I Love You

She sat at the foot of their bed, watching, but not quite watching. Her head was half turned away, but her eyes looked sidelong, so she could see them. Nothing but them. She was afraid to face them full on, however. She didn't want to move, didn't want to be here.

They reminded her so much of what she has lost. Sitting there, seeing them lying side by side, Spike's arm slung over Xander and face pressed against his love's chest, all she could think of was everything that she has ever lost.

Every one. Tara thought of Willow first, because that was the most obvious. Not the most recent loss, but seeing the two men lying together was an obvious reminder of her girlfriend, the woman she had pledged her heart to and nearly lost her mind to.

That was the way of lovers, she'd been told. They drive you crazy. Only Tara hadn't thought it would be taken so literally.

There were other losses that crowded into her mind. Buffy's death, Giles' leaving. Buffy's mother's death, her own mother's dying. Losing her entire family when she ran away from what she later discovered were lies meant to tie her down.

There has been so much loss in her life, she was surprised she could ever see anything but. She wondered, sometimes, how it was that she did not drag through the day, weighed down by the icicles of the dying, dripping from her arms and falling to shatter on the ground and cut her feet to pieces.

She didn't want to think of death. Apparently unwillingly, she turned her head and looked at Spike, holding Xander. It seemed like only days since they had told everyone, shared their shock and bewilderment at the feelings they had. It seemed like only days, but it has been almost a year since Xander came to her and asked her, quietly, how she told herself she was gay, much less anyone else.

She cannot understand how they had missed this, how Spike and Xander had been unable to see what they felt -- seeing them now, seeing them together these last several months, she has seen joy and love like she can only find in her own memory. They fought, and annoyed each other, and nagged -- and they kissed and grappled and disappeared halfway through whatever event had brought them to gather with friends, unable to keep their hands off each other long enough to avoid embarrassing anyone. So wrapped up in each other it bewildered her that they had not felt something of it, years before.

Tara remembered love like that. It was easy to remember -- she could see it on the faces of the two men before her. Entwined in one another, she could only give her thanks that Anya knew before Xander did, and had been the first to ask him the difference between comfort, and passion. Tara didn't know how Anya had let him go -- unless Xander hadn't been the only one to feel that dull, nameless nothing in his heart that coloured the love he did feel. But once she had let go, and the inevitable emotional wounds had begun to heal, Xander had somehow found the courage to tell Spike what *was* in his heart.

Actually, the common belief among their friends was that Xander had gone to Spike and they'd got into a fight, shouting insults at each other until they'd confessed that they wanted each other, at top volume. It had taken awhile for them to act upon their revelation, but they had, and Tara has never seen anyone as happy as Xander has been this last year.

Spike had probably been happy, as well, but he hid it better. Tara smiled at the thought. The smile faded, however, as she continued to look at Spike. He was sleeping deeply, now, but would wake soon enough. The sun would be going down in another hour, and his vampire's instincts would wake him even if nothing else did. He would wake to find himself pressed against the man he loved more than life, wake to find their arms and legs entwined like there was no separating them -- and whether or not there was a witch sitting at the foot of their bed and watching, wouldn't matter.

Tara wiped her eyes, succeeding only in smearing the tears across her cheek. Carefully, in case Spike was less deeply asleep than she thought, she stood up from the bed. She moved around to the side of the bed, and leant over to give Xander's cheek a kiss. Then she clutched her hands together, and moved around to the other side.

Spike had begged her, and she could not find it in her heart to refuse him. She leant down to give his cheek a kiss, as well. Then she raised her hands, and quickly plunged the stake into Spike's chest. The burst of dust covered the bed, and the body, in fitting farewell.