William was soft. Despite what the monster in front of him thought he did have some pride. The way it said his name. That peculiar accent that claimed to be Irish but just sounded off somehow. Those things that he pretended not to notice. He saw everything, noticed everything, and cared about everything. He worshiped the creature almost as much as his dark goddess did though he'd never say it. The admission alone would destroy him. He still felt it though. That flutter of love that refused to die. The want to make him happy, to get some morsel of praise from him. Instead he heard the words "You should really consider a new name for yourself" And he did. William was soft and loving and desperate for any glimmer of praise he could ring from his sire.

"The name's Spike" He said proud of himself. He'd made it, lived up to it. He waited for the acceptance

The praise that didn't come. Instead there was the indifference. Where there was friendship before now there was only disgust. He wondered what he had done that made his sire hate him so much. If doing what he said wouldn't be enough to garner his affection. He'd just have to try a different tactic. Something he knew the other man would respect. He'd push himself farther than any vampire had, he'd search out the girl the killed their kind. Again and again he'd hunt the slayers until their blood washed the disappointment out of those cold brown eyes.

The first slayer he killed. She was pretty and skilled and sliced into him with a blessed blade. Still in the end he had won. He saw the joy and pride in Dru's eyes. She was so excited to tell her daddy. Even though he wouldn't admit it Spike wanted to see the same pride in his eyes. Instead they were colder still. "Guess that makes you one of us." Not a glimmer of the emotion he was so desperate to see. Spike told himself that it was just because he was fighting with Darla. The tension between them had been at a boiling point for months. Sooner or later they would snap, fight until they both lay bleeding on the floor then make up. Then he'd get the praise he'd earned at killing the slayer.

Only it didn't happen that way. By the time he and Dru had made it home that night Angelus was gone. Darla finally told them the truth of what had happened in Romania. Their family that had endured decades split over night Darla back to her Master, and Spike left to care for Dru. Finally understanding that Instead of the pride he had sought he managed to drive exactly the kind of wedge between them that could never be broken. After all that he'd done, Angelus was broken. And Spike had effectively shown him exactly what he was. It was his fault he'd left. After killing the slayer and bragging about it how could the older vampire even stand to look at him another night.

So he took Dru and left. Determined no matter what happened they would make it through it.

Years passed fading the need for his sire's approval. The hell mouth called Dru to it promising her health and the reunion of their family. Despite knowing nothing good could come from the two of them coming across either Angelus or Darla he had went along if for no other reason then to have his Dark Plum healthy and happy again. Yet there he was. Down a short hall with a human grasped in his arms demonic eyes glittering with mischief. But it was wrong. The boy wasn't afraid, Angelus wasn't really one for dropping in to see what Spike was up to and he had already heard that he was helping the slayer. He punched him. A hundred years of frustration getting the better of himself. He was trying to trick him to drive that wedge farther between them. He'd kill the boy, but not now, not as another of Angelus' tests he was certain to fail.

Then he was back, soulless and fancy free, too good to be true. It was too good to be true. His brain was clearly addled by a century of trauma even if he didn't realize it. So Spike watched out for him, even when he didn't want to admit it. He did what he could to stop the more insane parts of their plans going so far as to go find the girl, to offer to help her. Promising to take Dru and leave. Dru had told him about the gypsy. He knew they could bring Angel back but there was no one he could tell so he just tried to help her stop him long enough for something to change. He left leaving it in the slayers hands. If the better half came back he and Dru were as good as dead, but maybe if he helped the girl Angel loved, maybe he would care a little, see that despite the evil he was still trying to please his sire. He hoped he'd come to find him, to make peace, to invite him home, he didn't know or care just some acknowledgment. That he'd turned his back on his very nature to help him, to save the world also had some appeal, but mostly to help the man he loved.

He came back to the hell mouth, not sure what he was here for. Just that Dru had left him and in his drunken rage he wanted nothing more than to get back to the mansion. He knew he was there. So he drove. All night, ending up passing out in the garden only to be woken by the burning of his own skin. More whiskey to drown the pain. And a plan formed. Not the best thought out but as long as he didn't have to be alone what did it matter.

Dru hadn't come back to him, but a new plan found him, a gem that would let him leave the dark behind forever. A ring. Buried in Sunnydale. He'd just have to find it. Angel was gone. That was odd. In the process of losing the ring he knew who would get it. But the demon demanded retribution. So pretense withstanding he went to find him to get back his ring. And torturing Dru to make her love him might not have worked but it might work with Angel. He seemed pretty into the self inflicted pain so why not help him out and take that out of his hands. He hired someone else though because he didn't have it in him to hurt his sire. Well not until he realized it wasn't working. Then Angel escaped, somehow making him think he'd left the ring when he hadn't. That was okay though, it was time for him to leave, and Angel had the ring.

Spike told him how miserable she'd been, tried to make him see in the only way that he knew how that she needed him. The message didn't seem to get through though.

Spike again found himself in Sunnydale. Hurt and starving. Needing someone to help him. He turned to the closest thing he had. His sire's wife and friends. And they had taken him in begrudgingly, but they did. Slowly he built his place in their group feigning indifference and apathy, waiting for Angel to come back to see that even as he was he could still do good and watch his girl for him. Then he saw what it was that had drawn the other vampire to her. She was beyond anything he had imagined. And he loved her. That was okay though, for what they were it was normal. He loved her as deeply as he'd ever loved anyone in his life, second only to Angel. Then she died, and he stayed to fulfill his promise to take care of Dawn to the end of the world. He had a purpose even as his undead heart shattered.

She came back. She came back. The words echoed in his head until they lost all meaning, only the power in them remained.

She needed him to fill a void in herself. So he let her use him and loved every second of it. Until the illusion shattered. He found himself on the floor in her bathroom staring at her trembling "Ask me again why I could never love you." and the words were doubled because he heard them in Angel's voice as well. He couldn't be this anymore. This monster capable of raping someone he loved in a moment of blind passion. He just couldn't. So he left, to get the missing piece, to get the thing that separated him from her and from Angel. He'd punish himself in the most fitting way that he could find. And maybe Angel wouldn't kill him. Maybe he'd have a chance to re-earn both of their trust.

The world was ending and his mind had long since cracked along with it. But he saw them kissing and realized that neither of them would ever love him the way they loved each other. "That bitch" the first whispered in his ear. Taking her form. But he didn't know which one he felt more pain towards. Mostly he just hurt.

Then he burned to save the world. And for a little while he didn't have to worry about Angel, or Buffy or anyone.

The burning stopped and Angel was in front of him, somehow looking older, light came through the windows and there were demons staring at him like he was the odd one. Rage sent him attacking before coherent thought could take shape in his reformed mind.

He could have laughed at the irony. He finally had Angel to himself. No Darla, no Dru, no Buffy, and he couldn't touch him. He was a ghost, incorporeal and slipping slowly into hell. They cut each other with their tongues but sometimes he felt that it wasn't all hatred. That underneath that confusion there was a current that felt oddly loving.

In a flash he was solid, he could leave, go back to Buffy, help her save the world. But she wasn't the important one. She was just the way back in. and it had worked. He was exactly where he had always wanted to be. Fighting side by side with his sire. For good or evil it was all he had ever wanted.

"There was one thing about you though" He perked a little the long ago William still eager for his praise "I liked your poems." Spike threw an insult back at him but inside he was singing. Finally. He had what he wanted.

The battle was going down and they weren't going to make it through the night, it was a suicide mission and they all knew it. So Spike went to do what Angel had told him. Spending his last night on earth doing the thing that would make the day perfect. So he had. Spike went to an open mic night and read. When he was finished and his blood was coursing with bourbon he looked up spotted the figure in the shadows dark eyes tracking him. He took another shot and followed him out into the alley they were about to be dust anyways what would it hurt? Angel gave him a sad look. His heart felt like it was going to crumble. "I know, 'm not who you'd like to spend the rest of the day with, but we can go back to my apartment, spend some time together just the two of us." He whispered the last part his eyes falling to the cracked brick to keep from having to see the disgust in his eyes when he told him no. Instead gentle hands lifted his face and pressed soft kisses against his yielding lips. "You're the only one I want to spend it with." He whispered. Finally giving him what he'd wanted for as long as he could remember.

They were going to die, but somehow as he looked over at Angel that didn't seem so bad. "When we get through this does one of us get to be a real boy?"

"Who are you kidding? We aren't making it through this." He said.

"As long as it's not you." but he smiled. If he had to go out this was the way he wanted to do it. Fighting by his lovers side.