Sorry for the repost, but there were a few things here I wanted to try to fix. Still seems a little off, but I guess this is as close as I'll get to being satisfied with this story.

This was for challenge, on livejournal, which I can't re-find. Basically the idea was to use all of the following words:

a broken shoelace

a drainpipe

a wine bottle

a spoon

and a street light

Spike fixed his gaze on the frayed nylon erupting from his torn shoe lace with profound annoyance. I had broken earlier that morning when Spike groggily attempted to put some sense of order into his attire, and Spike had consequently spent most of the morning glaring at his feet, as if the force of his stare could cause the tattered material to reattach.

After coming to the conclusion that the shoelace was determined to stay unattached, he began to wonder why it had broken in the first place. Most people would attribute this to clumsiness, and move on. However, Spike was not really the clumsy type of guy, and this was the second incident in a week, so after mulling over this for several moments, he suspected that his shoelaces were plotting against him.

The thought pissed him off just enough to cause him to contemplate burning the remaining fabric with his lighter and tossing the betraying shoelaces down a sewage drain.

This intense and admittedly illogical anger had nothing to do with aesthetics. Spike's clothes were beginning to unravel at the seams, and he honestly couldn't remember the last time he had cut, or for that matter really brushed, his hair. Furthermore, even if had he noticed the disarray of his appearance, it wouldn't have cause a stronger reaction than a shrug, and possibly a cigarette break.

A broken shoelace, on the other hand, seemed to hang over his head like a dark mocking cloud. There were days when it felt like life was playing an elaborate practical joke on Spike, and nevermore so then when he had to walk around with a broken shoelace all day because even his footwear apparently refused to cooperate with him.

Logically, Spike knew it was really a miniscule thing, completely unworthy of becoming upset over. Life had basically shot at, spit on, and screwed with Spike for as long as he could remember, and he long ago accepted this as a simple fact of his existence, shrugging off life's attempts with a cocky grin, and more often then not good round of violence, or alcohol. However, there was something about a broken shoelace which inspired a deep, primal rage in him. Being almost killed on a daily basis was respectable somehow. A broken shoelace just meant the universe was mocking him

He was still staring at his foot disapprovingly with these thoughts in mind when she appeared.

Julia was always beautiful, of course, but there was something about these midnight alley meetings of theirs that seemed to amplify her beauty. Even as she sat beside him, her body light against his, and teased a cigarette out of his pocket, he wondered briefly how it was possible that she was actually there, so close to him.

In an earlier time he might have found this reverence pathetic. Spike was not a man who was easily impressed or shaken, but somehow Julia effortlessly knocked away these parts of his personality, as if waking Spike up to parts of himself he thought had long been lost.

That effect was really what he had grown to associate with Julia, why he had begun to cherish their time together even more. It was the way she could take mundane, everyday things he'd never given a second thought and make them new.

It was a trench coat, swirling around her ankles, hugging her thin form as if it might swallow her, giving her the appearance of a black coated angel. It was heeled black boots that clicked as they, confidently, delicately strode against the glass and concrete, a warm familiar sound even among the decay. And a street light, a street light that cast a yellow halo around her, as it highlighted the soft blond hair, and reflected off the clear blue depths of her eyes.

Nonetheless, Spike was not a man to stay in this state of amazement for long, and he soon snapped out of it, returning to something more along the lines of the calm, suave face he normally projected to the world.

Julia, predictably, saw straight through this. She smirked at him, even as she lit her cigarette.

"So, are we doing this, or what," she exhaled, folding his cigarette carton and tucking it back in his jacket pocket.

"Client bailed. Shin's taking care of it. And, by the way, don't you have your own cigarettes?"

"Sure," she replied through the smoke and her grin. "But yours are free." He stared at her in disbelief, even as she continued, "But don't worry. I brought you something in return."

"Oh, really?" he replied, his voice low, the tone teasing and gentle.

Julia rifled through her pockets and emerged with a packet of shoe laces, holding it up to him as if it was some priceless treasure. Which at the moment, he supposed it kind of was. He wasn't really sure how to appropriately respond to such a grand gesture, so he opted for offering to buy her a drink since they no longer had any syndicate business that night.

In the end they had ended up the bar where they were suppose to meet the client anyway. Hours later, several beers and a wine bottle sat empty on the table in front of them. They weren't drunk, but Spike had thought at the time, surprisingly to his own disappointment, that perhaps they would later use the empty bottles to explain the way their lips had met, and limbs had entwined against each other.

She had stood up as if to leave, and the words had left his mouth before his brain could fully comprehend them.


She had turned around suddenly at his words, or perhaps more at the full longing tone of his voice. Her elbow had knocked a spoon from the table, and the sound as it crashed into the floor seemed to mimic two lives, two destinies colliding inseparably into together. Normally Spike might have resented his fate so intimately tied to another's. But it was Julia, and somehow that fact took away all the terror. That night the world just seemed right.

Little did he know that months later, they would still be having the same conversation, that they would stand outside his apartment, hours before the sun would rise, a drain pipe dripping besides them, smoke rising from the sewers.

"Stay," he asked her occasionally, as they stood together in the quiet morning hours made for the end of love affairs. Her response never changed, though he hadn't really expected it to.

"You know I can't," she sighed in answer to his never ending plea, her voice suddenly exhausted and resigned.

He knew it was true, so he never made a point of asking more than once. Instead he kissed her, and held her for a brief moment in the quiet morning hours where they could almost believe nothing existed but the two of them. Then she left, and the sun rose, and he had to tell himself to let go off such impossible thoughts.

And even though he knew all the reasons why she shouldn't stay, why she couldn't, he had begun to plan for the day when she would. And every morning as watched her walk, however briefly, out of his life, he planned for the day when the rising dawn would illuminate their bodies as they wrapped into each other, rather than merely serve as cover as they ran away from each other, marking the sad ending of another secret love affair.