Author:  Meltha

Rating:  I'm gonna go with PG-13, I believe.

Feedback:  Yes, thank you. Melpomenethalia@aol.com

Spoilers:  Through the Buffy series finale "Chosen"

Distribution: Fanfiction.net and the Bunny Warren.  If you're interested, please let me know.

Summary:  Now now.  You didn't really believe that was the end of things for our dear boy, did you?

Author's Note:  This fic was inspired by Meg's IM icon (Angel Statue 8) and a rather insane little conversation with the owner of said icon.   

Disclaimer: All characters are owned by Mutant Enemy (Joss Whedon), a wonderfully creative company whose characters I have borrowed for a completely profit-free flight of fancy.  Kindly do not sue me, please, as I am terrified of you.  Thank you.

Dedication:  Obviously, this one goes to the incomparable Meg.  The VW Bug is, of course, parked in his garage.

Waking the Muse

Several hours had passed since Rosamond had sniffled her way through the front door of the Paradise Palace.  Her wings drooping tragically, she had trudged over to the bar and plopped herself down on a stool.  At first, she'd received some stares from the regulars.  After all, this was heaven.  People weren't supposed to get depressed here.  Concerned looks flitted her way, and a few frowns creased the brows of those around her as they wondered what could have happened to make her so miserable.

As time passed, people had long since stopped wondering.  Rosamond had a line of drink glasses in front of her at the bar, all empty.  Her button nose had turned a shocking shade of scarlet that made her look like an erstwhile Rudolph, while the red tint was matched in her brown doe eyes.  Hiccups intermittently shook her form, causing the golden girdle belt she wore around her Grecian-style toga to pop unceremoniously.  Her dark blonde locks were usually combed into an intricate bun at her crown, but somewhere between drinks five and six they had fallen down completely in disheveled ringlets.  Even her starlight spangled wings were looking mopey and, quite frankly, sloshed.

"And then," she sobbed in a breaking voice to the barkeep, who looked rather at a loss and was wiping down the bar as though his soul depended on it, "they told me I didn't make it into the choir!  Again!  That's the thirty-sixth audition I've tried, and I've been passed over every time."

A dainty hiccup escaped lips as she played unhappily with the umbrella of her drink.

"Yeah, Rosamond.  You've mentioned that – a few times now.  Look, you know you can't really get drunk up here unless you want to, so why not just sober up, head back to your cloud, get a good night's rest, and things'll be brighter in the morning," suggested Sam, the rather plump man behind the bar.  Truthfully, even his patience was beginning to wane, and that was saying something.

"Don't wanna," she grumped, pouting.  "Wanna be in the choir.  I've got a good voice, really!"  Without further ado, she launched into a vocal rendition that made Sam very concerned the mirror behind the bar was going to shatter into bits.

"Noooooobooooooodyyyyyy knooooooooooowwws the trouuuuuuuuuble I've seeeeeeeeeeeeeen," she warbled in a voice that left no one in the vicinity in any doubt about exactly why the choir had turned her down thirty-six times. "Nooooooooboooooodyyyyyy knoooooooooowwws my sooorrrooooooooooow…"

Shaking his head, it's possible Sammy muttered under his breath "we all know, so shut up already," but we'll say that was merely a nasty rumor for generosity's sake.

At the nearby pool table, a game was in full swing.  The decidedly unmelodious notes, though, had made all three participants look up in fascination at the unhappy damsel.

"Sounds like Rosie didn't make the cut again," said Shifty, leaning on his cue and flapping his wings as he took in the scene.  "Poor thing."

"Yeah," agreed Snooker Lou, the gentleman to his left, chalking his stick as he spoke and inadvertently getting some of the blue dust on his white robes.  "Poor girl.  Just can't take a hint.  Wants so bad to sing, but her voice has got all the charm of a strangling mongoose."

The third person, who was waiting none too patiently for the close of the current game so he could play the winner, eyed the scene a bit more gravely than the others.  Rosamond was currently collapsed over the bar, limp as a wilted daisy, her face pressed  into the wood and her arms sprawling in a picture of drunken dejection.  The girl wanted to be a singer so desperately, but she kept getting shot down because of lack of talent.  Frowning, he could relate. 

"Shifty, Lou, I think I'm gonna let this game slide on by tonight," said the third man, putting his favorite cue back in the rack with a fond pat and turning his gaze back on the distressed young miss. 

"Do you now?" said Snooker Lou with a raised eyebrow. 

"Yup," he responded with a sly grin.  "Got me a cherub to comfort, don't I?"

Shifty and Lou watched as the very unusual soul sauntered casually across the room and took a seat right next to the girl… a fairly easy task, as everyone was giving her a six seat berth in either direction.

"Barkeep" said the newcomer familiarly, "two of whatever the lady's drinking, on me."

"You say so," said Sam with a quirk of his mouth.  In short order, two Mudslides appeared on the bar.

"Thanks," Rosamond said as she raised her head to look at him.  She blinked and found herself rapidly becoming sober again.

 He was completely unlike any other angel she'd ever seen and then some.  Starting from his feet, which were covered in a pair of beaten-up black leather Doc Martins rather than the usual gold sandals, her eyes slowly traveled over black jeans that fit to a nicety instead of the standard issue white robes, the tightly stretched black t-shirt, and the slightly wicked smile that played around both his lips and his startlingly blue eyes.  His halo was a little bent and was sitting on his unnaturally blond hair at a rakish angle, and his wings, which she noted with surprise were charcoal gray and rumpled, poked out of the back of a black leather duster.

"Welcome, sweetness," he said with a roguish smile that was echoed by a subtle ruffling of his gray wings.  She realized with a start that they had quite plainly winked at her.

"You're new here, aren't you?" she said uncertainly.  "I think I'd remember seeing you before."

A low chuckle answered her.  "Been here a few months.  Name's Spike."

"But…" she peered at him uncertainly as the bleariness continued to retreat from her eyes, "you are an angel, aren't you?"

He winced at bit, then said, "Technically, yes, but I'd really prefer not to be called the a-word, if you don't mind.  Bad associations, pet."

"Huh," she said, shrugging.  "Okay, if you say so."

One of the first things Spike had done after his highly surprising arrival outside the Pearly Gates and his absolutely shocking though entirely sincere invitation to enter through them was check out the list of prospective arrivals.  Buffy wasn't set to be here for another sixty years.  Well and good, he'd thought.  Nice, long, preferably happy life for the Slayer and then hopefully a lovely reunion for the two of them.  He'd noted with satisfaction that Angel wasn't due to become his own namesake for another two millennia, which had caused Spike to laugh uncontrollably as he'd have "moved past the curse of human features" quite a few centuries before his demise.  True, everyone up here was granted the ability to look absolutely perfect, but still, he couldn't help a decidedly non-charitable giggle.

Sixty years was a very, very long time to wait, though, and Spike, practical ang… ehm, winged being that he was, had decided that heaven was supposed to be spent in happiness.  In joyous celebration.  In pleasure that was physically impossible for any creature with a mortal coil.

"So, the fellas tell me you're Rosie," he said to her, noting with satisfaction that she was subconsciously patting her hair.

"Rosamond, actually.  Been here since 509," she responded as she pulled a handkerchief from thin air and blew her nose gracefully.

"Don't seem to happy, Rosebud.  What's the problem?"  Spike said as he subtly drew his stool a tiny bit closer to hers.

"Oh, the choir won't let me in.  I think it's time to just hang it up and pack it in," she said, her tone growing sadder as she spoke and a tear drifting from her eye.

"Now, now," he said, drawing a finger across her cheek and wiping away the droplet, followed by teasingly tapping her still-pink nose.  "None of that.  You keep at it, sweetheart.  Just need a bit of inspiration is all and you'll do fine."

Her lips puckered up at one corner and she took a swig of her Mudslide.  "It's been almost 1500 years.  If my muse hasn't woken up yet, I think it's died in its sleep."

Spike eyed his own concoction warily, which was laced with ice cream of all things, but decided against drinking it.  The word frou-frou appeared to have been coined solely for the contents of his glass.  Rosamond didn't notice his distinct lack of imbibing, though.  In fact, she was looking dangerously close to going back to her sobbing.  Well, he couldn't let that happen.

Accidentally-on-purpose, Spike batted her cocktail napkins, which she'd been morosely folding into little origami hats, onto the floor, and on the pretense of picking them up, just barely brushed against her shoulder and whispered in her ear, "What do you say to getting out of here?"

"And going where?" she asked with a hiccup.

He deftly gave her a small, discreet nuzzle behind her left ear and said in a soft purr, "Feel up to engaging in some aerial acrobatics, if you catch my drift?"

Rosamond's eyes widened comically.

"I'll show you my halo trick if you just stop sobbin' all over the bloody bar," he promised with a grin as his hand found hers still clutching the glass.

There was a brief pause.

"Let's go," she said enthusiastically as she grabbed him by the hand and practically ran out the door.

Lou and Shifty exchanged looks as the two exited the Paradise, post haste. 

"He always has a thing for the needy ones, don't he, Lou?" said Shifty with a small shake of his head. 

"Yeah," Lou agreed.  "Soft spot for 'em.   Rack 'em up, Shifty.  I'm feeling Spike ain't the only one who's lucky tonight."

"Prabakar, what is that in the sky?" asked a young woman in Pakistan a few minutes later.

He turned to look at the strange sight.  Perhaps two hundred feet in the air, hovering over their village, appeared to be a large, strangely undulating cocoon of feathers, one part white and the other gray. 

"I don't know, Rhiamar," he said, very puzzled.  "Could it be a cloud?"

Abruptly, the cocoon sped off towards the west. 

"Louise, look up there!" shouted Jean-Luc a few moments later in France.

She glanced at the odd object over the vineyard, and was convinced she heard a voice with a British accent say in a muffled tone as the fluffy UFO took off at great speed, "I told you the earth would move, baby," followed by a faint, girlish, "Weeeeeee!"

Lack of gravity causes some highly interesting side effects.

It was late the next morning when Spike dropped off Rosamond, who was looking completely exhausted but much happier, at her cloud.  He arrived at his own home not long after and, hanging up his duster, which miraculously appeared to have no holes for his wings at all, collapsed on the couch in front of the telly and hit the flashing button on his answering machine. 

Beep.  "Hello, Spike. It's Joyce.  Wondering if you want to come over for a cup of cocoa tonight.  Tara and your mother will both be here.  Remember to wear a sweater if it's chilly.  Hope to see you soon."

Spike smiled, crossed off one more day on his sixty year calendar, and decided to take a long nap before going over to Joyce's comfy cloud.

"It's the most amazing change I've ever heard," said Alistair, the choir director in chief, to Margaretta, who looked completely shell shocked.  "She couldn't carry a tune in bucket yesterday and for well over a millennium before that, but today?  She sounded like a meadowlark."

"Did you ask her what happened?" she asked in astonishment.

"Yes.  All she would say is that her 'inspiration had spiked,'" he said utterly baffled.

Margaretta smiled knowingly but didn't say a word.