"angst-snark -- Spike is a whacked-out, eyes-rolled-back-in-his-head, highly fucked-up demon drug addict. All skinny and stumbling and craving and nursing the deep bitter angsty pain of the author's choice"
I don't think this quite fits the bill, not as closely as it should. I'm sorry. I hope it's not too disappointing.
Edited to add: I changed the title because...um. It was of a badness. Its current title is just lame, and that's better.
It was funny how things worked out. Ten months, three weeks and a day after the bottom dropped out of Sunnydale, Willow fought her last bearable fight with Kennedy. A week later she sat across from Xander in a diner in Cleveland and he smiled down at the table like a man twice his age. His fork wandered back and forth across his plate. He was too drunk to eat eggs or meet her eyes. Meanwhile Giles hid in England, Buffy traveled the world and never called, Andrew was dead, and Dawn and Faith slayed together intimately, synchronized fembots in plum lipstick and black leather.
Oh, and--317 slayers? Too fucking many.
Willow hit the re-set button that night. Because she could, and no one was around to stop her. Threads of magic twisted in her grasp, braided into different patterns. The world was her macrame.
She awoke back in Sunnydale, in college, reborn squeaky-clean. Life: 80 degrees and cloudless. Warren: alive, quasi-evil, not on the radar. Xander a busy carpenter bee. Buffy dating a psych major.
With the First nipped before it could bud, life, diverted, had gone on. And Willow surveyed her handiwork and saw that it was good.
Except for that whole, unexpected, nutty, not-in-the-cards Spike thing. The Spike and oh-hell-no Xander thing.
"How did this happen?" she asked, bewildered, peeking out Buffy's window across the dark lawn. Half in shadow, Spike hunched by his favorite stalking tree, face drawn in moonlight, hands shaking around his lighter, fumbling it upward toward a cigarette. Xander took it away, thumbed it, and the flare of light and dip of head and steadying hand was an intimacy. Text, unsub.
Buffy frowned. "How did what happen what?"
"What's wrong with Spike?"
Lifting the curtain, Buffy peered out next to her. Shrugged. "He looks like his usual whacked-out vampire self to me."
Questions not safe to ask. Willow could only be watchful, could only poke gently. Doing so, she learned that Anya had dried up and blown away in a demony huff, Spike had gotten a soul that now seemed predestined, then returned and lapsed into old habits of annoyance and new ones with needles. The first time she saw him up close, his eyes were all pupil, hair a white-capped wave--frozen scrub--his body junked out and loose. Mouth a smile he never took off, that you couldn't look at for long. Tight and salacious and dead, like everything that stared out from his eyes.
Xander's gaze followed him everywhere, like a dog. It made her itch to meddle.
"You're stupid. You're the capital city of stupid," she heard him say to Spike one night, through the open door to the back porch.
"Yeah, I know." Tiredness.
"If you don't get off this junk, it's going to eat you up. Like a big mouth hoovering all the meat from a taco, until you're just this empty shell." A speaking silence, a look Willow pictured before Xander continued. "Sorry. I'm kinda hungry."
"How many times you said this now? Twenty, thirty? You on a quota?"
Xander, quieter: "How many times do you need to hear it?"
Worriedly, unable to butt out--when did she ever?--Willow shifted until she could see them standing on the porch, close but with a distance between them that made miles of inches. They stood there, a hurting silence lengthening, until her own hurt forced her away.
Late at night, sitting cross-legged on her quilted bedspread with cocoa at hand, she had taken up watching over Sunnydale. It was all wrong, despite the corrections she'd made. She could see into the corners of this stupid burg, and what she saw made her angry. Spike in a skeevy, rat-crawled tunnel, sprawled on a pile of rags with one needle-tracked arm outflung, magic juice sucking away his invulnerability, leaving him prone to the same sore, raddled state of misery any smackhead has to suffer. He stared at the ceiling, eyes blind, and she thought: I could reach out right now and erase him--zap, poof!--and Xander would wonder for a while, but he'd deal with it, grieve, move on.
And as she brooded, Spike gasped and seized, his body arcing off his matted nest, wasted muscles taut. Willow touched one finger to her orb and watched it pass through into a glow of power, ripples of possibility moving toward Spike where he lay, a figure in a snow globe, a dying match-girl in a storm. Fat lot of good a soul had done him. Dumb vampire.
His death was so close; in his wretched twisting pain he was no more than a worm under her moving finger. And then Xander entered the picture. She had to pull out--she paused, for almost too long, but pulled out. Xander knelt in a panic, face tense in a way she recognized. There was the laying-on of hands, and the guttering candle of Spike steadied and continued to burn.
It was wrong to keep watching, but she did. Mute, a TV show without sound, they acted out their private drama, unaware of her eyes: Spike coming to, Xander cupping his face, stroking his hair, mouthing reproving and snarky things that were reflected in Spike's wan smile.
Then, effulgence, Spike's ferocious eyes fixing on Xander in demand, the closing pact of their bodies, nakedness and naughty touching. Xander moving frantically, and she shouldn't be watching her friend, his shudderings, but she needed to see and to measure and to judge. To decide.
He thrust as if he couldn't help himself, his silent words urgent, and Spike grabbed at him with desperation, eyes open widely, drinking in Xander's face. A needy man. Soul or no soul, he would take and keep taking, thirsty for life until he was a big pile of dust. Vampire. He'd been that when Willow first met him. He'd never change.
It was clear that Xander needed help. Willow had some ideas in mind.