“Buffy… don’t do that.” Spike
I pulled the cord above me, bringing enough
light to make shadows behind him. I focused on him… even though he was
shirtless, and his eyes were sleepy, and his hair had that disheveled look that
I love… or, used to love. But if I told him I loved him?
What if I said it, Spike? Wouldn’t
make you any stronger, right? That’s what you told me, and you were right. Because
it wouldn’t make you stronger. It’d only make you weaker. You’d fall, crying
on your knees, wouldn’t you? Chain up to the wall again, maybe? Don’t you get
it, Spike? It doesn’t matter if I want to say it… I can’t say it. There’s too
much at stake.
“Doesn’t matter…” he straightened up, “Right?”
The light bulb swayed in circles, and I watched
Spike’s shadow grow and fade. I focused on that shadow. That shadow is
Spike. Talk to the shadow, not the vampire. The shadow can’t touch you or
He stepped in front of the shadow.
“But we’ll never know,” he paused,
and lifted a hand to my chin, “Buffy, look at me.”
Bad idea. I slammed my eyes shut when he lifted
my face, but a sudden terror of me looking kissable came to mind, so I opened
them. He was staring right back at me… shirtless… sleepy eyes… disheveled
hair… looking kissable. Worse idea…
“You can’t love me…” he whispered.
I jumped, and Spike backed into the punching
bag. He glanced up the stairs and rolled his sleepy eyes.
I turned, and Dawn spoke from the top, “You can,
um, come back up now.”
“Be right up.”
“Hit the light first, eh Slayer?” Spike pulled
back the sheets.
I clenched my fist, ready to break that bulb…
but tugged the cord instead. The light went out.
I look dead.
I stood in front of the bathroom mirror, staring
at a stranger’s reflection.
This can’t be me.
I let my palms rest on the cool
sink, bringing my face closer to the stranger’s. She was so tired… so sad… she
Is that how they see me?
Is that how Spike sees me?
I always thought he was the
desperate one… but looking in these reflected eyes I can see down into that
girl’s soul… I can see her despair… and she’s scared.
And she’s alone.
And she doesn’t know what to do.
And she’s me…
The quick knock on the door
surprised my hand, and I knocked three toothbrushes to the floor. I knelt to
pick them up.
“Buffy?” it was Dawn, “Buffy, can I
But the door was already half-open,
and then quickly shut behind Dawn.
“You’ve been in here for awhile…”
she stepped closer, “I…we were getting worried.”
“I’m fine,” I stood with the
toothbrushes and placed them back on the sink, keeping my eyes off that strange
girl in the mirror.
Dawn snuck behind me, “What
“In the basement… with Spike…”
What happened in the basement with
Spike? It sounds like such a simple question. It sounds so plain… like the
sentences teachers would write on the board, and then underline the nouns, and
circle the verbs…
“Did he…” Dawn interrupted my
private English lesson, “Are you two…”
I lost focus and looked up at the
mirror. I saw Dawn standing behind the stranger… I saw Dawn watching my back.
And Dawn looked at me like I was a stranger, too. Like she doesn’t know me
“It’s okay if you don’t tell me,”
she added, “I just… want to help.”
I must look really desperate. My
eyes drifted towards the stranger in the mirror again. I stared at her… hard
at her… almost through her. Then the words just came out.
“I think I said something wrong.”
“What did you—”
“I…” I wasn’t sure why I stopped
her, or what I was going to say when I did… but I knew that I had to stop her,
“I’m really tired.”
Dawn was hurt now. She was hurt
that I didn’t tell her. And she was trying to hide it, but I could see her
eyes starting to swell up.
“I’m sorry,” I watched the stranger
tell her, “I can’t say… because I don’t know.”
Dawn nodded, straightening herself
up. And I watched her stand taller, and she looked so pretty. So alive and
aware. She looks strong.
“It’s okay,” Dawn smiled a little,
and then she wrapped her arms around my shoulders. Her head fell against my
And I lifted my eyes to the mirror
again… and finally saw my true reflection.
Continued in Part 23