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Angel sighed, staring out at the setting sun as he sat behind the protective glass of his office window. He was still amazed by it all. This time last year, even a glimpse of a ray of sunlight would have sent him scurrying for shelter. But now, he was able to just stand and soak up the rays without fearing that he would burst into flames. He knew that the others thought him silly for his little tradition of watching each sunrise and sunset, but they hadn’t gone without the sun for over two hundred years like he had. If they had, they would know what he was feeling.

“Amazing isn’t it?” Spike asked, standing behind his grandsire, also entranced by the setting sun. “Still gets you every time.”
“What do you want Spike?” Angel asked, weary of the younger vampire’s presence. Even though Spike has been of some assistance in the past few months, he was still on guard. Spike was a wildcard in Angel’s eyes. Yes, he did help save the world and was supposedly working with the white hats now…but for how long will this last? When will Spike begin to feel restless again, and would the soul be enough to keep him in line?

“To talk. Wes told me about Connor. Just wanted to know why you didn’t tell me that you had a kid,” Spike tried to keep the hurt out of his voice. He didn’t want Angel to know that he felt left out of the loop on this development. He didn’t want him to know how much his trust really meant to him…almost as much as Buffy’s.

“Didn’t think it was any of your business.”

“Not any of my business? Bloody hell Peaches! How can your having a kid not be my business?! It most certainly is!”

Angel got out of his chair, suppressing the demon that was roaring in rage at this invasion of privacy. He glared at Spike, wanting to through the glass into the bright sunlight beyond, destroying him instantly. But he remained in the spot he was standing, unable to even do that to his childe. There was so much tortured history between them that Angel didn’t even dare tell Spike the truth about their ties. A truth that would explain so many things, like why Angel could never bring himself to stake the platinum vampire and why Spike was always finding himself drawn to Angel’s side. No matter how bad the tension. Angel didn’t dare tell Spike that Drucilla had botched the job of turning him, so Angel was forced to take over and sired his second vampire, much to Darla’s dismay and Drucilla’s delight. Jealous, Darla had Drucilla put it in Spike’s head that her attempt was successful. Angel shook his head. This wasn’t the time to reveal startling secrets; he already had the reappearance of Connor to deal with.

“Why? Why do you care Spike? You hate my guts, remember? I didn’t tell you about Connor because it was my business, not yours and not Buffy’s. Yes, he’s my son. Yes, I gave him up so he could have a happy life! What’s it to you? Why should you be so hurt that I didn’t tell you?”

“Because you’re my bloody sire you poof! That’s why! Yes, I remember everything. I have for a few years now! You sired me, not Dru, therefore your having a son is my business!” Spike shouted his voice full of hurt and anger. He hadn’t meant for this to turn into what he remembered as the truth. He hadn’t meant for this confrontation to be about him at all. He just wanted Angel to tell him what really happened. Who was Connor and why did Angel give him up? Was the kid a vampire? Another childe made for a higher purpose? Or was he a miracle child. Born to a broody vampire with a soul?

“What? You…remember…Spike…I…you have to understand…”

“What? You didn’t want to acknowledge me? That you put it all on Dru? Well I guess I can understand that. I mean…I was an even bigger poof when I was alive. It does explain a lot. Your willingness to take me under your wing and teach me everything you knew about being a vampire…this connection that keeps us drawn to one another…,” Spike sighed, trying to keep an air of indifference when in reality, he felt as if he was falling apart. Angelus was his sire and he hadn’t even cared enough to claim him. Instead, he had just pawned him off on an insane Drucilla. Teaching him only enough to survive without the help of a fully sane sire.

“Spike…it wasn’t because I was ashamed. You were supposed to be Drucilla’s childe in the first place. She had mucked it up, so I had no choice…”

“You could have let me die.”

“Dru wanted you. If I had let you die…there would have been no living with her. Plus…Darla wasn’t happy. She had wanted to let you die, but I disobeyed her and she had never forgiven me for that. So she forced me to have Dru put you under a thrall that made you believe that she had sired you and not me. I guess it wore off.” Angel turned away from his childe, not daring to let how much this confession was hurting him. He had always cared about Spike and felt responsible for him. That had never changed, even when he had gotten the soul. When Spike had first showed up in Sunnydale, Angel was scared. The platinum blond was everything he had once been as Angelus. He was afraid of what he would do to not only Buffy, but to him as well. But then…Spike began to change. He began to become more and more like his human self, forcing his way back into Angel’s life and now his heart. Now here he was, confessing everything, hoping that his Childe would understand.

“Spike…I know I messed up with you. I should have staked Darla and claimed you as my childe anyway. You deserved so much better. You have every right to hate me right now. You really do…but please…don’t take this out on Connor. I know you feel angry and betrayed…”

Spike rolled his eyes in exasperation. Of course, Angel refused to believe that he had changed. He was no longer that immature, insensitive, creature that he had once been. Yeah, a few years back, before the chip and Buffy, he would have gone and hunted this Connor kid down and ripped out his throat, just for having Angel’s favor. But now…he just felt bad for the kid…and for Angel. He felt bad for Angel most of all. He had lost everything. His vampire family, Buffy, Cordillea, Fred, and this Connor kid. He must feel so alone right now. Maybe he didn’t have to feel that way. Maybe it was time to share his true feelings with his sire. He cleared his throat and laid a steady hand on Angel’s slumped shoulders. “Listen. I don’t plan to even go near the kid. I just wanted some answers. That’s all. Look, I know right now that you feel like you’re all alone in the world…but you’re not. You do have a family still. A son sort to speak. I may not be Connor, and I may not be a teenager, but hey. We’re still family. You and I. You’ve been there for me the best way you could at the time and I appreciate it.”

Angel frowned, as a tiny ray of hope seemed to light up in his soul. He looked into Spike’s eyes, again realizing just how much he cared and how he hated all the bickering and fighting. He wanted things to be different, so much. He wanted to teach Spike the ropes of having a soul and fighting the good fight. He wanted to show Spike how to control his demon more. He wanted so many things, and they had always seemed out of reach. But now, with Spike here talking about being family and not being alone…maybe there was a chance to do all of that. Maybe Angel wouldn’t be so alone anymore. “Spike…what are you trying to say here?”

“We’re sire and childe, Angel. Don’t you think it’s about time we start acting like it? Goodness knows that I have a lot more to learn about having this soul. Buffy helped…but she’s not you. What I’m trying to say here is that I need my sire. My real one. So how ‘bout it? You teach me all I need to know and I’ll try not to be so annoying anymore.”

The tiny ray of hope turned into a full beam, dispelling all the gloom and depression that had tied Angel’s soul to this plane of reality. Angel was just about to turn around and accept Spike’s offer when he felt the tethers of the soul loosen and the all familiar pain grip him, causing him to collapse to his knees.

“Bloody hell! Angel, what is it mate?” Spike bent down next to Angel, placing a steady hand on his back. He had a sinking feeling what this was about; he was just hoping that he was wrong. When he saw the fading troubled gaze, he knew that he was right.

One thought came to Angel’s mind as he felt the malevolence come upon him. He knew who Angelus’s first victim would be. The only one who could protect her was his childe. “…Buffy…protect…” He never finished that thought. A deep, evil laugh escaped as the soul departed. Angelus was back and all he could think of was enjoying some slayer blood.

“Hello boy. I’m back,” was the last thing Spike heard as a fist slammed into his face, knocking him unconscious.