In my eyes, this is a choice. Dean chose to be the devoted brother, Spike the devoted lover. They are sincere in these roles, and they choose to play them, to thread their entire life around that one person.
Yet many fans see them as helpless pawns of an overpowering emotion. This isn’t about duty - this is Dean and Spike loving SO MUCH and SO BRIGHTLY that they could only act the way they do
To a lot of fans, any unloving behavior they engage in towards their special one is not, actually, unloving. Or didn’t happen. Or was the loved one’s fault. Or whatever.
But these roles they play, it's a choice. These are the roles they play and it makes it that much more devastating to me when they fail. When the doting older brother resents younger brother deeply, and it spills out in nasty ways. When love’s bitch tries to rape his beloved on her bathroom floor. The failures are tragic. How they handle these failures is what makes these characters connect for me.
Spike says he’s a willing slave, love’s bitch. There’s no such thing as a “willing slave”. And no one is unable to make a choice because they love. The idea that Spike loving Buffy gives Buffy power is ludicrous to me. And for me, if it's a choice - not the love, but how they choose to express it - it's more powerful. After all, if you are a helpless victim of your own feelings, why should I care if you hurt the object of your desire? I feel bad for the object of your desire, but I can't find it in me to feel much for you.
But if it really is about your desire to be their loyal - to be the one person they can count on. Then hey - if you fuck it up, I might give a damn.
Because weirdly, I have more empathy for finding out you’ve betrayed the person you built your identity on supporting, than for hurting the person you love sooooo much that they are more important to you than yourself.
Because - I mean, I may just be justifying my knee-jerk emotional response. But I feel like if you only treat someone well because hurting them makes you feel bad and sad - I mean, we all do that. But if it’s just in the moment, who cares?
Because I don’t believe love is like that. Love glows and fades and in moments, you can’t feel it at all. No one is full of love every second of their life. You have to have something sustain you. And at the end of the day, is love really an unambiguous good to be worshiped? If Spike tried to rape Buffy out of love, if Dean threatened Sam in Let It Bleed and shamed him in The Mentalists out of love…then I think it’s pretty safe to say that love can be pretty evil.
So I will take my love with a little bit of duty. And ultimately I think Dean and Spike do, too.
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