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03 June 2007 @ 01:27 pm
Beneath Us (1/1)  
Title: Beneath Us
Author: ClawofCat
Timing: Season 7
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Spike/Buffy
Warning: Angst, dark themes
Summary: What happened after the screen faded to black in “Beneath You?”

Many thanks to my beta, Eowyn315.
 
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.


Banner by hollydb
 
********
 
The smell is what first shakes her from her horrified trance - burning, blistering flesh, incense, and the faint aroma of floor cleaner. She hears the soft mewls of pain and watches as his draped arms cling to the cross tighter, encircling it like a mother. She hears him mutter erratically to himself, the hushed whispers morphing into high, keening wails of pain as his skin singes. She rushes forward and grasps him around the waist, pulling him away from the cross, but he steadfastly clings to it; it is his anchor, his penance.
 
“Spike! Spike, let go!” Buffy tugs harder at him, but he doesn’t relent. Stepping forward, she pries at his raw fingers and unclasps them from the cross. She starts at the pink and putrid purple they’ve begun to turn.
 
“Mother of God and Virgin, hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee,” Spike mumbles, falling limp in Buffy’s embrace.  
 
He turns to her, his eyes wide and telling. “Blessed art thou amongst women,” he whispers to her, tucking stray strands of hair behind her ear. “And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast given birth to the Saviour of our souls,” he whispers, looking heavenward.
 
She gazes at him, stunned and frantic. His skin is still smoldering, though she has lead him away from the altar. She is stronger than him, but he is larger and cumbersome, and as he starts to sway, his legs give way beneath him. Collapsing to his knees, he supplicates himself at her feet, his charred hands encircling her ankles. He cries desperately.
 
“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been 147 days since my last confession. She fell to earth a fallen angel, until she rose, rose, rose. The power and the glory of the resurrection.”
 
Buffy utters a cry and backs away from him, unintentionally throwing Spike off balance so that his face hits the cold floor of the church. She gasps and looks at the high ceilings full of moonlight, shaking her head.
 
“Hurt the girl, hurt her. Hurt, hurts…” he moans, clasping his breast.
 
“No…Spike,” she whispers. “Please, not again.” Her hands come up to cover her face, to blanket it in sorrow and half-formed denial over what she’s done to him, what she’s done to men. Not men. Never men. Just flesh. Flesh to her. Flesh she fed on, flesh now burnt.
 
Spike is silent on the floor except for the rapid movement of his lips. He can’t look at her. Quivers race along his skin as his body begins to feel the trauma of the burns.
 
“So cold…so cold,” he moans, and rocks forward onto his knees, his nails scoring the skin above his heart in deep, ragged tears. “All the burning, brighter than the sun. Burns for you, bleeds for you. Always, forever.”
 
She drops to her knees in front of him, clutching at his shoulders, tears slipping down her cheeks.
 
“Spike…don’t. Get up. Please.”
 
He sits up and hugs himself, whispering to her, “Hurts, hurts, hurts…to know I’m wrong. Nothing good or clean in me.”
 
She balks at her own words thrown back her, the words she spit at him in the alley when he tried to save her from herself. She beat him for loving her then. Seeing him like this, for the first time, she regrets that he loves her now.
 
The burns are all across his chest, his arms, his right cheek where it lay pressed against the cross. She’s seen him beaten and bruised, broken by her own hand, by Glory’s, but never by his own, never so completely and utterly.
 
He eyes her intently, nervous and jumpy and desperate. He wants her, wants the comfort. He flinches when he remembers the sort of comfort that she can give – cold, powerful, and full of fists and insults.  
 
“Help…help me be quiet,” he pleads, presenting his hands to her, palms up.
 
She clasps them gingerly and slides her own fingers up his hand until his wrists are encircled in her grip. She draws him nearer to her and he collapses into her lap, his arms going around her waist, his face pillowing painfully against her belly where the burns come into contact with her camisole.
 
“You always hurt the ones you love.”
 
Yes, but you go one step further, she thinks. You destroy them. Turn men into monsters and not-quiet monsters into broken men.
 
The tears fall freer now that they are huddled together.
 
He smells her tears, her sorrow, confusion, disbelief, and guilt. Some of which he always wanted from her, but never could seem to draw out. It’s what he, what she deserves.
 
“Not your fault, Buffy,” she hears float up from somewhere in her lap. “All mine. Lay it on me. My…my girl.”
 
She sobs now, nodding, understanding at last. She can’t get rid of him. He’ll never leave her, never. He’s hers whether she wants it or not; hers to have, hers to love or destroy. She clasps him tightly against her and rocks him, rocks herself to silence in the luminous glow of candles and blues and blacks of the night. Their shroud is the twilight, the silver of evening their everlasting backdrop. He seems so small and frail to her now.
 
“Always burn for you…always,” she hears him utter and then fall silent, sinking limply against her, at last succumbing to the darkness and oblivion of unconsciousness.
 
When he awakens, he is alone. He no longer cradles the warmth of her belly. Instead, he is spread along the cold, hard floor of the school basement. Long stretches of gauze are taped firmly around his torso. He reaches up to feel self-adhering bandages over the burns on his face. A pair of blue jeans and a clean, new button-up shirt lay folded in a pile not far from him. Sitting up he can see in the dim light a thermos. It has blood. Reaching for it frantically, he unscrews the top and drinks deep of the liquid, washing away the shame and disgust of vermin and rats blood from his mouth.
 
He pauses. It’s hers.
 
Staring at the thermos, his hands shake. Tears well in his eyes and slip into the bandages and the edges of his burns, a soothing balm to the pain. He has sampled any number of emotions in the blood of his victims. Rocking himself back and forth, he realizes, until now, he has never tasted forgiveness.   
 
 
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
darkdreams1222dreamsofspike on June 3rd, 2007 05:49 pm (UTC)
oh...
wow...
i was marveling at how incredibly beautiful your writing was, the language you used, right up until the end, which still took me by surprise, and was amazingly, powerfully gorgeous...i didn't expect that last line, and it brought tears to my eyes...absolutely incredible :)
ClawofCat: thesparkclawofcat on June 5th, 2007 04:28 am (UTC)
*hugs* Thank you for gifting me with this wonderful review. It is beyond rewarding to hear that I touched you so deeply. The scene itself was so haunting and beautiful, and i just tried to stay in the mood. Poor Spike, so proud in his madness. I don't think I've ever loved him more than in that scene. And i think Buffy would have done that for him, she just masks the compassion because it displays her own vulnerability and suseptibility to emotion. She feels for him, he's in her heart. She's just so frightened to face it.
Tam: to be a mantamakin on June 3rd, 2007 06:29 pm (UTC)
DUDE!! holy hell! wow! uh.. wow! that was just beautiful, heartwrenchingly so.

And id like to think buffy did do more than just stand there and stare as he roasted himself. rar.

Thanks for this! hee!
ClawofCat: thesparkclawofcat on June 5th, 2007 04:30 am (UTC)
I know. What a terrible place to end that scene. It left so many unanswered questions, so many lost opportunities to show understanding and intimacy. Thank you for the lovely review, Tam. I just love pulling at the heartstrings.
Karla: spuffy style shaggingcharmingkarla on June 3rd, 2007 07:17 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, this was amazing, I love the way you write sweetie.
I love to think that this is what Buffy did and not just watch him burn and then left, argh.

Karla
ClawofCat: thesparkclawofcat on June 5th, 2007 04:36 am (UTC)
Thanks for the kind words, Karla. I don't like the idea of Buffy just leaving him to fry either. She's got a good heart. I think she would have saved him. Afterall, he is all healed up by the next episode. And Slayer blood really does work wonders...
shawty got flava like a peach lifesaver: btvs spuffy revello stairsonly_passenger on June 5th, 2007 07:53 pm (UTC)
oh, baby, this is...wow. i'm stunned into not immedietly being able to leave more feedback than that, though over the next week or two, i hope i'll have the opportunity to read it many more times and be able to tell you more.
ClawofCat: thesparkclawofcat on June 6th, 2007 02:47 am (UTC)
*smoochies* Glad I could take you there, S. And yay! Many re-readings! When you get your internet (can I say hip-hip-hooray, btw? I've been missing your posts and chatting with ya), please do let me know what worked. I was so pleasantly shocked that this random ass fic that sprung out of nowhere has been such a smash hit. I've had more reviews for this thing than any of my others. First Spuffy fic with no sex. Are the fates trying to tell me something? Hm...
MsClawdia: well_donemsclawdia on July 2nd, 2007 04:50 am (UTC)
Really liked this. Met your stories via your noms at Spark and Burn, and I'm really looking forward to getting more acquainted with your stories. Your take on the characters is a little different than mine, but what fun would fanfic be if we were all carbons?
ClawofCat: buffy smileclawofcat on July 3rd, 2007 02:49 am (UTC)
Hey there, Clawdia! Thanks for introducing yourself over here at LJ. If you do tuck into my other fics, let me know what you think. Which reminds me, I'm not sure that I have all of them saved to memories yet. Thanks for the indirect reminder.

I've not read any of your fics yet, so out of curiosity, how are your our takes on the characters different?

MsClawdia: pornmsclawdia on July 5th, 2007 12:53 pm (UTC)
Well, to be frank, the 'Buffy is taken in hand' scenario never ultimately works for me. Not that it can't be well-written and/or fun, but the Buffy who lives in my head would not tolerate that in the least.
ClawofCat: gone_fingeringclawofcat on July 5th, 2007 01:57 pm (UTC)
First off, I love your icon. And generally I would agree with you. Buffy has a very dominant personality and I don't think I generally write her as traditionally submissive in my fics. I'm guessing you must be referring to the spanking scene in "Why Won't You Go." I viewed that particular scene as less "taken in hand," and more engaging in something different. I wouldn't say that she's being submissive there because she has not relinquished control. She can stop him at any time and I think that psychological difference is key. Spike does tend to be the instigator of sexual encounters in my fics, but I view Buffy as engaging with him as an equal and letting him lead more out of curiosity and inexperience than anything else. I couldn't really buy a fic where Buffy is a slave or she's in a master/sub relationship with Spike. That fic was also written around the premise, "What if Spike had stood up to Buffy's abuse?"

I also like exxploring healing through pain or duress because it makes you face yourself in such an unabashed light. Buffy often finds herself in that situation in my writing. But, that's just a look at my brain =) I completely respect your opinion.

I just a finished a ficlet for DreamsofSpike's bday that is overtly dom!Buffy and a sub!Spike. Now that was weird. I never portray them in that light, but blessedly the characters are quite flexible and lend themselves beautifully to all sorts of situations. Thanks for the comment!
MsClawdia: heatmsclawdia on July 8th, 2007 06:06 pm (UTC)
I can't take credit for the icon, alas, but it's one of my faves.

I can actually buy sub!Spike a lot easier than the other way round. I would agree with your observation that Spike has significantly broader experience than Buffy.
Adjoviadjovi on August 10th, 2007 08:50 pm (UTC)
Whoa...that was incredibly beautiful and the ending totally threw me.

"hers to love or destroy."

Ack...my heart...breaking into a million pieces. (And, I don't even like Spuffy.) Really beautiful stuff. Thanks for sharing!
ClawofCat: thesparkclawofcat on August 11th, 2007 02:03 am (UTC)
That ending is a killer, huh? People always seem to mention the last line in reviews, which is interesting because I'm not quite sure what about it's so haunting. I really like using blood as a vehicle to reveal hidden emotions, which perhaps was obvious in "Window-Dressing" as well where Spike tastes the sorrow and dogging pain in Faith. If the blood-as-tool-for-emotional-insight is of interest to you, you might want to check out "The Heart of Her." It's Spuffy, but it's pretty much about the pain that Buffy feels in season 6 and how becoming a Slayer destroyed her sense of self as revealed through her menstrual blood.

Thanks for taking a chance on this bit of Spuffy. I'm glad you weren't disappointed. I'm not sure what you 'ship, but I'm curently working on my first slash story, so maybe that will be more to your taste =)
Margareth: Buffy Spikespankulert on February 17th, 2008 10:24 am (UTC)
A great take on what might have happened in the church on that day. That last line just blew me away btw. Such a great idea, to have her give of her own blood, and the taste of forgiveness.

Beautiful.
ClawofCat: not a sparkclawofcat on February 17th, 2008 05:29 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the read and comment. Ah, the last line. That's a favorite. I usually try and make tidy endings where there's some form of closure. Reading this over, it still is pretty effective. I can't remember at all how I came up with that idea though.
playfuldancerplayfuldancer on April 26th, 2008 11:15 pm (UTC)
Gah!

Beautiful - almost made me cry!
at the risk of repeating myself - I love your writing!

*hugs*
ClawofCat: thesparkclawofcat on April 27th, 2008 03:13 am (UTC)
LOL! I usually get the "Gah!" comment when there's porn involved. All the same, I'm glad you enjoyed this piece. It's a heartbreaking little number. Poor crazy Spike, punishing himself. This is an example of another terrible "missed" moment on the show where we should have seen Buffy's reaction. In both this and "Contrition," I believe the omissions were Buffy's heartfelt acts of kindness. Damn you, Joss! *shakes fist*

Also, your Illyria icon is gorgeous. She looks like, as Spike would says, a deadly "little Shiva" there. Beautiful colors.
red_satin_doll: Glowred_satin_doll on October 22nd, 2012 07:04 pm (UTC)
Lovely - and this surely must have happened. (I cannot imagine that Buffy would have left him there to burn - of course she wouldn't. Not after the revelation of his soul most particularly.) And the line about the blood, and tasting forgiveness - wow.

And it's interesting that you kept it in-canon, and he's alone in the basement, but obviously she's provided for his needs - I think I'd be disappointed if you went AU here and made her all soft and loving and etc. She's still processing the PTSD of the AR, after all, and processing this new revelation. i don't understand it when people don't want to give Buffy time to process things that would take any ordinary person years, and she manages to in weeks or days, and keeps going regardless.
ClawofCatclawofcat on November 5th, 2012 04:21 am (UTC)
Sorry it's taken me a bit to get back to you. I live in NYC, so things have been a little crazy in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Thanks for the feedback. That last line resonated with a lot of people and I'm glad it still does.

At the time when i was writing, I also was in journalism and wrote for the news section of a city paper. My great love in fic was writing ep stealers or canon tie-in stories. I loved to find the hidden stories in between the lines and fades to black. Investigative reporting meets fic, if you will.

I always tried to stay true to where each character was emotionally at the time. I'm not much for traditional romance or wish fulfillment and it certainly would have been out of character for Buffy to have been loving in this moment. Caring, compassionate, yes, but I don't think she could have given more with so much to process. Distance was definitely needed. But i do think this was a defining moment for them.
red_satin_doll: Showtimered_satin_doll on November 5th, 2012 11:09 pm (UTC)
I loved to find the hidden stories in between the lines and fades to black. Investigative reporting meets fic, if you will.

You said you were in journalism, past tense, so I take it you don't write for a paper anymore? (My one foray into journalism was for the college paper. I still think of myself mostly as a nonfiction writer.)

I'm not much for traditional romance or wish fulfillment and it certainly would have been out of character for Buffy to have been loving in this moment. Caring, compassionate, yes, but I don't think she could have given more with so much to process.

Oh so much YES to this. I think it's unfair to expect otherwise from her. She doesn't have the benefit of therapy of any sort (talk therapy, medication, support group, etc); her family is falling apart, she loses a confidant in Tara, etc etc - and yet she manages to pull herself together all the same, even if it takes a while. What more is expected of her?

I re-read the story just now (always a good idea for me, with my ADD), and I had completely forgotten so much of it. Again - ADD, and probably reading too much fanfic to be able to process it all - and the thing about the blood - about HER blood, smacked me right across the face all over again. (And the "taste of forgiveness". HOLY COW.) So Buffy, so no-nonsense in how she deals with things.

I understand that a lot of fans don't see her as caring and compassionate during this period, and I guess there is an element of "poor Spikey" in that; and I can certainly watch and cringe a little at times at how harsh she can be, but to NOT see how much she cares, I think, perhaps has something to do with the fact that she doesn't conform to how a woman "ought" to behave? And it's funny, because when she does (her relationship with Angel, with Riley) things go to hell.
ClawofCat: pornwritingclawofcat on November 7th, 2012 06:51 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I wrote for a paper for 3 years. During the time I was also writing fanfiction. The paper gig ended at the close of 2007. It was a great part of my life, but ultimately not what I wanted to do professionally. Writing fanfic was a great creative outlet in contrast to the more cut and dry newswriting I was doing otherwise.

Two things I think you might have interest in:
1) This is a post about how one defines romance in fanfiction that I posted on my LJ years ago. It's an interesting, small discussion with some flist members. You might like it - http://clawofcat.livejournal.com/34830.html.

2) My beta eowyn_315, also a spectacular and mostly Spuffy writer crafted a fic called "Closure" set in S4 that explored if Buffy had been raped and what would have truly happened had she gone to therapy and handled the aftermath in a much more real world fashion. And def check out E's other work. She was a real talent. Closure - http://www.livejournal.com/tools/memories.bml?user=eowyn_315&keyword=Closure&filter=all.
red_satin_doll: Veronika Underwaterred_satin_doll on November 15th, 2012 02:13 pm (UTC)
1) This is a post about how one defines romance in fanfiction that I posted on my LJ years ago. It's an interesting, small discussion with some flist members. You might like it - http://clawofcat.livejournal.com/34830.html.

Great discussion - I read it and thought, wow, a lot to chew on here (as in, food for thought. Not kinky activities.) I would really have to think about it a bit. I found myself agreeing with snowpuppies very "simplified"/succinct take on it.

that explored if Buffy had been raped

Along similar lines, I'm guessing you've read snowpuppies" Angelus/Buffy fic, "Innocence (the if you love me remix)" ? I thought, "huh?" but I love her writing, and here she takes what we're told and shown about Angelus to it's logical conclusion in the context of the soul-bomb. It does depict the rape (and also, the pain of the victim not saying "no" and thus feeling guilty for her own victimization) rather graphically, which I something I usually avoid, but she writes so damn well and it's entirely believable within canon - if BtVS had been an R rate movie, say, instead of a tv show aimed at a teenage audience (hah), then this is probably what would have happened.

I had started eowyn_315's story before. Agreed, terrific writer (some wonderful meta pieces, and I loved reading her responses on gabrielleabelle's LJ, which is pretty much how I got into this corner of BtVS fandom on the 'net. I liked the way she handled the emotional trauma for Buffy; but I was uncomfortable with how Spike was portrayed (the perfect, understanding friend); and I admit that when Buffy is kissing Spike by chapter 11, and being pinned down by him on the bed in a playful shoving match and not having any flashbacks or trauma - well honestly, I was having flashbacks and eowyn didn't even portray the rape itself. (My brain supplied that.) And to me Spike is definitely still a vampire in S4, still evil (even if he's made the brunt of the joke much of the season.)

And I say that as someone who loves the total journey Buffy and Spike took together on the show. So - I think of myself as a Buffy/Spike shipper, but I'm sort of out of joint with most of what I see in this corner of fandom, if that makes any sense?




Edited at 2012-12-23 01:52 am (UTC)
(Anonymous) on December 22nd, 2012 01:15 am (UTC)
How did I not see this one back in the day? I'm assuming I didn't, since I don't remember it and don't see a comment from me. Very powerful - wonderful job of showing the raw emotions that had to be present that night. The last line is just wonderful and heartwrenching.
slaymesoftlyslaymesoftly on December 22nd, 2012 01:16 am (UTC)
Sorry, that last comment was me. I'm so tired of not being logged in anymore when I follow a link....
ClawofCat: spikesmilesclawofcat on January 21st, 2013 11:31 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the lovey comment, Patti. Nice to see you and a bunch of other people still active. Ah, i do wish I still had the time and the inspiration to play in the land of fanfic. Maybe I'll try out a prompt for Fag Ends, since everything is short and that was my forte in the day. A bit intimidating still. I fear I'm so out of practice and whatever I write will be crap.

Eh, well, there is always the old stuff, including this one. I think this was the second or third Spuffy ficlet I wrote. The last line was always the money shot and I'm glad it still resonates after all this time.
slaymesoftlyslaymesoftly on January 21st, 2013 11:52 pm (UTC)
fag ends is awesome. I always think I'm going to do something, then I don't get to it before they're on to new prompts. But now they have sb_ashtray for all those things that grow too long for, or aren't completed in time, for fag ends, so it's all good. You should do it!
seapealshseapealsh on December 23rd, 2012 03:53 am (UTC)
Oh wow. That was beautiful. And powerful. Well done.
ClawofCat: spuffy squaredclawofcat on January 21st, 2013 11:34 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the comment! Beneath You is one of my fav Spuffy moments. Half the time I think it was a crime that they faded to black and we never really knew what happened. The other half I'm grateful because it leaves so much to explore in the land of fic.
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )