Disclaimer:  I own nothing.  Everything belongs to Joss Whedon, etc.

The second line of the story is a quote from the movie Life as a House.

From Afar

By

Anessa Ramsey

            I heard this saying once, I can't remember where, but it stuck with me.  What you think you know has nothing to do with reality.  It's too bad I heard it when it was too late.  For so long I deluded myself into believing that everything was black and white.  There was only good and evil…no in between.  How I managed to delude myself for so long I'll never know.  I met Whistler and Angel when I was sixteen.  I should have realized then that there's always a gray area.  Instead I became just like the Watchers' that wanted to control me. 

            It's been four years since everything went down with Spike and I.  When I showed up at his crypt and he was gone I was too busy with worrying about Willow to think about the impact his departure would have on me.  When all was said and done the world was safe, Willow was in recovery and Xander and Anya were working they're way back toward reconciliation.  I was the only one whose life was still the same.  It was then that I began to think about what I'd done.

            Dawn would hate me forever if she knew what I'd done to Spike.  As it is I hate myself.  I still remember the bruises that covered his face after I beat him in that alley.  I damaged him nearly as much as Glory had.  I used him to feel, telling myself that he was soulless and that he didn't feel anything real.  I convinced myself that it was true.  No one knows that my world came crashing down around me when I realized it wasn't. 

            He'd been gone for three weeks and I'd been so busy trying to clean up the mess that Willow left behind I didn't have time to dwell on my actions.  Then I found his duster at the bottom of the hall closet.  I remember taking it out and smelling the soft leather.  It smelled of cigarettes, cologne, and a smell that was uniquely Spike.  I broke down that day.  I let out everything that I'd been hiding from everyone.  I finally thought about what had happened and that's when I realized it.  I loved him.  I also knew that I might never see him again.

            He did eventually come back.  It took a year but he showed up.  He found me sitting in his crypt, which Clem had long abandoned.  I often went there for some sort of comfort.  When I saw him I wanted nothing more than to throw myself into his arms and kiss him.  I wanted to apologize for everything I'd ever done to him.  I wanted to tell him I loved him.  I would have too, if I hadn't looked into his eyes.

            There's something about his eyes that just draws people in.  Maybe it's because they reflect every emotion or maybe it's because when he looks at you he seems to see into you, learning places inside you that no one else knows about.  But that night, all I saw was emptiness.  He was no longer the same man…demon…lover that I'd known.  All that love he once offered me was gone.

            I'm not looking for pity.  I don't deserve it.  I did everything I could to make him stop loving me.  Now that it finally worked I wanted nothing more than to will it back.  For several moments we just stood there.  I was the first to break the silence.

            "Hey."

            "Slayer."  I winced.  He hadn't called me that in a long time.

            "You're back."

            "So it seems."

            I bit my lip so hard it drew blood.  "Are you going to be staying?"

            "Yes.  But don't get your knickers in a twist.  I'm not going to be coming near you or your friends."  My heart broke inside my chest.  The pain was a thousand times worse than when Riley left and when Angel disappeared the night after graduation.  He kept going, unaware of the burden I now carried.  "We just came back to get some of my things.  We're moving into the mansion."

            I looked around.  He said we.  Who else was he talking about?  I certainly did not expect to see Angel step into the crypt and stand behind Spike, close enough to let me know that they were more than just roomates.  Spike's eyes lit up for the first time that night, and in those breathtaking blue depths was a look that had once been reserved for me.  It was apparent in Angel's eyes as well.

            They were in love and Spike had earned his soul.  When they first said the words I wanted to run and hide behind that wall of denial that it was so easy for me to duck behind.  Instead I thought about it.  Of course they were in love.  Spike would have gone to Angel first no matter how much hatred there was between them.  Angel was the only one equipped to deal with him.  Yet it was so much more than that.  Spike once told Angel and I something that I've always remembered…  'You're not friends.  You'll never be friends.  You'll be in love until it kills you both.  You'll fight, and you'll shag, and you'll hate each other until you quiver, but you'll never be friends.  Love isn't brains, children, it's blood – blood screaming inside you to work it's will.'  Of course they were in love.  Blood calls to blood after all. 

            I still watch them, you know, but only when they're not looking.  I can see how happy they are together.  The Powers made Angel's soul permanent a year ago but it didn't matter.  Spike had already brought out this playfulness and lighter side of him before the Powers gave Angel their gift.  Spike brings out the best in people when he's given the chance to.   I was jealous at first, to be honest I still am, but I have to admit they're good for each other.

            It doesn't mean that I love him any less.  I'll love both of them my whole life.  Angel is my first true love and Spike is my greatest…even if he never knew that.  That is what I regret the most.  I never got to tell him the words.  It's all he ever asked of me…whether I was screwing him silly or beating him to a pulp, that's all he ever wanted.  Angel tells him several times a day, sometimes with just a glance or small touch.  It's enough.  Spike throws everything he is into loving Angel.  They both found what they were looking for.  It's just hard for me to accept that they found it in each other. 

            I'm a year away from retirement and a new slayer will be called.  I know that will not stop me though.  I am the slayer.  It's what I do.  I will never marry or have children.  I will slay until my last breath because everything I always wanted is now the one thing denied to me. 

            Spike may not be a man but he was never the monster that I told myself he was.  I will love him to my dying day.  The memory of what we could have shared is the last thing I will see before I pass on.  The memory of his face when he told me he loved me will always be in my heart. 

            It's been four years since he disappeared, three since he returned, and I am helpless to do anything but sit here with him and Angel.  They are preparing to raid a vamp nest in the old high school.  As they stride out the door I know that until I die all I am able to do is help them the best I can, loving Spike from afar.  But that doesn't mean that I have to stop watching.  He is my everything.  I will always watch him.