Not everyone is born with a name on their hand – only the lucky ones.
When William is ten, the letter A appears. Until Drusilla finds him and makes him better, stronger, faster, A is the only letter on his hand.
He meets Angelus, the cruelest, most beautiful thing he's ever seen, and thinks he understands.
Over the first decade of his new life, the A fades; after Angelus leaves, a D appears, darker than the Ahad ever been.
Spike still believes he understands.
Alexander LeValle Harris grows up hating his name. His hand is empty; not even bumping into the most beautiful girl in the world is enough to call up a letter. (For a few months, when he was fourteen, a part of him kept expecting a J, followed swiftly by e, two s', and another e. No dice. And then Jesse is gone, and he's glad no name ever appeared. Better to have never had than to lose.)
The W appears after the Master dies. Willow suddenly gets tongue-tied and blushes anytime he looks at her, and it's weird. He's already lost Jesse; he doesn't want to lose Willow, too, and not for something as stupid as the possibility that the name will be hers. Really, what are the chances? There's, like, a thousand names that start with a w.
The i is next. Cordelia mocks him whenever they make out, and Willow can't even look at him. Oz doesn't seem to care, though, even when the double ls show up over the span of a year.
All sorts of things happen – but the biggie is definitely lying to Buffy about Willow's spell, and blowing up the school, and making out with Willow.
Xander still doesn't believe that it's Willow's name on his hand, though. He loves her, but not like that. And he's glad when she realizes that, too, though he wishes they'd figured it out before almost killing Cordelia.
Spike knows that he should leave Sunnydale, especially after being chipped into uselessness. The Slayer is fun to annoy, but that's all he's doing at the moment. He's no more dangerous than a kitten, and he's really getting tired of being reminded of that. But something's keeping him there.
The D is long gone from his hand when the Ashows back up. He thinks it might be Anya for just a moment, right after Buffy stares at him for fucking her.
But he feels nothing for Anya. Or Drusilla, or Buffy, or even Angel(us) anymore. He feels like the dust the sun will turn him into, and as he watches Buffy walk away, he wonders if tomorrow he should greet the sun.
He doesn't. He sits in his crypt and watches an lcrawl its way onto his hand.
Xander has always liked Spike more than he liked Angel. Of course, he likes root canals and every STD in the world more than he likes Angel, so. Not saying much.
Spike was happily evil and didn't try to hide it or apologize for it. Better than Angel's brooding attempts at being a hero.
And Spike was a better housemate than Xander's parents, so there's that, too.
But Spike's a vampire. And Xander… Xander staked his best friend (on accident, but he was holding the stake and Jesse turned to dust, and if Jesse had to die for something that wasn't his fault (and, yes, Jesse was already dead, Xander knows that) then every vampire in the world has to die.
But Buffy and Giles say Spike is useful and the good guys don't kill helpless things.
Xander wishes he could say fuck that, but he holds his tongue and waits to be proven right.
After Sunnydale, William is spelled out on Xander's hand. He waits almost three years, looking at every Will, Bill, Willy, Billy, and William twice, but none of them ever feel right.
After three years, he stops waiting. He'll either find William or he won't. That's no reason to stop living. Most of the world doesn't have a name on their hand, anyway. He's lucky to know his soulmate's name.
After LA, Spike wakes up. He has never been so astonished in his (un)life.
Alexander is written on his hand, large as life, and just as understandable. He stares at his palm, traces the letters with his finger, and then he realizes he's laying in sunlight.
"Oh," he whispers, and realizes he's breathing.