Summary: "Every night she came to him. He found it endearing and tormenting at the same time." S/B
Rating: R (for a bit of language)
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is not mine. Joss is a God.
Author's Note: I'm a feedback girl myself. But then... you knew that. Constructive criticism makes my world go round.
Her heart had gentle rhythms in the dead of night. He listened to it as it slowed. Felt her whole body tremble with every beat, as if the blood it pumped was more than just a part of her. It *was* her.
He would imagine drinking from her. Imagine that warm red liquid flooding from some mismanaged wound that he had created, directly into his mouth. He could taste the coppery heat of it with just the thought. But his fangs would never touch her.
And that's when he'd realize he was dreaming.
The sun set.
Every night she came to him. He found it endearing and tormenting at the same time. Her soft skin. Soft voice. Soft ego. She was more vulnerable than she let on. He wished he could care for her. Protect that tiny ego from the storms that raged around it. Offer shelter without her having to ask for it.
It hurt him that she held in her tears. He wanted to let her cry it out. Cry away every lost hope, broken dream, painful memory. He imagined that, if she ever could let go in front of him, forever afterward she would be different. Free. Happy. He wondered if she might smile more. Laugh a little. Play.
Every night: the same dream. As persistent as that once awful one in which he'd confessed his love to her. That dream had come true. He'd told her of his love. What did this dream mean?
Every night he'd wake to find her in his bed. Asleep. Her chest would rise and fall with her breath, and he'd breathe in and out in time to it, for no other reason than to feel closer to her. To, maybe, feel what she was feeling.
The dream made him want to cry and kill something in the same blink of an eye. Made him want to reach for a liquor bottle and a cigarette and not stop until the image of her lifeless body was gone.
The last recurring dream he'd had, had come true. He breathed in and out needlessly along with her and feared that this one would as well.
She wasn't ever happy. Never happy with him. With life. With her sister. With her friends. He decided that she just didn't want to be happy. But oh, how he wished he could change that. Wished there was something that he could do to make her smile and mean it.
She never smiled and meant it anymore.
He had to imagine that she did. He was getting bloody good at imagining things. He'd remember a genuine smile from months ago. Months that seemed like years or decades. And he knew what years and decades felt like, and they felt like those months. He'd remember that smile that she used to have and, in his mind, he'd plaster it on her face. He'd see her eyes light up, even when they didn't. He'd watch her grin grow until in consumed the both of them, even if he knew it wasn't real.
He enjoyed it anyway. For a moment, at least. And then the moment would pass, and he'd feel all the worse for having thought her a different way than she really was.
It felt like he was cheating on her with her.
"What if I didn't come back from patrol one night?" She'd asked him softly one evening. Carelessly. As if she wasn't all that interested in his answer or in the question. "Do you think they'd bring me back again? You think they'd still mourn me?" He'd stared at the back of her head in silence, gawking.
From then on she never patrolled alone.
He stopped breathing for a moment. Whatever instincts he still had from his years as William kicked in, and there was a moment of animal panic throughout his body at not receiving any oxygen. He enjoyed the rush. It came to him every time he tried to fight his lack of life by breathing, and then stopped.
His body never seemed to remember that it was dead.
She hardly ever moved in her sleep. He wondered if she dreamed that she was in a coffin. She always woke up out of breath. Ready to cry. She'd bite her bottom lip and reach one hand out to clutch at the skin of his arm tightly.
He wore the injuries she gave him like battle scars.
"What is it, pet?" The same question every time she woke. The same concerned tone of voice. He couldn't help it. He wanted to be there for her.
But she'd shake her head. Always the same reply. Never any tears. Never any real emotion. Even her fear was downplayed. Her gasps for breath and painful grip on his skin. It all felt like it wanted to be more, but couldn't.
Her skin was warm next to his. Her body: lithe. Just like he had imagined it would be, back all those months ago. Those decades. Her body was nearly his. Her stomach and chest, hands and face: they all almost belonged to him.
But not quite.
He had to remind himself sometimes, lying in bed, watching her while she slept, that she wasn't really his to do with as he pleased. She wasn't his to comfort. To help. To save.
She gave herself up to him almost completely. Every night. But she'd never let him save her. Wouldn't even let him try. Though, God knew he wanted to.
His curses fell short of their goal as he tried breathing again. In and out. In and out. Repetition soothed him. Made him forget that the reason he was doing such human things like breathing and sleeping and *caring* was what made him curse in the first place.
He stopped again. Watched her chest rise and fall in her sleep while his own did nothing. That rush of adrenaline shot through his body, but was far from potent.
He wanted to sleep. But the dream haunted him.
Fuck. He hated himself sometimes. He was the one supposed to be striking fear into hearts. Nightmares were something he lived for. Reveled in. Fuck. He *was* the nightmare.
He closed his eyes tightly and then realized that it only made things worse. He'd rather be watching her if he was going to be up all night.
Her face was enough to make his existence seem worth it.
She hardly ever looked at peace when she was sleeping. He suspected nightmares. It figured that they'd both be plagued by the same torture, yet would never talk about it with one another.
He would stare at her and wait for those rare moments between nightmares. So subtle. So quick. He'd miss it if he didn't pay attention. But somewhere in the middle of the night she'd find peace. For a split second.
Those were the images of her that he kept locked up tighter than any other. He liked to know that she found rest somewhere. If only for that moment.
Moonlight hit a spot on her arm from whatever crack in the rock walls that he'd yet to find and fix. It illuminated her skin like it was made for moonlight. He speculated that it was. He *imagined* that it was. That every slayer had been made this way. Creatures of darkness.
One more thing to tie her to him.
She stirred and he braced himself for her waking. But it didn't come. She cringed in her sleep. Her muscles tightened. His expression softened and he touched a careful hand to her cheek.
She relaxed against his fingers, her cheek resting in his palm. Her moment of peace came and went.
He marveled at it. Let memories of similar times rush through his mind. A flood of images of her face. Her voice. Her touches. And the flood led to a barrage of even more memories. No order to them. No pattern. Years of pain and torture. Years of death and destruction. Chaos melted into passion. Love gave way to fear.
This was the part where he was supposed to remember that he was evil.
This was the part where he was supposed to remember that he wasn't meant to be sharing a bed with a slayer. With a living, breathing, woman. That he didn't have a soul. Or a conscience. This was the part where he was supposed to wonder why he was here, and then rage at the fact that the woman next to him wasn't dead yet.
He didn't, though. Not now. Not when he knew that the next time he slept, an answer to his questions would come to him. And he wouldn't like it.
He'd hate himself, the world, and whoever ran the whole sodding thing, for dreaming such things. He'd want to stake himself right there and then if only to save her from the fate of his nightmares.
He watched her continue to sleep. Her own demons plagued her. He wished he weren't one of them. Wished that he would never become one of them.
But every night, he killed her.