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cling to your body and hang from your bones

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Spike takes in the sight of you.

 

Bloody knuckles, torn jacket, rib bones peeking out and greeting him with a smile.

 

“What the hell happened?” He asks.

 

“Got in a fight,” you reply. You decide to leave out the specific details. He doesn’t need to know that you’ve been running around fighting vamps, throwing yourself into brick and concrete, only to feel something.

 

He doesn’t need to know that you’ve been doing this for weeks.

 

Spike will never admit it, but he worries.

 

“Didn’t notice,” he scoffs, and then a few moments later, he adds, “so, I take it I’m the one who’s gotta pick up the pieces?”

 

You nod.

 

“Figures. You never could do anything on your own.”

 

--

 

He wraps the bandage around your chest with shaky hands.

 

“Hold still,” he growls, “and stop bloody groaning.” It’s Spike’s way of saying, “Stop moving around! I don’t want to hurt you.” You know this. You know him. You force yourself to be angry.

 

“There,” says Spike, securing the tape.

 

He takes your hands in his own, examining the cuts. “Looks like you got your ass kicked real good,” he whispers to himself. Sighing, he turns to you and tells you that he’ll be right back, he’s gonna go get some water, stay there, and for the love of God, Angel, stop making that noise.

 

It sounds blurred to you, and then Spike leaves, and you sink back into the cool leather and wonder why you haven’t kissed him yet.

 

You’re not bleeding because of him.

 

You’re not sad because of him.

 

There’s a difference between being lonely and being in love and you can’t lie to yourself anymore.

 

You’ve been lying for so long.


--

 

The ice water stings your fingers and it feels nice.

 

“You better not do this again,” he scolds, “or - hell, do it again, I don’t care. But this is the only time I’m cleaning you up.”

 

He scrubs the gravel out of your hands and you know he doesn’t mean it, but you wish he did. You’re sick of the words that become books, stories, epics, legends. You’re tired. You’ve been through hell.

 

If he cares about me, why doesn’t he just say it?

 

“I’m not that kind of guy,” he smirks, and presses a quick kiss to your lips. It’s quick, gentle, and his fingers end up intwined with your own. Without thinking, you kiss back, forgetting about the exposed bones and the blood and the pain, and your mouth becomes a wolf as you devour him.

 

Spike pulls away suddenly and gives you a look that says, this isn’t the first time, is it?, says, stop doing this, stop doing this, stop hurting yourself.

 

“What took you so long?” he gasps finally, folding into you.

 

--

 

You miss when everything was black and white.

 

Your name is Angel, and you’re good, usually, except for when you are evil, and Spike is evil, and when both of you are active sinners, it’s okay. It’s okay to love when you are misguided, lost, broken.

 

But now everything is gray, and now it's more like this: Your name is Angel, you can’t tell if you’re good or bad, and Spike is good now, except when he’s around you, and it’s not okay.

 

You don’t have an excuse this time.

 

You wake up next to him and he’s tracing patterns over the open holes in your body, and he’s whispering things like I love you and I need you and you turn back to tell him yes, I love you too, and I need you so much, but he’s fading again.

 

There’s no point in begging for him to stay, you can only hope that he comes back soon, and it crosses your mind that maybe this is the last time, maybe you’ll never see him again.

 

You wake up in an empty bed. There’s nothing in the fridge tonight, so you light one of his old cigarettes and bring it up to your mouth and pretend he’s just asked you if you wanted a drag.

 

(You still remember the time a little girl saw you smoking on the street, and said, “‘Scuse me, mister, but those things will kill you. You should quit.”

 

Her mom caught up to her and hurried her away, yelling, “How many times have I told you not to talk to strangers?”)

 

Spike’s last word was your name. You could’ve saved him.


Why didn’t you save him?