Chapter 16:

Wes hasn't talked to me since the whole park incident.

I guess that's okay. I've been having my hands full dealing with the kid. He's a burst of energy when he wants to be, but you have to monitor it. Fred says they've got these cool things called inhalers and he carries one around with him wherever he goes.

He's only had to use it once and he hadn't even been doing anything when it happened. The Doc says that that's very likely. That he'll just gets these attacks because of change in environment or weather.

For me, it's not scary. I can tell when they're coming. Can hear his little heart start to be faster and the way his lungs constrict right before it happens so I can tell him when he's gonna need to pull it out. He thinks it's fun, but he's five so he doesn't really know the seriousness behind it.

Makes me wonder how this little kid got the chance to grow up and become Angelus. It's quite possible his parents coddled him, but Liam never said anything about it. I'm told that it gets better with age. That, as a person gets older, the attacks decrease. They're still there, but something about lungs getting stronger or some rot like that.

So I guess he missed a childhood. Which sucks, but I get how he feels. The constant coddling and looking over the shoulder. My mum never let me get farther than five feet from her at all times. I remember hating it as a kid.

But he has been sent here for a reason, what I don't know. That's Angel's journey, not mine. The cheerleader says that we've got to let him live a little and I intend to let him do that. There's no sense wrapping him in a bubble when we have the technology to let him run around and be a kid.

"I wanna go there." He says pointing to the television screen.

It looks like some theme park. Which I don't know, but there's a big smiling mouse and mini Angel sits there captivated by it.

"I don't think we can."

"Because you're a vampire?"

He's been surprisingly good about that too. Hasn't told anyone about it and I thought for sure he would have run his little mouth by now. Guess I underestimated how good kids are at keeping secrets.

"No, because I don't know where it's at."

"Fred can take us. She's really smart."

He's starting to pick up words from those shows of his. Saying things like 'smart' and 'cool' and 'awesome' and it's pretty cute to see him try and say some of the harder words. His face gets all contorted in a grimace as he tries to think of the best way to pronounce it, but it always comes out sounding a bit like gibberish.

"I'll look into." I say.

"We can go at night. So you can go too." He says, like the decision has already been made and it had been in his favor.

Not that I'm going to correct him.


We didn't quite make it to the theme park he had been pointing too. Fred says that's a bit far away, but there was some kind of fair going on she had said would be just as fun. I think she wants to keep us in LA for Wesley's sake.

I know the two of them are together. I'd be an idiot if I didn't know that. She definitely wants to keep the peace between us and I can understand why. I just wish she wouldn't take the burden on herself.

Wes and I are going to keep going at it, no matter how long we're exposed to one another. I guess it's just in our nature.

"He seems to be having a lot of fun." Fred comments.

He's running around in front of us, not too far and I still can't believe how very easy this whole thing is. Watching him play around and demand to be taken on rides. He's got cotton candy in one hand and a stuffed snake that I won him wrapped around his neck.

"Yes, he does."

"And it's not so bad. I mean I haven't been to the fair in ages."

"I've never really been to one." I say, my eyes still on little Liam.

He's wondering off a bit too far. I can still smell him and see him, but he's still too far for my liking.

"Oh, well, you don't know what you're missing out on. Cotton candy and caramel apples. It's good thing Liam wanted to come otherwise you would have been deprived for your whole life… or well unlife."

"Yeah I guess… Liam." I say.

He turns around, big smile on his face.

"What?"

"Come closer. You're wandering off too far."

He pouts, but comes closer until he's only a few inches away from us.

"Good, stay there."

"Alright."

We start to walk again and I notice Fred looking at me. She's got a big smile on her face, amusement clear in her eyes.

"What?"

"You just did the concerned parent thing."

"What?"

"Yeah, the thing parents do when they're kids wander off too far."

I roll my eyes.

"We can't have him wandering off." I say.

"I know… it's just… it's cute Spike. It's a good thing." She says.

She's still smiling when Liam walks back over to us.

"I wanna go on the… that thing." He says pointing to a Ferris wheel.

"The Ferris wheel?" Fred says.

"Yeah, that. I wanna ride it." He says.

I go to answer him when I see it. Off in the distance, a vampire is luring a girl to a more secluded area of the fairgrounds. She looks lost and he seems to be in a uniform, probably using it to trick her.

She couldn't be much older than Liam, maybe seven and I can see the tears that stain her face. She's probably looking for her parents.

"Fred, take him on the ride. I've got some… business to attend to." I say, jerking my head toward where the girl is.

Fred looks over and she most spot it because she nods.

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah."

"You've got what you need?"

"Carry it around all the time. Just watch him."

Fred smiles.

"That's easy enough."

I nod before heading off in that direction. It takes me a minute or two to figure out where I'm going, but I find the trace. Can smell the fear coming off of the little girl and it doesn't take me long after that to find her and the vampire.

She's managed to get away from him, but he's toying with her. Letting her think she's got a chance at getting away before he leans in for the kill. Of course I'm not going to let that happen.

"Didn't think vamps patrolled fair grounds. Seems like a bit of a cope out." I say.

He turns, in full vampire mode and he hisses at me. The little girl looks utterly terrified so I don't make a show of it. Just pull out my stake and make a run at the bastard. It's not so surprising that it doesn't take much effort. Vampire nowadays are barely more than minions.

I go over to the girl and she jumps back, eyes wide and I sigh.

"I'm not gonna hurt you. I just want to take you to your parents." I say.

"Okay… what was that?"

"That was a…"

"Spike!"

I look up at the sound my name. Fred's standing there, panicked look on her face and her cheeks are red and she's breathing hard like she had been running. It's after looking her over that I notice.

"Where's Liam?"

"I swear I didn't even turn my back, but he… he just disappeared. I looked for him. I shouted. I don't… Spike. Oh my god someone snatched him and I…"

"Shh." I say.

She looks panicked and terrified and she looks up at the sound of my voice.

"Take the girl. Help her find her parents. I'll find Liam."

"But Spike…"

"Look the longer you stand here and argue with me, the more time whoever snatched him has to get away. Just do what I said and then call the police."

"Okay." She says.

I start to walk off.

"Don't worry, I'll find him." I say.

She nods and I start walking off into the crowd.

There's so many people that it's hard to locate his smell, but it's a small I know. One that's ingrained in me, in my turning even if he is only just a kid. I could find him anywhere if I really tried hard enough. It's a vampire thing.

Even with the buzzing of all the people. It takes awhile, but I locate the scent. Push everyone out of the way until it gets closer, stronger and I'm led to a bathroom and it's the strongest. I can't almost hear his heartbeat.

It's beating too hard.

If I focus I can almost hear that familiar crackle. The one that means that he's having one of his attacks and I run into the bathroom. Ignore the guy inside because he's on the ground and wheezing, his inhaler quite a bit a ways away and I grab it and pick him up.

I hope it's enough. Fred says if they get really bad then there are these injection things that we have to use that will help him. I push the inhaler a few times until his breathing is a bit more regular and I turn to the guy.

I'm ready to kill him, ready to rip him apart piece by piece for touching Liam and it looks like he knows it.

It's then that I notice that he's human.

"What were you doing with him?"

"I… I… I don't… I'm sick man."

"Sick! You're going to be a hell of a lot sicker. How dare you even touch him? He could have died. He's got a medical condition. Though I bet you would have gotten your rocks off and then killed him yourself."

"I… I…"

I can't listen to anymore of this guy's babbling so I punch him, hard and I hear a satisfying crunch. He goes down and holds his nose and I go back to Liam.

Cradle him close and I don't know how long I'm there before Fred comes with the police and what looks like paramedics. They try and get a hold of Liam and I almost don't let them.

"Spike they have to make sure he's okay." Fred says.

She seems a bit calmer. Maybe it's because we caught the guy, but I know I'm not calmer.

It had been a human. Demons and vampires I can deal with, but sick humans… that's not something I've ever had to face and it makes me want to throw up… if I could. Probably would come up blood and that would just make the paramedics worry.

"Okay… yeah."


I'm sitting there in our hospital.

It took some convincing to get Liam transferred here, but Gunn got it all worked out. Even then we had to wait until he had been okay for transfer. The doctors here knew how to deal with him better than any other doctors.

"He's going to be okay."

I look up and see Wesley standing in the doorway. I shake my head.

"Yeah, so I've heard."

He takes a deep breath and stands up straight. Moves into the room and stands off to the side, close to me, but not too close.

"You come in here to tell me how bad I am at this?"

I watch as he takes a deep breath, fidgets with his hands before pulling up a chair. He sits and opens his eyes wide before letting out a deep breath and shaking his head.

"You protected him." He says.

"I lost him."

"Fred says she lost him."

"Doesn't matter. I should've been there."

"You were off saving that girl. From a vampire. I'm sure her family appreciates her being alive. You did the right thing."

"I left him exposed. He could have died… or worse."

"But he didn't. You made sure of that. You made sure that the man didn't get to lay a finger on him. You kept Fred calm while she was panicking."

He stops talking after that. I follow his eye line to little Angel. There's a very thin scratch on his face, but other than that he looks relatively unharmed. He's sleeping, the docs got him hooked up to all sorts of machines I couldn't even begin to understand.

"I doubted you'd be able to do this."

"Do what?"

"Take care of him. But… he's remarkably well taken care of. Showered and every time he comes down to the offices he's nice, polite. Sure he's got burst of energy like any kid but… he's respectful. And he adores you."

"Imagine that. William the Bloody good at childcare. Oh how the old Masters of Aurelius would laugh." I say sarcastically.

"You are… good at it I mean. I just… I thought I'd be good at it too."

I look over at him, questioning look on my face and I watch as he plays with his hands like he can't keep them still.

"You're not bad at it."

"Oh please. I snapped at him just like…"

"Just like your father used to do with you."

He doesn't answer, but I know it's the truth.

"He just needed someone to be there for him. Someone to look out for him and protect him and let him have fun and I didn't know how to be that."

"It's not like it much matters." I say.

His frown deepens and I scowl.

"It doesn't matter right. I mean… can you really see yourself having kids."

"As a Watcher… we were told that having children might not be the best idea. As it was my father was never around and when he was it was always him belittling me. I never thought it was something I'd want."

"And now that you're a demon hunter working at a fancy poofy law firm that used to be evil you… what? Changed your mind?"

He shakes his head.

"I still think it's a bad idea."

"Then why…"

He looks at me seriously, like I'm supposed to get it and after a few moments I do. It's because of Fred. Because Fred's the type of girl to want kids and be a really good mother and still kick some major demon ass all at the same time.

I've seen Fred with mini Angel and so that means that Wesley's seen it too. Seen how her face lights up in that motherly way some women have. Seen how good she is with him and it's crossed my mind once or twice that she'd make an excellent mother.

Adding Wes into the equation… it seems right because I know they love each other. I'd have to be blind and stupid not to. It's that everlasting kind of love too and adding a little one into the equation just makes everything puppies and rainbows.

But Wes doubts he'd be a good father and I'm not sure if it's my place to tell him otherwise, but it's not like Angel's around to do the honors.

"It's different when it's your kid." I say.

He snorts.

"You don't seem to have much of a problem with Liam." He says.

"That's because he's family."

Wesley frowns.

"In a very strange, very weird way… his blood… it's the same as it always was." I say.

"I guess that makes sense… in a very abstract sort of way."

"If you wanted kids, if you and Fred got to that point… you wouldn't be doing it alone. She'd be there to help. She'd be there to make sure that everything turned out okay. You wouldn't be doing it alone."

"I just don't think I'd make a very good father. Never had a very good model of one."

I smile.

"Well my father was never around and then he died. We learn what we can from our parents but some time you just have to bloody well become your own person. Someone that isn't them. You're not your father, Wesley. You're you."

He sighs and rubs his hands over his face. He looks pretty tired and I don't know if he believes me, but it's the best I can dish out so he's just going to have to except it.

"Well I guess you're right about that."

I smirk.

"Of course I am."

The horizon is pink when he starts moving again.

He stirs a bit restlessly, feet and hands kicking and I move to the bed to calm him down. I've done this before and it makes me wonder what he could possibly be dreaming about that gets him like this. Of course I think I get what's making him like this now, but those other times… I'm clueless and he never remembers.

All agitated and whimpering and it always takes awhile before he's calm again. He usually wakes up and this time is no different, dark brown eyes looking up at me with that puppy dog look and he yawns.

"Spike." He says.

"Yes, pet."

"I had a bad dream."

"I know."

"Is the bad man gone?" He asks.

"Yeah, pet, I got rid of him. How about you? You feeling better?"

He shakes his head no.

"I'm still scared."

"You don't have to be."

"Could you sleep with me? Like before?"

He's referring to all the other times he's woken up in the middle of the night. How he'll walk into the master bedroom I've been sleeping in since he showed up, hands rubbing at his eyes with one of his stuffed animals in hand.

He doesn't wait for me to say he can sleep with me. Just crawls up into the bed and settles in and it's gotten to the point where I just don't care anymore. I probably should, but I don't.

"The beds really aren't that big."

"Oh." He pouts.

I've been seeing that face for weeks now and I'm still not used to it. Still don't have any idea how to combat it and I sigh and find myself maneuvering around until he's comfortable, wires and tubes in perfect position, and I'm a little bit comfortable.

He snuggles close and this should probably be weird, but it isn't. Not really anyway and when he falls asleep, soft snores and even more innocent looking face, it's not weird at all.