Title : Detox
Series: maybe. not now.
Author : Starsinger Saathi
Feedback: StarsingerSaathi@cuteandcuddly.com Fandom: BtVS
Spoilers: Up to Grave, a little into the last season Pairing: hints of Willow/Giles
Rating : PG-13
Warnings: some violence
Summary - Fighting the urge was so ridiculous, so horrendously difficult sometimes.
Date : 6/15/03
Archive? Ask me, it's yours.
Website : http://skip.to/saathi (coming soon)
Disclaimer : Everything in the Buffyverse belongs to Joss. I don't own 'em, I don't make money off of borrowing 'em, I just love 'em. Don't sue me.
Author's notes: I might do a sequel, I might not. Treat it as a standalone till I get off my lazy ass and write some more. This is for Zelda, and MidnightEmily, both of whom think I am on bad, bad crack for this fic but love me anyway.
No. It's not an addiction.
They say all addicts say that, but it's true. It's not an addiction. That doesn't even come close to describing what it is. It's more. The compulsion to use magic, the irresistible pull of the external world on your spirit -
(spiritus sancti, he thinks. Sanctified. Holy. Something he fights in the name of, trains his Slayer to be a warrior of, but not something he believes in, or lives for.)
- is like osmosis - the balancing act where something in a high concentration will naturally move to lower concentration areas until both are equal. Sometimes, you just have too much magic inside, and the pressure needs to equalize.
Sometimes it feels like he's living in a vacuum, and he will burst if he doesn't do something.
So. There's that aspect of it, then. The compulsion is not the "addiction" asserting itself. It's part of the cosmos' eternal search for balance.
There's also nostalgia. Memories of being so full of power -
(gorged on the dark arts, more like)
- that nothing else mattered except the interesting ways to make the spells sparkle in the air.
Death had always added an extra brightness, the contrast was so stark. Black, black, black of ink, of nothing, where pain and torture and life had been just a moment ago. And then, as the body cooled and became just another inanimate object, the darkness would leave, fading away as the cells broke down.
He would wrap glamours and charms and hallucinogenic awareness around someone, wrap them up in shining incandescent threads, weaving the spells into their aura until any hold on reality wasn't even a memory -
(because long-term memory was banal, and thinking about long-term anything was terrifying, and anything short-term was exciting and dangerous and right...)
- and then Ethan would do the honors, not always Ethan, but most often it would be his pleasure to take care of this bit. Almost always fast, because torture they reserved for friends (lovers) and enemies, not for anonymous subjects of amusement. Never with a gun, and Ethan always had a knife on him.
And the blood would run, or gush, or spurt, and the crimson rivers would always be dedicated to their demon-patron -
(whose name he would always refrain from thinking or saying, especially when musing deeply on these horrible moments, because a name gives the speaker power over a thing, but also the thing power over the speaker. And he knew better than to give any measure of power to... it...when thinking, returning one's mind to dark times...)
- but they would not revel in the blood, but the power infusing them, and the sight of all their charms and hexes and glamours brilliantly outlined against a dying soul. A minute was like an eon, and the moment of death would be suspended, stretched, magnified a thousand times in a thousand ways, and it would be...
Yes, nostalgia was the closest word for it. Not close enough a term for the feeling of reliving those memories, though, because his present self
(prim, proper, tweedy git, a voice snarled contemptuously, recalled and awakened alongside the past.)
would shudder with revulsion at what he'd done as someone else, but still himself.
Then. Then, there was recovery, which took you away from the darkness and made you search your psyche for all the places that let the light in, and holding onto the brightness and good and warmth until the dark subsided, muttering with forgotten power.
Recovery took strength, sapped it, drained you, and rebuilt you into something resembling yourself. The version of yourself you ought to be, with added scars and less pride, and more fear. Recovery took every ounce of your will, and left you defenseless against the least expected sources.
Friends would hurt you the most, because they would resent you for the things you had done. And the things you'd almost done, but hadn't. Recovery left you vulnerable to the people who were supposed to defend you, because when you changed, they didn't want to defend you anymore.
Their desertion hurt more than anything they would've defended you against.
Then, when you'd finally reached the day when you didn't have to fight to stand in your lighter side, when the struggle had stopped and you knew you'd beaten the shadows back - then, you should worry the most. So that you wouldn't forget. So that you wouldn't turn your back on the part of yourself that would stab you there.
Sometimes, he forgot to keep an eye on the shadow, and it would slink away to a blind spot, and wake in his dreams. It beckoned in seductive sibilants to take up old, familiar magicks. Morality be damned, it said, just embrace the power and lose the pain that refusal would cause.
It was so damned tempting. So easy. Fighting the urge was so ridiculous, so horrendously difficult sometimes.
Natural balance asserting itself, nostalgia, the temptation of the easier way. It was all those things.
It was not an addiction.
Sex, liquor, drugs - all paled in comparison. Their hold on your being was on far less levels than magic, especially the black arts.
Which meant, of course, that `detox,' such as it was, was more difficult, and not at all the same. The key was not to deny your darker nature - shadow accompanies light, especially at dawn - but to keep it from consuming you.
It was a long, brutal lesson, and one that you never stop learning, and now he had to pass it on.
He had stared up at her, her visage blackened and twisted like a tree scarred by fire, with even the flames of her hair turned to charcoal and black ash, torturing and taunting him from the outside.
(and, unbidden, a voice snarled and sneered, saying that here was one worthy of him, taunting and clawing on the inside while he turned from the Ripper-thought with revulsion and shock and denial)
He thought, sadly, that here was one he would have to teach, to mentor, to help through the painful recovery, if he could save her now, in the next few minutes.
(and, in the shades of grey within his mind, the two thoughts blended, until the good intentions were corrupted, and the ill ones washed away, and his heart woke to this conflict with a simple emotional solution. But he did not know this, yet.)
He had given her everything he could, voluntarily going to the brink of death while she seemingly ripped out his magicks by force. And Xander had taken care of the most important thing, for all its simplicity.
Giles had survived, his magic - good and bad, his own and the borrowed - flooding back and restoring him.
He took Willow with him to England.
"Evil, black plot bunny. With eyes that burn like FIRE. Could you say no to that?" --Saathi
"I could run like hell." --Zelda
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