Exit – Chapter 1

Home alone. Normally, he’d have found that comforting. After all, even though you’re alone, you’re still home, right? But in order for that to be true, you would have to BE home. And he wasn’t. His home was half a world away. And to make matters worse, she didn’t even know he was alive.

Or, rather, unalive. But it was the same thing, basically.

So there he sat. Alone, and in the dark. He didn’t even really have a room he could call his own. He drifted. Sometimes he spent the lonely nights in the lab, watching the night crew clean, and examining the odd little things that Fred kept around there in jars. Sometimes, it might even be classified as “interesting”. Other nights, he wandered through the basement of the Wolfram & Hart building, looking for something to get into. Some kind of trouble he could cause. Most of the time, all he found was rats.

When he’d been a ghost, he didn’t have a choice. He had to stay there. Had to haunt the hallways of the law firm turned do-gooders haven. He’d even had the ability to drift through the walls, and so he could occupy himself playing little tricks on the people who did live there full time. Most notably, Angel. But without the ghosting powers, he couldn’t even get into the older vampire’s sanctum sanatorium. Let alone do anything that would be deemed interesting, without being caught.

So, he drifted. On this night, he was browsing the library, such as it was. Those five books that held all the information one could ever want or need on Prophesy, demonology, and curses, ect. Sometimes, he’d spend his time looking up the Sanshu Prophesy, but, since he’d basically lost all interest in it, it seemed rather redundant. So tonight, he was just sitting in one of the chairs, staring absently into space.

And cursing himself for being a total and complete idiot.

“‘Can’t top an exit like that'”, he muttered to himself. “Bloody hell. This is reasoning? She loves me, and I’m not flyin’ to her side just because I made a hell of an exit three months ago? Yeah, I saved the bloody world. Yes, I gave my buggerin’ life for her. Why should I stay away because of that? Miss out on the hero’s welcome, eh? Sounds more like somethin’ a ponce like Angel would do. Not me. Not Spike.”

He growled softly and shifted in the chair, rubbing his nose absently, and didn’t even bother questioning the fact that he was honestly holding a conversation with himself. Lately, it seemed that he was the only person who wanted to talk to him.

“So why are you NOT on a plane right now, mate?”, he asked himself, his tone of voice taking on a very dangerous growl.

“Because,” he muttered an answer to his own question. “I’m scared that she won’t.”

“Won’t what?”, that annoying, growling voice asked. “Won’t welcome the man who gave his life for her with open. arms? Won’t accept that you gave your life, and you’re back? Or are you scared that she’ll admit what you originally thought? That her “I love you”, was just a last minute effort to give you what you wanted when you both knew you were about to die.”

“The last one,” he said with a sigh, his voice drifting back to the softer tone that was more normal for him, these days. “What if it was? What if I was right? “No you don’t,” I said. “But thanks for sayin’ it.” What if I was right?”

Quietly, for a change, the growling voice almost whispered, “But what if you were wrong? Think about those last few nights, mate. Really, really think about them. She came to you. You held her. You slept together, in each other’s arms. She felt something for you. You know it. You’re just scared.”

“Bloody right, I’m scared”, Spike hissed at himself, getting up out of the chair and snarling softly. He began pacing around the chair as he mumbled to himself. “I’m scared that she never loved me. I know she felt something, but what if it was just gratitude? What if it was simple friendship, like she feels for the other. for the Scoobies.”

“For the others, you mean?”, the growling voice asked again, but even it had taken on a soft tone by now. “For your REAL family? Look around you, Spike. You don’t belong here. This is Angel’s territory. His domain. You’re unwanted by the one person who COULD validate your staying here.”

“Fred likes me. And Gunn, too,” he said quietly, still walking in a slow circle around the chair. “N’I suppose Wes would like me, if he got to know me a little better, and stopped actin’ like such an anal Watcher.”

“But Angel’s the only one you WANT to like you. And he’s the only one who never will. You know you were lucky to get that little admission out of him a couple of weeks ago that he liked your taste in music, sometimes. That was a big stretch for the wanker, and you know it,” the growly voice pressed.

“So what?”, Spike asked the voice with a growl of his own. “What do I care? Just ’cause he’s my Sire, doesn’t mean he has to lo- like me. He doesn’t. I don’t expect him to. I don’t WANT him to. I want him to just leave me alone.”

“Seems to me, mate, that that’s just what he’s been doin’.”

Spike stopped in his tracks, not having a response to his own answer. It was true that it was usually HIM who pushed Angel. He was the one looking for a reaction, while Angel seemed content to simply ignore his Childe, and go about the business of.. Well, business.

“He is pretty busy.”, he started, but couldn’t finish the sentence. Especially since he wasn’t even sure where he was going with that.

“Yeah,” the growly voice said quietly. “He’s always busy. Too busy for his friends. Too busy for his family. Too busy to bother seein’ how you’ve changed. And you’re so eager to show him, that you’re pushing him away, rather than makin’ him WANT to learn about the new you.”

Spike swallowed and sighed, leaning against the back of the chair and staring up at the annoying, vaulted ceiling of the library room. “Bloody hell. I hate it when I’m right.” He sighed. “So what do I do now? I can’t get Angel’s attention. I’m too scared to go find Buffy. And, on top of that, I’m not even sure exactly where she is.”

“Two birds, mate. Just gotta find the right stone to get both of ’em.”

He cocked his head, and a slow smile spread over his face. “Yeah. and I think I just might have it.” The smile got a bit bigger. “And it’s Slayer shaped.”

* * * * * *

Angel growled quietly in his sleep, and pulled the blanket up over his head. Even ASLEEP, he couldn’t get away from that annoying Spike in his side. If he hadn’t already been dead, he’d have begun to think that Spike was intent on annoying him into an early grave. Hell, he was SMELLING the younger vampire in his DREAMS. It was like he was in. his.. bedroom.

Angel jumped awake and snarled viciously, vamping on the spot and baring his fangs at the intruder who stood so smugly in the corner of his room. “How the HELL did you get in here?”

Spike chuckled softly, but didn’t move from where he stood by the wall. “Got my ways, Peaches. Nice to see that you’re as cheery as ever.”

“Go away, Spike,” Angel muttered, snarling quietly and laying back down, burrowing under the covers. “Leave me alone.”

Spike raised an eyebrow and smirked, then came over and plopped himself down on the end of his Grandsire’s oversized bed, but didn’t say anything.

After about four minutes, Angel slowly pushed the covers down off his head, and glared at the impudent childe laying atop his comforter. “I’m going to kill you, you know. You’re not a ghost anymore. It’s quite possible.”

Spike laughed softly and shook his head. “Last time we fought, Angel, I kicked your ass. Don’t flatter yourself. You asked me to leave you alone, and I am.”

“You’re still here. That makes me NOT alone. So you aren’t leaving me alone.”

“I have somethin’ to say, Peaches. And I’m not leaving until I’ve said it,” Spike said with a smirk. “Go to sleep if you want. I’ll still be here in the mornin’.”

Angel glared at him again, then sighed and rolled onto his back, sitting up. “Fine. What is it? And it had BETTER be good, if you broke into my room at three am to tell me about it.”

Spike smiled. A genuine smile this time. “It’s good, mate. And it’ll be even better for you.” He tilted his head. “And, by the way. When did three am become too early for a vampire?”

Angel sighed. “Since the vampire started running a company from six in the morning until nine at night. That would make three am too early for anyone.”

Spike nodded at that. “Point taken.. And, in an odd way, it even leads into my reason for bein’ here tonight.” He looked at his Grandsire pointedly. “You need a vacation.”

Angel blinked. “THIS is why you woke me up? To tell me that I need a vacation? You could’ve said that ANY time, Spike!”

Spike shook his head. “No, mate. I couldn’t. You see. I just figured this out about ten minutes ago.”

Angel sighed and slipped back down into his bed, tugging the covers up over himself again. “I figured it out two days after I agreed to take over this stupid law firm.”

Spike shifted and laid down next to his Grandsire, stretching slowly and completely ignoring the older vampire’s glare. “Then you know what I mean. You really need a vacation, mate.”

“I can’t leave this place now,” Angel said with a sigh, deciding for the moment to ignore Spike’s closeness. “Can you imagine the kind of anarchy that my taking a vacation could cause? We’re JUST getting this place whipped into shape. Getting it where things really make sense to the employees, and to the clients. Where people and demons are actually requesting our help. It’s finally looking like we’re making a difference.”

“At what cost, Angel?”, Spike asked quietly, blinking at his Grandsire from where his head rested on the pillows nearby. “Your sanity? Look at you. You’re exhausted. You’re trying to do things that you never would’ve had to deal with before. You’ve started turning a blind eye to the problems of your own people, in favor of concentrating on keeping clients happy. I talked to Harmony last night. Did you know that your secretary was completely convinced that nothing she did mattered? That no one cared about her at all? She has no real friends. No family. No purpose, except what you give her. The girl bloody lives to get you coffee and blood, mate. It’s her purpose in life, lately. You give her an assignment, and she tries harder than she ever has at ANYTHING in her life before now. She does research, so that she can help you out. She didn’t even do research in High School. She likes you, and she wants nothin’ more than a little acknowledgement that she’s doing something right.”

“I acknowledge her.”

Spike raised an eyebrow. “By asking her to get coffee? She spent a day in proverbial hell, thinking that she’d killed someone. Look at that. She’s developing a guilt complex, and she doesn’t even have a soul. I know how she feels. It isn’t easy to be one of the white hats without one, Peaches. She has to work really hard to push down everything she is, to be good for you. And she wants to. Because she likes you. And all you do is ask her to get more coffee. That’s not the Angel I used to know and despise.”

Despite himself, Angel smiled a bit at that. “It isn’t, huh?”

Spike shook his head, deathly serious. “No. The Angel I used to know always put the concerns of his inner circle over any and everyone else. The Angel I used to know could read most people like books, and if they were upset, he’d pull them aside until he figured out why, and what he could do about it. He didn’t spend his days worrying about his clients, because they weren’t CLIENTS to him. They were people. With problems. And he wanted to offer them some sort of solution to them. To HELP them. “We help the hopeless”, Angel. Remember? That used to be your motto. What is it now? “We help if you can prove you need help”? “We’ll help if you can offer us a big fat check”?”

Angel growled softly, and rolled over, putting his back to Spike. “I don’t even know anymore.”

“And I don’t even know you anymore,” Spike said quietly, almost whispered. “But I want to. I want you to be the Angel I remember. The one who wanted to help people just to be helping. Not this. corporate conglomerate with so much on his mind that he can’t even remember to lock his own bedroom door at night.”

Angel blinked, and rolled back over. “THAT is how you got in? I forgot to lock the DOOR??”

Spike nodded. “Yeah. But that isn’t important now.”

“I think it is,” Angel muttered.

“It isn’t,” Spike said quietly. “But it does illustrate my point. When you go to sleep at night, Angel, do you feel like you’ve accomplished anything? Anything at all?”

Angel started to say something, then sighed and stopped. “Not usually. No.”

“Wouldn’t you like to feel that way again?”, Spike asked quietly.

Angel just nodded this time, mentally growling at himself for letting Spike get through. But the truth was. His Childe was right. He’d lost that vision. That clarity of thought that made everything always feel like they would win at the end of the day. And he wanted it back. And if Spike was offering some way for him to get that back, well. He was going to pounce on it. Corporation be damned, he wanted to feel like himself again.

Spike smiled a little bit. “Then let’s go on a vacation. Together. Give you some time to sort out this stuff, away from the big chair. And maybe even give us some time to get to know each other again.”

This time, Angel raised an eyebrow. “Together, huh? And if we kill each other on this ‘vacation’, then what?”

“We won’t. Because of where we’re goin’.”

Angel rolled his eyes and sighed. “Okay. I’ll bite. Assuming I come with you, where are we going?”

Spike smiled again. “Europe.”

Angel blinked twice, then his eyes widened a little bit. “You’re inviting me to go with you to see Buffy?”

The younger vampire nodded. “I figure. I can’t top savin’ the world and givin’ my life for an exit. But there’s always a chance to top the entrance. Bringin’ you with me kind of insures that, don’t you think?”

Angel gave Spike an almost Angelus-like smirk. “And what if she’s happier to see me than she is to see you?”

Spike shook his head. “That doesn’t even matter right now, Peaches. This trip is as much about you and me as it is about Buffy. And I’d really rather you came with me this time.” His voice dropped to almost a whisper. “I’ve missed my family. My Grandsire. I want you with me.” He cleared his throat and deliberately pulled a growling tone into his voice. “And if you tell ANYONE that I said that, or any of this, for that matter, I’ll personally rip your spleen out and feed it to you. Got it?”

Angel couldn’t help himself. He laughed at that. “Got it.” He sighed and put one hand on Spike’s shoulder. “But can I at least sleep on this? It’s a big decision. I need to find someone to take over while I’m gone. To make sure that the company doesn’t-”

“Bloody forget the damned company, Angel,” Spike growled. “That’s what we’re getting away from. If you let it pull you back in by takin’ the time to think about that stuff, then you’ll never leave. Drop it on Wesley tomorrow, and leave with me tomorrow night. We can take the Wolfram & Hart corporate jet and be in London before sunrise. It’s got that tempered glass too, right? We could even leave durin’ the day tomorrow.”

“You’re in quite a hurry for someone who’s put off leaving for three weeks since becoming recorporialized,” Angel said slightly teasingly. Something about this had him feeling a bit better, already.

Spike just nodded. “I didn’t know why I did that, actually. Not until tonight. Somethin’ made it all just. suddenly become clear.”

Angel raised an eyebrow. “And what was that?”

Spike just shook his head. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you, mate.” He shifted away from his Grandsire and got up. “But okay. If you need a bit of time. I’ll give it to you.” He turned around and headed for the door. “Just. give me an answer soon, okay? I want to get going before we completely lose track of where Buffy is.”

Angel nodded, watching as Spike headed for the door, but something made him call out. “Spike? Wait.”

The younger vampire stopped, but didn’t turn around. “Yeah?”

Angel sighed to himself, feeling like an idiot for not having realized this before. “Where do you sleep, Spike?”

Spike sighed, but kept his back to Angel. “Around. No one ever offered me an office, as I recall.”

Angel hid a slight wince, suddenly feeling a bit bad about all the times he’d denied just that to his Childe, just out of petty anger and jealousy. “Look. there’s a couch in the corner over there. It isn’t a bed, but it’s got to be better than an office chair. The extra blankets are in that drawer down there, as well as some clothes that might fit you.”

Spike smiled slightly and turned to face Angel. “You askin’ me to stay with you tonight?”

Angel nodded. “For what little of ‘tonight’ is left. Yeah.” He held up a hand. “But JUST tonight. Got that, Spike?”

Spike nodded, expertly hiding a bit of disappointment “Got it.” He headed over to fish some blankets and one of Angel’s oversized shirts out of the drawers.

Angel continued on, as if his Childe hadn’t even said anything. “Tomorrow, we’ll see about finding you somewhere definite to stay around here. If, of course, you plan on coming back from our vacation.”

Spike blinked at Angel from where he was making himself comfortable on the couch. “You mean it?” He mentally cursed himself for sounding rather like an overeager child, but. Angel was basically saying he wanted him around. That was more than he’d expected when he started this night.. And. wait. ‘Our vacation’? “You’ve decided, then?”

Angel yawned, settling down. “No promises, Spikey. Goodnight.”

Spike smiled as he let himself sink into the pillows, yawning quietly. “G’night, Peaches.” Something told him that tomorrow would start a whole new chapter in his still brand new life.

Chapter 2