Chapter 03

Spike hummed to himself as he walked down the 400s hallway, stopping at Room 425. He knocked twice, sticking his hands in his pockets as he waited for Wesley to answer the door.

The Englishman peeked out from behind a chain. Spike felt a surge of respect for the man—that sort of caution could save his life in the future.

“Spike,” Wesley said, face contorting in confusion. “What are you doing here?”

The blonde thought a long moment before replying. He didn’t want to spook the Watcher, as he really didn’t want to give Angel a reason to punish him. “I came to talk.”

“Talk? What about?”

“Me. You. Whatever you want, really. Angel sent me to keep you company.”

Wesley frowned in suspicion. “How do I know you’re telling the truth? Last time I saw you, you were sticking a hot poker through Angel’s side.”

Spike winced. Of course the man would remember that. “Aye. Well if you don’t want to let me in, I’ll respect that. I’ll just stand here and chat with you.”

The Englishman considered this for a moment. “I’d rather not,” he said, and went to close the door.

“You don’t want to talk about me?” Spike said. “Surely you know who I am.”

“All I know about you is that you are a thorn in Angel’s side and that you have a very juvenile name.”

Spike scowled. “I earned this name, I’ll have you know.”

“Oh, really? And how did you go about doing that?”

The blonde shifted uncomfortably. “I used to drive railroad spikes into my prey, but that isn’t what I want to talk about. And I’m pretty sure you don’t want to hear about my years as Spike. I used to go by another name. One I’m sure even you will recognize.”

“What do you mean, one even I will recognize? I’ll have you know, I’m very well read and—

Spike waved him to silence. “I’m sure you are, but that’s not the point. Do you want to know who I am or not?”

Wesley scowled. “I’m not sure I’d care even if you told me you were William the Bloody himself.”

Spike couldn’t help himself, he burst out laughing. “Oy! But that’s just it, mate! I am!”

Wesley turned as white as a sheet, whether from fear or assumed humiliation, Spike wasn’t quite sure. “That’s impossible,” the human said with a quiet assurance. “William the Bloody disappeared when the Scourge of Europe did. It was written in the history books that William met his end at the end of his Sire’s stake.”

“Aye. It does. I also convinced the watcher who wrote that book to put that information in it. None of it’s true. It also says Drusilla was William’s Sire, no?”

Wesley nodded reluctantly. “It does, but if Drusilla wasn’t William’s Sire, who was?”

Spike snorted. This was just too priceless. “Angelus was.”

“That does make a certain sort of sense.” The watcher frowned. “But that doesn’t mean you’re William. You said yourself your name was Spike.”

“Aye. It is now. It used to be William.” Still is, if Angel decides that’s what he’d rather call me.

“I still am not conceding that you were ever William the Bloody.”

Spike shrugged. “Don’t matter to me, mate. Believe what you want. I just came up here to chat. I’m sure you get tired of all the reading. A bit of interaction with people is just what the doctor ordered.”

“I’m not sure interacting with a demon is considered healthy, Spike.”

“That why you’ve holed yourself up and refuse to talk to Angel, then?”

Wesley sputtered, “How did you know I’ve been refusing to…” A look of consternation crossed the Watcher’s face. “You didn’t know,” he sighed. “You guessed.”

Spike grinned. “No worries, mate. Lesser men than you have tried and failed to match wits with me. Now, you wanna tell me why you’re so afraid to talk to Angel? Aside from the vampire bit, of course.”

Wesley sighed and pulled back the chain and opened the door to his room. He didn’t invite Spike inside, but instead went and retrieved a chair and sat it a good five feet away from the threshold.

“I like you,” Spike said, grinning.

“Oh?”

“I gotta admit, not used to humans with smarts. I haven’t been able to get at you once since I’ve been standing here.”

Wesley paused, pushing his glasses up on his nose in a way eerily similar to one Rupert Giles. “Surely humans aren’t that stupid.”

“No, but most are ignorant. Makes hunting easier.”

“I’m sure.”

“Enough about that. Why can’t you talk to Angel?”

Wesley sighed. “Conversing with Angel is difficult, at best. He is aloof and incredibly difficult to read. I am unable to judge how he will react to something until after I have said it. I am not accustomed to speaking of my private affairs with someone who would most likely view them as simplistic and ridiculous.”

“In other words, you’re afraid he’ll laugh at you.”

“Simply put, yes.”

“Okay. I’ll accept that. Now, I can tell you stories you’ll never find in any of your books.”

“About William the Bloody?”

Spike sighed in exasperation. “How many times do I have to tell you, I am William the Bloody?”

Wesley shook his head in denial. “I won’t accept that you are William the Bloody unless I can get confirmation from a more reliable source.”

Spike snorted. Great. Now he didn’t even scare the Watcher, which sucked because he was William the Bloody…but on the other hand, scaring the Watcher would mean punishment, so it was a good thing too. “All right. I’ll wait until I can get Angel to confirm it. Until then, I’ll tell you stories. You’ll just have to accept that I’ll be telling them in first person.”

Shrugging, the Englishman said, “I think I can handle suspending disbelief for the amount of time it takes you to tell me a story or two.”

“Ta for that. Well, it all started in….

Angel paced the hallway Gunn lived on a few hundred times before he got the courage to knock on the man’s door. He could’ve just barged in, but something in him prevented him from being so rude.

Gunn stumbled to the door and undid the latch. The smell of alcohol was so strong on him that Angel had to stop breathing, something he actually liked doing, just so he could stand in the same room with the man. “Ohhiangellllll. Wassssn’tt expppecctinnng you. Doo weee haave a casseee?”

“No, and you should be glad we don’t, being this drunk. A fledgling could take you in the state you’re in.”

“Nawww. You’rree jussst sauying thaaat to maakee mee feeeeel baaadd.”

“Doesn’t look like you need any help with that.” Angel picked the man up and positioned him comfortably on the couch. He muttered under his breath, beyond the human range of hearing, angered and saddened at the state Gunn had gotten himself into. Tomorrow, he vowed to himself, Tomorrow, I will get here before he starts drinking and knock some sense into him.

Gunn started snoring gently and Angel eased out of the room. He wasn’t going to spend another minute in that room when he didn’t have to. He’d get Spike to clean it tomorrow, something he knew his Childe would just love him for. But Spike was his. And he’d do it as ordered, simply because Angel had said to. Angel felt a surge of possessiveness and hummed under his breath as he made his way to Wesley’s room to check on his wayward Childe.

What he saw there amused him. Wesley was sitting about five feet inside the room, eyes focused intently on Spike, clearly hanging on his every move. Spike was in the middle of the story of how he’d been turned and gave a slow hand signal only Angel could see that asked him to wait until he’d finished. Angel grinned to himself. If Spike had demanded he wait, had used the signals only master vampires could use, he would’ve barged up to the two men and taken Spike to task. But Spike had used the signals of a fledgling Childe to his Sire, and that was enough to sate Angel’s need for dominance. He’d told Spike he was a fledgling with human families, and the blonde had apparently taken that to heart and reverted to using signals that hadn’t been required from him in over a decade. He relaxed against the wall and tuned into the conversation.

“Drusilla attempted to turn me, but something went wrong. Her visions interfered with the turning, and Angelus had to take over. He wasn’t exactly ecstatic about having to fix the dark princess’s mistakes,” Spike said.

Wesley considered that for a moment. “So that’s why all the records list Drusilla as William’s Sire. Strictly speaking, she was the one who tried to turn him.”

Spike sighed. “That is why she is listed as my Sire. Truthfully, both her and Angelus shared Sire’s rights over me, but she never claimed them. She turned them all over to Angelus without a care in the world, because she didn’t want the responsibility of raising a Childe. Of course, in typically Dru-like behavior, she’d seen something she wanted and went for it without considering the consequences. Angelus got stuck with me.”

Wesley frowned. “I do wish you’d stop referring to yourself as William the Bloody. You are very obviously not him, even if you do know quite a lot about the man.”

Angel tried not to laugh at what he was hearing. His William was being told he couldn’t possibly be William the Bloody? This was better than theater.

“What is it about me, exactly, that makes you think I am somehow less than the William in the history books?”

“Aside from the fact you’re supposedly dead, according to those same books?”

“Aye, aside from that.”

“Well…you just don’t look like a killer.”

“Oy! I’m a vampire, mate!”

The blonde’s outrage was so palpable Angel had to stifle his laughter. William had worked for his reputation and worked hard. To be told now that he didn’t look the part had to be a bit humiliating and a bit infuriating. Angel started at that thought, but quieted down quickly enough. He’d told the blonde not to scare Wesley, and his Childe had never been anything but obedient. Even if he didn’t like or understand Angel’s orders, Spike always obeyed them.

Wesley rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Yes, you are most obviously a vampire. But that does not make you one of the most infamous vampires in written history. Surely William the Bloody would never consort with humans of his own free will.”

Spike had no reply for that. At least, no good reply. What was he going to say? Oh, my Sire got a soul and I’ve followed him for years trying to get back in his life and consorting with humans is sort of the only way I can do that? Yeah, that’d go over real well with a man who refused to believe he was who he said he was.

“See? Even you can’t come up with a good reason that you’re here talking to me.”

“Sure I can, English.”

“And what’s that?”

Angel took that as his cue to enter the conversation and he walked smoothly over to the two men and rested a hand on Spike’s shoulder. “Because I told him to, of course.”

“Angel,” Wesley said. “You should hear the things Spike has been telling me.”

“Oh, I’m sure I don’t need to hear them. Has he behaved?”

Spike tensed, expecting the worse. This was the deciding moment, the one that determined whether he would be allowed to roam freely amongst the humans or be confined indefinitely to one room under his Sire’s watchful gaze.

“What ever do you mean, Angel?”

“Did he do anything to threaten you?”

“Oh, good heavens, no. He’s been a perfect gentleman. Aside from insisting that he’s one of the most infamous vampires in history, of course.”

“He won’t believe I’m William the Bloody, Angel.”

“Well, you shouldn’t have bribed that Watcher into writing your death into the history books.”

“But I didn’t want Darla to find me. You know how she was when Drusilla and I snuck off by ourselves, and Drusilla went crazy
trying to find you after the gypsies cursed you. I couldn’t leave a trace of myself behind, or Darla would’ve dogged us every step of the way. And if she’d found you, she would have killed you.”

Angel always wondered why William decided to stop carving his name into the history books, but that explanation spoke volumes. “Makes sense. Why else won’t he believe you?”

Wesley frowned up at them. “Angel, he hardly dresses the part of cold-blooded killer.”

“You’re still not convinced?” Spike wailed, a nearly comical sight in his distress.

Wesley laughed. “Your upset is hardly enough to convince me I’m wrong.”

Angel knew if he didn’t do something, his Childe would whine for weeks on end, and he didn’t want to deal with an even more obnoxious version of Spike. And Wesley also needed to know that he really was dealing with one of the most dangerous vampires ever made, or he’d slip up and get himself killed. Not with Spike, but with another creature he’d underestimated.

“Wesley, I’m sorry for this.”

“Sorry for what, Angel?”

Angel smiled grimly. “William.”

“Yes, Sire?” Spike’s tone was calm, curious, and even. He was listening intently.

“You have ten seconds.”

Spike’s eyes widened in understanding and surprise and he turned to Wesley, a feral grin on his face. For the first time that night, Wesley felt nervous, but still not afraid. After all, he was protected by the law that prevented vampires from passing over a threshold uninvited. But the man in front of him was no longer exuding a calm, carefree attitude. No. The man he was looking at now was possessed of a feline, predatory grace that rattled him. The vampire in his vision was dangerous, but no more dangerous than another. He felt confident if Spike did cross the threshold he’d be able to hold his own.

“Any rules, Sire?”

Angel rolled his eyes. “No biting. Eight seconds.”

Spike pouted, but nodded his agreement. He’d had over an hour to assess the room Wesley inhabited. The bathroom, which he’d been able to see from the corridor, was the type that connected to the room next door. Without hesitation, he turned to the room connected to Wesley’s and entered the room silently through the bathroom.

Angel kept his eyes focused on Wesley, never giving away the location of his Childe. This was a game they’d played when the vampire really was a fledgling, but he’d always been given ten minutes, not mere seconds, to work with. Then again, they’d been playing with vampires, not humans. Ten seconds was more than enough. “Four seconds, William.”

Wesley felt a hand clamp over his mouth and teeth on his neck before he could even think about screaming. His heart seemed to stop and start in short bursts and the back of his hair stood on end. A million scenarios flashed through his head. Perhaps he could yank himself free by pulling on the arm that encased him. Or stomp the vampire’s foot and force him to release him.

“Nothing you do can save you from him, Wes,” Angel said quietly from the doorway. “I trained William to withstand any and all forms of physical pain unless inflicted by my hand. He was the perfect soldier, always willing to do the dirty work others couldn’t stomach. It’s how he earned the nickname. The only way he’ll release you is by my orders.”

Spike couldn’t help it; the praise his Sire was giving him caused him to start purring a bit in the back of his throat.

“You can let him speak, William.”

Spike removed his hand, acting on autopilot. It was a long time since Angel sent him on a play mission, but there was a certain thrill in it that he hadn’t realized he’d missed. In this head space, the only voice that could reach him was his Sire’s. It was a fail-safe, in case he fell into enemy hands.

Wesley glared at Angel for all he was worth, but didn’t move from his spot. “Is…is he purring?” he asked, astounded.

“Probably,” Angel said. “He always did take a certain pleasure in catching our prey.” He didn’t add that his Childe was purring
because he’d praised him; he needed to establish Spike as dangerous—someone not to be messed with.

“I get it, Angel. He really is William the Bloody,” Wesley said, his breath coming in short gasps.

“Are you sure you really understand, Wesley? He could chew you up and spit you out and you’d never be the wiser. The only thing standing between you and certain death is me.”

Wesley’s eyes widened as he realized exactly what that meant.

“Do you trust me with your life, Wes?”

The Watcher rolled his eyes, dismissing the potentially dangerous situation he found himself in. “I say yes with complete confidence in you, Angel. You have saved my life on multiple occasions, so I do not see any possible reason that you would wish to take it from me now.”

Angel grunted, satisfied with that. “William.” He waited until the blonde’s eyes were focused solely on him. “Release him. Mission over.”

Spike jumped back from Wesley as if he’d been burned and turned accusing eyes on Angel. “Sire, you promised you wouldn’t ever do that to me again! You know I hate not being in control of myself.” His anger was palpable.

Angel scowled, not at all pleased with the tone his Childe had adopted. “You will remember who you are addressing, Childe. Do I make myself clear?”

Spike closed his eyes hard at Angel’s tone and reigned in his temper. If his Sire had used his training, he had no right to question it. He is my Sire, I will obey him, he chanted inside his head a few hundred times. “Yes, Sire,” he said, his tone respectful and devoid of the anger he’d shown only moments earlier.

“I’m sorry that I used your training without alerting you, Spike, but Wesley needed to understand that you can be incredibly dangerous. He needed to understand that you are, indeed, William the Bloody, and a valuable asset to the team.”

Spike grinned. “Ta mate. I can accept that.”

Wesley sighed. “I suppose I should thank you for showing me that I have a habit of underestimating my enemies. I’m still hard-pressed to believe that I have William the Bloody standing in my living room.” He did a double take. “Oh my lord, I have William the Bloody standing in my living room!”

Spike laughed. “Aye, mate. But no worries, I won’t be hurting anyone here. Sire’s orders and all.”

Wesley frowned. “And you always obey Angel’s orders?”

Spike grinned. “That’s for me to know, English!”

“That’s not comforting!”

Angel rolled his eyes. “He always obeys me, Wesley. You don’t need to worry about that.”

Wesley smiled uncertainly. “Okay. Well, if I have your guarantee…

“You have my word that he will not harm you.”

“I suppose I can live with that.”

Spike grinned. “Hey Peaches.”

“What, Spike? And stop calling me that, it’s annoying.”

“You love it. And I told you I could get him out of his books.”

“Yes, you did. Now get out of his room before you give the man a heart attack.”

“Oh. Didn’t realize I was in it, since you used the mumbo jumbo on me and all.”

“Spike, don’t make me send you to bed early.”

“What? I didn’t do anything,” the blonde said, far too innocently in Angel’s opinion.

Angel couldn’t help it, he laughed. “You’re more trouble than you’re worth, William.”

“Aww, didn’t know you cared, Peaches,” Spike shot back, and was downstairs before Angel could think of a retort.

Chapter 2     Chapter Index     Chapter 4

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