This sharing of blood was sacred amongst their kind and he hoped his hard tone hadn’t discouraged Spike from doing what he’d been told.

He needn’t have worried. At the words, Spike’s eyes lit up with delight. Mindful of his feet, he took the spot Angel had indicated carefully, but it was obvious that if he hadn’t been minding an injury, he would’ve leapt for it as eagerly as a puppy. Or, Angel thought wryly, a fledgling.

Spike settled comfortably against Angel’s chest, letting his arms fall loosely by his sides. He titled his head to the side to allow his Sire access. Neither one of them bothered to keep up the human guise when they were alone with one another, so there was no morphing into game face required.

Angel smiled softly as Spike settled himself, wondering why he’d ever thought this was a bad idea. The most adorable thing about Spike was his desire to please. He slid his legs closed around the man’s waist, asserting his dominance as he trapped his Childe with them. Unsurprisingly, Spike didn’t put up even a token of resistance. Angel held his wrist close to Spike’s face. The blonde reached forward gently and snared Angel’s wrists between his fangs, but didn’t break skin. He cradled his Sire’s wrist gently with his fangs, waiting for permission.

Angel didn’t wait. He sunk his fangs deeply into the vein on his Childe’s neck, feeling the man arch beneath him at the combination of pain and pleasure it produced, infinitely pleased that Spike didn’t break protocol and bite down at the moment he did. Since his mouth was otherwise occupied, he brought his other hand up to the entrapped arm. Spike reluctantly released his wrist, an action that amused Angel because of the petulant aura the blonde was giving off. Angel tensed in preparation and took a claw to the vein in his wrist and held it up to Spike in silent invitation.

The point of his Childe holding his wrist in his mouth while he sunk his own fangs in was a dance of dominance. No Childe was ever allowed to pierce their Sire’s flesh and the protocol was in place to make sure his Childe understood his place in relationship to his Sire. The permission to drink was given when a Childe’s Sire pierced their own flesh and held the bloodied wrist to their Childe’s mouth.

Spike had always been excellent at the dance. He was the only one of his Childer that Angel never had to discipline for breaking his flesh more than once. He closed his eyes in pleasure as felt Spike began suckling at the wrist he held carefully to his mouth. Angel’s fangs were still embedded in Spike’s neck and they would remain that way for the entirety of the sharing. Angel had drawn a small sampling of blood when he’d pierced Spike’s neck, but stemmed the flow fairly quickly. While it was always heady to drink another vampire’s blood, especially a Childe or Sire’s blood, it wouldn’t be conducive to Spike’s healing. And that was the whole point of the exercise.

Spike suckled gently at Angel’s wrist, treating each drop of blood as if it were a precious treasure. In truth, it was. So many years since the last time he’d shared blood with his Sire that he didn’t even want to remember how many had passed. There was a limit to how much blood he could take, he knew, but he also knew his Sire would stop him. That was the reason for the position he assumed during the ritual. And why Angel had fangs in his neck. They were a gentle, but firm, reminder that the person behind him was the one in control of the sharing and that he’d take no more blood than his Sire allowed. He’d wondered, once, why such a thing was necessary when no sane Childe would disobey his Sire, but all of those thoughts had occurred to him before he’d shared Angel’s blood for the first time.

Sharing blood was like nothing else. There were simply no words to describe the sheer ecstasy he felt at the mere taste of Angel’s blood. It was like ambrosia, the nectar of the gods, and no one in their right mind would stop drinking it if they didn’t have to. That desire to drink until there was nothing left was the reason Angel had to keep fangs in his neck. The pressure of his Sire’s fangs and the weight of the man’s presence over his body were irrefutable assertions of Angel’s dominance over him. It told him he’d stop drinking when he was told, even if he didn’t want to, because if he didn’t, Angel could—and would—drain him nearly dry.

Luckily, that had only been necessary once, when Spike was still a fledgling. It wasn’t an experience he ever cared to repeat, because being drained nearly dry was so crippling and painful that it made the foot whipping he’d taken earlier look like a walk in the park.

Angel judged by the strong flow he could feel in Spike’s veins that the blonde had taken enough blood to heal him. And enough to renew the bond between us, he thought in resignation. He wasn’t sure yet if that was good or bad thing; only time would tell. He tugged against Spike’s fangs gently, letting the man know that the sharing was over. For a moment, he feared the blonde would continue, but Spike let his wrist go with a small whimper of protest. He lapped the blood on the incision with his tongue, healing the incision Angel had made. Angel smiled to himself in fond exasperation and withdrew his fangs from his Childe’s neck.

“Thank you, Sire,” Spike said sleepily.

Moving out from underneath the blonde without disturbing him wasn’t easy, but somehow Angel managed it. He scowled at his sleeping Childe. Of course he’d forgotten how sharing blood wiped Spike out or he would’ve settled on the other side of the bed. Because he hadn’t, he was forced to lie on Spike’s side of the bed. And of course, that meant he didn’t have his normal pillow and the bed dipped in different places.

Sighing, he somehow found a place that was mostly comfortable and curled up, doing his best to go asleep. He swore a few times under his breath that he’d never be able to go to sleep on Spike’s side of the bed. But once he stopped tossing and turning and settled down to a mostly comfortable position, he found he couldn’t keep his eyes open. All the thoughts that had plagued him during the night just faded to nothing and soon after, he was fast asleep.

Spike woke the next night before his Sire and started guiltily once he realized he’d been sleeping on Angel’s side of the bed. He slid out of the bed quietly and winced as his feet met the cold floor. They were still sore from the punishment he’d endured the night before, but they didn’t make him want to scream bloody murder. He wandered into the bathroom and settled on the seat, pulling his right foot up to look at it. Amazing. No welts remained. In fact, his skin looked as good as new. All that was left was the muscle aches such whippings caused. Noting that, he felt a surge of gratitude towards his Sire. Not only had the man been merciful with the whipping, but had shared his blood in an effort to heal his pain. Spike felt himself reach a decision with that knowledge. He knew, without a doubt, that he’d never stray from Angel’s side again.

Good, ‘cause I’m pretty sure after last night, I’m not going to be letting you go any time soon.

Spike started. His Sire had renewed the bond between them? The blonde could’ve smacked himself. Of course he had. There was no way for a Sire to share blood with his Childe without renewing the bond. It simply wasn’t possible. Oy, Peaches, not used to having you in my head so early.

Angel snorted. Not used to waking up to you broadcasting so loudly. Tune it down, would you? I’m trying to sleep here.

Spike rolled his eyes. Trust his Sire to complain about that. But the blonde did as he had been requested and muted his thoughts. He’d nearly forgotten what it felt like to have such a bond in place. He felt a rush of fear and relief as he realized what the bond meant. There was no way he could lie to Angel, not that he’d been intending to. But it also meant he couldn’t hide the feelings and thoughts he’d been hiding either. All of the stuff about Buffy and Sunnydale was bound to come up sooner or later. He wasn’t sure he wanted to deal with that, so he pushed it from his thoughts. Hopefully, he’d managed to quiet his thoughts enough that Angel hadn’t picked up any of his wandering thoughts about those issues. He preferred to leave them for a time he was in better health and better spirits.

Ironically enough, the fact that he wasn’t in the best of moods made him dread that night’s work that much more. Which, after a fashion, made perfect sense, since torture was normally accomplished best with a stoic heart. Not, he said firmly to himself, that I’m going to be doing any real torturing.

That’s right, Angel said. And I’m awake now. Thanks a lot. But the tone lacked ire.

Spike rolled his eyes. Not my fault, Peaches.

Yeah, yeah. You’re the picture of innocence.

Oy! You’ll ruin my reputation.

Angel laughed mentally. Nah, you do that all by yourself. So when are you going down to deal with Gunn? And what exactly do you have planned?

Spike sighed. Probably about halfway through the night. Gotta let him stew a bit more. As for what, I thought you didn’t want to know.

I probably don’t. 
So why’d you ask, then? Spike asked, unable to keep the petulance from showing. That was the thing about mind-to-mind communication. It was absolutely impossible to disguise how you were feeling from one another.

Just cause.

Uh-huh.

Oh all right. I just want to make sure you’re not going to go too far.

Like I’d dare, with last night? The memory of the whipping he’d earned was still fresh in Spike’s mind. There was no way he was going to risk another round of his Sire’s ire. He could’ve felt offended by the question, but there’d been no real accusation or worry in Angel’s tone. The man was just making conversation and that was rare enough between them that Spike didn’t dare complain about the topic.

Do we really not talk that much? Angel was concerned.

Spike winced. He hadn’t meant to broadcast that. Sorry, Peaches. Still learning how to control my end of this thing again. Didn’t mean for you to hear that.

I know that, Spike.

The blonde winced again. Those words had been barbed.

Are you going to answer my question?

Huh?

I asked if we really didn’t talk that much. Irritation colored Angel’s words.

Oh. Sorry. Yeah, we really don’t talk that much, Peaches. But I’m not upset about it or anything.

Huh. Somehow, I have trouble believing that of you, William.

Believe what you want, Peaches. The truth was that the blonde yearned to talk to his Sire, to catch up on all the years he’d missed out on. But it wasn’t his place to ask for stories and if Angel wanted to talk, he’d let him know. Just because he sometimes felt lonely and misplaced didn’t mean he was going to disrupt his Sire’s life for his own selfish needs. He’d never been that kind of person and he wasn’t about to start now.

In fact, he was about to do something else for his Sire. He was going to heal one of his humans. The methods he was using to do so were certainly a bit on the unorthodox side of things, but when had vampires ever expected to do anything orthodox?

He hummed to himself as he walked out of the bathroom and exited the hotel room his Sire had already vacated. Somehow the conversation with Angel, though short, had been enough to restore his good mood. He was going to be able to go to his torture session with Gunn in high spirits, although he was sure his Sire wouldn’t appreciate the fact he considered it a torture session.

No matter. He wasn’t really going to harm the human. Just get him to see the error of his ways. And then have a nice, long chat with Fred. She was, after all, the only human he hadn’t really interacted with. And if he was going to have a home here, he was going to have to find a way to be accepted by everyone; including, ironically enough, the man that he was about to torture.

Chapter 7     Chapter Index     Chapter 9

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