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ARCHIVAL: My site only. Please feel free to link to www.alanna.net/btvs/reflection.html
SPOILERS: Not really. Just some speculation about the ending of season six.
SUMMARY: What do you see when you look at me?
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Tired. So goddamned tired of it all.
Tired of feeling scared, of feeling lost and hollow and furious and pained.
She stares at herself in the mirror, trying to see the past year in the lines of her face. She has lines now, little crinkles at the corners of her eyes, and brackets around her mouth that came from grimaces, not laughs. Only twenty-one, but she feels twice that. She thinks she looks it too.
What happened to the old days, when everyone was happy? When she could toss her hair and smile so easily and feel pretty? The old days, with friends who didn't hate each other or themselves. Back then, death was something she inflicted, not experienced.
She wonders what Spike sees in her now. Does he look at her broken-down body and see his own death reflected back at him?
He's whole now, dechipped but not defanged. He should want much better than her… and she wonders when she began to consider herself unworthy of a dead, soulless man. When did it matter so much to her that he love her? When did she start to think that she desperately wanted to love him back?
Maybe it was three hours ago, when he pushed through the ether of Willow's paralysis spell and saved Buffy as she stood, screaming out of her skin, like an insect caught in amber.
Or when, seconds later, he knocked Willow unconscious, showing such compassion when he should've killed her and spared the world more death and destruction.
Or when, his body drained and beaten and desperately needing blood, he'd still managed to pull out a cell phone and dial 911, summoning an ambulance for Willow. He could've left her there to die, but he didn't. God, she almost deserved it. And Buffy, collapsed on the cement like a kitten, hadn't even cared that the phone was probably stolen.
Or when, as he lay there quivering and pale, she'd put the bloody crook of her elbow to his mouth, screaming at him to drink it before he wasted away. But all he'd done was look up at her with those eyes of his, and whispered, "Not yours. Never yours."
He wasn't supposed to die before she realized this. It wasn't possible! He has called her a hero, a warrior. But warriors are supposed to ride away on white horses, their mates by their sides.
No white horse this time. Just an ambulance.
Just her voice, whimpering and begging until he finally kissed her arm and began to drink. Her tears had been so dark on his pale face. But in the end, they saved one another. And isn't that what it's all about?
She stares into the mirror and wonders what he sees. He has always made her feel so beautiful, even when she fought the idea that his beliefs mattered to her. But now, after the accumulated pain and guilt of the past week – year, even -- she finally starts to believe that whatever he sees might be good.
And she wishes she could see him in the mirror too.
His voice is all around her, whispering, "You're my hero, Buffy." An embrace that warms her pale, tired skin.
"I should've told you a long time ago that I loved you," she murmurs to her reflection.
When she feels the kiss on the back of her neck, she turns around to look at him.
He's everything she couldn't see in the mirror. He has no reflection, but he's gloriously alive in front of her.
His hands cup her shoulders and his lips – red lips, full of her blood – quirk up into a weary half-smile.
"You just did, pet."