Comfort

A/N: This story takes place in season five, shortly after the events of "The Body" and "Forever". I thought that the Scoobies were particularly cruel to Spike when he brought flowers in "Forever" to honor Joyce's memory. I wanted to see Willow reach out to him, since she was the only one smart enough to figure out that Spike didn't have a card attached to the daisies he had.

So, by the power of fan fiction, I'm fixing that. Also, I should have an update to my other "Spillow" story soon. Thoughts and flashbacks are in italics.

Summary: Spike gets an unexpected visitor in his crypt when he needs it most.

Disclaimer: Don't own anything related to "Buffy The Vampire Slayer". Joss, 20th Century Fox, and all partners and subsidiaries do, and no money came to me. This is a labor of love, not profit. I also don't own any recognizable dialogue from the ep. "Lover's Walk" (which was written by Dan Vebber), but I have borrowed one line.

"Sod em…sod em all!" Spike shouted in his crypt that night after he took a big swig of his Jack Daniel's. "Bleedin' Scoobies!"

The vampire drained his bottle dry and threw it to the ground where it smashed into a million pieces. Some tears left his expressive blue eyes as he thought about the one person who had never done anything to hurt him, the one who actually cared about his feelings and somehow, inexplicably, knew how to reach down into his very soul, or at least, the softer side he knew he had.

Spike furiously wiped at his face and got bottle number two from the makeshift shelf where he kept all of his stash. A moan escaped him to go with the tears. He thought about Buffy's mum just then, reliving her words and her hot cocoa with the little marshmallows she'd given to him when he'd rolled into town after Drusilla's departure.

"Well, Spike, sometimes even when two people seem right for each other, their lives just take different paths," Joyce'd told him.

Spike drank some more and leaned over to turn on the telly.

Wish I'd appreciated you more, Joycie, he thought as he tried to absorb what the actors were saying. More tears fell, and this time, he didn't stop them.

XXXXXXXXXX

Willow looked outside the window at Buffy's place and stared into the night. She didn't know why exactly, but this evening, a certain peroxide vampire intruded on her thoughts. She should have not even been thinking about the neutered Big Bad, but she couldn't help it. He'd seemed so earnest, so sincere with his simple offer of flowers for Joyce's grave, and, as usual, Xander had tromped all over him.

Oh, she knew her best friend had no reason to like the vampire; in fact, the Scoobies had no reason to be buddy-buddy with Spike. Except, there was something in his tone when he'd talked with them that evening that had been genuinely sad, as though he'd lost his best friend.

It had only been present for a moment before he'd stomped off like the male he was back to his crypt, but she knew it was there.

Can vampires feel things? She'd wondered. Willow never did solve that mystery. She knew that if she told Buffy, Xander or Giles, they would have discounted that right away.

"Vampires," Giles would say in his 'Mr. Knowledgeable' voice, "don't feel anything. They can't feel any emotions except those that deal with hatred and killing."

Giles had said that many times, so many in fact that she often wondered if he were trying to convince himself that what he said was true. The Watcher had tried to hide it, but whenever Willow had really gotten a good look at him, she could see the doubt in his expression; the uncertainty in his eyes.

Of course, she had always been sensitive to things like that, not on the level of her girlfriend Tara, but still….The titian haired witch remembered one time in particular which had her questioning the whole "vampires can't feel" thing. The Scoobies had been walking toward Buffy's house after a routine patrol. They'd just gone past the cemetery and had been talking about Buffy's boyfriend and Spike.

"But, what about Angel?" Willow had asked once. "He-he loves Buffy."

"Deadboy also has a soul," Xander had put in. "Or did you forget the Texas Chainsaw Vampire that was Angelus that summer when he didn't?" Giles nodded in agreement.

"Yes, that is the exception," the Watcher had responded. "The soul feels the gentler emotions; the demon is incapable of it. It only knows about feeding, hunting and destruction of all life."

"But…when Spike took me to do that spell to get Drusilla back last week, he seemed, I dunno, down," Willow had protested.

"Of course he was down," Xander argued. "He lost the only woman who'd have sex with him and…". He'd thought about his statement and asked, "can I just say 'eww'?"

"Double eww," Buffy had agreed. The Watcher had fixed Willow with a strong glare.

"I cannot for the life of me understand your empathy with Spike," Giles had said to her. "He kidnapped you without feeling pity or remorse for his actions and almost made you do a love spell which, had it been completed, would have been an untold disaster."

"Agreed," Willow affirmed, "but I'm just saying that he missed her, o-or at least seemed to."

"Because she was his sire," Buffy had said, "or whatever that word is. Kinda like instinct, right, Giles?"

"Exactly!" The Watcher said, pleased that Buffy had absorbed something in her duty as the Slayer. "The demon inside of a vampire functions purely on instinct, like a dog missing the leader of the pack. That is all."

"But…" Willow started saying, puzzled. Before she could find out more about Angel, Spike or vampires in general, the other friends had changed the subject.

Willow had promised herself that she would research that particular subject whenever she had time, but of course, she never did. Being Buffy's best friend also meant being a sort of backup for the Slayer, which was a 24-seven kind of job.

So, here she was, staring out of the window and pondering the question: did vampires have feelings, especially the touchy feely kinds?

"Willow?" Tara's voice gently caused her to turn from the window. She ran a massaging hand down Willow's back and asked, "You okay, sweetie?"

Willow spun around and sat on the couch. "Yeah, sure, okay, right as rain," Willow tried assuring her girlfriend. A moment later, she frowned, adding, "I never did understand that statement. I mean, how can rain be right? It's not as though it feels anything except, well, wet, and…".

"Now I know you're okay," Tara said, smiling shyly. Willow smiled back as Xander emerged from the kitchen. He held an empty rocky road ice cream carton in his hand and was licking some of its contents off of his finger. Anya was behind him.

"Hey, guys, does Buffy keep any ice cream in the basement?" he asked. Anya smiled slyly and put her curly head against his back.

"Not anymore," Willow said, stealing a glance at Tara. The fellow wiccan blushed but didn't say anything. Anya frowned.

"Well, this isn't fair!" She cried. "We need more ice cream so that we can engage in more sexual tasting games later!"

Xander spun around, yelling, "Anya!" Anya's look was pure innocence.

"What?" She asked. Xander went into the living room toward the front door. He grabbed his coat which hung on the peg.

"Guess I'll have to go to the store and get some before Buffy and Giles get back from patrolling," he said, putting it on.

"No, no, I'll go," Willow told everyone. She grabbed her jacket which was right next to it.

"I don't know…" Xander said, uncertain. "Maybe I should come with."

Willow put on her classic pout, followed by resolve face. "I'll be okay, really," she said. "It's only a short walk. And, I'll put up a force field so I'm okay."

Looking her right in the face, Xander said, "Okay, but call if you need me. You're sure about this?"

Willow nodded and said the magic words. Tara tensed a little, but she forced herself to remain calm. Willow could handle this, she told herself since they'd done force field magics together so that any one of the friends could be protected just in case Buffy or even Angel (who sometimes visited), weren't nearby. Tara hoped she was right, and Willow would return safe and sound. The blonde witch offered up a prayer that that would be the case.

Her force field in place, Willow headed for her destination.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Spike had gone through at least four bottles of JD's and a whole bucket of Buffalo wings. He burped loudly when he saw that another show was on.

"Who the bloody 'ell swished to this rot?" The vampire cried, slurring his words. Spike changed the channel with the remote so that it showed one of Joyce's favorite movies, Steel Magnolias. He watched the scene play out with the actresses in front of Julia Roberts' casket and threw the bottle at the wall.

He was so angry just then, so furious that Buffy's mother had left. "Why, Joycie?" He thought he was asking no one in particular. "Why you, and not…me?"

His vision blurred somewhat in a drunken haze, but when it cleared, Willow had crept downstairs and was looking at him. Spike burped loudly.

"R—" Burp! "ed?" The vampire croaked. "What are you doin' here? Come back to make sport with me?" He stood up and stumbled slightly to where she stood.

His bloodshot, blue eyes accusing her, he slurred, "Come to ac"—Hiccup! "—cuse me o' wanting Buffy again?" He snapped. "Well, you do it in your own bloody home!"

Willow took the bottle out of Spike's hand. "Oi!" The vampire shouted. She saw how many bottles littered the floor. Besides three Jack Daniel's, there were at least two cans of beer.

The wicca got a garbage bag and started cleaning up the mess. As soon as she put a bottle in the bag, Spike reached inside, withdrew the bottle or can, and deposited it back on the floor.

"You didn't answer my question!" He shouted. "What. Are. You. Doin'. Here?" He punctuated his words.

"I came to see how you were doing," Willow responded truthfully. Spike peered at her suspiciously.

"Assuming you're fibbin', why would you wanna do that?" He asked. She put down the bag.

Willow moved slightly toward him, though Spike's odor prevented her moving too close.

"Cause Xander shouldn't have said what he did, a-about you and Buffy," Willow stated. "He can be Mr. Insensitive sometimes."

"Wha' he is is a right ponce!" Spike commented, still slurring slightly. He went over to the mini fridge and selected a beer. Popping open the can, the vampire took a giant swig and offered Willow some. The witch declined, smiling.

"Your bloody loss, Red," Spike told her. He drank some more. Willow sat down on his couch and looked at him for a minute. She knew she had to ask her question, and there woudn't be a better time.

"I need to know, and I want you to tell me: how did you feel about Buffy's mother?" Willow inquired, curious as to his reaction.

Spike looked down at her for a long moment as though she were the daftest woman in the world. But then, he finally answered in all seriousness, "She was my best friend." He joined her on the couch.

Willow didn't say anything. She took a moment to absorb that bit of information. It was then that she saw the tear stains on his face. Willow wanted to reach out and wipe them away, but she didn't. She watched him, and waited for him to speak.

Spike stared ahead and drank some more as he continued, "'ve never had friends, not really. When I was human, they were kids of me Mum's and Da's mates, not mine. An', after I was turned, I thought Angelus would be my best mate, but he turned out to be the biggest disappointment of all."

He turned to Willow and said, "Never had a human friend, except for Joyce. She was a great lady. Never got judgmental wi' me; never treated me like dirt or put on airs…". The vampire paused, flinging an accusatory look at Willow, "like you an' your mates did. She treated me like I really was inside, not like some stereotype cooked up by the bloody Watcher's council!"

Unbidden, Willow reached over and pulled Spike into her arms. He leaned his head on her shoulder, sobbing quietly. "Why you, Joycie?" He asked a second time. "Why'd you go an' leave Nibblet and Kitten an'…me?" He punched Willow's shoulder, hard. She winced, but let the vampire cry.

"You were the only decent one livin' in Sunnyhell, Joyce!" Spike declared softly. After he pulled apart from Willow, he said, "You were the only one who…liked me, other than Nibblet."

Willow decided then and there that her friends were wrong. Vampires could and did feel, at least, this one did. She didn't know where that left their relationship now that she knew. The titian haired witch had a lot to think about concerning whether she would share her newfound discovery with the other Scoobies, but Willow knew the truth now, and knowing what she did, she just couldn't leave Spike in abject misery.

"No, she isn't," Willow said timidly.

Spike looked at her, asking, "Wha'?"

Willow reached out, and she grabbed his hand. "No," she said more assertively. "She isn't the only one who is your friend."

He looked at the certainty in her green eyes as she told him, "I want to be, too."

Spike didn't know quite how to react, or what to say, so he stared at her. Willow tugged on his shirt.

"C'mon," she said. Spike rose from his couch, a questioning look forming in his blue eyes.

"What?" He asked.

Willow answered, "It seems I owe you some daisies. You deserve to say 'good bye' to her, so, we should head for the store before it closes and see if we can pick up some flowers to put on her grave."

Spike blinked several times. He couldn't believe what he'd just heard. When he found his voice a moment later, he said, "Thanks, Red."

He bounded up from the couch and told her, "Better wash first. Wouldn't do standin' in front of her grave, whiffing like I am."

Willow watched the end credits of the movie and waited for her new friend.

XXXXXXXXXXX

Later that night, Spike and Willow made their way toward Joyce's grave with some fresh daisies and a pint of rocky road ice cream.

"Why daisies?" Willow asked. Spike shrugged.

"Always been my favorite flower," he said. "I would look at them after bein' turned, and I'd always see little suns in the middles. That made me smile."

He looked uncertain all of a sudden as he asked, "do you think she'd like them?"

They neared Joyce's headstone. Seeing the year of her birth and the year she died, both Willow and Spike tensed for a moment. Then, Willow told the vampire, "I think she'd like whatever you like."

Gesturing behind her, Willow said, "I'll just…be over here."

Spike nodded, saying, "Right, then." When she had gone a discreet distance, not enough so that he couldn't make sure she was safe but enough to afford some privacy, Spike said his goodbye, a single tear rolling down his face, but a smile in his heart as he thanked the stars Drusilla loved for his new best friend. He didn't know what would happen, whether they'd keep their friendship private or whether Willow would tell the others, but either way, he was grateful that he had someone else to share things with.

Maybe he wasn't exactly the Big Bad anymore, but now, he decided as he and Willow walked toward Buffy's place, or at least for tonight, Spike could live with that.

THE END