You know, the power of language never ceases to amaze me. Two little words can have the biggest impact on your life.
That's it, she said, and like a fool I agreed. I didn't want to. I wanted to shout NO! I wanted to wrap my arms around her and draw her in so closely I'd mistake her beating heart for my own.
But the foolishness didn't begin there, only ended. I was every kind of fool to let myself get involved with a human in the first place -- and a Slayer, no less. Obviously, I'd taken leave of my senses long before now. Took a trip to Hell and back to put it all into perspective, though.
So here I sit alone, unable to love, afraid to feel, writing in a journal, feeling even more foolish -- if that's possible. Writing instead of living. Sorry state of affairs, right? Believe me, this wouldn't be my choice -- not if there were any other. But it's either I fly solo or I'm evil.
I told myself when I left Sunnydale that I'd never open myself up again, never let anyone in. All that brings is misery. Maybe I never had the ability to love. Maybe I've always been flawed, selfish. Maybe if I'd loved my family more, been a better son, I wouldn't have gone looking in an alley for some cheap thrill. Maybe my family wouldn't have died a bloody death, throats torn out by my own fangs, sacrificed to a new and savage hunger.
Seems everyone I've ever touched has come to wreck and ruin. My parents, Darla, Dru, Brighid, Riana, Buffy, Giles, Doyle. Family, friend, foe -- all dead or deadened by pain. The list is long -- a thousand sins on the balance sheet. What defense can I mount? What can I say in my behalf? I'm a slow learner. Always was -- when it came to the important things -- though I'd learned the ease of the drink from that very first pint. I'd come home drunk after a night making the rounds of the pubs, smell of whore on my clothes, stink of ale on my breath, and collapse before the hearth. My grandmother would stand over me and cluck her tongue in disgust. Sin sin, she'd say. Sin sin, my own mother would agree. Then grandma would nudge me in the ribs with a booted toe and mumble Sgogaire under her breath. Sin sin, she'd say again, 'tis his destiny to be worthless. It's fitting that her only legacy is bit of Irish fatalism left in my memory.
The only woman I've ever loved was left in her birthday bed, trust turned to horror. I brought her more pain than I could have ever devised. Still in love with the man I had pretended to be, she had to kill me then watch me come back, dredging up all that pain -- and now, I've done it again. Against my better judgement. Not that I could lay claim to good judgement when it comes to Buffy. I went to Sunnydale, stalked her, denied her the chance to be an adult and face the danger in her own way. I realize that was selfish of me. I wanted to save myself the inevitable pain of our meeting. She took that choice out of my hands by following me back to LA. Seeing her in the doorway struck me blind with grief. The fact that she felt safe enough to come to me, confront me, wasn't lost on my battered senses. The last time we had touched, I'd nearly killed her in my need to survive. Even now, I can't believe she let me drink from her. It's like some kind of bad, hazy dream.
This time was so much worse, drinking her hopes instead of her blood. Thank God she won't remember -- the feel of my heart beating beneath her hand, the kiss in the sunlight, making love after bingeing on chocolate. But vampires are cursed with long memories, vicious in their clarity. I'll remember those things, and more. So much more. The feel of her in my arms again, her breasts bare against my chest, her tongue lapping the ice cream from my skin, her mouth meeting mine. Is it my imagination, or does her scent linger? It hangs in the air. It's enmeshed in the threads of the sheets. That intoxicating mix of vanilla and healing Slayer blood clings to my clothing. A tormenting sensory memory - a poor substitute for the real thing. Her face will always own a large part of the landscape of my mind. Every expression -- from her winsome smile of contentment to her grimace of anguish. It hurts to know I'm responsible for both equally. I can't give up the memories at either end of the spectrum. Unbearable as they are, I cling to each second. Her pain haunts me.
I've wondered why I asked the Oracles to turn back the clock. Were my intentions as noble as I believed in that moment? I don't know anymore. All I know is Buffy has to live. Sometimes she's the only one who stands between the world and total destruction. Against that fact what's the life of one vampire? I couldn't protect her as a mortal, only love her. And we've both seen how much good that's done her in the past. So I left her again. Some might be tempted to call it courage or sacrifice, but it was all about fear. After a minute of more sorrow than I've ever experienced, time turned back, I was a vampire again, and Buffy forgot that day of impossible love. Suddenly, we faced each other in my office, the demon broke through the window and I killed it. She closed the book on us and walked out. It was over.
That's it, then.
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