Author’s Notes: The title comes from a Pablo Neruda poem. The line actually goes “all the graces of the daybreak” but I liked my pun.
“As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.” ~Psalm 103:15-16
Spike stood in the corner of the old cemetery, daylight filtering down over him in a shifting pattern of light and shade. This was one of his favorite places to come, where he could think and be alone.
The headstones had been worn by time and the elements, the names all but rubbed off, the dates difficult to determine. An old stone bench sat next to his favorite, a simple white marble stone with only the legend “Beloved Mother” remaining. Even if some of the letters had been worn off, it was legible, and what remained of the date suggested that the nameless woman had died sometime around the turn of the century. Days like this, Spike liked to pretend she was his mother, and that this was her gravestone. It was one of the reasons he liked being undisturbed, as he didn’t want to appear crazy.
The dream he’d had after they’d defeated Adam had settled some questions for him. It had allowed him to figure out who he was-William or Spike. Now he was trying to figure out what he could become.
He wished his mother were here, actually-he missed her. William wondered where she was, if, by turning her, he had damned her soul for eternity. He wanted to ask her advice, to find out if she was proud of him-if she could be proud of him after the atrocities he had committed. He wanted a family again, his own family.
Spike wanted a purpose. He’d been thinking a lot lately about his dream, about what he might have been if he’d never become a vampire. He would never have made a difference in the world. After all the things he’d done, Spike wanted to do something, something that would counterbalance all that evil. He had the feeling that it wouldn’t involve working in an art gallery or being Buffy’s boyfriend. Both were rewarding in their own way, but it wasn’t enough, and that was becoming more and more clear.
“H’lo, mum,” he said quietly. “Wish this was your place. Wish I could be sure you were hearin’ me. I miss you, you know. Joyce does her best, but ‘s not the same.” Spike paused to pull a couple weeds that had sprouted up since his last visit.
He rubbed the back of his hand over his cheek, brushing at a fly. “‘s my biggest regret, turnin’ you. Wish I knew where you were now, if you were okay. I have to believe that you are. You were a right good woman, an’ a good mum. Don’t see why you’d have to suffer because of me.
“Wish you could tell me what I’m s’posed to be doin’ with my life, where ‘m s’posed to be goin’.” He traced the letters with a finger. “‘ve got this bright, shiny future all stretched out in front of me, an’ I’m sort of on a time table now, mum. I’d forgotten how to be mortal. Forgot what it meant to run out of time.”
He sighed. “I can’t get my hands clean, mum. Every time I think about doin’ somethin’ else, I wonder what the bloody hell I might have to offer-sorry for the language. My hands are still stained, an’ I don’t think they’ll ever be clean.”
Spike laughed, but there was no humor in the sound. Buffy knew nothing about any of this, and he had no plans of telling her. She had enough on her plate as it was, even if it had been a slow summer. And what could he say? How could she possibly understand? “So there you have it, mum. Your darling William is now an aimless bloke without a clue as to his future, who spent over a century as a vampire killin’ thousands, an’ ‘m on a tight schedule when you start talkin’ about makin’ amends.
“Besides, I don’t think it’s even possible.”
With that, Spike stood, prepared to go back to the gallery. He was on his lunch break, and if he didn’t hurry back, he would be missed. “There are days when I wish I could go back,” he confessed quietly. “Wish I could turn back time, an’ never have come to Sunnydale, because even if I did go back to bein’ a vampire now, everythin’ would be different.”
He looked down at his hands and remembered how many times they’d been stained with gore. They wouldn’t last another hundred years, not now. “Everything is different.”
Taking a deep breath, he went to join the world again.