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Zeal for Life

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He hoped he didn't realise how much it meant that he would take him in. He knew if he had simply turned up on his doorstep they would have been fighting before any words could be spoken. It was plain and simply the way they were. This way – well, this way he had time.

Time at least for them to possibly get back some of what they had had before that bloody soul got in the way.

Time to get him to maybe want him again?

Even the chains just made him feel more secure, more wanted – who used chains unless they wanted to be sure you didn't get away?!

* * * * * * * *

“An' I'm telling you, I ain't dangerous! Since when did you need chains to keep someone in line?!”

“Since the last time I saw you, you were shoving hot pokers through me, that's when. Now will you just shut up? Anyone would think I was chaining you up in a dark, dank dungeon.” Angel tugged a little just for the hell of it before finally clicking the handcuffs into place.

“S'better than a bathtub”, Spike muttered.

“What did you say?” Angel wanted to hear if Spike would repeat what he said although he had already heard from Cordelia who had heard it from Xander. He yanked off the dirty boots to save the cover on the bed.

“Nothin'.” Spike looked sullen as he yanked once more on the handcuffs but Angel could see that he had relaxed some of the tension holding his body taut, stretching it out to get more comfortable on the bed. He swallowed hard as Spike's shifting made his black jeans even tighter for a moment, wondering absently if Spike was ever worried about the tightness of his jeans cutting off the circulation to his lower extremities. Maybe he should take them off for hm, just to be on the safe side? And they did look like they could do with a good clean....”What the bloody hell are you doing now?”

“I'm taking off your clothes, what does it look like? Christ only knows what kinds of germs are on them – you smell like you've been rolling around with vermin!” Struggling slightly at the waistband Angel wondered how loudly Spike would object if he were to simply rip them off but decided his ears could do without the punishment. There was more than one reason that Angelus had a collection of gags back in the day.

“Well you'd know all about vermin – they still run scared at the mention of your name. The vampire Angel, official boogy man of rats for over one hundred years! OI!”

So maybe he didn't quite have to snap the denim on Spike's legs as he finally got them free, but he didn't really like reminders of his time in the sewers. He watched, vaguely fascinated, as a mark bloomed bright red on Spike's thigh before fading to a gentle rose pink against the pale flesh. Spike's skin was so much paler than his own – in his lifetime, he'd spent days in the sun, working hard before he and his father stopped communicating and started fighting instead.

Spike - William - on the other hand had been a pale British gentleman all of his days, the natural pallor taking on a vague glow in the night. Probably half of what had captured Drusilla's attention in the first place, those bright eyes glittering enticingly in the pale face.

“Are you gonna say something or just stand there dreamin' like a dolt?”

“What?? Here, sit up.” Ignoring Spike's mutterings and giving in slightly to the desire that always plagued him when he saw Spike, he grabbed at the neckline of the ubiquitous black tee-shirt and wrenched his hands apart, tearing the frayed material straight down the middle, a smirk crossing his face as he saw Spike register what he had done.

“You're bloody paying for that – it was new. An' designer.”

“Spike, you wouldn't recognise a designer if you ate one!! In fact, I'm pretty sure you pissed Darla off by doing just that.” The huge, rueful smile that crossed Spike's face momentarily before he remembered to scowl sparked something inside of Angel. In that one, unguarded moment, he had seen the Spike he had travelled and had had adventures with. That smile, that zeal for life that had almost always got them into some trouble or other but that had also been so much fun at the same time if Angelus had only allowed his dignified facade to drop.

“She probably deserved it – that one was almost enough to put me off women – bossy, evil bitch she was, especially after you left.” There was an uncomfortable pause, a reminder of past desertions. “Don't know what you saw in the slayer – unless it was how much she liked to run your life like Darla.”

“Yeah, well that particular boat has sailed and is completely off the horizon. And I'm not unhappy to see it go – a time and a place for everything.” They stared at each other before realising they were staring at each other and looked away.

“Right then, wot exactly do I have to do to get you to unchain me? Cos, told ya, basically harmless here. Can't bite me own dinner – it's a bitter pill to swallow.”

“Don't get maudlin Spike. You could always see this as a chance to reassess your way of living. You – Spike, I know you. You've been through the murdering sadist phase – what next? Don't you ever get bored of living in the now?”

“What the hell are you on about? I love my life – I'm not lookin' for redemption and I ain't got no soul acting like some sorta leash. What the hell difference does a soul make anyway? Remember Hitler? He had a soul. Stalin? Mussolini? Hell, just look at half the wars started in the name of religion and the sheer number of people that have died n them. An' you have the nerve to have a go at me? Nah, mate, redemption is your schtick, not mine!”

“Fine, then consider the chip your leash and the chains a little insurance while I decide what the bloody hell to do with you!” Furious at Spike's outright refusal to even consider a different way of living and not quite understanding why he was so angry, Angel threw a sheet over the pale naked body, gathered up the jeans and ripped tee-shirt and stomped out of the room. Sometimes he positively hate how mixed up and confused Spike made him feel – it was like an itch under his skin. But he couldn't deny that he had felt more alive in that short time than he had in what felt like forever. He wanted that – wanted Spike's zeal for life or at least to be able to ride it on Spike's coat-tails if that's what it took to experience it.

He stood outside the room, clutching the tattered teeshirt and jeans while he listened at the door. He wasn't sure what he was hoping to hear. There was rustling, some cursing then the mild creaking and clanking sounds of someone in chains settling in a bed. Silence for a few minutes, minutes where he couldn't explain why he didn't walk away, why he hadn't just walked away from the entire situation and then – there! There it was – the faint but audible to vampire ears sigh that Spike always gave just before he succumbed to sleep. He had missed that sound – the sound of Spike nearby, relaxed, safe. The sound of someone important to him dropping their guard and trusting that he would keep them safe.

He didn’t want Spike to know how much it meant to him that he had turned to Angel in his time of need. That he had trusted that in spite of their checkered history, the fact that every time they met they always seemed to fight, that in the end they were “something” together. And maybe with the chip, they would have the time they needed to figure out just what they could be. He wasn't one hundred per cent happy what t said about him that he was prepared to trick and trap Spike into staying, into giving them this chance but he didn't care. And if need be, he would keep him in chains to make sure he couldn't get away.

Selfish it might be, but this time he wasn't letting go.....