Chapter 1: I don’t love you
She felt her heart being shattered to a million tiny, irreparable pieces. Never in her life had she ever imagined that she could feel this way. And never, in the time that she knew the man in front of her, had she imagined that he would be the reason that her life seemed to be falling apart in front of her eyes.
“But… I love you,” she whispered, barely audible. The wind carried her words like an echo of the past and she felt her eyes start to water. She hated how vulnerable she sounded… how vulnerable she felt. He blew out the smoke slowly from his nose and flicked his cigarette butt away.
“You don’t know what love is,” he said firmly, leaving no room for questions. Those words hurt her the most, breaking down the resolve that she had somehow harbored until this moment. She took a step back and ran into the wall of the porch and leaned back on it. How could he say that… her pain turned to frustration.
“How dare you,…” she hissed, ripped between trying to tear him apart and trying to grab onto him for her dear life. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly, “where do you get off saying that? How can you say that like what we had was nothing. How can – why… “
She broke off. She couldn’t finish. He closed his eyes for a long while, stuffing his hands deep into the black leather duster.
“Don’t think this is easy for me, Buffy,” he refused to look at her. “I’m not doing it just for me… it’s for the best. It… It’s complicated, love.”
“Then uncomplicated it!” She fisted her hands, trying to contain the emotions threatening to spill out of her. She wanted to scream. She wanted to cry, pound on something, hurt something, just as he was hurting her from the inside. She needed an outlet, but she didn’t want to give him that satisfaction. She didn’t want to seem weak when she needed to be strong. But it hurts… so much. “God… you’re so…”
She growled in frustration. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t even look at her. Because, he knew if he had, everything would melt. He’d break and he couldn’t break. The tears were now coming out of her eyes in steady, silent torrents. Her breathing became staggered and she struggled to control herself.
“You once told me…” she tried again, closing her eyes, “you once told me that you’d never leave me. That you were here for the long haul. Here to stay.”
“You’re young, pet” he said quietly, studying the beat-up toe of his Doc Martins. “You’ve got your life ahead of you. You’ve still got places to go, people you’re going to want to meet. Love, you couldn’t have expected this to be forever.”
“I want you, Spike…” she was pleading. But, she knew it was no use. She knew it wasn’t really about her. It was him and his need for freedom. He wanted to leave with no strings attached – nothing holding him back. His life was about to start and he didn’t want any memory of the past… didn’t want her.
She turned her back to him and leaned her arm on the doorframe.
“Tell me… that you don’t love me,” she whispered. “I know that you’re leaving… but give me a reason to keep hoping that some day – “
Her voice trailed off into the starry night. It was a beautiful night. There were no clouds blocking the millions of stars that sparkled in the clear night sky and the moon was a perfect crescent. It was a romantic night – one that lovers dreamed of. It stilled the world and amplified emotions. Pain.
He turned to stare at her back, knowing that this was her ultimatum. It wasn’t meant to be a test or a challenge. It wasn’t meant to prove this thing, but this was as close to an ultimatum that she had ever gotten. The only ultimatum that she had ever thrown his way. He could give her hope that someday he’d come back for her.
“I don’t love you.”
With that, he turned, walked down the porch steps, into his Desoto, and out of her life forever.
“I’m sorry… It must feel horrible.”
“I think horrible is still coming. Right now, it’s worse. Right now, I’m just trying to keep from dying.“ Buffy sobbed her heart out into her best friend’s lap, trying to let out the unbearable pain that was drowning her heart. Willow stroked her hair, trying to soothe her, tears glistening in her own eyes.
“I can’t breathe, Will. I feel like I can’t breathe.”
One Year Ago
The door swung open and there, right in front of her, was a pair of big black combat boots. Followed by tight, black jeans… black t-shirt, black leather duster. Her eyes landed on a pale face with peroxide blonde hair, razor-sharp cheekbones, and blue blue .. extra blue eyes. He had a bored expression on his face as he studied the blushing, mousy, brown-haired girl who was open-mouth gaping at him. He raised a brow at her, waiting for her to start talking.
“If you’re done drooling, … who are you?” he asked flatly, startling Buffy. Ohh… British accent. She opened her mouth and no sound came out. He raised a bored eyebrow and rolled his eyes. “Any time today would be nice.”
“Uh… Mr. Giles?” she asked, meekly, knowing that her face was probably the color of a ripe tomato.
“Oh, right,” he stepped back to let her into the house, then shouted out “Uncle Rupes! Some short chit here to see you!”
Chit? Buffy was confused and beginning to really dislike the guy standing in front of her… now walking away from her. She nervously stood in the foyer, not sure what to do.
“Well, come on then,” the bleached guy turned around, glaring at her, “Not all of us have all day.”
Buffy followed him through the hallway and into a room with two grand pianos in it. One wooden lined wall had certificates and photos covering it and the other three were decorated with various odds and ends throughout the century. The two pianos were Steinways, one a concert grande and the other one a size L – living room sized. The guy she was following told her to wait and exited the room with a swirl of his duster.
She walked up to the concert grand and ran a finger down it’s edge. She sat herself down and let her fingers ghost along the tops of the keys. The piano was old – ivory keys already turning yellow and the black paint chipped here and there. Buffy closed her eyes and dared to play.
It wasn’t planned, exactly, she just played whatever came to mind. It was the Saint Saens second concerto, a piece that she tried teaching herself.
Outside of the room, Spike froze. He had heard the girl sit down at the piano and caught the very first octave of the song she played. She captured him at the very first sound. It was obvious to him that the formal training the girl had had in the past was poor, but there was a quality to her playing that made him yearn for more. It was the sound she made… her ability to manipulate the piano so it spoke to him. Told him of the cloudy path as she played the misty, slow arpeggios.
Buffy lay flat on her bed, too tired to do anything else. The week had worn her out, emotionally and physically. In the course of two days, she had lost the two things she treasured most in life. Her virginity and her first love. Of course, she should have known. But it wasn’t supposed to be like this. What if he hadn’t gotten that offer? Would he have stayed with her? She doubted it. Despite all his promises of forever and beyond, she always held onto a seed of doubt… the seed that would shield her heart from inevitable breakage. And a week ago, … on a particularly memorable night, she had buried the seed so deep that it was forgotten.
The irony was almost poetic. It was beautifully devised. Of course she would lose him the second she stopped worrying about losing him. Some higher being must have had it in for her. Buffy snorted, the closest thing to laughter in a while.
One week passed since that fateful night and all she could do was cry. When there were no more tears, she poured her aching heart out in her music. Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, she finally understood how they did it. Years of life and pain… now that was good music. Giles, her piano teacher, had always told her to put more emotion in her playing… be more expressive… be consumed. She knew what he wanted and she tried… she really did. But only after her life was shattered brutally did she finally really get it. And Giles had not celebrated. He knew how the heart-wrenching element of music had finally been added and it was nothing to be celebrated for.
Buffy felt the warm liquid start rising in her eyes again and she fought them.
“No,” she whispered and shuddered at the sound of her own voice.
How did we get here? Spike… how did we get here?