by Jessie

Summary: Spike, in an attempt to understand why he is the way he is, seeks help from an unlikely source. An awkward correspondence follows.

Rating: PG-13

Setting: This story takes place over the course of season six, starting around "Wrecked" and going on until a little while after "Grave." Spoilers are from all episodes up until that point, with specific references to the following: "Innocence," "Becoming I," "Becoming II," "The Harsh Light of Day," "The Initiative," "Out of My Mind," "Fool for Love," "Villains," "Two to Go," "Grave."

Disclaimer: BtVS is copyright Mutant Enemy, UPN, et. al. No profit is being made from this story. No copyright infringement is intended.

Author's Note: I just want to apologize in advance for any historical inaccuracies. History isn't really my thing, so I did the best I could with the limited amount of research I was able to do. The basis of this story is a theory that had occurred to me sometime in the middle of the sixth season, because I needed a reason for Spike to act the way that he does. Meaning, I didn't mind that Spike wasn't evil all the time, I just wanted the writers to explain why.

As always, feedback is my life force. I really appreciate any and all that you're willing to give. It keeps my pen moving and puts a smile on my face.


I know this isn't the best time. Never is, I suppose. But I've always been one for the inconvenient. So I'm asking you again anyway. And maybe this is just my own nervous energy making me write you like this and not any real concern over whether or not you're ever going to write back. Probably tore the first one up. Probably'll tear this one up. 'Cause it really isn't the best time for this, and I know you, and I know you'd sooner sacrifice some whelp's first born than give me the time of day. But I'm going to ask you again.

Can you help?


First letter received and, despite better judgment, read. Second letter handled in same manner. No, it really isn't ever a good time, is it? And, yes, there are more than a few reprehensible things I'd rather do than sit here and spend any time writing this response to you. I'm glad to see that we are both keenly aware of this fact, so as not to complicate matters anymore than they already are.

For the record, I find you detestable.

But I'll see what I can do.


Bloody hell, if this isn't the eighth sodding draft of this sodding letter that you're getting in your mail slot. I never should have picked up the pen in the first place. Like riding a bloody bike or what not. Once you're back on, there's no forgetting how. No stopping it either.

Anyway, actual roundabout point to all this is that I wanted to mention that I appreciate this thing that you're doing.

Bloody hell. Can't just come out and say 'thank you,' can I? Sod it all. I'm not starting another draft. You're gonna have to live with this one.

Tell me what you know, will you? Don't leave me hanging like this. Write another, bloody letter. Let a bloke know what merry old England's been up to if you don't have anything else to say.

Yeah. And 'thank you' and all that. Appreciate it.


Nothing yet. Still looking. Unfamiliar, ancient texts have a habit of leading one into dead ends.

Oh. And you're welcome.


I've been thinking about it, and I think I was wrong about something. This whole mess didn't start last year. And it didn't start the year before that either, with that sodding chip in my head. I think I was wrong about that. 'Cause I've been thinking about it and the thought's come to mind that maybe I haven't ever, exactly been the most conventional vamp...

What I mean is that I never should have helped you all defeat Angelus. And I never should have done a lot of things.

So, maybe I was wrong about when this whole mess started. Just in case you find this information useful.


I think you may be onto something. Let me research a little more. I'll write again within the week.


Bloody hell already, are you planning on waiting 'till I die of old age? Not exactly the most resourceful strategy you've every cooked up, but wait long enough on writing that damn letter and it may just happen.


Ever so sorry. My hands were somewhat 'tied' for a bit. I have located a text that might fill in a few holes in the research I've been gathering. I'm still waiting on its arrival though, as its previous owner drives a hard bargain yet has failed to grasp the miracle of Federal Express.

In the mean time, I have a few questions that I need answered in order to do this properly. I wouldn't ask, but the information is vital to unlocking some of the mysteries I am now faced with. I'm sure you'll understand that under any other circumstance I would be loath to ask you for these particular histories. I've written what I need to know on the enclosed sheet. Return your answers to me promptly and I'll take it from there.

I haven't found anything conclusive yet. But I'm close.


Well. Hope you haven't lost your sense of humor.

Number 1: Early May. 1880. London. Dark alleyway. 'Round ten or so.

Number 2: Dalton. (You tell a single soul what you find out from that name...)

Number 3: There isn't a "last time," mate. I crave it every bloody minute of every bloody day. Not a vampire standing who'd tell you differently. Same goes for those of the souled variety as well. Human blood is our life force. Our air and water and all that. No getting around it.

Number 4: No. But then, you're right- why should you believe me? Well, don't, if you feel so inclined. But it's the truth. And it scares the shit out of me. It's part of the whole goddamned reason I wrote you in the first place. It's not supposed to be like this. If I got the chip out... If I could ever feed again - proper feed, not like now - I should be out there doing it. But, I wouldn't. You got that? So go on and check the box marked 'no' for this one. Because something in me knows I wouldn't.

Number 5: Back in South America, after me and Dru left after the whole Angelus bit. There was this kid. All droopy eyes and Oliver Twist. Dru thought it'd be fun to have a new pet. I told her I'd find her a proper one - a puppy or some such - and sent the pigeon flying. I should have eaten him. But the thought just didn't occur to me. He looked small enough not to be a good meal and I would have rather had Dru entertaining a less needy pet than an actual person. But I still should have eaten him. There are other times after that, now that I think about it. I always figured it had to do with having more of a discriminating palette than other vamps. But yeah, now that you mention it, there have been a couple of people who should have, but didn't, die at the hands of William the Bloody.

Number 6: I don't know. I suppose it's like instinct now or something. No. Not quite. But it's gotten easier. At first, every time I tried to help... it was like moving bloody mountains. I had to sit and think about it for a moment before leaping into action. Now, I just do it. I don't think about it. I don't know why. That's where you come in, mate.

Number 7: September 14, 1997. Nine o' eight. Her hands. I first fell in love with her hands. Even if I didn't know it then. They were never the hands of a killer.

Number 8: October 23, 2000. I had a dream about her. Scared the shit outa me. That's when I knew.

Now give it to me straight, Rupert. What the hell's wrong with me? And not a bloody word about that name to any one. I gotta reputation to protect.


Dear God, Spike. You were a poet.


Oh, that's right. Laugh it up. I'll have you know, there were extenuating circumstances. I wasn't in my right mind. Haven't touched a pen since. Well, not till now. Bugger. Chip or no chip, if this gets out...

Now tell me what you've found. Give me a hint. A clue. Anything. I'm not getting any older over here.


I think I've found something. Not enough, but I'm close. A vague reference to a prophecy that seems to imply that every hundred years an alliance will be formed between the "blood-starved" and the "blood-sated." I'm looking into the details of this now, but, if my calculations are accurate... I shall write again within the week with further information.


This isn't how it's supposed to be. Damn it, I'm the Big Bloody Bad. This isn't how it's supposed to be.

I never should have come back to Sunnydale. I never should have let you all keep me tied up. Never should have let Buffy beat the shit out of me. Never should have risked my neck for you lot without thought of reward. Bloody hell, what's wrong with me? I never should have let the slayer live. I never should have fallen for her.

I never should have helped you all defeat Angelus. I never should have come back.

I can't go on like this. This is not how things are supposed to be.


The prophecy I last wrote of - there is only one other reference to it that I can locate, but just the one book seems to be enough. It mentions the lines of the "Masters." Something about needing pure blood. As I mentioned before, the prophecy states that every one hundred years an alliance will be formed between the "blood-starved" and the "blood-sated." I had trouble identifying these terms until now. They appear to be references to the demon and mortal sides of a vampire.

The book almost seems to draw more upon myth than fact. It tells of only three (supposedly) recorded cases of the prophecy occurring. I have included copies of these accounts in this envelope. The first was sometime around 1700, in Uganda. "He walked in daylight and was destroyed, his eyes and face not man, nor beast." The passage implies that he purposefully ended his own life - or 'unlife,' rather - after having saved the life of a villager from another vampire. The actual date is sketchy at best.

The next is better documented, if seemingly fictional. It states that Marie, who "tortured and killed only the wealthiest of France" was somewhere in the vicinity of a hundred and thirty years old when, in May of 1798, she spared the life of one, Guillaume Villers, in exchange for his aid in escaping one of the more ruthless vampire bounty hunters of that era. Apparently, Guillaume kept a somewhat detailed journal, which I have yet to find, but the book does quote certain passages from it. Of particular interest is the fact that Guillaume goes into great lengths about the "allure" of the female vampire when she returns, nearly a year later, to seek asylum, yet again, in his care.

The story goes that Marie would not kill him, and did not ever attempt to after their first run-in. She did, however, offer to turn him into a creature like herself, which he refused. This angered her and she left his home that night, only to return a full two years later on, claiming she could not go on any longer. That she was having trouble feeding. That she had spared four people her wrath already, and was fearful of what might happen if this continued. She claimed that she was afraid she would starve, and that she didn't know what had made her suddenly so 'docile.'

I'm sure you can read for yourself what happened next. Marie, however, died four months later, at the hands of Guillaume, per her request. He is quoted as having written that "she could no longer stand the pain of compassion."

The third case is what caught my attention and will, I'm sure, catch yours as well. In May of 1898, Angelus was cursed with a soul.

The book states specifically (as you can see for yourself on the enclosed photocopies) that the vampire Angelus survived this experience only because of the presence of the soul. Had it not been reinstated in his body, he would have died within a few years as the other two had.

What all three cases seem to have in common is the introduction of a catalyst. It is implied that the vampire in Uganda was forced to save the villager's life, so as to kill the vampire who was attacking him in order to settle an old vendetta. Marie was forced not to kill Guillaume as she needed his help in saving her own life. She continued not to kill him because of a growing attraction between the two. Angel's catalyst, obviously, was the reintroduction of his soul and its continued presence.

I think it would be obvious that what currently grounds you to this prophecy is that chip in your head and your infatuation with Buffy. But what first triggered this chain events?

What were you doing in May of 1998, Spike?


Bloody hell, what does this all mean? You're supposed to be giving me answers here, not more questions. Prophecies and whatnot aren't exactly my area, mate. And from the looks of it you've got more fairytales than facts in this book of yours. But I'll play along. May, 1998? Well, I came to Sunnydale in '97. So '98 must have been the year Angelus showed up again. May, I think, was the month I went to Buffy.

I think the "catalyst" your looking for here is my lack of a desire to see the world go up in flames and me along with it. Or maybe it was Dru. I wanted her back. I did what I did because I wanted Dru back.

Now, tell me what it all means.


I must confess, I am hesitant to write this letter. I've been debating for the past few days whether or not returning to Sunnydale and speaking to you face to face would be a better option. And perhaps this letter will arrive soon after I do, granted this indecision does not last. But for the time being, my uncertainty prevails.

Though I doubt you have any illusions about the reason I chose to help you, I feel it necessary to remind you of what it was. I began this research as a personal favor, not just to you, but to Buffy and Dawn, who I believed would benefit from whatever information I could give them on the vampire that seems to have taken up permanent residence in their lives. So know this, my aid is only, in part, for you.

Now, I have never been in good standing with the Council of Watchers. And have, accordingly, never had full access to the vast library that they house. But a recent friend of mine (who shall remain nameless) has been kind enough to supply me with a few particular texts that have aided me in the research you first asked me to conduct.

These texts that I have borrowed have offered more than a few insights into this matter that you have gotten me involved in. The volumes now in my possession include: an edition of "Vampiric Prophecies" previously considered lost, "Understanding the Soul," also assumed lost, "The Vampire and the Man," which explores the connection between demon and man that is thought to make up a vampire, and "The Diary of Guillaume Villers."

I believe that you are one of the vampires of the prophecy of which Angel is also a part of. As you know, the prophecy states that every one hundred years the two halves of a single vampire - the human and the demon - will form an alliance within him. Before Angel, this "alliance" had never lasted very long. The blending, so thoroughly, of human and demon, such that there is no longer any definition between them and such that the resulting creature is neither completely man nor completely vampire, tends to activate certain instinctual alarms within the vampire. While the human side yearns to be set free, the demon wants no part of this. It would rather die than be caged. The melding is unsuccessful. And the vampires willingly find salvation in death.

Angel was the first instance of this prophecy occurring without resulting in the participant's demise. But Angel is a special case. More than a single prophecy revolve around him and, unlike the other vampires, he has a soul. The soul seems to act as a unifying presence. He still battles to reconcile the demon and the man within him, but, for the most part, the soul is able to do this for him. In a sense, this is what a soul is. It is what connects our two halves. In the case of humans, it connects our physical self to our universal self. In the case of the vampire, it connects the human and the demon.

You, Spike, are the only other vampire of this prophecy to have lived longer then the first few years after having been introduced to the "catalyst" that I mentioned in previous letters.

This fact has puzzled me. What is it that makes you so different? I continued to research past my initial findings and discovered several truths that I would have once thought ludicrous.

Firstly, it has become obvious to me through this research that the two sides of a vampire have always worked in conjunction with one another. The demon takes precedent, but the human psyche is still firmly attached, shaping the resulting creature.

What the prophecy means by the term "alliance" is more of a melding. A situation arises or an event takes place (the catalyst) which forces the vampire to act upon human emotion, intellect, and instinct, rather than on the presence of the demon. This creates something of a domino effect, in which the human's presence in the vampire grows increasingly more difficult to ignore. The demon has no choice but to accommodate the human side until an opportunity to break free arises (i.e. Angel's brief return to Angelus or Marie's eagerness and subsequent anger in wanting to turn Guillaume) or it is integrated into the human half so seamlessly that there is no longer rebellion from it. The two are one and it is as if this were always the case. This latter scenario, however, has never happened.

You asked me, in your last letter, what this all means. I will attempt to explain it to you as best as I can.

You are in the process of becoming something more than what you are. Something that I would almost dare to call better. I do not wish to scare you, but I can think of no way to write this other than to simply do so. A short time ago, you wrote to me that you had never been a very "conventional" vampire. This fact also seems to fit the prophecy. In the recorded cases there is a definite pattern of... abnormality. The vampire in Uganda (whose name, I believe, can be loosely translated as "Dark Judgment") was famous among the few villages that he traveled between as more interested in settling debts (as he was also renowned for his gambling habits) than killing for sport.

Marie only ever killed or tortured the wealthy, sometimes holding them for a ransom, but, more often than not, simply preferring the taste of the upper class. And Angel... You, of course, are already aware of any abnormalities present within him.

I tell you this so as to further convince you of your involvement in this prophecy. I do not know what has made you different from other vampires who have experienced the same thing. I do not know why you have existed for so much longer than the rest of them. Perhaps it was your direct relationship with another vampire of the same prophecy. Perhaps it was any number of things. My current theory is...

That is to say, based on your answers to the questions I have asked you, and the observations that I have made... My theory is that, perhaps, your love for Buffy has given you reason to the pain of this monumental change. And based on the diary entries of Mr. Villers (which I have included translations of) there seems to be a connection to... What I mean is that, perhaps...

Bloody hell. I'll explain it when I get there.


21 May 1789

She left last night. The sun was very nearly up before she thought it safe to leave, though I must admit there was some hesitancy still. She seemed to regret her decision. As if running from that obscene man were not the only option.

She explained it all to me on her first night. And I remember her words just as well as I remember her fingers wrapped tightly around my throat in those first few minutes after midnight. Her eyes shinning in the darkness. Her brow contorting into something so completely inhuman it is hard to imagine now. She had been running from him when she found me, stopping immediately to press me up against the wall of the apartment building. Whether or not I was to be a hostage or a quick supper, I am still uncertain, but I do know that, as her fangs descended upon my vulnerable flesh, I could almost see death.

But then she stopped. I still do not know why. She asked me for my help. No, she threatened me, then demanded help in exchange for a less painful end. And what was I to do other than what she asked of me? It was the most terrifying night of my life.

She did explain it to me, though. As her watchful eyes darted back and forth from the view of the street through my parlor window, to my face, she told me who that man was. The one who was after her and is after her still. I did not question her when she cited his ruthlessness and barbaric nature. God help me, I believed her. And I very nearly felt sorry for her.

Never have I seen such a creature so seemingly fragile, yet deadly. So beautiful yet dark. She slept in the guest bedroom through the following day, and, by the second night, I was almost hiding her willingly.

I am not so completely ignorant that I would ever think that I could live through such an experience. I have heard of demons like her. Creatures who feed on the blood of humans by night. Who have no soul or conscience. But on that second night, she looked at me with such humanity in her eyes, that I could not summon the will to despise her. Fear her, yes, but not hate her.

Except that she did not kill me. Her eyes lingered on my throat for a time longer than I would have preferred, but when she met my gaze again, there was no malice. No threat.

She left last night. She seemed almost reluctant. I would dare to guess that these past days and nights have been some of her first spent in hiding. She does not strike me as the type to run from anything.

8 January 1790

I cannot begin to describe the shock that I felt on the night before last, at seeing my vampire again. She climbed in through my bedchamber window and startled me to no end as I was beginning to unbutton my jacket. I had nearly forgotten how lovely she was.

She never once tried to hurt me that night. She simply sat at my desk and proceeded to regale me with stories of her adventures over the last year, as if we had never parted. Her dress was in tatters, presumably from the climb to my window, but she refused any attempt I made at offering her the services of my maid.

At last weary of storytelling, she asked me if I would be so kind as to offer her a temporary room. And, of course, there was no hesitancy in my reply. I was almost eager to have her stay with me. I knew nothing of what kind of crimes she might have committed, or, even, her name. Yet, there was something about her that appealed to me. Something that was, at once, vulnerable and fierce.

At next evening she awoke to come to my bedchamber once again. There she told me that she had disposed of the man who had been after her and that he was no longer a threat.

I asked her why she had come to me then, if this was the case. She could not answer me for a time, and when she did, it was without words.

In the morning she whispered to me that her name was Marie.

But now she is gone again. Gone for good, I fear, though should I not rejoice at the thought? Should I not feel relief at the departure of that demon from my home?

I do not know what to think anymore. She slept all through the day, only to rise at sunset and promise me eternal youth. She wanted me to be like her. A monster. A soulless creature of the night. And I could not let her. Of course I could not let her. I am a religious man and a moral man, and I could not let her do such a thing to me.

I thought she was going to kill me in her rage, but she did not. Instead she fled into the night. I do not know what this means, but I fear for her.

10 April 1792

I have been helping her to the best of my ability. I have no experience in such dealings, but I have managed to secure a steady supply of animal blood from the maid's father, who has been more helpful than trying times would suggest he be. But I do not know how well her body is taking to the liquid. Some days she drinks and does not complain. Other days, she lies in bed looking sickly, or else she fights me for the chance to hunt.

Her attempts at this are always half-hearted. Her strength is far superior to my own, and she could snap my neck before the thought to defend myself would have entered my mind. But she pretends at struggling. Or, perhaps a part of her really is, but the humanity in her, the goodness that I tell her that I can see, prevents her from harming me.

Sometimes she leaves our bed in the middle of the night, thinking I have not woken. She hunts - I have watched her - stalking ruffians down alleyways and streets until she has cornered them and her fangs appear for the kill. Only she cannot do it. She always stops, sometimes mere centimeters from her target, then growls at the potential victim to run away. She comes back to bed then, tears in her eyes.

It pains me to see her in such a miserable state. She aches for want of violence. For want of human blood. I am so close to offering her my own veins, but I doubt that she would take them.

26 May 1792

I am a weak, immoral individual. I made a decision, that night that she came to me for the third and, I sometimes think, final time that I would not let my misconceptions stand between me and my helping Marie. But there are so many days when I find myself disgusted with what has happened and with the fact that I continue to let it happen. Is it love I feel, or lust? Has my religious upbringing gone to waste? What would my friends and family think of me if they new that I harbor such a killer not only in my house but in my bed?

But then, after such contemplation, I remember that she is trying to overcome. It is difficult for her. I can see how much it hurts her. But I believe that she does it now by her own choice. And should I not encourage such moral behavior, even if from such an immoral woman? Is it not all the greater a feat for a creature of sin to cross over to the light?

I do love her. I believe she cares for me as well. Though she has difficulty saying it, her actions express her emotions more than adequately. She does not hunt anymore. Does not even attempt to. And I like to think that this is because of my influence.

What is more, the other day I found her conversing with the maid. They seem to have formed a kind of friendship. She is the first person besides myself that I have seen Marie attempt a relationship with. I believe it is one more sign of her progress.

30 May 1792

Marie is gone.

I could not bear the pain in her eyes. I could not bear her helplessness. She is better than that. Was better than that.

She told me how to do it. Told me she wanted to die by my hands rather than any one else's. Told me that she would always love me. It was the first time I had heard the words from her mouth.

God help me, I can still see her eyes as I pressed the wood into her chest. I can still see it all.

I had to do it. She could no longer stand the pain of compassion. She could no longer stand the pain of goodness. I had to do it.

Marie is gone.


I suppose you will have guessed by now what's happened. Bloody hell, I didn't mean for it to end up like this, you know? But your stories about ole' Angelus and whatnot... I thought this would make it easier.

I couldn't stand it anymore. Couldn't stand tryin' to reconcile the two halves all on my own. It was killing me. Or would have. I could feel it. Like those other vamps- Marie and the bloke in Uganda- I wager they could feel it too. That's why they did what they did. They went out on their own terms. Didn't wait around to see if the demon in them might finally let up.

The demon never lets up.

So I needed a little help. I couldn't let the demon come out again. I couldn't control it all on my own. I don't know what it was that made me last as long as I did- longer than those others- but my time was running out. Alliance or no alliance, it wasn't going to work. I think your prophecy has a few flaws in it. Whoever's in charge up there should get his act together and stop setting such impossible standards.

I don't know how to go back though. To her. To Sunnydale. How do I go back?


You missed a good show in Sunnydale.

There I was, ready to book the first flight I could and travel to the states in order to share my findings with you, when I get a call from an old friend. There's trouble on the hellmouth, she tells me. And no sooner has she said it than I'm teleporting back to California to try and save the world. Again.

But when it was all over, you were nowhere to be found. And I was forced to return to England with Willow rather than wait around for you to show up.

Yes, you are right. I have already guessed what you were doing away from Sunnydale. The fact that your last letter was sent from a remote corner of Africa confirmed it. Honestly, I'm surprised you survived.

And now... I really don't know whether to congratulate you or pity you. I think I can finally admit, however, that you do have a small amount of my respect. Keep to this particular road and you may well win more of it.

But you are probably more curious as to what I have found on the prophecy than my opinions of you. So let me get straight to the point.

I believe there is a connection between this prophecy and your love for Buffy. Yes, I have admitted to myself that your feelings for her are real. More real than you know, perhaps. I believe that it is this love which has kept you alive (in a manner of speaking) for years longer than any other vampire who has been apart of this prophecy.

I believe that there is a direct connection between the 'alliance' between your two halves, and the alliance between yourself and Buffy. The love you have for her not only gives reason to your pain, it gives order to the chaos inside of you.

Marie did not die.

The last of Guillaume's journal entries was, in fact, not the last. I had suspected as much, which is what prompted this theory initially, but I was not able to properly research it until my return to England. The Council of Watchers, long ago, destroyed the true last journal entry, in an attempt to hide any recorded cases of vampires not acting out of demonic instincts.

Conspiracy and censorship are words the Council is very familiar with.

The first book that I came across that mentions Marie, spoke of her death because the book was written after the fact. It took the last journal entry as truth. But, in fact, Marie did not die by Guillaume's hands that day. She was merely wounded. Badly, yes, but she was able to heal within the following few days, and she and Guillaume were to live out several more years together before Guillaume became sick. Marie was killed in a fire a few months later.

Spike, I believe that it was her love for Guillaume, and his love for her, which kept her alive those years. On several occasions when there was a break in the bond between them, the balance between Marie's two halves would begin to deteriorate and she would no longer have a hold on the demon within her. When he died, her demon was unleashed once again.

It is your love for Buffy, I believe, which has kept you alive so long. I believe it is her inability to return your affections that has sparked your frustration and lack of understanding of yourself.

I hope this provides some insight for you.

How do you go back, Spike? You just do. You go back.


I know this isn't the best time. Never is, I suppose. But I've always been one for the inconvenient. So I'm writing you again anyway. I'm writing to tell you to come back. To tell you to get your bloody act together and come back. I'm writing to tell you that you were right. Of course you were right.

The bloody Watcher's Council didn't know what they were doing when they let you go.

Bugger it. You've got people who need you here. Who want you here. And so do I. Though hell if it didn't take me awhile to figure that one out. Couldn't have done it without you, Rupert. Or something like that. Still rather new to this 'thank you' song and dance.

But thank you.

I went back. I did like you said. And I think you were right. I think there might be something to this 'alliance' bit. Maybe that's the soul talking. I don't know. Maybe it's me. Maybe it was always me.

So thanks. Again. Now get your ass back to Sunnydale before I come and bloody drag you back myself.

And be sure to bring along that prophecy book of yours. I got a sudden hankering to start reading up on this sort of thing. I don't know; maybe that's the soul again... Or, maybe it's me.

Maybe it was always me.