Chapter 05

As usual, Spike woke before Angel. He spent a few moments just lying in bed, thinking about the events that had transpired in the last couple of days. When he’d been up on the roof of that skyscraper, the only thing that’d been on his mind was how soon he would be rid of his problems. Earlier that night when Angel found him being careless about covering his tracks, Spike had been almost relieved. Being banned from the city, which essentially banned him from all contact with his Sire, was what pushed him over the edge.

For days, he’d been contemplating whether meeting the sun was the right decision. He’d postponed the act itself on multiple occasions, always finding reasons to put it off another night. They weren’t always good reasons—one time he’d decided not to meet the sun simply because he wanted to eat the wings a restaurant was renowned for. Food wasn’t exactly a good reason to put off suicide, but it’d been enough to convince him. But when Angel told him to leave L.A., to never come back…well, that was something Spike couldn’t stomach. So he’d gone to an abandoned skyscraper he knew would overlook the entire city of L.A. in an effort to make his last night a night with the greatest view in the world.

Some would disagree with him saying the city of L.A. had the best view in the world, but his opinion was colored by the presence of the man who meant more to him than the world itself. And if Angel didn’t want him around, then why would he want to stick around? Still. He hadn’t expected his Sire to be up on the roof. The blonde didn’t know it was the place Angel always went to think when things were looking kind of grim.

Spike smiled softly to himself as he considered how things had turned out. He’d been talked down and given a home; a home for which he’d been searching since what seemed like an eternity. There were still a lot of unknown variables, such as Angel’s human family as well as Angel. The man was decidedly different than he’d been as Angelus, and not just in the obvious ways. The soul had changed him, softened him…but it also seemed to have made him a little saner. All win-win in Spike’s book, but it left him feeling a little unsure of his footing.

Sighing silently, Spike rolled gently out of the bed, making sure not to disturb Angel and wake him accidentally. All he had to go on were the old rules, and he’d do his best to abide by them even if some of those rules mortified him now. As a fledgling, the rules had been comforting, easy to remember, and a type of guarantee between a Sire and his Childe. Now, as a Master vampire himself, Spike didn’t know how to take the rules. Some seemed juvenile, others ridiculous…truly designed for a fledgling. There were other rules that made perfect sense to obey pretty much all the time, because they kept a vampire safe. The rules about avoiding Slayers and demon hunters…the rules about fighting and how to fight…and the rules that aided a vampire in avoiding revealing their weaknesses: those all made sense. The other rules…the ones that weren’t really geared towards being safe and staying alive…those were the ones Spike felt confused over. How much subservience was Angel going to require? Angelus, the blonde remembered, required nothing less than perfection. But Angel had already proven he was more lenient than he’d been as Angelus.

Some prime examples included the fact that Spike had been allowed to use nicknames and be his usual sarcastic self without repercussions, as well as treat Angel as an equal in nearly all the interactions the two of them had shared with the humans. The only time Angel pulled rank on him was when he’d used Spike’s training to make a point. And then the point being made had nothing to do with Spike.

His mouth quirking in a half-smile, Spike released a slightly exasperated sigh. He was annoyed with himself, and rightly so. There was no need for him to make all this fuss over what Angel may or may not decide to do. He took a seat cross-legged on the floor, facing the bed, waiting patiently for Angel to wake up. Until he was told otherwise, Spike would obey all the rules Angelus had set him—whether they were rules designed for fledglings or not.

Angel turned on to his side, his eyes half-open. He expected to come face-to-face with William—Spike, he told himself firmly—but the blonde wasn’t in the bed. Instantly awake, he sat up in one fluid motion and looked around the room without seeming to do so, and sighed in relief as he saw his Childe sitting cross-legged on the floor. “What are you doing on the floor, Spike?”

The blonde blinked at him in obvious confusion. “Isn’t one of the rules not to spend more time in the bed than I do asleep?”

Angel started in surprise at that. He hadn’t really thought about the rules he’d established as Angelus in…well…since he’d been Angelus, really. Most of the ones he’d set for his Childer had been designed for fledglings, not master vampires. “Not all the rules are still applicable, Spike. I thought I said that last night.”

Spike frowned in concentration. “Aye. That you did, Peaches. But you never said which rules were different, ‘cept for the no huntin’ one.”

At the mention of hunting, Angel said, a bit more harshly than he intended, “And no hunting is exactly what I meant.”

“Wasn’t plannin’ on lookin’ for a snack, Peaches. You wake up on the wrong side of the bed or somethin’?”

At the wry tone in his Childe’s voice, Angel felt all his irritation melt away and he shook his head in amusement. “No, I didn’t. I just don’t like the idea of you hunting.”

“Oy! Peaches, this is me. William. Not bloody likely to disobey a direct order, now am I?” Spike met Angel’s chocolate eyes with his blue ones, willing his Sire to understand that he wasn’t going to hunt again. He’d do what Angel did and live off blood banks and animal blood. If it was good enough for his Sire, then it was damn well good enough for him.

Angel sighed. “I know, William. We’ll just have to go through the rules as we get to them.”

“Speaking of rules, am I right in thinkin’ you don’t mind if I stay in the bed longer than when I’m asleep?”

Rolling his eyes, Angel shook his head before putting voice to his thoughts. “No, I don’t mind you staying in bed longer. You’re not a fledgling anymore, Spike. You know how to take care of yourself. I’m sure you’re perfectly capable of lying in a bed without harassing me until I wake up.”

Spike snorted. “Like I ever harassed you as a fledgling.”

Angel started at his Childe in disbelief. Did the man really not remember the nights he’d been kicked out of his Sire’s chambers for his inability to settle down? Judging by the look on Spike’s face, he either didn’t remember or was choosing to pretend it had never happened. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“What?”

“Spike, the only reason I even gave you that rule was because you were bouncy as a fledgling. It was impossible for me to sleep with you in the same bed, you slept so badly.”

“Oy! I wasn’t that bad, Peaches!”

“You were a nightmare!”

“Was not!”

“Yes, you were.” Angel’s amusement faded as he remembered why William was such a fitful sleeper. “You had just cause in those days. Delia haunted your dreams.”

Spike’s expression instantly became guarded and tense. “Delia was a nightmare.”

Angel nodded. “I know.”

Silence stretched between them. Neither of them wanted to relive those days. Delia had been a true renegade. She’d tried to seduce William into betraying Angelus, and had nearly succeeded. By giving William the one thing he craved more than anything else—love and approval—she’d neatly wormed her way into his heart and nearly torn the Aurelius clan apart. Angelus caught wind of what was happening and pulled his Childe from the woman’s snare just in time to prevent it from closing over his own head. For two weeks after the incident, William hadn’t been able to move. Angelus didn’t take kindly to betrayal, and although William hadn’t betrayed him entirely, it had been close enough to warrant the hardest punishment the blonde ever endured.

“Peaches, can I get dressed without permission, too, or is that still a rule?” Spike’s question broke through Angel’s thoughts. A good thing, too, because the blonde in no way wanted his Sire thinking about the incident with Delia.

Angel let out a sigh of fond exasperation. “No, you don’t need permission to get dressed. You’re a Master, Childe, so I trust you to make judgment calls on which rules do and do not still apply. Any more questions?”

Spike grinned at him. “Nah. Think that got all of them.” He pulled on his jeans and the shirt Angel had gifted him with before pulling his duster on. He scratched his arm through the duster and said off-handedly, “Guess I need to wash these soon. Three days in one outfit is a bit much, even for me.”

Angel wrinkled his nose. “I don’t have anything your size, either.” At Spike’s disbelieving stare, he continued. “I still have all of your old clothes, but it’s all in storage.”

“Okay. So give me the keys to the storage facility and I’ll run out and get them.”

Angel shook his head. “You seem to have forgotten you’re confined to the hotel. Besides, the storage facility is in Florida.”

“You left all my stuff in Florida, Peaches?” The tone in Spike’s voice could only be described as pouting.

Angel laughed. “Yes, well, I didn’t think you would be coming back to claim it. None of it really fits your new style.”

Spike scrunched up his forehead at that and nodded. “Yeah, I reckon’ you’re right. All the stuff you had was what I wore as William. I prefer this look now.”

“Yeah, I figured. I’ll buy you some clothes tonight so you can wash those. I assume you’re still the same size.”

Spike looked almost offended. “Peaches. Really. Do you think so little of me?”

Angel laughed aloud.

“One thing I have always done is taken care of my body. You know that.”

“Considering I beat it into you, I’m not surprised. But it’s never possible to be too careful.”

Spike grunted. “Speakin’ of keepin’ in shape, you sure you haven’t gained a couple pounds yourself, Peaches? Right around the midline?” He ducked the alarm clock Angel threw his way and grinned unabashedly at his Sire.

“Go downstairs and help Cordelia.”

“Aye.”

As Spike neared the door, Angel remembered Gunn. “On second thought, I have a different job for you, since you proved you can handle humans so well.”

Groaning, the blonde turned back to his Sire. “You aren’t going to make me talk to the watcher again, are you? Cuz it’s not very flatterin’ to be told you don’t look like yourself.”

“No, Spike. Not the watcher. Gunn. He’s been drinking himself under the table for the past couple of months. He’s been so badly inebriated he hasn’t been able to help us on the last few cases we had. I’m hoping you might know a way to get him out of his bottle the way you get Wesley out of his books.”

Spike grinned broadly. “No worries, mate! I’ll have him sober again in no time.” He turned to leave, then realized he didn’t know what room Gunn was in. “I might need to know his Room number,” he admitted sheepishly.

“326. And Spike.”

“Yeah?”

“You don’t have to worry about scaring him. Might do him some good.”

“Aye.” Spike felt a bit excited. He was going to be useful and now Angel was even going to allow him to have a little fun with the humans.

“No biting!” Angel called as Spike made his way down the hall.

“Spoilsport!” Spike called back, but in a way that let Angel know he’d received the message loud and clear. Now he just had to figure out a way to convince a demon hunter to stop drinking and hunt demons again. Hopefully not at the expense of himself, but Spike knew his Sire would never send him headfirst into something that could get him killed without warning him. He made his way to Room 326, a spring in his step that hadn’t been there a couple days ago. It felt good to have a home again. It really did.

Chapter 4     Chapter Index     Chapter 6

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