All About Spike

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The Secret Diary of Geek the Girl
By Rachel A.

Sequel to A Poor Captain; part of The Geek Series

Rating: R
Summary: See title.
Characters: Spike, Willow, Giles.
Pairing: Spike/Willow
Categories: Drama, Romance, Character Study
Disclaimer: I really wish they were mine, more than ever. But alas, no.
Notes: Thanks so much to Cynthia and Laura for encouragment, beta, and just plain being there. And thanks to Lovesbitca and Lyric for wanting to read this. This story is part of a series. You can find the rest of the stories here. This one's a bit different than the others. It's a bit different than anything I've done, actually. I'd be thrilled to know what you think.



September 1, 2002
Dear Diary,

I have decided to keep two of you. First will be my "journal" which I keep for the ladies. I've been writing in that one since I came here, and I will keep writing in it so I have something to show them. A place to talk about the impressions I have when they make me go somewhere, the food I've been eating, the oh-so-significant dreams I've been having, the stuff I think they want to hear to make them think I'm doing better. And then there will be you, my new, secret diary. You will be for me, and I promise to only tell you the truth. 'Cause there's really no one else I can tell.

I know you will never judge me, diary, and you won't get upset or yell if I tell you I don't want to live anymore. I know you won't get nervous and panicky if I say that I miss doing magic- that it's the only thing that might make me feel something. I will have to keep you very well hidden so that Giles never finds you.

I'm sitting in my room now, looking out the window and wondering if Spike will ever come back. He hasn't been around since the night he yelled at me and I cried and told him to go away. That was such a strange and horrible night. So many feelings just came flooding in all at once, and it was too much. There was so much I'd been trying to keep out. I don't know why he had to make me tell him all the terrible things I did.

The thing was, he didn't seem very surprised. He wasn't shocked and horrified, like my friends, that sweet, dorky Willow could do those things and be that bad. It seemed like he'd almost expected it, like he didn't even think it was that big a deal. It was like he'd known all along what was inside me, what I could do, what I really am.

It was kind of nice, feeling like someone could see me like that, so deep into me he could almost reach my bones. I didn't feel like I had to pretend, and that was kind of a relief after all the pretending I've been doing lately.

But it was also very uncomfortable. I felt naked with him staring at me and making his demands. I felt like he knew how dirty I really am. It scared me. Most of the time I just want to hide. I guess that's why I told him to leave me alone.

Now I sort of wish I hadn't said that. What's wrong with me that I miss having someone lurking around me, peering through my window at night? I must be really sick.

I wonder if Xander knew how Spike would feel about us bringing Buffy back. He seemed to be angry about it, still. Angry that we didn't tell him. He thinks I kept it from him because I knew it was a terrible mistake and that he would have told me so and stopped me from doing it. But I didn't know, diary. I swear to you. I thought it was right. I didn't mean to leave him out or make him feel bad. I thought he'd just be happy to see her alive again.

But that's me, diary. Wrong about everything. Guess you're gonna have to get used to that.

I hope he's okay.

Yours,
Willow



September 11, 2002
Dear Diary,

Sometimes I want to hurt Giles. He'll be sitting at his desk, writing letters or opening his mail, and I'll imagine levitating the pencil or the letter opener out of his hand and driving it right through his eyeball.

I can't believe I could even write that, let alone think it, but sometimes I do and it scares me so much. It's like vertigo. I'll imagine doing it, and soon enough I've gotten myself convinced that I'm going to do it, whether I want to or not. It makes my stomach flutter, to think of that moment right before the impact- that moment where I'd just be flying. Then I think about Giles screaming and bleeding and a pencil sticking out of his eye and I want to throw up. Or kill myself.

God, diary, what's wrong with me? Why do I imagine such things?

I could never tell this to anyone but you.

Well, and maybe Spike, since he seems to know everything about me already. Maybe that's why he was following me around, because he knows I'm evil and wrong inside. He used to be evil and wrong inside, before his soul thingy. I think. Maybe not as evil as me, though.

No wonder Tara left me. I can't even believe someone as good and pure as her could love someone like me. I'm just lucky I got those last moments with her before...

I can't even think about that.

I wish Spike hadn't made me cry. I was getting really good at the whole numb thing.

yours,
Willow



September 12, 2002
Dear Diary,

It is very late- almost 4 o'clock in the morning- and I'm wide awake, hiding under my blanket with you and a flashlight like I used to do when I was little. I don't think I'll be able to go back to sleep. I've just had the scariest dream.

I was walking through the woods by myself, carrying a dog or a wolf or some kind of animal, and I realized there was something or someone following me. I started to run and I ended up dropping the dogwolf thing and stepping on it. I think it died. There was a lot of blood.

I was chased for a long time, and eventually caught by Tara, Giles and Xander, but they weren't themselves. They were gray and rotting and stinky and I knew they were zombies who I'd brought back from the dead but hadn't done a very good job on. Tara knocked me down and started ripping through the flesh on my arm with her fingernails, peeling off flaps of skin and eating them. She couldn't talk cause she didn't have any teeth, but I heard her in my head saying, "Why are you so afraid to be alone, Willow? I'll bet you wish you were alone now."

I don't think that I want to go back to sleep, diary. Not ever again.

I'm not going to tell the witches about that dream. I don't want to know what it means.

I think that I miss Spike. If I knew he was outside, I might not be having these terrible dreams. He made them go away sometimes, I think. I wonder if the ladies would let me do a locating spell to try and find him. Not just for me, but because I'm worried about him a little. I wonder if that would be the right thing to do.

Sometimes I get so annoyed with them for trying to control my life, and other times I feel like they don't tell me nearly enough. Sometimes I wish someone would tell me all the answers to everything so I didn't have to think at all. I want to do what's right, but I don't know how to figure out what that is. I'm so afraid that every little thing I want to do is wrong and that's why I don't do anything anymore except what the witches and Giles tell me.

How am I supposed to know what's right, diary? I'm just a crazy girl who brings people back from the dead and then tries to make them forget why they don't like me.

I wonder when I got to be so completely wrong. Have I always been like this and just never knew before? The witches say you never know until you're tested, but I thought I'd been tested already. I thought almost dying, like fifty times, and facing five or six apocalypses...apocoli?...whatever, end of worlds, I thought those were tests and I did pretty damn good. But I guess whoever makes up the tests decided that I hadn't proven myself enough.

Do they keep testing you, even after you've failed so miserably? I hope not.

yours in paralyzing terror,
Willow



September 15, 2002
Dear Diary,

Something very strange has happened. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do
now. I'm at the coven, in the bedroom they've made up for me. I've been here
since this morning, and I guess I'm spending the night cause I'm too tired to
go anywhere else.

I decided to ask about the locating spell. I didn't really think it would be
that big of a deal, but when I mentioned it, it was like code red here in
witch town. They all swarmed around and set up this weird tribunal to
question me about whether or not I was ready and if I understood the
responsibilities and blah blah blah. I thought they were talking about the
magic, and I didn't really care about that. I said "I'm just trying to find
my friend."

It was strange to say that, to call Spike my friend, but I didn't know what
else to call him. He's not my enemy, right? And acquaintance just doesn't
have the same ring to it. I guess he is my friend.

Anyway, when I said that one of the ladies (I think it was Melinda) told me
that they weren't worried about the magic, that if I decided to do it they'd
help me and we could do it here and it would be okay. She said that
there were things I needed to see and understand before I could make the
decision. Then they brought out this weird glass ball thingy, about the size
of a baseball but purple and sparkly, and someone handed it to me and told me
to wrap my fingers around it.

I don't know how to explain what happened when I held that ball. It was
like...I closed my eyes and everything went all kooky. Flashing colors and swirls and a scary flying motion feeling, like that scene in 2001 where the guy's flying through the netherworlds in a pod. Except I didn't have a pod. Then I landed.

I guess I was...invisible? There were people all around me, but they were
ignoring me, walking right past me without looking. Kinda like high school. I think someone actually went right through me. Everyone was dressed in
really formal, old fashioned clothes and everything seemed kind of hazy.
Dream-like. It looked like a party, but not a very fun one.

I saw someone sitting on a couch writing very intently, and I felt this really
strong need to get closer. I tried to walk, but I just kind of floated over to him. My feet didn't really work. Once I got there I realized who it was. It was Spike but, not. I could hardly recognize him- he looked so different- but I knew it was him. When he was human. And I knew suddenly that I had a choice. I could stay and see what happened, or I could leave and go back to the witches. I had the power to stop what was happening, but I didn't want to stop. I wanted
to know. I'm not sure why, but I did.

I stayed, and it was so sad, diary. I couldn't even believe it. Spike
was...well, he was a loser before he was a vampire. A real nerd, just like
me.

He wrote this poem for this girl, and it was- I want to say it was a good
poem, but it really wasn't, but still! He wrote a poem for her and that's a
pretty neat thing for a guy to do for a girl, even if it's the worst poem in
the history of the world, you know? But these stupid guys read it out loud and made fun of him and she thought it was just horribly embarrassing and
stupid and she shot him down hard and he was crying but trying not to and I
just couldn't get over the fact that this was all SPIKE! I mean, wow. It was
just really weird and really sad and I wanted to make it better for him
somehow, but I was invisible. So I just watched.

I watched him run into Drusilla, and I knew what was gonna happen, but I
couldn't stop it. I had to see her biting him, and how he wanted it because
he thought it was going to make him special, and I couldn't tell him no,
don't do it, you're already special, because I didn't have a voice.

And then, oh my gosh, I saw so much after that. I don't think I can
write it all down. I kept flying from moment to moment, watching all these
things that happened to Spike, all these things that he did, and it felt like
a hundred years passing. It was really only a few hours, but I think it would
take me a hundred years to tell you everything that I saw. I don't even know
if I can remember it all.

I guess most of it can be broken down into one of three categories: sex, violence, and drugs. There's a lot of overlap. Mostly it's the sex. I don't know why they showed me so much sex! It wasn't like, super-explicit or anything. It was all foggy and opaque, like a sexy movie on Skinnemax. I couldn't see anybody's parts or anything, but still- so much sex. Sex with Dru, sex with Darla, sex with Harmony, and oh! I found out the answer to my question about Angelus. It turned out to be kind of disappointing. Not nearly as sexy as I'd imagined it.

Yeah, I imagined it. So? Is there something wrong with that? It was a long time ago, back when sex seemed like a thing to be had. I don't know what I expected. Two well-sculpted, half naked men frolicking around with a hose like some cheesy gay porno? I dunno.

Anyway, it was more disturbing than sexy. Long story short, it started out when William was first turned with Angelus staking his claim on the new boy by shoving William's face into the mattress and having his way with him. I think the whole thing lasted about five minutes total, and it really wasn't fun to watch at all. It looked painful, and William was screaming into the pillow and trying to get away and it wasn't even remotely sexy. It was just some sick power play. The first of many. Many many many.

He didn't get to be with Dru for a long time. The first few months it was mostly Angelus and him, learning how to hunt and how to fight and how to be anally raped without crying. Learning how to be a vampire I guess. He wasn't very good at it at first. The first time Angelus tried to get him to feed, he had no idea what to do. He just stared at the scabby unfortunate Angelus had brought home and wrinkled his nose.

"Am I supposed to eat this?" he asked. I think Angelus probably hit him then. It all started to kind of blur together. Darla was there that time, sighing and shaking her head in the background.

"He doesn't have the instincts, darling," she'd said. "He's defective. Why don't we just send him back?"

But Angelus didn't want to give up on him for some reason. I think he liked having another boy around, personally. A pretty boy who was learning to do whatever he said. Not without question, though. There were lots of questions.

They had such a weird relationship. Angelus was so many different things to William; teacher, father, brother, tormentor, rapist, partner-in-crime. And I could see how desperately William sought his approval, how much he hated him and resented him and admired him and maybe even loved him. I saw how everything in William's life, and later Spike's, tied back to Angelus in one way or another.

He really did kill twenty-three people the first night they took him out hunting, but it wasn't like he told me. It wasn't a power-tripping feeding frenzy. It was because he kept messing up. I don't know if he just remembered it wrong or if he was trying to impress me or scare me or what, but really, he was just very clumsy. Angelus was trying to teach him the art of the perfect kill or something, and they lurked around Whitechapel all night, but William never quite got it right. Dru was there, and it seemed like he was trying too hard to impress her. Maybe that's why he made so many mistakes.

He did seem to gain more confidence though, the more people he killed. He was a little bit more cocky with each new person, and after awhile he started to glow. It was scary.

Then they went home, and Angelus beat him up.

Where was I again?

Oh yeah, Drusilla. Sex with Drusilla. So, that didn't happen for a long time. She'd come to his bedroom sometimes, wearing nothing but her modest Victorian undies, and I could tell he was so worked up he was about to burst, but he never made a move on her. I don't think he even knew how.

Then, one night Angelus brought home a big bottle of Absinthe, and the four of them ended up in bed together. At first it was just Angelus and "his women", with William sitting in the chair, staring out the window. He'd heard the three of them in there before. I saw him sitting outside the door listening to them, knowing he wasn't invited. The door was closed, and Angelus had taught him that opening a closed door meant a particularly harsh beating. He'd been whipped for it once before.

This time the door was open, but he still felt excluded for some reason. He didn't think he was allowed to join in, and he was really sad about that. It was so weird, how much I could tell about his feelings even though he wasn't really showing them that much. By then I was just so close to his mind, it was like everything he felt was inside me somehow.

Anyway, eventually Dru called him over, and Angelus nodded his permission, so he joined in the big old orgy and finally got to touch girls.

I watched them all- beautiful, naked bodies writhing together in pleasure and abandon- and, I'm so embarrassed to say this, diary, but I got a little turned on. It was all so gentle, and sensual. Not degrading or upsetting or violent like the other times I'd seen. I guess that's what I'd been wanting from Angelus and Spike, but maybe they needed the women there for that. And I'm sure the Absinthe didn't hurt.

It's been so long since I felt anything like that, since I've...oh, it doesn't matter. It was just really strange for me. What am I, some kind of creepy peeping Tom? Ugh.

Anyway, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves except, strangely enough, Drusilla. Most of the attention was on her most of the time, but she was the only one who didn't, um, finish.

William tried again lots of times after that, and he was always the way he'd been that night- gentle, loving, a little bit nervous- and she was the same way too. She always seemed kind of bored. Distracted, I guess. Sometimes she'd start talking about her dolls or "daddy" when he was...in her. I don't know if William really cared. He probably thought women were just like that. Isn't that what most Victorian men thought?

Well, one day he found out that she wasn't always like that. One day Angelus brought the two of them down to the basement and gave William a new lesson. He chained him up and showed him how to give Dru a good time.

I don't want to get into it too much, cause it's like, 3 AM here and I haven't even gotten into the 20th century, but let's just say there were whips and candles and razor blades involved. It was horrible- the saddest thing I think I saw, which is saying a lot cause there wasn't too much happy in this whole tour of the life of Spike. Poor William, having to stand there and watch another man giving the woman he loved such sick sexual pleasure, over and over again, when he himself couldn't do it at all because he wouldn't have even thought of hurting her on his own.

Things were different between William and Drusilla after that. And between Angelus and William. It was like something snapped in him, and for a few months he was just simmering with resentment and anger, but nobody seemed to notice. Until he went completely nuts.

Angelus had lots of rules in his house, and one of them was about the sort of people they should kill. Homeless people, drunks, prostitutes, serving wenches, anyone who wouldn't be missed. Anyone whose death wouldn't attract attention. Well, one night William decided to take Dru and sneak out. He told her they were going to a party, and that's just where they went. It was a party like the one I'd seen him at back in the beginning, when he was human. Exactly like, in fact. Almost all the same people were there. Not the horrible woman who rejected him, but a lot of the other ones. None of them seemed to recognize or notice him. Well, not till he started killing people. He reminded them all, who he was and what they'd done to him. It was...

I don't know what it was. It was horrible to watch. I'd seen him killing and all, but not like this. Never so savage and feral and, well, happy. He seemed almost giddy about the whole thing. There was so much blood and screaming and it was all so icky, and he enjoyed every minute of it.

Why was I surprised? I mean, he is a vampire so, duh. But until then he hadn't really enjoyed it, I don't think. He just sort of did it cause it was what was expected of him. But this time, this time he was having fun. It was his revenge, and his rebellion, and everything else he seemed to have been waiting for all his life.

That's when he took his name. He hammered a railroad spike through the eye of one of the guys who'd made fun of him that night, just like I was imagining with Giles and the letter opener the other day. God, what's wrong with me?

Anyway, Dru called him Spike after that and he seemed to like it cause he insisted on everyone using that name from then on. They did it right there, in the room with all the corpses, and he was different with her- more aggressive and violent- and she finally seemed to like it. She didn't go as crazy as she had with Angelus, but she was there. She was with him.

They got in a lot of trouble for that. Run out of town, and Angelus was furious for weeks. It was the beginning of a cycle that didn't really end until he left them.

Which I guess I'd better cut to, huh?

Darla never told them why he left. The first time she assured them he'd be back, and the second time she sat Spike down and told him daddy was gone for good.

"Where did he go?" Spike asked. Darla tossed her wine glass against the wall, just barely missing Spike's head. .

"It doesn't matter, William! Stop asking such infernal questions and get out of my sight."

He started to leave, but turned back at the last minute with a look of realization.

"Hey, that means I'm in charge now, yeah?"

She gave him a cold glare and did this annoying sniffy laugh thing she was always doing. "Is that what it means, now?" she asked, and it was really obvious that it wasn't what it meant at all, but he was so oblivious sometimes.

"Yeah, well, I'm the man so..."

"Oh, I see. The man. Well, then."

"And, I killed a slayer, so...I know you're old and all, but I think the man thing and the slayer thing take precedence."

"Hmm, interesting theory, William. Very interesting."

"It's Spike, you..." he started, but didn't get to finish because she did this really quick turn/punch/kick thing and had him against the wall with a piece of broken glass pressing into his jugular vein in like, five seconds.

"All right, Spike," she said, sneering his name. "You listen and listen good. I am in charge of this family. I have always been in charge of this family. I let Angelus play his little discipline games with you and Drusilla because, frankly, I didn't have the time or the patience for either of you. But Angelus answered to me, and from here on out you will too, unless you want to end up a pile of dust under my boot. Understand?"

There was blood starting to drip out of his neck, but he was grinning and giving her what I've come to recognize as his sex look. Creepy.

Well, after that night it was the three of them and Darla was in charge, but Spike questioned her constantly. They fought almost continuously, and eventually started to have sex after, or sometimes during, their fights. It was something Angelus had never allowed- even when the four of them were together Spike was barely permitted to touch Darla- and probably not anything Darla ever wanted, but he was the man and I guess she was horny.

Dru was really devastated, and after seeing their whole history I can honestly say I don't think she ever got completely over it. She talked about him all the time, wondering when he was coming back and whining when she was told he never would. I don't know if Spike ever really recovered either. From his presence or his absence.

They stayed with Darla till sometime in the fifties, when she went to live with the Master, and after that they both seemed a bit happier. Spike was finally in charge, and Dru depended on him completely. Until Angelus came back.

Oh, I'm so tired, diary. I wish I had the energy to tell you the rest right now, but I think I've worn myself out. Sorry. Maybe tomorrow I'll finish, or at least get through a couple more years, but for right now I need to sleep.

yours in confusion and sleepiness,
Willow



September 16, 2002
Dear Diary,

Well, I didn't end up sleeping very much after all. Mostly I sat awake in bed thinking about Spike and wondering why the ladies showed me all that stuff. I came to a couple of conclusions. First of all, I think they were trying to scare me away from him. I think they don't want me to talk to him because he's too crazy or complicated or dangerous, but the second thing I realized is that I really really need to find him.

He's never had a friend, you know. I think I understand now, why he was so mad that night we fought, and why he thinks I'm so lucky. He's right. I am lucky. I've always had someone who was really there for me. I've always been loved. Spike has never, ever had that. Not for real. And now that he has a soul, I think he might need it more than ever. He might not think he deserves it, but he definitely needs it.

There's a lot more stuff that happened to him, but I don't think I need to sit here and write it all down right now. I promise I'll tell you the whole story sometime, or maybe I'll be able to convince Spike to write it. I think it would make a really good novel or something. Or maybe a manual for the stupid Watcher's Council. I'm starting to think those guys are even more full of it than we imagined. Anyway, the point is, when I thought about it last night I realized that everything he's ever done has been to impress someone else. To make someone like him. But no one ever really has.

He's done a lot of terrible things. Some things I can't even write about or think about or deal with at all yet, but at the core...I don't know how to explain it, but even without the soul he wasn't like other vampires. And now he has a soul and he must be feeling just so terrible.

I think I can help him. I think I know what he's feeling and I think I can be his friend, for real. And I want to. I want to so much.

I need to go now. I need to go tell them that I'm doing the spell, whether they want to help me or not.

yours,
Willow



September 19, 2002
Dear Diary,

Well, I found him. It didn't go very well.

They let me do the spell, which was weird 'cause I haven't done magic in forever, but that part actually went pretty okay. I didn't collapse or freak out or go on a bender so, I guess that's progress.

He didn't go back to Sunnydale like I was afraid he might, but it was worse than that in a way. I made a little light ball to track him down, and it led me to what has to be the skeeviest bar, or, I guess, pub in the country of England. I didn't even want to go in when I saw it. But it was scary standing around outside with all the bums and ladies of the evening, so I poofed the ball away and went inside.

He was slumped over the bar with a cigarette talking to a girl in a leopard print miniskirt. I think she was, like, twelve. It was really dark and smoky and gross in there and I wanted to leave pretty badly, but I'd gone there for a reason and I was determined.

I walked over to him, trying to ignore the way my shoes stuck to the floor, and poked him. He looked at me over his shoulder and his eyes were all glazed and spacey looking. He laughed all drunkey-like, and poked me back, right between my eyes. I think he thought I was a hallucination or something. He looked surprised when his finger touched real, living flesh.

"What are you doing here?" he asked me.

"Can we talk somewhere more privatey?" I asked, 'cause the girl was staring at me and I didn't want her listening to us.

Then she asked, get this one, "Who's this, Spikey?" Like I was the skanky stranger or something.

And he said, "My sister." Can you believe that? He really can be a jerk sometimes.

So, he dragged me over to this dark table in the corner and asked me again what I was doing there. There was a droopy candle stuffed into a wine bottle sitting on top of the table, and he took out his Zippo and lit it. I remember that because I thought it was kind of a strange thing to do.

"I was in the neighborhood, big brother," I said.

"Yeah, right," he snorted. "Try again."

I guess it was a pretty weak explanation. I don't think anyone's ever just "in the neighborhood" in that particular neighborhood unless they're looking for drugs or 'hos. And I guess Spike didn't think I'd be looking for those things, which, duh. Doesn't take a brain surgeon. He knew I was there because he was there. He just wanted to know why.

"I-I wanted to talk to you," I said. I was really nervous, now that it was actually happening. He was looking so drunk and angry and I hadn't prepared for that but, in retrospect that was really very stupid. After everything I'd seen I should've known. I knew he wouldn't hurt me physically- probably still couldn't- but I was starting to wonder if he'd be as happy as I'd expected about my offer of friendship.

"Oh, now you wanna talk to me," he said. "What makes you think I wanna talk to you?"

"Well, you did before."

Okay, so that was another stupid thing to say. I told you, I was nervous!

He took a drink then slammed his glass down on the table, making me jump.

"Yeah, I did before. Didn't get much of a response. Funny how the tables turn."

Well, that just annoyed me. I mean, sure I'd been kind of stand-offish and non-talky, but I'd ended up telling him a lot in the end. And now here I was, opening myself up again, trying to do something nice and good.

"I responded!" I said. "I spilled my guts to you. Remember?"

"Yeah," he nodded. "Then you told me to get lost. So, here I am, gettin' lost."

God, I'm not doing this justice at all. I can't even explain to you how completely odd it was to be sitting there with him after seeing all those intimate details from his life. I felt so creepy, like I'd been peeping or something, but it also made me feel so much more for him than I ever have before. Ugh. That sounds weird too. I just felt like I knew him, which was strange because he'd always been like, this big mystery guy to me. Maybe not as big a mystery as, say, Angel, but still. I never felt like I understood Spike or like I really wanted to, but now I did and for some reason, I liked it. I liked him, I realized. In spite of all the horrible things I'd seen him do, I really, genuinely liked him.

But he was being such a pest!

"Spike, come on, I just...I'm sorry about all that. I guess I wanted to tell you that I think you were right. We should be, um...friends." I think I said something like that. It was stammery and lame like that, anyway.

"When did I say we should be friends?" he asked.

"Well, it was implied!"

"I think you mean inferred," he said, like a big smartass. "I wasn't implying. You were inferring."

"I was not inferring! You were implying!"

He sighed heavily and said, "Yeah, well, maybe I changed my mind."

I could tell how much I'd hurt him by sending him away like that, and it occurred to me that it was the same thing people had always done to him. No one had ever really given him a chance, really seen him for what he was. It made me sad, and also more determined.

"I don't care if you changed your mind," I told him. "We're gonna be friends, whether you like it or not. So there."

"Don't need any friends," he growled and took another drink. "Now bugger off."

"You do need friends. Everybody needs friends. And you don't have any. And now you've got a big old soul making you feel lousy, so you probably need one more than ever. So, you should be happy to have one, 'cause I'm a good one to have."

Stupid ramble number three from Willow. Honestly, diary, I can be such a retard sometimes.

"Oh, so it's pity, then," he said. "Come out to play nice with the town wretch to make up for your evil doings, is that it?"

I tried to tell him no, it wasn't that at all, but he was done with me. He wouldn't even look at me anymore.

He told me to bugger off again, that he was doing just fine, thank-you-very-much, and that the soul didn't make a bit of difference to him. He was still the same old Spike, and he didn't need anybody. I so didn't believe him, about any of it, but I knew he wasn't gonna budge. But before I left I said, "Fine. You want to sit around some gross, sticky bar drinking bad whiskey and flirting with twelve-year-old prostitutes, that's fine. But if you change your mind, if you want somebody to talk to or yell at or whatever, you can come over and I'll be happy to see you. And it isn't pity, you stupid jerk!"

Then I came home. And here I am, talking to you.

I wonder if I should try to find him again. I don't know if I did all I could, and I know I said all the wrong things. I just didn't know how to handle it. I'm an idiot.

I know he's in some kind of denial about the soul- trying to be Mister Cool like always, when he's really dying inside. I can just see it, you know? It's almost pitifully obvious and I don't know how I didn't really notice before. Guess I just wasn't paying attention. Too wrapped up in my own junk and just wanting him to leave me alone. But seeing everything that happened to him, it's like I can see into him now.

Too bad I still say the stupidest things imaginable.

God, I used to be so good at being a friend. I don't know when I

Oh my gosh, someone's throwing rocks at my window. It must be Spike!

more later,
Willow



September 29, 2002
Dear Diary,

I'm so sorry I haven't written in such a long time. Things have been really crazy and busy, and this is the first chance I've had. I guess I should start with what happened the other night when Spike came to my window.

Ugh! Giles is calling me for my stupid tea. I hate my stupid tea! Spike says there's sedatives in it. I don't want to be sedated anymore. Maybe I'll just pretend to drink it.

I'll write in a little bit. Promise.

-W



October 12, 2002
Dear Diary,

Well, I've been neglecting you for almost two weeks now. Definitely time to catch up.

But first, I think there's something I need to tell you. It's something I saw when I was watching the whole life-of-Spike show at the coven. I never finished telling you everything about that, and I still don't have time for all of it, but there is one thing I think is important to write down.

I think it's important for me to write it down now because I need to make sure I realize that it's real. I can't pretend it didn't happen. I know we're gonna have to talk about it at some point, because it's huge and I think it's the main reason Spike didn't go back to Sunnydale when he first got his soul back. I think it's one of the things that's haunting him the most right now, even though he's never spoken of it. He doesn't speak a lot about anything that's bothering him, but I just know, you know?

So, enough with the pre-ramble. I should just spit it out. So. Here goes.

Spike almost raped Buffy.

Wow, that looks even worse on paper than I thought it would.

But it's not exactly as bad as it sounds. I mean, it wasn't like, gung-ho, funtime rape. I mean...what do I mean? This is so hard to explain. It's just, he didn't go in there intending to do that, you know? He didn't even go intending to have sex with her. It was like he kind of lost his mind while he was standing there talking to her. Like something snapped and he wasn't even hearing her anymore. He just knew how he'd gotten through to her in the past, and it was like he was on auto-pilot. Not like that's some great excuse or something. But it was really horrible for him, and I can't believe I'm saying this but I felt pretty bad for him.

It's just that I think I know how he felt. I know what it's like to want so desperately for someone to love you, to stay with you, to forgive. I know what it's like to feel like you'd do anything, anything at all to keep the person you need, and to drive them away with that very desperation and what it causes you to do.

He needed her to love him, and he told himself that she did, she just couldn't admit it. He tried to make her feel it, to force it out of her the only way he could think of. And it was a way that had worked with her, in a sense, lots of times before.

God, it was so terrible, watching their whole sordid relationship unfold in front of me like some disturbing sex movie. It made me feel some very strange, and not very good things for Buffy, for Spike, and for myself for being the one who brought her back so completely fucked up. It's no wonder he was still mad at me about that.

I really don't want to make it seem like what he did was okay, but the thing is, I know he's not like, some big psycho rapist. I mean, yeah, he and Dru did some sex stuff with some of their victims, but that was mostly her idea, and most of them were consenting, and that was when he thought of people as food which- when you think about it- is sort of the natural order of things, what with vampires being on top of the food chain and all, and really, compared to some of the horrible things people do to animals before they eat them, it's not that

Oh, brother. I need to stop this right now. Buffy and Giles would kill me if they knew I was thinking stuff like this.

The point is, I don't think what happened in the bathroom was what you'd call a typical night for Spike. Even when he kidnapped me, and he was looking all...hungry, all I had to do was tell him no and he backed off completely. And he was drunk then, and soulless, and he didn't care about me at all.

I know he felt awful about what happened with Buffy, even without the soul. I saw it, even as it was happening. I can't even imagine what he's feeling now.

Well, actually, yes I can. I'm not exactly she of the superior moral compass, now am I? Who am I to even think of judging him, or her? Just the things I did to Tara alone...in a way it was worse than anything Spike ever did to Buffy. I raped her mind.

I raped her mind. God, what kind of person does that? I can't even think about that right now.

The point is, really, Spike's got more soul than James Brown now, and even Buffy would have to admit that in Angel's case a soul meant immediate forgiving and forgetting without question. I mean, jeez, she was mad at Xander when he didn't wanna be bestest friends with Angel after Angelus terrorized us all for months and killed Miss Calendar. So I don't see why Spike is any less deserving of the same courtesy.

I have to go. I'm supposed to meet Spike in a half an hour. I promise promise promise I'll catch you up with everything when I get home.

-W

Later,

Okay, it's midnight now, and I'm supposed to be sleeping, but I promised I'd write, and I'm not tired anyway so here goes. I'll try to get down as much as I can remember.

Let's see, where did I leave off before I got so totally sidetracked? Oh yeah, Spike throwing rocks at my window.

Well, when I saw him down there on the street I got so excited I ran down there in my stupid, ugly sweatpants and a pair of flip-flops without even thinking. We just looked at each other for a minute, and it was a little awkward, but I tried to pretend I didn't notice. I said hi, and he said hi, and then he asked me, "Do you like ice cream?"

Well, I think we all know the answer to that.

We walked to the place a few blocks from here that has ice cream and pastries and coffee and stuff, and we didn't say much, except he made some stupid joke about wanting to open a dessert place called "Just Desserts" and I laughed sorta too much at that. I didn't have the heart to tell him there's already a dessert place called that in San Francisco.

I think he was still drunk. He was walking a little funny and smelled like Xander's dad.

When we got to the ice cream place, he realized he didn't have any money left, so I had to spend my piddly allowance on a giant sundae for us to split and a cup of black coffee for him. I didn't mind, but he looked kind of embarrassed.

We sat down at a table outside so we could look out on the street at the people going by, and continued to be fairly quiet. I was afraid to talk about any of our previous conversations, and he was looking strangely shy, so I decided to ask him random questions.

"Do vampires go to the bathroom?" was the first one.

He stared at me with his mouth full of ice cream and gave me a funny half-smile. I could tell there was a smart ass remark on the tip of his tongue, but he ended up just giving me a straight answer.

"I do. Sometimes. Less than you, probably, but more than most other vampires."

I asked him why, and he pointed to the sundae.

"Most vamps don't need to. Most vamps don't like ice cream and onion rings and chocolate chip cookies and potato chips. S'gotta go somewhere."

"So how come you like to eat people food?" I asked.

He said, "Guess I'm not your average bear," and stuffed another spoonful of ice cream into his mouth.

"Do you sweat?"

"Not really."

"But your hair grows, right?"

He smirked at that and nodded. "You noticed."

It's been hard not to. He's got a big brown and white afro-thing going on.

I asked him a bunch of other dumb questions like that, and I won't bore you with the rest, but eventually he was like, "Why are you so bloody curious about this, Red? Not thinking of becoming one of us again, are you?"

And I remembered exactly what he was talking about when he said that. The time I asked him about it, when he was tied up in the bathtub and I wanted to know if becoming a vampire would take away my pain.

So, it was my turn to be embarrassed. I was so pathetic that day, and I let him kiss me even though I knew he was just trying to freak me out. I'll have to tell you about all that sometime, diary. It's not a pretty story.

Anyway, I must've turned bright red or something 'cause he made some comment about vampires not being able to blush so nicely, embarrassing me even further.

I told him I didn't want to be a vampire, I just wanted to know what it was like for him because if we were gonna be friends it was important for me to know stuff like that. He got all quiet again, but also kind of smiley which was really nice and surprising. I don't know if I'd ever seen him smile before that.

He walked me home after the ice cream, and on the walk I asked him another question that was slightly less dopey than the others. I asked him if he thought the soul he had now was the same one he started with, back when he was William.

I told him that even though I'd done the whole soul restoration spell for Angel, I still didn't really get how it worked. What happens to someone's soul when they're vamped? Does it get stored away in a magical box somewhere until the vamp body dies just in case someone decides to bring it back? Or is it just floating around in nothingness for eternity? Is that what happens to everyone's soul when they die? What about heaven or reincarnation or ghosts?

He seemed to think my questions were pretty funny.

"You're looking for answers I don't have, pet," he said. "I don't know what the meaning of life is, or what happens when you die. I can't tell you which religion is right or why bad things happen to good people. I think this soul is the same one I started with, but there's really no way of knowing for sure. And it sure as hell doesn't remember where it's been."

"Does it talk to you?"

I don't know what made me ask that, but it struck a nerve. He stopped walking and gave me a really funny look.

"Sometimes," he said. "Sometimes I think it does. I hear voices...arguing voices. Sometimes...they say horrible things. I think it's the soul and the demon, going back and forth like a little angel and devil on my shoulder. Only thing they agree on's that I suck." Then he shook his head and kind of laughed. "I must sound like a lunatic."

"No, no that makes sense. I mean, it's like, this thing that just moved into your body. And there's all this other stuff in there already so it's probably really confused."

He nodded, like that made sense. I thought about mentioning how he didn't really seem that dramatically different now that he had this soul, how with Angel it was so completely apparent when it was there and when it wasn't, but for once I was thinking before I opened my mouth and let the babble fly. I had a feeling he might be offended by that somehow, so I just kept it to myself.

And I'm glad I didn't say that, because really, he is different. He's quieter, and more thoughtful, and sadder looking. And he's nicer, and seems to dislike himself a lot more than the Spike of yore. I guess it's just that Angelus was SO freaking evil, and Spike was never really that completely demented, so the differences are less immediately apparent.

When we got home there was more awkwardness of a slightly date-like persuasion. Neither of us knew exactly what to say or do. Were we going to do this again? Would he call me? Did he have a phone? Was a handshake an appropriate goodbye? Or a hug?

I settled on waving like a goon and he just smiled.

"You can, uh, come over...sometime," I stammered. "I mean, if you want to uh, get ice cream or something. I'm always here. Except when I go to the coven. But you know that. So, just...throw rocks or something."

God, I'm such a dweeb.

But he came back. A couple nights later there were more rocks, and there was more ice cream and conversation, and it was really very nice. I don't remember so much what we talked about that time. There were three or four other times after that and they're all sort of blurring together. I know one of the nights, about a week ago, I took him to the cathedral.

I've been going there sometimes, to write in the other journal I keep for the witches, and it's really peaceful and pretty. They have nice comfy benches in the courtyard, and sometimes they ring the bells and it sounds so neat.

I asked him if he minded being around some crosses, and he said no, not as long as he didn't have to touch them. So, we walked over there that night and sat for a really long time, just not saying or doing anything. It was a really good silence, though. Not an icky, uncomfortable, "we have nothing to say type" silence, but a "we're comfortable enough to feel like it's okay not to say anything" type silence.

After awhile I told him my secret about that place.

"I see ghosts here sometimes," I said. "Over there, by the cemetery."

I expected him to laugh or question me or at least act surprised, but he seemed to know exactly what I was talking about.

"I think I see them too," he said. "I hear them all the time. Wonder if there's anyone I killed buried over there."

Well, that was a little creepy. But for some reason it made me feel like less of a weirdo.

I told him I went there to write sometimes, that it was helping me a little to keep these journals, and he was pretty interested in that. I told him maybe it would be a good idea for him, and when he walked me home that night I ran inside and got one of my blank notebooks to give to him.

When I brought it out to him he gave me another one of those shy, sweet smiles and I felt really proud of myself. I hope he's been writing in it.

I asked him tonight to show me where he's been living, but he didn't want to. I'm kind of scared he's sleeping in the sewer or something. I'd ask him to stay here but, well, Giles would kill me.

I need to go to sleep now. I think it's almost dawn.

night night,
Willow



October 15, 2002
Dear Diary,

I love the fall. The changing leaves and the crisp, sweet-smelling air. The shopping for notebooks and pens and folders and binders. The thrill of flipping through a never-before-opened textbook.

It's fall here, and I've got the air and the leaves, but there is no academic excitement in Willow land. I miss school. I miss everything.

-W



October 19, 2002
Dear Diary,

I just got home from a really intense ice cream night with Spike. I feel very strange right now. I need to get this all out before I go to bed or I'll never fall asleep.

I don't know why, but for some reason I decided to ask him how long it had been since he's killed someone.

Great sundae chit-chat, I know.

He asked me if I meant a someone with a soul, or a demonic someone, and I felt pretty stupid 'cause he used to be a demonic someone without a soul, and there I was thinking those kinds of someones didn't count. Ugh. Anyway.

I told him I meant the souly kind, the kind he ate.

"Almost four years now," he said. "Unless you count those ones Dru did for me, but that wasn't the same."

I guess I knew that. I saw that stuff happening, but all the things I saw that night are starting to blur together in my memory.

"Do you miss it?" I asked him. "What's it like?"

"I think you know what it's like." He smirked and pointed his spoon at me.

He had a point, but it seemed different somehow. For me it was a twisted bender of insanity. For him it had been a way of life.

"It's like nothing else," he said. "To feel the life coursing through my veins, to take a life and make it my own, to have that kind of control..."

The look in his eyes was starting to get a little spooky.

I don't know why I even brought all of this up. It's just been on my mind I guess.

"But you weren't really in control," I pointed out. "I mean, it was feeding the bloodlust, which kind of controlled you in a way, right?"

"Well, aren't we the insightful little addict?"

I guess he had a point. Giving into my magic lust was sort of the same. I felt like it gave me control, but really, it took all my control away, took me away from myself, which I guess is what I truly wanted. I hate the way he does that- turn things away from himself and back to me.

"So you do miss it?" I asked again. "I know you did when you just had the chip, but now....?"

"Sometimes I miss it. Sometimes a monster's a good thing to be."

"Better than a nerd, huh?"

I realized then that I was sort of giving myself away. I wasn't supposed to know about his past. For some reason I've been really afraid to tell him that whole thing happened. I thought he might question me, but I guess he just thought I was talking about myself.

I remembered what he'd said that night- I guess it was Christmas- about being Geek the Girl wasn't as bad as being a dog faced boy or whatever, and I expected a similar answer, but he didn't give me that either. He just nodded.

"It is better. In some ways." He sat there for what seemed like a really long time, holding his spoon and staring at me. No, not at me, through me. And then he said, "In some ways I think...I believe that I actually chose it. I believe that I had a choice, at some point, to accept the demon or to reject it. To try and maintain my humanity, or to rebuild myself into the monster it wanted me to be. I had a choice, and I made it. A test...I was tested, and I failed."

He looked severely haunted, diary, and I started to really notice the dark circles under his eyes, the unshavenness, the not-entirely-cleanness, the messy, demented-clown, graying at the roots hair. I had no idea vampires could go gray. He's been looking crazier and crazier every day.

"I think I know what you mean," I told him. "I think I sort of chose what I became, too. I liked the monster better than the girl."

I kind of startled myself, saying that, but it was really the truth. I just hadn't thought about it that way before. I'd chosen the monster, again and again, at the expense of everything I loved, at the expense of what was most important to me. Then I used the monster to try and get it all back. So so many times. It all sort of hit me at once in that moment, all the horrible choices I've made since I started with the magic, and the reasons I made those choices and how completely awful they really were.

And it also hit me how Spike had done the same thing, how he'd reacted to that initial rejection by rebuilding himself into the shape of a monster the same way I'd done as a reaction to Xander's rejection, and Oz's, and the entire student body of Sunnydale High School...

And I realized then how completely fucked up we both are. Beyond even what people probably think. We're talking severe pathology here. I mean, isn't that what serial killers do? Choose the monster over the pathetic loser they think they are? Isn't that like, the profile of Son of Sam?

Maybe the coven isn't enough for me. Maybe I need some drugs.

I guess there's always the tea. I told Giles I didn't want to drink it anymore, finally, and he said that was all right, which was good 'cause I'd been pouring it down the sink for the past four or five weeks anyway. But now I'm thinking some nice, bracing sedation would be kind of a relief.

"You were only a monster for a day," he said. Like that would have made a difference, even if it had been true.

"No, Spike, I've been a monster for a long time. Longer than I can even..."

I started crying, like a big wussy moron. I tried not to let him see, but he did. He was real sweet about it- gave me a napkin to wipe my face, and reached across the table to squeeze my hand. And then...he didn't let it go. We just sat there, holding hands at the ice cream shop like Peggy Sue and...whoever Peggy Sue's boyfriend was. Neither of us said anything, and we were looking at each other, and hand holding for like, five minutes or so.

Then somebody put a really loud song on the jukebox, and I jumped, and he let me go.

I don't know what it meant, diary, but it was really sort of nice.

We didn't talk much more after that. He walked me home, like always, but he was quiet, and I had no idea what to say. I felt like we'd been making out or something.

"Where do you live, Spike?" I finally asked him, when we got back to Giles's. It was all I could think of. It's just been really bugging me lately that I can't go visit him when I feel like it, the way he comes here.

He said, "In a hole, with the mole people," and gave me a completely unreadable smile/wink thing. "Maybe you can come over some time."

Then he left.

I feel really weird.

Must sleep.
-W

Later,

Oh my God. What the hell was that?

I just woke up, and it's 4 in the morning or something, but I had to write this down 'cause...what the hell?

I just had the craziest dream ever. It started out with me changing my clothes in the locker room at Sunnydale Junior High- which I attended from 6th to 8th grade- but I was me now, not me then. I was pulling on my old white gym shorts and I realized I was getting my period, and I thought this must be a dream because this has already happened to me.

See, the first time I got my period I was in gym class, in 7th grade, in those stupid, idiotic white shorts they made us wear. I used to get teased a lot, but that was like, the pinnacle. That was the event that people who were there never forgot, and never let me forget. My nickname was Redshorts for a long time.

So anyway, I realized I was dreaming cause I was staining those goddamn shorts again, but realizing that didn't make it any better. I started to panic and tried to get the shorts off but they wouldn't go. Then I heard footsteps coming closer and got even more upset. I was looking around for something to put over my lap at least, but there was nothing around. I knew whoever it was would make fun of me, and I was praying it wouldn't be Buffy or Tara or someone else I care about. It turned out to be Spike.

I practically screamed when I saw him standing there, and I really felt like crying because I thought getting teased by him about this would be the absolute worst thing ever, but he was looking at me like...I don't know how to describe that look, but it wasn't pity, and it wasn't ridicule, but it scared the hell out of me.

He wasn't all messy anymore, either. He was shaved, and his hair was like it used to be and he looked clean and nice and good.

"Don't cry, love," he said, and started moving towards me. I was sitting on a wooden bench in front of my locker, and the blood was starting to spread all onto the wood and drip onto the floor. It was a ridiculous amount of blood, and I couldn't help but cry.

"Why won't it stop?" I asked him, frantic. "Can't you make it stop?"

"I don't want it to stop," he said. "Just relax. No one's coming."

And I realized that he was right. Before he came there was a lot of noise echoing all over the locker room- the shrieking, giggling, metal-door-slamming sounds of a hundred girls changing at once. I couldn't actually see anyone, but I knew they were there. But now it was gone. It was just me and Spike.

When he got to where I was sitting he dropped to his knees in front of me, and suddenly I wasn't afraid or ashamed anymore. He smiled up at me and, sort of...ran his tongue over my thigh. Totally weird to write now, but in the dream it seemed perfectly normal. Perfectly good.

He licked some more, and eventually got most of the blood off my legs. He was making these moaning sounds, like he couldn't get enough, and then he got up to the uh, shorts-covered areas and just kept on going. At first he was just licking my shorts, but eventually he pulled them off and...how can I say this delicately? I guess there is no delicate way. He went down on me, right there in the locker room, with my bloody vagina leaking all over the place. And I really really liked it.

I liked it beyond the fact that someone was going down on me. It was more than that. It was the fact that I was giving him something he needed too, and that it was something I always thought was bad about me, but it turned out to be good for him. I was giving him life. And, you know, tongue between the legs- not usually a terrible thing.

I came in the dream, and it was so intense I think I might have actually done it in my sleep too. I feel like I might have.

I'm still shaking even now.

God, that was...

What was that?

Maybe I'm spending too much time with Spike. This is just not normal. I'm supposed to be concentrating on me, and getting better and stuff. Not having perverted dreams about vampires.

Tomorrow, diary, I'm going to tell you about the other stuff in my life. I just flipped through this thing, and it's like, the story of Spike. It's too much. I need to stop. I'm starting to get scared.

yours in a panic and confusion,
Willow



October 20, 2002
Dear Diary,

Okay, here goes. Non-Spike related items:

Went to the coven last weekend for a retreat. Made soap. Meditated five times.

Had terrible dream three nights ago about flies coming out of my eyeballs.

Heard Giles and Olivia having sex yesterday morning. Very disturbing.

I miss Tara. Every minute of every day.

Xander called last week. Didn't tell him I've been hanging out with vampire who shall remain nameless in this entry.

Collapsed in the kitchen after Xander's phone call for no apparent reason. Forced by Giles to drink strange blueish cleansing concoction. Went to the bathroom for two hours.

God, could my life be any lamer?

yours,
Willow



November 1, 2002
Dear Diary,

Well, I haven't written awhile. I've tried, but every time I sat down to do it, all I could think to write about was Spike. I guess there's no getting around it. He's the only interesting thing in my life right now. He's the only reason I'm not still walking around like a zombie. So, I guess it's okay if I tell you more about him. I know you won't tell anyone.

We went to the movies last night, after our ice cream. For Halloween, I guess, even though they don't have that here. I hadn't been to the movies in what seemed like years, and it was really nice sitting there in the dark and letting somebody else's fantasy wash over me. Forgot how good that feels. We shared some popcorn and our buttery fingers brushed together in the bucket a few times. Tried not to notice how good that felt.

After the movie Spike stopped in the lobby to play some stupid video game, and I noticed they had one of those photo booths where you sit on top of all your friends and get four terrible pictures for two dollars. For some reason it made me really sad looking at it, thinking of the times me and Buffy and Xander would do goofy things like that and how fun it was. Thinking of how we'd never do anything like that again, probably.

I asked Spike if he thought I was old- too old to do goofy, teen-agery things- and he laughed.

"Yeah," he said. "I'm a hundred and forty-six, playin' Space Invaders, and you're too old."

"Well, come with me, then."

I grabbed his hand and dragged him over to that stupid photo booth and told him to sit down inside. He was looking at me like I was a crazy person, which is probably not far from the truth. The bench was too small for two people, so I sat down on his knee and put the money in, and thought maybe this wasn't such a great idea after all. I felt him stiffen- no, not like that- and he inhaled, and I inhaled, and I realized I was actually sitting on his knee, but before we knew it the camera was going and then it was over. I jumped off quick 'cause...well, I was sitting on his knee!

He smelled really good, diary. I don't really know why. I don't think he's taken a shower in, like, months, but I guess vampires don't get stinky like people. No B.O. or anything. Just...I don't know what. Spikeyness.

When the pictures came out, I laughed harder than I have in forever because my head was cut into weird pieces in most of them, and one of them was just my mouth in this really funky expression and it was just very funny. Like it used to be. But when I showed them to Spike, he didn't laugh.

"Why didn't you tell me?" he asked me, all angry-like.

"Huh?" I had no idea what he was talking about.

"I look like Charles Manson with highlights."

He looked genuinely upset, and I felt like asking him, "What do you expect to look like when you don't cut your hair, or shave, or take a freaking shower?" but instead I said, "You don't look so bad," which, really, he didn't.

"This is hideous. This won't do at all," he said and handed me back the pictures. "I've got to do something."

"Well...I've got an idea. Why don't you come back to the house? We can fix you up all nice, and you can do my hair and we can watch old movies and eat cold pizza."

"You wanna have a slumber party with me?" he asked, eyebrow climbing to his hairline. I don't know what possessed me. I really don't.

"It'll be fun," I said, and it was decided.

We stopped at the drug store on the way back to get some supplies. I went around, gathering everything we needed in a basket, while he stood in front of the wall of colors for twenty minutes.

"You think I should go red?" he asked me when I went to drag him out.

"Red? You?"

"I used to be red. Not like you. More like Ronald MacDonald. Wasn't so bad. Had black, too, and blue once."

I tried to imagine him with any of those colors and really couldn't, although the black had a sort of intriguing appeal. I guess I missed the hair dyeing portions of the life-of-Spike show.

"I like the whitey," I told him. He nodded and tossed a bleaching kit in the basket without another word.

When we got back to the house Giles was gone, which was a relief. I didn't feel like explaining our slumber party plans to him. He's already starting to get on my case about spending too much time with Spike.

I told Spike to go take a shower and wash his hair really well while I got the movies and snacks all prepared. He looked sort of weird when I said that, sort of happy and sad at the same time. Like he really wanted to take a shower and was glad I'd offered, but didn't think he deserved one or something. Like a dog who's been bad but you give them a treat anyway. Or maybe he just thought I was insinuating that he stunk.

In any case, he did go do that, and I laid out a spread of junk food all over my room. I'm not supposed to eat stuff like that, diary. I'm not even really supposed to eat ice cream, but you won't tell on me, right? The witches have me on a stupid diet of fruit and rice and this bread that tastes like bark, but I can't live like that anymore. It was okay for the summer, but jeez, it's been five months since I came here. Surely I'm detoxed enough.

It was a while before Spike finished his shower, and when he finally came to my room, I'd already changed into my flannel shorts and T-shirt that I sleep in. I think I might have gasped when I saw him. I hope not. He was so skinny. He was just in his jeans, with no shirt, and he was still sort of muscular on top, but...I don't know, shrunken. And with his wet hair all long and hanging down all over the place, and his scraggly facial hair, he looked like some underfed hippie or something. The urge to fix him up and get him back to normal was stronger than ever.

"My shirt is pretty dirty," he explained. "Thought maybe..."

"We'll pop it in the washer. We can do your jeans too if you don't mind wandering around in your undies."

"Um, I don't...have...those."

I'm such an idiot. God, I can't even imagine how red I must have turned. Stupid, stupid.

I wasn't too embarrassed, though, to realize how totally filth encrusted his jeans must have been if he'd been going around commando all this time.

I dug through my drawers and found another pair of flannel boxer shorts that I use for pajamas sometimes, and tossed them to him.

"Go put these on," I told him. "We're washing your pants."

He ducked back into the bathroom and came back out in my shorts, which were actually a very nice fit. He was holding the offending jeans out as far away from his body as he could seem to manage.

"They're very disgusting," he said. And they were. Whoo boy, were they ever.

After we got his stuff in the washing machine, I suggested we commence with the shaving and led him back to the bathroom. I looked through the cabinet, trying to find some kind of manshaver, but the only thing around was my Venus razor. I didn't want to risk using any of Giles's things, so I figured that would have to do. "It's gonna have to be girlie style," I told him, getting the Gilette Sensitive Skin lotion ready. He tried to reach for the razor, but I pulled it back and told him I'd do it.

I don't know why. I know he's perfectly capable of doing it himself. I mean, he seemed to manage just fine before, and it wasn't like the soul had made him retarded or paralyzed or anything, but I just wanted to do it for him. I thought it would be satisfying, somehow, to be the one to unearth his face again.

And it was.

He watched me the whole time, really quiet and intense. It was hard to look away from his eyes and concentrate on not cutting up his chin. He's got the most incredible eyes- they just look right through you. I think I've mentioned that before. But when I was doing that, the way he was looking at me, I don't know how else to describe it; it was soulful.

It struck me how totally intimate it was- me, sitting on the edge of the tub, touching his face, breathing all close to him, wearing my pajamas, and him, sitting on the toilet, also wearing my pajamas because he does not, in fact, wear underwear, which I really was starting to wish I didn't know about- and I started thinking about my dream again, and what it might possibly mean. Then I started wishing I hadn't started thinking about it, because it made me feel really weird.

Once I was finished, and I could see his whole face again, I felt even weirder, 'cause he looked so much like he had in the dream. It was a relief though, that he was still mostly the same under there.

"Tada," I said, but that was the stupidest thing ever, 'cause obviously he couldn't look in the mirror where I was pointing. Duh. He did reach up, though, and run his hands over his cheeks.

"Very smooth," he said. "And no nicks. You're a real pro."

I was still super close to him, and he was giving me one of those mysterious half-smiles, and I started really looking at his lips and remembering the other time we were in a bathroom together. The time he kissed me. Or, I kissed him. Whatever. I got that weird vertigo feeling, like with Giles and the letter opener. The feeling of wanting to kiss him, and then getting completely terrified because I was sure I was going to just lean over and do it. It would be so easy, I thought. And he probably wouldn't mind...

I managed to snap myself out of it pretty quick, though. What was I thinking? It was ridiculous.

I leaned back and grabbed the bag from the drug store with all the hair supplies in it, started digging through almost frantically.

"What do we do next?" I asked him. "Cut or bleach?"

"Probably cut. Don't wanna waste all the stuff."

Cut. Which meant more closeness. More touching of the intimate sort, and lips being near other lips, and it was starting to make me more than a little nervous, but it had been my idea after all so how could I back out now?

I told him to turn so his back was facing me and got out the scissors. Then I realized I kinda don't know how to cut hair.

"Um, any particular...style you were thinking of?" I asked, staring at the drying mop of curls in front of me, wondering if I should even try to comb it first.

"Short?" he said, and I laughed. As long as he wasn't gonna be picky, I figured we'd be okay. I took a big hunk and just started chopping.

"Did Dru do this for you?" I asked, even though I knew already that she had. I'd seen her do it once, in the life-of-Spike retrospective. Which, by the way, I'm starting to feel really terrible about. I really need to tell him about that. I just have this feeling it's gonna make him mad, and I don't want to make him mad.

"Yeah, sometimes."

"But you've been doing it yourself since she left, huh?"

It seemed like quite a feat to me: not only being able to cut your own hair, but doing it without the benefit of a mirror.

"I got a barber," he said, so quietly I almost missed it.

"A what? Did you say a barber?"

Images of white and red poles and funny moustaches and quartets filled my mind. Spike didn't seem to fit with those images.

"Demon barber. Back in Sunnydale."

He seemed embarrassed about the whole thing for some reason, so I let it drop even though I was curious about this demon barber and whether or not he had a moustache. I wondered if I'd be able to do as good a job. I was just hacking away now, not even trying to keep things even. Big hunks of hair were falling all around us and soon enough all the white was gone.

"Do you still miss Dru?" I asked him after a while. It was something I'd been wondering about for a long time. I still miss Oz, sometimes. Not as much as I miss Tara right now, but that's a completely different sort of story.

"I don't know," he said. Well, muttered really.

"You don't know? How can you not know?"

I should've gotten the hint, now that I think about it. I mean, it was pretty obvious he didn't want to be talking about Dru, or anything else really. It was pretty obvious to anyone with anything resembling a brain that he was pretty damn uncomfortable with the entire situation. But I don't have a brain. This we know. Not when it comes to people, anyway.

"I haven't really thought about it," he said, and I could feel him tensing up under my hands. It was like sparks of electricity shooting through his skull, buzzing at my fingers. "It's not...I'm not the same. Things aren't the same."

"'Cause of the soul?"

"'Cause of a lot of things."

Well, there wasn't much to say to that so I concentrated for a little while on finishing his hair. Once I'd cut it into a reasonable facsimile of a style I started mixing up the peroxide solution. And while I was doing this I started thinking about my stupid dream again, started staring at his naked back and his non-reflection in the mirror over the sink and wondering about things I should have kept to myself.

I can see now, what I should have been doing. I should've been trying to think of ways to make him feel more comfortable, to open him up and get him to relax. There was obviously a lot of stuff on his mind, and I wanted to know what it was, to try and help him somehow.

"Is it different, um....doing the deed? With a soul?" I asked as I wiped the first glob of dye onto his hair with a highlighting brush. Cause that's just the kind of idiot that is me, diary.

He twitched like the toilet seat was on fire.

"What the hell kinda question is that?" he asked, but not in an angry way. He sounded more nervous and shocked than anything.

"Well, you said things were different..."

"I didn't mean that! I mean...I don't know, all right? I don't know if it's different."

Guess my ulterior motive in asking that was to find out if he's been with anyone since the re-souling. I knew he hadn't been before he got turned. I mean, it was pretty much a no brainer. I really just wanted to know what he'd been doing recently, when he wasn't with me. If he went back to that bar I found him in and picked up young prostitutes, or if he'd met any real girls or what. There was probably a better way of getting that information.

"I-Is this hurting you?" I asked him, after another few minutes of uncomfortable silence. The fumes alone were hurting me. I couldn't imagine having that crap on my scalp.

"No, it's fine. Just- Just gimme the brush."

He grabbed it away from me and started slopping the gunk onto his head quickly and carelessly. I'd been doing it all gently, and I guess that was annoying to him.

"Are-Are you mad at me?" I asked.

"No," he growled. Then, "What do you care anyway? Why are you doing this?"

He ran his fingers roughly through his hair, spreading the bleach, and it burned just watching him.

"Why am I doing what?"

He stood up then, and turned around so I could see his face. His eyes were watery and red. I have no idea if it was from the bleach or something else.

"Why are you being so nice to me? Are you stupid or something? Don't you know what I am?"

I can't even explain how he was, diary. It was like...I dunno, something just snapped and he was on the verge of hysteria and I had no real idea how we'd gotten to this point. I mean, he was yelling, and his voice was all cracky, and he was wearing my boxer shorts and his head was covered with yellow glop and it was just too surreal for words.

And suddenly I felt like crying.

"I...no, I-I don't," I stammered. "I don't know what you are. I know what you were, but I don't know what you are now, or what you're becoming. I-I kinda wish you'd tell me though, cause I'm getting pretty confused! I mean, first you're mad because I'm being mean to you, and now you're mad because I'm being nice to you, and I'm not even really being that nice. I'm just asking a bunch of stupid questions and grooming you like Mister McDoodle!"

Mister McDoodle is Giles' cat, by the way. I'll have to tell you about him sometime.

Anyway, by then I actually was crying, and I felt like the most socially inept loser on the face of the planet. No matter what I did, it was wrong, and now I was making things worse by getting all flustered and weepy.

Would you believe that once upon a time I wanted to be a therapist?

His face fell and he rubbed his eyes with his bleach covered hands, which caused him to yelp in pain. He had to run to the sink to rinse his fingers and splash water on his face. It probably would've been very comical if I hadn't been weeping.

"I-I'm sorry, Willow. Don't cry. Please. It's okay." He moved awkwardly towards me when he was through cleaning up, and he seemed like he didn't know what to do with his limbs. I tried to stop, 'cause it was stupid, but for some reason I couldn't. The tears just kept coming.

Eventually he sat down next to me, on the edge of the tub, and put his hand on my shoulder.

"I'm sorry," he said again, and that made me feel even worse. "I didn't mean to snap. I'm just a grumpy old man."

"No, no, I'm being stupid," I blubbered. "I don't even know why I'm crying."

"I'm not mad at you, Willow," he said really quietly. His hand started moving up my shoulder, and soon he was petting my hair. Petting my hair like he did that one time, when he kidnapped me. But not like that at all. "How could I be mad at you? The only time...only times I don't want to kill myself are the times I spend with you."

Yeah, he really said that, and I felt something like a rock sinking down my throat and through my stomach. Some strange combination of horror and exhilaration and indigestion.

I put my hand on his knee and squeezed, hoping I could say with my body what I was too choked up to say with my voice. Hoping he'd understand that if he killed himself I'd probably die too. At least inside. Whatever embers of life he's managed to spark back up, they'd fizzle out like damp leaves and nothing would be able to ignite them again. I know this to be completely true, and it scares the hell out of me.

We sat there for a little while longer, like two Titanic passengers, clinging to each other on the lifeboat, and eventually I stopped crying and he got up and washed the dye out of his hair.

It didn't turn out to be much of a slumber party. He left as soon as his clothes were dry. He left in a hurry, and I didn't try to stop him even though I wanted him to stay. His hair actually turned out pretty okay. Kind of a messier, longer, spikeyer version of what he had before.

I think he kept my shorts on under his jeans. He didn't give them back to me anyway.

I tried to go to sleep when he was gone, but I tossed and turned for hours. I was completely exhausted, but also totally wired and bursting with thoughts and questions and anxiety. Eventually I had to do something to calm myself down. Something I haven't done since before Tara died. I'm not even gonna tell you what that was, diary, but I'm sure you can guess.

sleepily yours,
Willow



November 4, 2002
Dear Diary,

I never told Tara anything about anything.

After the first night we were together, when the sun was poking its first rays through the window in her dorm room, she asked me what I was like in high school, in junior high. I told her about Buffy and Xander and Giles. I told her about how I'd restored Angel's soul and helped turn the senior class into a demon-fighting army and that we blew up the school, and she was suitably impressed. I didn't tell her about anything before, and she never asked again.

With Tara, I could be the cool one, at least some of the time. She admired me, and I liked that. I liked being able to mold myself into whatever I wanted to be, whatever I wanted her to see, whatever I wanted to see reflected back at me when I looked in her eyes.

She was so honest with me, in her way. She let me see her. She never hid. And I loved her. I loved her for everything that she was. I never really gave her the opportunity to love me back in quite that way, and now I'll never know if she would have- what that would be like.

She wasn't like Spike. She didn't just know what I was inside, without me telling her. She saw what I needed her to see.

Sometimes I think if I'd just told her, things might have ended much differently.

Spike hasn't been around again since the haircut incident. I hope I haven't chased him away with my stupidness again. Whenever I haven't seen him for awhile I start thinking about the terrible things.

-W



November 12, 2002
Dear Diary,

Spike finally came back last night. He said he was sorry for running off and not coming back for so long. He was confused. He needed time to think. I asked him what he was thinking about, but he wouldn't really tell me. Just said that it didn't matter much. All that mattered was that we were still friends.

That made my heart go all melty and I forgave him and myself for all the weirdness the other night. It didn't matter. We were friends.

We went to the church and talked about our favorite books. He's read a lot of books. It was nice.

We came back here afterwards and watched some TV on Giles' couch. He was out again, over at Olivia's, and we ended up falling asleep there. Or at least I did. I think he did too, but I can't be sure 'cause I was sleeping and all.

Anyway, I woke up to the sound of frantic whispering in the kitchen. Spike was no longer on the couch and Giles seemed to be home again. I strained to listen to what they were saying, but only heard bits and pieces. Mostly Giles saying things like "very delicate" and "troubling situation", and Spike saying "I'm just trying to be her friend" over and over again. It was enough to figure out what was going on.

God, I can't even tell you how angry it made me. I know Giles is helping me a lot, letting me stay here and doing all this stuff for me, but this IS still my life. He was talking about me like I was the retarded daughter in the other room who didn't know how to make any decisions for herself. Like he had to protect me from the dangers of Spike's oh-so-evil friendship.

I pretended to be asleep, and I heard Spike leaving and Giles going upstairs and slamming his bedroom door shut. I hope that stupid librarian hasn't chased him away forever. Who does he think he is, anyway? Why does he want to take away the only thing I care about?

-W

Later,

Well, I just got the lecture from Giles. He thinks I'm spending too much time with Spike, that it's distracting me from other "more important" things. But it's not! I've been going to see the witches every week, like always. And I've been doing my meditations and my exercises and all the other stuff they want me to. I don't know what he's talking about. He doesn't seem to understand that being with Spike helps me a hundred times more than hanging with those crazy witches.

It did make me feel a little better, though. Giles knows that Spike is different now, and that he's not gonna hurt me or anything stupid like that. He's just worried about me, in that dad sort of way. I guess it's kind of nice. He cares more than my actual dad ever has. I'm sorry about calling him a stupid librarian. I love Giles, diary. I really really do. There's just some things he doesn't understand about me.

-W



November 15, 2002
Dear Diary,

Yay, Spike came back. It was a little bit weird, though.

I felt like I should tell Giles that I was going out for ice cream with him, so I did, and he told me in his restrained British way that he wasn't very pleased and to be home early. But he didn't try to stop me, so that was good.

When we got to the diner, I asked Spike if he ever has nightmares. My dreams have been getting really weird lately, and I was thinking about them and wondering if vampires even have dreams. He said yeah, all the time, but he made some stupid joke about Martha Stewart when I asked him what they were about. God, sometimes prying information out of him is like getting Mister McDoodle to give up his food dish.

"So, Miss Random Questions," he said at one point. "Can I ask you something now? It's sort of personal."

"Sure," I nodded. I couldn't think of anything too personal to tell Spike. I felt like he knew everything I had to hide.

"When you were with Oz, you uh...did the deed, right?"

So, I was wrong. I didn't really like where this was going. I felt the lump of ice cream I'd just swallowed sort of halting in my throat and had to make an effort to finish swallowing.

"Um, well, yeah. I did. I mean, we did. Sure."

"So...did you like it?"

I felt that ice cream trying to work itself back up, and had to swallow again to force it back down. His eyes were sparkling with mischief, or...something. I thought I might be suffocating. I flashed back to that night, so many long and horrible months ago, when we played poker and he tried to poke holes in my sexuality and I just wanted to stab him repeatedly.

"I don't think I wanna answer that question," I said.

"Why not?"

"On the grounds that it may lead to another argument about whether I'm gay or just pretending, and that's not an argument I want to have with you. Ever again."

"I'm not asking you because of that. I'm just curious. You can be gay if you want to."

"What does that mean, if I WANT to?" My spoon slipped out of my hand and clattered onto the table and a few people turned around to stare at us. I realized I was talking kinda loud and leaned across the table to whisper, "I don't WANT to be gay. I just am!"

"Well, whatever. I'm not asking about that."

"You still don't believe me! You think I'm fake!"

He smiled in a kind of sad way, and shook his head. "I don't think you're fake. I just...look, just forget it. It doesn't matter. Let's talk about something else."

Just forget it. Like it was so easy.

Well, I managed to calm myself down anyway, and we did talk about something else eventually, though I can't remember what.

The thing is, diary, I did like it. I mean, kind of a lot. And I liked it with Tara too. I loved it, with both of them. Because I loved them, and it was beautiful, and fun, and just...good.

What does that mean? It's cheating, to like both, isn't it? It's disrespectful to Tara's memory to even think about things like this, isn't it?

I've already done so much that would have made her ashamed of me. Thinking about boys this way again is like the final nail in her coffin, and I just can't deal with it. I can't even think about it without crying.

yours,
Willow



November 23, 2002
Dear Diary,

I'm in my room at the coven. Giles dropped me off here a few hours ago. I feel like I'm in prison. I'm not supposed to be here.

It started out like a normal night; me and Spike, hanging out, watching telly. TV. Whatever. Giles upstairs, typing away. Clickety clack, clickety clack. And then, suddenly, these horrible voices in my head, telling me I had to leave. Telling me to come back here.

Those witches! Can't they use the telephone like normal people? No, I guess I could ignore them if they did that.

They didn't tell me how long they wanted me for, but I get the feeling it's gonna be a while before I can get out of here.

I told Spike I had to go, that they were calling me.

"Right now?" he asked, and his face got all sad when I nodded yes. "When will you be back?"

"I don't know," I said. "I think...not soon."

That made him look even sadder, and then, suddenly, panicked. "Do you think it's because of me? So you won't be around me anymore?"

I shrugged, 'cause I really had no idea. Still don't.

He grabbed my hand with both of his and squeezed.

"Willow, there are things I need to tell you. Things you need to know. About me...things I've done that..."

And this was it. I could see it in his eyes. He was getting ready to confess to me about Buffy and the almost-rape, and probably a thousand other horrible things, and I wasn't ready for the conversation at all because the witches' voices were still echoing around in my brain and I had to pack and Giles was upstairs, typing...

"I-I know, Spike," I said. "I know all about...that."

"No, I don't think you do. I think if you knew, you'd be afraid of me. You'd hate me. And you should, because..."

"No, Spike, I know. Please, you don't have to...I saw everything. They showed me."

"They...who...showed you what?"

"The witches. They showed me all this stuff about your life. With magic. Like a movie. And I know all about what happened with Buffy, and what...almost happened."

It was all coming out too fast. I wanted to be prepared for when this happened. I wanted to have all the right things to say ready and memorized. I should have made a list a long time ago!

But it was okay. It turned out okay, I think.

He looked completely horrified for a minute. Almost angry. And he had a right to be angry. I'd seen all this stuff, knew all these intimate things and I'd never told him, but then his face softened up and he looked so vulnerable- almost like a little boy. He squeezed my hand even tighter. It almost hurt.

"Why don't you hate me?" he whispered. His voice was all shaky and gravelly.

"Because I know you're sorry, and I know you didn't want things to be like that. I know that's not what you really are."

I saw a lonely little tear slip out of his eye and fall down his cheek, and I wanted to wipe it away, but I thought he might get mad if I acknowledged it. I settled for brushing a stray hair out of his face with my free hand and trying to smile.

Just then the clickety clak from upstairs stopped, and I remembered the witches and all the rest of it.

"I have to go tell Giles. He's gotta drive me, and I've gotta pack..."

"When you come back," he said, "Come and see me. Okay?"

I got him a pen and some paper and he wrote down for me, finally, exactly where I could find him.

-W



November 24, 2002
Dear Diary,

I am, potentially, the most powerful person in the world. I could do anything, almost. I could change the world, bend it to my will. I could make myself beautiful. I could have double D cups, and cheekbones, and nice eyebrows. I could give myself an amazing talent- painting or music or brain surgery- and become rich and famous and worshipped. I could build a mansion for myself out of thin air, and live there with the army of beautiful slaves I created to cater to my every whim. I could be a queen, diary, but all I wanted to do was bring Tara back to me. It's not right that she's gone. If anything, it should have been me.

It's so tempting now. Every day I think of something I could do to make it better, make it all go away. Sometimes I think I should start over. I could drive to a new town, get an apartment or something, and wipe my own memory completely away. That way the pain and the loss and the guilt would be gone, and I wouldn't know about the power inside me so there'd be no more temptation.

I talked to Melinda today, about the temptations and the way the pain never seems to dull even a little except when I'm with Spike. I asked her if they called me here because of him and if they're trying to keep us apart. She's the only one I could really ask. The others are too intimidating.

She said that my friendship with him was a good thing for both of us, but that it's possible to have too much of a good thing. She thinks that's a lesson I need to learn. She thinks I needed a break.

I don't feel like I need a break. I don't like being here, so far away from Spike. It makes me feel alone again, floating and empty. I feel brittle, like I could break into a million pieces if someone touched me. I want to go home.

-W



November 26, 2002
Dear Diary,

I made soap today. And jewelry. I made a big silver ring for Spike. I hope he likes it. It felt kind of good to make stuff. To create tangible, useful things with my hands and raw materials, without any magic at all. It made me feel like a functioning human being, which is a pleasant change.

Still not happy to be here, though.

-W



November 28, 2002
Dear Diary,

I just woke up from the strangest, most vivid dream I've had in...ever. I'm not even sure it was a dream. Could it have been real? A visitation? Being here at the coven makes me believe something like that is possible, but there's no way of knowing for sure.

It started out with me walking from Giles' place down to the cemetery where Spike and I sit and talk sometimes. The streets weren't the same, though. There weren't any houses or buildings or anything really, just the sidewalk and clouds. But I knew the way, and when I got there everything was the same in the courtyard.

I sat down on our usual bench, and waited for Spike to show up. And he did show up, eventually, but not the way I expected him to. He came with the other ghosts. I saw him, floating around the cemetery, and I waved but he didn't see me. He went from grave to grave, tracing the inscriptions on the stones with his fingers. He looked sad. I wanted to go to him, but I knew I really couldn't. We weren't in the same world.

And then she came to me. Tara. I didn't see her coming. Just, one minute I was alone and the next minute she was there, sitting next to me on the bench. She was there and alive and beautiful, and there was so much I wanted to say to her, but I couldn't say anything at all. I just started to cry.

She wrapped her arms around me and let me weep on her for a long time. I finally stopped because it felt so good to be with her again, to be held by her. She was the same. She even smelled the same.

I tried to say thank you, and I love you, and please don't leave me again, but my voice still wasn't working.

"It's okay, sweetie," she said, and she was brushing my hair with her fingers and I really felt like maybe it was okay. For the first time in a long time.

"I don't want you to cry anymore," she told me. "It's never wrong to love somebody."

I think I knew, in the dream, exactly what she meant, but now I'm not so sure. It didn't matter, though. All that mattered was that she was holding me and kissing me and she was real again, flesh and blood.

Time passed. Minutes or hours, and eventually she started to disappear. Slowly. Parts of her would become transparent, then vanish completely until there was nothing left. Until I was holding myself. Crying again.

I woke up clutching my pillow, my face pressed against the mattress. Tears and snot and who knows what else were on my skin, in my hair. I wanted to die. Or at least just lie there, but I felt like I had to get up and write it down. So, here I am, writing.

I don't know what else to say about it. I feel like it was real. I feel like I saw her and touched her, and now she's gone again and I can't think of anything worse. But if it was real, in any mystical sort of way, it must have happened for a reason. Right? She wouldn't come to me just to tease and torture me like that. The things she said must have been important.

Everything Tara said was important.

God, I was such a pathetic loser next to her. Babbling and pretending and never really true. She was so careful, so thoughtful. So soft and tender and

I need to go, diary. I feel really sick.

-W



December 8, 2002
Dear Diary,

Sorry I've been so flakey about writing. Just haven't had anything interesting to tell you till now. They let me leave the coven yesterday, and the rest of the time I was there, after the dream, was pretty boring. I wrote in my other journal because I didn't have too many secrets, other than wanting to leave. But even that sort of faded after a few days. It turned out to be pretty relaxing, learning to make all that stuff and doing the meditations every day. They taught me some new focusing techniques- ways to channel my energy in directions that won't turn into magical force without my intending it. When Giles picked me up I actually felt a little better than I had when he'd dropped me off. And not just because I was getting the heck out of there.

I was worried, though, when I was there. I kept thinking about Spike and how sad and scared he looked when I left. The first thing I did when I got home last night was get out that piece of paper and sneak out my window to try and find him.

Took me awhile. He gave me directions on how to get into the tunnels, which was easy enough, but once I got down there it was dark and wet and smelly and I could barely read his notes. Luckily I brought my flashlight. I never would've found the place otherwise.

Remember how he said he lived with the mole people? I'd heard the expression before. My dad used to go to New York a lot for work and conventions and stuff, and he told me about the mole people who lived in the tunnels around Penn Station. Homeless people who had nowhere else to go. I thought it was really sad, when he told me about that, and kind of mean to call them moles.

Well, that's what I was expecting to find down there, but it turns out Spike was being literal. They really are mole people. I ran into a couple of them- kids I guess- playing ball near Spike's hole. They had people bodies, and they were wearing people clothes, but their faces were...moley. Demons, probably. They were talking to each other, but I couldn't understand what they were saying, 'cause they had really strong Cockney accents. Scared the bejesus out of me.

I asked them if they knew where Spike was, and they pointed me in the right direction. I think they might have been laughing at me. I must've looked pretty weird to them, in my sparkly new dress that I sewed at the coven, carrying this stupid basket of stuff I made for Spike like some Red Riding Hood wannabe. But jeez, they looked pretty weird to me, too.

Anyway, Spike's hole really was just that- a hole. It looked like it had been dug out of the tunnel wall. No door. I shined my light inside and there was nothing but Spike and a backpack and a dingy old mattress. Wasn't really room for anything else. It didn't even look like he could stand up in there, which was, I guess, why he was lying down.

He sort of jumped when he saw the light, and called out, "Who's there?"

"It's me, Spike," I said, and turned the flashlight back at myself to light up my face. He fumbled around for a minute, and popped out of the hole like a...mole? Well, a pretty mole at any rate.

"Hi," he said. And I said hi. And then he said, "Let's get the hell out of here." So we did. When we got up to the street I was able to take a good look at him and, well, it didn't look good. He was skinnier than last time I'd seen him, and his eyes looked dark and hollow. And his arms...he was wearing a T-shirt, and there were cuts all over his arms. They looked fairly fresh, and...not the kind of cuts you get from a wild animal or demon. They were the kind of cuts you get from a knife.

"What's in the basket, Riding Hood?" he asked me, and suddenly I felt like crying. Really bad. I just knew, in that instant, how much he'd been hurting, and it hurt me too. I wanted to take him away from that awful place with the creepy mole demons, and I wanted to see him smile and laugh.

"Um, some...stuff. That I made." I handed him the basket, and I realized how stupid it was 'cause he didn't even have a place to put all that stuff. There wasn't anyplace for him to put it.

He looked down at it, and then back up and me, and his face...it was like he couldn't even believe it, that I'd give him anything. It wasn't a smile exactly, but it was close. It was nice. And sad.

"Let's sit, so I can...look," he said, and we walked around until we found a bench. It wasn't anywhere we'd ever been before. There was a coffee shop, and an all-night restaurant, and a bus stop, which is where we sat.

He took the items out, one by one: the soap, which I thought might smell a little too girlie, but I was proud of it because it was actually soap-shaped, the paper and the pen with the little triangular holder thing that I made specially for lefties, the incense made from the oils that reminded me of the way he smells sometimes, the ziplock bag filled with chocolate chip cookies with pecans, 'cause he likes those even though I think they're gross, and the silver ring that I thought might be too small, now that I was looking at his hands again. He looked at them all, turned them over in his hands and examined them like they were mysteries he was trying to unravel.

I was squirming the whole time.

"You made all this?" he asked, finally.

"Yeah. The witches taught me."

"You made paper?"

"They make everything. It's all a hundred percent natural."

Do you like them? I wanted to ask him. Do you think they're stupid? Will you throw them away after you walk me home? But I didn't say any of that, thank God.

"You made all this...for me?"

"Uh huh," I nodded. "See, the pen is for left-handed people, like you are, and the cookies are the ones you like, and...yeah."

He put everything back in the basket, slowly, carefully, like he was afraid of breaking or dropping something. Everything but the ring, which he tried on when the rest of it was put away. It fit perfectly on the middle finger of his left hand.

Then he looked at me, so...intensely, it felt like my heart was breaking, and he said "Thank you." But it wasn't just thank you. I can't even explain how many other sentiments I heard in those two perfunctory words.

I can't explain what I felt, sitting there with him. I just...can't.

We went into the coffee shop, and I told him about the other things the witches taught me, and I told him about the dream, but not everything about it. I didn't tell him he was a ghost, or any of the things Tara said. Just that she came to me, and she forgave me, and it was painful, but good.

I asked him if he'd been getting enough blood, if he needed anything, if there was anything I could do to make things better for him, because he looked just awful, really. He said he was fine, but, God, I didn't believe him at all.

We stayed there till almost 4 in the morning, talking, and not talking, and when it was time to go I didn't want to. I wanted to take him home with me, and never let him leave again.

He walked me back, and as he was turning to go I asked him if he wanted to spend the night. The thought of him going back to that filthy, cold tunnel just made me want to kill myself.

"Don't think Rupert would approve," he said, and I knew that was true, but I didn't care. I guess Spike cared, though, because he left. But we made plans to go to some special place he said he knew. Someplace he thinks I'll like. He's gonna take me next week sometime.

It was so hard, watching him walk away with my basket, imagining him sleeping with it on that crappy mattress. Or not sleeping. But I knew I couldn't beg him to stay, knew it would insult his pride, and that was the last thing I think he needed. Same reason I didn't ask him about the cuts on his arms, or what he'd been doing while I was away.

He actually looked pretty happy when he left. I cried myself to sleep.

-W



December 12, 2002
Dear Diary,

I've realized something very important, but I can't tell you what it is just yet. I'm sorry. I want to, really badly, but I have to tell Spike first.

I'm scared, diary. I'm scared to tell him, and I'm scared of what I'm feeling, and I don't know if any of this is right at all. We're going for our "special night" tonight, and I think it might be a good time to say something, but I don't know if I've got the courage. What if he laughs? Or worse than that? What if he gives me that sad, you're-such-an-unfortunate-girl look? Or worse than even that? What if he doesn't want to be my friend anymore?

All of a sudden, I feel like I've got a lot to lose. I hope that I don't chicken out. I hope that it doesn't make things weird and awful if I don't chicken out. I hope that I'm not making a completely stupid mistake.

I know how weird this is. I mean, after what happened with Buffy, maybe I'm being a terrible friend to her. I know she was upset about Anya. How will she feel when it's me, her very best friend?

But I can't help it. I can't help the way I feel. And he's practically a different person now anyway. I'm sure that part of it will be okay, somehow. I'm sure it'll all be okay, somehow. It just has to be.

I'll fill you in when I get home tonight, I guess.

yours,
Willow



December 13, 2002
Dear Diary,

Sorry I didn't write last night. I got home really late. So, I've got a lot to tell you, and it's all kind of sloshing around in my brain, and I'm not sure if my hands can keep up. I guess I should just start with what happened.

So, oh! I managed to talk Giles into loaning me the car for the night, which I was sort of worried about. I told him it was for an educational field trip the witches wanted me to go on, and that Spike was coming along for supervision. He seemed skeptical, but he gave me the keys and I went to pick up Spike.

I let Spike drive, since I didn't know where we were going, and I think I was chewing on the insides of my mouth the whole way there. I was so incredibly nervous- worse than I've been in years I think. I could hardly even talk, really, except to ask him where we were going, and if we were almost there, every five or ten minutes.

It seemed to take forever. After about a half an hour I had no idea where we were anymore, and my curiosity was starting to get as intense as my worry.

Plus, Spike drives kinda bad. I'd never been in a car with him before. It was a little scary.

When we finally reached our destination, I was totally overwhelmed. It was so beautiful, I can't even tell you. We were in Devon, it turned out, pretty close to the coven, at a place called Blackpool Sands. A beach. With sand and water and everything. But so much prettier than the beaches in California, so much less...people-ized. It was quiet, and dark, and it felt like we were the only people in the world as we worked our way down to the ocean.

I guess he found the place when he was wandering, before he ran into me.

He'd told me to bring a blanket, and I thought to take some food just in case there was none 'cause I was hungry, so we spread out our blanket and our little picnic close to the water and started eating.

I told him, for like, the fifth time, how amazingly gorgeous the place was, and he smiled.

"I thought you'd like it."

"It feels almost prehistoric," I said. "I feel like no one's ever been here."

There was a forest sort of surrounding the beach, which I found completely incredible, and it also turned out to be very useful. Spike went back there after we were done eating to gather some branches, and then he built us a little fire.

We sat on the blanket for a while, looking up at the stars. They were so bright, and the sky was so clear. It was like being at the planetarium. I could see so many constellations.

I showed him Pisces, traced the fish with my fingers and told him it was my sign. He seemed to actually know what that meant. I guess Dru taught him about astrology.

"No wonder you're glowing like that," he said. "Being near the water really makes you come to life."

I hadn't really realized I was coming to life, but when I looked over at him...the way he was staring at me made me feel every charge of electricity running through my body at that moment. I almost said it then, but it didn't feel like the right time, exactly. Or maybe I was just being a scaredy cat.

I started shivering, 'cause it was probably twenty degrees out there, and he offered me his coat, then realized he wasn't wearing it. I remembered asking him about it when we first ran into each other, how he seemed almost naked without it. Like a different person. I remembered seeing him run past it without a second thought, on his way out of Buffy's house, the night of the bathroom incident.

"It's okay," I said. "You can be my windbreaker." I was pretty brave then, diary. I crawled across the blanket and situated myself between his knees, my back to his front, and pulled his arms around my middle. "I know you don't generate body heat, but neither does a blanket, right?"

I wanted to tell him how good it felt to be this close to him, how solid and strong and safe his arms felt, how it was even nicer than I'd been imagining- but that would mean admitting I'd been imagining this, which I wasn't ready to do just yet. I felt myself teetering on the verge of nervous babbling, so I just didn't say anything else at all.

Until he said, "You're not even a little bit afraid of me anymore, are you."

He was talking softly, very close to my ear, and honestly, I was afraid. But not in the way he was talking about.

"Do you want me to be afraid?" I asked. I think it came out a little sexier sounding than I'd intended. Not sure if he noticed, though.

"Not really," he said. "Just...when I was human, I was afraid of so many things, so much of the time. You know?"

I nodded, because I did know, in a huge way. And, also because his lips were so close that when I nodded, my ear sort of brushed against his mouth. I squeezed his hands, and felt my ring on his finger. He was still wearing it. That was nice.

"Becoming a vampire," he continued. "It took all that away. I wasn't afraid of anything. Suddenly I was the big, scary thing under the bed, hiding in the closet. It was sort of liberating, I guess."

"And now?" I asked.

"Now I think I'm more scared of myself than anything else. I'm scared of the fact that I still miss it, after everything."

"Miss...killing?"

"Not the killing so much as the life-taking. The way a person's heartbeat, their breath and pulse could fill me up, make me feel whole. Almost human myself. There's so much emptiness inside us, so much hunger....only one thing that can fill it, even for a minute."

Normally talk like that would've given me the creeps, but this time it just made me sad. He sounded sad. Choked up, even.

"Are you sorry?" I asked, even though it's been completely obvious for months now. I thought maybe he needed to say it.

"I'm sorry every minute of every day."

"I forgive you," I told him, and it was really really true. I'd forgiven him a long time ago, and I was sorry I hadn't told him sooner. I've only just begun to realize how badly he needs it. "And I'll bet your victims would too, if they knew what you've been through."

"Think their families would forgive me, pet? Would you, if I'd been the one that..."

"You'd be dead," I interrupted, before he had the chance to even say it. "I wouldn't have gotten the chance to forgive you." I didn't want to tell him that no, I don't think I would have found that in my heart. Warren's dead and gone, at my hands, and I'll never ever forgive.

"Well, that's who I'm the sorriest to," he said. "The people I killed...they're probably better off, at peace. But the ones they left behind...I don't deserve their forgiveness. I wouldn't want it."

"Do you accept mine?" I asked.

I felt him smile, just a little. "Yeah," he whispered. "Yours is nice."

"Can you feel my heartbeat?" I thought everyone in the Western Hemisphere could probably feel it, it was going so fast and furious by then. And the way I was pressed up against him, my heart so close to his, I knew he had to hear it at least.

"I can."

"And my breath?" I knew he could feel and hear that, because he was breathing himself, almost in time with me.

"Yes," he said.

"You can borrow them," I told him, before I could think about how stupid it might sound. "We can share."

His arms tightened around me, and I felt him swallow. Twice.

"Thank you, Willow. That...that's the sweetest thing anyone's ever said to me."

It was time, I knew. There wasn't gonna be a better time than this. How could there be a better time?

"Spike, I...You're being so honest with me, and I...want to be um, honest...with you...also."

God, I sounded so stupid. I hate how stupid I get sometimes.

"You have been," he said. I shook my head and chewed my lips some more. I think my heart was about ready to fly through my chest and paddle its way out to sea by then. I thought I might throw up before I managed to get it out.

"No, I haven't...not completely. There's...there's stuff that...I'm scared. I'm scared to tell you, because things are so...nice, and...I don't wanna mess things up with us. I like being um, you know, friends."

"You couldn't mess that up. You, uh...you're my friend, Willow. My best friend. My only friend, truth be told. Couldn't say anything to change that."

I guess that was exactly what I needed to hear. It made me feel like I could really do this, like it would be okay. I took a deep breath, and just blurted it out.

"Spike, I love you."

He was totally still for a minute that seemed like an hour, then he took a deep breath himself, and started to say something. I cut him off.

"Don't say anything. Don't...please, just...I just thought I should tell you. I thought I needed to tell you. That I fell in love with you. But, please don't answer. You don't have to say...stuff. Just, don't."

I was in the throes of a full-fledged panic attack, I think, when I felt cool liquid trickling down my neck. I thought it was spray from the ocean, maybe, but, no, it wasn't. Then I felt his lips- warm, soft, open, God, they were so much warmer than I expected- pressing against my neck, just under my ear. He was kissing my neck. Crying, and kissing my neck. I couldn't breathe. At all.

His mouth stayed in that spot for so long, I thought it might kill me. Then it started moving, tracing tiny paths up and down the side of my neck, onto my ear. I tried to get some air in my lungs, and I think I probably made some awful, un-sexy wheezing sound.

"What...what are you....oh, I...told you not to...say...stuff." I was just sputtering now, talking to prove my voice still worked. When I felt his tongue working little circles, up and around my earlobe, I bit a hole in my bottom lip. The blood tasted kind of good.

"This uh...feels...different than I...expected," I said.

"How did you expect it to feel?" he asked me. His voice was all low and gravelly and sugary, and his hands were under my shirt suddenly. He was touching my stomach, my bare, goose-bumpy stomach, with the tips of his fingers.

"Dunno." I hadn't really let my imagination get quite this far. Didn't think it would ever get this far, but the few times I considered that it might I figured it would be uncomfortable. Strange. Awkward. I thought it would be like the first time I kissed Tara, the first time Oz touched my breast. I thought I would be more afraid. I didn't think I would be so...so. I don't know if I've ever been so...so.

I couldn't move. Or think. Or anything. I just wanted him to never stop touching me. I wanted his hands lower, where no man-hands have been since 1999.

"Do you want me to kiss you?" he asked, and I think I swooned. I dunno. What happens when you swoon? I felt like all the air got like, sucked out of my head. I was all dopey and floppy, and I couldn't even say "yes, please God, yes."

So I just turned my head a little bit, and his lips were right there, and then they were touching my lips, and we were kissing. Really really kissing. I've never been kissed like that, diary. Never.

I don't know how to describe it. How do you describe a kiss? It started out sort of soft, and shy, but it didn't stay that way for long. Soon it turned hungry, and...crazy. I dunno. His tongue was everywhere, and my tongue was doing things I didn't know my tongue could do, and we were both breathing like we'd been running the New York Marathon.

I turned so I was facing him completely, and there was some awkward shuffling as we arranged ourselves, and somehow I ended up straddling his lap and just...plundering his mouth. I couldn't get enough. I don't think he could either. I felt like he was literally sucking the life out of me, like he was everywhere inside me and around me and...God, I've just never been kissed like that.

And I felt him. I felt him between my legs, hard and warm, and I wanted it. Right there, right then, I wanted to be on him, as close as we could possibly get.

It scared me, how bad I wanted it, and I forced myself to pull my mouth away from his. I couldn't stop myself from grinding into him a little bit, though. God, it just felt so good. He did this little shudder-groan thing, that I think I want to see lots more of, and when I looked at him I felt like his eyes were digging into my skull, the way he was looking at me. His mouth was open and flushed from the kisses, and his tongue was just...there, waiting for more.

"I-I think we...maybe...should...uh...go," I stammered out. It was really difficult. I didn't want to go, but it was too much. I was feeling too much too fast, and we were on the verge of doing something that I wanted to take more time with. Something I wasn't sure I was ready for.

He nodded, and I nodded, and we were in agreement that it was time to go, but my parts were still pressed up against his parts, and I really just could not breathe.

I couldn't believe that I was there, that he was hard- that I made him hard- and that he was clutching onto the back of my shirt like that, and panting. It didn't seem like it could possibly be real. And the way the stars were so so bright, and the ocean was crashing onto the sand, making these incredible sounds. It felt almost hyper-real, if that makes any sense. Like everything was just a little bit too much. I thought I might cry from it.

Somehow, eventually, we got untangled and walked back to the car. We held hands as we were walking, and that was almost the best part of all.

We didn't talk much as he drove me home, but that was okay. He kept looking over at me, and smiling his little smile, and I knew we were gonna be okay. I knew I hadn't messed things up.

When we got back to Giles' we got out of the car, and he gave me the keys back and then pulled me into the most wonderful hug. It seemed to go on forever, but didn't last nearly long enough. Then he kissed the top of my head, and brushed some hair out of my eyes.

"I'll see you soon, huh?" I asked. He didn't really answer, just made this grimacey face, and I think he might have been about to cry again. I kissed my fingers, then ran them over his lips. Then I ran inside, 'cause I was afraid if we stood there too much longer we were gonna start making out again, and possibly having sex in Giles' car. I turned to wave when I reached the door, but he was already gone.

yours in cautious joy,
Willow



December 15, 2002
Dear Diary,

This is the last entry I've got room for, diary, and that seems appropriate. You've been a good friend, and I thank you for that. I wish I could write something poetic, or at least coherent, but I'm crying too hard to see right now.

Spike is gone, diary. He's just gone. He left me a letter, slipped it under the door last night while I slept, and I'm going to staple it to the last page of this journal because I don't know what else to do with it.

It hurts so bad. I can't hardly stand it. I know there's things I could do, spells or curses or potions, something to bring him back, to change his mind. It's too hard. I can't deal with this anymore. I don't know what to do.

Here is the letter. He wrote it on the paper I gave him. I love him so much. Thank you for listening.

love,
Willow

xxxxxx

December 14, 2002
Dearest Willow,

This is the most difficult thing I've ever done. You've forgiven me for so much already, and I thank you for that, sincerely. I only hope you can find it in your heart to forgive this as well.

I wish that I could tell you these things in person, but I know myself far too well to risk it. I am weak, and a coward. One look at your sweet, beautiful face and I would be lost, unable to do what must be done. For you, love. Only for you.

I have to leave, Willow. I have to leave because only in my absence will you be able to truly heal, to grieve for all that you've lost.

I'll never be able to tell you how much your friendship means to me, how deeply I was moved by your words last night. If I were capable, I'd write a sonnet that would perfectly describe my feelings for you, but I am also a fairly awful poet. I only wish that I were fully deserving of the blessings you've bestowed upon me. I wish that I were fit to accept the gift of your love.

I'm not fit, Willow, and I don't know if I ever will be. There's so much that I'd like to be able to give you- everything you ever wanted, and some things you didn't know you needed- but I've got nothing inside me that's worth sharing.

Please know that you haven't ruined anything, that I'm still your friend, always. I've been considering this since you left for the coven, and I really believe that it's the best thing I can do for you. I'm so proud of you, for the progress that you've made and the strength you've shown. I hope that I helped you, at least a little bit, and that without me you'll be able to find the true worth within yourself.

I love you, Willow. Truly. With all my soul. I hope beyond words that this is not goodbye. Not forever. I hope that when we meet again, as I know we will, you will be able to look me in the eye and feel something close to affection. I will think of you every minute until that day comes.

Eternally yours,
Spike


xxxxxx

the end

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