He isn’t looking for it.

He’s searching for something entirely different, actually, cursing short attention spans while sifting through plastic cases and leather and crumpled cartons.

Then it just – falls out.

And his hands pause in their hunt.

It’s a cheap red spiral notebook. The kind he used in high school, only he doubts there are superheros scrawled in the margins of this one.

Naturally, he picks it up and studies the cover. There’s no title.

He glances around to check if the room had suddenly grown eyes or if Jesus is standing in the corner.

Then he figures he has the right to know what’s inside a frickin’ diary if Spike has the right to live in his house and take up the whole couch every night and steal his goddamn wallet. He flips open the cover. The first page is filled with writing. He leafs through and finds that every page is packed with tiny words and perfect loopy letters, to more than half of the way through the notebook. He turns back to the first page.

At the top of the page, slightly larger than the rest of the text, is a date. 1880. Xander frowns. His eyes drop to the next line.

Emily Wilkins - Brunette. Alley between sweet shop and tailor.

And the next.

Richard Bristow - Blonde. Horse stall.

He scans the rows of similar passages, each stating a name and brief description of features, then a place. Some lack a last name, and often there is just Man or Woman.

Xander grows uncomfortable as he turns the page. There’s something fiercely personal about the names, despite the formal way they’re presented, each perfectly spaced and painstakingly documented. There is a whole other page filled, and two thirds of the next. He turns the third page and at the top of the fourth is another year. 1881.

Frowning harder, Xander skips a large chunk of pages and the notebook opens to 1975. More names, although the descriptions are noticeably longer, with more detail in minuscule print – as if it’s trying to disappear into the paper – and at the end of every few paragraphs the letters begin to quiver atop their thin blue tightrope. Dangerously close to falling.

The shaky words stop abruptly. Then the writing continues, as if staring up again after a rest and ready to move on.

There are hundreds of names, it seems like. They’re starting to make Xander nervous.

His palms are beginning to sweat, because the names are starting to become more than indifferent columns. Each year brings more details and more hesitant handwriting. There’s a definite air of sorrow and regret as he reads deeper into the book. Little personal messages begin popping up at the end of sentences.

Xander thinks he knows, but he really doesn’t want to. He really wants to be wrong.

Finally, stuffing the sharpening dread into his back pocket where his wallet should be, Xander turns to the very last written page.

Shock settles in like floodwater as he recognizes names.

The handwriting is now erratic, scribbling across lines in a desperate attempt to be emptied onto the paper. The words themselves shiver down the page as if chilled by their meaning.

blood, scared, and sorry jump out at him like flares.

It’s not so formal now.

It’s not so nice.

Spike’s words – because they are his; Xander would be able to tell even if he hadn’t found the notebook in his room – aren’t so much stating facts anymore as they are pleading.

could feel her fucking heart

didn’t mean to do it so rough

so sorry

Xander snaps the notebook shut. He’s shaking a little now and runs his hands through his hair as he forces himself to take deep breaths.

Those people.

Spike killed those people.

So many. Xander had heard the words before, but actually seeing them laid out like that, seeing them form an actual person before his eyes, and seeing the sheer number of them...

It was wrong. It was so wrong, and he should be sickened and angry to have that thing living under his roof, and he should be grabbing something sharp and wooden and showing no mercy, like Spike did to all those people.

But Xander isn’t Spike.

And the things that Giles tells him make him a good person are suddenly feeling like flaws.

Because Xander can’t see the killer in those words. He can only see a broken man.

There’s a muted click from outside the room and with a shock Xander realizes he’s still kneeling on the floor next to a pile of Spike’s scattered possessions. He staggers to his feet with a steadying hand on the bed.

It isn’t until he’s out of the room that he realizes he’s still clutching the red notebook in his hand.

Spike spots it right away.

His wide eyes, sharp with fear and disbelief, move from the book to Xander’s face, which he’s now aware is slightly damp. The vampire’s arm falls to his side. He stands there a moment, as if waiting for Xander to do something. Something bad, going by the look in his eyes.

Xander doesn’t move. Spike slowly turns around.


Xander holds out his hand and steps forward, but can’t think of anything else to say and stills. But Spike pauses at the door.

“Come back. Please.”

The vampire waits a moment, studying the man, then nods, barely perceptibly. Then he’s disappeared from the doorway again.

Xander sets the notebook on the table and collapses onto the couch, feeling weak and shaky and sweaty. He feels something on the cushion poking his back and reaches under him to fish it out.

His wallet.

He hurls it at the wall.

The End