Innocence Found – Chapter 12 – Future Imperfect

Though he was  certain they were heading towards impending doom, Spike still relished the feel of Buffy's strong thighs as they tightened around his hips and her head resting against his back. Her arms encircled his waist, while her hands and their traitorous little digits were… busy. They'd wormed their way under Spike's T-shirt, and were splaying against his twitching abs. Every now and again, she'd get a little bit of the devil in her and run her nails along the muscle ridges, laughing at each swerve of the bike that resulted from her actions.

Spike felt as if he were in heaven, or as close as he was likely to get. He could feel the curve of Buffy's lips as she smiled against his jacket. The power of the machine between his legs was nothing compared to the feeling he was getting from the girl at his back.

They'd argued about it before heading out on this fool's journey. Spike hadn't wanted to go at all. Dealing with Angel after all that had gone down in the past week would be… difficult, to say the least. Downright impossible if their past was any indication. Spike would have preferred above anything to let sleeping dogs lie.

Buffy, on the other hand, insisted that he go and deal with Angel once and for all – and on going along, herself, upping the degree of difficulty tenfold. Spike was going to try and find some peace with Angel. Shoving his burgeoning relationship with the woman the elder vampire felt forced to give up would be rubbing salt into already raw wounds. In addition, neither believed the other worthy of her.

The agreed upon compromise was Buffy visiting her father for a couple of hours, and joining Spike afterwards. She, too, had some unfinished business with Angel.

As the bike motored on, he felt Buffy's hands drift downwards, toying with the soft pad of his belly. If she kept doing that for much longer, she'd be shaking hands with more than she bargained for.

Spike turned his head slightly and slowed the bike's speed. "Minx! You tryin' to run us off the road?"

"Just call me Dora the Explorer," Buffy yelled, trying to be heard above the sound of the bike and the wind. As if to emphasize her new calling, her fingers started to spider-crawl their way just the teensiest bit lower.

Any other time Spike would have leant back and encouraged Buffy's attentions; a hand job on a moving motorcycle was nothing new to him. However, the last thing they needed was Super Nose sniffing the results of her ministrations. Any chance for peace would be quashed before he walked through the door.

Spike pulled the bike over to the shoulder of the road and dismounted, with Buffy following right behind. The merry twinkle in her eyes had him this close to abandoning his plans for Los Angeles and doing a little exploring of his own.

"The things I give up for you, luv," he sighed. "If you don't want to drive this bike home with a pocket of dust for a passenger, I'd suggest you don't leave me smellin' of anything but your own sweet arms."

Buffy thought for a moment, before wrinkling her nose in disgust. "Gods, Spike. You're such a pig."

"Might be, sweetling, but scenting is a trait we vampires can't ignore." He ran his fingers lightly over her arm, bringing her hand to his lips for a chaste kiss on her palm. "It feeds us, protects us, pleasures, and condemns us."

She looked deep into his blue eyes before bursting out with peals of laughter. "And you have the… the… stones to call Angel a drama queen?"

If it weren't for the sheer pleasure he got from seeing his girl as happy and carefree as her younger self, Spike would have been furious. He'd felt the sting of her laughter before, but this time he could sense it was different. There was no mocking involved, and he allowed himself to relax and join in the play.

"That's good, pet." He laughed back, pulling Buffy up tight against his body. "Just dress me up and call me Priscilla, Queen of the Desert." He dropped another kiss on the crown of her head, letting her feel just how much of a 'queen' he wasn't.

Buffy gulped, knowing they'd get carried away if they didn't get back on that bike now! "O-okay, fine. You've made your… point.  We can figure out who's royalty when we get home."

Stepping over the bike, Spike patted the seat behind him. "Hop on, little mama." The blond smirked, and took off with a roar as soon as Buffy was settled in behind him, hands in a little more circumspect grip this time around.

An hour and a half later, they parted ways. Before she headed towards her father's office building, Buffy wrapped her arms around Spike's waist, and gently brushed her lips against his. "You're already stinky with me," she snickered. "What harm can a little more eau de Buffy do? And again, ewww! I still find that sniffing thing so very, very icky."

"Promise you'll come back to me, pet?" He tried for light and teasing, but the need that echoed in his own ears made him wince.

"If you didn't need some privacy, I wouldn't leave in the first place." She resisted the urge to go and hug him again. This new separation anxiety business was something they were going to have to learn to live with. "Promise me I'll have an annoying platinum blond vampire to come back to?"

"I'll be on my best behavior, Slayer. Can't make promises about the Poof, but I'll do m'best."

Spike pulled into a space directly in front of the Hyperion, and looked back at the bike. He wasn't worried about it not being there when it was time to go home, he was worried about himself not being there to go back with Buffy.

He walked through the double doors, not knowing what to expect. It surprised him to find the place dark and deserted. Fairly sure someone would have ratted his visit out, Spike was almost expecting to be greeted by Cordelia aiming her trusty crossbow at his heart.

"Oi, Peaches! Cheerleader!" The silence was rather eerie, as if he'd walked into a vacuum. "Anyone here?"

Angel walked out of his office. "You don't have to yell. I heard the moment you pulled up with the motorcycle, Spike. Stealth has never been your forte."

I can control my temper. I can control my temper. Spike closed his eyes and clenched his jaw tightly at the obvious gibe, cracking his neck to relieve the tension.

"Giles called, warning me you were on your way with Buffy." The elder vampire walked a circuit around Spike, as if inspecting him. "Where is she and why are you here alone?"

"Wanted to do this without the Slayer. Wasn't sure you told her all about our past, an' I don't rightly know where this is goin' to lead. I thought I'd spare her some of the more… gruesome details." Spike ran his fingers through his hair, not entirely comfortable with the fact that his erstwhile Sire was being civil. "Buffy's at her father's, but she'll be back in a couple hours, sooner if that wanker disappoints her again."

Spike's nerves made him twitchy. "Where're all your minions? Didn't want witnesses?" Stabbing an accusatory finger in Angel's direction, he muttered, "Just don't go thinkin' of my dusty ending or you'll have one brassed off Slayer on your hands."

He began to pace, unable to stand still for more than a moment. "Got a question for you, Peaches, an' I want a detailed answer. Just tell me why?"

"Why, what, Spike? Why is the sky blue?" Angel asked, deliberately blandly. Winding up the blond had always been one of his favorite pastimes. "Aren't you a little old to be asking those kinds of questions?"

"You bloody tosser!" The younger vampire snarled; the effort to keep from going into gameface and attacking corded the muscles in his neck. Unclenching his jaw, Spike let loose with a volley of words, not pausing in-between questions long enough for the elder vampire to get a word in edgewise.

"Why any of it?" His pacing picked up speed, throwing up his hands with each question. "Why'd you go to Sunnyhell when Giles called? Why'd you bother staying an' removing the chip? Feedin' me your own blood, twice? Caring? Why the bloody hell didn't you just dust me while you had the chance?"

"Are you done? Do you really want answers or are you just mouthing off to hear yourself speak?"

Suddenly, Spike was fairly sure he didn't want to hear the next words out of Angel's mouth, but he kept quiet, nevertheless.

"Truth be told, I had no desire to show up in Sunnydale at all when I heard it was you who was injured." Angel's voice was flat and unemotional; conveying the events as they'd unfolded. "I told Giles that as a vampire you'd either heal or dust. I didn't want to be involved."

Even though Spike had been expecting to hear how little he mattered, it still stung to have it told so bluntly to his face.

"So why…?"

"He played on my feelings for Buffy. Giles told me she was affected by the same thing as you were, intimating that what happened to you would likely happen to her. He never told me you were both children."

Angel folded his arms across his chest, once again studying the vampire before him. He had to admit to himself that there were mixed feelings on his part in facing Spike down this way. On a bad day, he could still feel an occasional twinge from all that damned rebar courtesy of the younger vampire's associate, Marcus.

Thanks to these past few days, he could vividly recall his grandchilde's younger self, instinctively trusting with him, and gentle with Buffy. If he looked closely, he could make out the little one's features in the grown up face.

"Take a soddin' picture, Angel. It'll last longer." Spike wished he would say something already… didn't matter if it was derogatory or baiting. The silence was nerve-wracking.

"I'm just trying to find the right words to answer your question." Angel said, sitting down on a padded chair.

Spike resumed his pacing, Even the fact that Angel was calm enough to sit down agitated him. "It's not a difficult question, you bloody git. Why didn't you let me dust, or drain me if the soul would've twinged at you walkin' away?"

"A moment of weakness?" Angel shrugged his shoulders, knowing there was nothing that angered Spike more than being dismissed out of hand. "Nah, that's not it. You reminded me of someone… someone I couldn't save." The elder vampire laughed softly, tickled by his own thoughts. "Sort of an undead memorial."

Terrific, not only was he deemed unworthy of his grandsire's time in the first place… now he owed his unlife to some dead kid and a case of the guilts over Buffy.

All the energy seemed to leave Spike at once as he slumped into a chair opposite Angel. No matter what, it was obvious he'd never be enough to garner respect in his own right.

Looking at his dejected grandchilde, Angel decided he'd pushed far enough. One important question had been answered, at least in his own mind. Spike wouldn't give free reign to his temper over words or attitudes that used to provoke a week long rage when he was barely past the fledgling stage.

Spike raised his head; his gaze listless and unfocussed. It wasn't that he'd given up… exactly. He did have his Slayer to go home with as long as Angel didn't take up his 'must dust Spike' mantra. He just wished the git would get on with it instead of talking him to a second death.

Breaking an unlifetime's worth of habit and unwritten law in their family dynamic, the elder vampire offered an olive branch. "It wasn't all bad, you know. At least not in the beginning."

"What are you going on about, then?" The softness and compassion in Angel's tone jarred Spike out of his haze.

"I seem to remember Angelus being rather pleased when Dru dragged your scrawny ass home for the first time." Angel smiled at the memory. It had been a long time since he'd recalled his introduction to William. "It was nice not being the only rooster in the henhouse."

"Yeah, right. Angelus. You still pulling that old him an' me bit to justify a hundred an' fifty years of destruction and bloodshed?" Spike snorted, amazed at how stupid it all seemed. You simply were who you were; man, demon or soul, and you owned up to all your actions. "Fine. Whatever it takes to get you through the night."

"I'm trying to…" Angel knew this discussion wasn't going to be easy. He'd basically run roughshod over, abused, ignored and subjugated William for the near twenty years they lived together. "What I said before was… wasn't exactly the truth, Spike. How does someone apologize for being truly a selfish bastard, caring for nobody and nothing but his own pleasures?"

"You'd be a right ponce to try," the younger vampire snarled. "And nothing you ever did to me an' Dru equaled the cowardly way you abandoned us both to that hellbitch's whims. Darla," he spat, "took it all out on us."

"It all went so wrong," Angel tried to explain. "I've never been one to revel in my own pain, and the ensouling just about drove me mad with my past deeds. Add yours and Dru's and I felt I had to escape to survive."

"Coward!" Spike reiterated. "If you had bothered to tell either of us, we'd've stuck with you. You know we would've."

Angel nodded. "Now, I do. Back then I was only thinking of my own pain. And then there was Buffy. Want a drink?"

"Nah… need to keep myself sober. Not willin' to chance hurtin' the girl on the way home."

"You and Dru aren't the only ones I left behind." Angel sighed, still hurting over decisions he'd made in the past. "Leaving Buffy behind nearly broke me, but Joyce was right. I had to make the difficult decision for her own good."

Spike's hands gripped the armrests so tightly that the metal began to buckle He was just this side of attacking the elder vampire for the pain he was responsible for. "You stupid, selfish berk." Shaking his head sadly, Spike continued. "Biggest mistake you ever made, Peaches. Should've stayed with her."

Refusing to rise to the bait, Angel insisted he'd done the right thing. "I-it wasn't, damn it! I gave her up so she could find a little normalcy in her life. Someone she could walk in the sun with… have children with."

"But she walks in the dark! She walks in cemeteries and kills things. Every. Single. Night." The blond was furious. "You gave up on her, you mean. You gave her up for someone she'd have to protect… another burden." Spike waved his hand in his grandsire's direction, dismissing him as a fool for his actions. "Should've stayed with her, mate. What you did… leaving her? Destroyed the girl, slowly."

Angel looked at him as if he were insane. Buffy was fine when he last saw her. Of course she was grieving over her mother's death, but it was a normal part of the cycle of life and death. Surely she'd moved on enough to continue with her life.

"She never fully recovered from you leaving, Angel. In her mind, everyone she ever cared about abandoned her. First her father, then you… then fuckin' Captain Cardboard. Even her mum's death added to the toll. The girl's got issues that crippled her."

Steadfastly holding on to his belief that he had done right by Buffy, the elder vampire refused to meet Spike's accusations.

"I tried to be there for her, but she had little use for a chipped and soulless demon 'cept as occasional muscle. An' when the Slayer finally gave in to her death wish while tusslin' with that Hellgod, Glory? I had to stand by and pick up the bloody pieces. One old Watcher and a handful of kids left to watch over the Hellmouth? The soddin' Scoobies were fallin' apart. Who the bloody hell do you think patrolled with 'em to keep them safe? Wasn't you." Of course Spike didn't mention the fact that being somewhat useful was the only thing that kept him from actually taking a walk in the sun on a day by day basis.

Angel grew deadly serious as he listened to Buffy's travails since he'd left. Apparently a 'normal' life wasn't in the cards for her no matter who she was with.

"Gets better when Red an' her cohorts decided to play 'raise the dead'. Rupes went back home; a broken man with no Slayer to watch." Spike's chest hitched, remembering those dismal days when Buffy was gone. "The stress of patrollin' nightly was wearin' on the lot of 'em."

"Willow's gotten downright scary," said Angel. "Her need to be in control rivals Faith's. Why hasn't Giles done anything about her?"

"After Buffy clawed her way out of her coffin, Rupes was on the next plane back to Sunnyhell. Was as happy as the rest of us to see her back, but like me, was furious about the witch's total lack of respect for the laws of death and nature. Heard him tell her off good an' proper, when the Slayer an' me were on the back porch. Bloody hell, even vamps don't play around with resurrections because of the consequences."

Angel had the decency to look abashed, as he remembered Angelus'… his attempted raising of Acathla.

Spike snorted as he remembered what came next. "Then we come to droopy boy. Actually summoned a demon that turned the town into Sunnyhell, the Musical. People would burst into song, dance, and then spontaneously combust."

"And this has to do with Buffy, how?" The elder vampire was confused.

"M'getting' there. Everyone ended up singin' about their innermost secrets. S'when they found out Buffy had been in heaven… not a hell dimension as Red thought. She'd been hiding it from her friends, but she'd told me. She'd come to me at night and we'd talk, or be quiet. Whatever she needed." Spike shook his head in amazement that she'd come to him at all, whatever her reasons were.

"Could feel her slippin' away day by day. Livin' was hell for her." Spike tilted his head, as his expression grew thoughtful. "It's been better the past day or so, even with all the chaos of flippin' ages back and forth. S'like she found something… a lost innocence... makes her glow when she smiles."

Words failed to convey the emotional turmoil gathering in Angel's chest. They'd never been his forte; he was always more a man of action. The elder vampire rose from his seat with a growl, and sprang without warning at Spike, grabbing the blond out of his seat.

Spike didn't have the time to react. He barely had time for one last coherent thought – that he'd regret never seeing Buffy again, and he was fairly sure she'd never know how he met his end.

Angel continued to growl deep in his throat; eyes flickering amber as he stared deep into the younger vampire's blue gaze.

"Just bloody do it, already, you old poof!" The last of Spike's bravado made itself known. "If you're gonna drain me, get on with it before…"

Spike was cut off mid-rant by the mouth smashed against his own in a brutal kiss, hard enough to split his lower lip. Angel's tongue lapped at the oozing flesh, gently sucking to encourage a little more blood flow.

As he quickly came to the realization that dusting wasn't in his imminent future, Spike relaxed. His hands came up to settle on Angel's shoulders, unconsciously pulling the bigger man closer, molding his body to his grandsire's and returning the kiss with fervor.

'I'm sorry's' were uttered over and over by both parties; for what sins, neither was exactly sure. Angel pressed a line of gentle kisses along the expanse of bared neck then backed away, as if aware this was taking a decidedly different turn from his intentions.

Spike crumbled to the floor, in shock from the embrace as well as the sudden lack of support. "What the bloody hell was that all about?"

Angel appeared to be as stunned as the blond. "It's just... I think… you know there's always been something between us… something that didn't involve the girls."

"The only thing that's ever been between us has been your hatred and your bloody cock." The younger vampire was not amused

"You're a pig, Spike." Really, the man had no sense of class whatsoever, Angel thought.

"Hey! Isn't that usually my line?" Buffy made her presence known, looking from Spike on the floor, to Angel looming over him. "I thought this was supposed to be a talk, Blondie. Why is your ass on the floor?"

Shit! Both vampires worried about what she'd heard… if she heard…

Buffy smirked. "You look like a pair of puppies caught stealing the Sunday roast from the kitchen table."

"Um, it-it's not what it looks like, Buffy," Angel stammered.

"Well, recently being in the same position, I'll give you a chance to explain why Spike is on the ground. Points in your favor for him not lying in a puddle of blood." Turning to the younger vampire, she mouthed, "We so have to talk when we get home."

"S'all right, luv," Spike soothed, giving his grandsire an easy out. "Just worked out some past differences. Seem's like the Poof's had a change of heart about yours truly." He looked over at Angel for confirmation.

"As long as Spike doesn't start feeding again, he'll have no problems from me," the elder vampire said quietly.

Buffy stared at them, fear in her eyes, and dropped suddenly to huddle in a ball on the floor.

Scuttling over to her, Spike reached out to grab her shaking shoulder. "What's wrong, Slayer?" Concern made his voice crack.

She looked up, giggling uncontrollably… soundlessly; helpless to stop and unable to catch her breath.

"You bloody bitch!" The relief that nothing was wrong softened his harsh words.

"I'm so sorry," Buffy wheezed, finally able to pull in a little oxygen. "If this isn't a perfect setting for another apocalypse, nothing is."

Buffy collapsed, laughter overtaking her once more. This time she dragged Spike with her. The two began a mock-fight, pummeling each other lightly while rolling around on the lobby floor.

Angel sat back and smiled sadly. It was true, then. He'd finally lost her. But she? Looks like Buffy found what she'd been looking for in a partner all along… an equal.

And he'd regained a family.