October 22nd, 2003



"I don't think I've ever seen this side of you," Wesley said as Angel contemplated the selection of necklaces. His voice was mild but Angel has no trouble hearing the amusement beneath the subtle surface.

"It's not a side," he said tersely. "I'm not a cut of beef." Wes cleared his throat, but Angel ignored him. "I'm just...shopping. I shop."

"Yes." A smooth pause. "Of course."

"I buy clothes, I buy weapons, books, CDs." Angel felt himself getting defensive. "I have an account at Amazon." He turned away from the jewelry case and gave Wes a glare, pulled a little hand gesture at his own outfit. "You think the Armani fairy just comes and leaves these outside my door?"

"No, Angel." Dulcet British voice, a steady gaze that was a bit too bright with what might be suppressed laughter.

Irritably, he turned away, pointed for the benefit of the salesgirl. "That one." She removed the gold chain and held it up for him, draped over her white soft hands; not bothering to examine it more closely, he handed over his credit card, which was not exactly legal, but he paid the bills and AmEx seemed happy with his business.

"That thing he's wearing now is tacky," Angel explained to Wes. Wes said nothing, his face settling into lines that looked suspiciously like indulgence and approval. "I can't stand to look at it." He was starting to sound like a tough guy; he couldn't seem to stop talking.

"Well," Wes said seriously. "I guess he'd better be prepared to make some changes then, if he knows what's good for him."

They stared at each other, both perfectly expressionless. After a moment, when no obvious means of saving face occurred to Angel, he turned away with a set jaw to sign his receipt. He pretended not to see his friend's smile.


"Here," Angel said, throwing the velvet box at Spike, who turned just in time to catch it with a smack in the chest, one of his less graceful saves.

"What's this?"

Angel didn't answer, but hoped his stare conveyed that he wasn't here to answer stupid questions from a tasteless halfwit whose past decade of jewelry purchases had come packaged in plastic bags and who was currently wearing a 10-karat garbage ring in the shape of an angry eagle for the sole purpose of making his grandsire fume in disgust every time it worked across his cock. The fuming and disgust always evaporated into tiny grunts that Angel hadn't yet figured out how to control, but one of these days if Spike wasn't careful he was going to lose the entire finger supporting that stupid ring. Then again maybe he should just try to take it off while Spike was sleeping. The ring. Leave the finger. It was useful.

"Don't remember it being my birthday," Spike said, holding the chain between two fingers like a small piece of entrail. He seemed dubious.

"Shut up and put it on."

A considering look, a half-smile. "Your gift. You're supposed to do the honors."

Angel refused to let even a twitch disarray his cultivated lack of expression as Spike tossed the box aside and brought his gift back to him, swinging from one finger now in a deliberate and somehow inviting way. When he was close enough to taste, Angel grabbed the chain with one swift hand and the back of Spike's neck with the other. For a moment he held that handspan of muscle and bone and stared into Spike's deep eyes, then tightened his grip just enough to signal what he wanted. Once it would have taken force to drive Spike to his knees; now he folded and bent his head nicely, nape curving like the stem of a flower.

One twist broke the clasp of the crappy chain Spike was wearing; it slithered to the floor as Angel replaced it with what he'd bought. Actions shifted them closer, brought Spike's petal-tufted head rubbing against his thigh, a hair away from his tightening crotch.

"You're docile," Angel observed. He'd meant to sound rude, the way Spike always sounded so rude, but his voice came out too quiet for that. Do I sound grateful? he wondered. He manhandled Spike, drawing his head back to get a look at the effect, gold close above his shirt collar.

Spike raised a brow along with his voice, an arch, needling note to his question: "You think?"

But he thanked Angel properly, from down on the floor.


I visited the Buffistas.org discussion boards for the first time in months and I can't really view anything. I keep clicking around and getting big red texty messages that say, "There has been an error. It's of the type we call fatal. Please don't be scared. You're not the one that's going to die."

Has this been going on a while or is it just a sudden, current problem?


There were no two ways about it. Angel hated to cuddle. He wanted nothing wrapped around his body when he was sleeping, weighing him down, pinning him when he might need to reach for a weapon. Darla had always understood that; she was the same way. They'd been compatible, each recognizing the other's testy snapping point and knowing when to retreat. Separate beds--separate rooms, even, when they could afford it.

Spike, though. Spike tangled and twisted around him like a half-shucked shirt, draped his messy bedhead on Angel's chest, nudged up into the crook of his arm, nosed against him everywhere like a dog. Worst was when he shoved up behind Angel with a leg between his thighs, until Angel woke and stared at the curtains in the dim room, blinking as he adjusted and identified the feel of Spike's erection poking him. It was fucking annoying.

He never suffered that for long. If he woke to Spike's sleepy puppy mash against his backside, he didn't hesitate to jerk an elbow back into available ribs. Spike would grunt and wake up, sigh and roll over. Away. And Angel would stare at the motionless curtains some more and usually fall back asleep.

The warm jigsaw of bodies was okay right after sex, and Angel wouldn't have hurried the afterglow. But that was the time when Spike himself pulled away, stretching and reaching for his cigarettes, bouncing off from the bed, limber and sated as a bobcat after a feed. Then he'd stand naked on the balcony and annoy Angel from a distance. Once he leaped up onto the balcony rail, stretched out his arms and yelled, "Top o' the world, mate!" It was good that they had no neighbors.

"Mmmph," Spike said into the back of Angel's neck one night. Angel's eyes snapped open as he became aware of the cool length of another vampire's body against his own, a hungry prick prodding him. And then Spike gave a low vibrato growl of a laugh and slurred, "Yeah, 's it, petal."

Impatient and pissed, Angel geared up to shove Spike off, then a shift brought a knot of silky, slick arousal dragging upward along his ass. He went very still as Spike kept moving and moaning. When fingers brushed Angel's belly he twined them in his own and guided them lower.

"God," Spike said and with a sudden twitch of synchronicity Angel felt him wake up. He was as still as Angel for a moment then drew in a deep breath. "Sorry," he said, starting to pull away.

Angel kept hold of him, pinning him with thighs and hands. "Don't stop," he said. It was surprisingly easy to speak the words. In the quiet of his own dark room, he set all the rules. He could do whatever he damn well pleased. Cuddle. Sure. Why not. He could cuddle an inch or two if he had to. And Spike had better start getting used to that.

"Yes, sir," Spike murmured.

Angel 5.4

Boy, they weren't kidding about the graphic and disturbing violence and parital nudity. I was a discreet viewer. Often, I had to hide my eyes.**

So, fair warning, I ramble with my own idiosyncratic play-by-play here. I admit it, I am completely, deeply, even fruitily lame. I'm sure you'll quickly be rolling your eyes, so you may want to read other people's more incisive and pertinent reviews instead. With, you know, actual facts about the episode.

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