All About Spike

out of the rain
By BuffyX

SUMMARY: Willow takes a walk on one lonely, rainy night, and runs into someone she knows unexpectedly, causing her to rethink exactly what redemption and forgiveness are all about. Takes place post-Him.

DICLAIMER: Joss is god, blah blah, he owns all, yadda yadda yadda.

FEEDBACK: Yes, please.

Willow thought that she had it all figured out at one point. At one point, she realized, she thought she had it all. Friends. Love. Power. Somewhere along the way she lost control over her life; she can't pinpoint where, exactly, but she thinks it might have been in the aftermath of Buffy's death. The second one. And then...everything spun out of hand, first with Tara and her breaking up, and then the issues with magic, and then Warren shooting Tara. She'd slipped over the edge somewhere, and even now, she was still finding her way back. But after all of these months, she thought that she was doing pretty good. Controlling the magic and power inside of her, grieving (in a non-evil-villain-murdery kind of way) for Tara, making amends with her friends. She thought that she knew exactly where she was going.

She was wrong.

She stares at the darkened sky through the rain-streaked window and realizes she has never seen a shooting star, not since the nights she spent with Tara on the roof of the dormitory building. She remembers how when she was a little girl, she would spend her evenings with her eyes glued to the starry heavens, hoping to catch a glimpse of something. But she does not remember seeing any shooting stars. This newfound realization seems odd to her. As much time as she has spent these past months just staring up at the sky, she has not seen a streak of silver across the velvet blackness, no flash of brilliance fall to the earth since then. It doesn’t seem right.

// They tiptoe the whole way up to the stairwell, clutching at one another's arms and giggling wildly, both shushing each other at the noise. The entrance door to the roof sticks a little, and when Willow finally manages to shove it open, it gives with a loud whooshing noise and slams behind them with a boom. They walk out into the cool night, hand-in-hand, and Tara spreads their single blanket across the rooftop. Willow lays herself down on the soft cotton first, and Tara is quick to follow. Conversation follows, shared smiles and muted talk of night skies and stars and constellations.

“The real ones never made sense to me, I... sort of have my own.” Tara’s simple, pixie-like face crinkles into an uncertain smile. Willow sees it and feels her heart swell. She doesn’t think she could ever be anymore in love.

“Teach me,” she says softly.

And as her lover points out the made-up constellations she has created, the pains of today and the fears of tomorrow Willow has seem to melt away.//

Maybe she just always looks in the wrong places.

She just knows that one day she will see one. And she hopes against all hopes, she actually gets down on her knees and prays, that it’ll be soon. But how soon is now anyway. It’ll happen when it happens, and it’ll be the same still.

Willow looks out the window and thinks of the rain. How it’s just drops of water, but yet somehow so complex and so simple all in one. Like humans, laced with these intricate simplicities. She can’t figure out how emotions are supposed to work. You’d think that learning the ways of humanity would be far simpler than binary code or spells in Latin, but it isn’t. It makes her wonder how many days she has spent wasting her time away, thinking about everything she had inevitably lost or everything she wish had been different rather than enjoying life as it is. She bets the rain would be just as sweet if she could feel it on her skin. She decides to go stand under the pouring raindrops and let them cover her completely. We’re all a part of nature anyway, right?

((everything’s connected))

Rain only brings us closer.

So Willow walks out the door and into the rain, not bothering to take her coat along. When the cold water falls and splatters on her bare skin, it feels good, refreshing. She keeps walking and walking until she finds herself heading through the gates of the all-too familiar cemetery. She walks past crumbling headstones and ancient statues until she sees it. Sees him.

He stands, his back to her, near one of the graves. From what she can see, the dirt there is packed down and the weeds have overgrown, so she knows the site has been there for quite some time. She walks up to him from behind slowly and stands there for a few moments in silence. Words are so hard to come across these days. She breathes deeply and finally finds it within herself to speak.

“What are you doing here?”

Startled, he whips around quickly. There is no hint of anger on his face, only a strange combination of fear, anxiety and guilt. He flinches at the sound of her voice, and she cannot help but notice how much he looks like a puppy caught doing something wrong. Half of her expects him to scamper off with his tail tucked between his legs. Except, well, he doesn’t have a tail, Willow reasons, but that’s beside the point. Instead, he drops his eyes in a sign of deference that she never would have expected from him. She watches as he jams his hands in his pockets and heaves a silent sigh that ripples through his entire being, making his head droop and shoulders slump.

“Just standing,” he answers.

His reply can barely be heard over the quiet pitter-patter of rain against the ground, and Willow leans into his voice. It is still so unfamiliar to her, these soft, fragmented half-phrases that he speaks with. Gone is the cocky bravado and biting sarcasm she had grown to recognize, gone the spiteful tone that she would roll her eyes and close her ears to. But then, she realizes, Spike is gone, too.

This creature before her is not Spike at all. This is…well, she’s not quite sure what he is. When Angel had lost his soul, he had reverted back to Angelus, his two halves separated clearly. And Anya was Anyanka in her demon form, even when her changes were not close to as apparent. But there is nothing to shorten Spike to, no way to distinguish him from his demon.

“Do Xander or Buffy know you’re here?” Willow questions.

Spike shakes his head slightly, eyes still down, and she can’t help but notice that his hair is heavy with rain. It hasn’t been coming down too hard, so she knows he has been out here in the cemetery for awhile. For some reason, the thought of him standing alone in the cold rain saddens her deeply, and she feels her heart fall in her chest. She doesn’t know him well, but she finds herself mourning for him despite herself.

“Closet was getting kind of… tight.” The words seem hard for him to form. “Like I couldn’t breathe. Not that I need to or anything.” No humor to that last statement.

Willow nods, understanding. He offers her no other explanation, and she does not ask for one. He has his reasons the same way that she has hers. Her gaze flickers to the headstone before them that belongs to a man with the name of George Jacob Robinson, dated from 1954 to 1998. The name isn’t familiar to her, and she glances back up at Spike, genuinely confused.

“Did you know him?” she asks.

For the first time since they’ve been standing there, he turns to look at her, really look. She is caught off-guard by his penetrating eyes. She has never remembered them to be such a piercing blue, and she thinks that somehow they, too, must have changed, just like everything else about him. And she feels it again, can see it floating around him, his aura. The part of him that had been missing before. Willow closes her mouth and waits for Spike to continue.

“I think I might have killed him,” he confesses quietly.

Willow cannot help but stare at him in wide-eyed shock. This was not at all the kind of answer she had been expecting. But then, what had she been expecting? Of course, she realizes, her question was incredibly foolish. She should have known. She tries to mask her face with indifference, but she knows that he can see right through her with those eyes of his. She blushes and shifts her gaze back to the aged headstone.

“Might have?” she inquires, because she doesn’t know what else to say.

“Hard to remember,” he replies. “There were—there were a lot of them. Didn’t exactly take time to learn their names. Don’t know if I killed him…but I could have.”

Willow already regrets asking him the question. Words never sound right coming out of her mouth, and so now she keeps it shut. Better to keep her thoughts to herself for fear of stepping on people’s toes. She could tell him that there were a million other vampires in Sunnydale who could have done it, that maybe he had died of natural causes, like a heart attack or cancer or in a car accident, but she knows that whatever she says will not be able to help. He could have done it, and that is why it hurts.

“Things happen,” she finally says, trying for comfort.

“But nothing really changes,” he responds through trembling lips.

Willow impulsively steps closer to him. She is close enough to see the water drops that have formed on his thick black lashes, close enough to see how wet his eyes are with unshed tears. Her hand reaches out to touch his arm. She doesn’t feel right making such a personal gesture of sympathy for him, so she lets it fall back to her side awkwardly. She wants to tell him that he is wrong, that things can change, that it doesn’t have to be the same. She wants to tell him that she understands better than he thinks. That she, too, has been the cause of death and destruction, that she has learned to take new life in silent and secret trade for reanimated Slayers, that she has snuffed out a human existence with her own hands.

And she wants to tell him that none of what he has done is his fault, that it was his demon who did all of it, it was his other half. But she cannot say any of these things, because she has still yet to differentiate between his demon and his soul. He has always been Spike to her and will always remain as such.

“Spike,” she begins uncertainly. “Do you want to take a walk with me?”

He seems to consider the offer as he scuffs the toe of his shoe in the grass.

“No, I’d rather stay here,” he declines after a few moments.

“You should go back soon,” she advises him. “Buffy and Xander will get worried—or, well, Buffy will, anyway—and it looks like it’s going to storm.”

“Doesn’t matter,” he says with a half-shrug. “I don’t mind the rain.”

“Me neither.” Willow turns her face up to the sky, and when she looks back his way, she gives him her softest smile. “Take care, Spike.”

She turns and walks away from him, and out of the rain.

On the way home, she thinks about the raindrops again. She knows her thought processes will never cease to expand and her mind will never stop wondering or being amazed at the world's small yet relatively huge coincidences. It's amazing. She had at one point thought that she had everything in this world, and the moment she had finally been satisfied, it had been robbed from her. But deep down inside of her heart, she knows that now she has all she will ever need.

And today she thinks she has learned more about herself and her life than she has ever learned in years before.

Things are just that. Things. They come and go. But deep down is what will remain. People try to strip it away, try to take what belongs to you. They try and take the very essence of you, but that won't happen, unless you let it. You are you and the beauty of it all is when you're stripped bare with nothing but the cold raindrops making patterns on your skin... you'll still be the beautiful creature you are now. Nobody and nothing will ever take that away.

When you cease to believe in yourself is when you cease to exist.

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