Be Still

Long ago I gave up singing

to it, it will never be satisfied or lulled.

One night I will say to it:

Heart, be still,

and it will.

Margaret Atwood - "The Woman Who Could Not Live With Her Faulty Heart."

They've finally left me alone and in the almost impossible silence of the night, I go running. Keeping to the shadows, hiding from even the moon's light, I'm running for the one place that I know that I can find help. Several days have passed since the demons' attack and the fires are finally out, leaving only blessed cool darkness. The citizens of Sunnydale are still scared though, reluctant to come outside and enjoy the beautiful fall night, staying instead in the nominal safety of their houses. I could almost believe that I'm the only one out here, that the night belongs only to me. But that's not true. There is someone else still awake, still wandering, and he's the one that I'm looking for.

I hope my senses can be trusted. Things have been harder since... since... since I came back here. I haven't been able to trust even the things that seem the most trustworthy, haven't even been able to trust what I see with my newly functioning eyes. Counting on the heightened senses of a slayer for anything seems almost insane, but that's what I feel. Insane. Crazy. Deranged. So many words for the same thing, and none of them seem strong enough for what I'm feeling. Still running, I absently run my scabbed knuckles down my legs, reveling in the subtle hint of pain, a faint reminder of what it felt like to die.

I was finally at rest. I was finally at peace. I know, have known since my own mother died, that death leaves behind aching voids in the living, and I hurt for them, knowing how much they must of missed me, almost understand the depths of sorrow that have driven them to do this obscene thing, but death is the way of life. It's what supposed to happen. And if you leave behind people who hurt, who cry, well, that's also just another price of life. Pain, pain is hopelessly entangled with the art of living, and there is no pain like that of losing someone you love. But if you are never going to lose them, if you hang on to the thought that even of people die, you can bring them back, then doesn't some of the intensity of what you feel vanish in that certainty? People never love quite so well as when they know that love is finite. That love, like life, will end, and then you only have the ashes of it, the memory of it. This, this is wrong. I know they meant well, I know that they acted out of their love of me, but no one asked me. I was happy with my choice. Things were clear. For the first time since I had been called, a baby at the age of fifteen, I finally understood, deep in my heart, what it was that I had to do. And I did the right thing. The only thing. I deserved my peace; I deserved my rest.

I didn't deserve this. No-one does. It's against the laws of nature that this has happened. Even vampires follow some rules, the death of the soul if not the body. There's no regret left, nothing in them to wish that they had followed their soul to some final place. Angel would understand what I'm feeling, maybe. But he's too far away to be who I'm looking for. And he loves me in all the wrong ways. He would be like Willow and the others, only seeing that I was alive, unable to look past that to see if I want to be alive.

Spike. Spike will understand what I need. I never thought, in my last life, that he would understand anything about me, but now we are one and the same. Two creatures caught in a life that they don't want, that no one can end. Maybe we can end things for each other. Maybe it's finally time. Maybe this is the way that it was meant to be all along. Maybe this is that dance he promised me so long ago. And what have I come to, that I look to Spike to keep his promises?

A whisper of movement against the quiet of the night, a shadow moving in the shadows and I know that he found me while I was looking for him. The sullen glow a lit cigarette, a useless breath of smoke staining the air.

"And what are you doing out, pet?"

I walk towards him, each step easier than the last. Suicide must become easier, the more times you commit it. Last time I had cause, I had justice on my side. This time there is only need, my need, my desire to have this all be over. What right did they have, to bring me back? I was tired. I was done with the fighting and the death. I had done my duty. Shouldn't that be rewarded? When I'm finally in front of him, so close I think I can feel the cool hardness of his dead flesh, I stop, I tip my head so that he can see my neck, clean and bare, only scars marking it now.

When I speak, my voice is a whisper. Some secrets are too much even for the night. They can only be murmured softly, lest the wind carry them somewhere they shouldn't be. "I want you to finish this. You're the only one who can. I want you to take me."

He is so very still, frozen in place. I can feel it as he stars, transfixed by my neck, held fast by my words. I've only even offered him a kiss before, I've never offered myself. I've never offered everything. If I had the strength to do this myself, I'd open a vein, so he could smell the blood. Taste it even. I take another step closer and he sways like a snake trapped by its charmer and I wonder again what power it is I hold over this monster, this demon, the slayer of Slayers. If I were anyone else, anything else, he would have killed me years ago, and yet here we still are, caught in the moonlight. He's still not moving, and I run my tongue over my own lips, hoping to push him past the point of no return.

"Slayer..." the word is dragged out of him, barely more than a breath. I have his attention now and his desire. There's never been any missing it with Spike. He's never seen any point in lies for the sake of lying. An honest killer, if such a thing can be said to exist.

"C'mon, Spike, you know what you want. Take it. Take me." Goading him now, desperate for the end. Just finish it. Finish me.

His mouth is on mine now, crushing strength. He's never done thing by halves. I remember Willow's spell, remember loving him, and I remember the one kiss I offered myself, I admit the truth. There may not be love between us, but it's never been hate. His arms are as strong as Angel's, no human strength, and it feels wonderful to be held by something stronger than myself. It feels good to be the weak one, the tired one. I just want someone to hold me up now, to hold me till the end. Spike is strong enough to hold me until the end of forever. If anything might make me want to live again, it would be the feeling that there is one thing like me in all the world, one creature torn from its rightful existence and made wrong, and that creature is holding me now, and loves me with what's left of its heart.

I move closer, close as I can, because he's not getting it. I don't want Spike to cherish me, or adore me, or worship me. I want him to kill me. I want him to take away this hateful curse that those that loved me most forced on me. I want him to take the pain away and I've been back for just enough days that I know there is only one way for the pain to end. I pull my mouth away from his delicious coldness and show him my throat again. "Take it, Spike, you know you want it. I want it too."

He froze again. If he were a mortal man, he wouldn't be able to stop by now, but he's had years of practice, if perhaps not a great deal of interest in perfecting self-control.

"What exactly is it that you want, Buffy?" It's hard for him to speak. Hard for me to think.

"Bite me. Drink me."

"Turn you?" There's disgust in his voice now. Whatever fantasies he has of me, I don't seem to be like him in any of them.

I laugh harshly. That's the first thing that's struck me as funny since I died. "You think I want to live forever? I don't even want to live now."

He takes a step back then, startled, scared even maybe. He's cigarette is back in his mouth, and looking at it, I can taste the cold and stale smoke in the back of my throat, the flavor of Spike's kiss. He's silent, only watching me.

"You promised me a last dance. You promised you would be there when I was ready."

Another step back. "You want me to kill you."

"Your third Slayer, Spike. The other vampires might let you come and play with them again."

He shakes his head once, a final movement if ever I saw one. "That was then, Slayer. I can't do it."

"You promised. You promised you would be the one to kill me." I can hear my own voice getting desperate. I can't do this own my own again, I'm not strong enough anymore. He's still silent, watching me as I break down in front of him. I can see a world of torture in his eyes, but he's not moving. "You promised!" I'm begging now, shameless. "If you really loved me, you would kill me."

And that hits him like a gut punch, I can tell. Useless air is pushed out of his lungs and he stares at me. He shakes his head again. "That's where you're wrong, pet. I can't do this. Not to you. Even if I could still kill humans, I could never kill you. That's not how I love you."

His words cut whatever flimsy strings are holding me upright and I fall to the ground, lost in tears, lost in pain. He's kneeling by me now, awkward but strong, his arms around me. "I can't, Buffy, I can't. I'm sorry, I can't." He's whispering the words over and over again as I cry into the rough leather of his coat. I can feel his lips, gently kissing my forehead, my cheeks, trying to sooth me, but there's no comfort anywhere for me. I wanted to die.

And that's how the Scooby gang finds me, to take me home again. To make me live again. To make me go through all this again. As they lead me away from Spike, I turn back to him, trying one last time.

"Please..." Desperate, lost, doomed.

There are tears as cold as ice on his face now, too and he's getting smaller as they pull me away. "I'm sorry, pet. I can't."