Summary: Obligatory post-"Smashed" morning after story.
Disclaimer: Grr, arrgh. Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy made this.
She is first aware of warmth, embers of a spent fire that glow softly under every inch of skin. Close behind is the pain, and finally the feeling of cold stone digging into her hip. She sits up slowly, trying to focus against the harsh shaft of sunlight stretching from the ceiling. When she rubs her eyes with her fingertips, she nearly screams. Her face feels as though it has been smashed to pieces and glued clumsily back together while she slept.
She wishes she could enjoy just one moment of disorientation, but she remembers exactly where she is and why.
He lies beside her, draped safely in shadow. He lies beside her, without blood pulsing at his throat or breath broadening his chest. He lies beside her, sleeping like the dead. Because he is dead, has been for well over a century, and she has - she has -
No, no, no, no. That way lies madness and guilt and the need for more rationalization than her dazed brain can summon right now. She needs to get her clothes on and she needs to get out. Out, out, before he opens his eyes and sees her and twists his lips into the familiar, infuriating, self-satisfied grin that will force her to smack him - which could so easily lead into a repeat performance of last night's incredible wrongness.
But he isn't going to wake for a while, trapped in the deep sleep of traditional daytime torpor. He lies on his side, pillowed on dirty hands, as if he dozed off watching her dream. His skin has the hard sheen of white marble, mottled by bruises and the delicate tracery of broken blood vessels.
Asleep, curled around himself, he is astonishingly small. Somehow she has always gotten the impression that he loomed over her and the rest of the gang, but it was all posture and menacing attitude. There is a sweet fragility to his face now that makes her want to kiss his cheek or backhand it, she can't decide which.
She can't deal. She doesn't want him this way, trusting and vulnerable, a puppy cringing adoringly at her feet. She wants to kick him, not kiss him. At the dark secret heart of her she has to admit that he was a million times sexier when he barked and bit.
The chip made it possible for him to be kind to her, but it also made it impossible for her to be kind to him.
She's told herself for two years that she spared his life because he was helpless, because there is no honor in attacking a beast that can't defend itself. Lately it even seemed reasonable to hope that he might yet be redeemed through love, revolted as its object was. Now she wonders if she was really just waiting for this day - for him to get his fists and fangs back. For him to bring her back from the dead.
Ugh, bad Buffy, don't think. She pulls her clothes on, the fabric rough against her supercharged skin. The laces of her boots are stubborn under her battered fingers.
He hasn't moved. He lies with her back to her, slumbering, spent. She stands over him, watching the pool of sunlight spread towards his face. He's entirely oblivious to it, to her. Idiot.
It would just take a second. She fits her toe into the small of his back. All she has to do is nudge him forward. She tenses experimentally, lifting her foot, dimpling the pale skin.
Then she sits down, suddenly, shuddering with a surge of emotion she can't place and can't name.
"The grave's a fine and private place,
but none, I think, do there embrace."
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