After walking Buffy home, Angel stayed out until sunrise, walking the empty streets, playing over in his mind everything Buffy had told him and what it all meant. The faint daylight was beginning to irritate his skin by the time he finally stepped up to Buffy's front door again. He unlocked the door and made to walk inside only to be pushed back by that familiar shove of un-invitation. He sighed. Dawn must have panicked and had Willow uninvited him. So much for a warm welcome. But he could hardly blame them.
Angel was reluctant to wake anyone at this hour after their late night, but the sun was crawling ever higher above the horizon. He didn't have much choice. He rang the doorbell.
Dawn appeared. "Sorry! Sorry! Sorry, Angel!" she apologised at once. "It was just a precaution. You understand, right? No hard feelings?"
"As long as you let me in," Angel assured her inching out of the creeping light.
"Oh, please come in!" Dawn rectified. Buffy had told them all it was fine when she's come home to find Willow and Dawn anxiously waiting up for her.
As Angel followed her inside he noticed she was dressed in jeans, not bed clothes. "You were awake?" he asked.
"I wasn't exactly in a 'sweet dreams' frame of mind after what I let slip," she told him. "I'm sorry, I probably shouldn't have said anything, at least not in front of you. Me and my big mouth, I just…"
"No," Angel stopped her mid-apology. "I'm glad you did."
"So, it's okay? Everything's good with Buffy?"
"And Spike's still alive?"
"As far as I know. If he isn't, it's not my doing," Angel joked.
Dawn smiled. "I'm so glad. You want coffee?"
"I'd love coffee."
Angel sat at the kitchen counter while Dawn busied herself.
"Yeah. Willow and Buffy both. They won't be up for a while." Dawn told him. "Buffy seemed happy when she got in earlier." Dawn commented, slyly. "Will and I were so relieved. I'm so pleased you and Buffy sorted things out."
"I hope… you and Spike can sort things out too. You know, once you get a chance to talk everything through and all. That'd make me happy too. Seeing you guys… you know… getting along."
"You really…" Angel had been noticing Dawn and Spike's friendship this weekend. "Get along with him."
"Oh, Spike and I go way back," Dawn said casually, sitting down across from Angel and handing him his coffee. "I mean, not way back like you two, of course, but… we used to hang out a lot. After he got the chip. But before things got really screwy. So to speak."
"You were there," Angel said almost to himself, feeling bad that he had not been there to help Buffy in times she may have needed him. He thought about what Dawn had said. "So… you were friends with him when he was soulless."
"He didn't have a soul, but he had a chip." Dawn shrugged. "He couldn't hurt anyone. He didn't know what to do with himself. Everyone ignored him. He didn't seem evil to me, just… lost. I could relate."
"You were fourteen, Dawn," Angel pointed out.
"Exactly," Dawn agreed. "It's like… we grew up together." she tried to explain. "Spike was still just coming to terms with the whole chip deal, and I was dealing with the fact that I'd been created from some mystical ball of energy. Spike kept hanging around, helping out, and Buffy started trusting him to babysit me, but to be honest, sometimes I felt like I was babysitting him." She giggled, remembering. "He used to make me listen to these awful horror stories - you know, like, true ones - and I'd," she smiled, "I'd force him to have these drawn-out heart to hearts. It was so…" Dawn searched for the right word, "adolescent."
Angel frowned. All this new information and perspective was starting to overwhelm him. He rubbed his brow.
"You look really tired Angel," Dawn observed. "Maybe coffee's not the best idea. Do you want to take a nap? I don't think the others are going to be up for hours, so you may as well. Hey," she suggested brightly, "you can sleep in my room, since I'm up now. Better than that corner Buffy put you in near the laundry, right?"
"Are you sure that would be okay? With Buffy?" Angel wasn't sure.
"Of course. Buffy's not the boss, Angel. Of any of us."
Angel gave in and had a nap in Dawn's room. When he woke up, it was later than he expected. Willow appeared briefly, looking hungover. She told him Buffy and Dawn had gone out shopping, before taking an aspirin and shutting her bedroom door again. Angel spent a restless afternoon by himself, cooped up in the house.
It was evening when Xander dropped round after work. "Hey," he greeted Angel, "I hear Buffy's organising something special as a farewell for you and Spike. Where is she?"
Willow emerged and asked why Xander hadn't brought Spike with him. "I stopped in at my apartment, but I'm pretty sure it was empty," Xander explained.
"Only pretty sure? Did you check his room?" Angel asked.
"No," Xander admitted. "But I called out when I was leaving. I figured he was already with you guys."
"I guess he could be still asleep," Angel mused. He had an odd feeling about it. "He's a pretty heavy sleeper."
"Or maybe he's out with Buffy?" Xander suggested.
Angel scoffed. "Out shopping? During daylight hours?"
"With those two, you never know," Xander shrugged. "Stranger things have happened."
"So I've heard," Angel replied quietly.
"Angel," Xander reminded, "Spike went to bed at like 2am. He wouldn't have been asleep for 17 hours!"
"Maybe he didn't fall asleep right away. You know he hasn't been sleeping that well. He's actually been kind of depressed lately, I think," Angel admitted, trying not to appear overly concerned. "Not exactly springing out of bed of an evening." He had a bad feeling that it was more than this though. "But we're supposed to be meeting Buffy. He wouldn't want to disappoint her."
"You wanna go back and check my apartment?" Xander asked, surprised by how worried Angel seemed.
"Yeah," Angel admitted. "Is it okay if I borrow your keys?"
"You know what, why don't I come too?" Xander grabbed his coat.
"That's not really necessary." Angel would have much preferred to go alone.
"Actually it is," Xander confessed. "Willow called me in the early hours of the morning. Apparently Dawn had woken her up and told her what she'd let slip and how you'd reacted. She coached me through the spell to un-invite you from my place. Willow was really freaked."
"I wasn't freaked," Willow denied with an embarrassed laugh. "I just wanted Dawn to feel safe."
"Anyway, you're gonna need me to let you in," Xander pointed out.
"Could I get a lift too?" Willow asked in a small voice. "Just drop me off outside. I need to pick up my car. It's on the street 'round the corner. I really need to check my messages and I left my phone in my car." She paused. "Please forgive me, Angel. It's just you've been so… short-tempered this weekend and I just…"
"Fine," Angel relented. "It's fine. Let's just go find Spike."