They’re missing, Spike.

Or haven’t you seen the fliers offering to auction off the Key?

Uh, no.  Didn’t catch the flyers.  This is—this is how long? This is who and how long?

It can’t be for very long. We don’t know who. Maybe you should be useful and help find out.

Here I was just gonna stand ‘round waving my todger.  Think I like your idea better.

Glad to be back?

Wasn’t, but I am now.  I’ve got a Key to buy.

+ Just barely missed Tuesday.


Well, yeah. Safe as houses for the rest of forever. Right?

They’re missing, Spike.

Or haven’t you seen the fliers offering to auction off the Key?

Uh, no.  Didn’t catch the flyers.  This is—this is how long? This is who and how long?

[pm] Spike. You're back.

[pm] Looks that way.

gratitude || spike & willow


It was that moment when you wake up from a nap that wasn’t long enough and the world feels like it’s a good five or ten miles further away than it should be, every moment. Willow shook her head and stumbled down the stairs one small, hesitant step at a time.

Faith wasn’t okay. She knew how, she’d seen those looks and hesitant gestures on Buffy and Kennedy before and  had memorized the feeling of horror and helplessness that had filled them all. It was after the fact, a rush job of importance. Like the way you memorize the way someone’s face looked when they were happy with you after you find out that they’ve died. None of these women Willow cared about were dead yet, but a part of them was gone, and knowing what was wrong, having a theoretical brief of their pain and confusion without making them hand it in with stupid obvious questions meant something to her.

Willow rolled her neck and grimaced. Her muscles were tightening up a lot easier these days. Even when she had finally laid down to sleep and breathed in and out, in and out, in and god damnit out, she didn’t feel any better. Her mind awakened to pinches of pain skittering down her shoulders to the dip in the small of her back. With this new terrible thing still looming fresh over her head, even her hands were starting to ache today.

A small, almost Giles sounding voice in her head said that this wasn’t good for her. Let go. Control your emotions. Breathe. You have to try. Willow gripped the railing fiercely. Maybe she didn’t have time to let go. Did anyone ever think of that? Maybe holding on was all she had left in her, she’d used up all her let go tickets and every one would have to wait until more came in. Maybe it was the only think keeping her upright and strong enough to curse the hell out of anything that thought it could take a piece of Faith just because some other selfish, evil—

A knock sounded on the door. Sharp and loud. Demanding.

Willow’s head snapped around, hands already poised to slam it shut at whatever was on the other side. For a moment she thought she’d just ignore it. Go back up stairs and pretend it wasn’t there. Leave us alone. We don’t want you here. We’ve had enough of trouble. Help us or get out of the way. I can take care of her. You don’t know the first thing about that. You were never her friend. I can see and I can protect them this time.

But her small feet were carrying her to the door anyways, her red blotchy hands were reaching for the door and turning the handle. A sour feeling filled her stomach. This was the horror movie. There was the monster. Here was the dead girl, already marked, mourned, and mocked because everyone else had seen it a million times over before. As it swung open and she saw the demon of the week, Willow wished that someone would hand her a script already. She was tired of the plot twists and the surprise guest stars.

“Spike.” Her voice was hard and distant. She lowered her head, feeling so much more than her usual numbing dose of anger than she wanted to. When she felt like she had the strength to look up again her eyes were firmly set, almost deadly. “What do want now?”

He hadn’t really been around for the mess of it.  Spike’d made a mess of his own and gotten out before the lightning crackled, skipped out over the ocean before her roots ever looked anything but red.  To hear them tell of it, he’d missed a show.  Fuzzy pink number with the lilac under painted it black with her bare hands—raised a steeple, raised Hell, rose up and collapsed.  To hear them tell of it, Buffy’s best friend’s eyes flashed and she damn near ruined the world.  

He didn’t see it.  Caught a glimpse, maybe, back when the Slayer was in that bloody shadow-play portal and Red sucked some juice from her mates, but that was just plain power; that wasn’t the angry inside.  No, he’d holed up in a ship’s hull and she’d flown over but they’d both come back sorry and silent, and all the fire drained dry.  He didn’t see Willow angry ‘cause she didn’t have any left.  And a couple months back, when it flared up again, wolfboy extinguished it real simple.  All they lost was a diner.

"Hell of a way to say hello."  Spike had planned to lean a little, in the doorway, forearm flat against the jamb.  She wasn’t going to allow him that.  Bit off, wasn’t it, that allow was the word came to mind ‘stead of give him space enough or move so he could.  It was her hands, he’d decide, later.  It was how small they were, and how big her eyes were usually.  And as soon as he said it, he felt like it’d been a stupid thing to say.  It’s just that Willow’d never been cross with him before.  Not ever.  Not when he tried to get her to make Dru love him again, not when he couldn’t bite her in her dorm room, not when he scolded her for BuffyBot malfunctions or talked crazy at the school or defended Alette with fists and fangs.  It was obvious, now, that she was.  No—no.  It was more than that.  It was an emptiness, too.  He’d heard.  He’d heard something about a friend of Dawn’s goin’ South, and the girls taking sides on it like it was somethin’ needing discussing somehow.  Spike didn’t really get that.  Wasn’t about to ask, neither—learned his meddling lesson right quick, hadn’t he?—but he didn’t get it all the same, ‘cept he knew that when Willow lost things, she had ‘em pried out of her like dead molars.  

So maybe it wasn’t him making her all cold and careful.  She had a lot of other things on her place.

"Right," he said, quickly uncomfortable with the quiet and with the way she was looking at him like that, like he’d been the one to sink his teeth in.  Couldn’t’ve known about that.  He’d been careful enough.  "Well, fine.  I know I went off and… went off.  Probably did a number on the Summers sisters we both know and love, and you can hold that against me much as you’d like.  I’m not here to make justification."  He wasn’t.  Really.  This was a house call of the deepest sincerity.  This was the sort of thing he ought to have a hat on for, so he could take it off and hold it waist-level with both hands.  "Just heard ‘bout what you did for the Bit, ‘s all.  Made her better."  Somewhere across town, a small clearing in a park still had blood on a stone.  Spike thumbed the key between his shoulderblades and let his tongue go dry.



[pm] Fine by me.  Not really one to kick a gift horse, you  know.  Wouldn’t mind bein’ kept in your rolodex, either, if this is the sort of thing you get a lot.

[pm] Great, be at that park around 11. And you got it, we almost exclusively kick some demon butt so you got it…you’d have work with Angel and/or Faith from time to time.

You can pick up the check anytime. Our building has sewer access.

[pm] Faith and I’ve taken on one or two of ‘em before.  We’ll see about Peaches.  Maybe when he’s all back to strength.  Wouldn’t want him pullin’ a muscle out in the field.  

Thanks ever so.

Heard you were back in town. Fancy going for a drink?

I’d wager that depends on who’s asking.


lovetobrag replied to your post: [pm] What’s this about a vision and a broken door?

[pm] Haven’t the slightest. Got sent to ask by some pamby Lieutenant sort—not really keen on taking demands from strangers, by the way. But if you’ll really pass out a couple bills for me to take care of a nasty or two, I’m your man.

[pm] You mean Wesley? And great, don’t really want to send someone not at full strength out there. A hundred good as far as money goes? I can also keep you in mind for future consults if you’re interested.

[pm] Fine by me.  Not really one to kick a gift horse, you know.  Wouldn’t mind bein’ kept in your rolodex, either, if this is the sort of thing you get a lot.

keywithnolock replied to your post: [pm] Hey Spike, Xander finally made it to this…

[pm] If you could? Buffy told me before she left for Maine and I completely forgot with everything that’s happening. I would just hightail it myself and say screw homework, but I’m low on money and my car is almost on E. Pretty please, Spike?

[pm] Alright.  Just this, though, yeah? Even guilt’s not enough to get me hauled over to the K-Mart with a shopping list.  And I haven’t exactly got ‘round to getting wheels yet, so I’m… gonna have to borrow yours.