Things Held in the Heart
A Spike fan forwarded this to me, saying the author said I could feel free to post this on a website, so, here it is! It’s a fan’s addendum to the final Buffy episode “Chosen”. Very emotional...brought tears to my eyes.
May 30, 2003, Ambassador Hotel
“Here,” Angel held out his hand to Buffy. There was an envelope in it, still sealed. On the front her name was written in Spike’s flowing script. For a long moment she just held it and stared at it, then her eyes filled with tears and she couldn’t see anything at all.
“He gave it to me to give to you, if...” He frowned a little. “If you lived and he didn’t.”
Buffy turned the envelope over in her hands, still unable to see it clearly. “I didn’t open it,” Angel continued, watching her. “Even though I wanted to.”
Buffy wiped her eyes. “Thanks.”
“I wasn’t sure I should give it to you.” He looked aside. This was hard. “It’s not like I want to do Spike any favors. But I know you had...feelings for him.”
She looked pained. “Yeah.”
They stood looking at each other, uncomfortable, not really having anything left to say. She clearly wasn’t going to read the letter while he was there.
“Where will you go?” Angel asked her, breaking the awkward moment.
“Santa Monica, for a couple of weeks,” she said. “I have a cousin there. We’re gonna do the beach house thing and just rest a little. Then I’m going to meet Giles and the others in Cleveland – he’s already bought me the ticket.” She smiled. “You know I was a little short on funds since my bank was sucked into the Hellmouth.” She made a face. “Who am I kidding? I was a little short on funds before my bank was sucked into the Hellmouth.”
“If you want I can give you more—” Angel said quickly.
“No, thanks. You’ve already given me enough. All I need right now is a few clothes and my duffel bag. You know me: Have stake, will travel.”
“You have another stake already?”
Buffy pulled open the nightstand drawer and removed a wickedly sharp, straight stake. “Meet Ms. Pointy.”
Angel grinned. “Well, if you ever come back the Los Angeles way...”
Buffy smiled, a little wistfully. “I’ll be sure to look you up.”
“Right. Well.” Angel leaned down and pressed his lips briefly to Buffy’s. “Take care of yourself.”
She closed the door behind him and returned Ms. Pointy to the nightstand drawer. She sat on the bed, her back against the pillows, and drew up her knees, laying Spike’s letter across them.
She was afraid to open it.
It was hard to think about Spike. A knot formed in her throat and started to ache. To think that Spike was gone was somehow beyond believing; he had simply always been there for her. He was the one person in all the world that she could talk to without filtering or mincing her words, and he would always know exactly what she meant and exactly how she was feeling. Sometimes he knew better than she did. To imagine him really gone.... She rubbed a hand across her forehead. She half expected him to come walking through the door, black coat swinging around his heels, moving in counterpoint to his distinctive stride. He’d greet her and offer some teasing remark, tilting his head and grinning insouciantly as he fished in his pocket for a cigarette. She’d complain about the smoke as he lit it, and he’d snap closed that silver lighter he liked so much and blow the smoke out anyway. He’d read her mood – he was always so good at that, and he’d adjust his demeanor accordingly, always knowing just what to do and what to say. And suddenly she’d feel alive again, and her problems would be smaller and the good things would be bigger and she wouldn’t feel so alone in the world.
She ran her fingers over the cool front of the envelope. She had come to rely on him for so many things. He always listened, always understood, always gave her whatever she needed without asking for anything in return. She could always count on him to take her side, to watch her back, to stand strong. A tear escaped her eye and slid over her cheek. That’s what he did in the end, she thought. He stood strong.
She turned the envelope over and slid her nail along the corner. It was stuck tight; Angel hadn’t tampered with it. She remembered Spike’s face in those last moments, remembered his eyes when she told him that she loved him. She had meant it, although perhaps it was not quite the same kind of love that he had always had for her. Even then he’d understood, and forgiven her for having a heart so much smaller than his own.
She slid the nail along the line of the envelope’s flap. The paper made a tearing noise that she felt to the bone. She took the note out, a single sheet of yellow lined paper, hastily torn from its pad, the top still jagged. She held the folded sheet and closed her eyes, but the picture that came to mind was not a gentle one; instead she saw Spike channeling the power of the amulet with his own soul, glowing with an otherworldly brilliance that turned their enemies to dust. He wasn’t afraid, she thought. Even at the end, he wasn’t afraid.
Tears slipped silently down her face and she smoothed the yellow paper out against her leg. She blinked, trying to clear her eyes enough to read it, but finally had to wipe them with her sleeve.
He had written the note with a ballpoint pen, but somehow had managed to make the letters look beautiful anyway.
Please forgive my haste with this letter, but it occurred to me only moments ago that I could write it and still catch up to Angel. I’ll have to trust the bloody poof to give it to you. If it turns out that neither of us makes it, he’ll at least have a good laugh before the hordes of Hell tear his throat out.
I’m writing this, Buffy, because I know that I‘m going to die. I knew the minute you placed the amulet in my hand what it would require of me, and I want you to know that it is something that I’m willing to give. If you’re reading this letter, then it means we were successful; the First has been defeated, the Hellmouth has been closed and you are alive to tell the tale. I can’t ask for more than that.
We’ve had a good run together, Buffy. You know that I love you more than I’ve ever loved anything or anyone in my life. I’m not sure you understand the breadth and depth of it, but maybe now that’s just as well. I know that I mean something to you, and I think one day, when you look back at our time together, you will be able to remember me with love. I haven’t asked you for anything, but I will ask for that, remember me.
I have to say goodbye now, if I’m going to catch up to Angel, and it’s hard because that’s never been a word that I’ve been able to say to you. It’s ironic that in my last written words, there is no poetry, but for me the poetry will have to be in my memories of you. I told you once before that one of us must go on living – I would always choose it to be you.
So live, and be happy, for both of us.
Just a short note, scrawled out quickly on the paper at hand, and yet it broke her heart. Buffy let the paper slip off onto the bed and sobbed, her forehead against her up drawn knees. But the pain caught her too tightly and she slid to her side, curled up on herself and gave into it. She wished for Spike’s arms around her now, for the solid comfort of his chest, the deep rumble of his voice when he spoke into her hair, the touch of his hands. For the first time it occurred to her how very, very hard it was going to be to live without him.
She would remember. She would always remember.
April 6, 2066
Sarah climbed down the attic stairs and carried the box to her grandmother’s bedside. “Is this the one you wanted, Gram?”
Buffy reached for her glasses. She slipped them on with shaking hands (that had started on her eighty-fourth birthday) and smiled at her granddaughter. “That’s the one.”
Sarah sat on the edge of the bed and placed the box in her grandmother’s lap. She watched curiously as Buffy opened it. There wasn’t much inside. A few rings, some wire rimmed glasses with broken lenses, a square of khaki cloth, a lock of hair, a pirate’s eye patch and a piece of folded yellow paper. Her grandmother touched each thing lovingly, her hand lingering on the paper.
“What is that stuff, Gram?”
Buffy smiled at her granddaughter. At twenty-two, Sarah was a petite blonde woman who was getting her college degree in physics. Buffy always found that amusing, a descendent of hers getting a physics degree!
“Memories,” she told Sarah. She looped her finger through the first ring and held it out. “That’s my class ring from Sunnydale High. I never did get a college ring.” Sarah examined it, and then tried it on. It fit. “You must’ve been wearing it the day Sunnydale fell into the sinkhole.”
“Yes.” Buffy accepted the ring back, then held up the other one. Slender and silver, it was faced with a pentacle that seemed to be made out of twisted vines. “This one used to belong to your Aunt Willow.” Sarah’s eyes met Buffy’s; Aunt Willow (who wasn’t really related to her, but who was possibly her favorite aunt) had just passed away last year. She tried the ring on, admired the craftsmanship and handed it back.
“This,” Buffy held up the hair, dark and curling gently, “is a lock of your great Aunt Dawn’s hair from when she was a girl.”
“It’s brown!” Sarah exclaimed.
“Yes, it is. That’s how she started out!” They both laughed.
“What’s that, Gram? The pirate patch?” Sarah pointed.
Buffy held the black patch between her fingers. “That belonged to my dear old friend Xander.”
“Oh, you’ve mentioned him before. I didn’t realize he wore an eye patch.”
“For the last fifty odd years of his life.” She ran her fingers over the black cloth. “Didn’t slow him down much though. I think his biggest complaint was that he couldn’t hit a baseball anymore.”
“Didn’t his son get a baseball scholarship?”
“Yes. He played for the Cardinals. That’s why Xander complained – he coached little league from the time Timmy was in third grade.”
“Must’ve done all right if the kid grew up to play for the pros.”
“Yes, he was a good father.”
“How about this?” Sarah picked out the square of cloth.
“Ah,” Buffy said. “That’s a piece of the jacket I was wearing the day Sunnydale fell...into the sinkhole.”
“You saved a piece of your jacket?” Sarah was perplexed. Her grandmother was not usually so sentimental. She handed the cloth back to Buffy, who looked at it strangely. “It was a .... big day,” she said softly. “This is from my sleeve. I hugged them all that day, before it happened. I didn’t have anything else from some of them. When I threw the jacket away, I cut this piece off. It just seemed right to keep something.”
Sarah regarded her grandmother a moment, sensing that this story was much bigger than she had previously thought. She started to ask but Buffy waved a hand in a gesture that Sarah knew meant she would learn no more of the story today. Buffy traded the square of cloth for the broken glasses.
“Were those yours?” Sarah asked.
Buffy lifted them gently, careful of the cracked lenses. “No, these belonged to Rupert Giles. One of many, many pairs I watched him break.” She grinned. “A few he cleaned to death.”
“Oh! You’ve talked a lot about him too. The man who wrote the books! So all this stuff is from Sunnydale?”
“Yup,” Buffy said, her expression happy, and for a moment Sarah could imagine what her grandmother must have looked like when she was a girl. Buffy returned the glasses to the box, still smiling. Sarah smiled back. “Okay, Gram, one left. What’s the paper? A letter?”
The smile left Buffy’s face and to Sarah’s horror, her old eyes filled with tears. Buffy unfolded the paper and read the letter silently, the tears coursing freely down her powdered cheeks. When she finished, she closed her eyes a moment, then folded the paper and put it back into the box.
“What is it, Gram? Can I read it?”
Buffy looked at her and for a moment Sarah felt the full strength of her grandmother’s personality. “No. I want your promise that you will never read it, or allow it to be read.”
“Because mine are the only eyes that have ever seen it, and that’s the way it should be. Promise?”
Sarah blinked, surprised. “All right, I promise. Is it a love letter?”
Buffy hesitated. “Yes.”
“Did Granddad know about it?”
Buffy shook her head a little. “No, he never did. I knew the man who wrote it before I knew your grandfather.”
“But you kept his letter.”
“Some things,” Buffy said wistfully, “You just hold in your heart.”
For a moment Buffy looked so sad that Sarah worried that she’d tired her too much. She reached out to close the box, but Buffy stopped her, removing the letter and holding it against her frail chest. “I’m going to keep it with me tonight.”
“Okay,” Sarah conceded, wondering at her grandmother’s odd behavior. She lifted the box and placed it on the nightstand beside the bed. She was about to get up when Buffy put a hand on her arm. “I want you to do something for me, Sarah. Something important that I’ll trust only to you.”
“What, Gram?” Sarah asked gently. There wasn’t much she wouldn’t do for her grandmother.
“It might sound odd, but when I.....go, I want you to put this letter in with me. Don’t tell anyone, just do it. All right?”
The thought of losing her grandmother brought quick tears to Sarah’s eyes, but she blinked them back and nodded. “Sure, Gram. But why?”
Buffy held the yellow paper against her as she went back through the pages in her mind. “Because I remember. I’ve always remembered.”
But Buffy didn’t answer, and her eyes held such a faraway look that Sarah didn’t press her. Instead she pulled up the quilt a little and patted her grandmother’s arm, then stepped quietly out into the hall.
“My William,” Buffy said softly, into the empty room.
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