Tired. He’s so, so tired.
Tired of fighting, tired of being strong, tired of running. He’s so tired of running.
But if he doesn’t run, he’ll get caught by all the things he knows are back there. Can’t look, won’t
look, but he knows they’re there. Monsters. Demons. Ghosts.
Can’t stop won’t stop can’t sleep...
Sleep was the worst. Very important not to sleep. Passing out, that was okay. Drinking until he crumbled at the edges and
fell into the black. That had been the strategy that carried him away from Sunnydale and across Africa and back to England
again. Then Giles’s disapproving frown and Willow’s teary eyes and a trip to rehab. And now...
Long nights of walking the floor and talking to the walls and watching TV until his eyes burn and his mind swims. Midnight
runs through London’s streets, just going and going until he has to drag himself back up the steps of his building.
Inevitably, his mind’s surrender, and the dreams.
He’d give his other eye, in a heartbeat, if it meant that he didn’t have to see what he sees in his dreams.
Anya bleeding, Anya crying, Anya calling out his name as she died. He hadn’t been there; he hadn’t seen.
So there was a different way for it to play out every single night in his mind, world without end, amen...
Pain, the dream-memory of pain a thousand times worse than the real thing, Caleb casually twisting his thumb into the socket
and knife-blades exploding through his brain.
The crackle of dark power across his skin, singing and burning and slicing where it could, but he carries his love as a shield
of faith. He stares into her eyes, black and burning and not the girl he’s always loved, and in his dreams her hand
lashes out one more time and there are the knives again as she rips him to pieces from the inside out.
Buffy falling, falling, falling, and God would she ever reach the ground?
Jesse flying to ashes, whispering his name.
Footsteps on the stairs in the dark, the sweetsour smell of the whiskey he wants craves needs, a shadow looming over him in
the dark, looking up into his own face.
He wakes up from the dreams usually shivering and sometimes weeping, always cursing all the saints and Gods and Powers That
Be for giving him his life. And he hears her singing.
Outside the window, down in the garden, she sings to him every night. Ancient songs, as old as time, their rhythms and magic
if not their words. He’s never invited her in- he’s not that stupid- and anyway Willow would know, Willow who’s
wrapped the apartment around six times with magic. And then they would know, and he’d lose what he has left, and no
matter how much he hates it he’s not ready for it to go.
He wakes up at the tail end of the night, of course. After the long fight that always ends in defeat, the dreams wrack him
for only an hour or two before he wakes to hear her song. Perhaps ten minutes later he’ll go down the stairs.
She knows, she always knows, when he’s started moving. And she moves too, drifting ahead of him, just outside his vision,
and yet he can still trace the haunting melody of her song. He follows his Piper across the city streets to the cemetery
and walks down into Hell.
Only it’s not Hell, of course, because he doesn’t believe in that anymore. It’s just a crypt, like the
dozens that used to dot Sunnydale, just her den, where she’s waiting.
Always, she’s seated on the coffin by the time he gets there, smiling at him. “My darling boy, you came,”
she murmurs, each time contriving to sound surprised. “You heard my song, and you came to me...”
“Shut up,” he whispers, and any third-rate actor could play his part, it never wavers. “I need it.”
The dreams don’t follow him here. She can keep the ghosts at bay, if he pays her price. And he always does, because
he’s so fucking tired and here he can steal an hour of rest.
She drifts up to him like moonlit fog, catches his face in her hands, kisses him deeply. His lips and tongue cringe back
from hers at first- she tastes like stale blood and her own suspended decay- but in a few heartbeats (his own) he’s
kissing her back, wild and desperate and needing. Wanting, though only the truth-speaking creature in the back of
his mind, the one with his father’s voice, will admit to that.
She runs her hands down the length of his body as she sinks to her knees, skirts pooling around her like spilled blood. Her
fingers curl around his fly, work his dick free, and she takes him in her mouth. The same, exactly the same, every single
damned night. He closes his eyes, catches his breath, rests his hands on her shoulders as she goes down on him, her lack
of breath making her able to do things that Anya never could, just as her lack of a soul will lead them both to points Anya
would never have dreamed of.
“Jesus Christ,” he’d gasped the first time, the first night he followed her back here and fell into her
pit of sin, “where did you learn to do that?”
She’d looked up at him, her eyes burning black coals in a face white as death. “Daddy,” she said, smiling.
“Didn’t you as well?”
Even if he has fallen from grace, there are some things he won’t speak of even to his temptress. That night he simply
pushed her head back down, and he’s never asked again. But she always comes up laughing, the same as she did that night,
before she lies down on the sarcophagus and hitches up her skirts and smiles at him.
He goes to her and he feels himself melt into her, his mind as well as his body. That’s the only way to explain the
things he does to her- with her- things that he would’ve cut his own throat before doing to Anya. If the others thought
the two of them were a little naughty, God, what would they say if they saw him bent over Drusilla, hands around her throat,
choking out the breath she doesn’t need while she laughs and wraps her long legs around his waist and fucks him till
he sobs and aches and begs.
There are knives, always just within reach, and each uses them on the other, down there in the dark. He wears his sleeves
rolled down and buttoned now, and catches himself staring at Giles’s shirts during their meetings, knowing he carries
matching scars underneath. She’d learned it all from her Daddy, after all.
He learns the sweet blackened pleasure of watching blood spill across white skin, the surreal godlike power of hearing a gasp
and giggle instead of a scream of pain as he does it. And as they hurt each other in the fading hours of the night, as he
comes close to the edge, he asks her.
“Please,” he gasps, “now...I need it...”
And she smiles, all rotted innocence and sugar mixed with ground glass. She draws him closer with her legs tight around his
hips, and she brings up her thin white hands. One catches his chin, the other hovers over his eyes as her own bore into them.
“Be in me, dearie,” she whispers, smiling up at him with the blackened shells of comfort and love, “be in
And he comes into Anya, collapses against Willow’s chest, feels Cordelia’s hands smooth his sweaty hair back from
his forehead as Tara whispers, “It’s all right, love, it’s going to be all right,” and he falls into
a blessedly dreamless sleep in Buffy’s arms.
She never bites him while he's sleeping, and never tries to turn him while he’s awake. She’s always asleep when
he leaves in the morning, an hour or so after sunrise, lying sweet as a child in her white lace and linen. He never moves
to touch her in the daylight; she knows he won’t. The little smile on her lips says so.
He goes back to his apartment, showers, makes his coffee and watches an hour of morning TV. Then it’s back to the Council
house, to meetings with Giles and Andrew and Willow, to smiling and nodding and being all right. Back to saving the world,
and swearing to whatever gods could hear that he won’t go to her again.
But his strength ebbs with the day until the sunset leaves him shaking with exhaustion. And he fights again, rides into his
eternal battle with sleep, the battle he’s fated to lose. He wakes to the song that promises brittle peace, and he
goes to her, because he’s been fighting since before he was old enough to understand, and it’s too late to lay
down the sword, even if he no longer has the strength to hold it high.