1. The Trapper Keeper was Willow's, originally. It was purple and covered in rainbows with the kind of intensity only Lisa Frank could manage. It was breathtaking.

It was bequeathed to Xander in eighth grade. He couldn’t carry it around school without being called a fag, but those stupid rainbows made him so damned happy he couldn't bear to part with it. Every time he looked at it felt like one of Willow's hugs. Like family that didn't throw you down a flight of stairs because they were too drunk to notice the basement door was open when they hit you.

2. It showed up in Spike's crypt shortly after he was worked over by Glory. Xander didn't explain it's significance when he left it there beside the cooler of blood. Spike was asleep, healing his penance. Xander hoped he'd find it as silly and comforting as he did, thinking maybe he’d even use it to keep a journal in. Since they both pretended he hadn't seen the notebook Spike kept in between the couch cushions in Xander's basement, maybe pretending he wasn't collecting his thoughts in an aggressively cheerful binder covered in rainbows wouldn't be that much more of a stretch.

3. He didn't think about it again until it showed up at his bedside when he lost his eye. The colors were almost blinding to his overworked right eye that was now rapidly filling with tears. He couldn't imagine Spike keeping it. He opened the binder and saw paper and a note, written in Spike's unmistakable, meticulous copperplate.

Yes, I kept it. Willow told me. Thanks for the loan, mate. Your need’s greater.

Your Friend,


Xander let out a little laugh. It was a miserable situation, but with the rainbow binder under his arm, he felt a little more okay.

4. The corridor at Wolfram and Hart was sterile, beige and florescent. Something grungy with the love and handling of a decade looked as out of place as he imagined he did, strolling past the three piece suits at two in the afternoon in his eye patch and too long hair and frayed flannel and cargo pants.

He hoped so, anyway.

Spike was bandaged and pale in the hospital bed, hooked to an IV of blood and other fluids. He looked small and tired and sad. He looked up as Xander entered.

"Hey," he said. “Came by to give you this."

5. Spike looked at the binder and almost smiled before he tried to reach for it with hands that wouldn't respond. He let out a roar of frustration but Xander stepped forward and took his hand instead. He set the binder on Spike’s legs.

Spike looked down to where their hands were joined. "Thank you,” he whispered.

Xander shrugged but bravely met the sincerity in Spike's eyes. "You earned it."

"Wasn't talking about the rainbows, mate."

Xander placed a warm hand on an undamaged forearm. "I know. You earned that too."

Xander placed Spike's hand over the Trapper Keeper.

Spike smiled.

The End