I can't sleep --a condition I suspect I might as well get used to-- so I'm going over my argument with Blair and Buffy, thinking of what they said. I hate to admit it but they did make a couple of valid points, like the fact that even after all these years I still can't bring myself to see Spike as anything but a demon. I remember our first encounter, back then it was so simple. I would like to believe that it was the chip that made the difference, but that would mean lying to myself.
The truth is that whether I like it or not there's always been a strange humanity in Spike, from the way he cared for Dru to his actions regarding Willow when he tried to force her to perform a love spell. The mere thought of a vampire sipping hot cocoa with the slayer's mother should have made me realize that there was something different in him, but I wasn't ready back then, I wasn't willing to see.
After the chip it became increasingly easy for me to dismiss him. I tolerated him, he was no longer a threat and not quite an ally. I was troubled when he became infatuated with Buffy but by that time we had more pressing concerns... like dealing with Glory, the discovery that Dawn wasn't real, Joyce's illness and death, not to mention the stunning discovery that I actually have a son. Truth be told back then Spike was pretty low on my list of priorities, but still that's no excuse.
Now that I think about it I cringe at the way we treated him back then. I may not have liked him but he liked Joyce and yet we all dismissed his grief when she died. He was, after all, just a soulless vampire... now that's a laugh.
I had a chance to see him differently after Buffy's death, when he stayed around to help us patrol, to help us keep Dawn safe, but by that time I was lost in my own grief and I had gotten so used to dismissing his presence that I didn't give him a second thought. That was a mistake.
When Buffy came back things got worse. He became her anchor and I resented that. She turned to him. He was the only one she trusted with the truth about where she'd been and I never forgave him for it... then things got complicated. Much to my dismay they became involved though I didn't know that at the time... I found out about it later, with everyone else after the fiasco of Xander's would be wedding and I was furious.
Things reached their lowest point when he tried to rape her before taking off. It was then that I promised myself that I would stake him if he ever dared to come back but then Buffy began dreaming of girls dying in distant places and I was forced to leave in order to gather the surviving potentials and to try and salvage as much of the Council as I could, so I didn't learn of his return for some time. By the time I came back Buffy had already sort of forgiven him so taking him out would have meant alienating her and I wasn't willing to take that chance.
I did try it once, indirectly, by helping Robin when he came up with a plan to get rid of him, and it nearly costed me my relationship with her. It was enough for me to learn my lesson but I can't say I was heartbroken when he was dusted, though I knew better than to say that out loud... and now he is back.
The problem is that the more I think about it, the more obvious it becomes that it wasn't really the chip that brought forth the changes I saw in Spike over the years and it wasn't the soul either. In that regard I have to admit that Buffy is right, there's not that much difference in the way he acts with or without a soul, not like there is in Angel's case where there are two distinct personalities. It's like Spike's essence is the same no matter what... as if his demon's viciousness were just a front that was slowly torn down as we got to know him better, but there's something else there, something I can't quite grasp.
His demon earned his soul and I suspect there's more to that story than I've been led to believe. I could see it in Blair's knowing eyes when I told him that he didn't have to worry about a demon being torn from Heaven. I realized too late that --as the shaman who had gone looking for Spike in the Spirit Plane-- Blair wasn't speculating about that. He knew where Spike had been and if he felt the need to tacitly contradict me about that by choosing that specific moment to point out the fact that I fail to see him as anything but a demon, well, the implications of that are disturbing enough and they turn everything I've ever known and believed about the nature of vampires and demons on its ear.
Would it be possible for a demon to have been in Heaven? I know it would have been possible for his soul, and he was souled before he turned to dust, but what about the demon? What would that mean? Where would the difference between man and monster be then, if not in the soul itself? Spike earned his soul back and yet I can't help but wonder if he did, and that's the strangest thing of all.
There's always been a strange humanity in Spike, there's no denying that and as I think back to all the books I've read searching for an explanation, the best one I can find comes from the strangest place of all. It doesn't come from an obscure demonology text that has been kept hidden for centuries but from one of the first books I ever read... when the Wizard of Oz granted the Tin Man his wish to have a heart. By the time Spike earned his soul back that soul had long ceased to be relevant to who he was, that's why there's no difference. I'm not saying he always had a soul, I do know better than that, but maybe, just maybe, who he is and what he feels is not really defined by the presence or absence of that soul.
Oddly enough that thought is nowhere near as comforting as it should have been. It certainly doesn't help me accept his relationship with my slayer but unfortunately Blair was right about that too... it's not for me to decide though I can't help but wish that they would turn it down a little. It's late, I'm tired and I really wish I could get some sleep, but going by the sounds coming from the other side of the wall I don't think that's likely to happen any time soon.
For years I steeled myself to accept Buffy's death... funny how in the end it was her life that I wasn't prepared to deal with.