“Listen. Is that all right? Can you just listen? I need to talk to someone and, well, you’re the only one here. It’s about mistakes and choices and falling into traps, isn’t it? It’s not about fairy tales. I know that. But just listen, okay?
“It started with Riley. I know, you don’t really care but it did. When we started dating, it was all about the tactile. Riley may have thought he was dark-and-mysterious guy but he was sunshine and lollipops compared to, well, you know. I could touch Riley and not be worried. I could hold him and be held and we could be funny and flirty and fuck all night and all day if we wanted. We did once, you know. Okay, evil spell but still. It was nice. It was better than nice. It was wonderful and special and I was really truly someone’s girlfriend. And hey, look, I could bring him home to the family and no one was giving him the evil eye or nervous about him going evil. Riley’d never do that ‘cause Riley wasn’t about being evil. I felt kinda like what’s her name in that movie with Keanu Reeves, the surfing one with Patrick Swayze? Remember, she says to Patrick, “God, he’s from Iowa or something”? Sometimes, that’s how I felt with Riley. He was about being normal. That safe relationship where you hold hands and have picnics and go to the beach together.
“But it wasn’t safe, not really. I mean, look what he did, went out and got some vamp whores to suck his blood, thinking he wasn’t dark enough for me. God. I still don’t know what he was thinking. No. Wait. I do. Riley was afraid he didn’t measure up. He didn’t get it and because he didn’t get it, he left me.
“It’s a trend, isn’t it? The only men who never left were Xander and Spike. I don’t know why Xander stayed. It probably would’ve been better if he’d just kept going on that cross-country trip of his, rather than come back here. Sure, he had to dance on a bar at that club for money. Could’ve been worse. Could’ve been a lot worse. You know that as well as I do.
“And Spike. He stuck around. God, how many times did I wish he’d go away? How many times did I wish I’d just staked him? I don’t know why I kept letting him go. It wasn’t attraction, at least not then. Spike was beneath me.
“But I kept on losing people, no matter how hard I tried to keep them and he was the one who just wouldn’t go away. I wanted him to, do you really think I wanted to be sleeping with him? Having sex in a crypt? In a cemetery? God, in public? Keeping secrets from my friends, hiding the bruises he left on me? Do you think I liked the beatings we gave each other? Do you think I can ever really forgive the fact that he tried to rape me?
“Well, I can’t. Not deep down.
“Finally, Spike left too. For the first time, I was glad, really happy that someone had and I really didn’t want to see him back. But before I could stake him, or Xander or even Dawn could, because she would have as much as she hated him then, I found out that he’d gotten a soul. Spike came back from wherever it was and he got himself a soul. For me.
“God, the sheer burden of it - Spike, souled. Because of me. He made a decision, he acted on it and he got a soul.
“And he came back.
“But it wasn’t the same. I wasn’t the same. I didn’t need Spike anymore, not the way I had before; not until Sunnydale was about to go down for the final count. And then, he just held me in his arms. Nothing more. Just held me and let me sleep.
“I wish I could say I dreamed of him during those last nights, you know? It’s funny but I don’t. I didn’t. I never dreamed of Spike. Not when we were together, not now, not then. I wish I could say it but it wouldn’t be true. Like me telling him that I loved him. Spike saw through that, too, like he saw through every other lie I’d ever told him. I never loved him, not the way he wanted me to. Maybe not the way he deserved.
“See, Spike was cold. I mean, vampires, dead flesh, you know, the whole thing. No matter how full of life Spike was, he just felt dead. He could make me feel but the feelings, well, let’s just say I’m probably embarrassing one of us or his memory. Something. Still, it’s partly because of him that I’m here; hell, that the world is, right? But it was the same as with Riley, wasn’t it? Spike too cold, Riley too hot. Stop smirking. You are. Stop it.
“I know it’s not some damned fairy tale. Nothing ever is. But you and me, we’re right.