By Eve McCarthy [evemac]
She sees him, she’s not just looking at him but she sees him, and nothing happens. He doesn’t pick her up and swing her around, laughing and kissing her on the nose.
Buffy expected something else. She expected tears, she wanted love and forgiveness because dammit for these six months she’s felt like an unassembled puzzle. A puzzle that comes in a box with a beautiful picture on it, a picture of a garden or of kittens with 1000 pieces, ages 9 and up – but one of the pieces is missing. And it’s not worth it if you don’t have the last piece.
She’s not one for extended metaphors, though. No poetry or rhetoric, just the truth. Life sucked in Cleveland. [No beaches.] It sucked in London. [Too rainy.] And it sucks here in Sydney, no matter how many times Dawn smiles at her from across the table at a swanky outdoor café and giggles, "Isn’t this fun?"
But he was supposed to make it better. He’s the last piece and for some reason, it doesn’t fit. She’d be lying to say that she hasn’t dreamed of this day for months. That she hasn’t planned out what she would say; each and every thing she would do to make them right again. She’s come to realize a sense of predictability about her life. Love a man, he leaves. Kill a man, he comes back. Nothing surprises her anymore.
Except for this.
He’s still staring at her, like she’s some sort of heavenly gift. She scoffs at that. She’s just the same old Buffy, with the straight brown hair she dyes and curls into perfection, the boyish body she enhances with revealing clothes. Still stubborn, and arrogant, and closed off to everyone. He doesn’t see all that. He used to know her, to see things she wouldn’t even admit to herself. But sometime around when he became her darkest secret, he drowned in it all and lost touch. Now he just sees the golden Buffy, the Slayer.
She wants to ignore all of this, so she does something she has never done and wraps her arms around him, drawing him into an embrace. It's a last attempt. He leans into her. And, suddenly…that’s all it is. An embrace. It doesn’t turn into a hug, a loving ohgodihavemissedyouso. It’s just two people. Just two bodies, like Faith used to say. She is beginning to understand what that meant.
And it breaks her heart even more as she begins to sense that Spike realizes this too. But she knows he’s too mule-headed to admit it, he’s loved her for so long he doesn’t know what else to do with himself.
He tells her this, murmurs into her ear, "God, Buffy. I’ve been stuck with Angel and Wolfram & Hart for too long. I’ve been waiting for this moment, it’s all I ever dreamed of." But his voice lacks resonance. The words are dully spoken, a triggered response. It’s all she ever dreamed of too. But dreams? They rarely represent reality. Wishes, wants, desires – they mean nothing.
Maybe they could have been something. Maybe the autumn of her return could have built up into something less destructive. Maybe even after the soul, had she not been so intent on being the Slayer she never could manage to be, they could have started over. But maybes – they mean nothing as well.
What she wants is something she broke long ago.
So there’s nothing they can do when they break apart, except walk away. He nods at her and she bites her lower lip savagely, because if she starts to cry for love lost she will fuck it all up even more.
"I think it’s best you leave now, before Dawn comes back."
He nods slightly, and as he starts to tilt his head she refocuses her gaze onto the wall just to the left of him. Looking at Spike only makes things worse. And she’s not looking at him when she says a weak goodbye. Spike walks out of her apartment, while she counts the miniature squares painted on the wall.
Biting her lip isn’t working. The tears are welling up and she faintly says, "Wait…"
She should have asked him. Did you believe me? She knows he’ll understand what she means. Maybe if she had an answer, things would feel more settled.
But he’s gone again. It doesn’t matter anymore. The fire burned out the spark. They’ve had their ending, their glorious climax. Epilogues are never very interesting, anyway. She’s no fairy tale princess.
So the puzzle sits, incomplete.