By Kita (Donna M.)
But sometimes his body, his own better judgment, betrays him.
Because this is not about sex. He'd still be with Harmony if it was about sex. No, this is that ache in the middle of his chest, the voice in the back of his head that hasn't stopped whispering or muttering or screaming her name once in the past four goddamned years, and that is why this will never end. But he gets these odd flashes of autonomy sometimes, moments where a clear, rational voice he barely recognizes speaks up and distinctly says *this is killing her, and it is killing you, and it. must. stop* and he feels his hands itching to push her away. Moments when he thinks he might actually be independent of this psychological three-ring circus. There are limits, yes, there are limits and there are bright, blessed moments where he very nearly believes that he has finally reached them.
She leans in to kiss him, and this time he bolts. Sick with self-loathing and nearly screaming it ((you don't want me you don't please stop making want to believe you ever could, *please* stop)), and he knows she can hear him. And oh he wishes that it was enough to deter him, even for the slightest fucking second. "Does it matter?" she asks hotly.
//i know you'll never love me//
He's beset by a nagging suspicion that he deserves better than this, but he's never had much of a basis for comparison, and he's not quite so fucking poetic as he used to be. He'll settle, he knows he'll settle; he always has. "Of course it matters, but-" Snappish, defensive, deeply ashamed. Ashamed because- "That's what I am, after all."
"A whore." Her whore. When she kisses him, he closes his eyes.
Over a year with the damned chip in his head, ten times worse than the twenty years he spent as William. But at least the chip taught him something. That ideas kill almost effectively as fangs, that words bruise as readily as fists, and that everyone. everyone has a weakness.
Afterglow is not his.
"So, you talk to him lately?" One brow and half a lip raised with the question.
"Who?" she asks, without looking at him. She's still a horrible liar.
"You know perfectly well *who,* pet. He know about this yet?" Wider grin, predatory now, as he motions to the tangled heap of denim and satin, his jeans, her panties, laying on the bare floor.
She arches one shoulder and sits up to face him. "Fuck you, Spike. You don't get to hurt me that way."
He laughs, rubs a light hand over the blue bruise on her cheek. "S'all right. I'll take whichever way you wanna give me."
Lately he's become a horrible liar too.
But he can throw insults and her own garlic at her, hurl her crosses and her half-assed accusations in her face. And sometimes it feels better than throwing punches. And every time it gets him laid.
And no matter the level of depravity
//last night was the most humiliating, degrading experience of my life yeah, me too//
when he wakes she's always still in his bed, tiny form curled close to the very edge of the mattress, as if thinking too hard about the situation at hand would be enough to send her tumbling, all pale hair and frail bones and childlike fingertips, somewhere even more beneath than she already is. And he's not allowed to touch her right now, when it isn't *convenient,* not without inviting an angry stare and a bruised jaw; and he's certainly not allowed to love her, not without inviting injury much worse. It was inappropriate to fight over her when she lay dead and it's inappropriate to fight for the right to love her now, and he isn't allowed to feel anything at all. So he curls up beside her, but not too near: chill inches in between, fingers tracing the contours of hips and shoulders and mouth, a hair's breadth away but never touching.
He could've sworn this was what he wanted.
She wakes an hour later to hear the noisy buckling of a belt, angry stomping into mud-encrusted boots. There is nothing quiet about Spike, he has no grave-silence to give her anymore; even his glare is screaming at her. She pulls the sheet around herself modestly, a useless, stupid habit.
He sits opposite her, lacing his shoes without ever taking his eyes from her face. "I hate you," he says, almost conversationally, and for the first time she really believes it. Fear and venom and predatorial anger before, but never, never hate.
"Doesn't stop you from fucking me," she says harshly, but it sounds wrong. She wants to talk like he does, full of passion and heedless bile and effortless, unchecked expletives, the voice of Misbehavior. And she tries, tries to drink his whiskey and smoke his cigarettes and fuck his cold, shameless, unapologetic body in hope that some of his anarchy will rub off onto her skin and allow her to scream, yell, curse, let *go* for once but it never seems to work. It's forced, like everything else these days, and she pulls the sheet tighter around her body to keep her insides from spilling out. She's suddenly beset by the panicked certainly that she has no fucking clue what she's doing, that she thought she had a talent for fucking vampires but maybe she was wrong, maybe Spike isn't Angel after all. Maybe she doesn't even know him, any better than she knows herself.
He pulls his bootlaces circulation-cutting tight. "You're underestimating my astonishing lack of self-respect, pet." He grabs his duster and stands; the sun is just setting. His eyes are liquid, nearly begging behind the anger. His voice trembles just slightly. "Please be gone when I get back."
And he's gone. Not just his presence there in the crypt, but something she had sensed in him that had been willing to let her take his body without giving her heart, whatever part of him hadn't yet tired of the game. He was built for convenience, and maybe she had assumed he would just stay that way. He'll be back, she knows, but now she'll have to see the same hate in his eyes that she knows glares out of her own, and she won't be able to pretend that this is simple or justifiable or temporary.
She dresses quickly, with cold, shaking fingers that drop her boots and send them clattering to the floor. She kneels on the cold stone and that's when she sees it, corners poking out from under the tattered quilt that covers his bed. And she pulls the shoebox out, and opens it, because she doesn't respect him enough to give him his privacy and she *needs* something. Some scrap of understanding to take away with her of this man, this beast she's been fucking.
Papers and letters and photos, most of them tattered with age. Reverse-chronological: the top layer reveals a blood-spattered movie ticket from the Sun Cinema here in Sunnydale, some tasteless horror flick from her junior year in high school. A handful of fliers underneath that; rock concerts, she thinks, but the language is strange. Czechoslovakian? She lifts the papers to reveal the first photos: a blue-haired Spike, cigarette hanging jauntily from his lower lip. "1993," declares the date scrawled in the lower margin.
The next pictures are black-and-white, four in a strip, the kind you take in booths at carnivals and amusement parks. Spike looks even more like Billy Idol than he does now, and Drusilla is decked out in bangle bracelets and spangled eyeshadow. There's a whole batch of them: grinning, kissing, groping, and a few at the bottom of the stack that Buffy stares at in stupified fascination. He'd told her about candle foreplay; he'd never told her about *that.* She flips the last photo over. Same unintelligible, left-handed scrawl: Orlando, 1983.
The document underneath bears no date- a ten-year anniversary card with an extra zero added to the end of the number, a blood rose pressed inside, so withered and dead that it has turned black and is crumbling to dust. A single word in delicate, old-fashioned script: "Always."
There's something unfair about that word that makes Buffy's breath catch in her throat.
She digs deeper, shaking fingers scrambling though delicate sheets of paper. A torn Woodstock poster. A photo of Dru on a dark street, blood-spattered hands and wickedly stained smile strangely uncongruous next to her simple white dress and the daisy-chain braided in her hair: New York, 1969. The two of them in a seedy bar, dancing close, giving the camera dark smiles. Her beaded dress falls in ruffles just below her knees; he's wearing a pin-striped suit and those funny-looking gangster shoes. In the background she can see other couples and a few musicians: a trumpet-player, a pianist. New Orleans, the back of the image declares; 1932.
Spike, his hair dark and slicked against his skull, perched upon the hood of a primitive-looking car. A huge smile stretches across his face and the familiar cigarette burns between his fingers. Berlin, 1904: "Automobile," the caption concludes simply. Next, a sepia-tinted daggeurrotype of two women. Drusilla sits in a tapestry-upholstered chair, ankles daintily crossed beneath the lace hem of a muslin gown. Behind her stands a woman with fair hair and a cool gaze. Darla, she remembers. Angel's sire. Her hand rests on the younger vampire's shoulder and their slim fingers are entwined. The date printed in the lower right-hand corner reads June 1899.
And the next thing Buffy knows, she's reached the bottom of the pile. Last slip of paper resting in her hand.
Her breath catches in her throat and her fingertips tighten around the edges of the photo. Them. Both of them. Her first, and her most recent. No date on the picture but it's old, *old* and Spike wears a cocky grin and a sheaf of wheat-colored (she thinks; the image is brown-gray, creased and faded) hair over his eyes. Behind his left shoulder, smirking sardonically, stands Angel.
Angelus. Whatever. That's not the point. He *should* be a stranger, this proud, long-haired killer in the photograph, but he's not, and she wants more. Whatever she's not allowed to have. "For a hundred years I offered ugly death to everyone I met," he said, and she displayed self-righteous indignation at those innocent deaths as befitted her trade, and sorrow at the pitiful irony of being a Slayer who loved the deadliest vampire of them all. But she knew then and she knows now that the real grief lies in those hundred, two hundred, two hundred fifty years that would never belong to her. In those centuries that she's not able to touch, that knowledge which will never be hers. She can feel it welling up inside her again for the first time in years, the anger, the resentment at the goddamned *unfairness* of it all, the fucking lack and loss and inconstancy of "always." When Spike returns to the crypt he finds her on the floor beside his bed, bent over the tattered, ancient photograph, sobbing.
She starts, like a wild animal. Stares at him, darts her eyes back to the picture in her hands, stares at him again. "How long were you with him?" she snarls, her fingers tightening around the picture, and he wants to tell her to fucking go easy on the memorabilia but he can't bear to yell into that tear-streaked, grief-stricken face. "*How long?*"
"Twenty years," he whispers.
"Twenty years," she echoes softly, bringing the image close to her face. "I've been alive for twenty years."
"Twenty, more or less," he amends. "He'd fuck off once in awhile. Sometimes with Darla, sometimes alone. Always came back, though."
"Always, huh?" She doesn't even seem to notice the steady stream of tears coursing down her cheeks. Her hands are shaking.
"Yeah. How long was it for you?"
"Three years." She scoffs. "No. Two and a half."
He tilts his head to the side, studying her, and suddenly he gets it. "You- you're jealous."
Her eyes flash fire as she scrubs the tears away with the back of one hand. "Go to hell, Spike."
"No, it's okay," he says gently. "I mean... I get it." He wishes he didn't get it. He wishes he could imprint her fragile brain with the memories of harsh fists and razor-sharp fangs and leave it at that. Wishes that the cruel, careless, all-consuming force of nature he called Grandsire was something tangible, containable, something he could take and hold out to her in trembling, bloodied hands and say "see. See where the path of blood and betrayal and Family leads. See that Destruction that bites away at the edges of my thoughts as I sleep and that fucked-up, incestuous tragedy that won't let me go. Look into the face of what you are oh-so-much better off having never known, and be grateful for the two and a half years that left you relatively unscarred. Because you, child, cannot begin to fathom the demons that your ex-boyfriend has left in his wake, dwelling and screaming under the surface of my skin." He wishes that it were that simple, that those painful memories were all he had left.
He remembers him in bits and pieces. The proud curve of shoulders and uplifted head, the careful smirk, the eyes that burned fiercely with amusement or disapproval or rage. Trying to remember more than one detail at a time, he finds, makes his chest tighten up and his head ache. Spike remembers those hands the most, hands that could caress or crush but either way left him feeling as if he'd been shattered into a thousand pieces. Strong, steady hands that never trembled, never once hesitated.
((and you wanted that, wanted to be him, wanted everything and everyone he ever had, didn't you?))
No. No, he didn't want to be his Grandsire, Spike reasons desperately, only... admired him. Angelus was never afraid, Angelus never fucked up, and he couldn't be bothered with the burden of concern for others. Mothers in Romania still whisper his name darkly into the ears of children that refuse to go to sleep, Spike muses, and *she*- she has no idea. No idea that she once had Death Himself within her grasp, curled in her fingers and trapped between her thighs. Buffy's lover, the souled version of the Scourge of Europe, was a pale, sad shadow in comparison, a pitiful copy that made Spike's eyes ache. Angelus was never just another vampire; he was a plague of blood and broken bone, an uncontrollable force of disaster, a sight to behold. Spike can't make her see that: the undaunted creature his grandsire was, the way he burned, the way he bent and broke everything around him, shaping it to his will. He can't give her those memories, and isn't sure he's cruel enough to try.
"What was William like?" she asks, finally, guileless and golden in the wobbling torch-light.
He shrugs, lights a cigarette. "You'd have to ask Angelus or Dru that one. I never met him personally." He impresses himself by meeting her eyes when he says it.
And God knows Spike doesn't want to be William again, doesn't want redemption, doesn't want to be a Good Little Boy. But he thinks he could find a sort of salvation in her motionless little body. Atonement for his sins, which are darker and so much more convoluted than the simple wrongs of mortals. If she takes him, perhaps that means he's finally forgiven.
He has fantasies about turning her. Shagging her into a defenseless heap for the last time, and tearing her throat open afterward, while she lays silent and unresisting. Counting coup on a third Slayer, and having the added bonus of keeping this one around Forever.
Though he doesn't much picture Forever, doesn't usually get past the first part of the fantasy where he kills her and turns her and they run off to LA. Find the ponce with the soul and put him out of everyone's misery once and for all.
((Just convenient, my ass.))
Spike has always been a big fan of irony.
And maybe, that way Spike could finally shake the fucking notion that he was created solely for the purpose of keeping Angelus' property safe until he decides to return for it.
One night when she comes to him, she is wearing a scarf around her throat. Lacy, filmy thing, with a small knot to one side. He strips her body bare in moments, but she guards her neck and the scarf, keeps it tied there, with a look he well recognizes.
And it's what she wants, it's what he wants, it's on fucking *offer*, and so of course, he can't. Oh, he reaches for it, fingers working at the knot while he works his hips against hers as she perches on his lap. His fangs drop and his mouth bloody well *waters*. But instead of undoing the silk, he finds himself tugging on it, until he is pulling both ends of it tighter and tighter against the milk white skin of her throat. Blood wells beneath the material, he can smell it. Can smell the jolt of her fear. Can smell the musk of her arousal as her legs clamp tighter round his. He tugs harder and waits for her to push him away, punch him in the skull, something. She doesn't.
She rests her hands on his shoulders and she closes her eyes. Lets him strangle the breath out of her slowly, with a piece of flowered lace and cotton. And oh it would be so easy. On offer.
Her eyes open, cloudy blue irises rimmed with red from lack of oxygen, and
He releases the scarf just as she comes, or maybe its the other way round. She makes whimpering scratchy noises like a dying kitten, and he comes then too, with a violent shudder at the sound.
Slayer. Fucking *whimpering* for him, and his skin is buzzing and his hipbones ache and he should feel- something.
Something that isn't so akin to nauseated and resentful.
But he expected so many things out of fucking this Slayer, and discovering she is sicker than he was never on his goddamned list. She is slumped against him, panting in hoarse, shallow breaths, and he brings his knuckles to his eyes.
//Free if the bitch dies//
But fuck it, its been a hundred and twenty-two years since he's been anything remotely resembling free, and he wouldn't know where to begin now, and
It was her eyes. Her eyes as he strangled her. They were dead. Glass eyes, doll's eyes, robot eyes. Lifeless and *wrong* and just like after she'd leaped off the tower, before Giles had leaned in to close them for the last time. Just like Dru's eyes after the attack in Prague. And he. Can't. Because even with pain, he was always so much better at receiving than giving, and he just. can't. do this.
He rubs her shoulders, whispers in her ear. "I'm sorry." Unsure what he's apologizing for; loving her too much to kill her, or not enough? He didn't really want to apologize in the first place, but he thinks it's probably the first time in a hundred and twenty six years that he has ever said those words and actually meant them.
He doesn't know what he expected in return. But it certainly isn't the sharp, swift knee to the groin. Isn't the kick to the ribs or the angry shriek of protest which follows as he lays curled in fetal position on the hard stone floor.
"You don't get to decide this for me! Least of all you!"
And he gets it. Slow maybe, but not stupid. Pavlov's dog, and all.
It takes him a good five minutes before the pain in his balls fades enough to get to his feet. Only takes him seconds to grab her by the back of the head, and slam her into the wall. She barely fights him off, and he pounds her into the concrete with just enough force to fracture a normal girl's skull. Slayer strength and stamina mean that she merely grunts once or twice, then finally shoves him away. Crimson matted sticky and wet to gold strands and she reaches up with steady fingers to test the mess.
He bats her hands away, and licks them free of the stains.
When she makes no move to stop him, he buries his face in her bloody hair, nuzzling and chewing until she is nearly clean.
Soon thereafter, he has a wicked scarf collection.
Because it's been two hundred and ten days and he's really fucking sick of paying for something that's no longer technically wrong, a once fuck-up revealed to be the kindest mercy. It was good to let her die. It's good that he keeps her dead now; he's only doing what Buffy would have wanted. So he lets her spend her nights here, and he never apologizes again.
After all, maybe this time he'll get it right.
She comes to him each night dressed in silk scarves, and she limps home without them well before dawn. She never says good-bye and her knuckles are always bruised when she leaves, in the perfect opposing pattern of her small fist imprinted on his cheek. She is not the masochist, after all, and it is not the pain which she craves.
It's the control. And that is always hers; when she beats him, when she fucks him, when she leaves him alone on his bed of stone and ash. Spike is the only thing she can hope to control now, and the knowledge is precious and shining.
She could shatter him. She may yet.
And it's certainly not that she doesn't know how wrong this is. It's just that it's oh so hard to care. Every morning she wakes, and the first thing she hears is the screaming. It took her a week to relearn how to use a goddamn spoon, and she still can't seem to see the difference between sugar and stardust. It's too much, it's just all too damn much, and if she needs a sturdy home for her rage and her grief then surely using Spike as her chalice is righteous, surely it is sanctified, for what is he when all is said and done, but a soul-less thing?
Her head is full all the time now, with the language of the living and the memories of the dead. She's not *supposed* to know these things, but she does; they came back from the grave with her, embedded beneath the dirt in her nails and the slippery sheen she cannot wash from her hair.
On Feb. 5, 1986, her Mother spent the day drunk, laying on the couch watching soaps, and her father spent the night in the Bahamas with his secretary. No one came home from the hospital carrying a girl-child, and asking Buffy if she would help care for it.
Dawn did not cry when their Father left, did not lock herself in her pink daisy covered room for days, because there was never a pink room, and Dawn has never even met Hank Summers.
Four years ago, Buffy's Mother found out that she was the Slayer because of Angelus, not because Dawn found Buffy's diary. Dawn met Angel once. At Buffy's funeral.
Pictures of both carefully altered realities sit side by side somewhere in her skull, and when she is quiet, she can hear the neurons firing, tiny cells rearranging inside of her to make room for recollections she is not supposed to have.
Angel with a heartbeat. //I'llneverforgetI'llneverforget//
Angel in chains, covered in scars and burns. //What'stheplanTrynottofallonthis//
Willow and Xander, Turned. //YougoaheadandbelieveinthatworldIhavetoliveinthisone//
Her own face, covered in demonic ridges, and the blood hunger welling in her belly. //ThisismynightmareWeneedyouBuffycanyouholdittogether//
There are too many doors behind her eyes, too many lights and too many memories. And each so vivid, so bright and violent, she is sure that her head simply isn't meant to fit all this inside. She's just a girl, how can she be expected to carry the Knowledge of Heaven and walk around every day inside of Hell? If she could just purge it, if she could bleed it out of open wounds and pointless tears -
well, then she would be empty.
But she still would not be dead.
At night when she is alone she covers her ears with pillows for fear that everything will come rushing out of her, leaving her once more with nothing.
//A dead shell//
And she can't have that. So she tries never to be alone at night. She has to hold something, has to feel something, has to *know* something *here* anything, my god, even Spike, because otherwise there is only the certainty that this is all wrong, that there's been some horrible mistake and she is *it*, and it. will. never. end.
But when she fucks him, when she wraps her legs around his waist and he wraps his thumbs around her neck, when she doesn't breathe, then she doesn't think, then, oh- then -
Buffy only remembers the dancing.
(((Fingers entwined in Faith's, palm to sweaty palm, music throbbing through them like a heartbeat. How she knew, even then. That Faith was already dead, and just didn't have the sense to lie down. That a Slayer really is just a killer, spilling cold blood night after night, staining warm flesh. That Faith kept herself alive with the heat of others.)))
And she danced.
She remembers Angel, silhouetted darkly against the back wall of the Bronze, and the horror in his eyes when he saw them together, caught in that endless dance and realized that his lover was no less of a monster than he. That all those you-should-have-a-normal-life excuses already spinning around in his brain were merely that.
That she could make a monster of him. Again. And would.
Spike is already a monster.
She walks home every night through the cemetery and the eyes of the gargoyles follow. She can feel them. That is all right. Even monsters get lonely.
(It used to be the cherubs, but they don't seem to talk to her anymore.)
She read somewhere once that Angels always have one wing dipped in blood. That they carry savage weapons even in the Kingdom of Heaven.
She used to figure they needed them. Not everyone goes gently.
Now she knows better. Angels lie. All those pretty faces hide teeth of ivory and bone, velvet and lace voices used only to hasten someone's painful death. Angels never tell you that tidings of comfort and joy are rare and fleeting. That God doesn't guarantee you eternal peace when one of your friends is a High Witch. That even the finest love will eventually turn from you, cloaked in darkness and good intentions.
They don't tell you that there are just as many Angels in Hell.
She has no patience now for dualities, for the cabal or tired metaphor. She wants to know what something *is* when she looks at it, wants to name it and therefore own it.
Being with Spike is simple in that sense; no soul, and so he has bared all that he possesses. All that he is. Lonely and wretched, handsome and evil, rarely trying to be much else, and when he does, failing so miserably at it that she finds it hard to hold his pretense against him.
He just is... what he is, and in that way he is easy to objectify. Easy to name, and oh, so damned easy to own.
Angel and Heaven; gold and glittery things never meant to be hers. She belongs to this place now, and if she was dragged back clothed in tatters and screams in the beginning, well, she is not screaming anymore. If she is destined to live forever in Hell, then she will open wide and embrace it, wrap determined fingers and strong thighs around it.
Dance with it. Fuck it.
She will fuck Hell.
Because God knows they fucked her first.