Absence makes the heart do strange things.
I missed him, but told myself it was just my imagination. I ached for him, but thought it was just a fever. I longed to hear his voice, but never picked up the phone. I wanted him, but told myself that I couldn’t have him.
As soon as I got home that afternoon, I washed off all trace of him and hoped that would be the end of it.
Denial is such a wonderful place to live your life. Memories fade, I told myself, and with luck those few hours that I’d spent with him would soon be just the vague recollection of an afternoon of madness. Something to look back on and cringe at. A shameful thing to keep locked in the furthest recesses of my heart. Something that would never be told. A story best forgotten.
But from that moment onwards, every blond – haired man I saw, was him, every leather coat was on his back. Every pair of boots was him walking towards me. The world was suddenly full of men pretending to be Spike. Coming into focus towards me. Making me panic, making me want to run away. Making my heart beat in a frenzy of anticipation. Making my hopes soar and then crash back to earth when I saw the deception.
But every time I found my feet walking towards his door I remembered who we both were. Every time I picked up the phone I remembered the things he’d said, and every time I woke up in the night on fire and wet for him I got myself off as quickly as I could using my own fingers, or that little battery operated appliance that no one knows about, and then I pushed him firmly from my mind.
And time did help, a little. After a while I got back into the routine of my life. I decided that Riley and I should be a little more adventurous in our sex life. I asked him to do things which surprised him, but his heart was never in it. He started to look sad, went kind of quiet, and kept asking me if I loved him.
I always said yes, but he didn’t believe me. For some reason I wasn’t enough for him and one night I found him writhing in ecstasy with a vampire clamped to his arm, sucking his blood, and for us, that was the end.
And the worse thing? I could understand why he was there. The mixture of fear and danger. The way each strong pull goes straight to the most sensitive spot on your body. It’s a rush like nothing else.
Spike gave me quite a leaving present as he drank my blood that afternoon. I came and came until I was holding him to me and begging him never to stop. It was him who pulled away, even as I scrabbled toward him, pleading for more. We put our hands on each other and gave in to one last heated caress as he sucked the wound clean, and for one brief moment of clarity, I understood what it was all about.
But I’m a bad, wicked girl to think such things, to want such things and this is my punishment. To compare every man I meet, for the rest of my life, to him. And to always find them wanting. Riley left me soon after that. At the last moment, I convinced myself that we could make it work, and that I could settle for second best, because life isn’t about finding perfection. Life isn’t about climbing the highest mountains and swimming to the bottom of the deepest seas. Life is about making do with the best that you can. I ran after him but he’d already gone. So I turned around and threw myself into my work.
I’m a slayer, and slayers don’t love vampires. They don’t find solace in their arms. They don’t almost come just by thinking about them. They don’t spend endless nights panting and sweating over their memories.
Do they? You’d think I’d have learnt my lesson with Angel.
But you don’t know what you want until it’s gone. Don’t know what’s important until life comes up and slaps you in the face with it. Because if you’re too stupid to see it, then what else can it do but hit you so hard that you have to take notice?
A few weeks after Riley left me mom collapsed and ended up in the hospital. The news wasn’t good and I knew we were going to lose her. It left me floundering and gasping for air. It left me thinking about what was important in my life. It was the night Spike first appeared at my window.
I didn’t wash for days after. Got me some funny looks, but what the hell did I care? If I couldn’t sleep wrapped in her arms then I had to make do with her smell. It was everywhere, on the bed, in the air, on me. I put the shirt on my face while I got myself off, wore the damned thing, held it in bed with me, pretending it was her.
I told myself she’d come, and I waited. I told myself that for once in my life it wouldn’t be me doing all the running. It wouldn’t be me beating the path to her door. Prostrating myself at her feet. But hell, am I not the one and only, original fool for love? Isn’t this what I do? Fall in love with all the wrong women and then meekly hand them my heart so they can crush it underfoot?
I lasted four weeks. Four bloody weeks of watching every blonde head, skulking in the shadows trying to pick up her scent. Four weeks of constantly turning around because there she was flitting in the dark at the edge of my vision. Only to spin round and find that she wasn’t there.
It whipped me into such a frenzy of need and despair that I didn’t know what I wanted any more.
I only knew that she’d touched me somewhere and that place still burned. She’d left so much of herself behind that I could still feel her. And that she was the best that I’d ever had.
I growled and I glared, I pined and I yearned and after four weeks I gave in.
She wasn’t going to let me in. I had to threaten to wake up the whole neighbourhood before she opened the window, said the words and pulled me inside, dumping me unceremoniously on the floor. I could tell that something was wrong straight away. There was anger there and it was directed at me as she glared and asked me why I’d come, but it wasn’t about me.
I picked myself up and reached out for her thinking that if only I could get her to remember what we’d done, how it had been, what we’d felt, then it would all come rushing back and we’d just step right back into it. But it doesn’t work that way, does it? And I’m old enough to know it.
This was her world, her things around her, her clothes on the floor, her bed. But something wasn’t right with that cosy little world of hers. It was collapsing in on her and right then she was carrying it all on her shoulders. And she wasn’t about to tell me why.
I reached out for her and she flinched. I shouldn’t have been surprised, vampire remember? But I also remembered something else. The way she’d responded to the last time I’d touched her, how we’d said goodbye. How she’d clung to me even as she was pulling away.
So I touched her again, letting my hand rest lightly on her shoulder, squeezing it gently, and she let it rest there.
“Shh,” I told her, “Have you forgotten it so soon? When I remember every detail.” I let my hand slip into the neckline of the tee shirt she’d worn in bed, curving my fingers around her neck, trailed them down across her collar bone, pulling the material away.
“Have you forgotten this?” I asked her, exposing the small scar I’d left for her. I didn’t have to leave a scar, but she knew I would. I touched it gently, keeping my demon face in check as the bloodlust rose in me at the sight of it. She moved so that her cheek was resting on my hand.
“Yes,” she said, “I remember that.” Then she lifted her head and looked me straight in the eye. “It was a gift, freely given. I don’t regret it if that’s what you’re asking.”
She shook off my hand and walked away then, but she wasn’t running from me this time, not again. I matched her step for step as she backed away from me until she was flat against the wall, and she was trapped there for as long as she decided to be. I braced one arm beside her head and asked her what was wrong.
Even though I knew it wasn’t about me, I expected her to say it was. But she didn’t want to talk about it.
“Let me help,” I asked her, but she only shook her head and ducked out of the way. She ran across the room, flung herself face down on the bed and told me to go away.
I threw off my leather coat, walked across and sat down beside her. I could tell she was crying now and it didn’t seem right that I’d come here for sex when it was obvious that her heart was breaking. All I could do was sit beside her and pat her shoulder as she let it all go. Probably that wanker Riley, I thought. I’d heard he’d left town. I wondered if she’d cried like this for me.
I let my fingers linger as I comforted her and part of me knew that I was taking advantage. Knew how vulnerable she must feel right now. I knew full well how easy it would be to turn these feelings of anguish and pain to something else. I could already feel it happening. Her skin, the muscles, they were taut and wound up but as my hand started a slow rhythmic stroking up and down her spine I could feel them softening and relaxing.
I leaned in close and whispered to her. “Let me help you to remember,” I told her. “What it was like between us. I can make you feel better, even if only for a short time. Let me help.”
I can be very persuasive, especially when I want something this badly. Even with the chip I still liked to think I was a badass. So I just let my words roll over her as she lay there, face down on the quilt. Pretending that I wasn’t there. Pretending that I wasn’t getting through to her. And I joined in the game. Anyway she wanted to play it. Just as long as she wanted to play.
“I can see you’re hurting love,” I said. “Let it go for a bit. Give me an hour of your time. You can start the worrying again after that, but for the next hour it’ll be just you and me.” My hand went lower, my fingers curving around her buttocks, the tips of them delving between her legs. She made the smallest of movements and I could tell by the way her shoulders were shaking that she was trying her best to resist me. But some things just can’t be denied. I leaned closer. “Where’s Dawn?” I whispered.
“She’s asleep,” Buffy replied in a muffled voice, her face still hidden.
“Then we’ll have to be very quiet, won’t we?” I stopped to strip off my tee shirt and her head turned momentarily at the loss of contact, her eyes widening as she saw what I was doing.
“We can’t,” she said, wearily.
“Stop me anytime, love,” I told her. If you don’t want this, then I’ll go. Just say the words.”
She looked at me and then she rolled on to her back and spread her arms wide. She lay there with her eyes closed and didn’t say a thing. I stood up and took off my jeans.
Sometimes you don’t need words.