Also Comes in Strange
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Title: Lacuna
Series: Coming to Conclusions #14
Authors: Tania & Josey
Summary: Set post-The Initiative, A Lacuna is a pool, pit, gap, a blank space or missing part. We all have those to fill.
Pairing: Spike/Angel
Rating: R

It felt like drowning, if he remembered rightly. He was being sucked into a vortex, weighted down until every movement took forever and cost more energy than he had left. His mind, unable to focus beyond a measly few seconds, began racing with flurries of pain every time he passed a pretty girl, and though the shocks that quivered down his spine were not quite the lightening bolts he’d suffered when going after the Slayer’s sidekick, they were painful all the same. He tried holding back, but as each hour passed it became harder to resist; the burning in his veins a friendly warning that he must feed soon.

There was no stopping himself, he had to try again. Spotting a vagrant leaning against an alley wall, Spike thought his chance had come. Bloke might have even passed for good looking at some time, maybe before the bottle of bourbon loosely gripped in his fingers, before wandering through a sewage tunnel or whatever that stench was. Desperate, Spike couldn't let the smell deter him, so, ignoring the fizzing sensation behind his eyes, he went closer, hoping the man wouldn't bolt before he could get close enough to touch him. No, this one wasn't for bolting anywhere. As soon as he saw Spike advance, the bottle was gone and he made an effort to straighten his rumpled clothing.

“Got a place to go?” Spike asked, turning his smile on full as he leaned a hand on the wall, just above the man’s shoulder, sure to brush over his longish brown hair just slightly as he moved in.

There was no timidity in the other’s body when he nodded to a door further up the alleyway. Spike followed behind as the door was pulled open, rusty hinges creaking into the night and echoing off the brick walls. Inside was just as Spike had expected, a dank hole with a few broken tables and mattresses scattered over the dirt covered floor. No one else in sight, though he was sure he heard someone rutting above them, maybe on the third or fourth floor. Hands suddenly tugged at his coat, fingers pulling at his belt loops in a hurry to find some treasure beneath.

“Wait,” Spike whispered, grabbing hold of the man’s neck and pulling him into a crushing kiss, his teeth clashing with soft lips. There was nothing appealing about the act, the stench certainly wasn’t any better this close and the stubble of beard grated harshly over his cheek. But when the faint taste of blood trickled onto Spike’s tongue the change from human skin to the face of the demon was instant. He pulled the man closer, feeling skin break again and again under his jagged teeth. The human tried to pull away but couldn’t; even sober this one would have been no match. Spike pulled back and, pinning the man by the shoulders, ran his teeth over the slim neck, pausing just a second before opening wide, ready to bite down. Waiting for the pain to return. It didn’t come and, sighing with relief, Spike opened his mouth wider as he leaned back just a few inches, ready to propel himself forward.

It came as he started his killing rush. Worse than before even. Spike screamed out, clutching at his head as pain sent him crashing to the ground. His body spasmed, fangs clashing on empty air, nails clawing at his scalp to try and dig it out, stop it, just stop the pain. Please god, stop the pain!

Finally, it did and, as he crouched, shivering, on the cold dirt floor looking around a room now devoid of prey, Spike knew with absolute certainty that he had to leave the hellmouth. He was too well known in these parts and, easy meat that he was, he’d be dust or worse before the week was out.

Upstairs and, having gamefaced the couple in the bed into frozen silence, he went through the john’s pockets. Fifty bucks, plus credit cards and a photo of a sad looking woman with two fat pasty looking kids. It gave Spike the good kind of buzz scaring the shit out of the humans, but it wasn't the same when he couldn’t drag the bastard home and eat his family too. Didn’t stop him from threatening though and that was almost enough to make him smile through the residual pain.

Sauntering out of the building, he cast an eye around him, fingering the billfold in his pocket. He was the Big Bad, William the Bloody. What the fuck was he doing running out of town like a poof just cos the going got rough? He should head on back to the Slayer, take her down, rip her limb from fucking limb and bath in her- Argh!

The pain drove him to his knees again, which was completely un-bloody-fair. All he did was think about it and… yeah, the buzz started up in his head, like stinging spiders over his brain, little twinges of pain when he even thought about the Slayer and her-

“Sodding hell!” he screamed at the clear night sky, claws scrabbling the filthy alley floor. “I didn’t even do anything!”

Lying on the ground and trying to think of a safe place to go, somewhere free of slayers and former girlfriends, Spike discovered his mind a void of blackness and lightning aftershocks, all telling him to seek out family, family who had to take him in whether they wanted him or not.

Half an hour later he was on the freeway to LA. The stolen car belonging to the john looked like shit and rattled off a few dozen clangs a minute as he headed towards Angel and hopefully an end to whatever was causing the mind splattering pain.

He drove to the building by memory - there was something about ransacking a bloke’s flat that helped you remember it in detail - and parked the car up against the nearest curb, or the bumper of Angel’s penis mobile, Spike wasn’t one to quibble semantics.

Creeping past the doctor’s office or whatever the hell office Angel Inc. called neighbor, Spike listened for sounds from within and, satisfied the office was empty, he made his way up the hall. Daylight was still far enough off that there was no panic about a fast escape, his only fear as he pressed the interior office door open was that one of Angel’s pet humans would be standing on the other side and trigger the hunger he’d managed to stave off during the drive. Luckily the room was vacant, but Spike could feel that Angel was close, so close he could smell him…


Was the old poof always this big or had Spike shrunk while the soldier boys messed with his head? Whatever the answer, Spike found himself looking up, and then up again, into cold black eyes.

“I’m counting. And it’d better be good.”

Taking a step back - just to be on the safe side and nothing to do with getting a crick in his neck - Spike opened his mouth to explain. And closed it again, ‘cause honestly, he didn’t know where to start. Or at least not any way that wouldn’t make Angel piss himself laughing and chuck Spike out the moment the sun came up. The frown on that Neanderthal forehead was getting deeper by the passing second, so Spike knew he’d better say something and, predictably, he fell back on aggression.

"Guess I've got a while then, since you won't be counting very high so long as yer watching me and not yer fingers," he sneered.

Angel stared at Spike, taking in the extreme paleness of his skin, the weakness that seemed to emanate from his every movement. "You know I don't think I ever realized just how much of an idiot you are."

"Why's that?"

"You come back here, now? I mean for fuck's sake Spike, I've still got the scars from your last impromptu appearance and you come back?" Angel instinctively punched Spike in the head, even after a century it still seemed the most natural thing to do. What was unnatural was the fact that Spike didn't even get back up after he hit the ground.

"Since when do you scar?" Spike asked after a moment, still on the floor, rubbing at his jaw.

The question caught Angel off guard, it was quite possibly the shortest fight they'd ever had and Angel couldn't help but be amused. "Takes a lot longer to heal when you're drinking pig's blood. I mean-"

"You have blood!" Spike jumped up from the floor and put a hand on Angel's shoulder. "Can I have some?”

Of all the things Angel expected to come out of Spike’s mouth, a request for pig’s blood was probably the last. To cover his confusion, he grabbed Spike’s wrist and deftly spun the smaller man, wrenching his arm around and up his back, and locked the fingers of his spare hand deeply into Spike’s throat on either side of his Adam’s apple. Thus captured, Spike would typically kick or try and head butt Angel, but he didn’t; instead he hung as limp as a noodle in Angel’s grasp. And it was that, rather than Spike’s appearance, or the begging, that forced Angel to realize there was something desperately wrong, because Spike never ever submitted, or at least not without being beaten down for a good long time first.

“What’s happened,” he growled, bending forwards enough to scent up Spike’s neck.

“Nothing,” Spike grouched but Angel was past the point of believing anything that came out of his boy’s mouth. The lingering flavor of antiseptic may have been nearly buried under a flowery feminine perfume and the smell of whiskey, but Angel still picked it up and it was as alien on a vampire as the lingering scent of K-Y on a nun.

"Spike," Angel growled, turning him around until Spike was pressed against the wall, Angel's elbow at his throat.

"Nothing, I said." Spike made no attempt to escape, not wanting Angel to see him collapse to the floor in agony; he did have the smallest shred of dignity left and wasn't about to give it up to the big oaf. The scent of skin so close, the smallest sense of warmth reminding him that Angel had most likely fed within the last hour, made the burning in his veins seem all the more potent. "Fine," he stammered, "some nancy boy soldiers nabbed me in Sunnydale, I mean it's not just me right, it's cheating to use a tazer? What the hell is that about?"

Angel pushed his elbow harder against Spike's chest, literally pressing Spike to continue.

"So they take me to this, I don't know what it was, underground something. Stuck me in a big white box and now I can't bite."

"They stuck you in a box?" Angel asked, pondering the possibilities and asking himself why he'd never thought of doing that.

"Not an actual box. Are you listening? It was like a holding cell, only without the chains and playmate. They put something in my head, tries to kill me every time I try to, well-"


"Well, yeah."

"And you're here because?"

"Because LA was the closest city and I had a yen for the bright lights."

“And you’re here because?” Angel repeated.

Spike sighed and dropped his gaze as what was left of his fight drained away. “Cos I couldn’t think of anywhere else to go, alright? And what with the thing in my head, I thought maybe you could do something.”

Finally the truth. Or as close to it as Spike would ever come. Angel shoved his elbow in once more, just for old time’s sake and then released his hold, standing straight and purposely presenting his back as he headed towards the small office fridge. It was a calculated risk but Spike didn’t attack, and that meant he was weaker and sicker than he was letting on.

“Here,” Angel tossed the bag of pig’s blood across the room and then turned away as Spike ripped into it. Not seeing didn’t prevent the sounds reaching him though, and that was enough to bring back memories of William feeding; the blood spilling down his chin to collect in the dips of his collarbones and stain his shirt. And that reminded him of all the times Angelus had punished the fledgling for ruining his clothes and precisely how much fun those punishments had been.

An empty, dripping plastic bag whizzing across the room snapped Angel back to the present and ponderings of punishment of an entirely different sort. This Spike, the modern day equivalent of his sin personified, didn’t deserve the sort of punishment Angelus would have doled out. There would be no kisses resembling forgiveness, no release bordering on bliss. This Spike - the one who was so fond of torture implements and scorching metal - he deserved something more reminiscent of a blood letting than a mating ritual.

“Downstairs,” Angel snapped, gesturing to the elevator.

Spike peered over at it curiously, having avoided the rickety contraption during his last visit. He may be immortal but he was too fond of his bits to risk traveling in that heap of metal. Still beggars couldn’t be choosers so, with a put upon sigh, he stomped over and yanked open the two doors. Hopefully there would be more blood in the flat. He seemed to remember a kitchen.

Angel slid in silently behind him, slammed the doors and hit descend. The doors locked, the office rose above their heads, and then just as quickly, Angel hit the emergency button.

“What the hell’d you do that for? There’s no one here,” Spike asked, leaning against the wall as the contraption shuddered to a stop.

“I’m not feeling the need for creature comforts just now.”

“Oh shit,” Spike gave Angel a look bordering on sheer terror, not a familiar thing between them, not really. “You mean to bugger me don’t you?”

“Isn’t that what you came for?”

“Don’t know what the hell I was thinkin’ coming here, but you can be damned sure it wasn’t that.”

“Somehow I don’t believe you.” Angel crossed the small space in a single step and slid his thumb through one of Spike’s belt loops, leaning forward just enough to put pressure on the material and slide it down exposing pale, bony hip and flesh.

“Angel, please,” Spike said softly, turning his head from Angel’s glare, “I can’t fight, you don’t know the pain, it’s too much.”

Ignoring the latter part of Spike’s statement, Angel focused on what he felt was important. He still had scars and someone was going to pay for them. “That’ll make a change. It may even turn out to be a pleasant one. For me of course. I don’t suppose it will feel much different to you.”

“You fucking bastard!” Spike spat as Angel spun him around and pressed him face first into the wire mesh doors. “I thought you were supposed to have a soul now. Or doesn’t assaulting passing innocents count in your new rule book?”

Angel increased the pressure on Spike’s jeans until they finally failed and slipped down his legs, then he leaned forward, slid his hand around the smooth skin of Spike’s waist and whispered in his ear, “I'd hardly call you an innocent, besides I'm not planning on assaulting you, much. And we all know how much you love it really, don’t we, William. You're hardly the unwilling victim here.”

Blinking back the tears he was damned if he’d let Angel see falling, Spike growled, “I always was unwilling you git. You may have made me scream but that didn’t mean I wanted you buggering me once a night and twice on Sundays.”

"No, of course not," Angel hissed against Spike's neck, pressing his cheek against the shaking skin as he spoke, "And all those nights you crawled from Drusilla's bed into mine, naked body writhing against mine until Darla nearly woke, dragging me onto the floor," Angel smiled when he felt Spike's skin flush red, "It wasn't my hand that pulled my cock out, was it?"

"No," Spike admitted.

"And you didn't fight then any more than you will now." Angel bit at Spike's earlobe, his tongue playfully curling over the soft skin and back down his neck.

"I can't fight now, and I couldn't then."

"Couldn't you?" Angel asked, wrapping his long fingers around Spike's exposed cock and stroking along its length slowly.

"Never could," Spike growled in answer, his back arching as he searched for more of that incessant touch. “Didn’t know if I wanted to half the bloody time. Never knew whether I was gonna get the sharp side of your tongue, or the sharper side of a blade.”

“Or if I would take you like this,” Angel tightened his grip and scraped the nails of his free hand up Spike’s belly, “and you’d squirm and pant for me. Just like that.”

And true to form, Spike was panting and even squirming a little. There was something about those hands. No one else’s were big enough to touch him the way Angelus’ did, to make him feel secured, despite himself. Maybe this was why he’d come here? Was this what he was searching for? A little of that feeling of being held and safe, a rock to cling to when the world around him had gone mad.

All thoughts of safety and comfort vanished from Spike's mind when Angel's fingernails brushed over his nipples. The lewd whispering in his ear turned to the scrape of fangs and clawed hands tugged him forward one instant and crushed him against Angel's body the next. Over one hundred and twenty years and he was back here, pinned between Angel and a hard surface. Talk about the proverbial - Angel’s fingers breached him and the burn flushed through Spike’s body - his un-life was nothing but a fucking proverb. It wasn’t fucking fair, Spike decided. His brain screamed at him to try to escape the cage-like confines of the elevator, to smash through metal and wood alike if that was what it took to be free of Angel's grasp, and yet, even as routes of escape entered his mind, so did memories of electric shocks and pain that would send him crashing to the floor if he tried to fight.

Exploring the taste of lust-laced fear on Spike's skin with the tip of his tongue, Angel couldn't help but breathe deeply, letting the emotions lying just under the surface of Spike's bravado curl over him in a wash. Shivers ran down his spine as sweat formed between their bodies, slickening every motion and filling the shaft with the aroma of three centuries of warfare and want. Intoxicating scents that urged Angel's hands to work faster, bringing Spike to an orgasm he tried to fight even as Angel whispered for him to release.

Feeling the curve of a smile against his neck and knowing that he could never resist those hands even when unimpeded by technology and weakness, Spike was disgusted. With Angel, with himself and the fact that he couldn’t stop pressing into Angel nor prevent the whisper of Angel’s name that spilled from his lips when he came. And, even as the clang of Angel's belt buckle hitting the elevator floor was sending vibrations through his body, Spike wanted. Wanted Angel the same as always and maybe more.

Hardness like granite and Tuesday afternoon torture pressed against the small of Spike's back. Hands bent his body forward and he barely had time to lace his fingers through the wire sides of the elevator before Angel was filling him. Spike bit back the tears as he was stretched and twisted from the inside out, his traitorous body arching in its effort to welcome Angel's cock deeper within. He tried not to mix the guttural moans spilling from Angel's lips with the cries of pain he had elicited from his sire's body only a month before. Tried to block out the hands that fumbled with his half-erect cock, stirring it to life once more. Digging his fingers into the diamond weave until blood dripped from each digit, Spike tried to smell only his own copper scent and not the heated sweat that poured from Angel's forehead as his pace increased and the cries became louder.

It was to no avail. Each movement pulled Spike back into the moment where there was only Angel and rough hands and sounds bitten off seconds before they turned to words of encouragement. There was only this act. The rest of the world had turned to ash and stone and no matter how much he struggled in his mind, his body turned to solid rock as well, and the vortex sucked him deeper, taking Angel with him.

If someone had told Angel a month ago that he would have Spike trapped in an elevator, fucking him blind, Angel would have laughed in their faces. But here they were. There was no escaping either location or individual. This body housed him as perfectly as it had a century ago, that slight wobble which indicated Spike was on his toes as familiar as the taste of the sweat in Angel’s mouth. If he closed his eyes, it was William in his arms; scared but too horny to do anything but growl and fuck back at him.

And fuck they did. Grabbing a good handful of hair in one hand and a hip with the other, Angel pounded into the willing body writhing against him, letting his fangs trace the stark blue veins in Spike’s neck. The temptation to bite and taste again was too much, and he slashed downwards as he came, blood flooding into his mouth as he spent deep and hard. Spike cried out, a mixture of pain and frustration and Angel rubbed a soothing hand across his belly, the backs of his fingers brushing across the tip of Spike’s unfulfilled cock. The day was long and there were other games to play. Spike could come again later, or not, Angel thought mercilessly.

A dizzying sense of air swirling around him as the elevator started its descent once more, mixed with the lightheadedness that increased as the blood continued to flow from his already weak body, sent Spike crashing to the floor before he even registered that Angel's hands were no longer on him. There was nothing to lean on and as Spike fumbled at the sides of the cage-like walls he only caught fingernails of iron that set empty tinny sounds echoing around him. He lay on the cold floor for several minutes after the lift had come to a halt and Angel had silently opened the doors and gone. Feeling a diamond pattern being branded into his bare legs by the chill, Spike was finally unable to lie there shivering another moment. Pushing himself to his knees, flesh scraping against metal as he tried to rise, he looked as far into Angel's apartment as he could to see if his sire was watching him. Convinced that Angel lay just beyond his vision quietly enjoying his suffering, Spike renewed his effort to stand, but even as he did the blood continued to fall from the wound in his neck, taking the last of his energy with it. Accepting the futility of the struggle he crawled out of the elevator until he reached the thin rug that covered the apartment floor, where he collapsed.

Angel stood in the small kitchen, toweling himself off, desperately hoping that by removing the evidence of his actions from his cock he could wipe the taste of Spike from his throat. It didn't work. The flavor rolled over his tongue and tempted him to bite down, letting it mix with his own. The thought was more than he could handle, fangs tracing over his tongue as he watched Spike's pathetic attempt at faking sleep on the living room floor, or was he? Fuck, asleep. Not gonna happen, Angel thought.

"Get up," Angel demanded, nudging Spike in the ribs with the sole of his shoe. His only answer was a mumbled curse and so Angel bore back his foot and gave one swift kick to Spike's back.

"Shit!" Spike howled, suddenly finding the power to bolt to his knees.

"Thought that might still hurt," Angel said calmly, staring at the faint scarring that still covered Spike's spine after his run in with the flaming pipe organ.

"Yeah," Spike asked, "How 'bout this?" He leaned over and punched Angel in the thigh, connecting a blow over the raised spot where one of Marcus' irons had skewered.

Unfortunately for Spike, Angel had seen the sucker punch coming and his fist connected with Spike's jaw before Spike even had a chance to remember that hurting Angel would send a jolt through his brain. Either way, when Angel's punch landed, followed by a shoulder to Spike’s midriff, they both went crashing to the ground, tangled in each other's half open clothing and blood slickened bodies.

Punches, wildly thrown and most not connecting, were exchanged amidst the grappling for superiority, but Angel finally won out and managed to pin that eel-like body beneath him.

“And stay down!” he growled thumping Spike’s head back with a crack.

“Make up your sodding mind,” Spike snarled up at him. “Half a minute ago it was get up.”

“Just-just…” Angel closed his eyes in concentration as Spike bucked and their hips collided. “Damn well keep still, will you!”

A wicked and totally unrepentant smirk leapt to Spike’s face and he wriggled again, deliberately pushing upwards for maximum contact with Angel’s body.

“I said… Damn…Well…Stay….Still!” Each word saw Spike slammed into the floor by his shoulders and the grin vanished.

“Fuck it, Angelus. You pin me face first in the fucking lift, shag my brains out and oh-so-conveniently forgot to get me off and expect what? A candle lit dinner for two and tickets to a show? Bit of payback not to your liking… Bitch!”

The last was punctuated by a particularly brutal thrust and grind, which Angel echoed with his jaw and clenched teeth. Why had he gone this route? Really he should know better. Sex was Spike’s best weapon and it was just as effective against Angel today as it had been a hundred years ago. Shit, only upstairs he’d been busy telling himself that there was going to be no Angelus-style punishment here, and what had he done? One sniff of that fear and lust and Angelus was back in the building, all semblance of restraint vanished.

Anger, liberally laced with resurgent lust, rammed through Angel’s veins like two rivers meeting at a headwater, vying for position, no clear winner to be found in the swirl of passions so similar. Now here he sat, straddling Spike’s torso, hands raging somewhere between grip and caress, eternally unsure of how to move, where to touch, and Spike just stared at him, eyes blank and half-lidded. It was a useless struggle, and knowing there would never be a winner in this situation he moved to leave, unwilling to fall deeper into the chaotic abyss that Spike so loved.

“Just go,” Angel said, resignation tainting his usually firm voice.

As soon as he felt Angel’s weight lessening Spike was filled with a sense of fear. If Angel kicked him out now, in a worse state than when he arrived, Spike didn’t know what he’d do. Drusilla could be half way round the world by now and Harmony had made it clear she’d have nothing to do with him. Spike was out of allies, and in his present state he didn’t think he’d attract the sort of demons looking for new friends, just a quick meal or party favor.

“Angel wait,” Spike whispered, grabbing Angel’s wrist before he had a chance to go.

“Wait for what?” Angel couldn’t bring himself to look at the blood soaked vampire, the pathetic tinge to Spike’s words grated on him. Angelus may have loved to hear Spike beg, but Angel found no pleasure in the words.

“Just,” Spike turned his head away from Angel as he spoke, “just don’t make me leave tonight. I can’t...” He let the words trail off, finding them useless in his throat. There had never been words between them, and when Angel stood to walk away, Spike knew that nothing short of chasing after him as Angel tried to escape the moment would help.

Standing before him as Angel leaned against the kitchen counter and bracing himself against whatever head wind moved to send him falling, Spike wanted to say a dozen things, instead he dropped to his knees, undoing Angel's trousers as slowly as he could, waiting for his brain to explode in pain. Surely whatever it was they set in his head would know that this act was initiating far more pain than draining some ready-to-die human ever could.


A hand, as gentle as the word came to rest on Spike’s head and he glanced up in confusion; Angelus never refused a blow-job, it was as much a universal constant as reruns.

He nodded and sank slowly back on his heels wondering what happened next. Angel exuded sadness, confusion and a type of quiet rage Spike had never seen in him before and, despite his experience in dealing with his sire’s mood swings, this one was beyond him.

Once released, Angel turned to the fridge and fished out his stores of blood, thumping the containers down on the table. Spike watched, wide-eyed, his tongue sweeping across his lip and his eyes coloring gold with hunger. Pig’s blood it may be, but he wasn’t in a position to look a gift horse in the mouth. The only question was, what cost Angel was going to exact in payment.

"You can take a shower, clean yourself up," Angel set an empty glass and a pair of scissors down on the table, "and then I want you gone."

Spike looked up from his spot on the floor, unsure of what Angel expected him to do first.

"Shower’s through the bedroom," Angel said as he left the kitchen, and a very confused Spike.

Spike slowly stood up, picked up a cold bag of blood and warily cut it open, draining the thick fluid into the glass. He took small sips at first, letting the chill run over his tongue. It was a foul taste, but it instantly sent enough life coursing through his body that the wounds at his neck slowed their flow and started to fuse. After he'd finished off a second bag Spike found the shower and quickly rinsed the remaining blood from his body. Unable to stand the lingering scent of blood and come that covered his shirt, he rummaged through Angel's drawer until he found a shirt that looked like it had shrunk in the wash, too small for Angel, but a perfect fit on his own depleted frame.

When Spike came back into the room, clean if a little battered looking, another glassful of blood in hand, Angel felt deflated. Spike would always keep coming back, always looking for Angelus, and every time Angel would rise to the occasion both literally and figuratively. He wanted to show that he was still angry, still needed revenge or penance or whatever it was he looked for in his estranged offspring. Instead Angel found himself joining Spike in the middle of the apartment and taking a clean mouth with his own, kissing Spike more gently than he would any woman, lips brushing just lightly enough to leave a trace of promise and a hint of goodbye. Once again Angel knew he had failed to get through to Spike, failed to give him anything he had come for.

And yet, when Spike slumped onto the couch, blue eyes spinning from the blood he’d consumed, slight rush of color filling his cheeks and making him glow pink, Angel thought that maybe every punishment had to be taught with those kisses attached to the end. How else would he remember that there was a lesson to be remembered long after the cuts had sealed and the blood stopped flowing?