By Mint Witch
RATING: PG-13, for adult themes and situations
SPOILERS: Beneath You 7.2
DISCLAIMER: Joss. Is. God.
DISTRIBUTION: Um. Okay.
A/N: The gulf between hurt and harm. Spuffy sweetness, hoo-wah.
Spike twitches in her embrace, whimpers forced from his throat, and she relaxes. Just another nightmare. She cracks her eyes, craning her neck to check the time. Just past three.
They don't come so frequently anymore; often he manages to make it through the day, now, without a single episode. Buffy presses a kiss between his shoulder blades and lays her cheek in the hollow, helpless against her lover's demons. She chokes back a sigh. It's not his fault. He would shatter all over again if he knew how often his episodes wake her.
He's so fragile, now. She aches with the need to pave over his wounds (among others), knowing she can't, that she dug some of the holes he's trying to climb out of herself.
He whimpers in his sleep again, and the faint ache of longing drowns in his need. "Shush, baby, I'm here."
Her hand rubs his silky, white belly, and he quiets beneath her touch, soothed like a child. She traces circles on his skin, trying not to stain him with her tears. They burn him, like holy water on the soul: she learned that first. He cannot endure her tears, not since his return.
Buffy is still mildly shocked at the fact of him. Here, real, in her bed, to be cared for. The pleasure of his need startles her daily with its intensity. He needs her, profoundly, has been hurt by her, and must be cured by her. By her: Buffy, the Slayer. This feeling, somehow satisfied and triumphant in her ascendancy over him, vaguely shames her. But he treats it as merely normal.
Her broken love. Piecing the tiny fragments of him back together, Buffy has learned something, something new. Something painful and shocking about herself. She could hurt. Not just be hurt, but cause hurt to others. She was not the only one who bled and died for love. It was reassuring. It healed her, and she stretched the flawed gauze over her soul to cover him as well. They were the same now. Wounded in the same places.
He shifts against her, curling into her touch. Buffy freezes, fearful of pushing him too far.
Instead, he rolls onto his back, baring his vulnerable underbelly to her touch. Tentatively, she pets him, making her hands soft. His arms stretch over his head and he arcs into the subtle stroking, eyelids fluttering.
Emboldened, she leans forward, feathering kisses along his sternum, butterfly wings to tease a response from the riddled rose mystery of him. He gleams, petal white, lips falling open on a sigh.
"Buffy?" She strokes her cheek along his tepid flesh, patient as the world.
"Hey." Her tongue ventures out, a tiny taste of his nipple sweet as honey on her lips. "You okay?"
"Yeah." His breath flows in wondering gasp. "Do that again, pet."
Buffy obeys, pleased and so very careful, minute strokes against his skin. He tastes so good, like lemon sorbet with fudge topping. It hurts to hold back, to rein herself in against urges she'd learned to indulge. She couldn't injure him, not like a human male, with the sharp crack and snap she'd always feared, but she had discovered she could harm him. He was easily wounded, open to her, and without defense.
His body subsides under the tender licking of her tongue, falling back into sleep with a deathly rattle. As his chest stills again, so does she, resting the weight of her head on his abdomen. A soft smile plays over her lips; he'd let her touch him, taste him, and hadn't fallen into the dark place.
Buffy's eyes sag shut against the heated air. Someday, maybe, he would trust her again. Believe that she would not harm him, and let her love him back. Let her be what he deserved.