Some Kind of Peace
Disclaimer: Characters and Premise are borrowed from the show "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer."
My life is quiet now, peaceful. May emotion are distant untroubling. The people who stirred them are decades gone; I don't feel for those who came after them with the same intensity, I've learned better.
I can't stand to feel like I did before. Doyle warned me against letting humans become faceless messes, and I've heeded his warnings. I listen, I involve myself in their lives. I care; it's just not the same as before. I do care, but I know things now that I didn't then and I never forget. Not anymore, they're mortal, the ones that come to me for help, they die, regardless of what I do, they die.
Doyle died so that I might live. He was the first true friend I'd ever had; I didn't want my life at the cost of his. But as the Oracles were so fond of saying, "What was done is done."
I grieved, I refused to speak his name for months, and I swore that I wouldn't loose another friend.
My oath meant nothing. Wesley died, Oz died. I couldn't save them.
I didn't even know of Oz's peril until he was two weeks dead. He lost control of the wolf; Xander was forced to kill him.
Afterwards Xander came to me unable to face Willow or the others. He hated me, but suddenly he was the outcast. He had only done what was needed but he couldn't forgive himself, and thus expected no forgiveness from the others.
He felt the need to atone for his perceived crime, so he thought of me, one more damaged soul for the little collection we had going here in LA. Sometimes I wonder who we were trying to save; the people who I worked with were, in truth, as damaged as those we sought to help. Cordelia, alone and lost, needing a place to reestablish who she was now that she wasn't Sunnydale's Queen C any longer. Doyle, running from the demon under his skin, suffering because he hadn't been ready for the responsibility of saving lives when it was trust on him, looking for atonement. Wesley, abused and completely lacking in self-confidence, just needing to be needed. Faith, angry, dark girl consumed with jealously, but by the time she came here that was only a mask to hide how much she hated herself, what she had become. Xander, never one to forgive a wrong, it came back to haunt him, because he couldn't forgive himself anymore than he could anyone else. And me, I shared most of their faults, but I'd had centuries to come to terms with what I was.
Learning that Oz was dead hurt, it reminded me that I couldn't always protect my friends, Wesley's death was worse. A week after Xander's arrival I had a choice, Wesley or Cordelia, time to save one, but not both and only a second to decided or I'd see both die. I chose Cordy, tactless, precious Cordelia, the one I'd grieved with when Doyle had died.
Wesley's death nearly drove me insane. I had made an oath that no more of my friends would die. I convinced myself that I had control over that. Oz died without my knowledge, Wesley died because it was beyond my ability to save him, and because Cordelia was more important to me. I couldn't save everyone, no matter how much I might want to; sometimes sacrifices had to be made. I didn't want to face that, I didn't want to face that Wesley was truly gone. I made a nuisance of myself to the Oracles; they still won't speak with me. I looked into methods of bringing him back that could have endangered the world I was fighting to save.
In the end Cordelia forced me to look at what I was doing, my obsession was allowing others to die who I could have saved. It was no way to honor Wesley's memory. So I faced reality and finally let him go.
Faith and Xander went next, two more violent deaths that I wasn't able to prevent. I was furious, but I accepted what had happened, they both died honorably redeeming themselves. They were doing what they wanted to, what they needed to in order to be able to look themselves in the eye each morning. As much as I wanted to protect them it wasn't my place, they made the only choices they could, and earned the deaths they wanted.
I wasn't so philosophical when Buffy's turn came. My love died saving the world one last time before passing her duties on to the next slayer. After her death I refused to speak or acknowledge the world for months. When I saw her lifeless body my world stopped. Cordelia told me that they were forced to break my arms to take her body from me. Cordelia says everyone worried about me and did their best to bring me back to reality. Nothing worked, until Buffy's daughter was endangered.
Nothing demonic or mystical, just a speeding car. Joyce was watching both of us one evening, she went to answer the phone and Buffy's two-year-old daughter wandered out into the street and I saw her and the car, and somehow my brain reacted to what my eyes saw for the first time since Buffy's death. Then I was holding her terrified little girl and comforting her was more important to me than hiding from my pain.
Buffy's daughter became the center of my life, I decided that I'd lost the others because I wasn't careful enough. There were too many of them my priorities were mixed. With her it was simple, Buffy's little girl was never going to be hurt, that was all there was to it. Until her father, Buffy's solider-boy; the normal man who gave my love what I couldn't took her away from me. He said he didn't want her life to be contaminated with darkness like Buffy's had been. He wanted her as far from anything supernatural as was possible, and I was number-one on his list of things Buffy's daughter needed protection from.
Willow died in a magic spell gone wrong. She was an excellent witch and very powerful, but she was also human and vulnerable to human error. One minute she was there and the next she wasn't, because of a moment's carelessness.
Old age took Giles and I realized that it wasn't that I couldn't save everyone, I couldn't save anyone. No matter how I tried they would all die in the end, it's human's natures to die, and mine to remain.
Then only Cordelia was left. I tried to die before she could, but she told me not to do that to her. Cordy didn't want to be the last anymore than I did and more than that she refused to be the cause of my death.
Since the day she hired herself as my assistant I've never been able to say no to Cordelia, and this time was no different. She didn't want me to die, so I didn't.
Still with her death things changed, I changed and this time there was no one left to bring me back. When I walked out of that room, leaving behind the empty shell of the woman who'd been my best friend for six decades I fully understood and accepted for the first time that my battle would never be won. The mortals I seek to save will all die. Darkness, evil will always exist. We don't fight to win, only to hold back the endless tide. Hope is futile, happiness fleeting. Humans weren't meant to live forever, nor were human souls. Time wears away that which is human about us, as vampires age the remnants of humanity fade. My soul means that I remain committed to the side of light, but there's not much left of my humanity. My passions are only memories, dim and fading, though I still warm myself by their feeble light. I've trade passion, which is the source of humanity for peace.
"Passion, it lies in all of us.
Sleeping, waiting, and though unwanted, unbidden, it will stir.
Open it's jaws and howl.
It speaks to us, guides us.
Passion rules us all and we obey.
What other choice do we have?
Passion is the source of our finest moments.
The joy of love. The clarity of hatred. The ecstasy of grief.
It hurts, sometimes more than we can bear.
If we could live without passion, maybe we'd know some kind of peace.
But we would be hollow.
Empty rooms, shuttered and dank.
Without passion we'd be truly dead."