Disclaimer: Don't own, etc., etc. Joss Whedon rules supreme and retains pretty much everything. Only written for personal enjoyment and because this plot bunny just wouldn't die, even after some serious staking…

Summary: First in my (unintentional and ever-growing) series. Occurs canon-wise more or less at the start of Season 5, Spike still being in a walk-through-walls situation. Since it was established that Spike could leave Wolfram & Hart, but not step beyond the city limits, I began to wonder what sort of shenanigans a bored ghost could get up to in the naked city, and lo! A plot bunny was born…Rating PG-13 for the odd ungentlemanly phrase.


The elevator made no sound as it slid smoothly upwards, as well it shouldn't. This exclusive complex in one of LA's most affluent neighbourhoods had been converted from 19th Century warehouses into large, state-of-the-art luxury apartments at an exorbitant cost that the developers had recouped with a year by renting them to the Hollywood A+ List. Said developers had been a shrewd, possibly mystically empowered, bunch perceptive enough to realise that it was the little things that counted, so, no apartment was the same as another; every apartment was sound-proofed; there were ice dispensers on every floor; the elevators operated like something out of Star Trek and the décor flawlessly trod that narrow path dividing discreet no-expense luxury from offensive blatantly-showing-off opulence.

Even though it was approaching midnight, Wesley headed out of the elevator with caution, his booted feet sinking nearly ankle deep in the carpet pile. His clothing had taken something of a battering, proof should any ever be required that demonic goo and suede don't mix. Even if the blue gunk hadn't seared through the leather almost instantly he would never have got the stain out, even though the hideously expensive washer-dryer in his apartment was custom-made by a company that specialised in getting rid of mystical and other-dimensional stains. Wesley hadn't been at all surprised when he'd come across papers in Wolfram & Hart's archives showing that the lawyer firm had a controlling interest in that particular washing-machine manufacturer.

Wesley tossed the large, gleaming name-brand sports holdall on a chair, which shuddered as if the contents were much weightier than a gym kit and sneakers. As he headed towards the kitchen he passed an antique, ornate full-length mirror that reflected a bespectacled, grey-eyed middle-management executive type with short-cut, damp oak-brown hair, dressed in neat beige slacks, dark blue shirt and casual-smart collarless jacket, who looked as if he had just got back from the gym following a day at the office. Unfortunately the effect was spoiled by the blobs of drying blue goo and tiny remnants of what appeared to be the intestinal tract of something much larger than a homo sapiens.

Opening a cupboard under the sink, Wes took out a bottle of amber liquid whose label proclaimed it to be twelve-year-old Lagavulin Scotch; pouring it like cola into a tumbler he took a healthy swig, then let out a breath, pinching the bridge of his nose wearily as he took in the time as shown on the brightly-polished chrome effect kitchen clock. He was getting too old for these working hours. Shrugging off the suede jacket, Wesley tossed it into the trash, before unbuckling his belt, stripping himself naked with no unease. Ruefully he realised that the rest of his attire was also beyond saving, but simply dumped it with the coat.

One of the benefits of being Director of Wolfram & Hart's Occult (& Mystical Research) Department was a salary that took into account the amount of abuse such a position was likely to incur on the incumbent and his surroundings, including regularly replacing a large part of your wardrobe. The salary was also what had enabled Wesley to purchase this apartment, which he had very carefully selected for a variety of reasons. The extremely rich types who inhabited it usually departed en masse for their gym/breakfast meetings at seven and didn't get back until about eleven at night due to the pretty endless succession of post-working day networking parties and soirees. Since Wes was usually in his office by 6:00am and not back until midnight, he was reasonably assured of never meeting any of the other occupants and being required to improvise plausible explanations for "a lawyer" having bits of monster innards, demon blood and other-dimensional secretions smeared over his person. Wesley had learned very young that image was everything – Roger Wyndham-Pryce had hammered the lesson home with far more than words.

The other main deciding factor had been the realtor's promise of total resident privacy. Unlike some other complexes, they did not provide a gratis cleaning service for the apartments, and only the resident had the keys to his or her apartment – though Wesley had changed the locks twice since moving in just as a precaution. As Wesley walked to the bathroom, any observer not distracted by his nudity would have instantly seen why the need for such privacy was obvious.

The walls were adorned with an exotic assortment of brutal looking medieval weaponry that ran heavily towards swords, maces, spears, axes and sharp metal things with hook like protrusions, which, had they been advertised on TV, would probably have carried slogans like, "with handy disembowelling attachment free". Similar weaponry adorned the upper level where the bed was situated, and could just be glimpsed on hooks driven into the mortar between the tiles in the bathroom. No matter where the occupant of apartment 302 was, he was always within reaching distance of something big and brutal or small and sharp.

The main area of the apartment was a split-level semi circle going down a couple of steps to the huge U-shaped couch and state-of-the-art entertainment system. The outer curve had inbuilt bookcases, all of which were crammed with what were definitely grimoires and tomes as opposed to mere books. The writing on the spines was either thick and black or thin and spidery ornate, but all looked unpleasant and seemed to almost writhe if you stared at them. It was in fact just the sort of apartment you saw featured on those TV reality shows and documentaries like "Cops" as the film crew showed how friendly next-door Joe Bloggs was really FBI Most Wanted Serial Killing Psycho of the Month. It strongly suggested the occupant's mental health wasn't quite what it might be, on top of being just very disturbing in general.

To term the bathroom as being of "sybaritic opulence" would have been understating the case considerably. Large enough to take a good score seconds to walk around, the walls sported large aquamarine tiles (lots hidden by the gleaming sharp things) and a genuine Italian marble floor. The toilet and washbasin were also marble, with gleaming chrome taps and a solid mahogany toilet seat and lid. The sunken corner bath had clearly been created to accommodate either the football team or frolicking threesome of your personal choice, and combined a Jacuzzi/spa system with so many buttons it looked like NASA ground control. For the short of time the shower area had actually been built in as two protruding short side walls from the main back wall with double glass doors and two shower heads on each of the three walls. Again there were many things to push, twist and adjust to get the perfect shower while yet again being large enough to accommodate as many people as you might choose to invite. Since 302 was a highly prized corner apartment and not overlooked by anything else in the city, the upper half of the outer wall was a combination of frosted panes, clear glass and those thick square glass bricks sometimes used in offices or on sidewalks to let light into a cellar. It thus gave the illusion that you were bathing under the stars – or using the toilet in full public view, depending on how your brain chose its neuroses.

Wesley ignored the night-sky view created by the fanciful optical display as he vigorously lathered himself up with the expensive Brazil nut shampoo that worked so well at getting mystical gunk out of his hair –

"Well ain't this just grand." The sudden voice was mockingly appreciative.

Wesley didn't jump, yelp or even open his eyes – fortunate since the latter action would have let a lot of soapsuds in. Calmly rinsing the lather from his hair and face he wiped the back of his hand across his eyes, and then turned to look at the bathroom's abrupt new occupant. Swathed in that long black leather coat he had taken from the body of Robin Wood's Slayer mother after he killed her, along with his customary black boots, black jeans and black T-shirt, the only relieving colours Spike had were his silver belt buckle, the claret-red shirt with the narrow vertical black stripe and black buttons he was wearing over his T-shirt – and off course his vibrantly bleached platinum-blond hair. He stood with his hands thrust deep in the leather duster pockets looking at Wesley with sardonic amusement.

Wesley didn't bat an eyelid as he slid back one of the shower doors and stepped out, beginning to towel himself dry. Privacy for his children had been one of the many things Roger Wyndham-Pryce hadn't believed in; years of his father coming into the bathroom and expressing bitter disappointment over his eldest son's "skinny" build combined with a childhood spent at all-male preparatory boarding schools had immured Wesley against being even slightly self-conscious about being unclothed in front of people. He had spent years twisting himself – metaphorically – into a pretzel to conform to his father's ideology of the perfect Watcher son, and all it had gotten him was fired by the Council…oh, and tortured by Faith, plus a seriously messed up Id – it was amazing considering Rupert Giles' "Ripper" past and Angel's near 150 years on the Dark Side of the Force that neither had ever twigged how Wesley's liaisons were always with women who physically and mentally as well as sexually abused him.

Fortunately Wesley was all too aware of the tangled knots in his own psyche and managed to maintain his grip…mostly, he amended to himself as his brain inconveniently began to replay images of his fling with Lilah…handcuffed to the headboard, Lilah smiling down at him as she suddenly produced a small, but very sharp flick knife out of her Victoria's Secret bra, her tone lilting and sultry, "Your mistake, honey, don't you know you should always frisk a girl first…"

"Not quite as big as Angel's." Spike sniffed and smirked, his tone deliberately ambiguous as to whether he was referring to the brunette vampire's apartment or to…other things.

"Why are you here, Spike?" Wesley left the bathroom, walking across the apartment to and up the spiral staircase to the bedroom platform, the wall-to-wall bank of huge windows giving a panoramic view of the city.

"What, can't a guy be neighbourly? Just thought I'd drop by, say hello…" The blond floated up through the floor to stand by the bed as Wesley slid under the covers.

"How did you..?" Wesley's eyes narrowed; you had to invite a vampire into your home, and he certainly hadn't done that with Spike! Angel had an invite as he had helped the rest of the crew "move Wesley in", though it hadn't been that arduous since most of the furniture came with the place and Wesley had discreetly brought in most of the weaponry adorning the walls himself to avoid their disapproval, but Angel hadn't been back since – there was no need, part of Angel's deal as CEO of Wolfram & Hart's LA Division was the penthouse apartment on the top floor, featuring yet more panoramas of the cityscape plus being within spitting distance of the White Room should anything heavy go down.

"Guess its part of being a ghost. I'm not corporeal so I can't touch anything so the invitation bit is void, I suppose."

"Shouldn't you be at Wolfram & Hart?"

Spike snorted derisively. "No. I can leave that chrome and faux-leather pile any time I like, I just can't step outside the city limits. Other than that, LA's my oyster!"

"And yet you're still here."

"Well what's the bloody point!" Frustration showed on Spike's face. "I'm non-corporeal, remember? What's the point of going to a bar or whorehouse – I can't eat, drink, fight or fu-"

"Spike, why are you here?"

"'Cause I need to connect!" Spinning away from Wesley so the ex-Watcher couldn't see his eyes, the bleach-blond vampire stared out of the windows over the city. His tone harsh, Spike growled, "I sacrificed my life for true love and to save the world, and what do I get? Hello, Casper the Bloody Useless, unless of course there's anyone I can sarcasm to death. I just wanted someone familiar around." He shrugged defensively, "Fred's too nervy, and unintelligible most of the time. Lorne's – well, big green and horns, what more do you need? Gunn can't get over his own staggering machismo…"

"Won't Angel -?" Wesley stopped, vainly seeking tact.

"I'm not good enough to be allowed into Chez Angel." Spike sniped before turning around to face Wesley again, but his bright blue eyes were shadowed, belying his devil-may-care stance, "I ruin the ambience of his lordship's Penthouse suite. Besides…me and Angel…we're too close…and too far apart."

Wesley looked at the blond vampire and realised that, at least subconsciously, Spike had chosen him because out of all Team Angel, Wesley was the only one who would instantly understand Spike's hesitant final words with no more needing to be said.

And he did.

Vampires rarely sired other vampires in any deliberate sense. Most Nosferatu didn't manage to climb all that high on the IQ ladder anyway, and the majority of "sirings" occurred by accident due to their messy eating habits. Which was fortunate, because those few vampires with the intellect and inclination to not only deliberately sire a new vampire but also protect and train the fledgling were incredibly dangerous adversaries; the Master had been a classic example. He had killed the Slayer, Buffy Summers! Had she been a "traditional Slayer" – alone without friends and family – her death would have been final, but Xander Harris's CPR had resurrected her a few minutes later, incidentally and unwittingly creating the Buffy-Kendra-Faith paradox of two living Slayers. Travelling as a quartet, Darla, Angelus, Drusilla and Spike had been the most feared vampires in the 19th Century – ravaging Europe and the Near East in a decades long orgy of death and torture, but the Master was indirectly responsible – he had sired Darla, who had sired Angelus, who had sired Drusilla, who had sired Spike.

None of the others apart from Wesley could understand the profound yet deeply complex bond between Angel and Spike. Gunn didn't have the patience, or the interest; Fred wouldn't be able to cope with the reality of both creatures' pasts of maiming and sadism; Lorne's loyalty was totally to Angel, though the Brooding One hardly came out of the situation shiny white. As a Watcher and having personal experience of both vampires at their evil best, which he had managed to survive no less, Wesley knew he was ideal for Spike's dual need to vent but also to connect with someone, anyone, that could give him focus and purpose, even if that purpose amounted to no more than being an insubstantial irritant.

He glared at the bleach blond. "Just a couple of nights, until you find somewhere else. And just be quiet."

"As a mouse," Spike instantly beamed as he got what he wanted. "Go and put the Tele on for us, Passions is on in a minute."

Wesley raised an eyebrow.

"Or I can just stay up here and chat with you for an hour or so." Spike could also do the eyebrow-raising thing.

Conceding defeat and getting out of bed, Wesley padded downstairs and put the TV on the right channel, turning the sound down to a point where it was inaudible to him but not to a vampire's supernaturally enhanced hearing, just as Spike re-materialised on the couch and waved him aside with one pallid hand.

Returning to his bed, Wesley climbed in, but despite his weary body, he lay on his side, staring out at the cityscape, considering Spike and Angel. A vampire with a soul was unprecedented…two vampires with souls was…well, there wasn't a word for it yet, but the ramifications were mind-boggling. All because of a Slayer who had spurned the traditional modus operandi of her predecessors. Buffy Summers believed she had a right to a family, friends, lovers and a personal life. Sacrilege to the Watcher Council, but she had repeatedly won through in situations where a "traditional" Slayer would have fallen…she had outlived every Slayer bar a couple as far back as the very late 1700s. The last Slayer in "recent" history to survive beyond her early twenties had been Alisandé of Byzantium, who had been killed at age 36 in 1824, but then she'd been even more psychopathic than the things she fought.

Wesley shifted and rolled onto his other side. He could see the top of Spike's vibrantly platinum-hued head through the balustrade as the vampire watched the TV, sprawled inelegantly on Wesley's couch as though it was his by right. Ruefully Wesley recognised that his "just a couple of nights" edict had been a futile last-ditch effort at avoiding the inevitable. Though Angel's reaction when he learned the identity of Wesley's room mate..!

Wesley's eyes hardened. His brooding boss would just have to learn to deal, just because Angel was the closest thing Wesley had to a best friend didn't blind the ex-Watcher to the dark vampire's faults, and one which Angel shared with Buffy Summers was a tendency towards being judgemental of others despite living in a glasshouse. Wesley looked at his own wrist, seeing the faint scar; Angel fondly believed none of the others remembered his son Connor, and Wesley hadn't – until he misread a Revealing Incantation and it restored his own tampered-with memory instead of the demon he was interrogating for information after having captured it lurking in the alley behind Ye Olde Britannia British ex-patriots bar. Fortunately the Graluk had scarpered pronto instead of attacking as Wesley had reeled helplessly in shock from the influx of images battering his synapses, including for instance how Angel – not Angelus, but Angel – had tried to suffocate Wesley as he was helpless in hospital after Justine Cooper slit his throat. No indeed, Angel was in no position to judge Spike or anyone else. The scar seemed to tingle and for a moment Wesley wondered why it hadn't faded by now, not being the terrible wound Justine had inflicted on his neck, that scar would never fade – physically or mentally. Perhaps it was because he had cut his own flesh, feeding Angel voluntarily after rescuing him from the bay, rather than the vampire biting him?

Whatever, it didn't matter. What mattered was achieving some sort of balance between Spike and Angel since leaving LA was not an option for either of them. Both were dragging along entire baggage trains of History with a capital "H", much of it involving each other. Though Drusilla had sired Spike in 1880, the hopelessly insane vampiress had been physically and mentally incapable of caring for her "child"; indeed Spike had been Drusilla's lover, protector and provider since day one despite newly Sired. Again in an unprecedented move, since vampires didn't usually care for their own "sirelings", never mind those of other undead, Angel had stepped in and taken the role of surrogate Sire to Spike. Various records detailed that the two had become good friends, Spike being intelligent, quick to learn and wanting to please Angel, who in turn had been pleased to have a younger "brother" for all the boy stuff that Darla, for all his Sire's attributes, couldn't get her female psyche to appreciate.

Yet Spike and Angel were also driven apart by the same things that bound them together. For decades the four of them had roamed the world as a psychopathic quartet separating for only brief interludes, murdering and slaughtering, during which time Angel also participated in a sort of ménage a trios with both Drusilla and Spike, despite his relationship with Darla, though Spike, incredibly, remained faithful to his insane Sire other than when Angelus had bedded him. Indeed, it had been noted in Watcher records that Spike had never been unfaithful to any lover, and had always been the one left rather than the one leaving. But now the boot was on the other foot. Angelus had sought to dominate Spike by controlling him and his relationship with Drusilla and it had largely worked, but then Buffy Summers had appeared on the scene.

Wesley wondered if Rupert Giles had any idea of just how many texts and prophecies had centred round that particular young woman? Indeed, he had only been assigned as her Watcher over more senior members of the Council because that bunch of sexist ninnies hadn't really believed in the texts they had collected about a "mere girl". As far as they had been concerned, Buffy had been the latest in an endless line of interchangeable girls – one Slayer dies, the next is Called. Next, case closed!

Wesley rolled onto his back and glared at the ceiling. The problem with prophecies was that they were all so damned cryptic. The Book of Tamar for example, referred to "The Mother of All Slayers". Robin Wood's mother had been the only Slayer in recorded history to bear a child, and the prophecy had been dismissed as nonsense when her unprecedented child was male. But Buffy Summers had become the Mother of All Slayers – she had used the power of the Scythe of Fray to turn every Potential into an actual Slayer, thus in a way becoming their parent.

Sunnydale being sucked into a giant crater upon defeating the First hadn't slowed down the Scooby Gang by much. Caleb had only managed to destroy the most senior – i.e., conservative, reactionary, blinkered – members of the Watchers Council, most of the real workers had lived. Buffy, recognising the value of the Watchers Council and it's immense archives, had wasted no time in reorganising, although she had determined to make the Watchers Council serve the Slayers, rather than the other way around. Giles had returned to England with Willow and Kennedy, Xander and Andrew had gone to Africa, Faith and Robin Wood to New York, all on a mission to find all the Slayers and bring them together for training. A Slayer would no longer battle evil alone and friendless and they were going International to boot.

Wesley kept in touch with some of his old Watcher contacts, and the reaction of the Scooby Gang to the prophecies that the old Watcher Council had ignored or dismissed had been fearful to behold, according to Anthony Parkhurst, who had been Wesley's roommate at the Watcher Academy and who wasn't given to exaggeration. "'I trembled, I can tell you, Wesley. The look on Giles' face – it was pure Ripper.'"

Having made an in-depth study of various things such as the Shanshu Prophecy for one, Wesley could relate. Many of the texts would have been of enormous help to Buffy at various times, had she just known about them! Wesley licked his lips, suddenly nervous. Something he was sure that Buffy and Giles – that nobody – knew about was Niamh. Even at the heavy-grimoire/musty-scroll centric Watcher Academy, Wesley had been taunted as an über nerd, but his attempts to avoid the bullies had led him to discovering a variety of long-forgotten sub-basements crammed with mystical objects and instructive tomes. In one of these, he had come across a mouse-ravaged scroll that had probably been discarded due to the language being unreadable. Recognising one of the words as proto-Sumerian and intrigued because the parchment was called the "Scroll of Niamh", which was a Celtic name, Wesley had managed to translate what little was left.

He had never uttered a word about it to anyone because at the time it had seemed so, well, simply impossible. Even now, laying in his bed and understanding much of it in retrospect, it still seemed completely outstanding. He had never even come across any direct references to the Scroll of Niamh, just oblique throwaway mentions, which was highly suspicious considering that the unknown prophetess had been pure dynamite…

"Ekatu Ishala ysmala hattu Kaha-ac-Cairu, ys saran Nyanak Ishala, ys saran Ikos Utahanam." Wesley turned over again in a futile attempt to get his brain to shut down and follow the example of his exhausted body, but Spike's presence seemed to have triggered a relentless surge of memories long-gathering dust in Wesley's cerebellum, such as the thrill of delight/terror that had shot through the gawky adolescent in that Academy sub-basement as he read those words aloud for the first time. Ishala meant "Slayer", but that had been about the only word that hadn't driven him to drink in the translation. Depending on where you looked, "ekatu" could be termed as "The", "Great", "Last", "Supreme", "Highest" or "Highest-Ranking" – and that was just the human languages. In most demon tongues ekatu translated as "All-Mother", "She-Who-Spawns", "Summoner of Champions", "Queen-of-Princesses".

At the time, the whole thing had seemed to read like drunken nonsense. Each Slayer was, by definition, the Slayer, and several had deserved the appellation "Great". Likewise, you could only be the highest or highest-ranking of something if there were others like you, but there was only the Slayer, not the Slayers. Buffy hadn't been the Last Slayer because when the Master drowned her for those few minutes before Xander's CPR, Kendra had been Called, and after her – Faith. Ys saran Nyanak Ishala – sister to the Dark Slayer. However "dark" did not mean "evil". It also translated as "primal", "beginning"…and "First Reborn". After Wesley and Faith had drugged Angelus so his soul could be restored, Wesley had understood that Faith was called the Dark Slayer because, unlike any other Slayer, including Buffy, she was most in touch with the primordial power of all Slayers – that demon energy forcibly infused into the First Slayer by the Shadow Men – she was the "First Reborn" in that she harnessed the strength and volatility of the First Slayer.

But the prophecy had also said ys saran Ikos Utahanam – the sister of Chaos Restrained. It had meant nothing to Wesley, until that group of monks had forged the Key into human form and sent it to the Slayer in the form of a sister. Faith and Dawn were both Buffy's sisters. Ysmala hattu Kaha-ac-Cairu – the leader of the Circle of Nine. Again, it had been nonsense – the Slayer lived, fought and died alone, only her Watcher maintaining any contact, so how could a Slayer have fellow fighters? But she did – the Scooby Gang. Likewise, "Queen-of-Princesses" seemed redundant, unless you counted the Slayers created by Willow as Princesses, and Buffy, as the pre-eminent Slayer, the Queen; She-Who-Spawns, Summoner of Champions and Mother Of All Slayers also dovetailed neatly into the description of what Buffy had accomplished in turning all the Potentials into bona fide Slayers.

Wesley shook his head to himself as he recalled the weeks he had spent, sneaking off at every opportunity, hours and hours spent researching every word, each one of which seemed to have a dozen different and utterly baffling meanings. The "Circles of Nine" – the First Nine, fellow warriors of Ekatu Ishala – some would fall, some would "not remain", some would form part of the Second Nine, fellow warriors of one of Ekatu Ishala's Champions, Ekatu Nahzrutha-Ensuallu – Vampire With A Soul.

Using a candle to avoid using any power that might draw his peers or his tutors to the basement, Wesley had almost dropped the scroll on top of the candle when, instead of Nahzrutha-Ensuallu "vampire-soul", Niamh had written Nahzruthim-Ensuallu, the plural form of vampires. At that point he had nearly given up, convinced the Scroll had to be the ravings of a lunatic or idiot. From being cursed in 1898, Angel had sent shockwaves throughout the dimensions as a vampire with a soul, as well as incidentally scrubbing Gypsies off the menu of nervous vampires everywhere, but Niamh not only mentioned them in the plural as casually if discussing the weather, but also referred to both as Champions of Light.

Yet here we are, Wesley mused to himself wryly, though he often found it hard to really believe he himself qualified as one of the Second Circle of Nine. Thanks to his abusive father's gift of a massive inferiority complex, part of Wesley was always waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the door of Angel's apartment building/the Hyperion Hotel/Wolfram & Hart to be flung back as some huge, handsome, witty superhero type came bounding in and declared he was here to take his place as part of the Circle of Nine and he was sorry for the delay, oh and you, four-eyes, get me a coffee, buddy.

Buffy's "Nine" had been relatively easy to decipher in hindsight. Xander, Giles, Willow, Angel, Faith, Cordelia and Oz, with Anya and Tara making the last two. Anya and Tara had both "fallen", died in the fight between Good and Evil; Oz, Cordelia, Angel and Faith had "not remained". Cordelia had become one of the Second Circle of Nine; Faith had had to go through her own dark side before re-emerging the other side, and Oz likewise had gone on his own personal journey, though he still acted as an operative of the Scooby Gang – he was giving Andrew and Xander a guided tour of Africa at this very moment.

Angel had gone from being part of the First Circle, to the Champion Seeking Redemption, centre of the Second Circle of Nine. Francis Doyle, a half-Brachen demon/half-human had been the first of that new Circle, now long dead, followed by Cordelia, now…in a coma. Gunn, Fred and Lorne were still here, but Connor had "not remained" at Angel's instigation. Which left Angel with Wesley Wyndham-Pryce, Ditherer to the Stars, and last but hardly least, Spike…the other vampire with a soul. Nahzruthim-ensuallu indeed!

"Do you need me to read you a bedtime story or what?"

Wesley jumped and looked up startled as Spike materialised by the side of the bed, hands on hips, glaring down at him looking like a sulking Billy Idol.

"Wh- Wh- What?"

"The way you're thrashing about up here, either the bed's been invaded by ants or you're jerking off. A fellah needs his rest mate, so knock it off, hey?"

Before Wesley could sputter a response, Spike sank back down through the floor. The ex-Watcher glared futilely at the spot, wishing the blond vampire was just corporeal enough to hit. Repeatedly. Then he saw the time and winced – he had to be in work in a few hours.

Firmly pushing his head into his pillow, Wesley resolutely closed his eyes. Unfortunately he knew he wouldn't throw his unwelcome houseguest out like he probably should. He understood too much of Spike's pain…an image of Fred and Gunn flashed into Wesley's mind and he bit his lip hard. He knew all too well what it was like to so completely love someone who would never look at you in the same way; Spike had taken the amulet from Buffy knowing it would probably kill him, and knowing that she could never love him as much as he loved her, or as she loved Angel. Besides, when it came down to it, who really was the more worthy? Angel had fallen in love with Buffy because he had a soul – but Spike had loved her before he had a soul…

And on that disturbing realisation, Wesley fell asleep.

To be continued…

© 2004 C. D. Stewart