Jessica Walker

Rated NC-17


Pairing: Spike/Angel.

Disclaimer: The plot is mine and nothing else, blah blah blah, Joss is God and the "Grrr, Arrrgghh" monster could kick my ass.    Don't sue, I'm broke.

Summary:  Companion piece to Fool's Gold by Donna (Kita). Donna's fic got me thinking... what's Spike's take on their little "arrangement"?  How long has it been going on?  What's happening in that bleached head of his?  Anyway, this was the result.

Warning: Slash and smut and angst.

Notes: The majority of this fic was written before "Fool for Love," during which my entire canon took a severe beating.  I apologize for plot points that, as of last Tuesday, are no longer accurate ::sob::

DEDICATION:  Donna: super-betareader and the mad genius behind this fic.

Oh, and she wanted to say re the original:
Kita0610: "the creamsicle of girl and death and illneverforget" referred to buffy, and the fact that angel scented her on spike. and while i got alot of kudos for the line, noone seemed to catch its meaning. thanks to jess for elaborating on it so beautifully in her fic.
-D now you know :o)


"My mother put a pillow on the floor before the ancestors.  'Kneel here,' she said.  'Now take off your shirt.'  I kneeled with my back to my parents so none of us felt embarrassed.  My mother washed my back as if I had left for only a day and were her baby yet.  'We are going to carve revenge on your back,' my father said.  'We'll carve out oaths and names.'"

Maxine Hong Kingston, "The Woman Warrior"

by Jessica Walker

It starts in the pit of my stomach.  Not in my groin, as you'd expect, not even in the increasingly familiar heaviness between my legs.  But no, it's slightly higher, a gnawing, all-consuming ache in my abdomen.

Oh, for fuck's sake.  Let's call it what it is, shall we?  It's hunger.  All of it, it's all... just... hunger.  And I am loathe to call it that because blood is something I cannot live without, yes, blood is something I musthave, but bloody Christ, he should not be.

So I stave off the urge as long as I possibly can.

But eventually it begins to take up all of my attention, the gnawing hunger, the burning need.  Trembling hands and a ringing in my ears and every cell in my body screaming "Angelus."  And finally it gets to be too much, the shaking and the craving and the images like dark blood spattered on the backs of my eyelids, and I pick up my car keys and head for the door, hating
myself every step of the way.

"Where are you going?" she asks, looking up from her Seventeen magazine.


She doesn't press for answers, aware that I am always moments away from leaving and never coming back.  I stay because it's my crypt and I'm too apathetic to kick her out.  That's all.  Is there a reason to keep her around?  No.  Not much of a reason for anything these days.  It doesn't feel
any less empty with her here, that's for sure.

So I race along the highway, cigarette dangling from my lips, stereo up so loud that I can't hear myself think, and I mutter the words that I say over and over again, all the way there, like a mantra:

"This is the last time.  This is the last time.  This is the last time."

It started not long after I returned to Sunnydale last fall.  I woke up one evening, rolled over in bed, and pressed my lips to a cool cheek.  Dragging my eyelids open, I faced my companion.

I expected to see Dru.  It had always been Dru, had been for a hundred years.  And I'd been dreaming of her all night, so why the hell wouldn't it be Dru?  But it wasn't.  It was that stupid blonde fledgling that I'd picked up in a bar in Venice Beach a few weeks earlier when I was too drunk to see straight.  Dru wasn't here, she was in New Orleans fucking something made out of portabello mushrooms, Dru wasn't here and she wasn't coming back.

And oh god, dear, dead god, Harmony's presence in my bed was so stupid, blonde and young and naive and so fucking pointless, and I hadn't realized, hadn't realized when I drunkenly pressed her against the wall in the bar and kissed her as if my tongue was searching for meaning in the back of her throat, didn't realize when I fucked her in the back of my car, eyes shut tight, screaming Drusilla's name, didn't realize until now.  And it hurts to wake up alone and it hurts to go without but it didn't, couldn't hurt as badly as this horror and disgust, this cracking and breaking and shattering of everything I'd ever believed in.  I rolled over away from her, pulling my knees to my chest, desperately staving off nausea.

((i want i want nights of spice and blood and spain i want cool mediterranean breezes and cooler fingers on the backs of my thighs i want her teeth in my throat i want her taste like jasmine and cloves in my mouth i want strong, frail hands that tie me to the bedstead with strips of red silk i want coy smiles and dark eyes and maddened giggles but i don't want this please fucking christ))

and I thought, for a moment, that if I just closed my eyes tightly enough, my fingernails digging deep in my palms and my useless breath coming in harsh gasps, maybe I would open my eyes to find Dru in my bed.

But she wasn't.

I rose out of bed, my legs weak, and pulled my clothes on with trembling fingers.  I grabbed a bottle of whiskey and a pack of smokes, got into my car, and started to drive.  Three hours later, exhausted and shaking and blind drunk, I pulled over at a small motel.  I sat there in the car for
minutes, hours, whatever, desperately willing away this craving and this agony and this feeling of loss.  And then I saw headlights splash into the parking lot and the ache in the pit of my stomach faded away and I just knew.

He climbed out of his car, dark silhouette against the darkness outside.  Through the haze of alcohol I saw him smile, the dry, obnoxious little half-smirk.  We went inside the hotel room and we never said a word... but for a moment- a moment- I didn't feel half so broken and lost.   Or maybe I did and it no longer made any difference because I belonged to him again.

A week later I had him run through with hot pokers as if nothing had ever happened.  I certainly didn't expect the incident to occur again.  But the hunger always returns.

This happens a few times every year, ever since he left Sunnydale and I returned, like the changing of the seasons or the turning of the tides.  Ancient Pagan Sabbats: October, February, May, August and back 'round again.  Times of celebration and grief, food and sex.  All Hallow's Eve.  A day of honoring the dead and facing the darkness.

He thinks I don't know anything about all that crap, that I'm all smokes and CDs and pop culture.  I wish to God I was.  Truth is, I don't believe in anything, anything but myself and death and the siren song of blood and mayhem.  But I was Drusilla's lover, consort to the Dark Priestess of
Fuck-all Chaos and Lunacy, and I laid cheek and jowl with those mysteries for a hundred years.  I know about the powers of a magical talisman or a certain herb.  I have seen fates decided with the turn of a Tarot card and I know that everyone, even the Devils and the Hanged Men, everyone gets
crushed when The Tower comes crumbling down.

I know all this.  But I don't believe in it.

He always finds me.  I don't know how, I don't bloody well want to know.  Why don't vamps appear in mirrors, why do sunlight and wooden twigs do what knives and bullets can't, how the hell can he still know what I'm thinking even after so long?  Metaphysics, not physics, mate.  Blood and Mysteries.  Lasa orbita sa fie vasul care-i va transporta, sufletul la el.

We never went to Romania, I think feverishly as I unlock the door with trembling hands.  She begged, she pleaded, insisted he was there, he was hurt, he was bleeding with the wounds of thousands, some bollocks like that.  And I knew she was right, I knew as well as she that those mountains and valleys had swallowed him alive.  But I would not seek him there.  I cannot search through smoke and dust and the images of paprika-scented girls for the ashes of my Sire.  I want nothing to do with those mysteries.

I walk inside with the only belongings I ever take with me into this dark, dank room: duster, car keys, bottle, pack of smokes.  Seven cigarettes and two shots of bourbon will still the tremors in my chest before he gets here.  He thinks I drink too much- I can see it in the subtle sniff at the air, the disapproving glance.  Hell, he's probably right.  I started drinking too much after Dru left and for some reason I never bothered to stop.

But, dear God, I just can't bear to be sober these days.

I undress slowly before the large mirror that hangs over the dresser.  It reflects nothing, but if I concentrate hard enough, I can recreate from memory the images that should lurk in this empty glass.  The things that no longer fall in my line of vision.

One jagged scar cutting through the left eyebrow, check.

((He used to run his hand over it, tracing the line of scar tissue with one fingertip.))

Hollow cheeks and hungry eyes.

((Lived starving, died starving.  Ravenous even now.  Can't, won't drink my fill of frigid, dead animal blood, would rather starve.  This.  is.  not. living.))

Shock of platinum hair.  Before this it was blue, a deep, midnight blue that blended into darkness as Dru and I ravaged the streets and nightclubs of Prague.  But then Dru was injured, and we returned to the States, and I bleached it a white-blonde.

((She screamed in a hotel room not unlike this one, lay cut and bruised on the sheets screaming in pain and I poured the peroxide over my scalp and bit the insides of my cheeks, trying not to scream more loudly than she))

White-blonde.  Color of nothing.  White like grief and ghosts and frost and dead things.

After her cure, I told myself, after things got better, I would dye it again.  Something vibrant and alive, a deep purple or a searing burgundy.  But things never did get better, and I'm used to it now, and it will stay this way as long as this lasts.  The stinging bite of peroxide once every couple of weeks serves to remind me that it's not over yet.

Call it penance.  Call it penance if you want to.  'Cause I sure as hell won't.

I stare into the blank mirror, searching for a ghost of a reflection, and trace my fingers over two small dots of scar tissue near the base of my throat.  Right on the edge of my collarbone, the mark is usually hidden by my t-shirt, and I've never seen it.  It's all about perception, isn't it?  So easy to forget that you're there when there's nothing left to prove it.  So easy to pretend it never happened when you can't see the scars.  But I know it's there.  I remember.


A shiver runs through me and I crawl beneath the bedclothes.


He doesn't even look at me when he enters; flips off the lamp and shuts the door.

"Late from saving the world again, Peaches?"


I close my eyes for a moment, savoring that single scrap of voice, that dry, dead syllable.  Probably the only thing I'll hear issuing from his throat for the rest of the evening, besides screams and moans and sobs.

We only once ever had a real conversation.

"Why do you come here?"

I shrugged, leaned over the side of the bed, and picked up my trousers.  "Dunno."

"Don't you have a reason?"

I didn't respond.

He swung his feet over the covers and sat on the edge of the bed, eyes staring sightlessly into peeling wallpaper.  "Indulgence," he whispered.

"What?" I asked, lighting a cigarette and reaching for my t-shirt.

He ran a hand over his brow.   "In the Dark Ages, penitents could purchase absolution from their confessors.  No Pater Nosters or Ave Marias, no Acts of Contrition, just- money.  They could... buy... forgiveness."

Socks.  Boots.  "Sounds like a great marketing strategy to me."

"But it wasn't real."

"Did they think it was real?" I asked him, locating my blood-spattered belt on the side of the bed.  "Did they believe it?"

"I'm sure they did," he replied sadly.

"Then what's the difference?"

He looked up at me in surprise.  "You think God can be bought off?"

I chuckled.  "If God had been listening in the first place, then they wouldn't have needed a priest.  And yes, Angelus.  I believe that everyone has their price."

He turned to face me.  "What's yours?"

And I paused, cigarettes and duster in frozen hands.  "I'm relatively cheap."

He turns on the ceiling fan, rush of sound waking me from reverie, riffling dead air and pulling cigarette smoke around him like a fog.  Frames in shades of white, half-real, and for a moment I'm afraid to blink my eyes lest he disappear, sink into a darkness that suits him too well these days.
He looks tired.

I shouldn't think about that.  Whatever goes on outside this room falls strictly in the boundaries of Not to Know.  But I can't help but wonder what's been stealing his sleep.

Cashmeres and cottons whisper to the floor.  Black doesn't suit him, it never did.  You wouldn't think so to look at him now, but I remember an Angelus of cream-colored silks and brilliant burgundy velvets, an Angelus who hung tapestries of vermillion and cobalt and crimson from the walls and danced the night away, his mouth wide with laughter.  An Angelus who bought me a pair of teal trousers once and honestly expected me to wear them.

A sad, pale shadow of that vampire now.  It hurts to look at him.

He strips away layers of leather and cloth and exposes pale, bloodless skin, a body that I know so well, the same white flesh and strong muscles and shadow of tattoo.  But: no uplifted head, no proud stance of shoulders or swagger of hips.  Brooding and broken.  Not my Sire, but someone who bears him enough resemblance that I can close my eyes and feel that muscled coolness against me and pretend.

I turn away as he crawls beneath the covers, close my eyes.  Cool flesh to cool flesh.  I roll over, bite my lip, and begin.  I always start.  It's easier on us both if I take the responsibility.

If a tree falls in the forest and no one's there to hear it, who's to blame for the cutting?

I can feel him tremble under exploring hands: this act is still sinful to him, whereas for me it is merely wrong, a necessary evil, and I don't think either one of us has figured out the difference yet.  We keep our eyes closed as mouths meet and fingers search.  I can feel him trace the lines of
my muscles and bones.  I'm not sure he knows about the chip- I sure as hell haven't told him- but I think he's noticed my significant weight loss in the last year.  I can tell by the way he runs his fingers over my ribs and handles me like a porcelain doll.  Perhaps he's heard, I don't know.  I
don't know what goes on in his life outside this room.

Desperate hands caressing every exposed surface, tongues battling for dominance, rough kisses up the length of my throat.  No promises, no whispered affections, no bollocks.  And it's so dry and dead and pointless that it makes me cringe.  But I can't help it, and I can't stop myself, and
I.  will.  always.  go.  back.  Because I've always had the world's shortest attention span and I keep forgetting the infinite stupidity of it all when I start to drown in him again.

His hands work against the back of my neck, scraping for purchase.  He used to love to pull my hair, twisting his fingers deep and hard in the tangled locks, and tug my head back, exposing the throat.  No long wisps of pale-brown hair now, but you make do with what you've got, and he thrusts his hands into my hair and pulls my head to the side and I'm already shaking in anticipation, already aware of what's to come.  And as soon as I feel that sharp pain at my jugular vein, as soon as his fangs disappear inside me, I can disappear inside him.  I can disappear in the memory of my Angelus and forget.

Don't think about it, I think desperately as his lips fasten and swallow and take all of me and I vanish down his throat, don't think about how much it hurts, not on the surface of torn skin, but somewhere deep inside.  Don't think about how desperate you are for some touch other than that of Harmony's apathetic, careless fingertips, so desperate that your biggest turn-on these days is a blonde Slayer who breaks your nose every time she sees you, because pain, at least, is attention of a sort and sometimes the curls of her hair carry the merest scent of your Sire.  Don't think about
days in front of the TV and nights that you can't remember because you had too much to drink again.  Don't think about your horror and disgust staring morning after morning over the rim of a mugful of pig's blood, the painful lurch of nausea in your stomach, the dreadful loathing and fear and exhaustion- I can't drink that, I can't drink that.  Hungry, so hungry, lightheaded, malnourished, but I can't drink this shit for one more day, I can't.  And Harmony comes in with fresh blood on her lips and she pats you on the head and says "oh, poor Spikey," and you want to rip her throat out because she doesn't understand, stupid, mindless, ignorant child, she doesn't understand what blood means.  Don't think about how often you hit her on nights like that, and how much you hate her for letting you, and how much you wish she would fight back and that one night- one night you would push her too far and she'd shove the leg of the coffee-table through your chest and it would finally be over.

Don't think about it because it's all right now, everything's okay now, 'cause I'm gone.  Down his throat and into his body, feathers and whispers of memory and meaning, losing myself inside of him.  Bite me until you find that vein from which First Bloode flows and remember what it used to be.  Blood of my blood and flesh of my flesh.  He looks up at me with something closely akin to longing and I realize that we haven't bled enough tonight.  Not enough by half.  He needs to hurt.  He needs this.  Reading the request in his eyes, I lean over and gather our belts from the pile of
discarded clothing on the floor.

Restraint gives us the illusion of control.

Razorblade cool against my fingers.  He'll try to convince himself later that I planned it this way, that it was all ordained, crime and punishment and Powers that Be and taking what he had coming from the one who deserves the most to give it.  He can't conceive of the way things just happen, the waking up with that familiar yearning and the pointless union in this bed and the screaming and fucking and weeping and bleeding that seems to take place of its own volition.  He doesn't understand that sometimes you just open your eyes one day and you're kneeling over your Sire, who's tied to a bed, his belt securing the right wrist and yours securing the left, and he's
looking up at you, begging for something, anything that will make you both feel again, and you've got this razorblade in your hands and this tightness in your chest and what the fuck are you supposed to do in a situation like that?  Invention is the mother of necessity, isn't it?  You take the tools at hand and you put them to good use and you give the one in charge what he wants.  And you cut and you cut and you cut.

And I can myself bleeding out of his wounds as the incisions begin.

Letters and numbers and madness, random shapes, mystery trickling into the mattress.  Secrets written in a language that neither one of us understands.  "What do they mean?" he asked me once.  "What do you want them to mean?" I retorted, without even thinking.  Who the fuck cares?  But that's not good enough for him.  He wants a meaning.  Ancient symbols that spell out blessing and forgiveness.  All roads lead to redemption. Except... and this is the part he doesn't get, will never get... they don't.  Some roads don't lead anywhere.  Nowhere but brambles and darkness and sticky-stained sheets and more and more pain.  And I don't want it to mean anything, because I know that the minute it means something, I'm not gonna be able to let it go.

But that's not good enough for him.  He wants mysteries and absolutions and those blasted Catholic prayers.  Like her.

The madness of life stayed with Drusilla long before the madness of death overtook it.  She would wander up and down darkened hallways, slicing small cuts in her arms with a sharpened blade and whispering in Latin.

((Confiteor Deo omnipotente))

//I confess to Almighty God//

((et omnibus Sanctis))

//and all the saints//

((quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo et opere))

//that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed//

((mea culpa))

//through my fault//

((mea culpa))

//through my fault//

((mea maxima culpa))

//through my most grievous fault//

And when I asked her what these words meant, she merely shook her head and smiled a dark smile.  "Silly Will," she purred, her blood falling to the floor in soft whispers.  "These are mysteries that you're not meant to understand."

I eventually found a Latin dictionary and translated the passage.

But I still don't understand.

It's all random, I try to tell myself.  Bullshit and nonsense.  Unpronounceable gibberish and letters of a half-dozen dead languages, thebans and oghams and ancient pictish alphabets, a chemistry formula I once saw scribbled on one of Red's notebooks.  Meaningless.

But sometimes I catch myself trying to forge meaning out the bloody mess. Dates and names and memories.  1898.  The year he left.  1998.  The year he came back.  Drusilla's full name- her mortal name, known only to me- written backwards and upside-down to disguise it from his sight, because he doesn't deserve to know.  The rune Gebo, a ragged X-shape signifying partnership and sacrifice- because they're the same thing, aren't they?  When you love someone, you learn to bleed for them.  But the words I always try to ignore are the ones I write last, on an expanse of flesh so tattered and torn that even I cannot read the hateful letters I have inscribed there.

Mea culpa.  Mea culpa.  Mea culpa.

I'm still bleeding... I must be, there's blood everywhere, my hands sticky and dark.  How can I still be bleeding?  Haven't I been drained dry yet?  My blood, his blood, her blood staining the sheets and it feels good, doesn't it, Sire?  It feels good to suffer for our sufferings.  And you don't fucking deserve that, you bastard, you don't deserve this absolution, this purification by blade, you don't deserve to have the scales tipped in your favor, but I can't hold it in anymore.  I can't keep this grief and this hurt and these bleeding wounds inside me, goddamnit, I don't want this, I
never wanted this, so you take it, Angel.  Take peace in your screaming and your pain and your blood in the bed.  Because I, for one, am so fucking sick of bleeding for the sins of the fathers.

The pain hits him suddenly and he flinches, doubtless assuming behind tightly closed eyelids that I have cut him again.  But the razor lies limp in my hand and he doesn't see the salt tears that fall into his wounds and make him cringe.

He doesn't understand.  He can't understand.

I run my hands over his chest, smearing and pulling and tugging, his blood inching between my fingers.  I want inside.  The urge hits me so suddenly that I almost say it, scream it in raw, sobbing tones.  I want inside, Angel.  I bite down hard on my lip to keep the words from escaping, but the
cry is deafening in my brain.  I.  want.  inside.  I want to reach inside of him and drag that hateful, frozen, cloud-white soul out of his chest.  Wrench it out and crawl inside the empty husk it leaves and live there forever.  But it doesn't work that way, does it, Peaches?  I'm not an acceptable substitute for your suffering and redemption.  You'd never be willing to lose your soul over me.

But he doesn't notice.  His eyes are closed and there are wounds enough inside his own mind to make him scream, so what sodding difference does it make if I do the same to the surface of his skin?  All he can feel anymore is pain.

I run my tongue over the wounds, drink him down, swallow him whole.  Take, drink, this is my blood... gulp hungrily, pull back and watch in fascination as dry gashes fill with dark liquid again, kiss it away.  Press lips together and delve deep inside, close eyes and disappear within.  He moans
deep in the back of his throat as I give and take everything that he has, dispensing pain with one hand and pleasure with the other, tugging at the edges of the wounds with my fingertips.  Angel gasps, his head thrown back and tears trickling from the corners of his eyes.

"Ssh, love," I whisper, so softly that I don't think he can hear me.  "Ssh."  I drape my body carefully over his own, muscles and bones fitting together perfectly, pressing him to the bloodstained mattress.  Maybe, just maybe, if I lie here perfectly still, I can seep into the wounds... but his blood burns my flesh and he's starting to whimper from the pain.  I bury my face in the side of his neck and lay my hands gently over the gashes in his sides while his soft sobs echo in the darkness.

I don't know what to do for him.  Didn't know what to do for Dru when she sobbed away deep into the night, whispering those hateful Latin insanities and slicing her flesh open.  Won't know what to do later tonight when he whispers the same words in his sleep, confiteor Deos and eu sunt monstrus.  I'm sorry, Angel, but I don't know how to take the pain away, I only know how to give it.  That's all I'm good at.  Cutting and burning and blowing away the last of the ash and trying to forget.

So I pull away.

Sticky slickness as our bodies pull apart and it's all printed on me, the reverse of everything I have written, the secret of his sufferings, the hidden, darkly spoken language of Sire and Childe.  There's a look on his face that I cannot read, a horror and a sickness and a lust.  I'm not the
mirror image he's searching for.  Not me.  And I don't get it, okay?  I don't know what you want.  I can't understand everything.  It doesn't always make sense, why do I have to be the one to fucking figure it out?  I don't know, okay, Angel?  I don't know how to make it all better.  There's nothing I can do for you.  A hundred twenty years of bleeding for your sins and a hundred twenty years of cleaning up your messes and I can't seem to remember when the fuck I became the responsible one in the family.

And I can't pretend to understand the sound of snapped leather, the torn restraints, the angry hands closing around me.  Can't decipher the meaning of being hurled through the air or the smashing against mirror-glass or of landing splayed and bemused against the dresser, and this time I don't care.  Smirk on his lips and terror in his eyes, but this way, at least, I don't bloody well have to be the one in charge for once.  He drags me from the mess of shattered glass and pins me to the dresser, shards working into my back with brutal sharpness, grinding and gritting against flesh and bone.  And oh, dear God, it feels good.  Feels so good to feel anything again.  Shove and push and break me, legs tangling and fingers cracking fragile wristbones and fangs nipping at my throat.

He bites down on my ear and whispers her name.  And I wonder when it stopped being about Us- the Darla-Angelus-Drusilla-William Us- and started being all about the fucking Slayer.  I'm just as much to blame as he is, I can't stay away from the bitch.  Can't resist the power and the danger.  Because everyone is drawn to something stronger than themselves.

"You smell like her," he mutters.

He's never mentioned her.  Doesn't ask how she is, never explained why he left Sunnydale.  And I, for my part, kept quiet about the glimmer of memory in her eyes, the hurt that radiated off of her in waves.  Even after the second time we met, not long after what I affectionately term the Hot Poker Incident.

"This won't happen again," he said, pulling his shirt over still-healing flesh.

Only Angelus could manage to sound pompous and self-righteous in a room that still stank of his spilt blood.  I lit a cigarette and smirked.  "Shouldn't and won't are two different things, Peaches."

He scowled at me and reached for his car keys.  "I'm leaving now."

((guess you weren't worth the second go))

"Yeah," I said evenly.  "You leave.  You're so good at that."

He rakes a hand through my hair and pulls me head back roughly, knocking my scalp against the hard wood.  "Why do you smell like her?" he asks now, suspiciously.

"Because I didn't leave her the way you did," I say with a smirk, a blink, a lazy finger traced over tattered flesh- with every part of my body except my voice.

And he hears me, of course.  Always has.

"She hasn't staked you yet?" he asks with a smirk.

"Of course not, you pillock.  I'm all of you she's got left."  I snicker and he pins my wrists to the dresser with a growl.  "You know the last time I fought her- truly fought her- I nearly won?  And all it took was mentioning your name."  He grimaces when he hears this, and closes his eyes.

Does he see her when he looks at me, I wonder?  Light eyes and fair hair and frail, fragile bones?  Or does he just dismiss it all, stare off blankly into the elsewhere, and chalk it up under Best Left Forgotten?  And what about me?  Do I feel him in her touch, in the slap across the face or the
punch to the nose, and am I pathetic enough to miss that?  Isn't pain the deepest touch of all?  It's been so long since anyone has cared enough to hurt me.

So let's see how good you are at this, Angel.  Give it to me good.  Try a little harder.  Let's see if you and your cracked and bleeding soul have the balls to give me what I want.  This is the way it should be, because when he takes me this way, when he hurts me more than he has in a century, I can feel his hate and disgust.  I can feel how much he regrets me in every single thrust.  And if he feels that guilty about it, then it's all clearly his fault, and I'm therefore absolved of any responsibility towards the fucked-up freakshow that my life has become.  Maybe I can suffer enough, here, now, on this dresser, with his fangs gnashing in my face and glass digging into my back, maybe I can hurt enough to put things right.  I've never believed in guilt, but I'm a big believer in karma.  And I don't think that bad things happen to good people because there's no such animal.

Harmony doesn't know how to hurt me, couldn't do it if she tried.  Dru only did it as a prelude to her own suffering.  And sometimes I awake with my skin buzzing, longing for the sensation of Angelus' fists or Drusilla's fingernails.  It might not be an urge I'm proud of, but I've never had a bit of pride when it comes to hunger.  And I can close my eyes against the ragged bloody mea culpas all I want to but I can't close my eyes to the fact that I come harder and scream louder with him than with anyone else my entire life.

Later he carries me back to the bed, lays me tenderly on the sheets.  With careful fingertips he pulls each sliver of glass from my back, my body shaking so hard he can scarcely grip the shards.  Drops them in a pile on the bedside table where they glint in dim lamplight, coated with my blood.

They're never gonna get those stains out of the sheets.

When the very last jagged splinter is gone from my flesh, he leans down and gently licks the blood from my wounds, his tongue working lovingly into tears of skin.  I dig my fingers into the bedclothes and screw my eyes tightly shut and bite down hard on my lower lip to keep from speaking, keep from weeping, keep from begging.  So fucking close to begging him to stay, to take me back with him, to toss me on the dresser and fuck me blind again.  So fucking close to breaking into hoarse, raw sobs and screaming "Don't leave me.  Please for God's sake don't fucking leave me again."

But I can't speak.  I can't face that refusal again.

I wait until lays down wearily beside me and closes his eyes before I let the tears fall.

When I know he is asleep I rise and pull clothing slowly over my tattered flesh, find my smokes and car keys, get ready to go.  I don't look at him any more than I possibly have to; better not to invite temptation.  Better just to let him sleep.  The sun will be up soon.

We stayed all night once.  Once.  I opened my eyes the next morning to see his sleeping face, his hair playfully mussed, and he looked so much like my Angelus that I just couldn't bear it.  Something inside me broke, cracked open into sharp, jagged pieces and scattered me on the floor.

I'm not sure what happened after that.  I remember screaming and crying and shoving him off the bed, eliciting a startled cry when he cracked his head against the bedside table.  A cut opened in his forehead and a thin stream of blood trickled down the side of his face and I wanted to taste him so badly that my teeth ached.  But I couldn't, wouldn't, not there, not in that moment.  So I shouted a few more obscenities and threw his clothes at him and hid in the bathroom until I heard him go.

Now I always leave before he wakes.

I feel a sharp pain in my side as I pull on my duster.  Reaching beneath my shirt, I dig a shard of glass out of my hip, stuck deep past flesh into bone.  He forgot one.  Let it slip.  Innocent bystander.  Necessary evil.  Sacrifice to the gods.  Confiteor Deo.

Happens every time.

I let my hand drift towards him but stop my fingers a few inches away from tousled strands and gently closed eyes.  Pull my hand back and shove it in my pocket to keep it from straying where it's not allowed to go.  Grasp the sliver of glass instead, the random spatters of blood a half-assed reflection of him.  Twist it briefly between my fingers before placing it under the pillow for him to find in the morning.  Leave it there under his pillow, where it's no longer my responsibility or my fault.


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