I don't know how to start this

Buffy,

I don't know how to start this. I mean, how do you start a letter to someone who's not really going to read it? Giles has a friend, a shrink-friend, who suggested to him that we write letters to you, telling you how much we loved you. She, the shrink, thinks it might help us since no one seems to be doing better and it's been a few months already. So here I am, writing to you.

I miss you, Buffy. I miss you so much. You're my best friend. What am I supposed to do now? I'm so sorry that we couldn't save you. I can't believe what you did, but I understand why you did it. Dawn's okay. Not great, but okay. Giles is watching her. We're all helping out, too. Spike…he's not okay. He's hardly around, which before was probably a good thing, but now, I'm actually worried about him. Dawn says he comes to her window at night sometimes and they just sit. They don't talk, they just sit, sometimes out on the roof, watching the stars. He's watching her too.

I went to LA and told Angel, Cordelia and Wesley. Angel's taking it worse than any of us. He feels guilty because he wasn't there. I told him and he just sank to the floor. He didn't say anything, didn't talk. Just sat there. It was creepy.

I've been thinking about you a lot. You're pretty much the only thing I think of. I could have saved you, I know it. If we had just known more, if we had known how everything was going to happen…I could have used magic to get Dawn down in time. I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I love you.

Remember when I decided to stay here in Sunnydale for college and you told me you loved me? That's been my memory for today. I pick one happy memory every day and try to concentrate on that. Yesterday I couldn't breathe…it hurt so much. So yesterday's memory was when you and Angel broke up and I held you in my lap while you cried. You said, "I feel like I can't breathe, Will." Not the happiest of memories, but you were alive then, so it's still better than now.

I want you to know that I'm so grateful for the time we had together. We're sisters. I always pictured us growing old together, getting together for card games and trading gardening tips. You changed my life.

I'm gonna go now. Tara and I are going to see Xander. Anya's okay, by the way. She broke some ribs, and don't think we didn't hear about that for weeks. I'll write soon, okay? I love you.

--Willow

***

Buffy,

Willow told me how she's been writing letters like Dr. Nichols suggested. Thought I'd give it a try.

It's been 3 months, fourteen days since it happened. It feels like 3 centuries. I wonder where you are. I'm sure you're in heaven. That's where people like you go. Say "hi" to your mom for me. And if you see my grandpa, tell him leaving me his false teeth as a joke was not funny.

We're doing okay. Really. Fine…so I'm lying. Come back and haunt me, whatever. At least then I'd get to see you. Things are so not okay. The day it all happened (Just so you know, not a single one of us, even my Anya, if you can believe it, will come out and say what actually happened. It's just known as "that day," or "when it happened.") I asked Anya to marry me. She said yes, but didn't take the ring. She wanted me to give it to her after we saved the world. I've tried to give it to her, but it just doesn't seem right to us yet. Don't feel bad, though. It will happen, I hope.

The first time I saw you, do you know what I thought? "Woah. Look at her." You were beautiful, walking up the steps to Sunnydale High. I think I loved you at that moment. But I wasn't ever good enough for you…no one ever was. I'm not mad about it…I've just accepted it. I'm really glad you let me into your circle of friends. You changed my life.

Things aren't the same around here. Not just the everyone is still sad part, just in general. The Council sprung Faith out of prison. They aren't going to call another Slayer. I don't know how I feel about that. She's here, but she's just quietly doing her job, keeping her distance from us. I went to your grave the other day, I go pretty often, we all do, and she was there. I didn't talk to her, I just watched. She knelt in front of it and I'm sure she was talking to you. Then she kissed her fingers, leaned forward and touched the headstone. I don't want to talk to her, but it's a little comforting to know that there's still a Slayer in town, even if there's the very good chance she'll snap at any moment. I just wish it was you (that was here, not that's going to snap, although I'd take you any way I can get you now).

Angel's here, too, I think. Every once in a while I get the feeling that some one is helping us fight. Willow, me, Tara, Anya…we still try to patrol for you. We've always come away unhurt, but I'm pretty sure it's not 'cause we're so good. I've caught a glimpse of a guy in black, and that's usually our vamp's favorite color. And it's not Spike. No cigarette stench.

Well…I just want to tell you that I miss you. Really, truly, desperately. I'm trying to stay strong for the girls, but…it's hard. Now, come haunt me.

--Xander

***

Buffy,

I have to begin my letter with an apology. I failed you. I failed you in every way a Watcher can fail their Slayer…though you never really were my Slayer, were you? You were always the independent, always one step ahead. I'm truly sorry that I couldn't be that one step ahead for you when you needed me the most. I can not change this, though I wish with every moment that I could. You fought so bravely, gave of yourself so unselfishly. I could not have asked for anything more from you. And…I miss you terribly.

Dawn is in my care. For the moment I will be staying in Sunnydale, but I do not know how permanent these plans are. I suppose it depends on what your father wants to do. Dawn really should be with him…no, no she shouldn't. I can not say that because it doesn't ring true. Dawn should be with me, Willow, Tara, Xander and Anya. She should be with you. As with your mother's passing, your father is unavailable. We have not been able to contact him. I do not look forward to the day he calls and learns of…what happened.

The day you walked into the library in the high school changed my life. You changed my life. It's a shame I couldn't tell you this before. It's not that easy to tell you now. I saw before me a girl, dressed in the latest fashions, speaking perfect slang, and it abhorred me to no end; you probably know this already. But I grew to love this girl…a girl who grew into a woman before my eyes. I like to think that I had some influence on you, on the person you became. You certainly changed me. For a man who has no children, I certainly gained a rather large extended family. You, Xander, and Willow are my children. And now Dawn will be my child as well.

Faith is here. It's disturbing, but I try to see the positive in it. They have not asked me to be her Watcher. I would have refused had they, but the Council has been stayed surprisingly out-of-the-picture where you are concerned. They have only informed me of Faith's release from prison and that a new Watcher would be assigned to her. I have met the new Watcher, an American named Payton Fine. She seems quite competent and did not push me for details on Faith, which I was grateful for.

And Angel has been seen, though he does not try to contact any of us. I'm not sure why, but I suppose it's too painful. I know he has been helping on patrols, and that he has been watching over Faith. I believe he still feels responsible for her. I know he feels responsible for you. Every day there is a single white rose on your grave. I'm sure they are from him, though I have no proof.

It occurs to me that I wrote "your grave." It's the first time I've done that. Perhaps these letters will be therapeutic, as Dr. Nichols said they might.

I must go now. Dawn and the others will be arriving to report on patrol soon. I'm now their Watcher, I suppose. Let's hope I am able to do a better job with them.

--Giles

***

Buffy,

This is draft number six. I can't seem to get it right, and I want it to be right. Willow and Xander and everyone are writing letters to you, so I figured I might try it too.

I miss you. I miss you yelling at me, I miss you telling me to go clean my room or to take off your clothes or to do the dishes. I miss you ordering me around like a kid. I miss you hugging me and checking on me at night when you thought I was asleep.

You're so stupid. Why did you do it? It was supposed to be me. I was supposed to be the one. Glory wanted me.

Giles is okay. He's been watching out for me. He stays at the house with me because we don't know what's going on with dad yet, but I think it's because he wouldn't know what to do with me at his place. And he says I have too many clothes to lug over.

We locked the door to your room. Nothing changes.

You won't like this, but Spike comes to visit me. He told me once that he vowed to protect me until the end of the world and that since that hadn't happened he couldn't very well stop. I think he might have been drinking, but it was still nice. I know you didn't like him much. He did get kinda creepy, but it's nice to know I have a guardian angel around.

Oh yeah, that reminds me. I saw Angel the other day. He's here, I think he's staying at the mansion. I walked by there one night with Spike and we saw a light on. Spike said it was probably just a reflection but I know it wasn't. But I didn't push. I don't have the energy anymore.

I'm so scared, Buffy. I don't know what to do. It's been three months and I still don't know what to do. I don't know who I'm supposed to belong to. Mom's gone, you're gone, we can't find dad. Who's next?

I wish I could talk to you. Just one more time. I wish I could have jumped in your place. I would have, you know. I wasn't scared.

Willow's here. She's calling me to come eat dinner, so I guess I'll go. But I want you to know that I love you. No one could ever have been a better sister to me. You changed my life. I love you.

--Dawn

***

Buffy,

Hi. How's it going? Xander wrote you a letter and I thought maybe this would help me not feel so bad inside anymore, so I'm going to try it too.

Things are bad since you've been gone. No one really talks anymore, not that we ever had anything that important to say anyway. Giles is still British. Willow's still gay. The world didn't end, by the way, did I mention that?

I don't know what's going on inside me. Sometimes I think about that night and I get all tight in my chest and I've looked…there's nothing wrong with me. I was scared, really scared. Dawn says you weren't. I got smashed with bricks though, and you jumped into a portal, so maybe that's why. Mine hurt more.

I'm sorry you're gone. It's different than it was with your mom. It hurts more. It hurts because it hurts so many people. Xander isn't my Xander anymore. He's mopey and distant and even though I don't think he means to be, I don't like this. It's going to happen to me someday and I can't stop it. I wish you could tell me what it's like, where you are now. Maybe then I wouldn't be so scared. And it will probably be okay if Xander can go with me.

I know that you and I weren't close, but I'm sorry you're gone. I'm still getting the hang of this whole mortal thing. Death is something that I've seen a lot of, I caused a lot of it, but I've never had someone close to me be the one to go. And now there's been two in just a few months.

Bye!

--Anya

***

Slayer,

I found a letter from Red by your grave. Seems like all your buddies are writing them, from what hers says. I know I wasn't in the inner circle, but I was there for some important stuff, and as much as I hate to admit it, I'm not dealing with this one too well.

I meant what I said that night, you treated me like a man even though I'm not one. I feel like even less of one now. And I'm mad at you. No one else will admit it, but I will. You're so sodding stupid! You're not supposed to be the one to go! I was prepared to die, to save you and the little bit, not the other way around. And now I'm even more useless than I was before.

And I'm ashamed that I'm mad at you. You did a good thing, a brave thing. You did what a Slayer's supposed to do. But you know what? Telling myself that doesn't make it any easier. I know that I'm going to get up tomorrow night and go out patrolling (Yeah, yeah, don't look all surprised. The psycho-slayer isn't exactly with-it just yet, but she's getting there.) and I'm not going to run into you. You're not going to get all huffy and tell me to get lost or you'll stake me. I won't bother you incessantly just to see you get your little pout on, 'cause you won't be there. The only thing I can do now is talk to a mound of dirt. Talking to your pretty face was lots more appealing.

The poof, sorry, Angel's here. He's bad off, babe. I was walking with Dawn one night, a few weeks back, and saw a light on in that decrepit old mansion of his. Dawn wanted to go see, but I hurried her home and went back myself. He's there all right, a little worn around the eyes, paler than any vamp should be, but he's there. He didn't even try to throw me out. We just sat there, staring at the fire he had going. No words. You know it's bad when there aren't any words left.

He's helping out Faith. She's a pistol, isn't she? Angel says she's different now, quieter. I wouldn't know, but what I've seen doesn't look toned down. She's a toughie, but she's good. Not as good as you, but she's trying. Got a lot of energy, I'll give her that much.

Giles cleared the way for me with her. At least now I don't have to worry about another Slayer on my tail. Though I have to admit, I'd give anything to have you harassing me again.

It doesn't matter that you wouldn't have ever loved me. It was enough for me just to love you. You may not care, you may not like it, but you have to know that I did. You changed my life. I was one of the baddest vamps in town, in the world, for a while. And then I met you and became a pile o' bunnies and chickies for Christ's sake. Here I go getting all pissed off again.

Better go. I'm sitting at your grave and the sun's due up any minute. And my dying won't be me in the same place I'm sure you're in. They don't make angels out of people like me. But I'm sure they cleared a spot for you…bronzed up a halo and all. Little wings.

--Spike

***

B,

Every time I walk by your grave there's another piece of paper. This time it'll be mine. I'm not so good at this letter-writing thing, so excuse the spelling and the grammar.

I'm here, B. I'm alone, 'cept for Angel (don't worry…just friends), and we don't even talk that much. I'm keeping an eye on things. Town's safe, once a Slayer got back in the mix. Weird to be reactivated after all this time. Jail wasn't too much fun.

God, B, what were you thinking? No, don't answer that. I know what you were thinking. What you were always thinking--about anything else but yourself. That's how you were, even with me. And I can't help but think that it should be me looking down on things, or looking up probably, not you. If I could have just stayed on the straight and narrow…but, I guess that's ancient, huh?

I'm not gonna go into a big spiel on how much I loved you. Saying it once should be enough. I love you. I miss you, and I'm sorry. I wish things were different. You changed my life. I still think of you as my friend and I hope you're watching me. I think about that a lot and it makes me feel better, picturing you up there, harp and all, flying around in a toga or whatever angels wear. Kick a little heavenly butt up there, though okay? Gotta be a little rebel-rouser up there somewhere, else what fun would heaven be?

--F

***

Buffy,

You're gone. I can't believe it and I can't say it yet, but it's true. And it's my fault. I left you when you needed me the most. I should have stayed after your mother's funeral, even when you told me to go, but as usual, we let what's right get in the way of want we wanted. And now it's too late and I'm left here with the knowledge that I might have been able to prevent this.

You're everything to me, even now. Not a day, not a minute, has gone by since graduation day that I haven't regretted leaving Sunnydale. It hurts. Doing the right thing hurts.

I've lived a long time. It kills me that you weren't allowed to live even a quarter of the time that I have. But then I think of what you accomplished in that short period and I'm so proud of you. I wish I had been there, that night. I wish I had been there for all the nights. My fondest memories, in over two-hundred and seventy years, are of our times together. You let me love you, you loved me in return. Loving you was the smartest thing I ever did, the most wonderful feeling a person could experience, second only to being loved by you. I can still feel how my heart lightened when you would smile at me. You had the ability to make all my pain disappear. I wish I could have done the same in return.

Your death is my biggest failure.

I hope you know that I never stopped loving you, that I always had hopes that someday it would work out for us.

Right now I'm working on just making it to tomorrow.

I miss you, more than I possibly thought I could. We've been apart for so long, as lovers and as friends, and this is still so different. I've felt remorse and guilt for all the horrible things I've done, and none of it even compares to the deep, sick feeling pitted in my stomach.

I've been keeping an eye on your friends. They don't talk to me, we haven't actually come face to face yet, but I think they know I'm here. Spike does.

Faith was released from prison and sent back to Sunnydale. They aren't going to call another Slayer. She's doing well. She's quiet now. The news hit her hard but she's holding it together.

I can't end this letter. When I do, you'll really be gone and that's impossible for me to grasp. You changed my life. Anything good that I have is a direct result of having known you. Anything wonderful I have is a result of being loved by you. You're still my girl, Buffy, now and always. I love you.

--Angel