Author's Note: This is the second chapter in my 'Being' series.
Disclaimer: Anything recognizable belongs to Joss- the rest is my overactive imagination.


BEING TAUGHT

"Don't doubt what they say
Scared of a change"
Down Town by Days of the New


Spike let himself into the basement, closing the door that led to the tunnel to the sewer system firmly, then quickly made his way to the basement steps. He ran up the stairs and cautiously opened the door at the top, peering around the door before grinning and letting himself into the kitchen, closing the door as softly as possible and heading to the cupboard to get his box of Weetabix. Pouring a generous amount into a large bowl, he went to the refrigerator and grabbed a pack of pig's blood- pouring it over the cereal.

He had just taken a big bite of the colorful mixture when a slight gagging noise behind him alerted him to the fact that "little brother" was awake and had somehow snuck up on him. Turning, he gave Lindsey a big toothy grin- making certain to show off at least part of his breakfast while doing so. Lindsey swallowed thickly then grimaced in irritation.

"Yeah- not so hungry anymore. Thanks Spike!" he grumbled and shuffled his way over to the kitchen table where he plopped onto the nearest chair and folded his arms on the table before dropping his head down onto them.

Spike frowned slightly, glancing at the watch on his wrist. 'Huh, kid musta had a late night,' he thought to himself. It was after nine in the morning, and by all appearances the kid had just woke up. Shrugging, he walked over to the table and sat down, continuing to eat his breakfast, but eyeing Lindsey speculatively.

"So, what'd you and Angel get up to after Lyr'a and I left?" he asked curiously.

"Researched that warehouse we've been hearin' rumors 'bout," Lindsey yawned, then forced himself straight and stretched like a cat. Then, glancing at Spike's decimated breakfast and sighing, he got up and went to the refrigerator to pull out eggs and milk to begin making pancakes.

Angel chose that moment to walk into the kitchen, scratching at his shoulder, and then rubbing a hand through his hair. "Surprised you're already up, Sport," he smiled at Lindsey, then went to the cupboard and grabbed a mug to pour his blood into before heating it up in the microwave.

Lindsey grinned back over his shoulder, and then shrugged. "I thought I heard something. Once I was up…eh." He poured the batter into a pan and watched as it began to form one perfect circle.

Spike watched the two of them, a curious frown on his face. They moved in sync, without even having to look at each other. It was as if they could sense where the other was and adjusted their own movements accordingly, in a familiar sort of dance. Shaking his head at the odd feeling that observation caused in his stomach, he turned back to his cereal and finished it off.

"Yeah, well if you find yourself getting tired later, make sure to take a nap. Don't want to have your immunity compromised due to exhaustion…" Angel, ruffled a hand through Lindsey's hair, chuckling when the boy tried to avoid the action. The look on the kid's face was comical- as if he didn't know whether he should be affronted at the action or amused.

"Sure thing, Pops!" Lindsey smirked as he flipped the pancake onto a plate and began to make a second one. Angel stopped halfway to the table, then shook his head and continued the rest of the way, sitting down next to Spike.

Spike leaned back in his chair and observed the duo, silently. Lindsey had been living with Angel for several months now and it seemed to have made a world of difference in the whelp's attitude. The kid smiled more often than not now. He still had a biting wit- but he was less defensive with it now. When the kid went out on patrols, he actually planned to survive - instead of relying on his luck to keep him alive. He didn't have a death wish anymore. He smiled slightly.

Angel had changed a bit too. He was…it was hard to put a name to it, Spike narrowed his eyes thoughtfully. He was less broody. He was freer in handing out praise when it was warranted- and not just to the kid, he and Illyria had gotten their fair share of acknowledgement. Of course, Angel had always been protective of those he considered friend and/or weaker, but this- he had taken it beyond protecting into the realm of…nurturing. It wasn't a bad thing to witness…so why did Spike have this niggling little ball of discontent in his belly?

"Spike!" Angel shouted, causing the blonde vampire to jump awkwardly then glare in his grand-sire's direction. It was obvious that the darker haired man had been attempting to ask him a question for several minutes and Spike had been too preoccupied in his musings to notice.

"What???!" Spike huffed, fighting not to pout as he saw the amusement in Angel's eyes.

"Are you going to stick around for a bit today? I wanted to go over that research Lindsey did, decide if we're going to act on it or not…" Angel eyed the younger vampire curiously, taking another sip from his mug, while gently nudging a chair away from the table so that Lindsey could sit- the man currently juggling a plate of pancakes, bottle of syrup, glass of orange juice, glass of milk, and a bowl of strawberries. Spike eyed the youngster as if waiting for a train to wreck.

"Hungry after all?" he snorted, before turning back to Angel. "Yeah- I can stick around for a bit, go over the Intel." It was better than heading back to his empty apartment.

"Go get yer own, dammit!" Lindsey whined and slapped at Angel's hand as he stole a strawberry from the bowl.

Spike shook his head- that same strange twinge in his belly getting stronger.

# # #

"I gotta take a little time
A little time to think things over…."
I Want to Know What Love Is by Foreigner

        
"I just think that we could easily take care of the…"

"I said no!" Angel glared at him, cutting off his last words. Spike rolled his eyes.

"It's too dangerous- at the moment- to take them on. We need to do more research, see if we can find any weak spots OR wait until we can get a few more people in to help." Angel reiterated for the fourth and final- as far as he was concerned- time. He looked at the blonde vampire irritably and with a bit of confusion.

Spike had remained, as he'd said he would, and Illyria and Lorne had arrived within an hour of everyone finishing breakfast. They'd gone over the information and Angel had decided it was too risky to go after the target right away. Spike obviously did not agree, but he was being more adamant in his objections than normal.

Spike had always liked to buck his authority, doing everything in his power to prove that he was his own man and that Angelus, and later Angel, had no power over him. Angelus had enjoyed the challenges- using it as an opportunity to beat the other man into submission. With his soul intact, Angel tended to just ignore the behavior- a sense of guilt for Angelus' actions preventing him from doing much, if anything about the blonde's behavior. But his grand-childe was acting beyond obstinate and argumentative- even for Spike.

Shaking his head, Angel looked toward the other members of their group. Illyria was sitting with a slightly bored, if not put-upon, look on her face. Lorne was staring at Spike as if trying to figure out a puzzle. Lindsey- Lindsey looked nervously between the two vampires, uncertain as to what was going on or even why it was occurring. Angel smiled at the youngest member of their group, hoping to calm him down. The ex-lawyer had made a lot of progress, but there was still a long way to go- and he didn't want Spike's apparent desire to fight his authority to cause the kid to falter on his path.

"We'll research some more, find out if there is a weakness we missed before. If not, then I will contact Giles and see if they can send a few of their girls our direction. Until then, we aren't doing a thing. It is too dangerous." Angel spoke firmly, looking at each team member in the face but making certain to stare into Lindsey and then Spike's eyes a bit longer than the others. They were the two who would be most likely to try and do something. He was only slightly mollified when both men nodded.

# # #

Spike pressed his mouth together in frustration. Angel wouldn't even consider that he was being overly cautious. There was no reason they couldn't take this particular target out. Heck, he and Illyria would probably be able to do it all on their own without any help from the other three.

"Just because you're afraid Daddy's Boy will be hurt…" he muttered lowly under his breath. He gave Lindsey a cheesy grin when the whelp glared at him, obviously having heard the comment. Illyria remained expressionless, but Angel had an irritated furrow between his eyes and Lorne- looked oddly disappointed. Spike's grin turned less cheesy and more sheepish when he looked at Lorne, then crossed his arms over his chest and glared at his feet. Why'd Lorne have to go and look at him like that? It wasn't as if it wasn't the truth!

He barely responded in the correct way when Lorne and Illyria said their goodbyes to head back to their respective homes. When it was just Angel, Lindsey, and him, he sighed dramatically and went to flop down on the couch. "Well, get to it my little Dynamo!" he made shooing motions at Lindsey. "Go find us that weak spot we need to finish this job! Chop Chop!" he then grabbed the remote and turned the TV up loudly.

Lindsey just shook his head and went into the office. Angel, just glared some more, but then disappeared- he didn't know where. Yeah, that's what he thought. Lindsey might be cowed by the poof, but not Spike! No bloody way!

# # #

Hours later, Lindsey sat at the computer, a slight headache forming between his eyes. He hadn't been able to find anything different than he'd found before. Sighing softly, he turned toward the door as Angel stuck his head in.

"I'm heading over to Lorne's. Do you have a performance tonight?" Angel asked curiously.

"No, I have one tomorrow night." Lindsey answered in the typical drawl he got when he was tired or thinking of something he shouldn't. Angel gave him a stern look.

"Go take a nap. The research will wait a few more hours. You look beat." The vampire deliberately phrased it as an order, not wanting the kid to have any wiggle room with the request. He'd put in a call to Giles and was expecting back up to arrive in approximately two days. He didn't want his own team too wore out to do the job, after he'd bit back his pride and asked for help.

"Sir! Yes, sir!" Lindsey mock saluted, then stood up and stretched walking past Angel into the living room where Spike was still curled up on the couch. The TV had thankfully been turned down at some point, but other than that it didn't appear the blonde vampire had moved since he'd plopped himself down earlier in the day.

"You two boys behave yourselves!" Angel called over his shoulder as he left the house. Lindsey scratched behind his ear as Spike snorted.

"You know at least one of us will be a good little boy!" he remarked sourly. Lindsey glared at him.

"What the hell is your problem?!" He asked in frustration. Spike had been needling him all day long, making comments about his age and his behavior. He had thought Spike accepted him at the least even if he didn't like him, but he was beginning to wonder if he'd gotten that wrong.

"Who me? Why would I have a problem? Just because Nancy boy has decided that we're too weak to take on a target that I could take on all by myself…" Spike shrugged. "It's obvious he thinks you can't pull your weight and he doesn't want to embarrass you with the fact."

"I can too pull my weight!" Lindsey replied hotly, narrowing his eyes at Spike, suspecting some type of trick, but not certain where it would be coming from.

"Hey, you don't have to convince me, mate! I know you can do whatever is needed, and there is no need to worry so much about you. Angel is the one ya gotta convince. For some reason, he's decided you need to be treated like spun glass." Spike smirked, leaning back into the couch and watching the younger man. For being such a smart and suave lawyer, Lindsey was incredibly easy to manipulate.

"But I don't…." Lindsey sputtered, then huffed in annoyance. "It doesn't matter anyway. He's all but forbidden us to do anything. I don't wanna get on the outs with him again…." Lindsey ran a hand through his hair in frustration, wishing that Angel hadn't directly said no.

"Yeah, that's tough, what with you having to obey him like a little boy and all…" Spike chuckled at the annoyed look on Lindsey's face.

"I don't HAVE to do anything…" Lindsey muttered.

"No? You mean you'd actually disobey him if you thought everything would work out for the best and you could prove to him he doesn't need to worry about you so much?" Spike tried to make his voice sound nonchalant and curious and not like he was trying to coerce the young man into anything. He wasn't sure he was successful, since Lindsey shot him a suspicious glance, but the kid nodded slowly.

"Yeah, if I knew I could do something and it wouldn't cause problems, I would do something he told me not to do. I just do what he says cuz he usually is right…" Lindsey tried to sound confident, although the amused look Spike shot him made him think he hadn't succeeded very well.

"Yeah, I'll believe it when I see it. You could help me take care of that target Angel said to leave alone with no problems at all, and it would help a lot of people, but you won't disobey him. You ain't got it in you to stand on your own feet, half-pint." Spike mocked, then shook his head sadly and turned back towards the TV, watching Lindsey out of the corner of his eye.

Lindsey was standing stiffly, fists clenching and unclenching while he stared a hole into the floor. When the kid finally looked up, he had a determined look on his face, even if his eyes had a bit of trepidation in them. "Let's do it then. If you're so positive you and I can do it on our own- then let's do it and prove to him that he doesn't need to worry so much…."

Spike felt a burst of elation, before a tiny niggling guilt tried to worm itself into the equation. He shoved the guilt down and grinned at Lindsey. "That's the spirit! We'll take out this big bad and be back before Angel even knows what's going on! After tonight, he'll know he doesn't have to worry about you so much and you'll get to move up to the big boy table!" He smacked Lindsey on the back, grinning as the younger man stumbled forward a couple of inches and glared at him.

"Yeah, yeah… let's just go and get this over with before I decide it ain't such a good idea anymore…." Lindsey muttered, heading to where they kept their weapons.

"Okay, squirt" Spike chuffed, while wondering if maybe he wasn't already having second thoughts himself.

# # #

"Where do I run! What have I done?
I feel so bad I feel so numb yeah!"
Feel So Numb by Rob Zombie


"Stupid, stupid, stupid…" Lindsey muttered lowly under his breath, letting his head fall forward to hang limply against his chest. His arms were chained above his body in such a way that he was forced to stand on tiptoe- or hang by the manacles on his wrist. He seemed to be having difficulty breathing.

Spike was chained on the opposite wall in the exact same position. He grimaced, examining the younger man as well as he could, given the circumstances. He agreed with the boy, though he wouldn't say anything of the sort yet. It really had been a monumentally stupid move on their part.

The early part of their excursion had started out easily enough. They'd gotten the weapons they'd need, Lindsey had driven to the location of their mark, and they'd snuck into the building. Spike should have known things were going way too smoothly. When they'd seen their mark, sitting on the couch watching TV with no body guards in sight, Spike had rubbed his hands together gleefully. This was going to be the simplest take down in history. Angel would definitely be eating his words.

Lindsey hadn't looked quite as gleeful, a concerned frown marring his face. "Something's not right. It feels wrong…" he'd whispered. Spike had ignored the kids concerns however. HE didn't sense anything wrong in the least, and it wasn't like Lindsey had latent abilities that surpassed Spike's own vampiric senses, was it?

If they got out of this mess alive, Spike made a note to himself to listen to Lindsey's "gut feelings" next time. It turned out the kid was right. There had been something very wrong with the situation. The mark had turned toward them when they'd snuck into the room, closing the door softly behind them so that they could muffle whatever noises were made and not draw the attention of the guards. Unfortunately, the guards already knew they were there. Spike and Lindsey were swarmed by guards sliding out of a hidden panel. They were quickly surrounded and unable to escape. Spike didn't know what had happened after that initial surprise, as he'd watched Lindsey fall from a well aimed kick to the head- and then everything went black for himself as well.

When he opened his eyes next, they were in their current predicament- chained to a wall in a dark cell with no apparent exit or entrance. His gaze shot toward his cohort. The kid's breathing was becoming more labored and while the darkness of the cell didn't leave a lot of room to make a good diagnoses, his vampire sight could pick up enough clues that he knew the kid would be lucky if he didn't have a concussion and some broken ribs.

"It isn't that bad Sport," Spike tried to sound optimistic; tried to make certain that the kid didn't actually fall into unconsciousness again. If there was a concussion, then wasn't he supposed to make sure the kid didn't sleep? Spike frowned when he didn't get a response right away and spoke up louder.

"Angel will be here soon enough- you'll probably be wishing to be hung up in those chains by the time he's done with you!" Spike needled. Optimism and cheerfulness weren't his forte after all. If he wanted to succeed in keep the kid's mind off of how badly he hurt or keep the kid awake, then he needed to go with what he was best at- being obnoxious.

Lindsey looked up just long enough to give Spike an irritated glare and a foul directive that Spike was pretty sure would have gotten the kid's mouth washed out with soap if the wrong person heard. Spike chuckled lowly. If the kid was still able to get irritated, then things weren't hopeless yet.

# # #

Angel was furious; worried and furious. Giles had called shortly after he'd gotten to Lorne's and informed him that there were actually 4 slayers in LA who would be available to help as soon as they were needed. Illyria had been at the bar as well, so he'd let Lorne and her in on the good news right away. He'd then attempted to call Spike- figuring that the sooner the blonde knew the news, the less likely he would be to go off and do something stupid. When he couldn't reach Spike, he'd tried to call Lindsey. The fact that neither one of the men answered their cell phones caused Angel's gut to churn.

He'd quickly gotten Lorne and Illyria to come back to the house with him, in hopes that maybe the two were just watching a movie or in Lindsey's case, sleeping. He'd also called the slayers in question and asked them to meet at the house as well. If the two miscreants were there, then they'd get everyone ready and head over to finish the mark tonight. If the two weren't, then he suspected he and the others would be running a rescue operation. Of course, the two weren't there.

They'd quickly driven to the building where their mark was- and found Lindsey's truck hidden in a back corner. He'd really hoped the kid had learned his lesson about disobeying direct orders- especially when doing so put his life in danger- but it looked like some lessons needed to be taught more than once to be fully effective. He pressed his lips together tightly, narrowing his eyes as he tried not to think about what could be happening to HIS kid at this moment. He could only assume Spike was with Lindsey. As much as the blonde griped about the boy, he wouldn't have let him go into something like this alone; especially when Spike had been so eager to go, himself.

The group had quickly come up with a plan of attack and moved into the building. Angel hadn't been wrong. Just four of them would not have been able to take on all the minions of their current target- but even two slayers added to the mix had evened things up. Four slayers had put the fight decidedly in the good guys favor.

If Spike and Lindsey had actually stayed away like they were supposed to, then they would have been able to join in the current battle and things would have been over very quickly. Now…not only had Lindsey and Spike been unable to participate in the battle, Angel and the rest of the group had to search through a labyrinth of rooms in order to try and find the two delinquents. He could only hope that they hadn't been moved to another location, because if they had- he had no clue where to begin looking for them.

"Hey, Angel! I think I found them!" Sally- one of the smaller slayers shouted, then pointed down a hallway before running down it herself. Angel quickly followed.

# # #

Lindsey was having a very difficult time focusing, even with Spike's constant monologue. Every now and then, he'd be able to force his head up long enough to look in Spike's direction, but most of the time it took all his effort to be able to raise himself up on his toes high enough to relieve the pressure on his diaphragm and be able to take in a breath of air. He regretted allowing Spike to goad him into this trip, immensely. Truthfully, he'd regretted it the minute he'd said yes, but his pride hadn't let him back down after agreeing to it. He'd be lucky if Angel didn't skin him alive once he had gotten them out of this mess; if he got them out of this mess. Lindsey swallowed, then winced as a cough caused his arms to wrench in their restraints.

He had known something was wrong with the situation. He'd felt it. But he'd gone along with Spike anyway- not believing that he'd pick up on something the vampire would miss. Maybe he should mention it to Angel, if he got the chance. With all the magic and supernatural things he'd been exposed to, maybe something had developed. Or maybe the Powers-That-Be had a weird sense of humor. It was something to think about anyway. Something other than how badly his head hurt, how much he wanted to be able to breathe normally, how scared he actually was….

"Stupid, stupid, stupid…" he muttered under his breath yet again. How stupid could he be to let Spike cajole him into doing something he knew was too dangerous; even without Angel having said it was too dangerous. To make it worse, he and Spike had probably ruined whatever chances they had to get the mark- since he now had warning that someone was gunning for him. The warning would probably give the mark all the time needed to prepare for attack or find a new hideout. The sleaze would still be able to go around taking children and…. Lindsey cringed and tried to force himself not to think about it. The guilt weighed on him heavily and he dropped his head forward onto his chest, hanging limply, the manacles cutting into his wrists.

# # #

Sally had stopped at the end of the hallway, where it opened onto a fairly decent sized room. There was nothing in the room, but on the floor was a large trapdoor with a fairly complicated looking lock system. Angel growled, looking at the lock. "I don't suppose any of you have experience with this type of lock?" He asked, worry lacing his words.

"Actually…" Trish, a tall redhead that had followed Angel into the room, held up a piece of paper and a ring of keys. "I found these on one of the guards- maybe this will help?" She grinned as Angel grabbed the paper out of her hands, his eyes hopefully scanning the writing on it.

"If this works, I owe you a new crossbow…" He exclaimed before quickly moving to the keypad that was next to the lock. Quickly keying in the information, he waited anxiously to see if the red light on the lock turned green. Everyone exhaled in relief when it did.

Angel quickly turned the lock and lifted the trapdoor before looking down into the hole created. "They're there," he breathed out, then held out his hand for the key ring. No one objected when he jumped down into the hole himself, busying themselves with trying to find a ladder or some other method of getting the men back out of their prison.

# # #

Spike, looked up quickly at the sound of Angel landing in the center of the cell. Angel had quickly moved to him and undone the manacles around his wrists before moving to Lindsey.

"He's having problems breathing…" he stated, probably unnecessarily as it was obvious that Lindsey's breathing was not normal. He quickly and carefully wrapped an arm around the younger man, bracing him and holding him up while Angel unlocked him.

He was just about to ask Angel how they should best get Lindsey out without hurting him further, when a ladder was lowered from the ceiling. Wordlessly, Angel took Lindsey into his own arms and then carefully made his way up the ladder. Spike followed behind, adding a bit of extra support and balance, since Angel had his hands full.

When they were finally up top and Spike was able to look at his friend in bright light, the guilt washed over him, like a tsunami. The kid looked horrible. Spike could only hope that it looked worse than it actually was.

Angel looked at his charge determining what needed to be done for him first. When he finally decided that there was nothing he could do himself to help, he gently picked the kid up and started heading back toward the front of the building where the vehicles were parked. "Lorne, if you could please make certain that our friends are given a ride back to their lodging- and anything else they might need? You can take my car. Illyria, if you could make certain Spike gets back to his apartment? I'll take Lindsey to the ER, get him checked out. If he has to stay, I'll call- otherwise we can meet at the house tomorrow morning." With those last words, he carefully buckled Lindsey up in the truck, then went around and hopped into the driver's side using the spare key Lindsey had made for him after the kid had moved in with him. He quickly left for the hospital.

# # #

"Never did I wanna be here again
And I don't remember why I came."
- Voodoo by Godsmack


Spike huffed in annoyance. He'd stayed at his apartment after Illyria had dropped him off, not wanting to hear Angel's recriminations. However, by the time noon had rolled around and he still hadn't heard from the Brooding-Menace or the Boy-Wonder he'd had to admit that he was worried. He'd made his way through the sewers to the house and let himself in through the basement only to discover neither Angel nor Lindsey had returned.

"No news is good news?" he muttered hopefully, going into the living room and turning on the TV. He kept the sound down low so that he could hear any vehicles arriving.

Spike slouched down onto the couch, putting his booted feet up onto the coffee table, a scowl on his face. He hated to admit it, but he felt really guilty about what had happened to the whelp. Lindsey wouldn't have even been in the building to be captured, if Spike hadn't badgered him into making the fool hardy decision. It had been obvious the kid wanted to follow Angel's directive- until Spike had needled him about it. Granted- the child really did need to develop a thicker skin and not let teasing change his mind for him…but Spike had years on the whelp and knew how to play on people's emotions and insecurities. Heck, he even got to Angel occasionally.

"Why should I feel guilty that he gave in to my teasing? Not like I forced him or anything…" Spike muttered to himself.

Huffing again, loudly, despite no one being around to hear him, Spike got off the couch and went to get himself some blood. It had been a long day. As he glanced out the window, watching the setting sun, he wondered if the night was going to be just as long.

# # #

"You were lucky," Angel remonstrated, as he drove Lindsey home from the hospital the next evening.

By the time scrapes and cuts had been bandaged; tests, x-rays, and scans had been performed; and they'd done the requisite sitting and waiting while more urgent cases were taken care of, they'd spent the rest of the night, the next morning, and a large part of the following afternoon in the emergency room. The doctors had determined that Lindsey only had a mild concussion and severe bruising- nearly a day after Spike and Lindsey had made their ill-fated decision to go after the mark on their own.

Angel had taken Lindsey down to the hospital cafeteria to get something to eat. By the time the younger man had forced himself to eat the sandwich and fruit given to him- Angel's stern gaze preventing him from attempting to worm his way out of eating- the sun was setting. Angel had bundled him into the truck and thus began what felt like the longest trek of Lindsey's life.

"I know," Lindsey whispered. Angel glanced at the boy. The kid's posture, facial expression, his entire demeanor screamed of guilt and trepidation. Yeah. The kid knew he'd messed up and he knew what was coming. Angel turned his eyes back to the road.

"You got anything to say for yourself?" the vampire asked calmly, curious to see if the brat would try and talk his way out of a well-deserved punishment.

"No, sir," Lindsey said softly, the slow drawl catching a bit at the end. Angel blinked, then glanced at the kid again, noticing how Lindsey was withdrawing into himself. Well, that wouldn't do at all. Better to take care of things as soon as they got home then.

# # #

Spike sat up quickly when he heard the truck pulling up into the driveway. Almost without thought, he'd opened the front door and made his way out to the vehicle to see for himself how his partner in crime was. Angel was hovering over him in case he needed help, but the kid was moving on his own steam. The fact Lindsey wasn't arguing about Angel's hovering was a bit surprising.

"So, what's the verdict?" Spike crossed his arms over his chest and tried to look as if he didn't really care. Angel just eyed him with a knowing, if exasperated, look.

"He has a mild concussion and severe bruising. He'll be sore and stiff for a while, but as long as he takes it easy, there should hopefully not be any complications…." Angel said that last toward Lindsey, who was just shuffling his way into the house. The kid didn't appear to notice Angel's indirect order. Spike frowned thoughtfully.

"What's up with pipsqueak?" he asked Angel curiously, before he thought about what just might be bothering the younger man. His eyes narrowed as he watched Angel walk in after the upstart. He followed both of them in, but before he could follow Lindsey back to his room, Angel put a hand on his chest, pushing him back toward the living room.

"Not now Spike. Wait for me in there and we'll talk about things once I've taken care of Lindsey." His voice left no room for argument, and for once in his undead life, Spike listened.

"Yeah, ok…I'll just wait in here then…" he said hesitantly, watching as Angel walked back to join Lindsey. The now familiar twinge grew stronger, even as the not-so-familiar sense of guilt joined it.

# # #

Angel was sitting in the recliner that had quickly become "his" when Lindsey walked out of the bathroom and into his bedroom. The younger man had changed into his sleep pants and a flimsy tank top that did little to cover the dark bruising that covered his upper body. Angel frowned unhappily, hating what he was about to do- but knowing that he couldn't put it off. The kid looked like he was devastated. He'd heal a lot better if his emotions weren't dragging him down. Angel sighed, looking down and running a hand over his face.

When he looked up again, Lindsey was standing in front of him, gaze lowered to the ground, his hands fidgeting from in front of his stomach to crossed over his chest, to hanging down by his side. The kid was biting his lower lip hard enough to draw blood. Gently, Angel reached up and rubbed his thumb over the abused lip, startling Lindsey into looking at him. "Stop hurting yourself Lin…" he admonished lightly.

"Sorry," Lindsey whispered, making a conscious effort to not bite himself. He took a deep breath and then said with a quivery voice, "I'm so sorry for everything…." He turned bright red and reached up to brush at his eyes, ashamed that he was already crying and Angel hadn't said or done anything.

Angel slanted his head and asked softly, "What are you sorry for Lindsey?"

Swallowing thickly, Lindsey straightened his shoulders, grimacing at the soreness, and looked Angel in the eyes. Even with the heavy drawl, he spoke clearly and sincerely. "I'm sorry I disobeyed you... that I went to that building when I knew it was a bad idea… that I could have caused the…the mark to get away and he would be able to hur..hurt more children." Lindsey swallowed again harshly, taking a shaky breath. It was obvious to Angel that the majority of the guilt Lindsey was feeling was due to what could have happened if the mark had gotten away. The kid was quite able to see where others were important. Angel only wished Lindsey could see how important HE was.

Lindsey continued, "I'm sorry I let my pride make my decision for me…." With that the boy dropped his eyes again, letting his hair fall over his face like a curtain.

Angel gently brushed the hair from the kids face, then tilted his chin upward with a finger so Lindsey was looking at him again.

"So what do you think should be done now, kiddo?" Angel asked softly.

Lindsey blinked back more tears, visibly keeping reign on his emotions. "I disobeyed a direct order…twice if you count that I didn't take that nap…" Lindsey frowned slightly, wishing he'd taken the nap. Maybe then he would have been in a better frame of mind not to give in to Spikes teasing. "How… how long will I be grounded for?" He asked quietly.

Angel nodded, surprised that Lindsey included the nap as part of his disobedience. Angel had actually forgotten about that in all the anxiety and worry over the child's health. "This isn't your first offence with breaking this rule- so I'd say two weeks grounding for disobeying the order for a nap and another two weeks for disobeying and going to that building alone."

Lindsey nodded. Angel couldn't tell if the look of relief was because the grounding hadn't been longer or if it was because Lindsey finally had some consequences to focus on. The kid stood quietly for a few seconds looking like he wanted to say something else, but wasn't sure how to do it. Angel patiently waited, wondering if the boy would have the nerve to bring up the last rule he'd broken. He smiled as Lindsey took another deep breath and swallowed, before looking back into Angel's eyes.

"I broke the rule about putting myself in danger," he winced as he softly spoke the words- knowing what it meant. "I…I n..need to be spanked…" he blushed at the choice of words he'd used, but couldn't take them back now. He dropped his gaze back toward his feet, afraid that he'd see disappointment and censor in Angel's eyes.

"Lindsey," Angel gently lifted the kid's face to look into his eyes again. "You know I will always give you what you need…" he spoke softly, then smiled and gently squeezed the boy's chin. "I'm proud of you for admitting it though…."

Angel blinked as his words caused the younger man to lose the fragile control he had over his emotions- the boy began to cry, first quietly, then not so quietly as he repeated over and over how sorry he was. Deciding he needed to finish this NOW, Angel guided the boy over to the bed. Sitting down, he drew the youngster between his knees, quickly lowering his sleep pants before draping him over one leg. It didn't take him long to fall into a pattern of quick, yet firm smacks against the exposed backside.

SMACK, SMACK, SMACK, SMACK, SMACK, SMACK, SMACK…. "You know better than to deliberately put yourself in danger. Especially when you've been told NOT to do something and there is no logical reason for you to go against that order!" Angel admonished gently, the young man's sobs tugging at his heart.

SMACK, SMACK, SMACK, SMACK, SMACK, SMACK, SMACK…. "You're as close to a son as it is possible for me to have, Lindsey." Angel hadn't thought the child could cry any harder, but that declaration proved him wrong. Lindsey's sobbing became harder and louder. It was time to finish up.

SMACK, SMACK, SMACK, SMACK, SMACK, SMACK, SMACK, SMACK, SMACK…. "PLEASE don't make me have to do this again." Angel ended with that final plea, before stopping.

When it became obvious Lindsey wasn't going to be able to calm down on his own, Angel quickly righted the boy's clothing, then gently picked him up and sat him on his lap, wrapping his arms around the kid and holding him close, whispering "I'm proud of you son, it will be alright. Everything turned out alright. You'll be fine…" over and over in his ear.

Lindsey couldn't help himself and snuggled as close as he could, the feeling of safety and security soothing frayed nerves. Slowly, he calmed, the sobs turning into quiet crying, then sniffling… then…. Snoring.

Angel chuckled slightly before standing and carefully putting his wayward child onto his stomach in the bed. He pulled the cover up over him. Reaching down, he allowed himself to run fingers through the boy's hair in a gentle caress. He then turned and quietly left the room, pulling the door closed behind him. He had a few choice words to say to Spike, and he didn't want to wake Lindsey with the row that was sure to occur.

# # #

Spike sat in the living room, clenching his teeth and his fists. Damn Angel, couldn't he have waited until after he chewed Spike out to punish the whelp? Spike could hear every smack and the sobs- the boy sounded as if he was being killed, or his heart were breaking. Maybe both. Spike ran his hand through his hair, making it stand up messily.

"Kid doesn't deserve a spanking," Spike muttered. "He was just going along with his big brother is all. He can't help that I'm so persuasive…" Spike put his elbows on his knees, then propped his face up in his hands. He felt…guilt. That's what he felt. Guilty. The poor whelp was having his butt blistered for something that was Spike's idea. That just wasn't fair. Although….

Spike sat up straighter, a horrified look in his eyes. Angel wouldn't…. he glanced down the hallway as the sobbing got impossibly louder. Wincing, he blinked his eyes. Poor kid…Spike felt horrible for him. Sighing softly, he slumped back down into the couch again. At least the smacking had stopped, even if the crying hadn't.

# # #

When Angel finally exited the room and walked back to the living room, Spike had regained some control over his traitorous emotions. He was sitting on the couch with his arms crossed over his chest and a sneer on his face.

Angel stood over him, eyes flashing in restrained anger. "You will NOT torment, tease, or in any other way cajole that boy to do something he's been ordered not to do. Just because you know his weaknesses does not mean you get to use them against him in an effort to get your own way- especially not when the only reason you are doing it is to one-up ME!" Angel's voice rose at the end. He reached down and pulled Spike to his feet, staring into Spike's eyes.

Spike felt the guilt worm through his heart. It was times like this, he regretted obtaining his soul back. The guilt eating at him and making him acknowledge what a ponce he'd been. There had been no reason to egg Lindsey on to do such a dangerous mission, especially not when Angel had said not to. Just because he was jealous of the attention the brat got from Spike's grand-sire. Spike felt a surge of anger at himself for letting jealousy rule over him- then he felt a surge of anger at Angel for punishing the kid so harshly for something that Spike had instigated. He allowed that anger to dictate his words.

"Yeah, fine. No more teasing, cajoling or doing anything else to corrupt the little twerp." Spike smirked to Angel's face.

"We'll both be good little boys from now on, yeah?" Spike needled Angel. "So you done chiding me 'Daddy'?"

Angel frowned, having expected more of a fight from the blonde. "For now," he muttered, sensing something in the younger vampire but unable to put his finger on what it was. Spike just rolled his eyes then grabbed his jacket and headed out the front door.

As he pulled the door shut behind him, Spike sighed. He didn't really want to go back to an empty apartment right now. It would just invite brooding over the guilt he felt. He wanted a distraction. Lorne's bar was as good a place as any. Grumbling to himself about over protective vampires and their mortal children, Spike began walking. If he felt somewhat bitter that Angel hadn't taken him in hand for his actions he didn't acknowledge it. He'd find some way to make it up to Lindsey. Maybe then he could stop feeling so damn guilty about everything.

# # #

"It's all a bad dream,
Spinning in your lonely head"
Down Poison by 3 Doors Down


Lorne raised an eyebrow as he watched the man currently singing a very drunk version of Billy Idol's Rebel Yell. He pulled out his cell phone and called his number one brooder with a bit of trepidation.

"Is there any reason 'Blondie Bear' would be really depressed and guilty? Lindsey is alright isn't he???"

"Well that's what I'm seeing- there are some elements of jealousy- but the over-all theme is depressed guilt. You're lucky I didn't allow myself to panic when he first started singing. Since you NEVER CALLED and told me how the kid was doing. For all I knew something horrible had happened and Spike was blaming himself."

"Oh you did? Well, what did you do to Spike?"

"What do you mean you didn't do anything???" Lorne frowned, pulling the phone away from his ear and stared at it, shaking his head as if unable to believe what he was hearing. Putting it back to his ear, he sighed. "Angel, get your broody butt over here. We need to talk."

He hung up without giving the vampire a chance to argue with him.

# # #

"Broody butt…" Angel muttered under his breath for the hundredth time, as he pulled into a parking space by the club. "I'm not broody…why does everyone think I'm broody?"

Getting out and locking the doors, he went in through the back door, quickly finding Lorne at their usual table. Lorne already had a glass of blood waiting for him. Glancing toward the bar area, Angel could see Spike drinking the vampires' version of a Bloody Mary.

Sitting down, he glanced at Lorne warily. "Ok. I've got Illyria staying with Lindsey in case he wakes up and needs something- but given that she was standing over his bed just staring at him as I left," Angel got a strange look on his face as he tried to figure out the one-time goddess' actions, "I'd rather not be gone too long…."

Lorne smiled slightly, nodding his head toward Spike. "You aren't doing him any favors you know."

Angel looked confused. "What do you mean?"

Lorne rolled his eyes in exasperation. "Let me guess. You went all parental unit on Lindsey, made sure he got what was coming to him, and then made sure he knew he was forgiven and everything was alright? Correct?" Lorne hadn't been witness to Angel's disciplining methods, but he'd overheard enough conversations to piece the facts together. He didn't wait for Angel to reply. "If I were to listen to him sing right now, I might sense a little lingering embarrassment that he got in trouble, but overall there wouldn't be anything negative hanging around his aura."

Angel shrugged, unsure where Lorne was going with the conversation. He didn't have to wait long to find out.

"So why haven't you done the same for Spike?" Lorne questioned him as if it was a forgone conclusion that he should do the same for Spike. Angel blinked in confusion.

"What do you mean? Spike's an adult. I can tell him what to do, but if he chooses not to do it- there's not much I can do about…." Angel faltered and stalled when he saw Lorne's glare.

"Lindsey is an adult too. If that is your reason for not expecting Spike to tow the line, then you've got a pretty big double standard, big guy!" Lorne berated him.

"Well, yeah," Angel tried to defend himself. "Lindsey is an adult…by mortal standards. He's only in his thirties though- compared to how old Spike is- he IS a child."

Lorne huffed. "Angel- he is only a child where YOU are concerned. Don't be fooled that he'd allow anyone else to order him around or punish him for disobedience. He allows you to get away with it because you act like a father to him- something he needs, even if he doesn't exactly recognize the need. If you were honest with yourself, you'd see that Spike needs that as well; maybe more so."

Angel looked flabbergasted at his green friend. "Ok, you might be right about Lindsey- but why in the world would you think Spike would want, let alone need, me to act like a father towards him???"

"Because you are his father; his grand-sire if I'm not mistaken! Just because he was a pain in your arse for the last however many decades, doesn't change the fact that you are family! He's jealous! He sees that you've adopted a mortal 'child' and that you're forming a family with said 'child' and he feels like he doesn't belong. You are treating him differently than Lindsey- when they both broke your direct order and both put themselves in a dangerous situation. But apparently, you just told him not to trick Lindsey anymore and let the rest go. He thinks you don't care what happens to him- and from where I'm sitting, it seems like maybe he is right. Tell me I'm wrong!" Lorne glared at his clueless friend.

Angel blinked, looking like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming bus. "I… that…." He swallowed and ran a hand through his hair in agitation. "That's not true. But I can see how you would think it was…"he sighed. "Angelus used to punish him when he disobeyed a direct order. He'd beat him to where he couldn't move, or he'd use various other tortures. I…I guess I just felt like I couldn't expect him to follow my orders or give him consequences for not following them because of how Angelus treated him. I don't want him to look at me with loathing... we've just finally gotten to the point where we can actually look at each other as friends!" Angel looked at Lorne imploringly.

Lorne looked back, sympathy in his eyes. "Peaches, you are NOT Angelus, and I think Spike knows that. Do you consider what you do to Lindsey beating him? Or torturing him? Do you consider it to be unfair to him, in any way?"

Angel shook his head hesitantly. "No…I'm always as careful as I can be that I don't harm him. And if he ever refused, I wouldn't force the issue…"

Lorne smirked slightly. "You don't think you'd be able to treat Spike the same way? Or that Spike wouldn't refuse if he felt you were being unfair?" Angel blinked, realizing that if he ever stepped over the line, Spike would be the first one to call him on it.

The vampire glanced at his blonde grand-childe again, noting that the man was almost on the verge of passing out from his drinking. "So you think Spike needs his grand-daddy back?" his eyes narrowed slightly as he resolved himself to take care of the rest of his family.

"Sure as I can be about anything Sugar-Pop." Lorne smiled slightly. "Now get him home before he does something stupid, or you have to carry him out."

"Yes, sir!" Angel mocked saluted, then stood up to go get Spike. He turned toward Lorne one last time. "Thanks Lorne."

"Anytime, Cupcake." Lorne made shooing motions. Angel smiled again and walked toward the drunken vampire. Spike was probably going to regret coming to Lorne's bar, once Angel got done with him. But if Lorne was right- Angel was very glad he did.

# # #

Spike looked out the car window not saying anything as Angel drove, until Angel pulled into the driveway and Spike noticed that they weren't at his apartment. "What's this now?" he asked in confusion. "I thought you were taking me home?" his words were still slightly slurred, but he sounded much clearer and in control of himself than he had when Angel first drug him out of the bar.

"I am taking you home," Angel stated, giving Spike a long look that made the blonde squirm in place. "Come on then, out of the car and into the house. You and I have a bit of things to discuss." Spike cringed slightly, the tone of Angel's voice sounded ominous.

"Fine," he muttered and got out of the car, heading up to the house. "Don't know what else you could possibly say though. You already told me to leave Lindsey alone…" he grumbled unhappily, the jealousy and guilt causing him to be snappish in his responses.

Angel didn't remark on the tone of Spike's words, but raised an eyebrow when he realized that Lorne had been right. With that realization, his resolve to follow through on his decision became stronger and he confidently took Spike's arm, leading him to the guestroom.

Illyria was standing outside the bathroom and Lindsey was just exiting when Angel walked Spike by. Lindsey sighed. "I told ya, ya didn't hafta stand outside the door an wait for me, Lyri…" the kid mumbled, then made his way back to his room.

Illyria slanted her head, looking at Angel. "Do you need me to stay and 'babysit' longer?" She ignored Lindsey's dirty look and huffed out, "Hey!"

Angel smiled. "No. Thank you Illyria. I've got everything under control now. You can leave." The blue woman, nodded once then left. Angel waited until he heard the front door close, before pushing Spike into the guest room. "You. Corner. You will not step out of the corner until I tell you otherwise."

Spike debated arguing, but there was an odd look in Angel's eyes that caused him to rethink his objection. Shrugging slightly, as if trying to act as if he wasn't a bit spooked by his grand-sire's behavior, he walked the rest of the way into the guestroom and went to stand in the only available empty corner.

Lindsey blinked owlishly as he watched Spike disappear, then looked at Angel curiously. Angel smiled slightly. "Go back to your room Lindsey, try and sleep if you can. Spike and I are going to have a bit of a 'conversation'." Angel went to the front door to lock it, expecting that the kid would listen to what he said.

Lindsey's eyes widened as he picked up on the subtext of Angel's words; he quickly went back into his room and lay down on his bed.

Meanwhile, Spike had heard Angel's words and was debating if he could make it out the bedroom window and down the street before Angel made it back to the room and discovered him gone. Surely Angel couldn't mean to….he was too bloody old! He'd passed his first century eons ago! He…Spike swallowed, realizing he'd stayed in one place debating escape for too long- his opportunity was now gone. Angel stood in the doorway.

Spike cursed his vampire healing as the last remnants of the alcohol left his system. He wasn't sure he wanted to face the man looking at him right now, sober. Forcing his shoulders back and standing straighter, Spike made to turn around.

"I haven't said you could leave the corner yet." Angel said softly. Spike stopped immediately, recognizing the steel in the other vampires tone. He shot Angel a worried look, before facing the corner again.

"I want you to think about what you did yesterday; what happened; what could have happened. And after you've thought about it, I want you to explain to me how it wasn't the wrong thing to do and how you don't deserve to be punished- just like your little brother was." Angel smiled slightly as he noted that the blonde's posture stiffened and that the man was swallowing convulsively.

Spike wanted to refuse. He wasn't a child. Angel had no right to order him about! But he couldn't seem to bring himself to fight the other vampire. Thinking about his actions and how they'd contributed to the situation they'd ended up in- if he'd had an inkling that he and Lindsey would be caught and that Lindsey would be hurt…he wouldn't have done any of what he did. He wanted to be able to explain that he didn't deserve to be punished, but he'd already recognized that it wasn't fair that he hadn't been. He somewhat wished that Angel hadn't recognized the fact- and what in the world got the brooding do-gooder to pay attention and take notice of Spike anyway? "Ugh, s'what I get for going to bloody Lorne's bar!" he thought belatedly.

Spike sighed softly, knowing he'd already resigned himself to his fate the minute Angel picked him up at the bar. The fact that he wouldn't be treated any different than the whelp was actually a good thing- considering he felt like he deserved twenty times worse.

Meanwhile, Angel had been observing Spike, waiting for the sign that the vampire had realized his transgression and wouldn't fight him on the consequences. Angel intended to begin taking a more active role in Spike's life, but it would do no good if the vampire didn't recognize a need for it, or accept it. When he saw and heard the soft sigh, he smiled crookedly and walked over to the blonde.

"Alright, Spike," he said softly. "What do you have to say for yourself?"

Spike turned around slowly, looking at Angel morosely. "I know teasing Lindsey wasn't a good idea. I used his weaknesses against him. Friends….family isn't supposed to do that," he wrinkled his nose in irritation at himself. "Things got really out of hand because I convinced him to go against orders. He…maybe even both of us…could have died. We were both lucky…" Spike blinked, forcing himself to stand taller and continue. "I can't say I don't deserve to be punished. It's not fair that the brat got in trouble and I didn't, since a large part of it was my fault." He whispered the last, hating to admit guilt in anything- but hating feeling guilty about it worse.

"Glad to hear it." Angel nodded briskly. "So to make things fair- you're grounded for the next two weeks for disobeying a direct order to not go after the mark before I said it was time." Angel continued quickly, seeing the question in Spike's eyes. "You get another two weeks of grounding because I told you to be good- and instead you teased, cajoled, and badgered Lindsey until he was willing to go against his better judgment and disobey me. I don't consider that being 'good'." Angel smirked at the look of surprise on Spike's face.

"So I don't get any leniency for not knowing I was supposed to be following the same rules as the kid?" he sputtered.

Angel narrowed his eyes. "I think the fact that you knew what rules Lindsey was supposed to be following and you deliberately worked to get him not to follow them- means you don't deserve any leniency. Wouldn't you agree?" Spike, swallowed then reluctantly nodded his head.

Angel straightened up and put on his sternest expression. To his annoyance, Spike found himself reacting like a child caught in the act of misbehavior, who knew they were about to 'get it'.

"When you went into that building with only Lindsey as back-up, you deliberately put yourself at risk. You are only immortal to a degree- it is still possible to hurt you, and if the mark had wanted to- you could have easily been dust before we were able to get in and rescue you." Angel frowned, his resolve to follow through growing as each word reminded him of how close he'd come to losing not only the kid down the hall, but his annoying grand-childe. "Putting yourself in unnecessary danger earns you a trip over my knee." His voice allowed no room for argument. That didn't mean Spike didn't try though.

Spike squawked, "No! You can't… I mean… yeah I know you did to the kid, but… I'm too bloody old to go over your knee!" he protested indignantly. Angel slanted his head and observed the blond thoughtfully. Maybe he should handle Spike's punishment in a slightly different way. Lindsey had never objected to going over his knee or being too old- then again, Lindsey knew how old Angel was and it was possible that the difference in their ages helped him accept that position more easily. Angel frowned slightly. The idea was to get Spike to take responsibility for his actions- not humiliate him.

"Would you prefer to lean over the back of the chair?" He asked calmly.

Spike blinked at being given a choice and hesitantly nodded. "Er…y..yes."

Angel, motioned toward the desk chair. "Fair enough. Drop your pants and bend over the chair then," he ordered, crossing his arms over his chest while he waited patiently.

Spike eyed the other vampire, trying to determine how serious he was. He grimaced and looked toward the chair. He didn't have to accept this. All he had to do was refuse. He knew Angel wouldn't force the issue. He glanced toward the direction of where Lindsey's room was, then sighed and slowly walked to the chair. Fair was fair…and Spike wanted to be fair.

"Can't bloody believe I'm letting this happen," he muttered to himself before pushing his jeans and briefs to the floor in one move. He leaned over the back of the chair and gripped onto the seat with his hands, closing his eyes tightly in anticipation of the first….

SMACK! Spike's eyes flew open wide and he yelped in shocked pain. Angel wasn't holding anything back, at all!

SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! Angel's hand moved randomly and sporadically, not allowing Spike to get any sense of pattern to prepare himself.

"Damn!" Spike spluttered, gasping out and trying his hardest to keep control of his traitorous emotions.

SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! "You do not put yourself in unnecessary danger. Ever!" Angel finally began to speak, giving Spike something to focus on beyond the burn that was building in his heated skin.

SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! "Whether you want to believe it or not, people care about you! We do not want to find your dusted remains, someday, because you're too damn stubborn to think about the risk to yourself!"

SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! "You are a part of this family- however odd or dysfunctional it may seem. And I am NOT going to allow you to continue to behave as if you are alone. You aren't Spike. If I have to remind you of that fact by tanning your backside for you whenever you forget- don't think I won't do it!" Angel warned before finishing up with a flurry of final swats.

SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! "Ah…I'm soooorry!" Spike cried out, Angel's words finally breaking through his defenses.

Angel stopped, stepping back and giving Spike room to lift himself off the chair. Putting his clothing right with a slight hiss, Spike furiously wiped at his eyes, unable to stop the tears. Only decades of learning how to deal with pain and emotions kept him from sobbing right now.

Sniffling softly, he glanced at Angel awkwardly. "Do you mean it?" he asked softly, trying not to seem too hopeful.

Angel, smiled gently and pulled the other vampire into his arms, hugging him tightly. "We are family Spike. You aren't alone. You just need to remember that…."

Spike nodded softly, putting his arms around his grand-sire and holding on tightly. "I really am sorry. I never meant to put the kid in danger…"

Angel sighed. "I know. You've been punished and I forgive you. Just…don't let your jealousy lead you to stop listening to your common sense, ok? As much as I dislike spanking naughty children, I won't hesitate to teach you a lesson whenever you need it." Angel grimaced.

Spike snorted out in surprise, then nodded. "Believe me. I'm going to do everything I can to avoid it ever happening in the future. I can't believe Lindsey let me tease him into doing something that would get him a second dose!" He shook his head in bemusement and stepped away from Angel.

"So…" he scratched at his ear, uncertain about what would happen next.

"So, I think you'll be moving in here now. If you can get out of your lease, that's great. If not, then we can use your apartment as a guest house for visiting slayers or other people." Angel began making plans to get his family under one roof, while Spike just raised one eyebrow in amusement and didn't argue.

"This will be your room, officially…" Angel continued. "I think maybe we'll need to move to a bigger house though. Maybe we can go house hunting later this week, once Lindsey's bruising starts to heal a little more…." The older vampire continued, walking out into the hallway.

Spike smirked slightly, feeling more at ease than he had in a long while. "Sounds like a plan, mate. Just- maybe tomorrow. I'm gonna get some sleep." With that he shut the door to his room, firmly in Angel's face. He smiled as he heard the other vampire snort loudly, then lay down- on his stomach- and closed his eyes. He had family- family that cared about him and expected the best from him. Somehow, that was one lesson he didn't mind being taught.

# # #

"Our house it has a crowd
There's always something happening
And it's usually quite loud…."
Our House by Madness


The next morning, Spike got up early and went into the kitchen to get something to eat. There was no one else around. Shrugging, he pulled out the ingredients for making omelets and began to carefully prepare them. He also put coffee on to brew and put some refrigerated cinnamon rolls into the oven to bake. It didn't take long before both Angel and Lindsey staggered their way into the kitchen, following their nose.

"Perfect timing," Spike smirked, putting the food on the table in front of them before going to retrieve plates and utensils. He came back in time to see Lindsey 'juggling' one of the very hot rolls from hand to hand, muttering "hot, hot, hot" as he looked for a place to put the roll down. Spike shook his head in fond exasperation, placing the first plate down in front of the kid- who dropped the roll onto it with a relieved sigh.

"Er…thanks." Lindsey blushed.

"No problem." Spike smirked.

Angel sipped his coffee, amusement in his eyes as he watched his two 'children' interact. He nodded his head in thanks, when Spike placed a mug of blood in front of him.

They ate in comfortable silence and once the meal was finished, they all began to clear the table and clean up. Spike was surprised to find that he fit into the morning "dance" as easily as if he'd always been a part of it. He felt a slight bit chagrined that he'd been so jealous of Lindsey. With that in mind, he turned toward his 'little brother'.

"About the other night…" Spike started, but Lindsey quickly interrupted him. "No- that's ok. I won't ever mention it again if you don't!" Spike blinked and looked at the boy in confusion. The kid was brick red and deliberately staring at the plate he was drying- the plate that was well ready to be put away. Spike huffed in annoyance and took the plate out of Lindsey's hands to put away.

"Not LAST night, brat! And yeah- no need to bring that up ever again…" he said in an aside. "I was talking about the night we went and got ourselves captured, yeah?" Spike clarified for the confused younger man.

"I just wanted to apologize for giving you such a hard time about listening to 'Dad' over there" Spike smiled crookedly, knowing that Angel was listening in despite trying to act like he wasn't. "I shouldn't have done it- you were right to want to listen to him. If I hadn't been such a bully, maybe you wouldn't have gotten hurt again…" Spike grimaced, suddenly unable to face the kid.

"Not your fault," Lindsey stated firmly. "Hey!" he poked Spike on the arm rather hard, getting the vampire's attention. "It's wasn't your fault! I know I tend to…probably…most likely…come across as some green kid who is easily led astray…" Lindsey blushed darkly. "But I knew what Angel asked me to do and I knew what the repercussions of not doing it were. And I knew it was dangerous. So it's my own damn fault I got hurt. And while I won't say I deserved to get hurt…" he glanced at Angel before continuing sheepishly, "I know I deserved everything else I got." He shrugged lightly.

Spike snorted. "Well, I think I probably didn't help matters any- but then I got what I deserved too, so I guess we're all good…." He glanced over in time to see Lindsey nodding emphatically.

"So can we stop talking about getting what we deserve now?" Lindsey mock whispered, "He'll be hopeless if he finds out we actually agreed we needed it…" he pointed in Angel's direction, pretending to be stealthy.

"Hey, wait a second!" Angel put his hands on his hips in pretend irritation, fighting to keep the grin off his face.

"Oh, now you've gone and done it mate. You're on your own, now!" Spike chuckled, snapped the towel he held in Lindsey's direction, then tossed it on the counter and started back to his room. As he turned the corner, the last glance he had of them was Angel checking on Lindsey's wounds while the kid fidgeted- Angel admonishing him to "hold still!"

# # #

A month later, Angel, Spike, and Lindsey stood inside a rambling mansion; Angel signing the last of the documents that would close the deal and make the building and it's attached lands, his.

The realtor smiled and handed over the keys. "Here you go, Mr. Liam. It has been a pleasure doing business with you." Gathering her belongings, the realtor let herself out the door. All three waited until they heard her car start and begin to pull away before looking at each other with big grins.

"I get dibs on the blue room!" Lindsey blurted.

"No fair! That's the one I wanted, squirt!" Spike argued. "I'm older, I should get first pick!"

"Hah! Haven't you learned by now that the baby of the family always gets what they want?" Lindsey smirked before rethinking what he said and who he said it to. He frowned. "Not that I'm a baby or anything…."

"Neither of you get the blue room," Angel interceded before Spike could start teasing Lindsey or either of them could start an actual argument. "That's in the south wing of the house. MY room is in the North wing and both of you are getting rooms close to mine. Much easier when I have to play nursemaid." He smirked at the offended looks both men gave him.

Lindsey wrinkled his nose in contemplation, blurting out. "I get the green room!"

"Hey!" Spike sputtered.

Angel shook his head and laughed softly as the two headed in the direction of said room, arguing about who should be allowed to have it. He yelled after them, "I don't care who gets what room- but the Red room is MINE!"



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