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Behaviour Modification

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It was such a simple idea; he had no idea why it hadn’t occurred to him before. Everything Spike did was to gain approval from someone so why shouldn’t it be him again?

He started small, stopping and listening to Spike’s words rather than dismissing them out of hand. It didn’t change his decisions (at least not at first but Spike was surprisingly insightful at times and he’d be a fool not to take advantage when the blond menace was occasionally right) but it had been quite amusing how taken aback Spike had been when he’d listened and not mocked.

“If you’d just listen… okay… that’s right then, about bloody time.”

Then inviting Spike to team events rather than waiting for him to barge in uninvited. That one had seemed to surprise everyone and that wasn’t a bad thing. They’d all been sliding into the belly of the beast too easily since taking over Wolfram & Hart (something Spike took great delight in telling him constantly).

Fred had always liked Spike and Charles respected his fighting ability but none of them had really gone out of their way to include Spike and it was amazing how easily Spike fit in. Not amazing really, he’d always envied Spike’s ability to get on with people, even those that were supposed to hate him.

“Is this some sort of trick? I’m not going to move to South America and I don’t need an intervention…”

“You would have gate crashed anyway so I decided to just skip the aggression and bravado.”

“Okay then, I’ll bring the beer then.”

“It’s not a movie night, it’s a staff meeting.”

“Beer sounds like a great idea, I’ll bring tacos.”

“Fred, don’t encourage him.”

The casual touches turned out to be even more entertaining. Spike flinched the first dozen or so times. The first few so violently that he’d been hard pressed not to laugh and simply look puzzled.

Finally Spike started to relax and then even press lightly into the more lingering touches.

The kiss had been totally unexpected. They’d been arguing (that side of things hadn’t really changed, Spike was physically incapable of not arguing) and suddenly they were kissing. Spike sprung back like they were on fire and looked at him suspiciously. He’d obviously looked just as surprised as Spike as all that happened was Spike spinning around and leaving the room.

It would have seemed odd if he hadn’t been uncomfortable around Spike after that which was fortunate considering how uncomfortable he felt, but he stuck to the plan and didn’t stop listening to Spike’s ideas or including him in work situations. The touching was reduced as Spike started flinching again and this time around it wasn’t as enjoyable.

It wasn’t his fault that his mind kept returning to the kiss. He led a busy life and it was difficult to schedule intimacy even if he managed to keep a girlfriend for long enough, especially considering his handicap to the whole happiness thing. Manipulating Spike was the closest thing he had to an intimate relationship and that wasn’t real, but he’d make do.

He’d be amused by the spooked way Spike stayed close to Fred if it didn’t twist something in his gut.

Slowly he drew Spike back to how they’d been before the kiss although it had been a delicate balancing act. Being over solicitous would have made Spike suspicious so he had to act like nothing had changed while making sure Spike knew something had.

The team had started to gather for regular lunch meetings and Fred had convinced them not to use the company caterer but to dial out for something not good for them. Angel even allowed Spike to torment him into the occasional burger or French fries.

“It’s polite to eat when everyone else is you plonker, and since they don’t want to think you’re sizing them up as lunch, eat a damn burger.”

Spike was always more lippy when he was feeling confident or nervous and Angel was happy to believe it was the latter.

Next he added just a touch of concern when Spike was hurt (which was often). Not so much that Spike would be suspicious but a solicitous hand up, a carefully tossed bandage and occasional reminder to have extra blood after a fight without his usual comment that Spike was no use to them injured.

When Spike started listening to him Angel ignored the fact that his elation was more delighted than smug and the warm feeling was something he hadn’t felt since he’d held his son for the first time.

He was just about to start with the not so casual touches again when he found himself flat on his back on his bed with Spike straddling him.

They’d started in Fred’s lab arguing about an artefact leading to him storming out with Spike at his heels. They argue all the way to the lifts and all the way up to Angel’s apartment.

Angel thought nothing of Spike following him, it’s happened before, thought nothing of the argument except to feel that the tone had changed between them almost habitual rather than cruel. Thought nothing of the now standard complaint as Spike poured drinks at his bar and handed him a tumbler of whiskey.

Thought nothing of it until he did… until he realised Spike hadn’t moved away… until he realised they’d done this half a dozen times in the last month and that Spike had realised it too.

“Thought Fred was having me on,” Spike said, tossing back his own drink.

“About what?” he asked sipping on his own.

“Finish your drink,” Spike said without answering.

As soon as he had Spike was taking the glass from his lax hand and putting them both onto the bar.

“Figured she couldn’t be seeing what she said she was but she was right the minx.” Spike shrugged and grabbed him by the shoulders. Before he could object Spike was kissing him and before he could think about it he was kissing back.

This was quickly followed by Spike backing him into the bedroom and Angel finding himself in the position of lying on his back with Spike straddling his waist and kissing away any protests he might have made.

Later as Angel pulled the covers over both of them he congratulated himself for the success of his plan.

Spike rolled over and let Angel be the big spoon so that he could hide the smirk. Fred had definitely been right; Angel had been trying to manipulate him. It was a damn good thing the outcome benefited him enough to put up with the prat thinking Spike was that gullible. He had to admit that it was nice to banter with Angel without the usual bullshit, and the sex was bloody good, just like he remembered.