Bedtime Stories

There are different kinds of love.

There's the love he felt for Drusilla. Dark and shivery, lip-licking, blood-lapping, crueler than anything I could ever imagine. Torturing children for fun, disembowling passerby for sex games. Codependent and dysfunctional. Definitely not Dr. Laura approved. Though quite possibly Dr. Ruth approved.

Then there's what he felt for Buffy. Obsession? Probably. Soulless and evil? Well, at first, but he did get the soul eventually, and he still felt something. Sick and twisted, definitely. Passion, of course. Admiration? Covetousness? None of it healthy, but I'm not really one to talk. She has some kind of amazing animal magnetism, and not the kind of it makes squirrels stick to her clothes, either.

For Anya and Willow, I think there was genuine affection. Affection born of familiarity, contempt, and the exhaustion that left him too tired for fruitless hate. Besides, anyone who spends enough time around either of my girls loves them eventually. Okay, that's not true of Anya. But I love her. Loved. Loved.

And me? Was it love? Hatred? I'd have said it was just dislike mixed with vampiric lust and post-Buffy repression, but... He came to visit me in the hospital, once, did you know that? Buffy had some urgent errand for Willow, so they asked him to sit with me. I was asleep; I'd never notice. But they'd lowered my dose of Percoset that morning, and I woke up early. He was just sitting, stroking my hair, staring out the window. Yes, stroking my hair. I was woozy from the drugs, so I wasn't as confused as I should have been. I must have made some sound, because he looked at me, then. Turned away from whatever faraway land he'd been gazing at -- unless he was just enthralled by the parking garage roof. Maybe all the Mini Coopers reminded him of home, or something -- and met my eyes. My memories are hazy from the drugs, but I think he smiled at me, and touched his lips gently to my forehead, right above the bandage. Cool lips.

Later -- in what was left of later -- he pretended there was some macho chest-beating lust thing going on. We were both feeling very end-of-the-worldy, so it wasn't like there was much difficulty in me playing along. It wasn't just playing, either.

So you ask if a vampire is capable of feeling love, girls? I don't even know if I am. But yes, he helped save the world. Tried to destroy it a couple of times, but practically the only thing he ever succeeded at was saving it. How's that for an epitaph?