A Moment on the Lips



Rated: R

E-mail: girl292@hotmail.com

Pairing:  Buffy/Spike

Summary: Post-Wrecked -- Death, Blood and Spike.

Disclaimer: It all belongs to Joss, ME, Fox and a lot of other suit-y types that aren't me.

Warning: Angst.

Notes: Buffy POV. IMPROV#32: roll - cracker - stupefy - chunk.
(direct quotes from various Buffy episodes), //song lyrics//, lyrics used are from "Drown Soda" by Hole, no infringement intended.

A Moment on the Lips
by Aurora

//He wants to take you
Take you away from your life
He wants to take you
Take you away from your lies
He wants to take you
Take you by the hand
He wants to shame you
Baby, I know you'd understand//

I remain sitting perfectly still, surrounded by the acrid stench of the garlic that hangs, taunting me from every available window and wall, while frantically clutching the worn wooden cross to my chest as if it could ward off the myriad of things swirling in my head that I'd rather not think about.  Somewhere about the fifteenth time that I warily scan my room, anxiously searching every corner, intensely studying every passing shadow, it suddenly hits me how ridiculous this is.

And how very futile.

Who am I kidding?  A room full of garlic won't keep him out, not if he really wants in.  Nothing can keep him out now.

Not even me.

I quickly clamp down on the small voice in the back of my mind that wonders why Iím trying so hard to keep him at bay in the first place.  Instead I turn my attention to ridding my room of the garlic and crosses, tossing them haphazardly into an old gym bag and stowing it in the bottom of my closet.

The task at hand completed, I can't resist the nagging urge to scan the room once more.  Hoping to assure myself that nothing has changed, that the windows are still closed and latched tight against more than that which goes bump in the night.

Yes, because vampires always appear from thin air.  Get a grip Buffy.

Sighing, I stretch stiffly, releasing the tension that had taken up residence in my overwrought nerves and tendons during my silent vigil, and absently rub at the chill that spreads down the back of my neck.

I'm not tired.  No, I'm beyond tired.  I'm exhausted.  I can feel it clawing at the edges of my eyes and soaking into my limbs, making my bones ache with the hot, angry need for rest but my mind won't let me go that easily.  Rest isn't a luxury that I have.  There is no point in returning to bed only to stare at the ceiling until the sun rises in a few hours, so instead I turn and quietly exit my room.

Taking a few short strides down the darkened hall, I halt outside Dawn's door.  Hesitating only briefly, I carefully turn the doorknob and peek in on my baby sister to find her sleeping soundly; due no doubt in part to the painkillers they gave her at the hospital.

I slip cautiously into the darkened room and settle myself on the edge of the bed, my gaze lingering on the raw ugliness of the fresh cuts and scrapes from tonight that mar the smooth, soft, curves of her young face.  I flinch as my eyes land on the cast that adorns her fractured arm, her fingers swollen and purpled from where they collided with the dashboard.

Her middle finger looks the worst.  There's a dark purple line around the base of from where the silver ring she always wore had to be cut off.  The force of the unexpected impact bent her fingers at an awkward angle causing them to swell rapidly, and there was just no way to get the ring off in one piece.  The ER doctor had to have it cut off and I held her uninjured hand as she cried and begged the doctor to find another way.  I watched as her face twisted in pain and then fell in defeat as the doctor placed the remains of the ring back into her trembling outstretched palm.  And I watched as she bravely held back the heavy tears that threatened to fall from her eyes as the doctor began to cast her arm.

She was more upset about losing the ring than about her injuries.  The doctor couldn't possibly have known that she never, under any circumstances, takes that ring off.  He couldn't have known, as he snapped the wire cutters through the thin silver band engraved with delicate roses, that the ring was a gift from Mom.  That Mom had it engraved with the words: 'Beloved daughter' and had given it to Dawn after the whole secret about the Key had come out, when she was feeling so lost and alone and like she didn't belong anywhere.

I don't know what Mom said to her when she gave her the ring, I only know that whatever she told her was exactly what she needed to hear, because after that Dawn stopped focusing so much on what she didn't have and focused on what she had.  And she had us.

And she has me.

And look at what I let happen to her.

I swallow back the heavy lump that lodges in the back of my throat as I am faced with the evidence of yet another time where I've let Dawn down.

(Buffy, promise me. If anything happens, if I don't come through this -- I have to know that you'll take care of her, that you'll keep her safe. That you'll love her like I love you.)

I should have been there.  Dawn is my responsibility not Tara's or Spike's or Willow's.  My sister.  My blood.  Not theirs.  I promised I'd keep her safe and look at what a good job I'm doing at it.  Dawn could have been seriously hurt or worse tonight and I almost didn't reach her in time.

Oh God.  What I would I do without her?  She's a part of me.  She's in my blood.

(It doesn't matter where you came from, or how you got here. You are my sister.)

I should have been there instead of wallowing in my own drama, instead of wasting so much time arguing with Spike.  I ignore the raw burning that thinking about Spike dredges up in my stomach and turn my attention back to Dawn.  I lean in and softly brush a kiss across her forehead, her skin warm against my own.  I pull back and push a stray hair from her face, tucking it safely behind her ear.

I know that I need to get it together, to stop being thrown around by the circumstances of each new crisis and take control of something, anything, but it's like there's this huge gap in between what I know I should be doing in my mind and what I'm actually able to will myself to do these days.

This would be so much easier if Giles was here.  We're floundering without him.  All of us.  We can't even find a decent scrap of information on this frost monster-bank robbing demon thing.  What are we supposed to do if something big and end-of-the-world-y happens?  Whenever I think about it causes sharp pain to settle in between my ribs and it burns when I breathe.

I don't want to think about it.

There is just so much pressing in on me, so many people depending on me, and I don't know if I can handle it.  Most days just getting out of bed takes all the effort I have left in my body, but having all the responsibility thrust on me, on top of my current emotional freeze out, is too much to deal with.  So I haven't.  Dealt with it.  Yet.  It's easier to try and pretend that it isn't there, easier to stay lost in the comforting numbness of routine.

Easier not to think about it.

Dawn shifts awkwardly in the bedding and the sudden movement pulls me from my thoughts.  She struggles briefly in the sheets before settling back down, her casted arm causing her discomfort even in her sleep.  I spare one last glance at her then carefully stand, tying to leave quietly, but as my right foot finds the floor and I shift my weight to the leave the bed, a series of muffled crunches and the loud rustling of cellophane assaults the still air.

"Shit!"  I mutter under my breath and carefully step to the side to examine the unintentional casualty, hoping that my utter clumsiness hasn't woken Dawn.

I have to squint in the darkened room and when my eyes locate the offending object, I feel that same tightness in my chest that I get when some random thing stirs up a long-forgotten memory of my mother.

The troublemaker in this case is a half-eaten bag of SunFarms Organic Animal Crackers.  Dawn was addicted to them when she was younger and they are next to impossible to find.  You can't get them in Sunnydale, they only carry them at health foods and organic specialty shops.  Mom had to stockpile them whenever she went into L.A. on gallery business and I used to tease Dawn mercilessly about her preference for the 'fake sweets' over the good stuff like chocolate.

God.  I had almost forgotten about those.  I haven't seen a bag in years and I have no idea where she found this one.  I start to gather its remains for the trash but pause before my fingers can grasp the torn wrapper.  I can't do that to her.  Not after she just lost the ring tonight.  Instead, I carefully slide the bits of cookies and mangled wrapper out of sight and under her bed and then quickly exit the room to avoid any other disasters that might wake her from the rest she needs.

I slip out and pull Dawn's door closed, releasing the knob slowly so that it doesn't squeak and disturb her.  I turn my back to her room and my eyes wander over to my mom's door.


It's not Mom's room anymore.  It's Willow's now.  Just thinking about the look on Willow's face tonight as she crumpled to the pavement in agony, wailing and crying in shame and confusion, makes my chest tight with worry and anger.  She should have known better and so should I.

Oh God, Will, how did we get so lost?  I wish I knew how to fix it.  I wish I knew what to do but I can't even keep myself from sinking, how am I supposed to keep Dawn safe, and help you find your footing again?

I wish my Mom was here.  She would know what to do.  I wish I could open that door and find her propped up in bed, reading the latest romance novel.  I wish I could go to her and bury my face in her lap and have her stroke my hair and tell me that everything's going to be okay.

(Mom was the strong one in real life. She always knew how to make things better ... just what to say.)

Nothing's ever going to be okay again.  There's no one left to do this but me, and I'm not even sure who I am anymore.

//Are you gonna sit and watch me
Watch me while I go down
Are you gonna sit and watch me
Watch me while I drown//

I take a few steps toward Willow's door but stop before I reach it.  I want to see if she's okay but I can't.  Not right now.  I know that sheís hurting and I know that I am in no position to judge her but the logic of the situation does nothing to dampen the anger and fear that still churn in my belly at how much danger she put my baby sister in.

I don't want to go back to face the heavy silence of my empty room.  The house creaks and it makes me jump.  My nerves are stretched thin and my skin is too tight.  I don't even feel like me anymore.  I want out of this life and out of this body but the best I can do is shed these clothes that are suddenly very itchy and all wrong.

I glance back and forth between my door and the bathroom.  Maybe a shower would help or at least kill some more time until daylight.  At this point I'll try anything.

I make my way into the bathroom, shutting the darkness of the hall outside, and quickly peel off the offending clothing.  My muscles are stiff and protest any movement I make with reminders of the aches so recently inflicted on them that night in The House That Is No More.  I shrug off the memories and brush out my hair, avoiding looking at myself in the mirror.

I grab the matches from the drawer and light the rose scented candles that Dawn says Willow bought for Tara's birthday.  I wouldn't know, I wasn't here then.  I was... There.

But I don't want to think about that.

Instead, I keep moving.  I have to keep moving.  I lean into the bath and turn the water on fast and hot.  Too hot probably but I don't care.  I step into the shower and hiss as the first spray of water assaults my skin.  Scalding and ruthless, the water rolls of my body in waves of steam, leaving behind angry red welts.  I'm sure it would hurt if I allowed myself to think about it.  But there's too much in my life right now that would hurt if I allowed myself to dwell on it so I don't.  Instead I turn my attention to the shampoo, close my eyes, and try and lose myself in the familiar motions of lather, rinse, repeat and the soothing scent of lavender and roses.

The bathroom is too quiet and try as I might I canít stop the thoughts from coming.  Rising up from the places I tried to keep them hidden and ringing through my head in the voices that still haunt my dreams.  In response I re-focus my attention on the motion of my fingers against my scalp, digging my nails in deep against the re-emergence of the very things that I fear the most, as if I could hold them at bay with my hands.  As if I have any control over my life anymore.

(You think you know ... what you are ... what's to come. You haven't even begun.)

I turn around and lean into the spray of water.  It's still too hot and the sting causes misplaced goose bumps to rise on the flesh of my arms, but I don't want to get out and I don't want to open my eyes.  I can't stop thinking about it.  Ever since Spike gave voice to my deepest fear, lending weight to that tiny nagging voice that's continually been there in the back of my mind since my friends brought me back.  Forever whispering things I didn't want to acknowledge and now can't ignore.

(You came back wrong.)

The certainty in Spike's gaze as he met mine and uttered that sentence caused my skin to crawl and my blood to run cold.  Cold that grew from the pit of my stomach and seeped into my veins and made me want to hurt him just to stop it from swallowing me whole.

So I did.  I hurt him and he hurt me and somewhere in between the insults and the punches and the house cracking at its seams as it fell around us, I lost myself in him and the anger and it was good.  Good just to feel anything other than the cold.  To have my heart pounding and my blood rushing to the surface of my skin, seeping from the cuts and scrapes, and pooling in the fresh bruises that rose underneath my battered flesh.

That's what I remember most about two nights ago.  The blood.  We bit and hit and scratched at each other, tore at clothes and skin even as we tore the building down.  I bled and he bled but he didn't --

He didn't drink.  From me.  At all.

I don't remember worrying about it at the time.  I wasn't too worried about anything at all at that moment, except how to get more clothes off of him and onto the gritty pavement.  But afterwards -- after I trudged home to shamefully face Dawn and dragged my sore body upstairs to take inventory of the damage it hit me:

Spike bit me with blunt teeth only.  No fang.

Our blood was smeared all over the place and yet, no gratuitous sampling of the SlayerBlood buffet.

Once the realization settled onto my shoulders, it grated on me and I couldn't sleep because I couldn't figure it out.  I mean, here Spike had everything he thought he wanted right in front of him yet he didn't take it.  Well, he didn't take all of it at least.

As I laid there that morning after, staring up at the glare from the sunlight that seeped through the curtains and trying futilely to shut it all out so I could sleep, it suddenly occurred to me why.  Why he didn't take more advantage of the situation that night.

It isn't enough for him to have access to my blood; he wants me to offer it.  Wants me to submit to him and subdue my nature.  Wants me to bend my neck to his cool mouth and beg him to take it, offering so much more than just my body with the first taste of my blood.

Everything always comes back to blood.  Angel's blood to keep Hell at bay.  My blood sacrificed so that Angel could live.  My blood offered instead of Dawn's.  Angel's blood calling to me from the depths of Spike's veins.

Blood.  It's all I think about these days.

I turn my wrist over and study the smooth expanse of skin carefully.  The delicate lines of flesh and traces of blue veins that crisscross just underneath the surface, pulsing with life, always warm.  Always a reminder.

Is this who I am?  This blood that surges through the skin of my veins, is this Buffy?

I run my nail carefully over the vulnerable flesh, tracing the path of the veins through the drops of water that cling to my skin.  If I pressed hard enough I could split the surface and watch as the warm red surges forward.  Full of life, of pain and longing.

Full of my death.

It's all here, swirling within me, just waiting to be let out.  Just waiting to swallow me whole.

(And part of you wants it - not only to stop the fear and uncertainty, but because you're just a little bit in love with it.)

Death.  Love.  Blood.

My blood.  SlayerBlood.  But is it -- human blood?  I don't know and the knowledge that it might not be, of what I might not be, causes something deep within me to ache with renewed fervor and I bite down hard on my bottom lip to keep the sob that is building in the back of my throat at bay.

I can't think about this now.  If I let myself think about it, I'll crumble into a heap on the smooth, hard tile floor of this shower and never get up again.

(Your power is rooted in darkness. You must feel it.  Find it. The darkness.  Find your true nature.)

I never understood when I was younger, when I was first Called.  I never comprehended just how closely I was tied to that which I was destined to hunt, how the fire that pulses through my stubborn veins binds me to them and to the darkness.  Forever drawing us together in that ancient dance that Spike was so certain I wanted.

And maybe I still do.

(Look, it's blood. It's Summers blood.)

It's what drives this world I inhabit.  This simple red liquid that contains all the mysteries of life broken down into their very essence.  The elements humming as they throb against my flesh.  It used to repel me, the thought of it.  Drinking warm, pulsing blood from a living being, but now -- now I see it for what it is.  For what they see it as.

(Blood is life.  Why do you think we eat it?  It's what keeps you going.  Makes you warm.  Makes you hard.  Makes you other than dead.)

I asked Angel about it once.  What it tasted like.  In one of those rare, still, moments we shared back before the world intruded.  Before my seventeenth birthday, before I stopped believing in happily ever after.

Before everything went dark.

We were all snuggled together on one of those cold, hard concrete benches that dot the grounds of every cemetery, talking about everything and nothing, and I didn't even think about it, I just asked him point blank.

He hesitated, clearly uncomfortable with my choice of subjects, and pulled me closer to his body, staring off into the fading light of the moon before answering.  He was quiet for a while, probably gauging just how much he should reveal to the naïve young girl who clung to him like her dark knight in tarnished armor.

I figured he would just let it drop.  Let my question linger and die in that place where uncomfortable silences reign.  But he didn't.  He remained quiet for a long while, but then he shifted his weight on the bench and brought his hand up to stroke through my hair.  I didn't look up at him, I knew he didn't want me to see his face while he answered.  I just wrapped my arms around him and held on tight.

His voice was quiet, tight with control, as he sighed and told me that blood tastes like life.  Like love and acceptance and forgiveness.  Everything that he always wanted and was forever denied.  The words were hard for him to say and he took his time.  Pronouncing each one slowly, maybe wishing he could hold onto them instead of giving them life, making them real.

It was all he said and he got really silent after that.  All I could manage in response was a softly whispered: "Oh" and then he stood and offered to see me home.  Both of us smiling at the irony of the situation, knowing it should be the other way around, and pointedly ignoring the weight of the awkward air that hung between us.

We never spoke of it again.  Not even after I forced him to drink from me, and we've never talked about that.  And we never will.

The only reminder I have of that night is his mark on my neck and the memory of his fangs in my flesh.  The sheer power wrapped in such desperate tenderness, the pressure of his mouth clamping down on my skin, his tongue gently widening the punctures, and the exquisite agony of my life's blood being drawn into his mouth so hungrily that I felt like I was being pulled apart and turned inside out all at once, so much so that just before I blacked out I wasn't sure where I ended and he began.

I have the memory and he has my blood in his body.  The thought used to comfort me on those long nights of solo patrol just after he left, used to give some measure of relief to the gaping hollow that ached in my chest, before I gave in and let Riley become my entire world in the misguided hope that he could ease that longing.

But Riley couldn't understand it, the call of the blood, the pull of the hunt.  It was foreign to him and I couldn't let myself go there.  I couldn't open the door to all that again just to put it into terms that wouldn't threaten him.  But it was always there, hovering between us, that unspoken barrier that he couldn't cross so he tried to find it on his own.  Sought it out in dirty hallways and stained mattresses and the arms of half-starved fledglings and all it did was drive us even farther apart.  Too far for false promises and polite chit chat to ever hope to repair.

Riley left but the call remained.

Without Riley there as a distraction, the hum of my blood (SlayerBlood) became a deafening roar.  It swelled and surged with each slay, with each fight.  It wailed at the loss of my mother and it sang to me as I watched my sister's eyes fill with realization and tears as I kissed her cheek (SummersBlood) and turned to offer my gift to the world.

And now -- now that I'm back.  It's different.  Everything's different.  Especially my blood.  It's hard to explain but I can feel it with every beat of my heart.  It's not the same.  It makes me wonder if it's still me on the inside.  If my blood tastes the same now.

Part of me wants to know, wants to slit my wrist and slowly trace the cut with my tongue to see if Spike's right.  See if I taste wrong.  Less Buffy.  Less than human.  But another part of me is terrified at what I might find.

I shiver involuntarily and realize that the water has long since lost all semblance of warmth.  I can feel my skin starting to cool as I shut off the spray and step out into the fog of the bathroom.  I quickly towel off my hair and try and focus my train of thought on something less ulcer-inducing than my disoriented existence, but my mind won't linger on the trivial for very long.

I fling the towel onto the floor and slip into my worn, wine-colored, terrycloth robe, hoping to drive out the chill that has invaded my joints.

I open the bathroom door and let the remaining steam escape as the light floods the murky darkness of the hall.  The lingering warmth quickly diffused and lost to the shadows when I shut off the lights and head towards my bedroom.  I take three steps and stop, before I even round the banister I feel it.

That nagging itch that burns and spreads underneath my skin, making my stomach knot and twist and my heart speed up.

He's here.

//I take you by the hand
Yeah, I wanna kill you
Baby I know you understand
Yeah, you're gonna watch me
Watch me while I drown//

I don't know why it's a shock to me, I shouldn't have expected any less from him.  In fact I should be surprised that it took him this long to show up.  I hover for a moment in the hall, indecision warring with nausea in the battleground of my stomach and neither of them are getting along with the newest occupant: unfamiliar gut wrenching need.  There's a frantic knock-down-drag-out fight within me as I exhale and take that first step towards my door and him, and much to my surprise, it's need that ends up the big winner.

(But I'm in your system now. You're gonna crave me, like I crave blood.)

I don't ever remember it taking this long to reach my door before.  It feels like I'm wading through syrup, my limbs heavy, and each motion of my body feels suspended, disconnected.  I can feel my pulse battering against the thin barrier of my skin as I run out of hallway to tread and stand alone before my bedroom door, regarding it warily, as if it's just waiting to grow fangs and leap out at me.

Witness Buffy and her ever-wavering resolve, second only to her flimsy grasp on reality.

I glance back over my shoulder at the closed doors of my sister and my friend and am hit with such a wave of utter revulsion coupled with shame, that I have to grab the doorknob to steady myself.

This is so bad.  I should turn around and leave.  I should crawl into bed with Dawn and bury my face into her soft hair and wrap my arms around her and hold on tight, making sure that she's safe and warm and well.  I should go check on Willow, see if she needs anything, see if she wants to talk.

I should be doing anything but turning the doorknob and holding my breath in anticipation as the door creaks and swings open maddeningly slow to reveal Spike leaning casually against the far window, frame silhouetted in the moonlight, lit cigarette in hand, staring straight at me without an expression on his face.

His eyes are boring right through me.  I can feel them stripping away all that I am, all my notions of right, wrong, good and bad leaving just this thing.  Whoever it is that I am now.  And I hate him for it and I hate myself for the tiny sliver of relief that courses through me at the sight of him here.  For me.

I quickly clamp down on any and all emotion his presence is stirring up within me.  I can't let him see that he affects me in any way.  I have to keep up the thin illusion of control that I still retain over this situation because we both know that I'm slipping.  That the fine line between predator and prey that we have been treading has all but been crossed and once I give in -- once I give him even the tiniest measure of control, it's over and then I'm really lost.

So I harden my resolve and cross my arms against my chest defiantly, clinging to the last shred of control within me, knowing that I have to be the one to make the first move to keep him from getting the upper hand, keep him from being the one to set the rules.

Act, don't react.  Act, don't react.  Act, don't react.

I keep my newest mantra at the forefront of my mind and silently curse at myself when I hesitate in the doorway.  Every instinct in my body is on full alert and screaming at me to not enter the room, to turn around and run.  My mind knows it's wrong, I just wish someone would communicate it to the rest of me.  Itís like I'm split in two: the Old Buffy standing aside and watching in horror as Buffy the Resurrected Version 2.0 fully enters the room and shuts the door securely behind her.

I don't know why I'm doing what I'm doing and Spike hasn't twitched a muscle, not even to take a drag on his cigarette, since I shut the door behind me.  The standoff continues and the silence and stillness is starting to unnerve me, and I quickly clamp down on the urge to throw out an insult at him.  It's what he expects from me, and despite my feelings toward whatever this warped freak show between us is, I'm not interested in playing by his rules anymore.

I'm not interested in anybody's rules.

(No, it's not that easy. We have something, Buffy.  It's not pretty, but it's real, and there's nothing either one of us can do about it.  Like it or not, I'm in your life, you can't just shut me out.)

He flicks his cigarette out the window and when he turns back, he arches his eyebrow at me in that infuriating "I told you so" way that makes hot rage at him course through my blood.

"Go away Spike," I say with much more resolve than I actually possess at the moment and head toward my closet to dig out my pajamas.

Much to no one's surprise, he doesnít heed my request and stays still, watching me with carefully controlled amusement and an annoying smirk on his pale face.

I pointedly ignore him and lean farther into the closet to keep him from seeing that my hands are shaking.  I'm so focused on keeping myself in check, on keeping the warring emotions in my belly from surfacing, that I don't register Spike's movement until his hand clamps down on my left shoulder, spinning me brutally out of the shelter of the closet, and pinning me hard against the wall.

His hands come to rest on either side of me and his body presses into my own, daring me with his eyes to react.  I glare up at him in response and refuse to give in.

He smirks and narrows his eyes, need I won't acknowledge flashing violently in their blue depths.  My eyes track his movement, the Slayer within me kicking into fight or flight mode, as he tilts his head down.  His forced breath lingering on my forehead and tracing a path down my face, his lips hovering over mine.  I want to resist but my body, against my wishes, responds.  I lift my mouth to meet his and he chuckles in triumph.  That infuriating laugh that gets under my skin and makes me wonder yet again exactly why I haven't staked him, and in response I ram my right fist hard into the wall of his chest, knocking him back a few steps.

My actions only serve to make him laugh harder, making me more determined than ever to rid myself of his utterly infuriating presence.

"Aw, come now Slayer.  You act as if you're not happy to see me," he takes back the small span of distance my punch had gained me, "when we both know that you are," and trails his finger down the slant of my jaw to trace the open neckline of my robe before I roughly push him away.

"Get over yourself Spike," I grit out and he grins wickedly in response.

"Oh but I'd rather get over you, and under you and..." he leans in and presses his mouth to my ear to whisper, "inside you."

I close my eyes against the shiver that the cool of his lips against my flesh creates within my bones but it doesn't help.  He runs his open mouth down the side of my neck causing that thin shred of control left within me to snap, but instead of giving into the pull of dark, undeniable need that Spike's stirring up in the pit of my stomach, I push him away again and he just stands there, laughing at me.

He's waiting for it, waiting for me to give into the anger and rage.  Just dying for me to lash out at him.  And God how I want to.

I want to hurt him for what he makes me feel.  I want to take all the fear and disappointment and shame that are drowning me and ram them into his body with each smack of my fist against his face.

But I can't.  It's not just because my sister is sleeping just beyond the wall behind me.  I can't give into the anger that is burning the back of my throat because I'm afraid that I won't be able to find my way out if I do.  I've already come close to losing myself that night with Spike and it was so much more terrifying than I could have imagined.

Surrendering to the darkness, no longer fighting the cold, embracing my enemy and -- I think I crossed some sort of line that night because I can't stop reliving it.  Over and over, each punch, each kiss, each bruise in excruciating detail -- they're all I see when I close my eyes and it makes my stomach cramp in revulsion and my mouth dry with unfamiliar desire that I refuse to admit exists.

I can feel my heart rate speed up in anticipation of whatever it is that will come next.  Spike's eyes are locked onto mine, daring me to make the first move and I hate myself all the more because I want to.

I want to obliterate the few feet of stale silence that separates us and smash my mouth down hard onto his, erasing that knowing glint in his eyes in the wake of cold, hard need even as I try and erase who I am in his flesh.

My breathing quickens as the silence stretches into lazy minutes that linger, heavy with tension, while I calmly try to ignore the cold chill that's clawing steadily up my spine, whispering for me to let go, to give in, to let him take over and make me someone new.  Someone less broken, less hollow.

No.  I can't.  I want to, but I can't.

I ball my hands into fists, my nails digging brutally into the flesh of my palms, and still the desire to relinquish control bears down.

I bite down hard on my lip, refusing to give Spike the satisfaction of closing my eyes, and trying to muster enough strength to get him out of here.  I wince as my teeth make contact with the tender spot on my lip, their flat edges angering the bruises left there earlier when I bit down in the shower.  The slight pain isn't nearly enough so I bite harder, my teeth ripping through the thin flesh on one side, tearing a large chunk of skin free and allowing warm blood to pool briefly at the wound before it slides down my chin.

And that's when everything changes.

It's the scent of my blood in the air that does it.  Spike's control slips.  It's just for a moment, but it's enough.  His stare falters as his eyes track down my face to settle on my torn lip.  I see his nostrils flare as his unnecessary breath hitches and suddenly I have the advantage.

He knows it.  I know it.  And I should exploit it.  I should take the opportunity to send him back out into the same darkness that's swirling constantly within my veins.

But I don't.  Because even as the scent of my blood weakens Spike's control, the roar of it pounding in my ears is deafening.  Everything else suddenly becomes fuzzy, and all I can see is him watching me carefully, knowing that he lost the stand off but ready to fight just the same.

My pulse is too loud and my heartbeat seems foreign to me, like it doesn't belong.  Thinking about it makes me dizzy so I focus on my lip instead.  I can feel the sting of the air against the cut and instinctively suck my lip into my mouth to stem the flow of blood.  Spike stills and watches with unconcealed lust as I dart my tongue out to clear the remaining blood from my lips.

Loaded silence hovers between us as fresh blood surfaces to replace what I just swallowed, and before my mind can register my body's movements, I find myself closing the distance between us, intentionally not stopping until I have invaded his personal space, my body a hair's width from his, my face tilted up to his own, my intent plain.

I see momentary confusion coupled with shock flicker in those eyes.  He's so taken aback by the offer in mine that he's actually frozen to the spot, speechless.

If I wasn't so focused on what I want right now, I would take the opportunity to revel in my triumph.  I, Buffy Summers, have stupefied the infamous William the Bloody without saying a word.

But I don't care about that now.  All I can hear is the blood.

Blood hammering through my veins even as it pools silently in his.  Blood seeping past my lips and spreading slowly down my chin in tiny lines of crimson, calling to him, calling to me.

I want him to take it and he knows it, he just can't quite believe it yet.

I can see him, more than he knows.  I watch his eyes darken with that Need, ancient in its origin and constant in its urgency, as they land on the gash in my torn lip.  I see the question flash across his eyes as he hesitates, clearly searching for the catch, waiting for me to smile and taunt him as I laugh bitterly in the face of his obvious weakness.

He wavers and I take the lead, my right hand slipping around his neck and pulling his mouth down to mine.  His lips are cool against the angry heat of my cut and I press my mouth harder to his, needing him closer.

Needing him now.

It takes him a second to respond, but when he does, his arms slip around my back pulling me into him and his tongue darts out to trace my lips.  When his tongue brushes the sticky, warm, blood coated gash, he moans deep within his chest, stale air tickling my skin as he pulls me closer, sucking harder at the cut.

(I know where you live now, Slayer.  I've tasted it.)

His mouth is firm as it covers mine, his eyes closed in concentration.  I watch his face relax in bliss as his attention remains focused on my blood coating his tongue.  I close my eyes and lean into him, waiting for the change that never comes.  It startles me that he keeps his human façade.  No demon-y ridges brushing against my face, no scraping of fangs across my torn lip, just soft skin and cool tongue.  It should scare me that he's able to exert that much restraint even in the face of SlayerBlood, but it doesn't.  His control doesn't scare me, but the fact that I want to make him lose it does.

His mouth is gentle against my own and I press into him, kissing him back and wrapping my arms tightly around his neck, anticipating what's coming, waiting for the moment it stops being careful and sweet and turns hard and rough.

Spike breaks the kiss long enough to back me up against the wall and my mind starts buzzing with expectation of the imminent pain and raw need.

But it doesn't come.

His lips find mine again and his tongue enters my mouth so sweetly that it stuns me, my blood warm as it slides onto my tongue from his.  Somewhere in the back of my mind that little rational voice is screaming at me to stop it now, to push him away, because it knows and I know that this is wrong.  I can't give into him this way.  I can't let Spike be sweet and tender with me because it's just an illusion.

It's not real.

And if I let it be real, even for a moment, if I give into the illusion of the man and forget about the demon hovering underneath -- well, I can't let it get that far.

Spike suddenly pulls back, panting hard, his face flushed even from the small amount of my blood he's taken.  He watches me with dark eyes filled with lust, with longing and with something else.  Something that causes a chill to settle over me, invading my cells, and making me shiver as the certainty in his gaze causes alarm bells to sound off the warning in my foggy mind.

He knows.

(You're in my gut, my throat, I'm drowning in you Summers.  I'm drowning in you.  You think I like having you in here?  Destroying everything that was me, until all that's left is you, in a dead shell.)

I see it, the answer I've been both wondering about and dreading.  He knows what I am, what's in my blood.  I can see it in his eyes, in the cruel turn of his mouth as he registers the fear I can't hide on my face.  But I don't want to know.  Not now, not like this.  So before he can open his mouth and shatter the false calm between us, I ram my mouth back into his, catching him off guard and reopening the cut on my bruised and tender lip.

He starts to protest, to push me away, but the pull of the blood is too much and he gives in, closing his eyes and kissing me back.  Pinning me back against the wall as his hands undo the sash on my robe, his palms sliding down my skin and his fingers skimming lightly across my ribs.

It doesn't matter that this is wrong.  It doesn't matter that I shouldn't feel this way, that letting him take me like this changes everything.  In this moment, it doesn't matter what's in my blood, it doesn't matter that I don't belong here anymore.  Right now, right here, I don't have to be anything but this flesh and this blood and this need and this darkness.

And I want it.

I want him to take it all.  I want him to pull it out of me with each drop of my blood on his tongue, taking it into his body and making it go away.  No more pain, no more memories, no more Buffy.  I want to be empty and I want this to be over.  I want to lose myself in the sensation of his hands like ice on my flesh, the hands of death calling me back home.

I want to go back.

Spike trails his mouth from my lips to trace the edge of my jaw, moving his lips ever so slowly to the side of my neck, and I press him closer and close my eyes.

Just as his lips close around my pulse point, just as I feel the soft lap of his tongue against my starved flesh, I hear it.


It's Dawn.


She needs me.

The desperation in her voice pierces the haze of desire in my head and causes something deep within me, something long ago forgotten, to snap and everything else suddenly comes rushing back in.  Realization washing over me like ice water, shattering the misplaced stillness of the moment.

"Get off!"  I push Spike away and he stumbles back, landing hard on the floor.  I don't spare the time to register his reaction, I just need to get to my sister.

I fumble with heavy fingers, quickly closing my robe and knotting the sash, before flinging my door open and making my way to Dawn's room.

My head is spinning and my blood is still throbbing in my ears, making everything seem fuzzy.  I pull open Dawn's door and reach out to comfort her in the dark even as Spike's voice echoes in my ears.

(You're just putting off the inevitable.  Sooner or later, you're gonna want it. And the second that happens, you know I'll be there. I'll slip in -- have myself a real good day.)

I don't want to acknowledge the truth in my actions.  I don't want to face the fact that I was that close to letting him do it, that the decision had already been made and I could have cared less about the consequences.

I pull Dawn into my arms and try and soothe away her pain with reassuring words that ring hollow to my ears.  I push down the sick feeling of disappointment that wells up within my stomach, refusing to dwell on whether I'm disappointed in myself for my actions or if I'm disappointed that I was interrupted before it went too far.

Dawn is trembling, crying, and mumbling nonsense about her nightmare and I hold her close, trying to ignore the cold whisper in the pounding of my heart, trying to still my own shaking hands by running them through her long hair, but it doesn't help.  Nothing quells the darkness that's pulling me apart on the inside.  Nothing but him.

I shut my eyes and push away all thoughts of death and blood and Spike.  I bury my face into Dawn's hair, inhale the familiar scent of her apple shampoo, and rock my little sister in my arms as if I wouldn't rather be somewhere else.  As if part of me isn't dying slowly with each echo of my pulse in my ears.  As if anyone could possibly understand whatís going on inside me.  Anyone other than him.

I have no idea what Spike's doing right now, or if he's even still here.  Part of me, the part that's worried about Dawn, about Willow, and about keeping it together, hopes that he's gone, but the other part -- the part that's still screaming in my blood, calling out to me and to him, the part that wants to give into the pull of the darkness, that wants it all to be over.

That part wants him to stay.

(You say you hate it, but you won't leave.)

As my sister clings to me in the thick darkness and I wrap my arms around her, I'm not certain which possibility scares me more.

//He wants to take you
Take you away from your life
I want to kill you
Tell you about my life
It's my lie and I believe in it
It's my lie and I lie in it
It's my bed and I believe in it
It's my bed and I lie in it//


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