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…I died, so many years ago

But you can make me feel….

The wind gently rustled through the trees as Buffy hurried through the woods, trying not to think. Trying, for once since she’d been brought back, not to feel.

…You’re scared, ashamed of what you feel….

Eventually, she’d head to The Magic Box, but for now, her destination was just… away. Away from the graveyard. Away from the vampire who lived there. Away from….

She shivered and wrapped her arms around herself, even though it was a warm night. Three days. She’d managed to stay away from Spike for three days after…. But then the weird singing had started, her own song forcing her to acknowledge the horrible, numbing emptiness she always felt. Except when….

…since I’m only dead to you, I’m saying stay away….

They’d both tried to pretend it had never happened. Buffy putting on a chirpy, cheerful act while Spike tried to be nonchalant while also trying to make her leave. And then he’d started to sing.

She shivered again as the wind through the leaves melded into quiet piano music and the soft sigh of a violin. No. Not again. She clamped her mouth shut, but couldn’t fight the magic. Her mouth opened against her will and another song poured out.

“Once upon a time
Isn’t that how the stories always start?
There was a time when everything was black and white
But now my whole world’s been torn apart
By the shades of grey.”

He’d been there for her from the moment she’d made it back home from her grave. A quiet, supportive presence when her friends had become too painful to be around. And then….

“Once there was a time
I knew just who I was. Well, most of the time.
I had some doubts along the way. Some stumbles here and there.
That’s just how it goes. Normal, not a crime.
But now it’s all gray.”

An endless, dreary existence that shouldn’t have been, stretching forward towards forever.

“Once upon a time is for a fairytale
But it’s through nightmare waters that I sail.
Ripped from heaven and into a life I dread.
My only comfort? The unholy dead.”

God, what was wrong with her? Something had to be wrong. Why else would she have…. She shuddered and hugged herself tighter as the memories she’d been fighting not to think about poured through her mind.

“Back before I died
I had feelings. Opinions and passion.
I walked the Slayer walk and talked the talk. But, you know
Also a girl who liked boys and fashion.
Now gray’s all I feel.”

Except for when she was with him. She’d felt safe. Almost at peace. And then…. The feel of his body under hers. The look of adoration and joyous disbelief in his eyes as she’d ripped open his shirt. Mouths and hands, and the soft, encouraging sounds he’d made when she’d used teeth and nails. The feel of him inside when she’d….

“A few years ago
You came and brought the grey into my life.
Not the dreary nothing, but all the shades in between
The colors of black and white. Peace and strife.
All the shades of grey.”

She’d disliked Angel when she first met him. She’d thought Riley was weird. Her first sight of Spike…. Everything with him had been strange and confusing from that moment. Enemy, ally, punching bag. Her only port in the storm.

“Once upon a time is for a fairytale
But it’s through nightmare waters that I sail.
Ripped from heaven and into a life I dread.
My only comfort, the unholy dead.”

Her thoughts circled back to that night, only a few days ago. His hands on her skin, trailing fire with each cool touch. Her own hands on his, leaving bruises as she reveled in her own power. In his feverish encouragement of that power.

“Always used to hear
Every cloud has a silver lining.
Don’t they know? Silver is just a sparkly shade of grey.
Polished up, anything can be shining
Even shades of grey.”

Was that what had happened? Had her depression and alienation from the world polished him up until she couldn’t resist? Or had his lo… affection for her done it? Had her perception changed, or had he?

“Before all of this
My friends had my back. Everything was light.
Now everything is dark. No more shades to speak of.
Except for you. You make it all alright.
With your shades of grey.”

Her arms fell to her sides as the music swelled up into the chorus. She sang it, giving voice to how she saw the world now that she’d been pulled back. Her anger over what her friends had done to her. They’d yanked her out of peace and rest to make their lives better. Easier. And Willow wanted to be thanked for it. Admired and praised. And so she’d….

“Oh, it used to be
I was full of life and safe at home
Now I’m lost and alone in the dark. Feeling nothing.
Except when with a corpse in monochrome
Learning shades of grey.”

That’s what she’d called him, after it was all over. She’d lain there for a moment, feeling fully satisfied and content before the revulsion and shame had set in. She’d scrambled up to her feet and into her discarded clothes. And when Spike had asked what was wrong….

“What’s wrong? This, this is what’s wrong. I’m wrong.” She laughed, a bitter burst of sound. “So wrong and tired of being alive that I just fucked a corpse.” She’d turned away from the hurt in his eyes, heading for the door. “I’m going to forget this ever happened. You’d better do the same.”

“Once upon a time
Is gone and now there’s only the here and now
Your shades of grey wash away the gray of no feeling
Evil by my side who kept his vow
Lost in shades of grey.”

And even after that, she’d gone back. Back to the man who had promised to take care of her sister and had done it, even though the person he’d made that promise to had died. Back to the man who made her feel safe, even though what she’d done made him a danger to her.

“Lost in all the…” she half sang, half whispered as the music started to fade, “…shades of grey.”

The music magic released her, and she fled to The Magic Box.

…and you can’t tell the ones you love.

You know they couldn’t deal…

Buffy stared at Giles, too stunned by what she was hearing to say anything. He wanted her to go rescue Dawn on her own? The others were protesting, including Spike, but she already knew what her friends would do. They’d follow Giles’s lead on this. She was the Slayer, after all. The big guns they’d brought back to solve all their problems without a thought or care about what she wanted. Why shouldn’t they stay safe and cozy in the Magic Box while she saved the day?

She looked at each of them. Where was the warmth? The support and coming together of friends who had become a family? Would they act any different if they knew what they’d done? It didn’t really matter, though, because Spike was right. They couldn’t deal. Ice settled in her gut at the thought. She was alone. Isolated. Locked out in the cold by the people who were supposed to care about her the most.

“Forget them, Slayer,” Spike said, glaring at the others in obvious disgust. “I’ve got your back.”

He’d sung about wanting her to leave him alone, but here he was, saying he had her back? Memories flickered through her mind of all the times he’d had her back in the past. And of the hurt in his eyes after…. She opened her mouth to say something cutting, but that wasn’t what happened. Music welled up around them as she backed away, and the beginning of a song burst out from her.

“I touch the fire, and it freezes me.
I look into it, and it’s black.
Why can’t I feel? My skin should crack and peel.
I want the fire back.”

She was vaguely aware of movement. Of transitioning from the main part of the shop to the training room. Vaguely aware of her friends and watcher back against the wall. Watching. Judging. But none of that mattered at the moment. Her focus was on Spike. Her part of the song was for him. He slowly approached her, her feet moving her backwards in sync with his steps. And he sang to her.

“In the cold, outside looking in.
A spark of warmth is all you lack.
It’s all too real, the way you make me feel.
We’ll get your fire back.”

He reached his hand out towards her, but she turned away, her arms wrapping around herself as she tried to put more distance between them. He’d always been able to do that. Look inside her and see everything. Including what she wanted to keep hidden, even from herself. And here he was, not offering to swoop in and save her, but to help. To have her back.

“It’s dark and I can’t find my way.
Why, my friends can never learn.
Lost and alone, where light has always shone.
Why can’t the spark return?”

He circled around her, slowly spiraling closer while she turned in place to keep him in sight.

“The torch I bear is scorching me.
This dead man has some warmth to share.
Why do you run, always fleeing from the sun?
You’ve got to know I care.”

She darted away from him, hugging herself tighter. No. She couldn’t give in. Not again. What she wanted… needed… wasn’t something she could get from him. It couldn’t be.

“I want colors, not shades of grey.
There’s no fire in the dead and cold.
It’s not the truth, but I’ll scream it from the roof.
It’s my falsehood to hold.”

She froze, her words reverberating through her head. Oh, god. What was wrong with her? She couldn’t really feel that way. Could she? Memories flooded through her mind again. All the times when Spike had had her back. Including when she’d gazed down at him from the stairs while he vowed to protect Dawn. Wasn’t that what he was trying to do? Go with her to rescue Dawn while Giles and her friends turned their backs. Throwing her a floatie while the others tossed her into the deep end to sink or swim.

He stalked towards her before circling again.

“You’re in my heart, and I’m in yours.
Can’t deny the truth anymore.
Why can’t you see? Please just reach out to me.
What are you waiting for?”

Once again, he held out his hand to her. But this time…. Her arms loosened from around herself, and she had to turn away before they betrayed her. She spiraled, the one who was circling him as she increased the distance. He’d been the only one on her side since she’d come back, but she couldn’t let that influence her. Couldn’t let any of her pain influence her, no matter how hard it was.

“I died, not all that long ago.
Stolen from my reward by the pack.
You can make me feel, maybe start to heal,
But I want heaven back.”

She heard startled gasps from the others, but it didn’t matter at the moment. All that mattered was Spike and what they were singing to each other. The words that had just poured out of her. That was the main issue, wasn’t it? She’d been trying so hard to live in this world, but she didn’t want to be here. She didn’t want to heal and make it work. She just wanted to go back. Or at least have some kind of general acknowledgment of what she’d lost.

“There’s no undoing what they’ve done.
Can’t reverse the hourglass sand.
All that you’ve lost, we can reduce the cost.
If you’ll just take my hand.”

Now he was the one turning in place, watching her as she circled away. Watching as her direction changed. Spiraling back towards the center. Towards him instead of away. As much as she wanted heaven, she wanted free from the numbing dread pushing down on her even more. Free from the depression. Would it be enough if she just….

“You make it all sound so easy,
But what if it’s all far too much?
Can I really feel, can I start to heal
If I just reach out to….”

Her spiral brought her right in front of his outstretched hand. All she had to do was…. As the music began to fade, her hand reached out towards him. Their fingers brushed. And then intertwined.


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