At the time, I thought I didnít. Since Spike had returned from Africa, I had been friendly with him. I helped him when he needed someone to guide him through is moral dilemmas and problems. I patrolled with him. I even invited him to dinner a few times, but I always kept him at armís length, and I never gave him any reason to believe weíd be more than friends. Sometimes I wondered if we were really friends at all, so it never occurred to me to stop him from saving Xander. Why would I choose Spike over my best friend?
He didnít ask me to. Didnít even suggest it, or treat it like it was an option. He just sized up the situation, kissed Dawn goodbye, smiled at Anya, and then he was gone. And Xander was there. We ran to him, crying with relief, Anya kissing him and promising to love him forever, begging him to never scare her like that again. Dawn was crying too, but I knew it wasnít for Xander. She wasnít even looking at Xander, she just hugged herself, standing away from the rest of us. Willow was beside herself with joy, but I saw her eyes darting to the place we last saw Spike, and they seemed a little clouded.I wasnít expecting it to hurt like this though. I wasnít expecting to dream about him and wake up crying. I wasnít expecting to miss the way he smiled at Dawn like she was the most precious jewel and he was awed to be in her presence. I wasnít expecting to miss the way he smiled at me; if Dawn was a jewel, I was his sun. I missed the way his eyes darkened before he kissed me. I missed the way his hair curled when he didnít bother slicking it back. Sometimes I would want to tell him about a certain move Iíve learned, or show him a new weapon Giles has sent from England, but then I remembered that heís not here.
Anya confessed to me that Xander misses Spike too. Some nights he goes up to the cliff where the whole sordid thing happened and talks to him. We put a small memorial on the cliff for him, where we lost him.† He tells Spike how Dawn is doing in school, about her latest boyfriend, the way sheís cutting her hair. He† also updates Spike on my progress; about my latest job, how many vampires Iíve slain, any new injuries I get. A million trivial things that Spike should know himself.
I never even got to thank him, or apologize to him. I wanted to thank him for taking care of Dawn, for loving her. I wanted to thank him for helping me kill the nasties. I wanted to thank him for being there when I needed him and for leaving when I wanted to be alone. I wanted to apologize for all the times I hurt him, all the times I ripped his heart out, all the times I turned my back on him. In other words, I wanted to tell him that Iím proud to call him a friend.† I always put it off because he wasnít going anywhere. Barring an unfortunate meeting with a stake, he should have been immortal. I should have had plenty of time to talk to him. I try to assure myself that he probably already knew everything I wanted to tell him, but that doesnít make it better, or easier.
I simply wasnít prepared for the void his absence has created in my world. My life went on as usual, I still fight and avert apocalypses. I still take care of Dawn. I still go† to the Bronze with my friends, and to work, and I even started taking night classes. I even took a poetry class. I recognized several of the poems Spike used to recite when he thought I was asleep, including Byronís She Walks in Beauty.
Some nights though, I donít feel so lonely. Sometimes, when I call his name in my sleep, I swear I hear him answer. Thatís impossible, of course. Heís probably in some hell dimension, banished for eternity from light and love, and any chance he had at redemption. Or maybe the final sacrifice redeemed him, maybe he was already redeemed because he could love. No matter what happened before or where he is now, he died a man.
She misses me. She doesnít know Iím here.
Itís a clever punishment, really Someone, somewhere is one sick bastard, rivaling even Angelusís depravity. See, Iím to spend the rest of eternity watching her; unable to touch her, talk to her, hold her, comfort her, even smell her. Iíll always be here and sheíll never know it.
Kinda like when I was undead. I was miserable without her, and miserable with her, but at least I could talk to her. If nothing else, I could goad her into beating me. Some contact, no matter how negative, was better than none. Not now though, now I just watch.
They turned me into a bloody watcher.
Itís my reward too, for saving her friend. This is hell and itís heaven, living with my murderer, watching my savior. Sheís my sin and my touch of grace. She owns the night and outshines the sun. She killed me and loved me a thousand different times, and no matter how much it hurt I always came crawling back, and now I can never leave.† I never have to be away from her and my heart drinks in her beauty daily. Iím happy to be close enough to her breath, hear her laugh, just watch her be. But my heart breaks because she was never mine and never could be mine.
I didnít have to die in Xanderís place. It was my decision, and I could have walked away. But I looked at Buffy, and in that second I knew with clarity that I had never previously possessed that she really could never love me. I **knew** it.† She never lied to me about her feelings. She never loved me, would never love me, and could never love me. She could barely tolerate being my friend when I needed her to save my lifeómy soul.
I looked at Anya, human again after her brief return to the world of vengeance.† She had confessed to me a few days before that she thought she might be pregnant. She was so excited to have Xanderís child. She really loved him, like I loved Buffy. Even if she werenít pregnant, she would be one day. She deserved that.
Willow was still hurting from losing Tara the year before. She couldnít lose her best friend too. I liked Willow, admired her for struggling to do the right thing, and to earn her own redemption. Though her job was easier than mineóshe didnít have over 100 years of murder and mayhem under her belt.
Dawn was crying.
And as clearly as I understood that Buffy would never love me, I understood that these people would never be my friends, no matter how hard I tried to redeem myself, to prove myself. I knew that no one was left to mourn my death. Itís a funny thing, but I had only wanted acceptance. I didnít care where, demon world, human world, it didnít matter. I just didnít want to be stuck on the outside for eternity. Iím a social guy, Iíve always been that way. But I didnít belong anywhere, and never have.
Xander did though. Xander belonged in this world with his women. I was a freak, a nobody, and I was finally forced to admit that to myself. So I pushed Xander out of the way and jumped to my death. Content that it would end, that I would leave, and their world would continue to spin for now.
Only, it didnít work out that way. Nobody explained to me why I had become a ghost, a shadow, in Buffyís life. I donít know what I am supposed to do, or how long I will be here. All I know is that it hurts so bloody much. I still feel the guilt of the soul, but now I have the added burden of sitting on the sidelines, unable to help her or Dawn.
How the truly ironic part is that I have friends now. Buffy misses me, so does Dawn, and even Xander visits my Ďgraveí to give me weekly updates. I wish I could tell him not to bother. One day heíll forget why he goes up there, heíll remember that he hates me, and heíll stop visiting. And it wonít even matter because I know every minute detail of everything they do. I could only prove my worth in death, and that stings more than anything else.
I donít think she loves me now. Twice I died for love. Three times if you count the soul. And it never mattered. Iím still being punished. This is the gift to the soul and punishment for the demon. Or maybe itís the other way around?† Punished for loving the sun. Punished for loving the one woman who had more grace and light and purity than the stars themselves.
As if being a ghost wasnít enough, Iím waxing poetic now. If I thought I could, Iíd kill myself again.
And waxing poetic isnít even the worst part. The worst part is that Iím awfully broody now. Which isnít a surprise, really, because I have nothing better to do than brood. It hurts too much to watch Buffy all the time, and Iíve learned to tune everybody out. I learned quickly that I canít read, or go for walks to escape her. I can watch telly, but only if someone else has turned it on. And they all watch crap.
Alone in life, alone as a vampire, alone as a ghost. Loving her from afar, as always.† She is the best and the worst that I have ever encountered. My torment and my peace.