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24 August 2008 @ 06:10 pm
The Cross ~ (1/1)  
Title: The Cross
Author: ClawofCat
Timing: Season 6, Post-Wrecked
Rating: PG
Pairing: Implied B/A and B/S
Word Count: 360
Summary: Today she chooses something different. Today she wears a cross.
 
A/N: Written for fantas_magoria's episode prompt for “Angel.”

Disclaimer: The characters are the property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No profit is gained from my writerly endeavors and no copyright infringement is intended.
 
*******
 
Today she chooses something different. Today she wears a cross.
 
She hasn’t needed the crutch for years, hasn’t missed the cool press of metal against her collarbone in the moist dusk of Sunnydale’s cemeteries. That was a different her – the before her. It’s so hard to remember what it felt like to be that girl, to want those things.
 
She is reminded as she rifles through her desk, looking to dispose of any magical trinkets that could tempt Willow in her slide toward rock bottom.
 
Stuffed at the back of a drawer, her fingers hit the sharp angles, dip into the perpendicular lines. They feel familiar, those lines. She’d fondled and clutched them in class when doodles couldn’t keep her attention, watched them cause smoke to curl from a vampire’s throat as it lay prone on a pool table, seen them burn… burn Angel’s chest, a tattoo of red framed by his white collar.
 
Laid flat in her palm, she holds it in front of her, waiting for her own burn, for her flesh to bubble. Came back wrong, he said. How wrong? The silver chain trembles where it dangles from her hand. She closes her eyes when her chin trembles, too.
 
Moving toward her dresser, she holds the crucifix up and brings it against her neck. The points brush her pulse, now rapid and thready to keep time with her welling tears. Angel’s bite tingles, itchy pinpricks spreading out down the sinews of her throat, across her shoulders, down her chest. She clamps her hand over her mouth. She can’t imagine how he would look at her if he saw what she’s become.
 
Once the chain is clasped around her neck, she stares into the mirror looking for an explanation, an answer to how this all happened. The cross makes her remember – remember what she can’t be. Ever.  
 
Picking up her coat, she heads for the door. There’s only one place to go to be the person she’s become, the person she hates and wants to tear off like an accessory.
 
Fisting the cross in her hand, she wonders if he’ll burn as easily as Angel.   


Part II ~ Burn Marks

 
 
 
hello_spikeyhello_spikey on August 24th, 2008 10:38 pm (UTC)
oooo.... angst-tastic!!
ClawofCat: loaded gunclawofcat on August 24th, 2008 10:46 pm (UTC)
For reals! I'd just hate to be Spike though. Who knows what sort of self-destructive shit Buffy's gonna throw on him.
ellan_vannin on August 24th, 2008 11:01 pm (UTC)
What a picture of desolate-Buffy. This pulls us in, thick and dark:

Laid flat in her palm, she holds it in front of her, waiting for her own burn, for her flesh to bubble. Came back wrong, he said.

But I like how you don't let it steep in the melancholy, adding that last line as a sharp bite:

Fisting the cross in her hand, she wonders if he’ll burn as easily as Angel.
ClawofCat: stake spikeclawofcat on August 25th, 2008 12:20 am (UTC)
I like how you don't let it steep in the melancholy, adding that last line as a sharp bite.
Buffy Summers: Sado-Masichist Extraordinaire. Buffy's sorta like a circuit. She feels pain and then passes it on so that the cycle never stops. I shudder to think what's to become of Spike this evening with her. Nothing good, that's for sure.

Buffy also doeesn't brood. She's a gal of action. And when something hurts she's going to get it out, one way or another.

Glad you enjoyed it!
missus_gracemissus_grace on August 24th, 2008 11:18 pm (UTC)
Watch out Spike! Buffy's comin' and it's not gonna be pleasant.

ClawofCat: trust meclawofcat on August 25th, 2008 12:22 am (UTC)
Sing it, sister. She's bringin' the hurt and not holding back.

I'm sort of half tempted to write the aftermath between them, but I'm not exactly sure myself. Though the thought her burning him with Angel's cross? Um, hawt.
(no subject) - missus_grace on August 25th, 2008 05:51 am (UTC) (Expand)
eowyn_315: buffy lighteowyn_315 on August 24th, 2008 11:19 pm (UTC)
Ooh, love that last line. Nice use of the prompt, too.

Two corrections - it should be "rifle," and I think "temp" should be "tempt."
ClawofCat: think sexclawofcat on August 25th, 2008 12:27 am (UTC)
After I wrote that last line, my thought trajectory immediately launched into what the aftermath of her encounter with Spike would be. Something wrong and hot and painful and angsty, no doubt. Gri.

Nice use of the prompt, too.
Thankies. The ep isn't fresh in my memory, which is why it wasn't set in Season 1. I sort of liked doing it this way. Reflective!Buffy is kinda my fav. There's always trouble when the girls gets in her own head.

Also, I suck. Thanks for the typo catch. When I write these really short things I just want to get them out there, and things slip through the cracks.

It was another icky-feeling day for me. Read your revision. Liked it a lot more. Will send comments to you before I go to sleep for the night.
chrislee: angelchrisleeoctaves on August 24th, 2008 11:26 pm (UTC)
I really liked this- how the cross is so symbolic of a more innocent time in Buffy's life and of how she has used it (in the past and now)as a weapon.
ClawofCat: buffy pensiveclawofcat on August 25th, 2008 12:34 am (UTC)
Thanks so much! When I saw that this ep was next on the roster I really wanted to write something for it. That closing scene with the burn on Angel's chest is so iconic. I remember my 10 year old self being quite enchanted with it. I wanted to use the cross as a way to bridge Buffy's past and present and give Angel a sense of presence in the fic, despite the fact that he was no longer an active part of Buffy's life. Their relationship haunts the rest of the series and that symbol - his symbol - was a great way to jam him into the morose events of Season 6.

I hope to be able to contribute more in the future. These prompts are wonderful for flexing my rusty writing muscles.
louise39: Buffy  ANGSTlouise39 on August 24th, 2008 11:47 pm (UTC)
She hasn’t needed the crutch for years

Buffy, in all her season 6 despair, remembering her younger self, her younger self's love.
The cross is both a reminder and a weapon to her.

Edited at 2008-08-24 11:50 pm (UTC)
ClawofCat: coc spuffy kissclawofcat on August 25th, 2008 12:39 am (UTC)
I think what's especially hard for Buffy here is that the cross also symbolizes that her love hurts people. Dawn tearfully tells Spike that "everyone around me suffers and dies," and I think Buffy sort of has that same mindset here. But instead of being consumed by the pain, she acts, which is why she's off to see Spike. He makes manifest everything she fears about herself, except... he never breaks. And that's what makes Spike so perfect for Buffy. He's the one she couldn't kill or drive away. The one that stayed by her side, loved her for who and what she was. *sigh* I need to go read some Spuffy fic now. Gah, I love them.
(no subject) - ellan_vannin on August 25th, 2008 01:02 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - clawofcat on August 25th, 2008 01:29 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ellan_vannin on August 25th, 2008 02:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louise39 on August 25th, 2008 05:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
slaymesoftlyslaymesoftly on August 25th, 2008 01:54 am (UTC)
Nicely angsty - and a definite season six feel to it. Good job. :)
ClawofCat: ow my angstclawofcat on August 25th, 2008 02:07 am (UTC)
Thanks! I couldn't help but slide Spike in there somehow. Writing exclusively about Buffy and Angel is always a little weird for me. But I'm working on it.
(no subject) - slaymesoftly on August 25th, 2008 10:36 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - clawofcat on August 25th, 2008 02:15 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - slaymesoftly on August 25th, 2008 05:15 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Cath: buffy - wreckedstars_of_tears on August 25th, 2008 05:46 am (UTC)
*nods* I agree with everyone, this scene could perfectly be inserted in S6 :)
Such pain inside Buffy... you captured that so well!

I'd love to see a sequel :)
ClawofCat: spuffelclawofcat on August 25th, 2008 06:22 am (UTC)
Oh, yay! Seamless is good. I do love writing these little missing scene ficlets. As for Buffy, yeah, she's just a damn wreck. She needs a mom hug, like, stat. Poor dear.

We'll see about a sequel. If I get inspiration, then i'll try and kick something around the page. But just the idea of Buffy branding Spike with Angel's cross is sort of wrong and kinky and subtexty. I think he would probably like it. *cackles* Well, I would at any rate.
dragonflylady77dragonflylady77 on August 25th, 2008 11:58 am (UTC)
Oooh angsty!!


*shudders thinking what Spike is in for*
ClawofCat: Spike breakmeclawofcat on August 25th, 2008 02:17 pm (UTC)
Yeah, Spike's probably in for a pretty rough night. Though, somehow, I feel like he would twist it so that is was either in his favor or de derived some pleasure out of it. Bet he'd indulged in a bit of cross-burning play before. Dru and he seemed like they were quite the kinksters themselves.
(no subject) - dragonflylady77 on August 25th, 2008 08:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - red_satin_doll on November 7th, 2012 07:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - clawofcat on November 8th, 2012 04:41 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - red_satin_doll on November 10th, 2012 12:36 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - clawofcat on November 14th, 2012 03:16 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - red_satin_doll on November 14th, 2012 10:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)
angelus2hot: Angel/Buffy kissangelus2hot on August 25th, 2008 11:55 pm (UTC)
Awwww! My Bangel and Spuffy heart just broke a bit.

Beautifully written!
ClawofCat: coc spuffy kissclawofcat on August 26th, 2008 12:38 am (UTC)
Thanks for reading. It is heartbreaking for Buffy. Memories of Angel cause her pain and her relationship with Spike causes her shame. The girl really can't win. *pets her*

Perfect icon for this fic, btw!
(no subject) - angelus2hot on August 26th, 2008 12:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - red_satin_doll on October 22nd, 2012 04:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - clawofcat on November 5th, 2012 05:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - red_satin_doll on November 5th, 2012 08:30 pm (UTC) (Expand)
kudagirlkudagirl on August 26th, 2008 01:35 am (UTC)
That cross was given to a very young innocent girl. That girl had disappeared completely. Poor Spike ends up getting all the anger that the men who hurt Buffy in the past deserved. "Kick the Spike" was a fitting nickname for how she treated him and his love. They both deserved better than they got.
ClawofCat: Buffy break freeclawofcat on August 26th, 2008 03:42 am (UTC)
Poor Spike ends up getting all the anger that the men who hurt Buffy in the past deserved.
The anger (but mostly sadness) that Buffy feels in this story isn't meant to be motivated by the men that have hurt her in the past. The difficulty she faces here is that her own changes are quite clear to her, and they're not for the better. So the hurt stems from what she perceives as a failure on her part rather than the failure of others. She's wrong, she hurts people she loves, etc. Spike's enabling of that behavior - of Buffy's worst fears about herself - makes it an easy place to escape to.

"Kick the Spike" was a fitting nickname for how she treated him and his love.
It takes two. Spike is as culpable as Buffy is in enabling her behavior. Both of them made some poor choices in their relationship. I certainly wouldn't call Spike the blameless party. But given her past experiences, how could she, in good conscience, trust the love he offered? Her hang-ups about Spike stem as much from her own insecurity about what she is/does to men as who and what Spike is.

They both deserved better than they got.
And that I will wholeheartedly agree with :)

Thanks for reading!
(no subject) - (Anonymous) on August 26th, 2008 11:44 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - kudagirl on August 26th, 2008 11:46 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - clawofcat on August 26th, 2008 05:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - red_satin_doll on October 22nd, 2012 04:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - clawofcat on November 7th, 2012 06:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
mere ubu: buffy stairsmere_ubu on August 26th, 2008 08:58 pm (UTC)
I'm sooo far behind in fic but wanted to say how beautiful and sad this is. I love this line:

There’s only one place to go to be the person she’s become, the person she hates and wants to tear off like an accessory.

Poor Buffy. Poor Spike. Poor everyone!
ClawofCat: ow my angstclawofcat on August 27th, 2008 01:09 am (UTC)
It is sad. Poor Buffy's got a lot of self-loathing to work through. Which, uh, she'll actually do in about half an hour. The sequel to this is with Eowyn as we speak.
framedinlove: banner iconframedinlove on August 30th, 2008 07:23 pm (UTC)
Oh God, what a stunning piece this is! *loves* You've portrayed Buffy so very beautifully here – the characterization is just spot-on – and as painfully honest of a one-shot as this is, it also feels really good to be given this opportunity to get a glimpse of what's going on inside of her head when all we saw in the series were the actions resulting from that inner turmoil.

That being said it just tears me apart to see her like this. There's so much pain in her. She's lost so much and now she's losing herself and it's just heart-breaking. Even as I find it comforting that at least when she's alone she's still able to cry - it's good to able to do that – I just know that it can't be enough, of course it can't when you're downward-spiraling as fast as she is.

What I find really remarkable is the fact that she manages to forge strength from her pain. It's like fuel to her dying fire, it keeps her going and most of all kicking, and even if that strength ends up working against her just as well as for her it comes to mind that without it she wouldn't have survived. Because if the alternatives are being totally, completely empty, numb, detached and folded or angry and cruel and mean and full of hate I'd take the latter combination any time. The ability to be angry means that there's still some fight left in you. And if you can hate, or crave and need (even if it's something or someone you think you shouldn't) you're still feeling and as an alternative to not feeling at all that's million times better. It may sound...I don't know, a bit nihilistic maybe, but I think that sometimes it's the most gruesome stuff that'll keep you alive long enough to give you a chance to make it through.

Many many thanks for the absolutely magnificent read once again!
ClawofCat: fangel wisdomclawofcat on August 31st, 2008 12:52 am (UTC)
Glad you liked it. It's been great seeing the response these two ficlets have gotten, especially because they're so short! Makes me puff out my chest a little bit as a representative of the 'short' fiction genre in fandom.

You've portrayed Buffy so very beautifully here – the characterization is just spot-on
*beams* That's wonderful to hear. My beta also told me that she thinks my best character is depressed!Buffy, which I think is a total compliment because IMO a lot of people get her wrong. She's a very layered character to write and I really love sinking my teeth into her. And you have every right to get teary reading about like this. It's tragic. Our poor heroine *hugs her*

Even as I find it comforting that at least when she's alone she's still able to cry, I just know that it can't be enough when you're downward-spiraling as fast as she is.
Absolutely. I thought it was a nice contrast that while she's swimming in despair, she's also trying to get rid of all magical temptation for rock-bottom Willow. Through it all, she's still trying to do the right thing and help.

What I find really remarkable is the fact that she manages to forge strength from her pain. It's like fuel to her dying fire, it keeps her going and most of all kicking, and even if that strength ends up working against her. *nods vigorously* I discussed this very thing in a lot of the comments to the next part. Except you state it succinctly! And I, uh, ramble. I think it's a really remarkable thing about Buffy, a survival instinct almost. It seems like you'd have to have it as a Slayer, especially since by your very nature you are destined to suffer and die. I love your perspective and insight into that last paragraph. You offer a really interesting analysis. Now you've got me thinking, too!

Thanks you for your brain. You are one of my most detailed commenters I've ever seen. Everytime you review it seems like you've really thought about what you just read. That's pretty amazing. *gold star*

What's the time different between NYC and Finland? I always think you must be reading at the most ungodly hours of the night, lol.
(no subject) - framedinlove on September 1st, 2008 10:47 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - red_satin_doll on October 22nd, 2012 04:20 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - clawofcat on November 8th, 2012 04:14 am (UTC) (Expand)
Stephanie: Buffy - ladycallie on July 2nd, 2009 05:23 am (UTC)
Bloody brilliant!
ClawofCat: Buffy love cryclawofcat on July 7th, 2009 02:09 am (UTC)
Thank you! Glad you liked this wee ficlet :D
red_satin_doll: Showtimered_satin_doll on October 22nd, 2012 04:42 pm (UTC)
I've already left a very LONG comment about Burn Marks, so I'll try not to ramble too much here. But the way you portray Buffy in S6 is a thing of beauty to me, twisted painful beauty that makes me want to cry for her because you UNDERSTAND. Having compassion for her is NOT the same thing as condoning, as you clearly know and prove with your stories. The last two lines of the story are harsh and brutal. (the first time I read it, I thought the "the person she hates and wants to tear off like an accessory" was referring to Spike; I had to reread to understand she's thinking of herself. And that's very much in-canon; so much of what she says to Spike is not about him but about herself. Even the command "Stop loving me" is a cry for help from someone who doesn't believe she is worthy of love; by saying it she is acknowledging his love as something real, something she can't bear to allow either one of them to have or enjoy. She is falling apart here - has been ever since she died the first time (and perhaps even earlier, with her parents') at the same time she is trying so hard NOT too; she's the Slayer, she can't. And her friends are very needy now, as you clearly reference; she tries so hard. And I think a lot of times that really gets overlooked or misunderstood - going to Spike is in many ways a survival mechanism, a way to keep going. As twisted as it gets, it's actually the only way she knows how to somehow keep afloat here.

That cross was so iconic in the early seasons (and it never disappears from the credits) but I noticed at some point she stopped wearing it; do we ever see it past S3?

Something I meant to add when I reviewed Burn Marks - I know that story is from Spike's POV, but you've got a way of writing, a style to it - slightly detached? I'm not sure that's the right word - that makes it feel that you are writing both of them at once, or rather, you're offering me a deeper understanding of both Buffy and Spike at the same time, which is hard to do, I think, when coming from one character's POV.
ClawofCat: spuffy squaredclawofcat on November 7th, 2012 07:10 pm (UTC)
the way you portray Buffy in S6 is a thing of beauty to me, twisted painful beauty that makes me want to cry for her because you UNDERSTAND.
Thank you so much for the lovely compliment. S6 Buffy was definitely one I spent a lot of time with and I adored writing her during this time. Buffy has a vast, emotional inner life to explore with many layers of negativity, self-hate. But she wouldn't feel it so if she didn't have hope, an expectation, a desire of what she sees for herself. Buffy's struggle has always been as much about her current predicament at any given time as it is how it either aligns or is at odds with her vision of herself and future. The girl is full of hope and desires that are so often unfulfilled, but yet she carries on because the only alternative is death.

I think you might really enjoy my Bangel fic "Off Route 17" - http://clawofcat.livejournal.com/56549. It's set in S6 and is the FiTB fic exploring Buffy's offscreen encounter with Angel post-resurrection. In my mind, it was written as a subversive sort of Spuffy to explore how it is that Buffy ends up in Spike's arms. But more than that, I think it really delves into what Buffy is going through in that time when she is still trying to function, but is beginning to look at dark alternatives. She hasn't hit rock bottom yet, and there is still hope. I also just think I really nailed her characterization in that one since it's all about her.

Yes, I don't think we see the cross after S3.

that makes it feel that you are writing both of them at once, or rather, you're offering me a deeper understanding of both Buffy and Spike at the same time
Ah, thank you. That's wonderful you feel that way and that the writing is revealing about both of them. That's always what I strived for, sometimes with better results than others!

Edited at 2012-11-07 07:11 pm (UTC)