February 14, 2009
Buffy couldn't sleep. She'd only gotten in from London yesterday, and it was past three in the morning in New York, which meant it was after 8 a.m. in London. It was really ridiculous that she couldn't sleep. But she couldn't.
Well, tossing and turning wasn't helping. Maybe walking around a bit... She got up and headed for the living room.
On the way she passed William's room. His door was ajar; he always left it slightly open so the cats could come and go as they pleased. She stopped outside the door, listening. His breathing was deep and even. She hesitated for a moment, and then went in.
She hoped he wouldn't mind her coming into his room in the middle of the night. He did insist that she stay in the guest room until they were married. Damn Victorian. But it was Valentine's Day. And the last time she'd seen him asleep was the night before he'd died, almost six years ago. And you learned something about a person, from watching him sleep. And she was still trying to figure William out...
William's cats, Dante and Christina, were curled up together on his chest. Buffy felt a stab of envy.
William looked so different from Spike, asleep. And it wasn't just physical differences (brown curls instead of gelled bleached-blond, the scar above his left eyebrow gone). It was something more than that...
There she went again, comparing William with Spike. Wondering if they were the same person. Almost eight months since their reunion, and she still hadn't gotten her head around it. Though, of course, they hadn't had much time together, yet, with her in London and him in New York most of the time (only five more months, thank God, until the Slayers' Council moved to New York and they'd finally be on the same continent).
It was Dawn who'd spent the most time with William. And when Buffy wondered if William was Spike, Dawn just shrugged and asked, "Is light a particle or a wave?" Frankly, Dawn's easy acceptance of the situation was annoying. Because Buffy wasn't really asking an existential question. She was asking whether it was okay that she still missed Spike.
And she did miss Spike. She missed the demon.
She would never have admitted it at the time, but after he'd gotten his soul there had been things about unsouled Spike that she'd missed. Maybe it wasn't surprising that now she missed both the unsouled vampire and the souled vampire.
But when she'd found out William was alive...she'd thought one of the holes in her heart would be filled. And it was. Mostly...
She watched William for another minute, and then tiptoed out of his room, and went on into the living room. She looked out the window. Across the street there was a light on. She wondered who was awake over there, and what was keeping them up.
She turned away from the window and sat down on the couch. William's cat Merlin looked up at her, eyes glowing in the dark. Merlin was a lot older than Dante and Christina. He had belonged to Rosemary, the woman who had been like a mother to William when he was first human again, until her death three years ago. There was a wise and thoughtful quality about him. Buffy petted him, and he purred. She lay down on the couch next to him and fell asleep.
Spike sat on the arm of the couch, his long black coat wrapped around him, smoking.
Buffy sat up. "William's gonna kill you for smoking in his apartment."
Spike shrugged. "Already dead, pet."
"What are you doing here?"
He grinned. "Watchin' you sleep."
She sighed. "Do you think William would mind that I was watching him sleep?"
"You SHOULD know. You're him. Aren't you?"
"Yes and no."
"That's a really annoying answer."
He grinned again. "I'm a really annoying vampire."
"I miss you," she said softly.
He put out his cigarette on William's rug, came and knelt in front of her, and took her hands in his. "You have me, pet. Always."
"Where are you?"
His eyes twinkled. "I'm nowhere. Don't exist. Demon souls go poof when the body dusts."
"I don't want you to not exist."
"I exist here."
"Do you mind?"
"Mind what, pet?"
"Mind that I love him?"
"Actually, I kinda like that you love him. Even though he doesn't need you."
"What do you mean?"
"I needed you. He doesn't."
"He loves me!"
"Didn't say he didn't. But he doesn't need you."
"Why did you need me?"
He thought for a moment, then asked, "When am I quiet, Buffy?"
"When am I quiet inside?"
Understanding dawned. "When you're with me."
"Not just with you, pet. Focused on you. Absorbed in you. When I'm lost in you, I'm peaceful. The rest of the time..."
"You're as restless as a caged lion."
"Yeah. And Buffy – I'd 've done anything for you. Been anything for you."
She touched his cheek. "I know."
"Is that what you want, Buffy? To be a goddess with a vampire who bloody worships you? 'Cause that nancy-boy in the other room's got his own bloody center. Got his own bloody integrity. There's no heaven for me except in you, Buffy, but Billy-boy doesn't need you for heaven."
"You tell me the truth."
"Yeah. I do at that. I see it all, but it's always in motion. No quiet, 'cept lost in you. No rest."
She took him in her arms. "We can rest now, Spike. We can rest now."
She awoke, and her face was wet, and he was gone from her arms.
She got up, and went back to William. His room was now flooded with moonlight. The cats were gone.
William's face was so relaxed. There had always been something tightly coiled about Spike, even in sleep. Something tensed.
Except with her.
Spike had been restless. Twitchy. Except when he was focused on her.
When Spike had sat next to her, or knelt in front of her, not asking anything of her, just being there, being there with her...
There'd been an inner stillness about him, then. A calm steadiness.
She'd missed that quiet presence so much.
William had that quiet presence. But it wasn't only when he was focused on her. It was like...it was like it was simply who he was.
And maybe that's what scared her. Because Spike could only rest with her, but William could rest without her. William didn't need her.
William would do anything for her...except change who he was.
And Spike would. Spike did. Spike got a soul for her. And even after the soul, Spike would have done anything for her. Anything at all. He'd transform himself into whatever she wanted or needed him to be. No questions asked.
And William wouldn't. William didn't. William's stillness wasn't a response to her, it was who he was. He had his own integrity.
William loved her, but he wouldn't become anything other than what he was for her. Ever.
Was that why she missed Spike? The power? The ego-trip? Bad Buffy.
But no. It's wasn't just that. She loved Spike.
She loved obnoxious, violent, restless, destructive, hyper-sexual, loving, devoted, passionate, intrepid, paradoxical, larger-than-life Spike.
Spike, the predator who stalked his equals. Spike, the Slayer of Slayers.
Spike, the demon who had done the unimaginable for her. Spike, the destroyer who had destroyed himself for love. Spike, the Hero who had died to save the world.
She loved Spike for himself. She would always love Spike. She would always miss him.
But she'd loved Angel too, and she'd let him go.
And she loved William. She loved quiet, gentle, diffident William. William, who had deep moral convictions that were sometimes different from hers. William, who was so stubborn and who could be so hyper-sensitive and sometimes snarky and sometimes melodramatic and who tended to hold grudges and to take everything personally. William, who was so self-deprecating, who had far more courage than he gave himself credit for. William, who loved her and wanted to father her children and was willing to risk raising them alone if she died before they were grown. William, who loved being alive.
William the Victorian, for whom 1880 felt like six years ago. William the anachronism, displaced in time, whose life before he was turned felt closer in time to him than his unlife as a vampire. William the Romantic poet. William the vegetarian chef. William the human whose experiences as a vampire gave him a unique perspective on the world. William the perceptive listener who seemed to take every living thing he met into the heart of himself. William who was so deeply passionate and so deeply compassionate.
Maybe William was Spike - maybe they were the same person, whatever "same person" meant.
William gave her the same feeling, that he saw her, that he knew her, that he loved her exactly as she was.
And the wordless synchrony of dancing with William was so much like the wordless synchrony of fighting with Spike. Yes, they'd always been dancing, their bodies moving as one. (And if she was a warrior, Spike had been a dancer, and William was too...)
Or maybe they weren't the same person. She didn't know.
But particle, or wave, or both...she loved William.
She would always miss Spike.
The demon she loved was dead.
She sat down on the bed by William and took his hand. He didn't stir. Spike would have sensed her presence and woken immediately. But William slept on, dreaming dreams over which she had no power.
"'Sokay, pet," Spike said softly, at her side.
She kissed William's forehead. "Good-bye, Spike," she whispered. "Rest in peace."
The vampire in her heart nodded, bowed, and was gone, leaving her alone with the human being she loved.