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The night Spike learned that Angel had been freed of his soul was the happiest night he had had since the he killed Nikki Wood, around twenty years ago. He had his Angelus back again, instead of that forever brooding, unbearably self righteous bastard, Angel. God, but he had missed Angelus. After all, Drusilla may have turned him, but it was Angelus who had truly acted as his Sire. Dru knew how to raise a childe about as well as she knew how to get her dead birds to sing. So it was Angelus who had taught him how to fight, hunt, maim, torture and conquer. It was Angelus who had beaten him viciously when he had disobeyed and Angelus who had rewarded him lavishly when Spike had pleased him. It was Angelus who had cleaned his wounds and reigned him in when he had gone on a bit too much of a killing spree before creating some new wounds himself. Angelus had taught him that virgins had the sweetest blood, and that you shouldn't feed off of drunks or opium addicts unless you wanted a second hand high. It was Angelus who taught him how to seduce and pleasure both vampires and humans. Who had taught him how to curb his bloodlust and blend in with human society. Who had taught him vampire etiquette and rituals. Who had taught him how to make and train minions. It was Angelus who taught him how to please a lover, male or female. And it was Angelus who had taught him how to avoid the Slayer, and when he was older, how to fight one. Angelus was as responsible for the deaths of two Slayers as Spike was. In short, it was Angelus who had turned him from a fledgling to a Master Vampire.

Of course, their relationship was far from perfect. Angelus was harsh and dominant, and could be extremely cruel. While his torture was ruthless, it was his mind games that truly hurt Spike, and he played those games often. He would laugh as he forced Spike to whip Drusilla. He would give Spike impossible tasks and punish him ruthlessly for his failure. The worst punishment was when he would tie Spike up and make him watch as he fucked Drusilla, before tearing into Spike as well.

Still, despite the cruelty Angelus had inflicted upon him over the years, the loss of his Sire had hurt him deeply. He loved Drusilla more than he could possibly say. She was his goddess, his destiny. But Spike could never let go, never relax around her. He always had to take care of her, feeding her when she wouldn't eat, calming her when she was angry or frightened, buying her dresses and dolls and jewels. Angelus had provided him with a release, a time to let go and simply do whatever his Sire wanted. Spike often rebelled, it was true, but if he so chose he could let go and follow orders, which he did more often than he liked to admit.

And there were other problems with Angelus's curse. With Angelus gone, there was no longer anyone to protect him from Darla. Angelus's Sire had always hated Spike, jealous of the attention her childe had shown him. She often blamed Spike for anything Angelus did that she didn't like, claiming that he was a bad influence. And so when Angelus had been cursed she had, of course, taken it out on her great grandchilde. One night she had even come close to dusting both Spike and Drusilla in a fit of rage.

Spike had been sitting in the living room, relaxed after an evening of hunting and sex. Drusilla, his Shadow Princess, was dancing in the firelight. She was turning slowly, her hips swaying, her hands running up and down her body as she listened to the music only she could hear. For once, she was silent, a childlike smile on her face. Spike was admiring her quietly, trying to drown the grief he felt at his Sire's absence by focusing on the beautiful way his Goddess moved.

Drusilla seemed to sense his need for distraction. "Spike? Do you hear the stars singing? Such sweet music. Dance with me?"

"Of course, luv. I'll dance with you till the stars themselves waltz with us."

And with that he rose fluidly out of his chair. He glided over to Drusilla and swept her up in his arms, spinning her around quickly before putting her down and starting to waltz. They danced gracefully together for a few minutes as Dru laughed delightedly. Then a crash and the scent of Darla had abruptly ended their dance.

She had been drinking. Spike could smell it on her breath. And it wasn't her usual sweet wine, but whiskey, harsh, hot, and burning. Her previously unshakable mask of cold calm and heartless seduction had been cracking more and more frequently in these last two months, ever since Angelus had abandoned them and left a lump of guilt in his place. Tonight, however, her mask hadn't just cracked. It had broken.

She stared at them for a few seconds after entering the room. Then her eyes had narrowed and she had darted to the surprised couple. She grabbed Spike by the throat and had him pinned against the wall before he had time to react. Not that he would have won, at least not without a long fight. He may have been bigger and even a little bit faster, but she had over two centuries of power and practice to fall back on.

In the end, it was Drusilla who had saved him. Darla was screaming at Spike, her words slurred and incoherent. She was punching him repeatedly in the face, and she had a stake peeking out of the bodice of her dress. She was just reaching for it when she had felt something pressed against her own back, right over her heart. Drusilla had slipped behind her, silent as smoke, while Darla had been distracted. Darla froze when she felt the stake at her back. Drusilla hissed at Darla that she was "not to touch her Dark Prince, or the stars would take their revenge." Then she had grabbed Darla and whirled the older vampire around to face her. She hypnotised her Grandsire, pulling her under her thrall, while Spike gathered chains from the bedroom. They wrapped Darla in the chains, gathered their things, and stole away into the night.

They had fled, traveling through three countries before they felt safe enough to settle down again. And suddenly Spike was on his own, trying to find somewhere safe to live, away from Darla and the Slayer. He had to create and train new minions, and take care of Drusilla, who had become inconsolable when her Sire had been cursed. She was prone to hysterical sobbing which could last for hours, brutal killing sprees in front of witnesses, and randomly staking Spike's minions. All of this left little time for Spike to process his own grief, and it had stayed inside of him for all this time, a dark, sorrowful shadow in his mind.

So Angelus' return was an intense relief for Spike. Angelus, who had always taken care of him before, would surely help heal him and get him out of this wheelchair. He would once again take over the responsibilities that had burdened Spike for so long. Of course, Spike knew that it would not be perfect. His relationship with Angelus had always been tenuous. Angelus' need for absolute control had gotten on his nerves, not to mention the fact that he frequently took Drusilla to his bed. But at least he had done the same with Spike. He had treated him as his childe, taking the same care with him as he had with Dru. His version of care was often cruel and harsh, but it had still been care. Spike wouldn't go so far as to say that Angelus had loved him, but he had helped him, guided him, slept with him, and fought with him. He had been Spike's father, brother, and lover, and while Angelus seemed incapable of love, Spike had certainly loved him. And Spike had always been love's bitch.

Which made it all the more painful that Angelus now seemed to have lost the interest he once had in Spike and his well being. He still needed control, he still slept with Spike's goddess, and he did take over Spike's responsibilities. But instead of treating his relationship with Dru as the standard relationship between a Sire and childe, he rubbed Spike's face in the fact that she was devoted to him. He treated her like a lover, like Spike treated her, instead of his childe. And he no longer treated Spike as his childe, either. He refused to renew their bond. He would not have sex with Spike, nor would he allow Drusilla to. He would not even give him his blood or Drusilla's blood to help him in his recovery. He seemed to have lost the dedication he had once had for his childer.

And this cut at Spike. Every time Angelus ignored him, his heart cracked. Every time he showed off his relationship with Dru, it cracked a bit more. Every time he mocked Spike's injury instead of helping him with it, his heart started to fracture. And as he continued to refuse to acknowledge the bond he and Spike had once shared, Spike's heart broke. Angelus had betrayed the bond between Sire and childe, betrayed the powerful blood magic of family.

But he refused to cry, refused to show Angelus the effect he was having on him. In fact, he refused to be sad. Even though Angelus was ignoring him and the lessons he had once taught him, Spike would always remember. And one of the first lessons Angelus had taught was to never show weakness. Oh, it had taken ten years or so for that lesson to sink in. But eventually he could be tortured for hours before watching Angelus and Drusilla fucking as the blood rolled down his back without shedding a single tear. He had learned to take his pain and sadness and transform them, convert them into anger. And he had never felt so angry in his life.

And so it was that Spike took his broken heart, hardened it as much as he could, and used it to plot the betrayal of the man who had betrayed him. The man he loved.