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Title: Rituals
Author: Tania
Rating: R
Pairing: Angel/Spike
Summary: Every Night I save you.


When the lights shut off, automatic click signaling the workday's end, something almost feverish that takes over the body. There's the immediate feeling of relief that comes from knowing the only thing standing between you and a soft bed is the motivation to stand from the chair, leaving the random stacks of paper behind, and walk towards the elevator.

In Angel's mind it's a quiet sort of hallelujah at the end of the day, to his ears it is the signaling of closure that sounds like cathedral bells releasing him from servitude. Finding the motivation he seeks it's all he can do to avoid running from his office towards his penthouse, sanctuary above it all. He's almost made it to the elevator when a pinching at the back of his mind reminds him of signed documents sitting at the corner of his desk, paper in need of a push, bland ritual, necessary yet loathed.

His calls for Harmony fall on an empty lobby, plain clothed mail carriers nowhere to be seen. Snared in the web he likes to call duty, he returns to the hated desk. Papers in hand, Angel heads for the mailroom. One last oblation before escaping the confounds of these walls. He ponders a midnight hunt, quick rescue, return to normal. The thought doesn't hold long. Never in two hundred years would he have believed sitting all day and playing the part of the mediator could exhaust him a dozen times more than apocalyptic battles ever had.

The building is quiet, just dark enough that human eyes might have to strain navigating the labyrinth of corridors that make up Wolfram and Hart. After a few paces the journey becomes rhythmic, stare through office windows, always expecting the madman with an ax to jump out, step step, look over your shoulder. Angel wonders aloud when the catch will show itself.

He's almost to his destination when his thoughts are permeated by an unexpected sound. Laughter carries down the halls, ghosts perhaps, but Angel doubts even spirits work this late. This echo of normalcy is much more likely to be janitors being fleeced of their salaries, or transcription girls fawning over a smoke saturated leather coat.

When Angel reaches the mailroom the laughter is gone, disappearing into the night, yet one voice remains, as always. Spike's well-practiced baritone pierces the late-night calm, random bits of song merging into sworn utterances, muttering to no one in particular as he walks through the lunchroom. Angel knows the next sound coming, and is not disappointed when he hears the gentle suction of the refrigerator opening, slide of a mug being pulled over wire shelves, ceramic clank against the counter.

The aroma of blood, the one thing Angel has been looking forward to more than any other since rising from his chair, pulls him from his task, letters still in hand. The mailroom is a distant memory as his pace quickens, long legs moving ever faster towards the thief among them.

Spike is never given the chance to react as Angel shoves him into the counter, heavy chest at his back, firm hand sliding down his hip until his buttocks are cupped in a grasp too strong to break or ignore. Angel takes in deep breaths of nothingness as he grinds against Spike's body. Dropping the papers to the floor, his hands clench at wrist and ass with equal force.

"I believe that's mine," Angel whispers over Spike's ear, squeezing harder as he feels his prey tense under his grip. There is no breath between them to warm the air, yet the soft hairs at Spike's nape stand on end, free of the hardening gel applied during morning rituals. Angel smiles at the reaction, glad to still have a few tricks those around him have forgotten he possessed.

Spike's reply is slow to come, but when it finally escapes his lips Angel can't be sure if it's an apology or provocation. It doesn't matter, like so many of the questions between them, this too is rhetorical. They both know what's coming, and even as their hands reach for the mug, Angel's fingers curling over Spike's, stealing radiated warmth. He allows Spike to take a small sip before guiding the drink to his own lips. The flavor is tragically thin, unsatisfying in every way save one, the luscious touch of pink added to Spike's lips, moist from constant motion of his tongue.

There are nights Angel misses the comfort of women, nights when he begrudges the cursed soul for stealing his ability to make love in slow delicate motions. He misses whispered words of love and forever.

And then there are nights like this.

Nights where the body is too exhausted to be gentle, where thoughts of 'please your lover first' and 'careful not to bruise' make his blood boil. On the nights where love's part is being played by her understudy 'need', Spike is there. He fills the role as if it were written for him and no other.

On cue they both move to their places, Angel knows on instinct how long he can hold Spike down, just how tight he can grip at Spike's thighs, long fingers barely tracing over his inner thigh. He likens it to putting a bridle on an unbroken colt, in his mind the soul is the leash the chip could never have been. The soul is just one more way the universe has bound them together. The long-dead Catholic in Angel wonders if this was god's plan, eternal punishment wrapped in a stolen leather jacket, smirking grin asking if the night will begin or end with Angel on his knees.

Angel never knows which it will be either. He places two fingers into Spike's mouth, knees weakening as they are pulled deeper. Every now and then Spike knows when to shut up, Angel is grateful every time he takes the hint. Reaching for Spike's belt first, Angel's hands are met with a quick slap, forcing half-lidded eyes to meet Spike's daring blue stare.

This is the part of the ritual Angel hates. He hates making the moment real, but just as Spike knows his place, Angel knows his.

"Please," he whispers, letting just enough of his need coat the words.

It's enough. All it ever takes. One simple word, begged through lust-swollen lips, yet it is enough to erase twenty years of taking in an instant. Spike lunges towards Angel' mouth, last vestige of resistance gone for now. The never-ending struggle for power fuels even their kiss, both men desperate to kiss deeper, harder, better than the other. Moans fill the pauses between kiss and the one word repeated between. Please.

Spike pulls his hands from Angel's wrists, allowing him the freedom to explore the ridges of muscle on arms and stomach. Angel runs his fingertips over Spike's nipples, for just a moment, almost tender touches giving way to painful kneading as the sensation travels throughout his body. Turning Spike back towards the counter, Angel pulls at Spike's jeans, fumbling with the buttons on his own trousers as soon as Spike is exposed. The arch of Spike's back as he braces against the vinyl countertop sends shivers across Angel's skin. This moment doesn't come often enough, willing body beneath him, handing him a bottle of something slick, pressing against him.

This is the part of the ritual he doesn't hate.

The rest is frantic, bending, twisting, rapid. Bodies pounding against each other, occasionally turning to kiss, encourage, scold. Angel is almost too tired to end in a flourish, he slows, kisses at Spike's neck and shoulder blades as he writhes beneath him. It's only when Angel realizes that Spike has slowed too, that the groans coming from his mouth are now filled with nothing but pleasure, no hint of the feral language they speak so well in each other's company, that Angel hurries his pace. He has no room in his life for all-night lovemaking, not with Spike or anyone. There are jobs to be completed, documents in danger of being soiled beyond redemption if he doesn't put an end to distractions.

Seemingly reading Angel's mind, Spike flips to the carpeted floor, lifting his knees in invitation as Angel bends him nearly in half. Every thrust is punctuated with kisses now, Spike runs his fingernails into Angel's back, all too knowing that the pain will close Angel's mind off enough to focus on the only thing left between them that isn't about playing the hero and winning the day. This is about ending the night with one final gasp, one last breath to brace them for the coming dawn.

When all is said and done, chairs are righted and tables are moved back to their places, Angel makes his last stop of the night. Placing slightly rumpled papers in the outgoing mailbox, he winds his way through the maze. On legs all the more exhausted thanks to his detour, he reaches the elevator and taps at the back-lit buttons. One last step to the ritual…entering his home alone.