Six Foot Deep
Part 2

Sometimes the lights go out.

The good power cables- the ones he nicked from the Home Depot last spring- go to the TV and refrigerator. The cords run out the window, trail through the back of the cemetery, and directly into the power supply of some unsuspecting Sunnydale inhabitant- Spike's nothing if not ingenious. They haven't failed him once- come rain, snow, or apocalypse, he's got blood, beer, and Junkyard Wars.

The other cords are shabby and threadbare, hauled out of the local dump.  They're for the non-essentials- the lights that he doesn't particularly need, the stereo that doesn't do him a bit of good since Harm trashed his albums, the coffee maker he doesn't use. Those cords are notoriously unreliable and they've shocked him more than once.  No matter; he lights candles. Mouse-quiet, he never hears her enter, but from below he smells the sizzling flesh. Finds her upstairs, palm
stretched flat over the guttering flame, skin reddening first, then blistering.

"Buffy, pet," he said gently, the first two or three or four times it happened. "Don't do that." Now he just lets her, and bandages the burns afterwards. She doesn't listen to him anyway, and it's best to just leave her alone to feel whatever she still can.

She comes after sunset and sits in the chill silence of the crypt, speaking her confusions and fears in murmurs and half-formed phrases.  Finishing sentences is just so fucking tiring these days, and here with Spike is the only place where she doesn't have to.  She speaks of her vague, cloudy memories of Heaven, of the terrible persistence of wakingupinabox nightmares, of the exhaustion and frustration that greets her every fucking morning- climbing out of bed, making peanut butter and jelly
sandwiches, sending her little sister off to school, getting through one minute and the next and the one after that.  She asks about life and death and immortality, and he tries to tell her the truth, but it usually comes out sounding like bullshit; he's not sure if she minds.  She asks about her funeral, and he doesn't say "I was drunk, and your ex-boyfriend called me a worthless loser and knocked me unconscious, and I couldn't look your little sister in the face for a week afterwards.  And for a moment there- just a moment- I hated you more painfully and viciously than I've ever hated anyone.  Hated you and your goddamn sacrificial-lamb hangups for making me hurt this way."  So  he says something lame about the flowers instead, or how Dawn tucked Mr. Pointy, a picture of Joyce, and Angel's silver crucifix into the coffin's silk lining, or how he brought red roses to her grave every day for a month until her little sister discovered he was stealing them from the local florist's and made him stop.  This seems to appease her.

"Would you have?" she says one night, abruptly, and for once he doesn't quite follow.

"What, love?"

She lets him call her that. It sounds sweet, like cotton candy and thick clouds. It doesn't feel real; if it did she'd make him stop. "What they did."  Tore her out. Brought her back. Damned her. He shakes his head. "Why?"

Shrug. "Dead is dead." And that's the difference between them, after all: no one is asking him to pretend. She puts a hand, impulsively, on his still chest.

"Quiet doesn't mean peace," he reminds her, and tonight his eyes are hooded and dark. He's still mourning her. And that's okay; she's still mourning her, too.


She still starts when she opens the back door in the morning, and hears the Angels singing. Dawn told her it was the birds, but Buffy knows.

She still sees her Mother, sometimes. Sometimes she is sitting on Buffy's bed, head buried in her hands. Sometimes she is laying on the couch downstairs. She always looks alive. She is always crying.

And Buffy may be only half-here, may be already half-crazy, but she realizes.  How fucked up it is. That in her house, the dead mourn for the living.

She still can't bear to look at her own hands, missing chunks of skin and nails, left somewhere in the dirt, buried in a coffin that wears her name.  Soon, the slithering things will eat all it all. Another small part of herself lost. Another chapter in her endless rape.

In darkness, she still dreams of Willow, her face covered in someone else's blood, doubled over in pain. She watches in silent horror as a serpent winds it way through her flesh, out of her open mouth. It slithers onto the earth covered in Willow's blood and bile.

In daylight, she still sees Xander, lying cold on the ground, one eye plucked from its socket and resting like a plastic marble against his gray cheek.

And she still wakes up screaming.


In the morning she brushes her teeth, and the dreams cling. Cobwebs and toffee. In the before-time, dreams would fade by breakfast. She can remember the summer after she'd killed him, how he would visit her at night. Come dawn, sometimes he was still there. She could smell him until her first cup
of coffee. Then he was always gone.

Now the dreams hover for hours.

Days. Months. Years.

(("how long was it for you, where you were?"

She stares at herself in the mirror, the mint paste gathering around her lips, spilling down her chin. A mad dog, foaming. It doesn't really occur to her to wonder how long she has been standing here brushing her teeth.

Minutes. Days. Years.

(("how long was it for you, where you were?"

Because she's not even sure how long she has been... here. Been Not Dead Anymore.


One afternoon she follows the jagged sounds of mewling into the back garden. Finds the neighborhood cat stalking a small squirrel. The squirrel is torn and bleeding because the cat doesn't understand it is not a willing participant in this game of hide and seek. Or maybe the cat just doesn't
care. Maybe the cat is just doing what comes naturally to it. And maybe the squirrel should have picked another goddamn yard to gather its winter stock.

It's over in moments, the cat tossing the small, furry body into the air and batting it along the grass with a single-minded glee. It is only when the squirrel is completely still that the cat pauses to wonder why its toy no longer works. Licks his chops and walks away, tail in the air.

Buffy stays.

Dawn finds her there, crouched in the grass, still watching.

The cat had torn the thing limb from tail until its innards dangled between blood spattered teeth. The squirrel hadn't made a sound. Maybe squirrels never do. What remains of it lies on the ground, already covered with a swarm of black ants. The ants are terribly efficient, really. Buffy bends down to
get a closer look.

When Dawn comes, Buffy is rubbing her fingernails over what is left of the thing's tail, still soft and fuzzy despite the blood caked on the white fur.  The ants just scurry on around her hand.

"Buffy," that high, tight little girl voice. "What are you doing?"

((I'm doing what you can't, I'm doing what you won't, I'm dealing with the death and the decay and the ugliness you never want to see, I'm becoming what you made me, Goddamn you, isn't this what you brought me back for?))

It takes a moment to dress her face in stone. She looks up, brushes stained hands across her lap.

"Nothing," she says. "I'm not doing anything. Let's go make some lunch."

It takes time, Spike had told her. He was right. Every day, she learns to fake it better.


When the call comes, she says, "Who can that be? Everyone I know lives here."  Even though she knows that will never be true.

They meet in a cemetery, and that's ironic on more levels than she cares to dwell upon. Not her town, not his, but a familiar scene nonetheless. Death looks the same pretty much anywhere.

Angel is standing by a crumbling tomb when she jumps the gate. Hands in his pockets, waiting for her.


He is solid and dark and his lashes are wet. He whispers her name. She leans into the sound.

Angel has an old, striped picnic blanket in his trunk, and her head still fits perfectly into the hollow between his shoulder and his neck. She thinks maybe they could stay right here, in this haven of the dead, forever. She was dead, and he still is, and it's peaceful after all.

The dull lights filter through the trees like sputtering votive candles. They sit together on someone's grave beneath a cracked statue of the Virgin, and they speak their offerings. Shanshus and Epiphanies, deaths followed by rebirths, and deaths followed only by hollow, gray mourning. But neither are Priest, and both have been banished from the Kingdom, and forgiveness is an elusive thing in any case.

They were supposed to be in love until it killed them both. Then it sort of did.

Angel lets her cry for a very long time.

"You know the worst part?" she whispers later, against the soft gray silk of his shirt. He is silent. The question was rhetorical and the topic could be anything. Her mother's death, her own. The fact that in less than two hours the sun will rise and she will have to let go of his hand.

"No one ever says good-bye. Everyone leaves, but no one says good-bye." She can feel him wince at the obvious accusation, and doesn't pause to allow him a reply


"My dad snuck out of the house in the middle of the night. Did I ever tell you that? I got up at 2 a.m. to get a drink of water, and there he was, creeping down the stairs with an overnight bag slung over his shoulder. I was 14. One of the clearest memories I have of my own father. And it's his back."

She lets him pull her close, and he tries not to think about fire engines and exploding high schools. About how small she looked standing in the middle of it all before he turned away. About what he must have looked like from the back.

"Angel, did you scream in Hell?" Suddenly, softly. He stares at her, wondering if this is somehow meant to be reparation for the earlier exchange, but he has never known her to be randomly cruel.

His muscles tense as he draws a breath. "No," he says. "No, I- they...
wouldn't let me."

"I'm sorry," she whispers into his neck.

It is enough.


He isn't spying.  Spying is what he did last year; this is just... observation. See How in Control of the Situation I  Am, he thinks, as he lights his eighth cigarette and waits patiently for Buffy to return. He
watched her leave half an hour ago, hiding in the shadows as she slipped into Joyce's SUV and drove away.  She's never worn perfume for him and hasn't worn lipstick since she Came Back.  He knows where she's gone.

He leans against a tree, knuckles biting painfully into the rough bark, blood running in cool trickles down his hand.  The cigarette quivers hard in his shaking fingers.  He concentrates on the pain, fighting to supress the rage burning in his throat. He wants to scream, cry, chase her down so he can tear her into little pieces.  With him, she's with him, and it's never gonna end.  He's been gone for two years and wasn't even there when she died, but where does she go running the moment she gets back?  They're still acting out their goddamned Romeo and Juliet fantasy and Spike knows he will never be anything more than second or third or fourth best.  He drives his fist into the tree trunk so hard he can hear finger-bones snap.  The pain is a bright red flare that travels up his arm and almost reaches his brain to silence the voices there.  But not quite.

The eighth cigarette falls from his grasp. He lights another, cradles his broken and bloody hand. Waits.


They leave the cemetery just as purple sky melts into pink. By the time they reach his car, small wisps of smoke are already curling around his coat. They never have been any good at judging when it's just too damned late.

He crawls inside the safety of the Belvedere, and she leans in to kiss him one more time. A breath- hers, his- and he draws away, cradles her face in his palms and tilts her head downward. She feels his lips brush her forehead, feathers and firelight. Essence of Angel.

"Good-bye, Buffy," he says.

She watches him close his door against the light.


Rising music. Rising... yeah.

His hand hovers in the air a moment (and he can almost hear himself thinking what do I do, what do I do now that it's finally real, how do I touch someone that actually wants to be touched) before coming down to clench  possessively on her shoulder.  His fingers tangle tightly in her hair and he can feel her insistent tongue invading his throat, raping his mouth. She's devouring him, bending him to
her sick little will, taking him to pieces and it feels good. so good.

She stops for breath, pulls back slightly. "Buffy-" he starts. Unsure what exactly he plans to say, but the words "what the fuck?" come to mind.

She glares, clenches his shoulders hard enough to bruise. "Shut up, Spike," she grates between clenched teeth before pulling his lips to hers again.

He obeys.


Her eyes are hollow tonight. She sits in the corner and stares sightlessly as he brews her some coffee, strong. She never drinks it, just warms her hands.  "Leaving," she says softly. "All of them, you know? Dad, Angel, Riley, now Giles... They all just..." Her voice trails off.  Still so hard, after all this time, to quarry speech, but he can still hear what goes unsaid.

He doesn't say anything. He knows he'll never leave, but he also knows that she couldn't care less. She lets him kiss her again before she goes.


The night of Willow and Dawn's car accident, Buffy lets Spike drive Dawn to the hospital. As soon as Buffy arrives, he is up to leave, glancing once at Dawn and nodding. Green walls and shiny floors, stench of anti-septic, fear and //death// and Buffy wants nothing more than to follow him into fresh air.

But Dawn is grasping her wounded arm to her side, rocking back and forth with eyes tightly closed. They've given her medicine for the pain, but it hasn't kicked in yet, and she is biting her bottom lip and moaning.

Buffy sits down beside her, wraps her arm around Dawn's good shoulder, and kisses her forehead.

"It's ok, Dawnie," she whispers. "It's ok. You go ahead and scream."


She comes to him nearly every day now, never failing to bait him with a barb or complaint- usually about the temperature of the crypt. He wonders, sometimes, if reminding him that he's dead somehow makes her feel better.  Wonders if it's a game to see who will feel shittiest at the day's end. "It's cold in here," she says, and he gives her a "duh" look that doesn't offer to fix the problem. He doesn't have a fireplace or a space heater; she's not sure he owns blankets. He doesn't need them, and he's not about to make exceptions for her lingering humanity. "How do you stand it?"

He made love to Dru in the snow once, her cold nails tearing gashes in his flesh, the blood freezing in patterns of brittle crystal on the surface of his skin. He remembers that the cold never reached his bones, and that, he thinks, is the difference between them.

She made love to Angel under blankets. Chaste. A single lamp throwing warm light on what she could see: planes and curves of back and shoulders and careful fingertips.

Spike isn't chaste.

He lets her undress him first, blue eyes wide and lips slightly parted, like a whore's. He doesn't light candles and the window, shaded with threadbare cloth, barely filters the moonlight. His skin seems silver against the black garments that she peels off and tosses away, littering the dusty floor. He
has Drusilla's name tattooed in delicate script in the hollow of his left hipbone. "When's the last time you wore color?" she asks, teasing gently. His curves aren't smooth like Angel's; he's all pale, flat planes and sharp angles, strong muscle and jutting bone. In the moonlight he looks like the corpse that he is and she wonders


his body will hurt against hers, stab and bruise and draw blood.

"Prague." He tosses the word away, somewhere over his left shoulder, and briefly hoods his eyes with long black lashes. They're blue like ice, and they make her feel so cold. She imagines dark handprints of Drusilla's blood on lighter clothing and realizes: he's still doing penance. Even now.

Riley used to make a lot of noise in bed. He was vocal with his pleasure, and his love, open with her in a way she could never reciprocate. But they were .. human noises, mortal sounds of lust and completion.

Angel was always silent, kissing, petting, making love. As if they were in a church, and being close to her was something sacred, or forbidden. Like if he made the smallest sound, he would be caught, and forever banished. She clearly remembers that first surge of feminine pride when he finally opened
his mouth and groaned her name. She's never quite been able to shake the feeling that if he hadn't, if she had just left him with his idiotic, stoic composure, then his soul would not have left. And then neither would he.

Spike grunts. The sound is pure, maledemonanimal. She cannot confuse it with either of her former lovers. These days, she is grateful for small mercies.

Dru fucked Spike with her eyes closed. Riding him, thighs clamped tightly around his hips, fingernails scraping deep gouges in his chest. Dark hair tumbling between  shoulderblades, eyelashes cutting black shadows on her cheekbones, and she threw her head back and shrieked like a banshee. The name she said was never his, and he bit down hard on his lip and tried to shut out the sound of
her voice.

Buffy fucks him with eyes open. Unfocused. Hair and skin and lashes pale, fading into the bedsheets, face impassive as he bends over her, his fingertips trailing down her cheek. When he moves inside her she stares past him, somewhere over his left shoulder, silent.  Stares past him at dusty biers and crumbling crypt walls.  Because Spike might be ice-cold, but he doesn't look all that dead when he's
fucking, and Death is all Buffy can see these days. He's usually on top; he doesn't much feel beneath her anymore.

He knows, of course he knows. That he fucks her to feel alive, and she fucks him to feel dead. But he figures, poetic justice.

Even trade.

The love of his life is a cruel, heartless bitch. It has always been thus.  He's so very busy performing that he can't remember what he was originally meant to be; dead shell, indeed. There are limits, you know. On his better days, he realizes this. That there's only so much kiss me-kick me that anyone
can take, even him. But he hasn't reached that limit yet, and he can be strong, right? It's not real unless it hurts. He has to believe that, because if it isn't true... well, then, it's never been real at all.

But sometimes his body, his own better judgment, betrays him.

Because this is not about sex. He'd still be with Harmony if it was about sex. No, this is that ache in the middle of his chest, the voice in the back of his head that hasn't stopped whispering or muttering or screaming her name once in the past four goddamned years, and that is why this will never end.
But he gets these odd flashes of  autonomy sometimes, moments where a clear, rational voice he barely recognizes speaks up and distinctly says this is killing her, and it is killing you, and it. must. stop and he feels his hands itching to push her away. Moments when he thinks he might actually be
independent of this psychological three-ring circus. There are limits, yes, there are limits and there are bright, blessed moments where he very nearly believes that he has finally reached them.

She leans in to kiss him, and this time he bolts. Sick with self-loathing and nearly screaming it ((you don't want me you don't please stop making want to believe you ever could, please stop)), and he knows she can hear him. And oh he wishes that it was enough to deter him, even for the slightest fucking second. "Does it matter?" she asks hotly.

//i know you'll never love me//

He's beset by a nagging suspicion that he deserves better than this, but he's never had much of a basis for comparison, and he's not quite so fucking poetic as he used to be.  He'll settle, he knows he'll settle; he always has.  "Of course it matters, but-" Snappish, defensive, deeply ashamed. Ashamed
because- "That's what I am, after all."

"A vampire?"

"A whore."  Her whore. When she kisses him, he closes his eyes.

Over a year with the damned chip in his head, ten times worse than the twenty years he spent as William. But at least the chip taught him something. That ideas kill almost effectively as fangs, that words bruise as readily as fists, and that everyone. everyone has a weakness.

Afterglow is not his.

"So, you talk to him lately?" One brow and half a lip raised with the question.

"Who?" she asks, without looking at him. She's still a horrible liar.

"You know perfectly well who, pet. He know about this yet?" Wider grin, predatory now, as he motions to the tangled heap of denim and satin, his jeans, her panties, laying on the bare floor.

She arches one shoulder and sits up to face him. "Fuck you, Spike. You don't get to hurt me that way."

He laughs, rubs a light hand over the blue bruise on her cheek. "S'all right.  I'll take whichever way you wanna give me."

Lately he's become a horrible liar too.

But he can throw insults and her own garlic at her, hurl her crosses and her half-assed accusations in her face. And sometimes it feels better than throwing punches. And every time it gets him laid.

And no matter the level of depravity

//last night was the most humiliating, degrading experience of my life
yeah, me too//

when he wakes she's always still in his bed, tiny form curled close to the very edge of the mattress, as if thinking too hard about the situation at hand would be enough to send her tumbling, all pale hair and frail bones and childlike fingertips, somewhere even more beneath than she already is. And he's not allowed to touch her right now, when it isn't convenient, not without inviting an angry stare and a bruised jaw; and he's certainly not allowed to love her, not without inviting injury much worse. It was inappropriate to fight over her when she lay dead and it's inappropriate to fight for the right to love her now, and he isn't allowed to feel anything at all. So he curls up beside her, but not too near: chill inches in between, fingers tracing the contours of hips and shoulders and mouth, a hair's breadth away but never touching.

He could've sworn this was what he wanted.

She wakes an hour later to hear the noisy buckling of a belt, angry stomping into mud-encrusted boots. There is nothing quiet about Spike, he has no grave-silence to give her anymore; even his glare is screaming at her. She pulls the sheet around herself modestly, a useless, stupid habit.

He sits opposite her, lacing his shoes without ever taking his eyes from her face. "I hate you," he says, almost conversationally, and for the first time she really believes it. Fear and venom and predatorial anger before, but never, never hate.

"Doesn't stop you from fucking me," she says harshly, but it sounds wrong.  She wants to talk like he does, full of passion and heedless bile and effortless, unchecked expletives, the voice of Misbehavior. And she tries, tries to drink his whiskey and smoke his cigarettes and fuck his cold, shameless, unapologetic body in hope that some of his anarchy will rub off onto her skin and allow her to scream, yell, curse, let go for once but it never seems to work.  It's forced, like everything else these days, and she pulls the sheet tighter around her body to keep her insides from spilling out. She's suddenly beset by the panicked certainly that she has no fucking clue what she's doing, that she thought she had a talent for fucking vampires but maybe she was wrong, maybe Spike isn't Angel after all. Maybe she doesn't even know him, any better than she knows herself.

He pulls his bootlaces circulation-cutting tight. "You're underestimating my astonishing lack of self-respect, pet." He grabs his duster and stands; the sun is just setting. His eyes are liquid, nearly begging behind the anger.  His voice trembles just slightly.  "Please be gone when I get back."

And he's gone. Not just his presence there in the crypt, but something she had sensed in him that had been willing to let her take his body without giving her heart, whatever part of him hadn't yet tired of the game. He was built for convenience, and maybe she had assumed he would just stay that way.
He'll be back, she knows, but now she'll have to see the same hate in his eyes that she knows glares
out of her own, and she won't be able to pretend that this is simple or justifiable or temporary.

She dresses quickly, with cold, shaking fingers that drop her boots and send them clattering to the floor. She kneels on the cold stone and that's when she sees it, corners poking out from under the tattered quilt that covers his bed. And she pulls the shoebox out, and opens it, because she doesn't respect him enough to give him his privacy and she needs something. Some scrap of understanding to take away with her of this man, this beast she's been fucking.

Papers and letters and photos, most of them tattered with age.  Reverse-chronological: the top layer reveals a blood-spattered movie ticket from the Sun Cinema here in Sunnydale, some tasteless horror flick from her junior year in high school. A handful of fliers underneath that; rock concerts, she
thinks, but the language is strange. Czechoslovakian? She lifts the papers to reveal the first photos: a blue-haired Spike, cigarette hanging jauntily from his lower lip. "1993," declares the date scrawled in the lower margin.

The next pictures are black-and-white, four in a strip, the kind you take in booths at carnivals and amusement parks. Spike looks even more like Billy Idol than he does now, and Drusilla is decked out in bangle bracelets and spangled eyeshadow. There's a whole batch of them: grinning, kissing,
groping, and a few at the bottom of the stack that Buffy stares at in stupified fascination. He'd told her about candle foreplay; he'd never told her about that. She flips the last photo over. Same unintelligible, left-handed scrawl: Orlando, 1983.

The document underneath bears no date- a ten-year anniversary card with an extra zero added to the end of the  number, a blood rose pressed inside, so withered and dead that it has turned black and is crumbling to dust. A single word in delicate, old-fashioned script: "Always."

There's something unfair about that word that makes Buffy's breath catch in her throat.

She digs deeper, shaking fingers scrambling though delicate sheets of paper.  A torn Woodstock poster. A photo of Dru on a dark street, blood-spattered hands and wickedly stained smile strangely uncongruous next to her simple white dress and the daisy-chain braided in her hair: New York, 1969. The two of them in a seedy bar, dancing close, giving the camera dark smiles. Her beaded dress falls in ruffles just below her knees; he's wearing a pin-striped suit and those funny-looking gangster shoes. In the background she can see other couples and a few musicians: a trumpet-player, a pianist. New Orleans, the back of the image declares; 1932.

Spike, his hair dark and slicked against his skull, perched upon the hood of a primitive-looking car. A huge smile stretches across his face and the familiar cigarette burns between his fingers. Berlin, 1904: "Automobile," the caption concludes simply. Next, a sepia-tinted daggeurrotype of two women.
Drusilla sits in a tapestry-upholstered chair, ankles daintily crossed beneath the lace hem of a muslin gown. Behind her stands a woman with fair hair and a cool gaze. Darla, she remembers. Angel's sire. Her hand rests on the younger vampire's shoulder and their slim fingers are entwined. The date printed in the lower right-hand corner reads June 1899.

And the next thing Buffy knows, she's reached the bottom of the pile. Last slip of paper resting in her hand.

Her breath catches in her throat and her fingertips tighten around the edges of the photo. Them. Both of them. Her first, and her most recent. No date on the picture but it's old, old and Spike wears a cocky grin and a sheaf of wheat-colored (she thinks; the image is brown-gray, creased and faded) hair
over his eyes. Behind his left shoulder, smirking sardonically, stands Angel.

Angelus. Whatever. That's not the point. He should be a stranger, this proud, long-haired killer in the photograph, but he's not, and she wants more. Whatever she's not allowed to have. "For a hundred years I offered ugly death to everyone I met," he said, and she displayed self-righteous indignation at those innocent deaths as befitted her trade, and sorrow at the pitiful irony of being a Slayer who loved the deadliest vampire of them all.  But she knew then and she knows now
that the real grief lies in those hundred, two hundred, two hundred fifty years that would never belong to her. In those centuries that she's not able to touch, that knowledge which will never be hers. She can feel it welling up inside her again for the first time in years, the anger, the resentment at the goddamned unfairness of it all, the fucking lack and loss and inconstancy of "always." When Spike returns to the crypt he finds her on the floor beside his bed, bent over the tattered, ancient photograph, sobbing.


She starts, like a wild animal. Stares at him, darts her eyes back to the picture in her hands, stares at him again. "How long were you with him?" she snarls, her fingers tightening around the picture, and he wants to tell her to fucking go easy on the memorabilia but he can't bear to yell into that
tear-streaked, grief-stricken face. "How long?"

"Twenty years," he whispers.

"Twenty years," she echoes softly, bringing the image close to her face.  "I've been alive for twenty years."

"Twenty, more or less," he amends. "He'd fuck off once in awhile. Sometimes with Darla, sometimes alone. Always came back, though."

"Always, huh?" She doesn't even seem to notice the steady stream of tears coursing down her cheeks. Her hands are shaking.

"Yeah. How long was it for you?"

"Three years." She scoffs. "No. Two and a half."

He tilts his head to the side, studying her, and suddenly he gets it. "You- you're jealous."

Her eyes flash fire as she scrubs the tears away with the back of one hand.  "Go to hell, Spike."

"No, it's okay," he says gently. "I mean... I get it."  He wishes he didn't get it. He wishes he could imprint her fragile brain with the memories of harsh fists and razor-sharp fangs and leave it at that. Wishes that the cruel, careless, all-consuming force of nature he called Grandsire was something tangible, containable, something he  could take and hold out to her in trembling, bloodied hands and say "see. See where the path of blood and betrayal and Family leads. See that Destruction that bites away at the edges of my thoughts as I sleep and that fucked-up, incestuous tragedy that won't
let me go. Look into the face of what you are oh-so-much better off  having never known, and be grateful for the two and a half years that left you relatively unscarred. Because you, child, cannot begin to fathom the demons that your ex-boyfriend has left in his wake, dwelling and screaming under the surface of my skin." He wishes that it were that simple, that those painful memories
were all he had left.

But: Angelus.

He remembers him in bits and pieces. The proud curve of shoulders and uplifted head, the careful smirk, the eyes that burned fiercely with amusement or disapproval or rage. Trying to remember more than one detail at a time, he finds, makes his chest tighten up and his head ache. Spike
remembers those hands the most, hands that could caress or crush but either way left him feeling as if he'd been shattered into a thousand pieces.  Strong, steady hands that never trembled, never once hesitated.

((and you wanted that, wanted to be him, wanted everything and everyone he ever had, didn't you?))

No. No, he didn't want to be his Grandsire, Spike reasons desperately, only... admired him. Angelus was never afraid, Angelus never fucked up, and he couldn't be bothered with the burden of concern for others. Mothers in Romania still whisper his name darkly into the ears of children that refuse
to go to sleep, Spike muses, and she- she has no idea. No idea that she once had Death Himself within her grasp, curled in her fingers and trapped between her thighs. Buffy's lover, the souled version of the Scourge of Europe, was a pale, sad shadow in comparison, a pitiful copy that made Spike's eyes ache. Angelus was never just another vampire; he was a plague of blood and broken bone, an uncontrollable force of disaster, a sight to behold. Spike can't make her see that: the undaunted creature his grandsire was, the way he burned, the way he bent and broke everything around him,
shaping it to his will. He can't give her those memories, and isn't sure he's cruel enough to try.

"What was William like?" she asks, finally, guileless and golden in the wobbling torch-light.

He shrugs, lights a cigarette. "You'd have to ask Angelus or Dru that one. I never met him personally." He impresses himself by meeting her eyes when he says it.

And God knows Spike doesn't want to be William again, doesn't want redemption, doesn't want to be a Good Little Boy. But he thinks he could find a sort of salvation in her motionless little body. Atonement for his sins, which are darker and so much more convoluted than the simple wrongs of
mortals. If she takes him, perhaps that means he's finally forgiven.

He has fantasies about turning her. Shagging her into a defenseless heap for the last time, and tearing her throat open afterward, while she lays silent and unresisting. Counting coup on a third Slayer, and having the added bonus of keeping this one around Forever.

Though he doesn't much picture Forever, doesn't usually get past the first part of the fantasy where he kills her and turns her and they run off to LA.  Find the ponce with the soul and put him out of everyone's misery once and for all.

((Just convenient, my ass.))

Spike has always been a big fan of irony.

And maybe, that way Spike could finally shake the fucking notion that he was created solely for the purpose of keeping Angelus' property safe until he decides to return for it.


One night when she comes to him, she is wearing a scarf around her throat.  Lacy, filmy thing, with a small knot to one side. He strips her body bare in moments, but she guards her neck and the scarf, keeps it tied there, with a look he well recognizes.

((Dare you))

And it's what she wants, it's what he wants, it's on fucking offer, and so of course, he can't. Oh, he reaches for it, fingers working at the knot while he works his hips against hers as she perches on his lap. His fangs drop and his mouth bloody well waters. But instead of undoing the silk, he finds
himself tugging on it, until he is pulling both ends of it tighter and tighter against the milk white skin of her throat. Blood wells beneath the material, he can smell it. Can smell the jolt of her fear. Can smell the musk of her arousal as her legs clamp tighter round his. He tugs harder and waits for her to push him away, punch him in the skull, something.

She doesn't.

She rests her hands on his shoulders and she closes her eyes. Lets him strangle the breath out of her slowly, with a piece of flowered lace and cotton. And oh it would be so easy. On offer.

Her eyes open, cloudy blue irises rimmed with red from lack of oxygen, and

((Dare you))

He releases the scarf just as she comes, or maybe its the other way round.  She makes whimpering scratchy noises like a dying kitten, and he comes then too, with a violent shudder at the sound.

Slayer. Fucking whimpering for him, and his skin is buzzing and his hipbones ache and he should feel- something.

Something that isn't so akin to nauseated and resentful.

But he expected so many things out of fucking this Slayer, and discovering she is sicker than he was never on his goddamned list. She is slumped against him, panting in hoarse, shallow breaths, and he brings his knuckles to his eyes.

//Free if the bitch dies//

But fuck it, its been a hundred and twenty-two years since he's been anything remotely resembling free, and he wouldn't know where to begin now, and

It was her eyes. Her eyes as he strangled her. They were dead. Glass eyes, doll's eyes, robot eyes. Lifeless and wrong and just like after she'd leaped off the tower, before Giles had leaned in to close them for the last time. Just like Dru's eyes after the attack in Prague. And he. Can't. Because even with pain, he was always so much better at receiving than giving, and he just. can't. do this.

He rubs her shoulders, whispers in her ear. "I'm sorry." Unsure what he's apologizing for; loving her too much to kill her, or not enough? He didn't really want to apologize in the first place, but he thinks it's probably the first time in a hundred and twenty six years that he has ever said those
words and actually meant them.

He doesn't know what he expected in return. But it certainly isn't the sharp, swift knee to the groin. Isn't the kick to the ribs or the angry shriek of protest which follows as he lays curled in fetal position on the hard stone floor.

"You don't get to decide this for me! Least of all you!"

And he gets it. Slow maybe, but not stupid. Pavlov's dog, and all.

It takes him a good five minutes before the pain in his balls fades enough to get to his feet. Only takes him seconds to grab her by the back of the head, and slam her into the wall. She barely fights him off, and he pounds her into the concrete with just enough force to fracture a normal girl's skull. Slayer
strength and stamina mean that she merely grunts once or twice, then finally shoves him away. Crimson matted sticky and wet to gold strands and she reaches up with steady fingers to test the mess.

He bats her hands away, and licks them free of the stains.

When she makes no move to stop him, he buries his face in her bloody hair, nuzzling and chewing until she is nearly clean.

Soon thereafter, he has a wicked scarf collection.

Because it's been two hundred and ten days and he's really fucking sick of paying for something that's no longer technically wrong, a once fuck-up revealed to be the kindest mercy. It was good to let her die. It's good that he keeps her dead now; he's only doing what Buffy would have wanted. So he
lets her spend her nights here, and he never apologizes again.

After all, maybe this time he'll get it right.


She comes to him each night dressed in silk scarves, and she limps home without them well before dawn. She never says good-bye and her knuckles are always bruised when she leaves, in the perfect opposing pattern of her small fist imprinted on his cheek. She is not the masochist, after all, and it is
not the pain which she craves.

It's the control. And that is always hers; when she beats him, when she fucks him, when she leaves him alone on his bed of stone and ash. Spike is the only thing she can hope to control now, and the knowledge is precious and shining.

She could shatter him. She may yet.

And it's certainly not that she doesn't know how wrong this is. It's just that it's oh so hard to care. Every morning she wakes, and the first thing she hears is the screaming. It took her a week to relearn how to use a goddamn spoon, and she still can't seem to see the difference between sugar and stardust. It's too much, it's just all too damn much, and if she needs a sturdy home for her rage and her grief then surely using Spike as her chalice is righteous, surely it is sanctified, for what is he when all is said and done, but a soul-less thing?

Her head is full all the time now, with the language of the living and the memories of the dead. She's not supposed to know these things, but she does; they came back from the grave with her, embedded beneath the dirt in her nails and the slippery sheen she cannot wash from her hair.

On Feb. 5, 1986, her Mother spent the day drunk, laying on the couch watching soaps, and her father spent the night in the Bahamas with his secretary. No one came home from the hospital carrying a girl-child, and asking Buffy if she would help care for it.

Dawn did not cry when their Father left, did not lock herself in her pink daisy covered room for days, because there was never a pink room, and Dawn has never even met Hank Summers.

Four years ago, Buffy's Mother found out that she was the Slayer because of Angelus, not because Dawn found Buffy's diary. Dawn met Angel once. At Buffy's funeral.

Pictures of both carefully altered realities sit side by side somewhere in her skull, and when she is quiet, she can hear the neurons firing, tiny cells rearranging inside of her to make room for recollections she is not supposed to have.

Angel with a heartbeat.

Angel in chains, covered in scars and burns.

Willow and Xander, Turned.

Her own face, covered in demonic ridges, and the blood hunger welling in her belly.

There are too many doors behind her eyes, too many lights and too many memories. And each so vivid, so bright and violent, she is sure that her head simply isn't meant to fit all this inside. She's just a girl, how can she be expected to carry the Knowledge of Heaven and walk around every day inside of
Hell? If she could just purge it, if she could bleed it out of open wounds and pointless tears -

well, then she would be empty.

But she still would not be dead.

At night when she is alone she covers her ears with pillows for fear that everything will come rushing out of her, leaving her once more with nothing.

//A dead shell//

And she can't have that. So she tries never to be alone at night. She has to hold something, has to feel something, has to know something hereanything, my god, even Spike, because otherwise there is only the certainty that this is all wrong, that there's been some horrible mistake and she is it, and it. will. never. end.

But when she fucks him, when she wraps her legs around his waist and he wraps his thumbs around her neck, when she doesn't breathe, then she doesn't think, then, oh- then -

Buffy only remembers the dancing.

(((Fingers entwined in Faith's, palm to sweaty palm, music throbbing through them like a heartbeat. How she knew, even then. That Faith was already dead, and just didn't have the sense to lie down. That a Slayer really is just a killer, spilling cold blood night after night, staining warm flesh. That
Faith kept herself alive with the heat of others.)))

And she danced.

She remembers Angel, silhouetted darkly against the back wall of the Bronze, and the horror in his eyes when he saw them together, caught in that endless dance and realized that his lover was no less of a monster than he. That all those you-should-have-a-normal-life excuses already spinning around in his brain were merely that.


That she could make a monster of him. Again. And would.

Spike is already a monster.

She walks home every night through the cemetery and the eyes of the gargoyles follow. She can feel them. That is all right. Even monsters get lonely.

(It used to be the cherubs, but they don't seem to talk to her anymore.)

She read somewhere once that Angels always have one wing dipped in blood.  That they carry savage weapons even in the Kingdom of Heaven.

She used to figure they needed them. Not everyone goes gently.

Now she knows better. Angels lie. All those pretty faces hide teeth of ivory and bone, velvet and lace voices used only to hasten someone's painful death.  Angels never tell you that tidings of comfort and joy are rare and fleeting.  That God doesn't guarantee you eternal peace when one of your friends is a
High Witch. That even the finest love will eventually turn from you, cloaked in darkness and good intentions.

They don't tell you that there are just as many Angels in Hell.

She has no patience now for dualities, for the cabal or tired metaphor. She wants to know what something is when she looks at it, wants to name it and therefore own it.

Being with Spike is simple in that sense; no soul, and so he has bared all that he possesses. All that he is. Lonely and wretched, handsome and evil, rarely trying to be much else, and when he does, failing so miserably at it that she finds it hard to hold his pretense against him.

He just is... what he is, and in that way he is easy to objectify. Easy to name, and oh, so damned easy to own.

Angel and Heaven; gold and glittery things never meant to be hers. She belongs to this place now, and if she was dragged back clothed in tatters and screams in the beginning, well, she is not screaming anymore. If she is destined to live forever in Hell, then she will open wide and embrace it,
wrap determined fingers and strong thighs around it.

Dance with it. Fuck it.

She will fuck Hell.

Fuck Death.

Because God knows they fucked her first.


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