Angel's lids cracked open and Spike once again wished he could take him that way, face to face. But Lisandra would never settle for it. To her, the position wouldn't seem humiliating enough.

< Stupid cow. >


The intensity and arousal with which Angel uttered his Childe's name warmed Spike to the core of his unmoving heart. He kissed his Sire deeply one last time, and Angel returned the kiss fervently.

Keeping his hand lightly stroking Angel's flank, Spike assisted his Sire in turning around.

Lisandra giggled excitedly but, at this point, Spike wouldn't have given a damn if the whole bloody Rangers' cheer-leading squad had been conducting training exercises in the middle of the room.

The sight of Angel, arms languidly abandoned above his head, for the first time ever relinquishing control, was driving him out of his bloody mind. Spike was so hard he wanted to bite his own arm to keep from howling at an invisible moon.

The blonde vampire nipped a path down Angel's spine, crouching over him, hiding himself from Lisandra as he coated his own cock with his Sire's semen. The vampiress wouldn't approve.

Spike allowed himself a short moment to simply drink in the picture of Angel's strong, familiar frame, lying on his stomach underneath him - ignoring the burns and the lash marks.

He slid one slick finger inside his Sire's tight hole.

Angel bucked as his Childe stretched him, prepared him, grounding himself against Spike's hand. The confusing, mixed signals of pain and arousal clouded his senses, but he remained sure of two facts. Spike wouldn't hurt him - and Buffy would forgive. They loved him both, and the thought was almost more than he could stand.

His Childe was bearing down on him, and finally nothing else mattered but the sweet invasion Spike was subjecting him to.

Soon Spike had added a second finger, and then another, and Angel rocked back against his Childe's lighter frame, seeking more - torn between the pain that came with each movement and the oncoming pleasure.

Spike's hand retreated, and he moaned. The younger vampire placed an open-mouthed, lingering kiss at the small of his back, before entering him in one smooth, long, wrenching stroke.

There was burning, but Angel didn't really notice. It had been so long. He had almost forgotten what the weight of another body pressing down on him for a purpose other than torture felt like. Not since the night of Buffy's seventeenth birthday, not since before his five-hundred-year long sojourn in Hell.

He fought back the tears - not wanting Spike or Buffy to believe that this was bringing him more pain. He drove back against Spike as best he could, begging, moaning for more.

Spike was happy to oblige. He pushed on one arm to give himself more leverage, reaching around Angel with his other hand. His Sire was hard again. He squeezed Angel's shaft lightly, teasing the weeping head with the pad of his thumb.

Angel rocked faster as Spike drove in and out of him, loosing himself in the cool tightness.

Spike steered his mind away from the dizzy satisfaction of their powerful coupling long enough to shift his weight on his knees and throw his wrist in front of his Sire's mouth.

"Drink," murmured Spike, his voice feather-like. "Drink."

Angel didn't need to be told again. He shifted into his vampiric visage and sunk his fangs deeply in his Childe's flesh, holding Spike's wrist tightly against his mouth.

Spike closed his eyes. The feel of his Sire drinking from him was like no other. Their physical joining almost paled in comparison.

When Angel came, he let go of his Childe's arm and howled.

His muscles clenched around Spike's cock deeply buried inside of him, his semen soaking his stomach, pain swept away by the tidal wave of his second climax.

Spike froze as Angel clamped down on his shaft, and he sucked at a small wound on Angel's shoulder, drawing just enough blood to enhance his own release.

Angel collapsed under him and the blonde vampire had barely enough energy left to fall to the side, trying not to crush his Sire as he slipped out of Angel.

The older vampire moaned at the loss and Spike quickly wrapped an arm around his Sire's midsection.

His lids falling tightly shut as he struggled to deny harsh reality for one sweet moment longer.




"How long?"

"Twenty minutes to sunrise."

Willow raised her head to the sky with a relieved sigh.

The Goddess was smiling down on them. It had stopped snowing, and the clouds had cleared away, revealing the first rippling nuances of dawn.

"Is everyone in place?"

Xander nodded, not looking at Willow but eyeing the black-clad commandos standing a few feet away from him wearily. He trailed a tired hand through his disheveled dark hair, bringing his voice down a notch.

"Am I the only one who gets a creepy-crawly feeling around those guys?"

Oz shook his head.

"Something's off."

Giles frowned, leaning against the side-door of the humvee. "Can you be more specific?"

The werewolf shrugged. "Just an itch at the base of my skull. Can't explain it better than that. Sorry."

The Watcher acknowledged Oz's words, lips pursed.

"Then we'll just have to make sure that we remain alert and don't lose sight of them at any time."




Angel bit back a moan when Spike's hand grazed the burns and bruises on his stomach, fastening his pants for him. Lisandra had allowed Spike to get dressed, then strengthen his Sire's clothing - granting them that much dignity at least.

Angel still lay on the younger vampire's duster.

The pleasant numbness of his last orgasm had long since receded and the pain was back with a vengeance. Every movement triggered fresh waves of agony as his broken body shuddered and quivered on the floor.

If he didn't know better, he would have thought he had a fever.

Sweat pooled between his shoulders. Shivers racked stiff limbs.

He was on fire.

And there was an ache inside of him - that he couldn't define. A tearing. As if his soul was being ripped to shreds, slowly, meticulously. His lungs constricted, as if he was trying to draw a breath. Which made no kind of sense.

He thought he had known fear before. In Hell. But that was nothing compared to the dread, the unadulterated, boundless terror he was now drowning into.

He was alone.

Buffy. Will.

Their consciousness had retreated, abruptly severed, and he was alone once again.

The fear of abandonment, the fear of nothingness, clawed at his throat. It felt as if his soul was being ripped away from him once more. The sheer agony...

He thrashed a little.

This was worse. He didn't know how such thing was possible - but this, this pain was more terrible than having your soul forcibly torn away from you.

This was more like your soul dying altogether.

He convulsed again, feeling arms around him, but not seeing them. He whimpered, scared out of his mind, and curled into a tight little ball of misery.

What was happening?




Buffy held onto Morghane for dear life as the Guardian trembled fiercely in her embrace - moaning incoherently. Sometimes, she would cry out a word, in a language that the Slayer did not understand.

Buffy raised her frightened gaze to Spike.

The blonde vampire had wrapped his arms around Angel and sat huddled on the floor with his Sire shaking in his lap, across from Buffy, as lost as she was.

"What's going on?"

Spike had all but growled the question.

"What have you done to him now?"

Lisandra smiled coldly.

"_I_ have not done anything. It's all Morghane's fault. That stupid bond. She's dying, and Angel gets a front seat. Isn't it sweet?"

The blood drained out of Buffy's face.

The vampiress rejoiced. "Oh, don't worry, little girl. It won't kill him." She mused. "Might shatter his mind, though. I'm afraid our sweet Angel will never be the same again. I doubt his soul can ever recover from that experience."

"Ah, well. It's not like he was going to keep it much longer anyway."

Buffy gasped and Spike did a double-take.

Angelus stood before them in all his leather-clad glory.

Materialized out of thin air.

He winked at Buffy. "Hello, lover. Remember me?"

The Slayer saw red.

"First. This has to be the lamest attempt at a mind-game you've ever thought up," spat Buffy with a sneer. "So what's the big plan? You torture us wearing Angel's face and we're supposed to... to what? Not give a damn about him anymore? Go get a brain."

The First must have found Buffy's words uproariously funny because it collapsed into laughter.

A sobering sight if there ever was one.

"Come on, lover. I know you better than that. It's not you I'm here to play with. It's him," Angelus said, pointing at Angel.

All traces of humor disappeared from the vampire's face and he snarled.

"Morghane is dying. Angel is my last connection to her. And when the Guardian's soul is finally destroyed, I want her to fade away knowing that she failed. Knowing that I crushed the mind of her favorite warrior, her precious Angel."

Angelus took two steps towards the Slayer. "I want Morghane to draw her last breath knowing that Angel hated her."

"Never... gonna... happen."

Angelus whipped around to face Spike and the vampire cradled against his chest. "Look who's back among the aware..."

Angel was still shaking badly, but he struggled to a seating position with his Childe's help.

His skin was impossibly flushed, his eyes burned with fever, glazed, but he still managed to look menacingly up at the entity wearing his own face.

"I'll never hate her."

"Is that so?" Angelus growled, raising his arm as if to strike.

But Spike got in the way.

"Back off, you ponce."

"That's hardly the proper way to address your Sire, boy."

The blonde vampire rose to his feet, standing protectively over Angel. "You're not my Sire."

Angelus smirked. He punched Spike in the face, sending the younger vampire flying across the room.

Buffy flinched. The First seemed to be getting stronger as Morghane got closer to death. Its manifestations were more and more corporeal each time. This Angelus was more than a mere visual projection.

"I'll teach you to respect your elders, boy," Angelus declared.

He waved at Lisandra, and she sent two of her bodyguards to pick up a very dazed Spike.

"But first... I must have a little discussion with myself."

Bending, he grabbed Angel by the throat and pulled the souled vampire to his knees.

Facing Buffy.

Clutching Angel's damp hair, he forced him to raise his face and look at the two women huddled against the wall.

"What did you think would happen here, Angel? That you would crash my little party and save the day? That you would restore Morghane and that she would anchor your soul?"

Angel flinched and Buffy's jaw fell open uselessly. Aghast.

Angelus tightened his stranglehold on Angel's hair gleefully. "Oh. She didn't tell you. My mistake. Who would have thought there would still be secrets between you?"

"You're lying," the Slayer ground out between clenched teeth.

"No, I'm not. Not disclosing the whole truth maybe... " Angelus bent close to Angel's ear. "That's what Morghane had in mind all along, you know? Why she wanted to find Lisandra so badly and fell into this trap. She needed the power of the Rapture to work that spell." Angelus sighed, mocking. "Too bad, Angel. You came so close to getting your heart's desire."

He extended his hand towards Angel's cheek and the souled vampire recoiled from the foul touch. But he couldn't escape.

Another wave of agony hit him, and he moaned weakly. His eyes swam with tears.

"You can spare yourself this torture, Angel," murmured Angelus. "You can break the bond between you and Morghane. She's lost anyway, so why suffer along with her?"

"I won't... let her die... alone."

"You're a fool."

Angelus forced Angel's head back, bending his neck at an impossible, painful angle.

He growled. "You never stood a chance. You are nothing. A pathetic excuse for a warrior. Look at you. Even if Morghane could anchor your soul, you would still be worthless. I am in you all the time. Happiness clause or not. And you are nowhere close to controlling me. You thought Buffy's love could help you drive me back, stun me into submission. You were so wrong. Your passion feeds me. I grow stronger as she gets nearer. Why do you think you couldn't help but drink from her? Why do you think the Powers drove you two away from each other? Because of a twisted gypsy vengeance? You've got to be kidding me. No. They knew you would be the death of their strongest Slayer to date. They would have used you, and then thrown you away when you had nothing left to give. There's no redemption for you Angel. No light at the end of the tunnel. No haven."

Angelus threw Angel back on the ground in disgust and his thick boot stomped on the injured vampire's shoulder.

Angel cried out and Buffy whimpered.

"All this time, Morghane has been blinded by her love for you. But you have no future, no great destiny. There is no forgiveness, no penance, no salvation ahead of you, Angel."

Angelus brought his foot down on Angel's spine once more.

"Nothing but me."