Gunn had never expected to leave L.A. Oh, he'd been out of the city before, but that wasn't the same thing. This was leaving Los Angeles. This was bridges-burned, this-town-ain't-big-enough-for-the-both-of-us, getting the hell out of Dodge.
He probably should have done it weeks ago, but even if he'd checked himself out of the hospital he couldn't even remember being checked into, he wouldn't have gotten very far, not in the shape he'd been in. At least nobody at Wolfram & Hart had gotten around to canceling his very generous group health coverage, so he had the choice to stay here until he'd recovered more fully, instead of being sent home as soon as they didn't think he was going to drop dead on them. But now that he could stand up for more than a couple of minutes without being sorry he'd tried, he was getting out of here, before somebody came looking for him. Just because they hadn't yet didn't mean they wouldn't.
His clothes had been ruined, of course: torn and bloody and soaked with demon ichor, which you knew couldn't be good, what with the word starting with "ick." One of the nurses had offered to go to his place on her day off to pick up some things for him, but he hadn't wanted to let her. Somebody was probably watching the place. Probably watching the hospital, too, but if he was going to worry about that he might as well have just lay down in that alley and died. Never mind that he'd thought he was doing just that, at the time.
He'd still had his wallet on him, though, and Tammy, the nurse, had been happy to pick up some stuff for him so that he didn't have to go out in public wearing a gown that tied in the back. She'd felt bad for him, she said, being in the hospital so long without any friends or family to visit.
Gunn was pretty sure that was because everybody was dead. He knew Wes was; Illyria had told them that much. The others he wasn't as definite about. Two vampires and a demon-king ought to be hard to kill, but there'd been a hell of a lot of demons in that alley, and it wasn't like the Senior Partners were just going to give up if Angel got away. If they hadn't died there, Wolfram & Hart probably got them later.
The only reason he had any hope at all that they weren't dusted--or whatever happened when you killed something like Illyria--was that he wasn't dead, and he knew he ought to have been. Since he hadn't heard from them at all, though, he had to go with "probably dead," and get on with his life. Somewhere other than L.A., because he figured that he just might be unimportant enough that he'd get left alone if he made it obvious that he wasn't going looking for trouble any more.
He wasn't. He'd get in touch with Anne once he was settled someplace, get her to give him a reference. Maybe he could work with kids, help them stay out of trouble. He still had the faked documents that made him a lawyer; a shelter ought to be glad to have his help, right? And he knew what the kids were going through. He could understand--though he wasn't going to recommend they use him as an example of how to get off the streets, considering he had "Evil, Incorporated" on his resume.
Gunn sat down on the edge of his bed to put his shoes on; he still wasn't all that great at bending down these days.
"Not leaving without saying goodbye, are you, Charlie?"
Gunn looked up, blinking in surprise at the figure leaning against the door frame. "Spike? What the hell are you doing here?"
"Do you know how many hospitals there are in this town? Blue couldn't remember which one she took you to, so I had to check them all."
So that was how he'd got here. All the hospital staff had been able to tell him was that he'd been brought into the emergency room, but nobody had stayed long enough for anyone to get their name--or even his. If he hadn't had his wallet on him, he'd have been a John Doe.
"Illyria made it out too?" Maybe it was good she'd dropped him off and left; Illyria dealing with administrative red tape would have been a scary thing.
Spike snorted. "Course she did. They haven't made a plug-ugly yet scary enough to take her out."
That left only one question. "What about Angel?"
Silence, then a shrug. "No idea. I was out of commission for a bit. Woke up when Illyria started dragging me out of the alley right before sunup. Angel wasn't there."
If he'd been killed, the rain would have washed the dust away, leaving no trace of what had happened. Gunn finished putting his shoes on and got up. "You still haven't told me why you're here."
"I figured you'd be leaving town once you were up and around."
"You figured right." Gunn frowned. "And you should have been able to find me by now, if you were looking. There aren't that many hospitals in Los Angeles."
"I was busy."
Gunn opened the drawer of the nightstand and took out the plastic bag the hospital had put his personal possessions in. His ruined clothes had been disposed of already, and he'd already got his wallet out when Tammy had bought the new clothes for him, but his watch was still in the bag. Gunn fished it out and looked at it for a minute. The face had been completely smashed, the hands bent at strange angles. Obviously, five-hundred-dollar watches didn't hold up any better in a battle than the five-buck deal from K-Mart did. "Well, you found me," he said, dropping the watch in the wastebasket. "And now you're losing me again. I'm out of here."
"So you said," Spike said. "Thought you might want to know the heat's off--well, mostly. I think we're still being watched, but Illyria and I haven't had any trouble."
That was a relief, but it didn't change Gunn's determination to put a few hundred miles between himself and Los Angeles. "Good to know," he said. He'd already signed the paperwork, and if he stuck around any longer, somebody would be showing up with a wheelchair, determined not to give him any reason to sue the hospital. Well, he might have had a legal education dumped in his head, but they still hadn't made him understand why he ought to sue somebody for him being a dumbass, so he figured they could skip all that.
He had to push past Spike to get out of the room, glaring at the vampire for not getting out of the way--and then stopping a few feet down the hallway, because something hadn't seemed right. He turned back to Spike and grabbed him by the wrist, expecting a protest or a struggle.
He got a smirk--and the unmistakable feeling of a pulse beating against his fingertips.
"The shanshu prophecy?" Damn. That made it even more likely that Angel hadn't made it out.
"Right you are, Charlie. I'm a real live boy now." He grinned. "That's why I'm coming with you."
"What? Oh, no, you're not."
"Where else can I go? Big Blue keeps forgetting I'm breakable. She's going to do some serious damage one of these days."
"You're making the mistake of thinking I care where you go, Spike." Not that he hated Spike, but part of the whole "start over and lie low" idea was that he was starting over, not bringing a part of the past--especially a loudmouthed and annoying part of the past--along with him.
Spike followed him down the hallway. "I'm not that easy to get rid of, mate."
"Hey, you're human now. No vampire strength means I can kick your ass." His argument was weakened slightly when an unexpected movement sent twinges of pain to remind him that he might not be up to giving out any ass-kickings just yet.
Spike must have seen him wince. "Right, then. I'll pencil that in for a few weeks from now, when you actually have a chance. Until then, you're stuck with me."
Gunn sighed. "Why, Spike?"
Spike grinned at him. "I'm saving you from a life of boredom."
"Saving yourself from having to get a real job, you mean. I'm not keeping you in beer and videogames."
"Anyone ever tell you that you sound a lot like Angel?"
Gunn gave him a dirty look. "I know that's an insult coming from you. This is how you treat someone you're trying to convince to do you a favor?"
He shrugged. Leaving Spike in L.A. would probably be stupid--he'd forget he wasn't still a vampire, pick a fight with the wrong demon, and end up beaten to a bloody pulp. Not that it'd be any huge loss to the world, but it wasn't like there were that many people left that Gunn knew.
"Fine," he said. "It'd be too much trouble to try and stop you, anyway."
"I take it back," Spike said. "You're a lot smarter than Angel."
"I'm warning you, as soon as I'm healed up, I will kick your ass," he muttered, but it didn't seem to discourage Spike at all.
"You can try," he said, still grinning as he followed Gunn to the elevators.
Well, at least things wouldn't get boring.