Human Weakness

by Laikokae

* * * * * You were supposed to live forever. It's kinda implied in the whole 'immortal' title, you know, the living forever bit. It's kinda expected. Required. Part of your resume. As advertised in the brochure. But then, God knows you never were one for sticking to the titles that were given to you. Fool. Failure. Heartless. Evil. Vampire. No, you never were what you were supposed to be. What they wanted you to be. What they tried to make you. Buffy cried for you, you know. I almost laughed when I saw the fat tears rolling down her cheeks and the anguish in her eyes. I almost laughed, because I knew that if the tears weren't for you, if it wasn't your death she was mourning, you would've laughed too. You would've mocked her mercilessly for mourning the other side. "Them and us, Slayer," you would've told her. "Draw a line in the bloody sand, for chirstsake. Never were too good at picking teams, were you? First you're boffing the other side and now you're grieving them." You would've completely ignored the fact that your lines were just as blurred as hers. That your standards were just as grey. And we wouldn't have questioned you, because we already knew and we knew that you did too. You didn't have to fight on our side. Not even with the chip. We knew that. That was the real reason Buffy never got around to staking you. Well, at first, anyway. After awhile, we got to think of you as a part of the gang. A whiny, asshole-like, mostly reluctant part of the gang, but part of the gang, nonetheless. You were family. Not that we'd ever tell you that. We used to sit around the Magic Box on slow afternoons and speculate on all the possible ways you could've betrayed us, had us killed, if only you'd ever really wanted to. The Order of Teraka. Drusilla and Darla could've been easily convinced to make a visit, if only to punish Angel. Anyanka's male counterpart could've been summoned to grant you a wish since you had been scorned by Dru. The options were endless. Buffy came up with broadcasting the Slayer's whereabouts, so that every demon in town could've come at her at once. Anya's favourite was gathering together an army of minions with Harmony and turning us one by one, so you could use us to turn then rest and then torture us for eternity. Willow was certain that magic would've by-passed the chip since the Initiative had no real idea of how magic worked. Giles even chipped in with a suggestion of having us all turned into demons, curtesy of the spell Ethan used on him and then hunting us down. But you never did. Never turned on us, never betrayed us, except to try and get rid of your chip. And we could forgive you for that, even if you never realised we did. They used to spend a lot of time speculating on the why of it, but I never joined in. I already knew. You tried so damn hard to be the biggest evil on the face of the planet, to be the Big Bad, but no matter how hard you worked, no matter how evil you tried to be, you always ended up doing good. Human weakness. Angelus had it, thanks to Buffy. The Mayor had it because of Faith. Drusilla and Darla both had it for Angelus. Even you had it. Especially you. You were too human when you were human, Spike. And you were much, much, much too human as a vampire. Yes, you killed. Yes, you wreaked havock and mayhem and often made our lives hell. And yes, you had the sharpest tongue this side of the Pacific, behind Buffy of course. But you there was still a part of you that felt like a human did. Loved like a human did. And that part always came first with you. They used to spend hours at a time speculating on what was going on in that head of yours. But after the first time you risked your life for me - the first time you bandaged my wounds, stopped my bleeding and held me against your chest and gently stroked my hair on the way to the hospital, and clung tightly to my hand - after that first time, they stopped. And yeah, nothing really changed. You were still an asshole to most everyone. Giles still groaned at your jokes. Willow still blushed furiously whenever you graced us with one of your more colorful witticisms. And Buffy still beat you up on a regular basis and threatend you with a good staking every other day. Nothing really changed, except me. I was, as usual, the last to catch on. I started to see you in a whole new light. I had long given up the idea that you were pure evil, but suddenly I had to upgrade you from annoying ally to something so much more. Something I wasn't prepared for. And yeah, there was denial and self-loathing. Until one day you finally just turned up at my doorstep with a carton of beer and sat beside me on my couch, staring at your hands as you told me what Giles had told you after the debacle with Ethan and the Fyarl demon. That perhaps this had all happened for a reason. "You don't think things just happen for no bloody reason, do you?" You were lounging on the couch beside me, your cool blue eyes regarding me with a mixture of curiousity and exasperation and something else I couldn't find a name for. "Don't they?" I asked, my voice tinted slightly with uncertainty. I watched you warily and tried desperately to remember exactly how we had gotten onto this subject, but ended up at a loss. For obvious reasons, the topic made me nervous, sending all sorts of butterfly flitters through my insides. "'Course not," you snorted contemptuously at the very idea. "There's a pattern to it. Some things are just meant to happen and nothing can stop them from happening. Otherwise everything would wind up like a pig's breakfast." I blinked. "That was kind of...poetic." I narrowed me eyes teasingly. "Who are you and what have you done with Spike?" You snorted with laughter this time. "What? I'm not allowed to be poetic, just because I'm an evil, souless vampire?" I watched your expression shift as you thought about what you had just said. "Alright, you've got a point, whelp. But trust me. I know about these things, pet." A reminiscent smile played at the edges of your lips. "I lived with Dru for most of a bleedin' century after all," you pointed out. "My Wicked Goddess may have a been a little eccentric an' all, but she knew Fate. Even claimed to have a teaparty with her once, but I'm not too sure about that." The butterfly flitters escalated, making me fidget. "This conversation is giving me the wiggins," I admitted. "The point, pet," you regarded me affectionately. "Is that certain things are meant to happen." "I think we covered that, Spike," I replied quickly, my hands still twisting nervously in his lap. "Did the record jump or something?" "I hadn't finished," you protested indignantly. "The point is certain things are meant to happen and we're s'posed to let 'em." "Okay, fine. Note to self: Let things happen." "And if we're s'posed to shag, I think we'd better shag." My eyebrows shot up my forehead. I struggled to regain my composure, but failed miserably. "Ohhh, I get it. You were just spouting all that fate crap to get into my pants." It was a typical Xander-reflex. Fall back on humour when the situation gets tense. "Next you'll be telling me my eyes are limpid pools of loveliness and my hair is like gossamer." "I bloody won't be," you protested. "You're worse than a bleedin' girl, you are." "Am not!" "Are too! Limpid pools of loveliness my arse!" "You're the souless demon who's suddenly decided to become Poet Guy just to get smoochies!" "I bloody did not. I was just saying some things are s'posed to happen. 'Sides," you continued indignantly. "If I *was* going to use poetry, I would've come up with something a damn sight better than 'limpid pools' and 'gossamer hair'. I used to be a poet, you know." My eyes practically fell out of his head at that. "You what?!?" "Back when I was human," you explained, frowning. "Wasn't that good, actually, but I could still manage something a little better than those bleedin' lines you were spouting." "Go on, then." I watched delightedly as your eyes widened. "What?!" I raised an eyebrow slyly. "You want a shag. I want some poetry. Spill your cold heart out to me, and I might just do you." You snorted at that. "Hate to burst your bubble, pet, but I do *not* need poetry to get you in the sack." I smirked. "You haven't had much luck in that department, yet, Bleachboy." You sidled closer to me, close enough so that our thighs and hips were brushing slightly. You leaned forward and lightly nuzzled my neck. "I want you," you growled in my ear. "I should just take you," you threatend, and it was all I could do not to beg you to do just that. Instead I covered the reaction you were having on me. "That didn't even rhyme," I pointed out. You were not deterred one bit. "Wasn't s'posed to," you informed me, before pressing your lips lightly against my pulse point, just nicking it with the tip of your tongue. I pulled back and out of reach before you could increase the pressure of the kiss. I gave you a stern look, arms crossed over my chest. "No poetry, no shag," I told you firmly. You made a frustrated noise in his throat. "Alright, fine, whatever," you sighed dramatically and rolled your eyes. "Roses are red," you quoted. "Violets are blue, Shut the hell up, And let me fuck you." I grinned in triumph. "And they say romance is dead." You hooked your hand and around the back of my neck and pulled my face close to your own. "Shut up and kiss me, you jammy git," you ordered. And I was only too happy to oblige. It was about a week, I think, before the others found out. I never was that good at keeping secrets. And you were never that good at subduing those demonstrative instincts of yours. I can't remember how many times I had to slap your hand away from me that week. And everytime you'd flash me that mischeivous, boyish grin, complete with a sly twinkle in your eyes. The one that always made me cave. The one you used against me mercilessly to get your way. It was that same grin that had me making out with you against a mausoleum when we were supposed to be patrolling and was therefore, indirectly responsible for us getting caught. The reaction wasn't anything like I expected. But then, like I said, I was always the last one to catch on. I expect anger and recriminations, followed by a stake pointed at both our chests. Instead I got Buffy doubling over with laughter at the expressions on both our faces, our tangled position and our ruffled clothes. And instead of threatening one or both of us with dire consequences, she quickly called out to the others to "come and see!". That was when things finally changed for real. You moved in with me, Buffy started asking for information instead of trying to beat it out of you and you...well, you didn't change a bit, but we never expected you to. Never wanted you to. It took us forever to get the 'L' word out. So long, in fact that the Scooby's betting pool about when and how we'd finally say it had reached quite a small fortune. Willow finally won with 'in the heat of an arguement, at least six months after they got together, followed by a heated kiss', and she was pretty damn close. That kiss wasn't just heated, it was *on fire*. But in the end, we only had a year together, before you saved my life for the last time. And yeah, I feel fucking cheated. You were immortal. You were supposed to live forever. You were supposed to hang around until I was setting up in the retirement home, so that you could make fun of my dentures and play practical jokes on my neighbours. I was supposed to have a lifetime with you. A flawed lifetime, made complicated by your immortality, and filled with stupid, silly moments and problems and bickering and your bad-ass British vamp attitude. I was supposed to die in my sleep, with you lying beside me, arms wrapped tightly around me, forehead leaning against mine, whispering sweet nothings to me. I was supposed to die, comforted by the knowledge that you were living on, that you would still exist long after me and that the world would be a better place for it. And no, it wouldn't have been perfect, but it would've been damn close. Instead, you're gone. And I didn't even get to hold you while you died, I didn't get to say goodbye, whisper that I loved you, that I will always love you, one last time. Instead, I got to see the terrified look in your eyes and your mouth forming around a word you didn't have time to finish before you crumbled to dust. I crumbled to the ground right after you, desperately searching through the dirt and the dust, trying to find something of you to cling to, something to hold, to have. But the cemetary was dusty and I never could work out which dust belonged to you. It took all of them to drag me away from that cemetary that night. It took all of them, to keep me away from sharp objects and steep drops and tranquilizers for the weeks and months that followed. And yeah, I screamed and I cried and I begged for you to come back. I was half-insane with grief. I wanted to die. I didn't want to live without you. I didn't want to live in a world without you in it. In my more lucid moments, I begged with Willow to end my suffering, knowing that she was the one most likely to break. And she almost did. So many times. But every time, just before I believed I would get relief, her eyes would harden and her little face would settle into her 'resolved' expression, and she put her hands on her hips and glare at me. "Xander Harris," she would say to me. "I've known you my whole life and you have never once given up on life. And I'm not about to let you start now." And then she would hug me so hard that I thought my ribs break and promise me that she would get me through this. In the end, the Powers That Be threw me a curve ball. A huge tick in the 'ironic' column. The last remedy anybody was expecting. Angel. No, Bleachboy, I did not 'shack up' with the 'big pouf'. I told you I would only love one man until I die, and it was you. Is you. Always will be you. Always. But, however much of a 'ponce', as you'd say, Angel may or may not have been, the moment he felt your death he was on his way down here. And if you think Buffy on a revenge trip was a sight for sore eyes, you should've seen Angel. He ripped through the town like a hurricane until everyone remotely related to your death was chopped up into tiny little pieces. Funny thing was, he didn't know about us until he got down here after your death. I don't know if our communication just lapsed or if someone just didn't bother to mention it. He stormed into Giles', where the gang had been keeping me since your death, after his revenge trip and Giles asked him if he could speak with me, try and talk some sense into me, since everyone else had tried and no one had had any luck. I don't think Angel really understood why Giles wanted him to talk to me, since he didn't know about us, but nonetheless he agreed. He pushed open the door to Giles' spare room without knocking and the moment he stepped into the room, his bowed head jerked upwards and he gasped "Spike?" and then stared at me in shock. It took me a moment to realise what had happened. But I finally realised that he must've smelt you on me and for a brief instant thought his Childe was still alive. And that's when I knew. Not to go all Harlequin on you, but that's when I knew that a part of you belonged to me. That a part of you would always be with me, be a part of me. And for the first time since your death, I didn't want to die. I remembered with sudden clarity, every moment we had together. I remembered leaving you at home, bored and coming home to find half the furniture nailed to the walls and ceiling and vowing never to leave you bored again. I remembered the way your hand rested against the small of my back, every time we walked anywhere together. I remembered the psychotically childish pillow fights we had to the extent that the neighbours called the cops and we had to face Sunnydale's finest all flushed and ruffled and I tried explain that no, we weren't trying to kill each other, and it wouldn't happen ever again, while you kept on making lewd gestures behind their backs. I remembered finding you asleep without me, wrapped around a pillow, sucking your thumb and murmuring my name. I still have the polaroid in my wallet. You were so beautiful. I remembered your ridiculously complicated plot to raise the hem of Buffy's favourite skirt half a centimetre every week and the fact that all you had to do was give me that adorably mischeivous grin to get me to be your partner in crime. I remembered lying in your arms after that first time, just staring into each other's eyes, too afraid to go to sleep in case it all turned out to be a dream too good to be true. I remembered the beautiful, sleek grace of your street fighting and the similar grace I got to witness as you crawled up my body like a panther stalking its prey. But most of all I remembered the sides of you that no one else got to see. I remembered catching you writing poetry about a beautiful dark eyed boy with hair as dark as night and a soul as pure as sunshine. And yeah, it was convuluted and wordy, but it was yours and it was about me and you, so I could not help but love it. I remembered finding you grumpily avoiding a corner of the room and discovering that it was because there was a rat there and the big bad had an intense fear of furry rodents. I remembered you shaking in my arms after a particularly fierce nightmare and begging me to never leave you. To never let you go. I remembered watching prime time television with you, and listening to you bag out all the main characters, only to then 'ah' and 'oh no' at all the apporpiate intervals. I remembered starting a word game with you that ended up going on for the best part of a week until we very nearly drove everyone else crazy. I remembered sitting on the couch, curled up against you, hands twined with yours, and thumb wrestling, until you decided to cheat by very effectively distracting me in the middle of a match. And I remembered that I got to see parts of you that no one else ever got to. And I finally realised that if I die, all those memories, all those moments would die with me. That the part of you I had would no longer be in the world, and the world would be worse for it. And I cried, but quietly this time. And for once not because of the pain, but because I had forgotten and remembered that I still had a part of you. And Angel, my once nemesis and yours too, sat down on the bed beside me and gathered me in his arms and held me tight as we both cried. You were immortal. You were supposed to live forever. But I'm starting to get that things don't always turn out the way that they're supposed to. That we love and we lose and that it's okay. And that we don't always move on or let go completely and that's okay too. And I'm not going to pretend it's easy, because it's not. Every moment of every day I remember that you're not with me anymore and it sometimes feels as though my world is falling apart at the seams all over again. And sometimes, all I want to do is die. To hope that something loves us enough to bring us back together wherever it is that we go after death. And maybe something does. Maybe I'll get to be with you again. But not now, not yet. I'm going to grow old and die in my sleep. Every photo I have you will be crinkled beyond recognition from too much holding and stained from too much weeping. And it's not going to even be close to perfect, but I'm going to keep on living, because it's the hard way. Because I've never given up on life, yet, and I'm not about to start. Because the Life Deal is part of a package. You take the good with the bad. I had one year with you. One whole year. So, on the scale of relativity, I would say I pretty much lucked out. Big time. And you can't really ask for more than that. End