Those are the bad nights. The desperate ones.
Sometimes she feels she would give anything for just one picture. Some nights, that would be enough. But they're gone, all gone.
Her memoirs, photo albums, miscellaneous items sprinkled with affection and memory; all gone now. Items that marked rights of passage and familial love. Things that were irreplaceable and delicate with their meaning. All dust, crushed beneath the crumbled brick and mortar of a small town she'd never even really come to think of as home. It seemed wrong somehow, a travesty. Like a Catholic priest telling a naughty joke. Her possessions had been sacred to her, once, before Slaying took over her life, and for that alone they are accorded some measure of sorrow for their loss. And she does miss all those things, sometimes. But the moments are small, and far between, and ultimately leaden with the knowledge that they were only things.
Giles tells her that the memories she carries are far more precious than any possessions. But when her mind's eye shows her the devilish twinkle of bright blue eyes, she knows that Giles is wrong. Memories do not compare to the taste of the wicked mouth that spilled love and fire down the throat of her sorrow. They pale in comparison to the voice that whispered words of comfort and kindness, the voice that wrapped her up naughty, delicious fantasies and caressed her with secret poems of his heart. Memories did no justice to the face she'd never stroked with the tenderness it inspired in her; the face she had driven her fist against over and over again as she'd strived to cling to her illusions.
She doesn't have sex anymore. She wants it, but she finds her memories too close upon the edge of pleasure. Finds the fingers that stroke her body transform, become longer, thinner, paler; tipped with the chipped black nail polish she'd always professed to hate. She finds that the mouth twists and smirks against hers even as it tastes and devours, reveling in every moment she will give him. And it is there, perhaps, in those moments, that memory hurts her the most. It is then that she can name the restless ache that curls in the hollow of her bones.
Her own hands are a poor substitute for his, but at least then she is not pretending, not breathing into someone and wishing they were someone else. At least then there are no lies. Her orgasms are intense and quick, but never satisfying, quenching only the need--never the want. They are nothing like the rainbows of color he used to fill her with, nothing like the bright explosions that thundered through her and left her body weak and trembling.
Yes, she misses the sex; the liquid fire and uncontrollable passion. It had given her life, once. But then, every single feature, every nuance and facet of him seems to take its own turn at being missed, and she ultimately finds there is no end to the missing of him. No end to the need he has inspired in her.
Sometimes it's his voice she misses; each word carefully picked and given to her like a dark gift, given only to please her, make her happy. Sometimes it's his eyes, so blue and deep and utterly piercing, filled with little-boy innocence that should not be, yet somehow was. Sometimes it's his heart, so noble and romantic despite the evil that pervaded it. She misses all these things, but they do not sum up the indefinable ache that gilds the edges of her soul. They're just pieces of the larger whole. Pieces she can't seem to pick up and put back together again, because the picture is irreparably shattered.
She is wishing. She is regret. She is want. And she has always been these things, but she has never felt them so poignantly before now.
And he had known these things about her; he'd understood them. And for a little while, every now and then, when she had let him, he had made them go away.
Sometimes she wonders if he could have made them go away forever, and every time she does, she sees her dream-self in her mind, hands bloody and scrabbling over rock, digging desperately for the remains of hope, and she thinks that part of her knows the answer to that. A part of her buried deep as his tomb beneath the town.
She thinks sometimes that of them all, Tara would have understood best. But Tara is dead, too, and even her grave is lost beneath the remains of Sunnydale.
They'd lost everything when the Hellmouth collapsed. There wasn't anything to go back to except a sunken hole filled with rock and dirt and the shattering of lives. She knows that, but she thinks of it often.
One morning she wakes and her mind is still clouded by the fog of sleep, still held aloft by the promise of dreams. She is suffused with hope, and she wonders...
She wonders if she really goes back and pulls aside the rubble to look beneath, what she will find.
And it's then she knows that she's going to find out.