Author:  Meltha

Rating:  PG

Feedback:  Yes, thank you.

Spoilers:  Through Angel season 5

Distribution:  The Blackberry Patch and   If you're interested, please let me know.

Summary:  Spike is a vampire of many loves, many passions, many hidden desires.  A clipboard is but one.

Author's Note:  Written in response to the Spike/Inanimate Object ficathon challenge from buffyx, asking for Pairing: Spike/Clipboard; Up to 2 requests: A training session with Illyria, a flashback of Spike going to the store to purchase his special clipboard; Up to 2 restrictions: PWP, smut.  I hope this works for you.

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: To my dear beta, Venus Blue

What One Does for Love

            It was a typical day at Wolfram & Hart.  Wesley was buried up to his eyeballs in arcane texts that might possibly mention a certain blue-tinged ancient demon, Gunn was pouring over legal papers in search of a morally acceptable loophole for morally unacceptable clients, Angel was staring morosely out his office window, plotting desperate schemes to overthrow the world of evil and refusing to let anyone else in on them, and Spike was doing 80 miles an hour.

            Unfortunately for him, he was not in a car at the time.

            As his shoulder connected with the training room's wall for at least the billionth time that day as he reckoned it, Spike smiled what was supposed to be a cocky grin but ended in being a rather pained grimace.  It felt like she'd managed to turn his liver into something the consistency of a margarita.  Bloody hell, he could use a drink about now.

            She, of course, was Illyria.  She stared at him with unblinking eyes as he determinedly dragged himself back up the wall.  The eyes were the most startling thing about her.  Fred's had been brown and warm, reminding him pleasantly of leaves in the English autumn sunlight of more than a century ago.  Illyria's were blue, but not any blue he'd ever seen in human's face.  They were the color of ice from the heart of a glacier, perfectly cold.  Instead of Fred's awkward grace, the demon moved by turns like a giant insect or a bird of prey, her head tilting at nearly spine-breaking angles and her limbs moving with an almost mechanical tempo of abrupt starts and stops, as though she didn't quite have complete control over the body she'd thrust herself into yet.

            How could she possibly think he'd ever look at her and mistake her for Fred?

            "Right," he said, making an effort not to send a fine spray of blood out of his mouth with the words. "So, your arm strength seems to be slightly less than before Wesley used his doohickey-power-grabbing-whatsit on you."

            "Moderately so," Illyria half-snarled.  "I am still quite capable of removing your skull from your neck if I wish it.  That would kill you."

            "Yes, it would, if you managed it," Spike said, trying to sound confident though inwardly he realized that the blue thing was merely playing with him.  Eventually she'd tire of the games and kill him out of boredom more than anything else, he supposed.  "Still, I should mark that down for the boys and girls in the lab."

            He hid his limp rather well, he thought, as he moved to the other side of the room where his clipboard's shiny metal clamp gleamed jewel-bright where he'd put it on a chair so it would be out of the way.  Pulling his red pen from its holder at the top of the board, he carefully wrote in a vaguely old-fashioned script, "Arm strength has decreased somewhat, though she's still highly deadly."

            "Why do you do that?" she asked, abruptly close to him.

            "Do what?" he asked, unnerved by her silent approach catching him off guard.

            "Why do write pointless drivel during our sessions?  They will learn nothing that they do not already know.  I am Illyria, and I am horrible death to those who annoy me.  That is all the human vermin need understand"

            "It's called getting a paycheck, Bluebell," he said as he made a small notation on the paper that her temper had not improved either.  "If I play commando guinea pig three times a week with you, I get enough dosh to pay for blood, booze, and cigs.  Welcome to capitalism."

            Illyria's neck went into one of those sickening tilts that made Spike's stomach try to crawl into his lungs, obviously contemplating his words, her eyes as blank as marbles.  "It is unpleasant and degrading to me.  I do not like it."

            Her hand moved faster than his eye could follow as she grabbed his clipboard and threw it high in the air, obviously meaning to shatter it when it collided with the wall on the other end of the room.  The world seemed to come to an abrupt standstill as Spike's eyes followed the arc of the clipboard as it hurtled through the air, and a loud "No!" tore from his throat as he remembered buying that little beauty.

            He'd gone to the local office supply store around ten in the evening, vaguely wondering why anyone would need to buy staplers and copier paper that late at night but being begrudgingly grateful they kept the store open 24-7 as it meant he hadn't had to run across the desert-like parking lot in the cheerfully fatal L.A. sunshine.  Of course, he'd attempted not having to go at all.

            "Angel, can't I have an office?" he'd asked gruffly.

            "No."

            "If I'm doin' work for you, I should be able to have a place to do my work in.  Only makes sense," he'd reasoned.

            "No."

            "Why not?!"

            "Because I'm not giving you a room that you will use for the sole purposes of a base camp for causing me mayhem and misery or as a place to do… things… with Harmony," the other vampire had said with a shudder.

            "You are becoming paranoid in your old age, Angel," Spike had said while secretly giving the old man credit for getting his intentions 100% right.  "Well, at the very least I should get to use the company supply closet."

            "No."

            "Why not?!"

            "For exactly the same reasons I already mentioned," Angel said as he began rummaging through his desk for something.  Spike was willing to bet money it was either for aspirin or antacid.  At the moment, he was betting on aspirin.

            "You think I'd shag Harm in a tiny room full of Scotch tape, pencils, and paperclips?" he asked indignantly.

            "Yes."

            Spike quirked a lip, considering. "Okay, yeah, I would.  But what do you expect me to do without a key to the supply closet when I do, in fact, need supplies?"

            Angel sighed heavily and pulled the chewable antacid tablets out of the middle drawer along with what looked like a credit card.  Spike's eyes lit up like Christmas in spite of his incorrect prediction regarding the aspirin.

            "Use this," Angel said wearily.  "Take it to Office Super Inc. the next street over, and only get what you need."

            "Yeah, yeah, yeah," Spike said, grabbing the card and running out the door.

            "I really hate him," Spike had heard Angel say to the empty room just before the door closed.

            The office supply place had succeeded in being at least as boring as he'd feared it would be.  The deadly dull muzak piped through the gargantuan warehouse was tinny, and, oh dear God, were they really playing a version of the Sex Pistols' "God Save the Queen" on a xylophone or was he going nuts again?  At any rate, he'd been able to wheel a large plastic cart up and down the aisles, grabbing lots of very pretty, very expensive, very shiny, very necessary equipment.  Of course, to Spike, they were necessary because he wanted them and it would annoy Angel, but to him that was first-rate importance at the moment.

            At long last, he pushed the overflowing cart up to the checkout lane, passing his time by looking over his supplies, including his selection of 100% cotton bond paper in dove gray, his hand-carved mahogany pen and pencil set, his standing file cabinet in the deluxe brushed aluminum finish, his array of computer software next to his lovely new flatscreen monitor computer with printer/copier/fax machine, and, of course, a huge selection of empty discs he could use to burn as much punk rock as would be needed to drive the entire company bonkers. 

            "WelcometoOfficeSuperInc.thankyouforchoosingourstorehowwillyoubepayingthisevening," droned the woman behind the register between chomps on her gum.

            "With this," Spike said, handing her the magical credit card Angel had given him in what could only be described as a moment of pure senility.

            "Right," she said, passing it through the machine.  "Anything else?"

            "I figured I'd just do the one cart this time," Spike said generously.  "Still working on repentance and all that."

            "No, I mean what else are you paying with?" she said, her expression one he'd seen Dawn give Buffy multiple times when asked if she'd done her homework yet.  It could be described in one word: Duh.

            Spike mirrored the look back at the girl with an added glint of homicide thrown in for good measure, then clearly enunciated, "That is a credit card.  I am paying for this," he said gesturing at the heaping cart, "with that," he ended, pointing at the card in her hand.

            "This is a gift card worth," she paused to check her screen, "$7.26."

            "What?" Spike said, feeling his stomach drop through the floor. "But… there's gotta be over a thousand dollars worth of crap in this cart."

            The girl surveyed the cart for a moment, then said in a tone that left no doubt she was correct, "$5436.22, including tax."

            "I… I can't pay that much," he'd stammered.

            Every head in the store swiveled in his direction.  The customer at the next register had his mouth gaping open in shock.  A woman carrying an armful of notebooks let them fall to the ground unheeded.  A toddler began shrieking loudly, though that could have been due to his father's refusal to buy him the extremely sharp letter opener he'd been playing with.  Every eye in the store was trained on the blond man in the leather duster who had dared to show up without the wherewithal to pay.  The silence stretched on for what seemed ages, accompanied by the sudden death of what seemed to be Tori Amos's "Crucify" played on a perky piccolo over the intercom as it screeched to absolute quiet.

            Spike hadn't felt this humiliated since his mother had found those engravings of the wood nymphs in his book of Greek mythology.

            "Just… go back to what you were doing!" Spike screamed into the oppressive silence, and either because the fiasco wasn't quite big enough to keep their attention much longer or because they weren't entirely stupid and Spike wasn't entirely embracing every aspect of his newfound conscience as yet, the rest of the world rolled back into motion.

            "Gimme a sec, yeah?" Spike said in a library-worthy whisper.

            "Sure," the cashier said from her lofty perch on a stool in front of the register.  "You got exactly thirty seconds."

            Spike blinked at her as she glanced at the clock on the wall behind her, then took out a nail file and began sculpting her talons.  She reminded him vividly of Harmony for a moment, but without any of the naughtier aspirations she usually engendered.

            "Right," he said, going through the cart.  Everything was obviously too expensive, and he found himself digging through item after over-priced item, unwilling to leave the store without at least something to show that he was, in fact, actually doing something of importance, something that screamed "official business" and "don't mess with me or I'll fire you," something that symbolized power, authority…

            Then, tucked away underneath a set of black leather in-boxes, he saw a tiny gleam winking at him.  He'd thrown it in the cart with a bit of shudder, originally, reminded strongly of the Initiative gits, but now it was calling his name.

            "Uh, this," Spike said, putting the clipboard on the counter.  "I got enough for that?"

            The girl looked up at him.  "It's on sale for $6.50.  Comes with the pen."

            "Fine," he said.  "Ring me up."

            After sales tax, Spike had his card returned to him with a few pennies left on it.  He'd rather enjoyed throwing it on Angel's desk with a loud, "Keep the change, Ebenezer!"

            But now, his precious clipboard was hurtling through the air, and doom was written in its future.  Every particle of his being cried out at the unfairness of it all, and something inside him snapped.

Spike didn't know how he did it.  In later years, he could never recall how he'd managed to do what he did, though he could spin some extremely interesting though completely fictional yarns on the subject, a few of them involving time portals, radiant blue energy shooting from his fingertips, and oddly enough a naked Heather Locklear.  The truth of the matter was much simpler, but still remarkable.  Turning on a level of speed that actually caused the impossible of feat of making Illyria blink, he tore across the room at full tilt, leaped in the air like a basketball player blocking a game-winning shot, and plucked his clipboard out of harm's way, ending with it cradled against his chest.

"That was… unexpected," Illyria said, clearly stunned.

"Yeah, well, that's enough training for today," Spike said, unconsciously rubbing the board's clip in what could only be called a comforting gesture.  "We'll leave it there."

As he exited the room, Illyria's hearing picked up the words he was muttering under his breath.

"Nobody messes with you, sweetheart.  Gonna steal you a nice briefcase to live in soon.  How ya like that?"

"Humans, even the dead ones, are extremely strange creatures," Illyria said, raising an eyebrow.