Chapter 11

Angel hummed as he unlocked the door to his hotel room. The night had gone well. Rebecca’s case of possession was a mild one and it had taken no more than four hours to drive the demon out of her body. She would bear no scars from the possession. The same couldn’t be said about her father. Angel scowled as he thought of it. The man had beaten his only child because he’d thought it the only way to solve the problem. Sure, the man had been desperate and terrified that the demon was going to consume her or take her over and kill him and his wife—both of which were valid concerns—but there was just no sense in him beating his child when Rebecca herself wasn’t the one causing the incidents.

Speaking of children, Angel glanced around the room twice before he was satisfied that Spike wasn’t in the room. It was a bit unusual. The last few days Spike had made it a point to be in the room waiting for his Sire to come to bed, the way he’d always done when he was a fledgling.

I’m not a fledgling anymore, Sire. I’m on the roof.

I don’t remember giving you permission to leave the hotel, Angel said, once he’d recovered from the shock of Spike initiating conversation. The bond was two-way, so it was understandable that the blonde may eavesdrop on him occasionally, but he hadn’t expected Spike to actually intrude.

I’m not intruding anymore than you do. ‘Sides, I’m not really on the roof. I’m standing in the alcove before it. Figured I’d wait for you since you agreed we should talk.

Angel felt a rush of relief at that; he didn’t want to punish Spike for disobeying the same rule so soon after the last one. All right. I’ll be up in a minute. I need to get out of these clothes—they’re covered in magic gunk. And they were—any kind of magic ritual left its own kind of signature. His clothes smelled like pepper, garlic, and incense and his hair was covered with a misting of salt he’d used in the exorcism.

He carefully folded his clothes before placing them in his laundry bag and then hopped in the shower, muscles slowly relaxing under the pressure of the water hitting him. He washed quickly, looking forward to and dreading the upcoming conversation. There were a lot of things the two of them needed to get out in the open, some of which he wouldn’t be comfortable with…some of which Spike wouldn’t be comfortable with. But if the two of them were going to have any kind of working relationship, even if it was only platonic (and hopefully more than that someday), then they were going to have to start being honest with one another.

Angel pulled on a pair of sweats and a tee and climbed the stairs to the roof effortlessly. He found his Childe smoking a cigarette, leaning up against the wall of the alcove. “Care to join me?” he asked, walking onto the roof. He waited a minute to see what Spike would do and then relented. “All right. Come on out.”

Spike snorted, threw his cigarette down on the concrete of the roof and snuffed it out with his boot heel. “Trust you to flaunt the fact I can’t come out of the hotel without permission.”

Angel grinned, but that grin slowly faded into a more solemn expression. “One of the last times we were on a roof together, you told me you were waiting for the sun.”

Spike shrugged, rolling his neck to the side in a way that indicated he was uncomfortable with the way the discussion was headed. “What of it?”

“It wasn’t just me that put you on that roof, Spike. I may be good, but even I’m not good enough to drive you, of all people, to suicide.” Neither one of them had dared to put the name to the act before…meeting the sun was a bad enough phrase. But now that the word had been said, it hung between them.

Spike said nothing for a long moment, just staring at the stares. “It wasn’t just you, Sire. Never was, really.”

Angel nodded, turning to give Spike his full attention. “What happened in Sunnydale, Spike?” he asked.

Spike found himself responding, due to the simple fact his Sire had never asked him anything so gently before. “It’s a long story.”

Angel sat on the ledge and patted the spot beside him, which Spike took automatically at the indication he should do so. “I’ve got time. So tell me.”

“Okay. But then you have to tell me about Doyle. And what’s going on with you and the rest of your humans.”

Angel’s face tightened, but he nodded. He didn’t want to create an uneven relationship between them, the way it had been for far too long. Yes, he was still Spike’s Sire. Yes, he’d still rein him in when he got out of hand, but the man was also a Master. He’d learned enough not to need a short leash anymore. “All right,” he said. “I’ll tell you. After,” he said emphatically at Spike’s hopeful look.

Spike sighed. “It started the night they brought Buffy back from the dead. She came back not quite human. Being pulled out of heaven…it changed her, somehow. I think it made her angry that she’d been pulled away from a much-deserved peace. Anyhow, she came back darker—much more feral than before. And that worried me, so I started watching her, keeping her in my sight. I was afraid she was going to go off and do something stupid, like kill herself.”

Angel snorted. “Buffy doesn’t strike me as the suicidal sort.”

“She’s not,” Spike confirmed. “She’s the type that’s self-destructive in a way that could be conceived of as being suicidal. She didn’t want to be alive, Sire. She’d been in heaven and they pulled her back selfishly. So she did the thing above killing herself and threw herself into her slaying. I think subconsciously she was hoping each demon was going to be the one that got one over on her. And she got desperate.”

“And you can’t resist people in need,” Angel said, his voice soft and understanding. No judgment lay in his tone and it was that fact which allowed Spike to continue his tale.

“Aye. I can’t resist those in need. So I told her what I saw. She hadn’t seen what she was doing to herself, but when it came to her attention she was perfectly okay with using me for herself. She slept with me because she hated that I could see her, but she loved that I could see her. She was confused and I maybe took advantage of her as much as she did me.” At Angel’s questioning look, Spike clarified, “That was the month after Drusilla disappeared permanently. Buffy was the first person I found to redirect my affection towards. I can’t…”

“I know. What happened?”

“Well, I guess I got too attached. Like always.” Spike didn’t bother to hide the bitterness in his voice. “And I said some things she wasn’t ready to hear, took the truth too far. I kinda threw it in her face. And then she started accusing me of raping her. I didn’t, not physically, but I guess in a way I kinda robbed her of her naivety, and if that can be called rape, then maybe she was telling the truth.”

Angel digested this in silence. “What about the others?” he asked.

“Willow was the worst,” Spike answered promptly. “I didn’t like her much to begin with, since she was the one who decided raising Buffy from the dead was the wisest course of action. Seems like me and Xander were the only ones who spoke up about that resurrection at all. Tara supported Willow in it, so there was no help from that corner. And Dawn…well, it was her sister. She certainly wasn’t going to say no to her sister being brought back. I think she blamed herself for Buffy’s death more than—

“Spike,” Angel interrupted, his tone hard. “I did not ask you what the others did and felt regarding Buffy’s death and resurrection. Answer me properly.”

Spike averted his eyes for a moment. “Sorry,” he said, glancing sideways at his Sire. Seeing that he wasn’t in trouble, he continued. “As I was saying, Willow was the worst. She came after me one night with a shovel. I’ve heard the phrase before…the “mess with my friend and I’ll come after you with a shovel”…but I’d never thought I’d see it put into action.” Spike looked down, embarrassed. “I knew that she wouldn’t be okay with me ever again, but she’d at least get some satisfaction out of beating me with that shovel. So I went a couple rounds with her…let her land enough hits that I was obviously worse off than she was…and she seemed better. She never did seem upset by it, which is strangely upsetting considering she used to be very gung-ho about demons and vampires being capable of just as much good as humans.”

“She took Buffy’s accusation to heart. And Spike, don’t lie to me.”

Spike looked up, startled.

“You said that you didn’t like her much to begin with, but that’s not true. You were always fascinated by her. So when she turned against you like that without letting you defend yourself, you got pretty badly hurt.”

Shrugging uncomfortably, Spike plunged onward, neither denying nor confirming his Sire’s assessment. “Tara was obviously on Willow’s side, but she didn’t bother me. Xander, though, I expected more from. I know he hates vampires,” he said at Angel’s disgruntled look. “But he always treated me better than the rest of them combined. Even the time I spent tied in his basement…it’s a long story, don’t look at me like that…was favorable to the time I spent around the rest of them. But when he heard about the supposed rape, he took it upon himself to follow me everywhere when I was watching Dawn. Surprisingly enough, Dawn knew I never touched her sister. She’s a good person. She’s the only reason I stayed sane in that town. I felt watched and hunted and preyed upon, Sire. And I’m supposed to be the hunter, not the prey. It was too much for me, so I came back to L.A.”

Angel nodded. “And now here we are.”

“Aye. Here we are.”

They sat in silence for a moment, then Angel spoke. “I guess it’s my turn. Doyle was the first person who found me and he helped steer me down the course the Powers that Be wanted me to go down. He was the first person to get close to me since you, Spike. And you weren’t around.”

Spike startled. Did that mean?

“No, childe, we didn’t take comfort in one another physically. Although there were times we came close. But Doyle was still too torn over his past relationship and I…” Angel took a deep breath. He owed this the same amount of courage and honesty Spike had shown him. “I hadn’t gotten over you. I still haven’t, William.”

Spike blinked. Angel had fallen silent. Was he expecting something? Oh. It dawned on him. Angel was waiting to be rejected. His Sire, who had always been confident and sure about everything, especially his hold on his favored Childe, was looking at him with hope and uncertainty. “If you’re waiting for rejection from me, you’ll be waiting for eternity.”

Startled, Angel gaped at his Childe, unable to think of an appropriate response.

“Oy! Peaches, I followed you for over a century! Do you really think if I was over you that I would have followed you?”

Angel shook his head mutely, then continued. “We’ll discuss that later. Right now, I’m telling you about Doyle.”

“You were. You sorta stopped.”

Angel cuffed Spike soundly on the back of the head, amused when the blonde peeked out from under his bangs to make sure he was safe from his Sire’s hand. “Well, like I said. Doyle got me started. And then the Powers that Be interfered with us. I’ll never forgive them. It’s why I don’t always follow their rules…they took Doyle away. If I have to describe the relationship I had with him, Spike, it’s like the one I had with Penn. We were close, but we weren’t emotionally involved. And then he died and it was like half my heart had been ripped away. There was no reason, no explanation given. He was just gone. It felt like one of Drusilla’s disappearances for a long time.”

Spike was silent. He knew what Angel meant by that. Drusilla had a habit of disappearing for months and years at a time when something struck her and she never said a word to anyone about it.

“It took you showing up here for me to realize that he wasn’t coming back. He died almost a year ago, Spike. And you standing on that roof, so desperate and so ready to throw everything away…I couldn’t stand losing someone else. But especially not you. Doyle…his death, I’ll eventually move past…but I couldn’t handle the idea of watching you turn to dust. So I stopped you. And it’s been the best thing I think I’ve ever done in my life.”

Feeling himself preen under that, Spike turned Angel’s words back at him. “What about the others?”

Angel sighed. “Cordelia inherited his visions. She’s dying because she’s not half-demon. And I’m terrified that I’m going to have to watch another person die right in front of me. I’ve done everything I can, sought out all the experts in all the fields I can think of…and nothing works. It looks more and more like she’s going to die in the next couple years. Her body just can’t take the strain.”

“And Wesley?”

“Wesley is…was…hard for me. He reminds me so much of you when you were William all the time that it was difficult to have him around for a long time. It’s the biggest reason I didn’t go after him myself to try and help him deal with the problems he was facing. He’s always buried in a book and seems half-afraid to be social. And he sort of looks like you.” Angel stared at Spike’s blonde hair pointedly.

“Oy! You’re the only one who knows it’s not my true color.”

Angel snorted. “Pretty sure Cordelia knows.”

“No, she suspects. There’s a big bloody difference.”

“Whatever you say.”

“Oy!”

Angel grinned, then refocused. “So that was Wesley. Gunn is harder. He’s not like anyone from the old gang. He wants desperately to be accepted but he’s tough and he’s hard because he grew up on the streets. And I knew, Spike…I knew he blamed himself for Doyle’s death and I didn’t do anything do dissuade him. I was hurting too much to care that my friend was hurting. I was glad I wasn’t the only one feeling pain, so I left him to the drinking. I never once told him he should stop, even though I knew if I had voiced my disapproval he would’ve. And maybe things between us wouldn’t be as strained as they are now, maybe I would’ve been a better friend—

“A man can go mad on maybes, Sire,” Spike said, interrupting. “And Gunn is fine. He’s not going to see it as your failure. He doesn’t see it as a failure at all. I made sure of that. Cordelia…you’ll figure out something, you always do. I have complete faith in your ability to do the impossible. As for Wesley…you didn’t sleep with him, did you?”

Startled, Angel found himself face to face with an unrepentantly grinning blonde. “No, you idiot, I didn’t sleep with him. He may remind me of you, but he’s not you, Spike. I couldn’t…Buffy was the only one I’ve been with since I was with you.”

Spike smiled sadly. “Seems she has that affect on vampires of the Aurelius clan, eh, mate?”

“Apparently.”

Sighing, Spike stared off the rooftop for a long moment. “You know, I wouldn’t mind going back to how things were before with us.”

“Do you mean—

“Yes, Sire, I mean sex. How much of a prude have these humans turned you into? I see I’ve got a lot of work cut out for me.”

Angel rolled his eyes. “You sure you can handle it?” he asked, amusement turning into genuine anxiety.

“Oy, Peaches. You’re never getting rid of me.”

“Don’t promise me that. I might have to hire a hit man.”

Spike laughed. “Yeah right, like a hit man could get near me.”

“True,” Angel conceded. “Oh, all right. But I’m not perfect. I will screw up. So will you.”

Rolling his eyes, Spike said, “Aye. That’s life, mate. But it doesn’t matter what happens because I’m back where I’m supposed to be. I’m home again.”

Angel smiled at that. Yeah, that was it. Home. For the first time in a century, he felt the same. “Welcome home.”

THE END

Chapter 10     Chapter Index

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