like myself more
sarah t.

My dear Buffy,

I imagine you're a bit surprised to be reading this. After all, you believe there's no real relationship between us--though you did want to thrash me a few times, which could have made a nice beginning, if things had worked out differently. I'm not as immune to the charms of a pretty girl who can snap the neck of a Moltinari demon with her bare hands as you might think. (Have you thought about it? Or would that have led to conclusions you'd prefer to avoid?) To you, I'm just another scary Sunnydale monster to be defeated, if perhaps not in your favorite manner. (Don't tell me you weren't tempted.) There's no bond joining us, you'd say, that would make me choose you as the recipient of my final communication to this life as I leave it behind.

But, my dear, you couldn't be more mistaken. We've been connected right from the day you walked into the Sunnydale High School library and the stuffy-looking man in tweed behind the desk looked up and frowned and hauled out that big, dusty book on vampires to give to you. Even if most of the time you weren't aware of it, we've been engaged in a tug-of-war for that man's soul ever since. A vicious struggle that has kept me much closer to you than you could realize.

Congratulations, Buffy. You've won. Routed me utterly. Oh, you had some help--the other children, that wretched woman Jenny Calendar, the Initiative with their silver-sharp needles, and, of course, your good friend and mine, hepatitis C--but, in the end, it was you and what you are that kept Rupert on the side of the angels (as he might, rather irritatingly, put it). I'm a great admirer of yours, Buffy, but I'm not entirely certain how you managed it. Defeating Ethan Rayne is no easy task, as a number of quite, quite mad former employees of the U.S. government would be willing to testify--that is, if they could speak at all intelligibly. You two didn't even share a bed...though I wonder if, in the end, that wasn't actually an advantage for you. (A chaste love to inspire a pure life; Rupert can be positively medieval at times.) Was it your strength? Your spirit? Your beauty? Or simply the fact that he knew you would die young, and that that grief would be his final and lasting punishment for his earlier dalliance with dark magic and with me?

One thing Rupert might have told you, if he'd ever been able to bring himself to discuss me with you, is that I am a miserably sore loser. I do not believe in gracefully conceding defeat, not if there is the slightest chance of inflicting hurt on my opponent before I go down--and this time, I really and truly am going down, for good.

That's why you're getting this letter.

You see, Buffy, Rupert doesn't know yet what's happened to me. Even at my most ill, I had enough power to hide the truth from him. I died alone; the police, bless their innocent hearts and dull brains, will never find my body. And we no longer have the sort of mutual friends who will rush to carry the tale to him.

That means you'll have to tell him yourself. That's my heart's last desire: that you be the one to do it. I want you to have to hesitate to bring out the words, because you're not sure what they'll do to him, and I want you to have to look at him as his voice fails, his face goes white and he has to sit down before he falls. Just once, Buffy, I want you to have to feel that I meant something to him. I want you not to be able to understand and to be afraid to ask. In short, my dear, I want you to experience, even if it's only for a brief moment, what I have had to experience over and over again since that pleasant fall day on your lovely little Hellmouth.

It will be a small victory, but I have learned to savor small victories. They're all you and Rupert have left me.

Yours faithfully,

Ethan Rayne


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