To Truly Love

To Truly Love

Even though I joked with Gunn about how I should have gone to Vegas I knew it wasn't true.  Sri Lanka was just what I needed, even if it wasn't the quiet contemplation Wesley envisioned when he suggested it.

I could have brooded in my room just as easily as in a monastery.

What I needed, what I found there, was a fight to the death with little more than my life at stake.

I would have found battles in LA, when have I not?  But I would have been different.  Here I could have convinced myself I was only fighting to protect my friends, the client, who ever.  There, in an isolated corner of the world, far from anyone I knew and myself the only one in immediate danger, there was no avoiding it.

I fought because I wanted to live.  Even with Buffy gone, I still chose to live.  I saw that and I ran, back to LA as fast as possible.  For the first time since they were invented I truly wished that flying wasn't out of the question for a vampire.

Because in that moment of knowing, and in the weeks since, all I wanted was to forget.  Buffy, the girl who will always hold my heart was dead.  How could I possibly not want to join her in that stillness?  Only I didn't, I wanted to live.

So I came home, to the place where I don't have to think.  Where I planned to forget my betrayal of her in the unwinable war that I've been enlisted to fight in, in my friends' concerns, in the everyday act of living.  I could use those things to fill every waking hour, even if I couldn't escape my nightmares.

Endless dreams where Buffy comes to me, sometimes in tears, sometimes in rage, always because I didn't love her enough to die for her, because I wasn't there to die for her when it might have saved her.

Of course James and Elizabeth would be the first demons I encounter on my return.

The only real pain James managed to inflict on me in his ill-planned attempt at vengeance was when he said I could have loved her, not if I could continue without her, but Cordy was right.  It took me awhile to realize it but she was.  Buffy wouldn't have wanted my death.

Maybe Elizabeth would have been impressed by what James did, but she was impressed when James risked all of our lives for a trinket.  Buffy, on the other hand, would have probably hit me for being an idiot.

I know how Buffy feels about suicide; she'd never forgive me for taking that path. 

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep…"

I have a mission and a duty, both to my friend and to the Powers.  Buffy didn't run away from her scared duty, she didn't take the easy way out.  How would it honor her memory for me to do that? 

It would be easier to give up, to give in, to let grief take my reason.  Death or insanity would be an escape, but I can't do that.   I won't do that.  I made that decision even before I understood why.  I chose to live because I've got a purpose to be fulfilled, that's what Buffy would have asked of me, not death.  And Shanshu doesn't just mean to live, it means live until I die; rejoin the cycle of life and death that is mortality.  Die a natural death and move on… maybe she'll wait for me.  Until then, I have to live.