You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, ... back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame ... back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time-back home to the escapes of Time and Memory
--Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again
Spike peered anxiously through the glass. “Doesn’t look so different from up here,” he said. “D’ya reckon there’s still a bloody great hole where Sunnydale used to be?”
Angel didn’t look up from his e-tablet. “That part of California’s under the ocean, remember? And we’re not going there to be tourists, Spike.”
“I know that.” He sighed. “But still, after we’ve sorted the Arnaghin demons, perhaps then we could have a bit of a look about.”
“We’re due on Sagan Four in two standard weeks, so I doubt it. Besides, it’s not gonna be comfortable down there. The Plastiskin spray will keep us safe from the sun, but it’s hot. And there’s nothing to see, nothing familiar anyway.”
Spike sighed again and padded across the small cabin. He pulled his boots out from storage and made a face at them. They were meant to be exact replicas of Docs, but the synthtek never quite got them right; the leather felt more like vinyl and they weren’t heavy enough. But they were the best he could manage, so he collapsed onto a chair, jammed his feet into the boots, and did up the laces. And then he simply sat there, back bowed, hands hanging down between his knees.
He heard the tiny click as Angel put his e-tablet away. “Spike—”
“Shut it,” Spike snarled.
Angel walked over and crouched beside him. “Come on. What’s bugging you?”
“Nothing. Everything’s brilliant. We’ll go kill the sodding Arnaghin and celebrate with some of the bloody awful chemical shite you call blood, and we’ll climb back into our metal box and fly away.”
Angel set a hand on Spike’s knee and squeezed, and a bit of Spike’s foul mood dissipated. It had taken several centuries but the old bog-trotting git had finally learnt to express emotions other than Brooding and Angry, and Spike was too grateful for that to spurn a bit of offered comfort. “Maybe,” Angel said, “after Sagan Four we can take a vacation. Remember that planet with those giant gerbil things? They were pretty tasty and they were fun to hunt, too.”
“You and your sodding rats,” Spike grumbled, but without heat. “Why do we have to face the Arnaghin anyhow? ‘T’s not as if there are any humans left on Earth for them to eat.”
“North America is a nature preserve now and they’re poaching.”
Spike snorted. “Poaching. We’re nothing but bloody park rangers now.”
“But they’ll put up a good fight, probably, and you like a good fight. C’mon, Spike. What’s the real problem?”
Spike finally looked up and met Angel’s troubled brown eyes. “They’re there, Liam. All of them. All just dust now, but still…. Buffy and her lot, Joyce—remember her? Such a lovely woman. Treated me like a man—and Dru and my mum and…and all of them. And London, Christ, London and New York and Rio and LA and even Sunnydale and Prague and the rest. Just…just….” His voice broke a bit as he tried to find the right word.
Surprisingly, it was Angel who found it. “Home. It’s home. Or it used to be, anyway.”
Spike had to tighten his jaw and look away. “Yeah.”
Angel grasped Spike’s chin and gently turned his face back. “It hasn’t been home for a long time, William. Now it’s just another hunk of rock with a job for us to do. There’s nothing there for us anymore.”
“I know,” Spike rasped.
Angel stood and tugged Spike to his feet. And then, even though Spike remained stiff-backed, Angel drew him into an embrace, squashing Spike against his big body until Spike gave in and melted against him. Feeling like a sodding girl, Spike sniffed. He spoke against Angel’s soft shirt. Synthtek silk, a better approximation than his Docs. “I may have moved about on Earth but I always had a sense that someplace was home. You did, as well, with your poncy mansions and your hotels. And now we live in a bloody tin can, Liam. Where’s home?”
Angel rubbed Spike’s back soothingly. “I don’t know. Maybe…for a long time now, I guess I’ve pretty much figured my home was wherever you are.”
Spike pulled himself slightly away so he could look up into a face that had been familiar to him for almost half a millennium. “We’ve become a pair of bloody nancy-boys,” he said, but his lips curled into a slight smile.
His Sire kissed the top of his head. “You’re a nancy-boy. I’m still very manly.”
Spike snorted and gave Angel a quick snog. “Git,” he said. And then he pulled away and went in search of the replica of his old duster.