Spoilers- Season 6 ish.
Distribution- Eternal…Literally, Redssoulmates, Rapture, Bite me…please, Fangs and Red Witch, Breathe, Liveforme, Hellmouth Café, anyone else?
Disclaimer- I own nothing. Really.
Dedication- For Misty Moira, Mark Mittelbach, Dark Wind (emzy) and Veronica. Thank you.
She would sit here and watch the ocean; you see the ocean is like life. It looks inviting and wonderful but in reality it is nothing but cold and merciless; full of perils and dangers that are as sought after as they are feared. People want it to change but it’s constant; there is nothing you can do to change its constancy. Occasionally people will try, they’ll screw up and life will suck but eventually it sorts itself, it becomes tarnished but it’s still there. Constant. So she sits and watches the ocean. Her hands shake and her palms sweat, she rocks backwards and forwards dangerously on the cliff edge overlooking the sea but keeps her eyes firmly fixed on its slow ebb. Sometimes he joins her there; he knows why she’s there. No, that’s not true, he guesses why she’s there; he’s wrong, of course, they all are.
Willow can hear him coming up behind her, he thinks he’s so darn stealthy, all Vampire like but she can always hear him. She just senses him; it’s like a Slayer sense except that how she feels isn’t a privilege but another punishment. Her forays into the darker magic’s have left her with a sixth sense in that she knows when Vampires, demons and anything supernatural is around. She tingles, which sounds great- a super help with Slaying, except this is the Hellmouth, everything here is supernatural, and it’s like having constant pins and needles.
Spike comes and sits next to her and she struggles to hold back her whimpers and stops rocking, it will only freak him out.
“Hey Willow.” He says softly, she just nods. She doesn’t like to talk so much recently, figuring if she can keep her mouth shut she can keep the magic’s in.
“I just came from the Summer’s place. Nibblet has homework some history stuff, I keep telling her that her history books have got it wrong but she won’t believe me.”
The horizon is almost black, with tiny shiny lights on it. She keeps her gaze fixed on it, knowing that if she encourages him he’ll stay.
“Buffy and the Soldier boy are out on another date- getting reacquainted.” He said casually staring at her out of the corner of his eye. He’s been coming here to watch her since just after she’d gotten in that car crash with Dawn, she just closed in on herself, promised to quit the magic and distanced herself from all her friends. It was then, seeing how the Slayer treated her hurting friend that finally convinced Spike that what he was doing was wrong. He doesn’t care about Buffy, not anymore. He had been in love with the strong, confident capable woman she had been. Not the lifeless, heartless bitch she had become after her resurrection. She turned her back on Willow when she needed her, and turned to Spike, to help her “feel”. He had almost been relieved when the Soldier boy had come back interested in renewing their relationship. This time Buffy needed Riley, he got to play the big strong hero, so he was happy, even if she was a bit different.
Spike had watched Willow after her episode and noticed that she disappeared sometimes, after searching Sunnydale he had eventually found her up her on the cliffs watching the ocean. At first he watched from the trees, not wanting to disturb the peace she so obviously needed and craved but watching out for her. It wasn’t until he realised that she knew he was there that he came closer, now he came and sat by her, chatting about anything and everything that caught his fancy. She never told him to leave so he figured she didn’t mind that he was there. He considered it his job to do what her friends had been unable or unwilling to do, and that was to be there for her, to cry on, to scream at or just talk to. Ok she hadn’t said much of anything yet. He considered it a good night if she smiled faintly at a joke or story he told her, but he was working on it, it’s not like he didn’t have eternity anyway.
“So how’s that computer course thing going?” he asked not really expecting an answer “it’s been what four weeks?”
“Three.” She said softly surprised that he remembered
Spike smiled glad that she had said something to him “Are we feeling talkative tonight pet?”
She shook her head still staring out to see.
He took a cigarette out of his pocket and lit it up. “I’m here if you want to talk, you know.” He refrained from calling her “witch” like he would have done previously; it seemed cruel somehow to refer to something she was trying so hard to quit.
He knew she liked the silence but it had always driven him crazy, he stared to hum slightly. A song that he’d heard and snatches of lyrics that he couldn’t quite recall.
Willow rolled her head on her neck, relaxing at his soft purr next to her. Sometimes she didn’t mind that he was there. Didn’t mind that he intruded on her space, it was nice that he was there. Another constant. She shuffled resisting the urge to rock backwards and forwards. She didn’t want any of them to know how far she had fallen, how bad the Magic withdrawal was. As they would say, she had made her bed now she must lie in it.
So the junkie within must be put out by herself, no one would help and since she had put the baby of the group in mortal danger none of them wanted to help. They wanted happy, perky research Willow back. Not brooding, sweating, shaking because it hurts so damn much Willow. They didn’t want to hear about the yearning within, the way the magic in the very earth betrayed her, calling out for her to use it, abuse it; the pull from her very soul, broken and shattered because a piece was missing. The only thing keeping her head above the water was the idea of light. The vague hope that someone, someday would believe in her again, the way Jesse always had, the way Xander had before he became an ex-demon’s whipping boy, the way Dawn had before she turned 16, the way Tara had before Willow had overstepped the mark and the way Buffy had before Willow had bought her back. The way she never had. She clenched her hands into fists letting her nails bite into the skin.
Spike watched her. It was obvious even to the most oblivious of people that she was struggling, that she was hurting. Her eyes were always bloodshot and heavy. He doubted that she got enough sleep anymore. Sometimes, when the withdrawal hit her bad, he could watch without her knowing, so intent was she on holding in the sobs and screams that she didn’t register his presence, the presence of the supernatural. He would watch as she rocked backwards and forwards, sweat would run down her face, she would choke on the stifled cries, her hands clenching and unclenching, sometimes her short nails would draw blood and his demon would scream at him to go and taste. He wanted so much to go and hold her and tell that she wasn’t alone but although he might have been welcome to talk on the top of the cliff face, he knew his presence would be unwelcome in witnessing her suffering, her pain and her weakest moments.
Well, what she perceived as her weakest moments. To him the fact that she could withstand all that pain and still not yield to temptation impressed on him her great strength; a strength that not even a Master Vampire or a Slayer could ever aspire to. To him, her weakest moment was the moment when her strength and character shone through brighter than anything, the moment when she was beautiful and she proved to him that goodness could exist in the world.
Of course the fact that she crackled with static magic and electricity during that time too could have something to do with his holding back, he wasn’t sure if a Vampire could be fried and he didn’t want to experiment.
He reached out and trailed a cool hand down her exposed arm; she jumped not expecting the contact.
She looked up into his piercing blue eyes not understanding what she saw in them. He lifted an arm and gestured for her to tuck herself under it.
“Don’t want a frozen Red.” He said with this funny half smile. She nodded and shuffled until he had an arm draped over her shoulder. This was nice, it was nice to have someone there when she was in need, and it had been so long since someone had been. So Willow just leaned against his arm, drinking in his company, his constancy, hoping that the shakes would subside soon, she was so tired, and she needed to sleep.
It was nice to be needed, to have a warm girl tucked away under your arm, letting you protect her. So many girls these days were all about independence, about not needing a man. It was rubbish. Women had been made to be a compliment to men. The salt that made the meal taste so much better. Just as the dinner was bland on its own, so the salt on its own is superfluous. Men had gotten things so screwed up in the beginning, drunk on their power and prowess, using women as tools and slaves and now the balance had tipped and women had power they were just as bad, denying their need for men. Everyone trying to do it themselves. If it hadn’t been so sad he would have laughed. That’s why he didn’t mind being love’s bitch; it was the way things were supposed to be. He sat with her until the dawn chased away their demons and he had to retreat to the safety of the shadows.
They say that with a sunrise and sunset come a myriad of experiences and feelings. A day can last a lifetime and the choices within can change the course of history. A heart can break in the space of a second and a new life born in that infinitesimal time. The sun dances mocking mortal man and his folly. Because they look always to the future, hoping and praying for what is to come instead of watching that which is, they do not know that between life and death, hope and despair- a day is all you need.
She stood at the cliff, the tears streaming down her cheeks caught by the wind and whipped into the ocean where they were lost in the tumult of the waves, a sea of tears, an ocean of sorrow.
Her saving grace had been that someone would believe in her again but now it seemed that grace had fallen. That afternoon she had gone to the Magic box ready to help Anya with inventory, only to find that Anya had asked Tara to do it. Along with Tara’s new girlfriend.
Everyone had stopped when she had walked in, like she was an intruder. Dawn had gotten up and walked out after glaring at Willow. Buffy had stared at her coldly before turning her back to her and talking to Riley. Anya had beamed at her whilst Xander just looked uncomfortable. Anya made some comment about enjoying bad tension and asked if Willow was going to steal more ingredients for a spell. Tara glanced up at her then disgusted and her girlfriend giggled and snuggled into her side. Willow couldn’t bring up the energy to deny having done spells for weeks, almost an entire month, no matter the stomach cramps, bleeding noses where she awakes to find her pillow covered in enough blood to give a Vampire wet dreams and the mass heaving sessions bringing up everything she had eaten that week, until she could feel her own bones grating against her skin, where she felt like death would be too good.
She felt like a stranger and so had turned without saying a word and left. She had come to the cliffs and stared out at the ocean. So inviting, so cold. Pleading with her to make it right, to be her constant.
She began to walk to down the steep cliff face feeling the sharp rocks cut at her feet; she had kicked her shoes off at the top. She kept her eyes firmly fixed on the black of the deep until she reached the waters edge. Then taking a last breath, she stepped in; walking into the sea until she was up to her neck, the bottom plunged away and she kicked out in the freezing water moving her arms to her sides. Willow began to swim.
As she swam, with each stroke, she let the cold seep in and her thoughts seep out, no more did she want to think about how hurt she was that her friends- her family didn’t care. No more did she want to think about those hate filled glances sent her way as she entered the magic box and no more did she want to think about her aching bones where the magic, her essence had been sucked out. She swam further and further, her arms began to sag, feeling the strain of the pace that she had set on her numbing limbs, unused to the activity. Her legs foundered and she felt her lungs burn as they strived for oxygen; and yet still she swam on. Time had ceased to exist as she pounded the waves, moving farther away from the shore.
She remembered a line from a film that had caught her as extremely poignant at the time but seemed to adhere almost ironically to her situation. “I never saved anything for the swim back.”
As her tired arms gave in and her legs cramped, her heart gave a sigh of relief as she gently slipped beneath the lapping water. Staring up at the surface from under it, not having the energy or the inclination to flail uselessly or struggle for breath, she let a serene smile grace her features as blackness overtook, because you see, she didn’t save anything for the swim back.
“Breathe dammit!” she could hear the voice calling from far away “Willow, come on!”
It registered that whoever it was, was talking to her and she struggled to hear the words, after all she had been bought up to be a proper Lady, if someone spoke it was polite to listen.
“You’re not leaving me, not now, not like this.” She felt something touch her lips and then her chest “Wake the hell up, dammit!”
Willow awoke with a great heave as saltwater spilled from her lungs. She coughed- her throat raw in the chilly night.
“Come on Willow, breathe!” she looked up, taking in huge gasps of air, her system craving the oxygen even as she rallied against being revived
Spike sighed with relief as she once again breathed.
“You scared the crap out of me pet.” He said raggedly
Willow lay back on the sand, feeling the course grains under her skin; she could taste the faint taste of nicotine in her mouth.
“I thought Vampires had no breath, so they couldn’t give the kiss of life?” not the sort of conversation she had expected to have once she had been pulled away from death but then nothing in life turned out the way you expected- why should death be any different. She had never expected, once she walked into the water to wake and see the big bad Vampire of Sunnydale, kneeling by her side, dripping on her.
Spike smirked “Smoking must have exercised me breathing, and you lot said it was bad for you.”
At the reminders of the others Willow closed her eyes.
“Red?” his voice was panicky as he thought she was falling back into unconsciousness “Don’t you dare die on me.”
“I’m not.” She said softly, sadly. It was true, Spike had saved her life, and she didn’t dare die on him. He was so stubborn that he would probably find a way to bring her back just so he could kick her ass.
“No?” he said plainly disbelieving “I was at the cliffs Willow, I saw you walk into the damn ocean. Just what the hell did you think you were doing?”
She shrugged, unconcerned with the realism of her actions even when confronted with them. He had seen, he had to know. Despite the others’ assurances and degradations she knew he wasn’t stupid, he had to have figured it out.
“I was screaming at you but you didn’t hear me pet.” Spike moved his hand and swept her damp hair away from her face “Or couldn’t hear me, whatever. You meant to go that far into the ocean Willow, why?”
Wasn’t it obvious? Too many suicide attempts could be salvaged. People who took pills could have their stomachs pumped, same with death by alcohol. Asphyxiation could be reversed with a simple oxygen exchange; wrists could congeal and be sutured. But if no one knows where you are, in the middle of the sea and you had no breath left to get back, chances were…
Willow slowly opened her eyes and looked straight at him “Why not?”
Spike shuddered; feeling like something had just slithered across his spine. Here eyes were cold, colder than the icy sea he had plunged into to find her.
“Why not? Why not, why the hell not? Dammit Willow, what do you think…” he bit the last words off and clenched his jaw “Why?”
“I have nothing.” She fought hard to keep the tears in her eyes and not to let them trail down her cheeks. The wind this close to the sea was cruel, it stung at her face and hands reminding her that she had been whipped around in the cold comfort of the waves and had been taken from its finality, it’s constancy to be back in this maelstrom of confusion and pain.
“That’s not true.” He ground out “If you have love, if you can love then there is always something to live for.” She laughed hollowly
“If I have love? I haven’t seen my parents since before Graduation, the only person who ever understood me died the day Buffy came to Sunnydale. Oz cheated on me and then tried to kill me; the man *I* thought of as a father left because Buffy didn’t need him anymore, Xander is too wrapped up in screwing Anya to even notice that I’m alive. Tara is disgusted with what I did and now has a shiny new girlfriend who is automatically one of the gang without the whole magic using to put them off. Dawn hates me and Buffy? That bitch can’t even look at me without sneering, old reliable, little mousy Willow; the Slayers shadow finally got her comeuppance the shameless little junkie. So Spike tell me again what I have to live for.” She swallowed again “What good do I bring to anything, I’m a failure.”
It wasn’t self pity. No it was awareness, the bittersweet realisation of self that only comes when you have hit rock bottom and stand staring up at the edge of the pit with no desire to be saved. It begs no sympathy and needs no understanding.
“No.” he urged moving closer to her and pulling her so she was sitting upright “You’re not a failure Red, not at all, don’t you think that.”
“How can I not, I wasn’t academic enough for my parents, I wasn’t wolfy enough for Oz, I wasn’t Wicca enough for Tara, I wasn’t Slayer enough for Buffy and now? I’m just a junkie. I don’t even know who I am anymore.” So lost in expectations and stereotypes, labels, defining who you are by who you are with or what you do, the concept of being is discarded. When that is taken away then what is left?
“Listen to me.” Spike gripped her forearms hard enough to feel twinges in his head “You are not a failure, yeah so you made some bad mistakes and are paying for them. But you are strong enough to fight that and win, you are not a failure, if you were you’d still be doing the magic’s or probably dead. The very fact that you are here now proves how strong you are. You are wonderful and your so called friends don’t deserve you.”
“Spike.” she gasped as the tears began to leak “I don’t feel strong.”
He wanted to smile, but didn’t think it the time. He wanted to say to her that, that was all right. Because you find the hope, the strength, and your heart when you think there’s nothing left, and just when it feels like you’re drowning, that’s when you fight for every breath. Whilst you struggle to find the faith, the will, and the words to break though the silence and the pain, when it feels just like you’re dying- that’s a sign of life.
“I know love.” He wrapped his arms around her “Please Willow don’t ever try to kill yourself again.”
“Why, why do you care?” she pulled away to stare up into his blue eyes
“Because I care about you, Willow. Why do you think I spent so much time with you, watching you? I started to fall in love with you when I saw how strong you could be. It completely blew me away pet. I never knew that there existed such potential and wonder in the world and I’ve been around a long time.”
“You love me?”
“I do.” He stroked her surprised face “I know it might be a bit of a shock right now, but you need to hear this. I love you.”
The three most powerful words in the world crashed onto the beach and into her world, it occurred to her that no one had ever said them like that; like it was inevitable and yet wonderful, filling them with awe yet somehow being right at the same time. They clung to her icy heart the same way her clothes clung to her damp skin, sliding Goosebumps over her soul to match the ones on her arms. He didn’t speak them with ceremony, like he expected something back- they just were.
“I don’t know what to say.” She confessed “I never thought that you would…and I never-”
“Pet, I didn’t say that to make you feel obligated, you needed to hear them. I love you and I don’t want you to die-” he smirked “Well I wouldn’t want you to stay that way.”
“Eternity?” her eyes wide, what would it be like for someone to be there for her for eternity, to never leave.
“Yeah.” He whispered tenderly and bought his lips to hers in a kiss so gentle she thought she almost imagined it. A soft touch of two on two, millions from it have spun and yet it offered the most comfort to a broken girl on the edge of the world.
She lifted a shaking hand to his hair, it had gotten wet from his dash into the sea and washed all the gel out, it was springy and soft, curling around his face and nape.
“I don’t know if I can-” she didn’t want to hurt him, but she couldn’t risk her heart getting trampled on again. A fragile muscle that beats with enough intensity to shatter mountains. Easily broken in the wrong hands and not so easily mended in the right.
“I’m not asking you to.” he swallowed tightly “Sure it would be great if one day you could say it back and I am holding out for that, but right now. I just want to take care of you. Will you let me do that?”
“Protect me?” she asked barely able to hope “Help me, save me?”
He nodded with a sweet smile “Keep you, Love you.”
“Ok.” Her answer swelled his heart and he picked her up and held her against him. His clothes were saturated, leather sticking to his denim clad legs and his boots squelching as he walked, but he paid them no mind, when a man holds treasure in his arms and heaven in his hands discomfort is banished from awareness
“Come on pet. We have to get you dry; don’t want you to catch cold.”
Her voice was child-like “Can we go somewhere else, I don’t like Sunnydale anymore.”
“I’ll show you the world.” He promised and with a happy smile, she tucked herself back in his embrace. She had a long road in front of her, but it would be easier now, she had a champion, someone to hold her when the shaking got too bad, someone to hold her hair when she couldn’t keep anything down. Someone to tell her all the things she longed to hear.
Spike would protect her and keep her safe for all eternity. He was her constant.