Just Another Day

Willow walked slowly down the street, her arms wrapped tightly around herself, as if she would come apart if she didn't hold fast to her own body. It was her birthday, not that anyone cared. Not even Xander…or Tara.

The two people she loved most in the world, one as her friend, the other as her everything, and neither of them could even bring themselves to wish her Happy Birthday. She truly wasn't worth caring about at all, Willow realized. She was useless, worthless, loathsome, a junkie…nothing.

She didn't know why she had even left the house. But the pain of withdrawal had gotten to her and she decided to go out in search of Hostess cupcakes, probably the closest thing to birthday cake she could get for herself at this hour. It had been weeks since she had used magick, but the pain was still there. Maybe chocolatey goodness would help. After all, chocolate was chemically the same as love. And since no one would ever love her again, chocolate was undoubtedly the best she could do.

Spike walked out the door of the bar he'd been in and bumped right into the last person he expected to see out on Sunnydale's streets late at night. What the hell did the little witch think she was doing walking around Sunnydale at this hour? Was she trying to get herself killed? He held onto her as he nearly tripped and fell, righting himself. Then he took a good look at her. Even in his condition, he could see the tears that threatened to spill from her eyes and smell the despair and loneliness that poured off of her in waves.

He recalled a discussion at the Magic Box earlier that day. Something Xander had said…oh, bloody Hell. It was Red's birthday! He remembered Xander wanting to go wish Willow a Happy Birthday. But Buffy and the demon chit had told him not to…ordered him not to was more like it. Saying she didn't deserve it and hadn't earned their trust or forgiveness. Well, bugger that. Spike might be shagging Buffy, might even be in love with her, but that didn't mean he couldn't forgive Willow.

Hell, if it weren't for Willow, none of them would have made it through the months when Buffy had been dead. How conveniently everyone forgot all that Willow had done for them. Especially that whiny, puling bitch of a girlfriend Willow had. How easily she had cast Willow aside, even after everything she had done for her when Glory had sucked out her mind and left her a raving loony. Willow had been prepared to take care of her forever. But at the first sign of trouble, Tara turned tail and ran. She never deserved Red anyway, in Spike's opinion. Just like Buffy didn't deserve him. Maybe he wasn't good for much these days, what with the chip in his head and letting himself be the Slayer's sex toy, but he could do something. He could try and make things right for Willow.

Just what she needed, Willow thought. Bumping into someone she knew was the last thing she wanted tonight. Bad enough that she was all alone on her birthday. But now she was really in for it. A lecture and taunting on top of everything else. Maybe she should just ditch her stake and holy water and take the shortcut through the cemetery on her way home. If this wasn't a sign that life wasn't worth living, she didn't know what was.

But then she looked into Spike's eyes and saw something she never expected to see…compassion. Spike felt compassion…for her? And with that, Willow burst into tears as Spike wrapped his arms around her

"There now, pet, I've got you. It's all right. Spike's here. I've got you." Spike rubbed circles on her back and placed gentle kisses on her neck and cheek. Kisses that gradually turned from comforting to sensual as he continued to hold Willow tight.

Spike's words brought a fresh flood of tears to Willow's eyes. She couldn't remember the last time anyone had even touched her. Let alone held her and soothed her and wanted her. And she was in so much pain. She needed someone so much right now. But what about Spike? Wouldn't she be using him? She couldn't do that. She couldn't use him to escape her pain, no matter how much she wanted to.

"Spike. I can't do this to you. I won't lie. Right now, all I want to do is take you back to my parent's house and let you hold me and take care of me and make love to me. But I can't do that to you. I can't use you to make me feel better. You deserve so much more than that, Spike. You deserve so much more than me."

Right after Willow spoke those words, Spike lost control. He couldn't believe his ears. After all the nights of Buffy telling him he was a thing, a soulless demon, unworthy of love, fit only to be used and cast aside until she needed to use him again, Willow's words broke the dam inside him that had kept the pain at bay. He clutched Willow ever tighter and began to sob into her neck.

"Spike, what's wrong? What did I say? What did I do? I'm sorry!"

"Nothing, pet," Spike choked out. "It's just…there's some things I want to tell you. You didn't hurt me sweetheart. Is it okay if we take that trip to your folks' house? Just to talk?"

"Okay, Spike. Let's do that," Willow said.

Arms around each other, Willow and Spike made their way through the streets of Sunnydale. Willow had a feeling that nothing was ever going to be the same again after tonight. And that was the best birthday present she could ever have asked for.