Drowning

Drowning

SPIKE

Spike couldn't see how badly the Slayer had beaten him in the alley across from the police station, but he could feel it. And he saw the way the rest of them looked at him with narrow-eyed shock. He knew they had questions, but he had no answers to give them. Well, he did; but there was no way he was going to give those answers credibility by saying the words out loud.

He had no soul. He was dead inside. She would never be his girl.

Whatever.

Spike was nobody's fool. He knew what the Slayer was all about. She could deny it all she wanted, and she did, but Spike knew all the reasons why she came to him, came with him. He had laid all his cards on the table when he'd told her that he loved her. He did love her, in his own way, but not in any way that she would ever find acceptable. They'd never be friends. They'd never be pals. They were what they were.

In another life, Spike might have been happy with that arrangement. After all, five nights out of seven he was riding the sweetest wave in town. But it wasn't enough for him. She was a thorn in his side and here was the reason why:

Angel.

Never liked the bugger. Never. Spike tried not to be petty, but it was bloody hard. He was a bloke after all. And he knew, absolutely, that when Buffy's orgasm came, when her head twisted left then right and her eyes flew open and her thighs clenched tightly around his hips, she wasn't thinking about him.

Angel: melancholy personified. Christ. Spike hated him.

And, truth be told, there was a part of Spike that hated Buffy Summers, too. Oh, make no mistake, he loved her: Her eyes, flashing with indignation and lust; her mouth, sweet-hot around his cock; her sex, a slippery ride to bliss and beyond. But Spike was not a man in love with a woman, he was a demon in love with the Slayer and that changed everything.

For one thing, he always wanted to hurt her. When he could smell her outside his crypt, that musky odor which always told him she was there, waiting, he'd yank open the door and wrench her into his arms. He'd wait a second, trying to catch a glimpse of fear or lust or love or anything in her eyes. Finding nothing, he'd punish her mouth with a brutal kiss, which she always returned without hesitation, pushing her tongue into his mouth like a dagger, a long, keening moan escaping her throat.

Spike couldn't guess at how many Slayer-shirts he'd ripped, but he was always finding loose buttons, snaps and ties on the floor after she'd gone. He loved to rest his hands on the material, feel the raised flesh of her nipples, before he tore the shirt open. The triumph was two-fold: the sound of tearing fabric and the gasp that invariably issued from Buffy's mouth.

Then, pushed back against the rough stone wall or sometimes, better, pushed forward so her tender breasts would grate against the gritty surface, Spike would haul down her pants and panties and test her readiness with a finger. She was always ready, always one finger away from coming.

And then, what he really liked, was stepping away. If she was facing toward the wall, she'd have to turn and he loved the way her breasts were scored, liked they'd been rubbed with sandpaper. He said nothing, waited for her to say what she always said: "Please, Spike."

Another beat. And then he'd grab her roughly and pull her to the bed, ripping his own clothes off and, without preamble, plow into her soft, weeping flesh. If he could prolong that second of entry for eternity he would. Because after that, it all goes to shit.

***

Spike can't remember the exact moment he fell in love with the Slayer. He remembers the first time he saw her though, liquid on the dance floor, with her goofy adolescent friends. It was pre-chip, of course, because beyond the inevitable lust, what Spike mostly felt was ravenous and he'd wondered how she might taste. He'd wondered how much pressure he'd have to exert to snap her fragile neck.

Turned out, she wasn't so easy to kill. And over the months that followed, Spike felt the blossoming of a begrudging respect for her. Oh, she was still an adversary and the demon in him still felt the absolute necessity of killing her, but even Spike had to admit that his relationship with her was more complicated than that.

Jesus. Even Angelus, as it turned out, was dewy-eyed over the Slayer. And Spike knew better than almost anyone what a mean son-of-a-bitch Angelus was. His creed: drink, fuck, kill.

After the whole Acathla thing, and Angel's return from hell, Spike had watched Buffy and Angel circle each other warily, afraid to give in to what they were feeling. Stupid humans. Spike supposed that having a soul made Angel more human than vampire. Apparently, Spike thought bitterly, a chip just doesn't cut it.

And now, Spike would like to think he's having the last laugh, what with shagging the Slayer and all, but he knows deep down it's not true. Not really.

This is how he knows.

She never says his name. She never cries. She never touches him tenderly. She never stays the night. She won't tell her friends.

All he is to her, and he knows this with deadly certainty, is a cold cock. She is on fire and he extinguishes the flame. She could have chosen anyone. He knows that. He also knows the reason why it's him. Because she can't have Angel. Because for now, Angel is lost to her.

That's why, beneath the veneer of caring, there is a deep bitterness in Spike. That is the part of him that spends every waking moment trying to figure out how to keep the Slayer close to him. He succeeds mostly. At turns solicitous and uninterested, he stands behind her with his fingers buried three knuckles deep into her quivering flesh and he says, "Look at them." He nods his head toward her friends, the people who ought to know her best of all but, seemingly, do not. She sways against him, lapping up every bit of the sensation that courses through her. Withdrawing his fingers, he places them next to his lips and, turns her awkwardly to face him. Without taking his eyes off hers, he licks his fingers clean.

***

Spike hates Angel. Hates the fact that Angel has wedged himself, even in absentia, into Buffy's heart. Hates the fact that Buffy cannot hide that she's thinking of Angel when she comes, squeezing the lifeless sperm from Spike's mesmerized cock.

Worst of all, Spike hates himself.

He should be killing her, not loving her. He should be drinking her dry, savouring her blood as it pours over his tongue, not using his tongue to pleasure her. He should be torturing her, branding her, abrading her skin with his teeth and sharp objects.

But somehow, Spike doubts it would make any difference. He can't hurt her. He can't save her. He can't even really be with her.

All he can do is fuck her: a dead man, moaning.

BUFFY

She prays he won't say anything that she might misconstrue as kindness. Truthfully, she prays that he won't say anything at all; will, instead, get on with it. She confesses to him, not with words but with her body, offers herself up as penance. "Save me," the words rolling through her head, overlapping with the other thoughts, which are nasty and beyond telling. She certainly can't tell him, can barely look at him, except when he leaves her no choice.

And then what she sees: blue blue eyes looking through her, not touching anything in her, not connecting with her heart or soul or any of the places Angel had touched. That's good because she wants to keep those places unsullied. She isn't clean anymore and it breaks her heart. She is all used up and wants more. The way he touches her, the lack of tenderness, the blue-black bruises mottling virgin skin, the aching in her crotch, part pain, part longing, it isn't enough.

The more she goes to him, the more he feeds her desire to be consumed by the blackness that's nestled somewhere inside her, lodged like a wooden stake in her heart. She keeps her eyes closed against his, not even allowing him the satisfaction of seeing her startled acknowledgment of her own orgasm. She is driven by desperation, by the knowledge that he can never give her what she wants.

What does she want? Buffy hardly knows anymore. It isn't this. This life. It isn't his body, a hard wall of muscle, cool to the touch. It isn't his mouth, unyielding against her own, sucking her breath into his dead lungs. It isn't even his cock, invasive and merciless.

She could have chosen anyone. A Parker or a Riley, but Buffy knows that her choice was made deliberately and each night, as she stands in the silent cemetery, looking across the crumbling tombstones, she chooses again.

ANGEL

He tries to remember Buffy. He sits perfectly still and tries to remember the taste of her skin at the place where her inner thigh meets her crotch. He runs his fingers over imagined skin, smoothing perfection. He tries to remember the tremulous way she says his name, "Angel," like a question, always.

But she is fading from him. God, he tries to make it not so. He wanted this, this separation to give her a chance to have a normal life even knowing that she was the Slayer and could never have a normal life. Was it cowardice that made him walk away? Angel doesn't know. He doesn't seem to know much anymore.

So as Buffy fades from view, Cordelia becomes more sharply focused, and Angel can feel the inevitable pull toward her and he hates himself for it. He's been so closed off, his whole life about decadence and disobedience, and now his heart feels ripped wide open with the loss of Buffy. First the loss he'd orchestrated and then the physical loss of her and then the mutual decision to walk away.

At her mother's funeral, Angel remembers the way her small, hot hand had felt clutching his. She'd stood at the gravesite waiting for him, knowing he would come and he'd known he would, too. Later, under the tree, she had found sanctuary in his arms and let all the insecurity and bitterness and fear leak from her body. He had tried to scoop it up, and reassure her that she would be okay, knowing all the while that he, himself, had dealt her the deadliest blow with his departure.

Angel had thought he'd be immune to her hot breath against his cheek, her soft wide-open mouth against his, the smell of her. Angel had thought he was merely offering comfort. But what comfort could he possibly offer the woman that he loved, when he knew that what she wanted most in the world was the one thing he could never give her.

Angel was drowning. He knew this with certainty, like he knew that shanshu was an illusory promise concocted by the powers to keep him fighting on their team. He felt weighted down with expectations, his own and those of the people around him. His happy smile, a demeanor as alien to him as drawing breath, was getting harder and harder to maintain. He'd never had to focus so hard on anything in his life.

Maybe that's what his sudden and irrational fixation on Cordelia was all about; doing something that couldn't possibly make him happy.

Because when he thought of Cordelia, of her mouth on his, of her hands travelling up his spine and her hips bucking up to bring him closer, Angel felt a tremor of fear. It wasn't the thought of losing himself in her, and it wasn't even the thought that his physical release would release Angelus from his prison in Angel's soul. It was much worse.

It was the knowledge that he could fuck her and it wouldn't make any difference at all.

He'd lost the only person who would ever be a threat to his soul.

THE END

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