home | Reality Check Main Index
Reality Check - Chapter 3
Angel wasn’t too sure how long it had been since Spike’s last appearance.
They had the baby now, so he guessed it must be at least nine months. Time played tricks on him sometimes: his mind still set to the time zone of eternity.
He was sitting by the pool one evening, rocking the baby’s basket idly with his toe, and there he was, observing.
Angel sat up.
Spike walked over with a small nod. ‘You invited me, remember?’ He smiled warily. ‘What’s in the…?’
Rory began to cry softly.
Spike’s eyes widened, and he looked down. He shook his head and blinked, and Angel had the absurd thought that Spike was fighting tears.
Then he looked down and saw the perfection that was in the basket and suddenly did not find this all that strange: Rory made him cry with pleasure, too.
Finally, Spike looked up and said raggedly, ‘I’m so sorry, Luv. I’m so, so sorry.’
Angel picked up the small figure. ‘Isn’t he perfect?’
Spike swallowed. ‘I kind of guess he would be.’
‘Yeah, good genes.’
Spike lifted his head and closed his eyes, just scenting the night air for a while, as if it calmed him. ‘Where’s Buffy?’
‘Buffy?’ Angel frowned. ‘She’s out, I guess.’
‘Is it okay if I stay for a while?’
Angel seemed to remember that he had not wanted Spike to stay. But he couldn’t for the life of him think why that was. He snuggled Rory and glanced up with a look of deep contentment. ‘Sure. I’d be glad to have you here.’
‘Do you miss company?’
Spike sat on the edge of the sun bed next to Angel, casting a neutral look at the baby.
Angel shook his head. ‘I’ve made good friends here, now. Human ones.’
Spike watched Angel’s eyes. ‘What are they called? Maybe I’d know one.’
Angel pouted and played with Rory’s tiny fingers. ‘He never really cries, you know? I thought all babies cried.’
‘Put the baby down, Angel; I need to talk to you.’
‘It’s his bedtime, Spike. Come with me. You’ll die when you see the nursery.’
Angel stood up, rocking the sleeping baby in his arms as he walked to the house.
Spike tipped his head up to the stars and regarded them for a while then he rose and followed the figure into the house.
The nursery was pale blue and green: sky and earth. The baby, when he was lain in his cot, looked like an angel, fallen from one to the other. When Angel leant over the bars and smiled down at him, Spike bit his lip and left the room.
He was waiting for Angel in the kitchen when he returned. Angel glanced shyly at him and asked, ‘Drink?’
‘Sure, why not?’ He waited until it was poured then perched on a stool opposite Angel.
Angel grinned and clinked his glass to Spike’s. ‘I’m glad you’re here.’
‘Yeah, well, that’s what I need to talk to you about.’
‘Are you hungry?’
‘Angel! No! Sit down!’ He grabbed Angel’s arm then released it quickly. ‘You need to try and concentrate on me for just a minute—please.’
Angel smiled, and it was the look of a man humouring an old acquaintance. Spike’s jaw clenched slightly when he saw it.
‘Okay, here’s the thing…. What do you remember about Shanshu?’
‘Shanshu?’ Angel glanced away. ‘Can you hear Rory?’
‘No, and you can’t either. Just answer my question, Angel.’
‘Well, you know…. You were there. We had the final battle. Buffy was there, of course, and Wesley. You and I stood…. I was hit, I think. You carried me…. No, wait…. You were hit; I carried you. I’m not sure. It’s a long time ago, Spike.’
‘How old are you Angel?’
Angel licked his lips. ‘I think maybe you should go.’
‘Okay, calm down, Luv. What about me then?’
‘Yeah. What have I been doing since that final battle?’
Angel blinked. ‘I’m not sure. Why haven’t you kept in touch, Spike?’
‘Why haven’t I?’
‘We could have….’
‘Where do you go on holiday, Angel?’
‘I’m…. Well, we haven’t….’
‘What hospital did Buffy have the baby in?’
‘Where is Buffy?’
‘Have you ever left this house?’
‘This isn’t real, Angel. You are lying on your bed at Wolfram and Hart. You’re dreaming. I’ve been sent to bring you back. I’ve come to bring you home.’
Spike didn’t even see the fist coming. He felt it though and rose from the bed with a grunt, dislodging the wires that connected him to Angel.
He ripped them off and flung off the bed, storming out of the room.
Wesley put a hand out to restrain Lorne from following. ‘Leave him be for a while. He was like this the last time he came back as well. He’ll tell us in his own good time.’
Totally contradicting his own homily, he rose and followed Spike down to Angel’s office. He poured him a drink and tapped him on the arm. ‘Here.’
‘He’s had a baby, Wes. He’s got a fucking baby.’
‘Oh. That’s not good.’
Spike let his head sag onto his chest. ‘I can’t do it to him.’
‘You have to. He’ll die if we don’t bring him back. He’s not fed for over a month. That damn demon is sucking the life force out of him.’
‘You bloody go then. You tear him away from his perfect bloody life, cus I’m not!’
‘I couldn’t survive the mindmeld. Only a vampire—or a Vulcan, I suppose—could.’
‘He’ll thank you when he’s….’
Spike whirled around. ‘Oh, Wes, bloody grow up, will you? This isn’t some Boys’ Own episode, where the hero always…. He’s created that entire fantasy out of his own head. He’s living the perfect life. Who the hell would want to leave that and come back here? Jesus Christ! I went through this with Buffy, and now….’
‘She knew Willow had done the right thing—in the end.’
‘No, she lived on, dying from regret. You didn’t know her.’
‘No, I know, I’m sorry. But this is entirely different. Angel will die if we don’t bring him back. Ultimately, therefore, he will lose that perfect life just as effectively as he loses his real life here.’
‘Will he though? Perhaps he’s just….’
He broke away from the too intense huddle they’d formed in the corner of Angel’s office and strode to the window, lighting a cigarette. Wesley followed him more slowly, watching the flame from Spike’s lighter. ‘What? Perhaps he’s just… what?’
Spike pouted and looked down at his feet as if only just realising they were bare. ‘Perhaps it’s not a delusion. Perhaps he’s just… found heaven early.’
His look was so confused, so wistful, that Wesley found it difficult to say, ‘You don’t believe that.’
Spike shrugged, a casual, dismissive gesture that fooled no one. Wesley suddenly turned and said sharply, ‘I want you to see something.’
Spike wondered if he could be bothered with a suggestive comment but only mumbled, ‘I need my boots.’
‘I’m sure you’ll survive a stubbed toe.’
A wry grin softened the words, and Spike sighed, catching him up, responding to the lighter mood. ‘It’s amazing, Wes. It’s like having Angel’s mind eviscerated.’
‘And that’s a pleasant thought.’
‘You’d think. But there’s no horror, no evil…. It’s like…. It’s not an Angel I’ve ever known. I mean, who’d have thought he’d ever want a baby? Buffy, I kinda expected. But a baby?’
‘Not the Angel we’ve come to know. I’ll give you that….’
‘I’m not sure. I’ve got a nagging feeling that he did talk about a baby once. I’m not sure…. Maybe it was just a conversation we had late one night over too many whiskies.’
He led the way into the lab and over to a machine in one corner.
Spike peered at it. ‘You’re measuring earth tremors?’
Wesley stroked a finger over the readout. ‘I’m measuring Angel.’
‘Uh huh. And I’m guessing that steep angle down isn’t good?’
Wesley punched in some figures on a small keypad and another faint graph appeared below Angel’s. Spike laughed. ‘Hah. I guess that guy’s already dead.’
‘Thank you. I may flatter myself but….’
‘That’s your line?’
Wesley didn’t reply, only punched in another set of numbers. A bright, strong line appeared some considerable distance above Angel’s. It forced the axes to reform, increasing the scale, closing the distance between Angel and Wesley’s lines. For one moment Spike had the impression that this presence forced Angel on top of Wesley, but he shook off the inappropriate thought and said dully, ‘Me, I’m guessing. And why the fuck am I pink?’
‘It’s supposed to be crimson, and I really think you’re missing the point somewhat.’
‘How low can Angel go?’
‘Unfortunately, as you can see, the decline is accelerating. I give him another week at the current rate.’
‘Oh. What are those up and down bits.’
‘Ah. Yes, well, that’s what I wanted you to see.’
‘Bloody hell. That’s me?’
‘This surge up here coincided with the moment we managed to establish the link.’
‘Given what you’ve said, I’d say that was the baby.’
‘So I broke some of the creature’s hold over him, but it strengthened when I’d left and… produced a baby in Angel’s head.’
Spike looked pleased. ‘Best I don’t go back then.’
Wesley changed some settings and the lines began to project. Within a moment, Angel’s had dipped below Wesley’s and then it ran out, below the scale. He bent and read the date. ‘Next Saturday. Pity. I rather think Angel would have liked to survived a little longer than that.’
Spike watched his own line with feigned interest then sighed. ‘I thought about picking the damn baby up and just bashing its….’
‘No! Whatever you do must prompt Angel’s own good desires to be free, not rip or tear the fabric of his reality. Something like that could do untold harm.’ He saw Spike was looking unconvinced, so added, ‘My research seems to point to a link between what’s happening to Angel and a well-known phenomenon: sleepwalking. It may be that this demon that has Angel in its thrall has some power over humans when they are asleep. It’s ironic, really, that for all my research and science, I can do no more than offer advice that’s been common knowledge for centuries: you shouldn’t wake a sleepwalker abruptly. Old wives can be cannily accurate, sometimes.’ He saw Spike’s I-am-now-utterly-bored look and waved his hand dismissively to indicate that he’d finished.
Spike looked alert once more. ‘So, what the fuck do you want me to do? I have no power over there!’
‘Firstly, I want you to try and remember every little detail from this latest trip. I’ll put it together with all the information you brought back last time and….’
‘And then I’ll come up with a plan.’
Spike put a hand hesitantly on Wesley’s arm. ‘You don’t think we can save him, do you?’
Wesley pulled away, turning toward the door. ‘I’d appreciate that report on my desk in the morning. Every detail please—no matter how insignificant. Everything you can think of: sounds, colours, tastes…. What? Spike?’
‘Or absence of those.’
‘I’m not with you.’
They began to walk together back to the office, Spike silent and thoughtful, until he said casually, ‘Everything was white. But when I mentioned this, I think he tried to make my room colourful. But then…. Jesus…. Then Buffy seemed to disappear.’
‘You think he’s unable to maintain too much sensory reality!’
‘Er… do I?’
‘My God! I wonder…! The report, Spike! Everything you can remember—just like you did then.’
Spike nodded warily. ‘You look… excited.’
Wesley grinned. ‘I think I just might be.’