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Through My Most Grievous Fault
By Dori

Genre: Drama, Angst
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Spike belongs to Joss. Dammit. I'm just borrowing, and intend no harm. Well, not to Joss ...
Summary: Set not long after "The Gift." Spike does penance ...

"Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death."

He'd learned the words from Dru, back in the old days when Angelus used them to punish her, making her tell the beads until she wept and bled and finally passed out from the pain.

He slipped another bead through ruined fingers, and began again. "Hail, Mary, full of grace ..."

The words were thick in his mouth, painful on his swollen, blistered tongue; he coughed, spat, and resumed the prayer, his voice accompanied by the soft plops of the blood that dripped from his hands onto the stone floor of his crypt.

The individual burns of the beads had blended into one long, slow burn as he told the decades, until his fingers blistered and split and bled, but he deserved it. He deserved far worse. He had failed her.

She was dead because she trusted him.

His hand clenched on the rosary, driving the crucifix into his palm, holding it there as it burned through his flesh to the bone. He shook as he struggled to hold on to the pain, but at last he gave a strangled cry and opened his hand. The rosary tumbled to the floor. "Oh, God," he moaned, and slumped, cradling his hand against his chest, which was seared in many places where the crucifix had brushed against him as he prayed.

(Where he had made sure the crucifix brushed against him ...)

"Buffy ..." For a moment he let the weight of his grief and guilt press him into the cold floor; then he struggled back to his knees and picked up the beads again.

"Hail, Mary ..."

The End