|Story Title:||Miles To Go Before I Sleep|
Buffy has to face Annie, and her own guilt, as the gravity of what's happened to her eldest daughter crashes down on both of them.
Music Referenced: Why, Annie Lennox http://youtu.be/HG7I4oniOyA
|Thanks:||Giant thanks to Anona for betaing this chapter, including her grammatical and punctuation corrections, wonderful commentary, and final review. Also thanks to Capella42 for her insightful suggestions that made the whole story better and epd4 for her help with the initial beta. All mistakes are mine because I simply cannot stop fiddling right up to the last moment.|
|Rating / Warnings:||
NC17. Content is only suitable for mature adults. Contains explicit language, sex, adult themes, and other adult situations that some people may find objectionable. If you are under the age of 17 or find any of these themes objectionable – GO AWAY.
(Next day) Thursday, April 21st, 2011, 10am:
Buffy woke slowly as a low painful moan escaped her throat. Her head was fuzzy, groggy; there was a heavy fog pervading everything. Her mind was unable to focus on any one thought with any clarity. She reached a hand up to touch her head, just to make sure it was actually still attached to her body. Unfortunately, it was. She blinked her eyes slowly, squinting against the florescent light of the hospital as she struggled to sit up. She was surprised to find she was in a chair, not strapped down like a patient in the mental ward.
She leaned forward in the chair and dropped her head into her hands as the fog began to clear. Suddenly, the reality of everything came tumbling back to the forefront of her bleary mind. Annie … God, my baby girl!
Buffy had never been able to tell Spike about Annie in the dream. Well, that’s not entirely true; she did tell him, but he never understood what she was saying. He only spoke of afternoon tea and his mother wanting to meet her and how Miss Nellie had finally found the mix for hot chocolate just for the occasion, just for Buffy.
Buffy sighed heavily and scratched at the bare skin of her arms. It itched like a wound itched when it was healing – residual from the dream, she supposed.
“Well, you are alive,” Xander called a little too brightly as he came in the room with two cups of steaming coffee.
Buffy looked up finally, taking stock of where they were. Her breath caught in her throat when she realized they were in Annie’s room. Her daughter lay sleeping in the bed just a couple of feet away. The blanket covering her outlined her girlish frame and Buffy’s eyes drifted down from her angelic face to the spot just past her hips where the blanket went slack, then flat. Tears welled in Buffy’s eyes and her chin began to quiver with a fresh wave of anguish.
Xander sat down in the chair next to hers and handed her one of the coffees. “I convinced them not to re-admit you. Told them they’d save themselves a lot of paperwork ‘cos you’d just check yourself back out when you woke up. Was I right?”
Buffy finally dragged her eyes away from Annie and looked at him. It took a minute for his words to work their way through the residual tendrils of fog in her brain, but she finally nodded and took a sip of the coffee.
“Has she woken up yet?” Buffy asked. Her voice sounded like it was coming from somewhere far, far away.
“A couple of times, but not, you know, really fully awake,” Xander explained. “Just enough to ask for you or Spike … then she’d drift back off.”
Buffy nodded again and looked back at her sleeping daughter – her ballerina, and she bit down on her bottom lip until she tasted blood. “What do I do now?” Buffy whispered, licking the wound on her lip to try and seal it.
“What you always do, Buff. You keep going. You love her and you give her everything you have to give, and you make it alright,” Xander advised.
Buffy snorted a harsh, sarcastic laugh. “Nothing is going to make this alright,” she asserted in a low, rough tone. “What do I even say to her?”
“You say that you love her.”
Buffy shook her head. “I love her so much that I can’t even protect her from…”
“Mama?” Annie called, her voice gravely and hoarse from disuse.
Buffy stood and quickly handed her coffee back to Xander, then moved up next to Annie. She smoothed her daughter’s hair back from her face and dropped a soft kiss on her forehead. “I’m here baby, I’m right here,” she assured her. Buffy could tell Annie’s fever was nearly gone, which was a good sign, at least. Buffy leaned down and hugged the girl’s shoulders, resting her cheek next to her daughter’s.
“Mama…my legs hurt so much,” Annie croaked, her voice still rough and groggy, as she reached down with her hand to try and touch the offending limbs.
“Oh, baby, I’m so sorry,” Buffy moaned, pulling back to look into her eyes. Buffy had no idea what to say to her. How do you tell someone … tell a child of all people, that they don’t have their legs any longer?
“What’s the matter?” Annie asked, finally coming fully awake and seeing the distress in her mother’s eyes. “Is it … Dad? Did something happen to Dad?” she asked with growing alarm.
Buffy shook her head, then nodded, then shook it again, completely confusing the girl. “Your dad,” Buffy blew out a breath. “He’s still …” Buffy hesitated and tried to think. “He’s not here, but he’s okay,” she finally managed. “That’s not … that’s not what’s wrong, baby. Annie, honey … I just, I don’t know how to say this. I just … I’d do anything to change it.”
“Mom, what is it? You’re scaring me,” Annie told her, as tears of worry welled in her big blue eyes, matching the tears that glistened in Buffy’s.
“The doctors,” Buffy began again. “They … Honey, the infection from the bats was too bad. It … they … I … oh, fuck,” Buffy swore as she tried to breathe. She needed to think of something to tell her daughter to soften this. Something that would make it feel like her whole life hadn’t just come to an end. Because at that moment, Buffy felt very much like it had.
Buffy swallowed back her tears and took a deep breath. “Annie, the doctors couldn’t save your legs. To save your life, they had to … they had to amputate them.”
Annie looked at her with confusion, shaking her head slowly from side to side as if to get the words to make sense – because they made no sense whatsoever. She could feel her legs – they hurt. The wounds from the bats still hurt … she knew it as well as she knew her own name. Annie slowly pulled the blanket up and looked down under the covers. There was a jagged disconnect in her mind – her eyes were telling her one thing, but her nerve-endings were telling her something completely different.
“I … but … I don’t … I don’t understand,” Annie stammered as the tears that had welled in her eyes began to slide down her face. “They … they hurt. It must be a trick – it’s some kind of magic, right? A trick … an evil trick!” she asserted, looking up at her mother. “The bats … must’ve been … magic or something!”
Buffy shook her head slowly, biting down on her already bleeding lip. “I’m so, so, sorry, Annie. It’s not … it’s real, it’s not a trick.”
“But – they hurt!” Annie protested vehemently as she reached a hand down to prove that her legs were actually there but just invisible. Her hand was met with nothing but empty space just a few inches below her hips. They’d left just enough to allow for prosthetics to fit onto the nubs and nothing more.
Xander stepped up next to Buffy. “It’s called phantom pain and, according to the doctor, it’s pretty common,” he offered. “It should go away on its own, but if it doesn’t they have some therapies to relieve it.”
Annie just stared at him, unbelieving, jaw hanging open, like a forgotten barn door, for several long moments.
“I don’t want it to go away! I want my legs back!” she insisted finally, anger rising in her voice while the tears continued to stream down her face. “Just … just give them back! I can live with the pain; just tell them to give me my legs back!”
Buffy’s attempt at staying calm collapsed completely. She began to sob uncontrollably and dropped down to her knees next to Annie’s bed.
“They can’t, honey – they were too infected and the infection was spreading too fast,” Xander offered solemnly as he laid an arm over Buffy’s trembling shoulders.
Annie shook her head and tried to breathe. It felt like all the air had been taken out of the room suddenly as her tears fell in torrents down her face. “But … that’s not fair! I …didn’t do anything wrong! I … was brave and … Mom said Dad would be proud and… Bitty-Buffy and … I don’t understand! Why!?” Annie began to hyperventilate as she looked back down at her legs … or what used to be her legs. “It’s not fair!” she repeated, finally dropping the blanket and covering her face with her hands as her sobs continued in earnest.
“God, Annie – I’m so sorry,” Buffy cried as she pushed herself back up and drew the distraught girl into a hug.
“Why, Mama? Why? What did I do wrong?” Annie asked, over and over again as she clung to Buffy. Annie’s tears seemed to come straight from her heart. She could tell because of how much her chest hurt, like something was in there squeezing her tears up right from the bottom of her soul.
“Nothing – you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s not you, baby,” Buffy tried to assure her. It’s me – it’s my fault, she added silently.
“Am I … am I a bad person? Is that why? Am I being punished ‘cos I opened the portal?” Annie continued, trying to find reason in an unreasonable situation. “I didn’t mean to! Tell them, Mama! Tell them I didn’t mean to! Please … please tell them to give me my legs back,” she begged.
“It’s not you, Annie. It’s not your fault. You’re not bad. You’re beautiful and perfect and brave … it’s not you,” Buffy continued to assure her.
“I’m so sorry,” Buffy chanted over and over again as she rocked her daughter against her and wished with all her might that she could take her pain away. She should be the one laying there in that bed, not Annie. She should’ve protected her and she didn’t. Her daughter’s life had just been shattered into a million shards of misery and Buffy had been drinking a bottle of Tequila with Spike in Mr. Shark’s cave at the time. She was the Slayer. She should’ve been with Annie where she could’ve protected her.
Great job. Just a fucking great job, Slayer.
After a long while, Annie finally fell back into an exhausted, restless sleep and Xander insisted that Buffy go home for a little while. “Get a shower, get some clean clothes … you’ll feel better,” he told her.
Buffy rolled her eyes. That was like pissing on a forest fire to put it out. Xander gave her his keys, promising to stay with Annie in case she woke up. Buffy finally agreed to leave her daughter’s side but promised to be back quickly.
On the way home, she racked her mind, trying to find a solution to this – some way to give Annie back what she’d lost. Wolfram & Hart was the first thing that came to mind. She knew they had the … technology or magic or whatever it was to fix things like this: they’d fixed Angel’s severed hands. What would they want in return? They’d taken money from Angel to cure Cordy, but she wondered if Angel had promised them more than that. He’d never tell her if he did. Well, there was one way to find out – she could call Lilah Morgan and ask. How much was her daughter’s future worth? What wasn’t it worth?
When she got to the mansion, Tara was on the phone with Willow. Buffy could hear the white witch telling her wife about the boat that Wes and Giles had hired, which included a captain and crew, to take over the hunt for Spike. The Coast Guard and Navy were calling off their rescue mission at dusk tonight. It had been a full week today. It was SOP to stop the search for missing persons after seven days. Apparently there was no room for exceptions in ‘Standard Operating Procedure’.
Buffy laid Spike’s duster and the scroll from the other dimension down on the research table where Tara sat. Buffy picked MacKenzie up out of her bassinette, which was next to Tara, and nuzzled the baby’s small face. She smelled so … normal. Like ‘baby’: sugar and spice and everything nice … like everything was fine. Buffy closed her eyes and just inhaled, trying to transport herself back to a time when everything really was fine. It didn’t work. She sighed as she gave the cooing redhead a kiss on the tip of her nose, then sat down with her at the research table across from the white witch.
“Buffy’s here,” Tara announced into the phone, then, after a beat she handed it to Buffy. “Willow…” she explained as Buffy took the phone from her hand.
“Any luck talking them into letting us use one of the AUVs as bait, Wills?” Buffy asked, shifting the baby to cradle her with one arm. She knew the answer before she asked, just from the look on Tara’s face, but she had to ask anyway.
“Buffy! Oh goddess, we were so worried about you! I’m so sorry about Annie! Tara told me what happened. I wish I could give you a hug, I’m so sorry,” Willow gushed.
Buffy bit the gash in her bottom lip, drawing more blood, and nodded. She fought to keep from collapsing in another fit of sobs and guilt-ridden self-loathing, which would do no one any good now. “Thanks,” she said quietly as she swallowed back her tears. “Any luck with Spike?” she asked again.
Willow sighed heavily into the phone. “No … they aren’t budging on the AUV. I don’t understand why my magic won’t work on that damn thing.”
“The creature was transported here by Tara,” Buffy began, drawing a confused look from the witch sitting across from her. “Not your Tara … not our Tara,” Buffy clarified quickly. “Tara from another dimension, from the dimension Annie and I …” Buffy choked back a sob and cleared her throat.
“She said it was a spell that you had created to try and send Glory away to another dimension. She tweaked it to try and send the largest demons away from Sunnydale. She didn’t think she had the power to actually send them to another dimension. She thought she was sending them to Japan.” Buffy laughed humorlessly and rubbed at her aching head and swollen eyes as she cradled the phone on her shoulder.
Maybe it was just static on the line, but Buffy thought she could hear Willow thinking through the phone. To the Slayer it kinda sounded like that little clicking and popping noise her computer made when she was searching for a document. It figured Willow’s brain would make that same noise.
Finally, Willow asked, “She didn’t say how she tweaked it, though, huh?”
Buffy shook her head. “No,” Buffy confirmed. “Did you write a spell like that?”
Willow huffed a breath into the phone. “I thought about it, but never actually got to the writing part of the assignment.”
Buffy sighed. “Do you think … I mean, maybe you could tell Tara what your ideas were and maybe she could think about what she’d do to tweak them to work on big Otherwordly demons and then maybe …” Buffy sighed again, afraid she was just rambling and making no sense.
“Yeah, we can try that,” Willow agreed, surprising Buffy by apparently following her logic. “If we can figure out what Tara would’ve tweaked in those spells, maybe we can figure out how to get magic to work on the creature.
“Ok, let me talk to Tara again,” Willow requested as her mind whirled like the disk drive on Buffy’s computer, retrieving the needed spells from her ‘random access memory’.
“A couple more things,” Buffy stopped her. “I have a scroll here from the other dimension – Annie says it’s the key to that book about creating a Gem of Amarra.”
“Really? Oh wow, that’s awesome!” Willow started enthusiastically before thinking about what Annie, and Buffy, had paid for it. “I mean … uhh…”
“It’s ok, Wills. She was pretty stoked about it too … at least … before…” Buffy’s voice trailed off.
“Right. I’m so sorry, Buffy,” Willow repeated, the sorrow evident in her voice. “Just … have Giles put it in the safe at the Council building, the one with the magical wards. We don’t want anything to happen to it. I’ll get back on it after we find Spike.”
“Ok,” Buffy agreed. She fingered the ornate silver case that held the scroll and kept the precious parchment inside safe, still cradling the phone against her shoulder and the baby in her other arm.
“The other thing is … Bess’ idea about luring it into a cave or something with an AUV,” Buffy began. “Do you really think that will work?”
Willow cleared her throat and Buffy heard some rustling over the phone. “I don’t know,” Willow admitted. “But they won’t even give us a chance to try it.”
“Could we … borrow one and try it on our own?” Buffy posed.
“Borrow without permission, you mean,” Willow clarified. “I don’t know. And I don’t know how to keep the whole Third Fleet from coming down on us if we do.”
“Ok – new idea,” Buffy actually brightened a little when a light bulb flickered dimly in her exhausted brain. “You know that sun you guys created to fight The First? Can’t you conjure something like that, not fiery, but big and white … like a giant, white octopus lure and magically dangle it in front of the thing’s big red eyes and use that for bait?” Buffy looked at Tara as she spoke to Willow. She could see the wheels turning behind the witch’s expressive blue eyes.
“Ummmm …” Willow thought. “Maybe … if we could get close enough to it and …” Willow blew out a breath. The clicking and popping noise on the phone line got louder. “Yeah …” she finally said, her voice sounding more optimistic. “Yeah, I know just the spell! Let me talk to Tara … but, yeah. If that new boat can get us fairly close, I think I can do it.”
Buffy blew out a slightly relieved breath. “Great. That’s great, Will. Is Bess nearby?”
“Yeah … sure. Hang on.”
“Mom?” Bess’ voice came on the phone after a few moments. “How’s Annie?” she asked hesitantly.
Buffy sighed heavily. “She’s alive … it … we’ll … It’s gonna take time to…” Buffy didn’t know what she was trying to say. It would take time to get over? How would Annie ever ‘get over’ that? “It’ll just take time,” she finally choked out, leaving it at that.
“Bess, we have a plan to lure the demon like you wanted,” Buffy told her. “Please be careful. Don’t do anything stupid because you feel like this was your fault, because it wasn’t. Spike wanted to be there just as much as you did, okay? And we’ll find a way to get him back, I swear. I don’t want to lose you too. Spike would never forgive himself – I’d never forgive myself … okay?”
Bess nodded on the other end of the phone. “Okay. I’ll be careful,” Bess promised. “Tell Annie I love her.”
“I will. We love you too, Bess.”
“Thanks, Mom – I’m really so sorry.”
“It’s going around,” Buffy admitted sadly.
“Oh, Willow wants to talk to Tara,” Bess reminded Buffy.
“Right – please be careful now, ok?” Buffy told her one last time.
“It’s my middle name.”
While Tara was on the phone with Willow, Buffy went up to get her shower. She’d call Lilah later, when she was alone. She didn’t need any reproachful looks or worried objections and warnings about getting in bed with the devil from the witch just then. While Buffy was in the shower, Tara stuck her head in and said she needed to go to the Council building. She needed to check on some spell books that hadn’t been scanned yet, ones Willow thought she would’ve used to create her send-Glory-the-hell-away spell with. She was taking the scroll and MacKenzie with her and would get Giles or Wes to put the artifact up in the safe. She promised she’d be back by the time the other kids got home from school.
After using all the hot water, Buffy finally got out of the shower. She rubbed the fog away from a spot on the mirror and looked at herself sullenly. She looked as horrible as she felt. Dark circles framed red, swollen eyelids and bloodshot eyes. Deep worry lines formed around her mouth and on her brow. She tried to stretch and rub her face to make them go away, but they weren’t budging. Her cheeks looked gaunt, like she hadn’t eaten anything in a week. She looked like she’d aged twenty years in just the last few days. So much for the whole immortal, young forever thing, she thought bitterly, rolling her eyes. She sighed, resigned, and plodded down the hall to the master bedroom, leaving a trail of wet footprints and water droplets in her wake.
Buffy pulled out a pair of jeans and under garments, then looked for the sleeveless, split-shoulder brown shirt with the dark peach colored flowers running around the bodice that Annie always liked. She dug through all her drawers and the closet, searching for it, but couldn’t find it. Was it in the laundry? She couldn’t remember wearing it lately; of course, ‘lately’ was kind of a vague time frame what with the inter-dimensional travel and unconsciousness and all.
Buffy became frantic about finding that shirt. Annie liked it so well, it just seemed like the most important thing in the world at that moment to find it and have it on when she went back to the hospital. Buffy cursed her infernal and seemingly never-ending wardrobe as she emptied drawer after drawer of clothes and then started on the closet, tossing dresses and slacks and blouses out into a huge pile on the floor in search of the one that she wanted – that she needed. Nothing was in her control, it seemed – not even her clothes.
Exhausted and defeated, unable to find it, Buffy finally threw herself onto their bed, hugging Spike’s pillow to her and burying her face into it as she sobbed. All she wanted was one thing to go right – one little thing. She couldn’t even find the one shirt that she knew Annie would like. It wasn’t much, but was something that might bring a small smile to daughter’s lips for a split second – that’s all Buffy wanted, but she couldn’t even do that.
She breathed in the essence of Spike from his pillow. The scent of the sandalwood from the ‘Stud-Bubbles’ soap that Anya had gotten him hooked on mingled with a hint of well-worn leather. Under that, a sprinkling of Tabasco layered over the indomitable, coppery aroma of blood. Buffy’s sobs came harder – she felt like her whole world was unraveling and she was powerless to stop it.
She knew the twins needed her to be here for them when they got home from school, needed her to be strong for them. But the prospect of facing them, of seeing the worry and sadness and fear in their eyes for their sister and father just made her want to run away and hide. How was she supposed to do this? How could she be strong for them, be the adult, the parent, when all she wanted was to curl into a little ball and make everything go away?
Buffy’s sobs finally waned and exhaustion overtook her as she hugged Spike’s pillow tightly to her chest, her face buried in it as if she could breathe him back into their bed. Before too long, she’d fallen into a restless sleep.
Buffy no longer screamed or even flinched when she found herself immersed in the acid-bile of the sea monster in her sleep. The physical pain was actually a welcome relief to the gut-wrenching mental anguish that filled her waking hours, and this time was no different. She was submerged in the deep, gurgling pool of putrid, rotten-fish-flavored bile and it burned her skin just like fire. In a minute she’d will herself up to Spike’s ledge and lay with him, but right now, she just wanted to drown in the pain of the acid eating her skin.
She closed her eyes and just floated as the water and bile around her ebbed and flowed in its constant motion of life. For a few precious moments the only thing she could think about was how much it hurt. There was no room in her mind to worry about anything else but the constant pain that engulfed her body. Buffy’s flesh sizzled and burned, large holes were eaten into her skin as the sea monster’s bile tried in vain to consume her.
She unexpectedly bumped into something large and solid floating in the dark agony and she opened her eyes on reflex, despite knowing that it was too dark here to see anything.
“Hello, luv,” Spike greeted her amiably, reaching out a hand to touch the raw flesh of her cheek.
“Spike?” Buffy questioned, slightly confused by him being down here.
“‘Course, pet – who else?”
“What are you doing down here?” she wondered, reaching out a hand of her own to touch him.
“Come t’ see you, kitten.”
Buffy furrowed her brow, wishing she could actually see him. “What about … tea and chocolate and lemon curd?”
She could feel him shrug under her hand. “Could do if that’s what ya want, pet. Thought we’d have a bit of the rough and tumble though. Whaddya say?” he suggested with a low rumble.
“Are you sure…?” Buffy wondered, moving closer to him. “You’re … ok?”
“Right as rain, luv,” Spike assured her, pulling her into his arms and finding her lips with his.
His body felt rough, chapped, covered in sores and scabs, as did his lips against hers. She knew her body must feel the same to him, but it felt so good to be in his arms and have him lucid that she didn’t care. The glorious pain of the acid coupled with his arms encircling her and his mouth on hers was a miracle in the midst of utter despair.
“God, Spike … I love you so much,” she murmured against his harsh and brittle lips. She knew she needed to tell him about Annie and talk to him about going to Wolfram & Hart. She needed to tell him about everything that had happened to them now, while he was lucid; but right this moment her only desire was to be engulfed by him. She wrapped her legs around his waist as the two of them swayed with the movement of the sea monster, completely submerged in the burning liquid.
Buffy guided his cock into her as she plunged her hips down, taking him deep inside her. The normally smooth, soft skin of his erection was rough with scabs and scars and it scraped painfully against her raw, tender opening. She gasped at the new sensation of pain as he began moving against her. His cock was abrasive, like coarse sandpaper, and it scratched and cut deeply into her sensitive skin with every thrust.
“Yes, Spike … God yes … hurt me …” she begged him leaning back and arching her back, raising her breasts to him.
And Spike did as she demanded. He bit down on her raw and bleeding nipple and Buffy shrieked in pain as he pounded into her even harder, slamming his rod into her with wild abandon. Her whole body convulsed and trembled and she screamed out, her voice echoing in the cavernous stomach of the beast, as she came in a shower of painful ecstasy. Her pussy walls tightened around his pulsing cock, swallowing his cum, milking him for every drop, as he roared his own release only moments later.
Buffy clung to him tightly with arms and legs. She closed her eyes and hung on as if she’d surely drown if she released him. Her head dropped to Spike’s shoulder as she struggled to get her breath back, taking deep, ragged breaths of the putrid air.
“Such a little slut you are … so easily fooled.” It wasn’t Spike’s voice.
Buffy’s eyes flashed open widely as she drew back. Riley Finn’s red eyes glowed brightly in the dark and his cruel, mocking laugh cut Buffy to the core. Before she could react or pull away, he sank his fangs into her neck, completely covering Spike’s scar with his own mark.
“Nooooooo!” Buffy screamed and tried to extricate herself from the super-strong vamp’s grip. She kicked and punched and thrashed wildly against him, sending waves of the acidic bile crashing out in all directions. She landed a solid kick in the center of his stomach and pushed with every ounce of strength she had to get away from him. A huge chunk of her flesh ripped out of her neck when she finally pulled free from his fangs. Buffy screamed again as the pain from the acid was overshadowed ten-fold by the pain of her tearing flesh.
Buffy tumbled off the bed and crashed against the open drawers of her dresser, smashing two of them, on her way to the floor. Suddenly wide awake, she instinctively picked up a piece of the broken wood and scrambled back away from … from what? She looked around, her eyes wide with fear and revulsion; there was no one there. She pressed her hand to her neck and pulled it away to look – no blood. She crouched, quivering and trembling in terror and disgust on the floor, her back pressed against the door of their room. Buffy scratched savagely at her skin with the jagged wood and her fingernails – it was crawling and itching and burning and dirty.
Suddenly, she jumped up and fled the bedroom, running down the hall to the bathroom and jumping under the spray of the shower before the water even got warm. She scrubbed and dug and scratched wildly at her skin, trying to get the stink of Riley Finn off. She used all of Spike’s soap, lathering and rinsing over and over again, trying to replace the stench of her deceit with the comfort of her husband’s love, but it wasn’t working. She could smell betrayal all over her – it seemed embedded in her blood, in her soul.
“Why!? What the hell is wrong with you!?” she screamed at herself as she finally crumpled down onto the floor of the shower.
Buffy didn’t know how long she sat there trying to get the water to wash away her sins. She continued to scratch idly at her skin, not even feeling the pain she was inflicting or noticing the blood that ran across the tiles and down the drain with the water. She looked up when the water shut off. Tara was there. She had a towel and was wrapping it around Buffy’s shivering form. Buffy let the witch lead her out of the bathroom and down the hall to her room. Tara was talking quietly, but the words had no meaning to Buffy. The Slayer couldn’t focus on them long enough to put whole thoughts together. She was too exhausted, too disgusted with herself to even try to hear what Tara was saying.
Tara put Buffy into the bed and covered her up with the sheet and quilt. Even though the house was warm, Buffy was shivering and trembling uncontrollably. The Slayer curled up in a small ball in the center of the bed, wrapping the covers around herself tightly, even covering her head. She thought Tara had left, but then she was there again. Her big blue eyes shone with compassion and worry as she helped Buffy sit up. Then the psychologist was holding out a pill and a glass of water towards Buffy. Buffy heard the word ‘sleep’ and she took the pill and put it in her mouth, lodged it between her lip and teeth, and then swallowed some water. Tara laid her back down, covered her back up, and Buffy spit the pill out before Tara even closed the door again.
No sleep … no sleep … no sleep, Buffy chanted to herself as she scratched at her skin and shivered from the chill in her soul.
Why, Annie Lennox
many times do I have to try to tell you
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