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Counting The Ways - 1

The teenager sat behind the reception desk as if he owned the place. It immediately pissed Spike off, having taken three hours to find the hotel in the first place.

'Where's Angel?'

The kid looked up.

'Hello. Welcome to Angel Investigations. Can we help you?'

Fuck you. 'We can't do anything.' And where were his bleedin' parents? 'Where's Angel.'

'Father's upstairs.'

Good, he did have parents. Fucking take him home then. 'I'm not interested in your father, where's Angel?'

The kid continued to stare at Spike, not wavering in his intense concentration. 'Angel is my father.'


'Uh huh.' Spike came closer. He'd fucking done it again. Bit bloody young though. He stopped, sniffing and sensing. 'Hey! You ain't a vampire!'

The kid bristled. 'Who are you?'

'Me! Who am I? Who the fuck are you?'

'I'm Conn… Stephen. Angel's son.'

'Son!' Spike felt sick, dizzy. When? The kid was sixteen? Seventeen? When had Angel shagged … and what was he thinking? Angel couldn't have a kid… he couldn't… bloody hell. Did that mean… he could? Dead bodies. Dead hearts. Dead fucking cum! So, what? Sixteen years ago, Angel had…

'Connor! Get back. Stay away from him!' Spike turned, and there he was: the driving force of his unlife.

'What do ya mean, stay away from me?' Who was this kid… what was happening?

'Why?' The kid looked at Angel.

'He's a vampire. He's dangerous.'


'Ouch… fuck…' Spike found himself restraining the child. It was as easy as blinking - well, alright, slightly more difficult than he'd anticipated - but still easy. He held Connor in a headlock.

'Let him go.'

'Angel, what's happening? Who's the snotty brat?'

'Spike, let him go, or I'll kill you.'

Spike let the child drop and stepped back, but the kid rounded on him again, attacking viciously.

'Connor! Stop. Stop it! Let him go; he's… that is…stop!' Angel intervened and held his son back from his childe.

Spike stood dumbfounded. Angel's arms around the brat... Angel's face close to the boy's... Angel's concern for this child! He clenched his jaw, bit his lip, and backed out of the hotel into the safer darkness.

Angel couldn't know why he was in LA. Angel couldn't know what had happened with… but there was nothing left now.

Angel let Connor go and turned to him. He paused, but turned to the open door and followed Spike out into the dark.



He caught up but, being utterly ignored, had no recourse but to pin Spike to a wall. 'Spike!'

Tears? No. Spike? 'Hey.' He put a hand out tentatively. Knee in the balls effectively ended that little moment of empathy, and he doubled up in pain, as his childe stalked coldly away.

He caught up with him again in a bar and winced as he sat down.



'Let me explain.'

'Oh, this'll be good.'



'Yes, Darla.'

'Fuck, two dead groins. Two deads make a live then?'

'Something like that.'

'But you weren't with Darla sixteen years ago.'

'Nine months ago I was. Connor was a baby last week; he was…' Tears? Spike had never seen tears in Angel's eyes even when a hot poker had caught on a rib and had to be extracted before re-insertion.

Spike pushed his drink towards Angel.

Angel drank.

'Connor was taken from me to a hell dimension. Time passed differently there.'

'Uh huh.'

Angel smiled faintly. 'That's useful.'


'Well, I mean… Jesus, Spike… first edition… second edition. Any advice?'

Spike looked horrified. 'I ain't your bloody son, mate. Unless you've a very irregular and bleedin' illegal-in-all-states-even-Kentucky relationship with the little fucker.'

'Spike! And don't call him that.'

'Well, bloody hell, Angel! I was your…' he trailed off. It was difficult to define or to speak what he had been to Angel once. His entirety?

Angel nodded as if Spike had defined the indefinable but added firmly. 'Was.'

Spike looked at him, took his drink back and nodded grimly, too. 'Was. I've moved on a bit since then, mate… warmer, slipperier and with boobs… oh, an' don't take so much effort to bring off.'

Angel looked down, trailing his finger in the spilt beer on the bar. 'I bet she doesn't get you off the same though.'

Spike's jaw dropped. That was pure… him! He laughed. 'That she don't, Angel; that she don't.'



'Why are you here?'

'Oh, yeah…' Fuck, which story had he decided on in the end? 'Dru's back; she wants to see you.'


Fucking hell, he'd taken hours to think up that story. 'She says it's important.'

'Nothing about her is important. That's the point, Spike.'

'Ah. She's your childe.'

'She's a demon I created when I was Angelus. Nothing more. That is all meaningless now.'

'Now that you have a real child.'

'Yes. Now I have a real child.'



'I'm meaningless.'


'I guess I am.' Spike got up and left.

Angel followed him out. Spike was leaning against the wall, lighting a cigarette, the illumination from the tiny flame of his lighter casting flickering shadows on his lean face. Angel watched him for a few moments.

'Where are you staying?'


'In LA, where are you staying?'

Spike laughed. 'You've been a ponce too long, Angel. Where do you think? An abandoned building... a sewer. I'm a corpse. And meaningless. What did you expect?'

'I own a hotel, Spike. Four occupied rooms, sixty-four vacant. Stay if you want. One night anyway.'

'What's Baby Angel gonna think about that?'

'Don't call him that.'

'What's he gonna say? Daddy's ex-fuck coming to stay.'

Angel turned to him. 'If you tell him that, I will kill you, Spike.'

Red washed over Spike's eyes. 'Can I tell him that you murdered me then?' He started to walk away. 'Shall I tell him how you like it, Angel? How you sound when you come in my ass?'

Angel caught his arm and punched him in the belly, and he dropped to one knee. 'Fuck off, Spike. Go back to Sunnydale. You're not wanted here.' He started to walk away.

'Oooh. Look boys, fags fighting!'

Raucous, drunken voices came out of the night air. Spike started to climb to his feet, but was pushed to the wall by two young men. One cupped his balls. 'Hey, faggot, give us a kiss then.'

The gob of spit Spike deposited into the man's face only enraged him more. He punched Spike in the balls, and Spike's hissed intake of breath told Angel just how painful the punch must have been. Why didn't Spike defend himself?

He only stood up with a resigned look on his face. The second man kicked Spike's legs apart and started to unzip his jeans. 'Let's see what the fag's got? Give us a suck, man.'

The man didn't see the blow coming: he was slammed into the wall and knocked unconscious instantly. The second one took one look at Angel and fled.

Spike took one look at Angel and let fly a string of obscenities.

Expecting thanks, Angel recoiled at the power of Spike's brutal, verbal attack. Then he shoved Spike into the wall. Spike shoved back, hard, and they began scrapping viciously in the alley, blows a hundred years in the making traded over and over and again. Expecting an easy victory, Angel began to fail: Spike was quicker, harder and more intent on winning. Angel felt his kneecap dislocate and his shin snap from a particularly well-aimed kick. His shoulder dislocated when he fell and Spike landed on top of him. Agony flooded his body. He tried to stand but went down to a spinning kick in the face. He put his hand up to ward Spike off, but Spike had… disappeared. Dragged away, kicked, and cut with a knife, Spike retaliated blindly. He hit out with a furious punch… and collapsed in agony. Human! The brat. Oh. Fuck.

Spike lay defeated on the ground. He felt a stake on his chest, felt it jerked away, heard an argument, felt a kick to his head, and knew no more as the thought "Welcome to LA" flashed across his mind.

He woke in a bed to the feel of gentle hands giving him pain. He groaned and tried to turn away from the source of the pain, but was held firmly onto his back. 'Don't move.'

Angel. Of course.

He opened his eyes and swore at the dark head lowered over him for a while, as he watched a large gash across his lower belly being cleaned and bandaged.

'Little bastard tried to kill me.'

'I think he was trying to eviscerate you. He knows how to kill vampires better than that.'

'Maybe he overheard and was gonna cut me nuts off.'

Angel stilled for a moment then resumed. 'No, he didn't arrive until later. I sensed him.'

'Guess he just don't like me on principle then.'

'Good principle.'

'Love you too, wanker. And shouldn't I be patching you up? How's all the breaks.' He snickered lightly and sighed, pleased with himself.

Angel looked up briefly. 'Lorne's already done it.'


'A friend, he lives here with me.' Angel heard the confusion that this simple sentence could cause and smiled inwardly, also pleased with himself.

Spike didn't reply to this; Angel had reached the centre of the wound, and he merely winced a little. Angel worked silently until, with the briefest of hesitation, he asked, 'Does that happen often?'

Still churning over the Lorne comment, Spike deliberately misunderstood Angel's question. 'What, my sire denying me? Yeah, happened once or twice, I do recall.'

Angel paused again and caught his eye. 'Thugs, Spike.'

'What do you think, Angel?'

'I would think, knowing you, yes.'

'You don't know me. Don't give yourself that satisfaction.'

'I don't know these, that's for sure.' Angel brushed a hand lightly over Spike's abs. 'Where'd you get them?'

Spike's lips twitched up. 'Not from you, I'm thinking.'

If Angel could have blushed, he would have. As it was, he visibly recoiled and looked guilty. 'I know… I've not had much time to work out… changing diapers, bottles, sleepless nights, seeing my son stolen from me into a hell dimension.'

'Oh, yeah. Bummer, I'll give you that.'

Angel worked quietly for a while; Spike watched his lowered head. The hair had been longer and less groomed; this face was thicker and more anxious - but this was the still the same creature that had stalked him, murdered him, and obsessed him for nearly two hundred years. They both had the right to be looking a little rough around the edges.

Angel was moving across to the far side of the wound, and his forearms had to rest across Spike's groin, naked under the sheet. The more he tried to find a position to rest his arms where he couldn't feel anything, the more he felt the swelling he was creating.

'Stop it, Angel, for fuck's sake.'

'Well, turn over a bit then; I need to reach that side.'

'Hurts too much to move.'

'Baby. Since when are you adverse to a little pain, Spike?'

'Yeah, well, it seems to hurt more when you're always on the receiving end.' Angel's watchstrap dragged across the tip of Spike's cock, and he winced a little, laughing. 'Enough! Come on, Angel; give a bloke a break.'

Angel looked annoyed but, when he glanced up at Spike, his lips twitched up in response to the infectious expression.

He sat back, smiling slightly. 'I'm finished anyway. I'll fetch you some blood.'

'You will feed that blasphemy as well as tend to it?' The immature, strident tones washed over both vampires from the doorway.

Spike watched in fascinated disgust as Angel's whole demeanour changed, his face shutting off to him, but then opening up with an expression of patient, fond tolerance. He stood up and turned to Connor.

'Connor, I was too hasty before. He surprised me by coming here, but Spike is… he's … shut up Spike.'

'Hey! I didn't say a bleedin' dickie bird!'

'You were about to.'

'Why does he speak like my... father?'

'Because he's English, Connor. I knew him a long time ago… Spike!'

'Not saying a thing, pet; I'm riveted by this.'

Connor took a step towards Spike, menacingly, but Angel put a restraining hand on his arm. 'Don't.'

Spike folded his arms behind his head and repeated, 'Yeah, don't spotty.'

Connor's eyes flew wide open, and he tried to push past Angel.

'Spike! Shut up!'

'Yes, demon, shut up.'

'Hey! Angel… the baby's upsetting me.'

Angel gave Spike a furious look and took Connor around the waist, dragging him and half-carrying him out of the room. 'Don't forget me blood, mate. Nice and warm an' a little bit of Ready Brek stirred in, if you've got it; makes it…' he grinned and slid down under the sheet for a snooze.

When he woke, the room was dark, and a mug of cold, congealed blood sat on the nightstand. He grimaced but drank it anyway: his stomach hurt, throbbing slightly, and he knew he needed it. He sat up and swung his legs off the bed. His jeans were slung over a chair, so he reached over, wincing at the stretch, and grabbed them, looking in disbelief around the room: hideous wallpaper, horrible carpet, large bed with a saggy, musty mattress - and that was all. He stood up and padded out of the room, wandering around for a while. Angel's room was fairly obvious - spartan, neat, masculine - Angel. Another room was occupied. He peered around the scrawling on the walls, shuddering in horror: it looked like the cave of a stoned bat. He moved on. It didn't take him long to find it: new furniture, a bright cover on a new bed, matching curtains and a bookcase full of well-read books. He examined them. Everyone was an old friend and shared - some on long coach journeys, some during the long daylight hours, more shared when the exhaustion of endless orgasms had overtaken them, and they had curled replete under soft covers that smelt of their passion for each other - all in this room. His room: the child of his loins and of his heart.

'You cannot come in here. Get out, demon.'

'Fuck off, kiddie; I'm already in.'

They stood eying each other warily.

'Father said I couldn't kill you. He didn't say I couldn't hurt you.'

Spike laughed. 'You and whose army, sprog?'

Connor lunged at him; Spike laughed and dodged. Connor lunged again, another dodge. Connor stood up and looked at Spike. 'You are fast and strong. Faster and stronger than my father, I think.'


'You could hurt him.'


'I will kill you, if you do.'


'You do want to hurt him!'

'Maybe.' This was fun. Angelus had learnt within a few days never to play this game with him. The human child was too easy.

'Will you stop saying that!' The teenager's voice, rising, began to crack.

Spike had to keep the giggle out of his voice. It was more irritating when he kept it serious. 'Maybe.'

Connor lunged again; Spike dodged, tutting. In his fury, Connor misjudged the force of his attack and crashed into the bookcase. It spilled over, the books scattering around the floor. He knelt to pick them up, placing each one reverently in its place. As he picked up one that had fallen open, he hesitated, looking at the inside flap. He turned to Spike and hissed, 'You!' Spike came over to see. The name 'Spike' had been scrawled in large, blood red writing over the page. Spike shivered slightly, as the memory of matching letters, which had been delicately flayed into his body as a punishment for such defacing, aroused him.

'Father gave you these books, too?'

It was on the tip of Spike's tongue to tell him that Angelus had given him a great deal more than just books, but contented himself with 'Yeah 'course.'

'What are you? Who are you?'

'Angel… your father made me… sired me.'

Connor looked sick. 'He spawned you? You have his demon?'

'Nah, I swapped it last year for some jelly babies… get used to it, mate.'

'Don't call me mate. And get out of my room.'

'Well, don't come into mine then.'

'I won't.'



'Where's Angel?'

'I'm not going to tell you, and it's not your room; it's just the room father dumped you in, furthest away from him.'

Spike could have made a devastatingly rapier-like reply to this that would have proved categorically that his room was better than Connor's, but he began to think that he was not being shown off in his best light, so merely raised his eyebrow and smirked, spun on his heel and left for … his room … which was hideous: dingy, smelly and damp. He rummaged for his shirt and found it screwed up, ripped and bloodied to one side of the bed. He threw his head back in annoyance. What the hell was he supposed to do now?

He stomped back to Angel's room and ripped open his closet door. The tightly packed clothes spilled out, thirty, forty shirts - incredible. Black, grey, blackish-grey, charcoal...

'Not those.'

Spike turned to find Angel watching him from the doorway. 'I need a shirt.' Angel nodded and indicated a trunk in one corner of the room.

'Take one from there - they're old ones, before I came to LA - I don't wear them anymore.'

Spike opened the lid, and the memories assailed him: Sunnydale, the factory, Angelus. He picked one up, violent emotions twisting his guts, but he kept any of this from his face and asked mockingly, 'These don't fit you anymore then?'

Angel looked annoyed. 'They're just old, Spike, and I don't care about them anymore.' It wasn't lost on either of them that Angel could have as easily been talking of Spike.

Furious, but still reining this in, Spike made a show of examining one black shirt. 'My blood still on it?' He didn't look up at Angel.

'No. Blood's easy to get rid of these days, Spike.'

Spike now saw no reason to hide his feelings. They both knew they weren't talking about dry cleaning.

'Fuck off, Angel.'

Angel only laughed. 'Grow up, Spike.'

Spike smiled pleasantly. 'Oh, I would have done, Angel; just like the brat will; if you hadn't have murdered me.' He pushed past Angel in the doorway, shrugging on the shirt as he went down the stairs.

He was startled to find a sea of strange faces in the lobby. Cordelia he recognised, the other three - well, two and an odd-looking green demon - were new to him. They looked up at him in surprise and then questioningly at Angel who followed him down.

Spike immediately guessed who Lorne was. He was gorgeous; Spike could picture that dark, smooth skin sliding over Angel's on his large, soft bed. Odd that he had an arm intimately around the fey, wisp-like female - but then this was LA.

Angel nodded at Fred and Gunn. 'This is Spike. He's an old acquaintance of mine. He got injured last night and is staying until he's recovered.'

This surprised Spike. He turned to glance at Angel: he had assumed he was being kicked out. Angel didn't catch his eye. The gorgeous man came over. 'Hi, I'm Charles Gunn, and this is Fred.'

Un huh...so who was...?

'And as Angelhair didn't see fit to introduce yours truly, I'm Lorne.' Spike turned, bewildered, to the green demon.

'You! You and Angel?'

Lorne stepped back, amused, and glanced at Angel. 'Woa, we have a feisty one here, puffball. He's ringing out loud and clear, and he ain't even singing.' He turned to Spike. 'Quieten down, little one; you'll deafen these pitch-perfect lugs of mine.'

Spike turned to Angel. Angel twitched up his lips… but couldn't maintain the fiction any longer. 'Lorne's just a friend, Spike. We destroyed his club; he's staying here and helping me with...' Angel looked down, memories of his lost baby still too painful to bear.

As if conjured by thought, Connor came down the stairs.

'Uh oh, driller killer's coming.' Spike glanced up in surprise at Lorne's soft comment. He'd assumed Connor was the favoured child with everyone. Lorne caught his look, and they shared a moment of complicity about the boy. The tension noticeably increased when Connor arrived, and Angel seemed at a loss how to handle the many and conflicting emotions in the lobby.

Like a spark in a powder-keg, Spike suddenly asked, 'Where's the Watcher?'

Angel glared at everyone, daring anyone to answer. Gunn coughed; Fred fidgeted with her hair; Cordelia looked sad. Lorne just flicked a speck of dust off his immaculate suit and replied, 'We don't talk about him, cheekbones-to-die-for.'

'Lorne!' Angel's voice stopped even that innocent explanation.

Ignoring Angel, Spike continued to look at Lorne. 'He's dead?'

Unwilling to have Spike run through a litany of possibilities, Angel was forced to reply. 'Wesley stole Connor. That's why he was in the hell dimension.'

Spike looked amused. 'Guess he is dead then!'

Cordelia intervened. 'He's left us; Wesley doesn't work here any more.'

Lorne shuddered theatrically. 'My, ain't it fun living on Waltons' Mountain, but if this happy family gathering will excuse my crappy mood, I'm just going to slide along...'

As if sensing the tension mounting in everyone, Angel suddenly said to Gunn, 'Weren't you going to a movie tonight with Fred?' making frantic eye movements in Connor's direction as he spoke.

Gunn and Fred immediately agreed, and Fred asked the boy to join them. He shrugged and walked past Spike, casting him a mutinous look. Spike stood his ground, smirking and, as Connor passed him, said in a sing-song voice, 'Bye, bye, baby.'

Connor lunged at him once more, and Spike once more danced gleefully away, but he was caught by Angel and dragged off towards the kitchen. Connor was negotiated out by Fred.

When they were alone, Angel whirled on Spike. 'What is wrong with you, Spike? He's just a boy; he's been brought up in hell; he's adjusting, and you...'

'He's a self-righteous prig, Angel.'

'He's my son.'

Spike looked up sharply, began to grin, saw Angel looking sheepish, and said gleefully, 'You walked right into that one, mate; that was easy even for me!'

Angel sat down and kicked out a chair for Spike. 'Please, Spike, stop winding him up. He doesn't take to being teased. He reminds me of someone I used to know.' He looked directly at Spike.

Spike just shrugged, refusing to acknowledge the similarity, but he sat down. 'So, what's the story with Wesley? I thought you guys were all cosy and about to announce soon?'

He saw an expression flit across Angel's eyes as dark as he'd ever seen. 'Change the subject, Spike.' Angel got up and fetched them both some food.

'Okay. What's with the "he's staying" then? I'm fine... bit sore, but the rugrat didn't hurt me that bad.'

'Don't call him that, and I thought you might want to stay until you can tell me the real reason you came here.'

'I told you, Drusilla...'

'Drusilla is in London.'

'Ah. How do you know that?'

'She's my childe; I make it my business to know.'

'Oh.' Spike didn't want to explore the contradictions in this or all the implications of it; his mind was flicking over his alternate reasons for coming, trying to remember his fallback position. Suddenly he brightened. 'Oh, yeah, I've a message from Giles...'

'No you haven't, Spike; tell me the truth.'

'I got blown up.'

'What!' Angel began to laugh. It was a good sound. It was familiar - albeit a few decades old. Spike pursed his lips, and then smiled.

'Bloody soldier boy...'


'Yeah, wanker came - no, that's too good for him; bet he don't stoop to pullin' it himself - well, he came back...'


'Nah, he's married now... and who's tellin' this story, you or me?'

Angel leant back in his chair and indicated for Spike to continue.

'He got a bit upset over shit an' all and blew me crypt up. So, I'm homeless.'

'Ah. But what about an abandoned building or a sewer?'

Spike thought it was a bit rich to be called on his false assertions, given Angel's earlier contradictions. 'Fuck off, Angel. I need a place to stay for a few nights... 'til I get meself sorted.'

Angel exchanged their mugs of blood for whisky and sipped thoughtfully. 'What upset him?'


'Spike, are you going to tell me why he blew you up? Other than the fact he'd met you that is.'

'Droll, mate, very droll. I'm not splittin' me sides, but droll.'

'Don't prevaricate, Spike; I can easily find out. I could ask Buffy.'

The fact that no quick reply and no cursing came forth - just a pursing of lips and a sipping of whisky - rather told Angel what he needed to know.

'Buffy. You and Buffy.'

Spike looked up, his usual bravado somewhat subdued. 'Yes.'

Angel took a sip of whisky. 'How?'

Spike smiled and couldn't resist. 'Well, mine sticks up, and hers...'


'It just happened, Angel. She was lonely; she needed... she needed you; I was just there.'

'I meant you.'

Surprised and wrong-footed, Spike was at a loss for a moment. He looked at Angel. 'I was lonely; I needed...' he looked down. 'Anyway, she was just there.' He looked at Angel puzzled. 'I thought you'd be angrier.'

Angel refilled their glasses. 'I would have last month, or even last week maybe. But, Buffy? Sunnydale? It's all...'

'Meaningless?' Spike finished Angel's thought rather bitterly.

Angel looked at him over his glass. He didn't allow Spike to drop his gaze. 'I'm sorry I said that, Spike. I didn't mean it. Not meaningless, but...'

'What Angel? Just what?'

'Confusing. Too much of a contrast to this...' He indicated the hotel, his son, and his whole unlife in one small gesture of his hand. 'I have no idea what to do with him, how to reach him, and suddenly there you were - someone I know as well as I know myself...'

'I told you, mate; you don't know me at all. I've changed.'

'You've been temporarily subdued, Spike; you can't really change. You told me that yourself.'

Spike looked at Angel with a bitterness he could not disguise. 'I told you I'd always love you, and I was wrong about that, too.'

Angel looked furtive. 'Look, Spike... about... that. I meant what I said: Connor is not to know. I want him to respect me, like me, love me even. It's hard enough his father is a vampire, without him knowing...'

'What, Angel? That he fucked his childe? That he likes cock? That you stuck it up my ass?' His voice rose uncontrollably, as his fury bubbled out. Angel looked down, his dark eyes veiled.

'That he's made three hundred years of mistakes he regrets more than he can ever speak of but can never escape from.' He pushed his unfinished drink to one side and stood up. 'Pick any room you want, Spike, if you don't like the one you're in. Only, make sure it's a long way from mine or Connor's. You can stay until the end of the week then sort your stuff and get out.'

Spike stayed on in the kitchen after Angel's angry departure. He finished the bottle of whisky and rummaged for another, which he took back with him to the depressing room. The wallpaper seemed to be crawling off the walls at him; the green carpet seemed almost spongy and it sucked him down. He sprawled on the smelly mattress, feeling lower than he'd felt since... he could still hear the thump her body had made on the ground - awake, asleep; it made no difference.

Why had she dumped him? Why had she used his name like that? If that old, hated name hadn't been spoken, he wouldn't be here now… but rejected, home destroyed, he'd needed comfort, and he could only find that in one place. Now even that source of succour was dried up.

He'd been replaced.

He lay on his stomach, his head resting on folded arms in the gloom. He turned on his back and lit a cigarette, enjoying briefly the red-tipped glow in the dark. He sensed him come in, but didn't bother to move. 'Good movie? Not get too scared?'

'If you try to hurt him, I will kill you.'

'Yeah, yeah, change the record. Think Angel might have something to say 'bout that.' Forcing the thought that Angel might actually think 'Good' from his mind, he tried to concentrate on the whelp's voice.

Connor came around into Spike's eye line. He seemed pleased with something. 'Demon, you forget... he would never know. You don't leave any trace, because you are just a filthy bag of hell's dust held together by evil.'

'Hey, cheers, mate - that's good to know.'

Riled by Spike's complacency, Connor tried again. 'You are chipped. Father told me. You can't stop me.'

'That I can't.'

'I could kill you now.'

'You could try. I can run pretty smartish when I'm running for me life.'

'You aren't alive.'

'Neither is Angel.' He saw a chink in the child's certainty. 'Yeah, he climbed out of a coffin in a misty, cold land you ain't even heard of probably. He was the greatest vampire ever sired. Did you know that? The Scourge of Europe... shall I tell you of his exploits?' He could see now that his slight advantage was lost: he wasn't telling the boy anything he didn't already know. He changed tack slightly, a gleam of an idea sparking. 'Your mother, 'course, she...'

Bull's-eye. He could hardly reign in his smirk. Curiosity burnt in the lad's eyes. 'Yeah, real odd that, weren't it... Angel fancying his mother like and fucking her... then you! Surprised you ain't got two heads...'

Connor backed away, gave a low, disbelieving cry and ran from the room. Spike cursed and sat up. They hadn't told the brat. He threw back his head in disbelief. He'd only wanted to rub in something he thought the kid already knew... not tell him... bloody hell! He'd done it now. He glanced towards the door, hesitated, cursed again, and then followed Connor out.

Connor was in Angel's room, the door shut, angry voices flinging out. The word 'mother' was predominant and the loudest.

Spike sucked his teeth for a moment, deliberating, hesitated about knocking, but then turned on his heel, fetched his coat, and left. He had the distinct feeling that he had outstayed his welcome at the Hyperion Hotel.

On the way out, he rummaged in the files for something he wanted then made his way over to the address he had scribbled on a piece of paper. He was just about to knock, when a dark, sour-looking man came out and pushed past him. Cursing, he checked his address again and moved towards the next door.

He felt the man pause and turned to find himself under scrutiny. The man seemed to be staring intently at his scarred face and hair, as if trying to dredge association up from somewhere deep in his mind. 'William the Bloody.' The man finally spoke with disinterest as if, having made the connection, he was no longer interested, and then turned away to continue with his journey.

Spike's jaw dropped. 'Fuck' was all he could think of to say.

'Not right now' drifted to him from the retreating watcher.

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