Still Standing To Spite The Fall: part 2




Angel watched Spike move around the courtyard. He shuffled, hanging on to Dawn for balance. Pouring blood down Spike’s throat had helped his body heal to the point where he regained consciousness. Spike had been helpless, his condition similar to a stroke victim, leaving him partly paralyzed and unable to speak. And thoroughly pissed off.


As for himself, his side ached miserably, a result of garlic being rubbed on the spearhead that had bitten so deep into his side. The area was slow to heal, the poison attacking his system and wreaking havoc with his usual ability to recover. It wasn’t enough to kill him, but it had weakened him and caused a ceaseless ache that wouldn’t let him sleep.


There must have been a discussion, one he wasn’t privy to. Instead of going back to Europe, Buffy and the others had stayed, settling in the hotel as if they owned it, with Buffy taking the room next to his. Angel was tempted to tell her to go back to Italy and the Immortal, that he could take care of himself, but it felt good to have her near him after so long apart. He’d like to think he was getting a little smarter in his old age.


When he would get up and prowl restlessly through his rooms during the day, Buffy would come and read to him or let him lay with his head on her lap when the ache in his side threatened to overwhelm him. On his own, he would have recovered, but everything he owned would probably be in splinters without her calming presence.


The secret he carried wouldn’t let him sleep. It gnawed at him. The one chance he’d had to be with Buffy was gone, signed away in his own blood. Her baking and his shanshu had been the things that they’d both looked forward to. Now by the time she was cookies, it wouldn’t matter. Angel sighed; he’d never be human, never have a life with Buffy.


Behind him, Angel heard the door to his suite open. Buffy. Of course, she seemed to have radar when it came to his moods.


“Hey, gloomy.” She paused just inside the bedroom doorway. There was something wrong with Angel, something more than just the wound to his side.  His soul seemed to be wounded as well. “Feeling any better?”


“A little.”


“Come here and let me look.” When he didn’t move from the window, she forced a cheerful tone and went to him. “How can I play Nnurse Buffy if you don’t cooperate?”


Blinking away the image of Buffy in a tight, low cut nurse’s uniform, he turned away from the window. Couldn’t happen. “I think Spike’s getting better. He flipped me off this morning.”


Pulling up his shirt, she peeled the bandage back to look at the wound. It was still red and angry looking, but it was smaller than it had been the day before. The skin was still hot around the wound, and Angel hissed in a breath as she felt the area with her fingertips. Buffy put the bandage back into place and pulled his shirt back down, letting her hands slide over the cool, pale skin for a moment. “It looks better. A few more days and you’ll be good as new.”


Her touch tormented him as much as it comforted. “You can go back to Italy.” He blurted out. “You don’t have to stay with me if you don’t want.” Then again, maybe he wasn’t getting any smarter.


“Angel, I’m here because I want to be.” Tugging on his shirt, she made him turn and look at her. “If you’re thinking I want to get back to someone, you’re wrong. He was fun, but I don’t love him.”


“You don’t?” That made him feel better. “Andrew said you snuggled.”


“Well, I didn’t say I didn’t like him.” Her face turned red. “Andrew said you’ve got a girlfriend and she’s a werewolf.”


“Andrew talks too much.” Angel ran his fingertips over her warm cheeks. “I had a girl who was a friend, and a werewolf, and… a lover. But I don’t love her.”


“Good.” It was selfish but she didn’t care. Leaning against Angel, Buffy wrapped her arms around his waist. “I was really scared I was going to lose you. We got here and there were so many of them and there you were, out in the middle of it. I didn’t think I’d get to you in time.”


“I wish I’d seen you fight.” A smile tugged at the corner of his lips. “Xander says you were in full kick ass mode.”


“They were hurting you.” Tipping her head up, she grinned at him. “Nobody hurts my boyfriend, remember?”


“Buffy, I – the Shanshu – “


“It doesn’t matter. It may not happen until after I’m – “ Dead was something she’d already been. “Too old to enjoy it. But I don’t care. I just want to be with you.”


“You know we can’t… be with… you know?” The curse was still there even if the promise of humanity wasn’t.


“Willow’s working on that. If anybody can fix the curse, she can.” Willow had a couple of crazy ideas for removing Angel’s soul and putting it back with a different spell. Something that scared Buffy and gave her hope at the same time.


“I thought Willow was staying away from magic?”  He frowned down at her. Facing a witch of Willow’s caliber wasn’t something he wanted to do.


“She was. But something happened when she released the slayer power.” It was hard to explain Willow’s transformation. On the one hand she was still Willow, but on the other she’d become someone infinitely more powerful. “She channeled it through her and it changed her somehow. But for the good. Only good spells and only when needed.”


“Maybe Willow was a potential slayer?” The redhead was certainly feisty enough. Who else would have so quickly embraced the fact that her new friend killed vampires for a living and that there was magic to be worked?


“She’d like that idea.” Buffy smiled.


His side was aching badly again, and Angel unwound Buffy’s arms from his waist. He made his way slowly to the bed and sat down. “Sorry, I’m feeling my age lately.”


That made her giggle. “The original nearly thirty age or the two hundred and fifty years plus age?”


“Both.” Lying back, he let her plump the pillows and pull the comforter up over him. There were advantages to having Nurse Buffy around. “Read to me?”


“Sure. Let me get the book.” They’d been reading from the newest Anita Blake book, making fun of some things and marveling at the accuracy of others.


Once Buffy settled herself comfortably on the bed, Angel put his head on her lap and tried to ignore both the ache in his side and in his heart.





“It’s your move.”


Spike glared across the board at Angel.  His grandsire had refused to help him move the chess pieces. Lifting his arm, Spike reached carefully for his queen. His arm trembled and he grunted with the effort of holding it up.


His fingers brushed a pawn before he reached the queen, knocking it over into the next square. Ignoring it, Spike grasped the queen and lifted her triumphantly. He set her down two squares away to threaten Angel’s knight. He grinned as well as his paralyzed face would allow.


“Put it back. You moved the pawn.”


“D – d –  n’t – “ Spike shook his head in denial.


“You moved the pawn.”


He hadn’t moved the bloody pawn, it had fallen over. He shook his head again.


“The rules are – “ Angel leaned back in his chair. “If you move a piece off of its square and then take your fingers off of it, you’ve made your move.”


“N – no!” That had been an accident and Angel knew it. “No – q – que – “


“Move her back.” Shifting to ease the ache in his side, he met Spike’s glare dispassionately.


The ice blue eyes threatened torture and worse, but the drooping of the left side of his face spoiled the effect. “Ch – ch – et!” It was bad enough that Angel wouldn’t help him, or handicap his own game by removing pieces, but now he was resorting to cheating.


“Move her back.” Angel repeated.


Spike lifted his hand again, reaching for the queen. His arm shook so badly he could barely control it. Several pieces shifted as he brushed against them. The queen now back in her original position, he let his arm fall to the side of the table. His muscles ached and twitched miserably.


“Now you can move those back where they were.”


“Wha?” He’d barely moved the other pieces. Some were over the edge of their square, but not enough to doubt their position on the board. “N – no – “


“Move them back.” As much as Angel felt sorry for Spike, experience had proven that sympathy wouldn’t motivate him to get well. “And then pick your pawn up.”


That was the last straw. Spike snarled and swept his arm across the chessboard. It was a pathetic gesture – only a few pieces fell to the floor, and most simply rolled across the table.


“You lose. What’s that make? Ten games now?” Reaching down, Angel ignored the twinge in his side and picked up the pieces of the black queen. “I got this set in Egypt. You’ll have to replace it.”


“F – f – “ Bloody hell, he couldn’t even tell his smug poofiness to fuck off. Spike struggled to get up from his chair. When he was well, he’d kick Angel’s ass up between his gelled ears.


“Ah, I see you’re finished with your game.” Giles stepped out into the courtyard. “Murdoch is here to examine Spike.”


“No!” Lurching up, Spike held onto the chair for support. He was not letting some Council quack poke and jab at him. “No!”


“Giles’ friend is an expert in vampire physiology.” Angel finished putting the chess pieces in the box before getting up and walking around the table. “He’s going to examine you and you’re going to cooperate.”


“N – no!” Using the cane Dawn had bought for him, he began to move away from the stability of the chair. The niblet was upstairs doing some schoolwork Angel had forced on her, otherwise she’d be right here to help him. She was the only loyal one in the bunch. Even Buffy was letting Angel dictate how they treated him. Ungrateful lot, and after he’d saved the world again.


Angel waited until Spike was a few feet from the table before stepping in front of him. “Are you going to play nice?”


“Get – ou – out – w – way!”


Angel casually kicked the cane out of Spike’s hand, catching it before it hit the ground. Spike he let fall to the flagstones, stepping back so the other vampire couldn’t get a handhold on his shirt to break his fall.


“I believe Andrew has made some tea.” Giles held the door open for Angel. “Would you care to share a cup with us?”


“A cup of hot tea would be good. It’s a little nippy tonight.” He paused on the steps. “Wait, I forgot something.” Walking past where Spike struggled on the ground, he picked up the box from the table. “Dew isn’t good for the velvet.”


“Hep – mm – me!” Spike clutched at Angel’s pant leg as he went past.


“Just a few hours to daylight, Spike. You better hurry up.” Angel kicked Spike’s hand aside. “Giles? Tea?”


“You prefer a bit of hot sauce in your tea as I recall, I had Andrew put the bottle on the tea tray.” Giles smiled mischievously. “Murdoch isn’t quite sure what to make of that. He thinks I’m joking.”


“We’ll have to have a discussion of vampire preferences.”


“That’s a beautiful chess set, by the way.”


“It was. Spike will be working for me forever to replace it.” As the door closed behind them, Angel grinned. “I picked it up at Toys R Us.”


Outside, Spike lay on the cold stones, trying to decide if he should crawl back to the chair and use it as a walker or crawl to the steps and use the railing.


Damn the poof! Angel had deliberately waited until he was almost exactly halfway between them. Six of one, half a dozen of the other, as they say.


Sighing, he lifted himself up on his good arm and pulled his knees under his body. The effort left him dizzy, and he waited for his vision to clear before attempting to get to his feet. He was going to walk out of here like a man.


Only one leg was working and not as it should, but Spike managed to get to his feet after several minutes. Sweat dripped down his face, and he smiled lopsidedly. “D – did – it!”


He took one careful, sliding step. Then another. And then tripped over a seam in the flagstones.


Bloody hell!




Inside, Giles introduced Angel to a large red-haired man. “Angel, this is Murdoch Campbell. We attended university together and he was a fellow Watcher. Murdoch, this is Angel.”


There was no hesitation as Murdoch took Angel’s hand. “Good to finally meet you, Angel. I’ve heard a lot about you.”


Angel smiled slightly. He could only imagine what was in the Council’s files on him. “The bad things are all true.” He didn’t pick up the slightest tint of fear from the man’s scent, and his handshake had remained firm and steady.


“And the good things?” Murdoch smiled back.


“Only a few of those.”


“Angel’s obviously being modest.” Giles sat down and poured three cups of tea. “He’s been invaluable to us time and again.”


Angel shot Giles a look. Since when was the former Watcher his number one fan?


“Well, I must admit…” He handed a cup to Murdoch. “At first I was rather… hesitant to allow Buffy to work with Angel.”


“Which is to say you threw a fit and your slayer did what she wanted?” Murdoch chuckled. “You forget, Giles, I’ve known you for too long.”


“Yes, well, moving along.” He put four lumps of sugar in one of the cups and handed it to Angel. “Spike suffered a rather severe blow to the head during a recent battle.”


“There was a hole the size of a baseball in the back of his head. And it didn’t do anything for his personality.” Angel poured hot sauce in his tea and stirred it around.


Murdoch’s eyebrows went up. “I prefer a spot of whiskey myself.”


“I never drink before midnight.” Angel said as he sipped his tea.


Giles hid a smile. “Murdoch is the foremost expert in the world on vampire physiology.”


“For someone who’s not actually a vampire, of course. That’d be taking research a step too far.” Murdoch acknowledged. “There are some fascinating things to be seen. For example, a vampire has all the same internal organs that they had as a human.”


It seemed to have slipped the man’s mind that he was talking to a vampire, but Angel didn’t comment.


“None of them function for the most part, of course. However, some not only do function, but do so more effectively than they did before. Eyes, nose, ears – all the sensory organs are extremely effective.”


“You don’t say.” Angel sipped his sweet, spicy tea. Giles’ Earl Grey was all right, but he preferred a good Irish blend.


“And there are changes unique to the vampire. The veins and arteries develop a system of nerves and muscles to pump blood throughout the body, because of course the heart is dead.” Murdoch continued.


Ouch. Angel winced at the description. His heart felt very much alive to him. Especially during the times it ached for Buffy.


“The system will actually shunt blood flow around an injured area so as not to reduce the amount in the body. Because, of course, as the blood volume is absorbed or lost, the vampire must feed – “


“I assume you found this out by dissection?” Angel asked quietly.


Giles choked on his tea.


“Of course.” Murdoch met Angel’s gaze without hesitation. “You can’t get much information from a dust pile.”


“I don’t suppose you can.” He took another drink of his tea.


“You know, perhaps we should check on Spike.” Setting his cup down, Giles got to his feet.


“Every vampire that I dissected was anesthetized or deliberately paralyzed so they felt nothing. Even though they were – “ Remembering finally what Angel was, he stopped.


“Go ahead, monsters. “Angel shrugged. “There’s a demon inside of me. I’m a monster.”


“You are not a monster.” Murdoch said firmly. “Giles has told me that you’re a good man, and I value his judgment.”


Once again, Angel found himself surprised by Giles’ support.


Giles fiddled with his glasses. “Well… after all… he has saved the world… and Buffy likes him…”


Murdoch laughed as he got to his feet. “Let’s go see this other souled vampire of yours, Rupert, and see if we can get him back on his feet. Where is he?”


“I wouldn’t say he’s my vampire exactly.” Giles protested. “He’s more of a stray, really.”


“He’s outside.” Angel grinned. “Enjoying the night air.”





“So that’s William the Bloody?” Murdoch looked down at where Spike was sprawled on the bottom courtyard step. “Not at all how I pictured him.”


“Me either. I thought he’d have made it up the stairs at least.” Angel leaned against the railing.


“H – hat – yu – “ Spike forced the words out. When he was well, he was going to chop his grandsire into pieces. Tiny pieces.  And then piss on them. “B – b – bug – “


“I hat you, too, Spike.” Angel smiled mockingly.


“Do you have somewhere I can examine him?” Pulling a notebook out of his pocket, Murdoch began jotting down notes.


“I believe we settled on the dining room.” Giles stepped aside as Angel went down the steps past him. “We can put him on one of the tables.”


Picking Spike up, Angel slung him over his shoulder like a bag of rags. “He’s not going to cooperate, but you can see, he’s not really going to be able to put up much of a fight.”


“I’m used to my patients not being happy to see me.” Murdoch assured him. “Won’t bother me one bit.”


This was absolutely the final indignity. They’d shoved a funnel down his throat – not that he remembered it, but they’d teased him unmercifully about it. He’d been made to crawl on the floor like an infant and drink his blood out of a sippy cup as if he were a toothless fledgling, but being handled like he was yesterday’s garbage was too much to bear.


Hitting Angel’s back with his good arm didn’t appear to bother him, and Spike resorted to the only method of attack left to him.


Growling, he sank his fangs deep into Angel’s flank.


Angel stumbled as the pain rippled down his hip and leg. Falling to his knees, he cursed Spike as the pain was followed by the rush of sexual frenzy typical of a vampire bite. His cock hardened despite his disgust.


“Perhaps we should get a few chains after all?” Giles suggested.


“No.” Panting, Angel threw Spike to the floor and got up. “We don’t need them.”


He grabbed one of Spike’s legs and pulled him across the lobby toward the dining room, ignoring the feeble kicks aimed at him and the way Spike’s head bounced off the lobby steps.


“I don’t suppose this would be a good time to ask about the effects of the bite, would it?” Murdoch asked as he and Giles followed.


“I would think not.” Giles agreed.






“Tell me again how Spike bit you.”


“No.” Angel winced as Buffy cleaned the wound out.


“You’re just cranky because it made you all hot and bothered.” She kissed the gryphon on his shoulder. “Hello, pretty.”


“It did not!”


Did too. The time that Angel had fed from her was still vivid in her memory and probably always would be. Sex with a capital S. “So is Spike going to get better?” Definitely time for a subject change as her own body moved towards hot and possibly bothered.


“Murdoch said that it’s too soon to tell. Spike’s going to have to regrow cranial nerves and brain cells, and that takes a lot of time.”


“There isn’t anything we can do to speed things up?”


“We can keep giving him a steady supply of fresh human blood. Plasma if the deli has any. ” Angel was normally opposed to buying plasma, even from a supplier he knew purchased from a bio disposal company. But it would help Spike heal more quickly.


There was something in Angel’s tone that suggested he didn’t want to get the plasma. Buffy wasn’t sure why, and she decided not to press him on it. “We can keep the blood coming; we’ve made sure that there’s enough for the both of you. No pig blood for you while you’re healing.”


“I’m okay.” Truthfully, the wound to his side ached more than he wanted to admit. It wouldn’t kill him, but it was going to continue to make him miserable for some time.


“Yeah, okay, whatever.” She kissed the back of his neck. “Giles wants to talk to you about something when you’re up to it.”


That didn’t sound good. “He wants to take you back to England?” Or Italy?


“No, he wants to stay here and set up some slayer training thingy.” Shrugging, she moved around to sit next to him on the bed. “I didn’t listen past the part where he started talking about planning things out. I just slay, I’m not the plan maker.”


Buffy had made plenty of battle plans in her time as the Slayer, but Angel went along with her. “Let me put on a shirt and we’ll go talk to him.”


“Do you have to?” She grinned at him. “You look good shirtless.”


“The hotel is full of girls.” He reminded her.


“Hmm… put the shirt on.” Biting her lip, Buffy looked up into the chocolate eyes. “You’re my vampire.”


Angel heard the question in her voice. “Of course… and… you’re my girl, right?”


“Always.” She wrapped her arms around him. “I’ve missed you so much, Angel.”


“I’ve missed you.” Burying his face in her hair, Angel breathed in the soft scent.





“What I have in mind, with your permission of course, is to turn the Hyperion into a private school.”


“A private slayer school.” Angel said.


“Exactly. There are so many girls out there now with the slayer power within them and no one to guide them, that a school is exactly what we need.” Giles agreed. “A way to train them to use their gift appropriately and safely.”


“You can’t take in all the girls who’ve been given the power.” Angel had tried to think of how many girls all over the world might have suddenly changed from merely being a potential into a full blown slayer. “There’s too many.”


“I agree with you. However, we’re trying to set up schools in England, America – various places – and recruit as many as we can.” The former Watcher frowned. “Without guidance, there could be many of them who have problems adjusting. Or who die as a result of not being trained to fight the creatures they’re suddenly able to sense.”


“Or get recruited to the other side. So you want to set up a slayer school. Here. In my hotel.” The irony caused Angel’s lips to curl up in a smirk. “The Council would turn over in their graves.”


“No doubt they would if they weren’t in a lot of pieces. That said, they left us in the situation that we’re in and we must make the best of it.” He’d been thinking of setting up the Council again, with adjustments, and gathering the slayers that were scattered all over the world. “There’s quite a bit of money that we have access to, and we should use it to revive the Council. With a slightly different mission this time, of course.”


“No more of those tests.” Buffy said firmly.


“Agreed.” Giles still felt guilty for his part in the Cruciamentum. Buffy had long since forgiven him, but he would never really forgive himself. “Slayers are not just tools, they’re human beings and will be treated as such. I’ve been in contact with other Watchers who had retired or were in the field when the Council building was destroyed, and they’re willing to start fresh.”


The Hyperion was perfect for a school. There were plenty of rooms, a professional kitchen, a gym and pool, and of course, two real life vampires for the girls to meet.


“You can set it up here. There’s just two conditions.” Angel held up a finger. “One, they practice with plastic stakes, there’s no garlic in the kitchen, and holy water is clearly labeled.”


Buffy wondered if Angel was really that bad with math, or if the three conditions were supposed to be one big one.


“Agreed.” Giles chuckled.


“And two, we name the school after Buffy’s mother.”


Math quandary forgotten, Buffy gaped. “What?”


“I think that’s a wonderful idea.” As Buffy wrapped her arms around Angel, Giles got up. “I’ll just go tell Murdoch the good news.”


Behind him, Buffy and Angel indulged in a long overdue kiss.





“Robin Wood?”


“Yes.” Robin didn’t let his smile slip. He’d heard this too many times. “Yes, seriously. And yes, it’s really my name, yes, I know it sounds like Robin Hood, and no, I have no idea what my mother was thinking at the time.”


“Oh.” Angel blinked. “Um… so… you were the principal at Sunnydale?”


“For a rather short tenure, but yes.”


“Rob ran Hellmouth High, Angel. He can handle a bunch of little slayers.” Faith winked. “He handles me pretty good.”


“Faith.” Robin rebuked gently.


“We’re lucky to have a number of educators among both former and current Watchers.” Giles explained. “None, however has had experience at handling more than a handful of students at one time.”


“Or at setting a general educational curriculum.” Robin pointed out. “One thing we’ll need to do is have lesson plans in place for the different grade levels and types of education these girls will have had. We’ll also need translators, we can’t count on everyone being fluent in English.”


Angel leaned his elbows on his desk. Giles had brought Robin in and introduced him and then for the last several minutes the two of them had been talking about teachers, lesson plans, and other things he had no idea about or interest in. He had the odd feeling that they were expecting something from him. “That sounds… reasonable.”


Over Robin’s shoulder, Angel could see Faith grinning at him. She’d been bouncy and perky since Robin had arrived at the hotel. There was a tang of arousal to her scent, but there was something about her attitude that told him this was more than her usual interest in a casual romp.


“It’s important to have an organization in place and to have the right person to keep things running smoothly.”


Angel held up a hand to stop Giles before he could start another lecture. “What does this have to do with me?”


“Angel, you’re involved in this decision.” Giles looked from Angel to Robin and back. “I’d like to have your approval before we proceed.”






“Why.” Angel repeated.


“We’re using your hotel and – “ Giles laughed nervously. “We want to be sure that you’re involved in and approve of the decisions that are made.”


“Do I have to?”


Faith burst out laughing. She clamped her hands over her mouth as Robin turned to look at her.


“Do you – well I – “ The question seemed to fluster the other man. “Don’t you want to be involved?”




“No?” Giles seemed even more flustered.


“No.” Angel said firmly. “I’ll help with the training. But other than that, I’m not a teacher or a businessman.”


“You ran Wolfram and Hart.” Robin pointed out.


“You can see how well that worked out.” Angel deadpanned.


“Nonetheless, you did run the organization for over a year.”


“Come on, Giles. I was a figurehead. I didn’t run anything.” His eyes flicked to a picture of Connor sitting on the desk. “It was the means to an end, nothing more.”


“I understand your reluctance, Angel, but you are involved in the new Council.”


“So is Buffy.” He smiled slightly. “And where is she?”


“Well, Buffy is…” Giles sighed.


Buffy had packed her swimsuit and suntan lotion and headed for the beach the moment Giles had announced they needed to discuss Robin’s arrival.


“Buffy.” Robin chuckled. “Angel, don’t you have any questions you’d like to ask me?”


“Why did you hire Buffy?” When Buffy had called and told him she’d been hired to be the new counselor at the high school, Angel had congratulated her, sent a desk set for her, and privately wondered what was passing for logic in Sunnydale.


“I knew she was… different.” A smile quirked his lips. “I didn’t realize she was the Slayer at first, but I knew that I had to keep an eye on her.”


There was more here than the man was telling him. A meaning hiding under his words. “How did you know she was different?”


“It’s pretty obvious, don’t you think?”


“No.” Leaning back in his chair, Angel fixed Robin with a look that had served him – or rather, Angelus – well in breaking down his victims.


“A lot of odd things happen around her, you have to admit.” When Angel didn’t answer, Robin tried meeting his stare head on. Within a few moments he found himself looking away. It was too much like looking into a bottomless pit.


Having been a victim of that dead stare, Giles took pity on Robin. “Robin’s mother was a slayer. Nikki Wood.”


Surprise made Angel sit forward. “Your mother? A Slayer had a child? I thought that was a myth.”


“A story to scare little vampires with?” Robin said sardonically.


There had been a rumor in the 1970’s that a Slayer had given birth, and the idea that a Slayer could possibly breed children with her abilities was the talk of the underworld for some time.


But the Slayer had died and then another and another after her, and no army of slayer children had ever appeared. The rumor became a myth. Much like the Chosen One was supposed to be nothing more than a myth.


“Do you have any of her abilities?”


“Some.” Robin admitted. Even as a child, he’d known he was different. “I’m a little stronger than average. Faster, better reflexes, I heal quicker. And I can tell you’re not human.”


So the myth had foundation after all. Robin was lucky no one had believed he was real or he’d have been slaughtered long ago.


“As you can see, Robin is uniquely suited for the position.” Giles smiled slightly. “Rather an ironic twist.”


Angel stood up. “Giles, do whatever you think is best.”


“But, Angel, we’re considering buying some of the surrounding property. The Hyperion simply isn’t suited for classrooms.” Giles stood up as Angel walked past him. “I don’t want to do things without your approval.”


“I trust you.” Angel repeated. “If you need any help with permits, deeds, stuff like that – let me know, I know people who can help. Otherwise, do whatever you think is necessary.”


“I understand you draw.”


Angel froze just as he reached the office door. Behind him, he heard Giles suck in a breath and his heart step up in its rhythm. Even Faith’s heart bounced a beat at Robin’s statement.


“I’ve seen some of your work in the Council’s files.” Robin got up from his chair. He missed the look Faith shot his way.


“We’ve been retrieving the Council files and other items that survived the blast.” Giles rushed to explain. “However, I wasn’t aware that anything on Angelus had been recovered.”


“Your work is very good.” Robin continued.


“Thank you.” Angel said tightly.


“Would you consider helping with the art instruction?”


“What?” Startled, Angel turned to look at him.


“From what I’ve seen, you’re very talented.” Robin met Angel’s confused gaze. “Some of the subject matter was gruesome, but I assume you’d avoid that if you taught.”


“I – I don’t know.” Before he’d been turned, before he became a drunken disappointment to his father, he’d sketched and painted. His father had crushed his dream of being an artist. “The only thing I’ve ever taught is how to kill.”


A smile curved Robin’s lips. “That’s another skill they’ll need to learn as well.”


“I’ll think about it.” Angel nodded thoughtfully. “Giles, do whatever you think is best. If you need a sounding board, I can help, but the decisions are yours.”


“I understand.” The responsibility for the new Council settled more heavily onto Giles’ shoulders. “Thank you for your trust. I’ll do my best.”


“I know you will.” Angel left the office.


Upstairs, Spike was sitting slumped in a chair. He didn’t look up when Angel came in and sat down across from him.


“Did you know his mother was a slayer?”


Spike nodded. He knew who Angel was talking about –  it wasn’t as if anyone else could call a Slayer Mum.


“Guess that old rumor was true after all. How’d you find out?”


“T – try to – kill me.” The words were coming easier than before, but they still had to be forced out.


“Spike, a lot of people tried to kill you.” Angel shook his head. “Narrow it down a little.”


“I k – kill his m – mother.” He held up two fingers.


“Your second Slayer was in the 1970’s, wasn’t it?” He’d been in Chicago at the time, but he’d heard about it through the grapevine. The death of a slayer was always used as an excuse to party and run wild until a new one appeared. “Do I have to worry about him staking you?”


“No.” He and Robin had worked out their differences. More or less.


“Not that I’d care, but Buffy would.”


Spike shrugged. She would, but with Angel to keep her company at night, she’d get over it. Only Dawn would cry over his ashes.


“You always were a baby when you were hurt.”


“You –  w – whined to – D – Darla – “ He sneered.


A slow smile curled Angel’s lips. “Why lick my own wounds?”


It always came back to sex with Angel. Throwing it in Spike’s face that women had always flocked to him, leaving him to watch and take his grandsire’s leftovers.


“He wants me to teach.”


Spike’s eyebrows went up. “T – teach wh – what? Hair?”




“Art?” Now that was interesting and not at all what he’d expected to hear.


Angelus had drawn constantly, when he wasn’t drinking, wenching, or killing of course. Darla had complained about the scraps of paper all over the place, unless he was drawing her, also of course. While a lot of the subject matter dealt with his victims, Angelus had drawn more traditional subjects from time to time. And surprisingly well, Spike recalled.


Angel waited for Spike to make a snide comment. When none was forthcoming, he arched an eyebrow. “Well? Nothing about how I’m a talentless hack?”


“Dru – Drusilla – pic – picture. You d – drew, rem – member?”


He remembered. He’d once drawn a picture of Dru as she lay sleeping on a pile of furs in front of the fireplace of whatever house they had been calling home at the time. Spike had been a fledgling still and not yet accustomed to the capricious way that Angelus’ mind worked. He’d admired the drawing and asked for it only to have Angelus laugh at him and tear it up.


“I remember.” It had been one of his best efforts at serious art and after he’d destroyed it, Angelus had regretted the act. Not that he’d ever let Spike know. “It was pretty good, wasn’t it?”


Spike nodded. The drawing had captured the innocence that still lived within his fragile, crazy sire and he’d wanted it.


“Maybe I could.” Angel said thoughtfully. “It’s been a long time since my lessons, but I can give it a try.”


“Me t- too.”


“You can’t draw a straight line.”


“Lit – lit – r – ture. P – p – poet.”


“Spike, your poetry is awful.” There really was no kind way to describe it. “Awful.”


“Bloody aw – ful.” Spike acknowledged. It had taken over a hundred years to come to terms with his lack of poetic talent. Even so, he’d studied literature and poetry for years and knew how to read and interpret the finest works. “Teach – I can – t – teach.”


“Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach?” Angel had been well educated for a merchant’s son, but Spike had been of the noble class and had no doubt had the best education money could buy. He was probably at least as qualified as any of the Watchers to teach literature. Classic literature at any rate.


“C – can’t like – this.” Spike rubbed the numb side of his face.


Getting up, Angel went to the small kitchen and warmed up a mug of blood. He handed it to Spike. “Here.”


Spike shook his head. It was easier to feel sorry for himself on an empty stomach. Not that he had the brooding skills of his grandsire, but he was working on it.


“Take it.” Angel pushed the mug against the other vampire’s chest.


Slowly, Spike’s hands came up and took the mug. Knowing Angel, he’d shove a funnel in his mouth and pour it down him again.


“I want you downstairs in the gym in ten minutes.”


He glared over the top of the mug.


“You’re going to heal, Spike. How long it takes is up to you.” Angel put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed gently. Like it or not, Spike was his responsibility. They were the only family they had.


“T – ten min – minutes.”


Angel left Spike sipping his blood.





The prompts used in these two chapters were:


Circling the edge


it’s too soon to tell

Chapter 2: That Good Night – Is there a time to give in to the dying of the light?