After The End
The pain is still there, but maybe ... less ... somehow. It’s not better. I don’t feel like I’m healing, I must be, but still, it’s a different kind of pain now. More raw chafing dullness, rather than the searing, agonizing grinding that I remember from ... When? A day ago? A week ago? Months? I don’t know. Time has no meaning in this hell that passes for life. I want to laugh. Weren’t we supposed to win the war at the End of Days? I know that’s the version of the story I heard. I’m not sure I have the strength to even feel betrayed anymore. Lies. They were all lies. Good isn’t stronger than evil, it just had better luck.
Evil is strong. It rules the world now. It pushed me to the edge of my endurance.
But every now and then, even evil can surprise you.
I am indeed surprised, shocked to the core. I thought I knew that demon so well, thought I knew every move, every corner of his sick and twisted mind. He should have loved it. I think he felt that way too. When he saw me, he knew he should have reveled in it, laughed riotously and congratulated my owner with a hearty pat on the back.
But he didn’t.
Not even close.
I couldn’t exactly follow the action, both of my eyes were swollen almost shut. One of them might be damaged for good. I don’t know, and frankly, it’s the least of my problems at the moment. He was angry, in a way I’ve never even imagined. Before, even when he was pissed, he was always cocky and cool. He always had a witty comeback. But this ... This was blind rage. It scared me. I think it scared him too, or confused him anyway. I think maybe it doesn’t bode well for my continued survival. I think he might finish me off to alleviate his self-loathing, to destroy any evidence of a conscience.
But then I move and I feel the soft mattress, the down pillow, the bandages placed lovingly? over my eyes. I think maybe he has an agenda besides my suffering. But it doesn’t mean he’s a nice guy. He’s still a demon. Still a nasty son of a bitch. I’m in and out of consciousness a lot, sleeping much more than I’m awake, but sometimes when I wake up, I can hear Spike. Not talking. Nothing that coherent. I can hear him whimper and I know it’s him because I used to hear that sound sometimes. When I’d walk past his crypt, after he got his soul and I still refused him, I would hear him whimpering inside his crypt. Whimpering for me.
These whimpers aren’t for me. They’re for him. He doesn’t want to die. I can almost smell his will to live some nights. But it’s so hard. He’s in so much pain. Angelus needs an outlet for all of his rage and Spike is handy as usual. I wonder sometimes how Spike managed to stay so cocky, being treated like that for his first decades with his GrandSire. Who knows, maybe it was being treated like that, that made him cocky.
I jump slightly. I didn’t know he was there. He presses a glass to my cracked, parched lips. It burns. Orange juice? I swallow, trying not to gag, but I cough and sputter anyway. I try to push the glass away, but he growls, low, deep in his throat. It’s a warning. I’m disobeying him. I open my mouth again, too weak to even try to defy him.
He’s evil. I know that. He’s the demon who tortured me for months, who killed my Watcher’s lover. But still, he’s nicer than my last owner. He doesn’t lock me in a cage and show me to all of his friends. He doesn’t slice at my naked skin just to see me bleed. He doesn’t see how much pain I can take before buckling. He’s evil, but he’s familiar. He wears my true lover’s skin. He cradles my head like he cares and whether he intended to or not, he protects me from harm.
I don’t know what happened to bring me here. It was all blurry, made fuzzy an unreal by the pain. One of my shoulders was dislocated and I was seriously injured down there. They took turns with me, made me do all sorts of things because I was too weak to stop them. They’d throw me onto my back and force things inside of me, force themselves inside of me. But they didn’t stop there. They tore me as they pushed themselves into my bottom. It hurt, burned. I tried to fight them, but that just made it worse. They used me, hurt me, raped me, humiliated me. I hadn’t eaten or bathed in weeks. The cage stank like my own waste, like their lusts. I was slumped against the frigid, steel bars, too weak to even pillow my head on my arms.
And then it happened. I heard my owner, Jovnar, stroking his own ego, wishing to curry favor with a powerful demon. Angelus should have been impressed. It was work to rival his own. The humiliation of a Slayer.
But Angelus hadn’t been impressed.
And none who saw me like that were allowed to live.
He brought me home. With infinite patience, he bathed my bruised and broken body. He saw everything they had done, the sum total of their destruction of my physical self. His touch was tentative and gentle, but he growled the entire time, a sound of cold fury. His hands shook with rage as he slowly probed for more serious, hidden wounds. Luckily, there were none, but his touch caused me pain and I knew he chided himself for it.
The bed depresses under his weight and he crawls in behind me, his motions hesitant rather than fluid. I think he wants to see if I’ll freak out, if his presence, the presence of any male will set me off. I wander too. My mind doesn’t fear him – though it should. But will my body? Will my flesh see no difference between him and those creatures who did this to me? He waits, holding the breath he doesn’t need, gauging my reactions. I don’t have any. I merely wait. He slides in further under the covers and after what seems like an eternity, his bare skin touches mine, his legs curling behind mine, his chest molding to my back. He continues, slowly, evenly, until I’m cocooned within the shelter of his body. I wait, processing the knowledge that he’s pressed against me. My skin warms his and what residual tension was left in my muscles evaporates and I relax against him.
He doesn’t feel like them. He doesn’t feel like the monster we both know him to be.
He feels like love.
The bandages still cover my injured eyes, so I can’t see our arms folded protectively over my chest, our hands entwined just below my chin. But I can smell him. He doesn’t smell like those animals that hurt me. He doesn’t smell dirty, like sweat and cum and liquor, like pain. He smells cool and dry like he always did. Like soap and a hint of leather from the pants he wore all day. He smells like home, the only home in which I ever felt truly safe.
I lean forward, opening my parched, cracked lips and I bite down gently on his thumb, just above the knuckle. It’s an old habit. I used to do it to Angel a million years ago. It used to help me sleep, the taste of his cool skin against my lips and teeth. He used to have an almost permanent groove in his flesh from my teeth. They never broke the skin, but they always rested there, holding him close to me, ensuring he couldn’t sneak out without waking me.
The creature curled around me isn’t Angel, isn’t my love.
But he has his memories. Our memories.
He snuffs against the back of my neck, his breath cool on the exposed flesh. I can’t help it, I press back against him lightly. It’s not an invitation, but an acknowledgement. An acknowledgement that what he’s doing is allowed, is accepted, is his right. And it is. I have neither the inclination nor the strength to try and deny the truth. I belong to him. And not because he won me. Not because I’m a spoil of war that he took when he killed my former master. I’m his because I always have been, always will be.
He sighs, knowing what I’ve accepted and for the first time since he found me in that cage, I feel something inside him besides rage. He breaths heavily, tightening his grip slightly. His nose still rests against my neck and he begins to purr. It’s not for him. It’s not an outward expression of his inner contentment. He’s not content. He’s still pissed. But he purrs. He does it to soothe me. To soothe his mate. To reassure me that he’ll never leave me, never hurt me like they did. It’s his way. He can never voice the words. But that doesn’t mean they’re not true.
His possession of me has nothing to do with sex, nothing to do with souls. I know it will be a long time before he comes to me, wishing to sate a physical need. I know when he does that he will be hesitant and cautious. It will be long after all of my physical wounds have healed and when the mental ones are packed away. He won’t demand that I love him and he will not profess any such emotion on his part. Ours will be a relationship based not on what we do or say, but on what we know.
And I know that I am his and he is mine.
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