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15 August 2008 @ 07:55 pm
Shallow Cuts (1/1)  
Title: Shallow Cuts
Author: ClawofCat
Timing: Post-The Gift
Rating: PG
Pairing: Spike, Dawn
Warnings: Massive angst and references to non-graphic self-mutilation
Summary: Crouched on the bathroom floor, Spike answers an age-old question.   
A/N: As many of you know, I’ve been having a hard time writing anything lately. This particular ficlet came to me on my train ride home the other day. It is a shorter, condensed version of a longer one-shot that I was working on a few months ago. I want to dedicate it to tibialisant, whose beautiful drawings always kick up a little bit of creativity in me. 

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.
“Do you love me?”
Her uncertain blue eyes waver, dart to the side, close and then open. She breathes and leaves the question hanging, a thread of hope to be spun or unraveled. Wetting her lips, she waits.  
How many times, he wonders, has he had to wait, too? He has suffered for love, bent himself backwards and split himself apart. But always he hits a stumbling block, a door closed to him full of unreciprocated and unrequited feelings. He’s been standing on the outside for so long now unable to cross the barrier that he’s almost given up on an invitation.
Love has danced from his grasp but it’s died in hers, always yanked and wrestled from her clenched fists despite how hard she clings. Her love, like his, has been cast in blood – Summers blood.
He watches eddies of red slither down her right arm and cross her belly in winding roads. Crouched this close to her, to him the tang of blood is as sharp as the razor lying on the rim of the sink.
Red cherry blossoms burst into bloom on her pale thighs as the stuff continues to dribble from her wounds in nickel-sized drops. Her blood took them away, she says. It stands to reason that blood drawn from old wounds can bring them back.
Kneeling in front of her on the bathroom floor like a man proposing, he holds her hand while his other staunches the cuts with a forest green washcloth. Underneath the saturated copper scent, he can tell that Tara used it to scrub her face that morning.
His gaze swings back up to Dawn, who now, more than ever, is just a child, beautiful and full of hurt. Her vulnerability, causing her to shake, is so sincere that his heart catches in his throat. He doesn’t understand how she can let him see her, all of her, the good and the bad. No one has ever been so utterly unashamed by his gaze, so open to his kindness. He thinks, like her sister, it would be impossible for anyone not to be pulled into her light.
Leaning in he hugs her close, his lips grazing her temple as she cradles her head in the crook of his neck.
Whispering against her ear, he answers, “I love you. You know I do. I’ll always – ”
But she lets out a creaky sob before he can finish, so Spike stops, waiting now, too.
“Don’t leave,” she pleads, an arm curling around his neck. “Stay. So, so that it doesn’t hurt so much.”
When he leans forward, it’s easy to grasp her hard. He’s been waiting, like her, for the hurt to stop, too.     

slaymesoftlyslaymesoftly on August 16th, 2008 02:28 am (UTC)
powerful stuff
ClawofCat: darkdawnclawofcat on August 16th, 2008 06:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks. It's been hard not being able to get the words out, so I'm happy to hear this was emotionally effecting. I just keep telling myself, "Start small."
(Deleted comment)
ClawofCat: coc dawnclawofcat on August 16th, 2008 07:03 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much. It's been hard getting anything off the ground recently, including finishing fics that are nearly done and just need a little more work. This was one of those ficlets that just hits you and demands "Write me! I don't care that you're standing on the subway and need to lean your notebook against the bar over your head to substitute for a flat surface." Figured I should jump on it before it went "poof!" into the ether.

I was a little nervous about what people would think of it, so it's a relief to hear it cut in the right places, emotionally and otherwise. I think the problem is the ideas are there, but the words... not so much. All that picture-painting I like to do is a little dormant. But the cherry blossom blood droplets line I was pretty pleased with, so I think it might be coming back a little.

no mucking about to tell us what era in the saga this is, no need to as you put us so very there, right there in that moment
This is great to hear. I'm all about the in media res style of storytelling, and I was hoping that the action here is obvious enough and striking enough that you just don't question how these events transpired.

And if 'twas indeed my art what gave you a kick in your creative pantaloons, I am beyond words.
It was. I had been looking at the Dawn sketch you did recently for me and thinking about how sad and angry, but young she seemed. I took a look at the fic that this ficlet was based off of and I just started thinking about it a little more. So, you definately had an impact!

It also made me think, "Jeepers, the things that happen to Spike and company in bathrooms..."
OMG, for real. I was thinking that, too. Bathroom of evol! I also wanted Buffy to be the specter that haunts this piece in that it's her passing that instigates this and that Dawn's question and Spike's answer are echoes of the Spuffy dialogue in "As You Were" when she comes to him when she's searching for the Doctor.

Okay, this was a really long response. But I just wanted to sort of think it all out on paper. Thanks for all the support, tibi. I appreciate it. *hugs*

Edited at 2008-08-16 07:04 pm (UTC)
xeexeelia on August 16th, 2008 07:28 am (UTC)
You made me cry!!:( Great story!!
ClawofCat: buffy hurtsclawofcat on August 16th, 2008 07:06 pm (UTC)
*hands you a tissue* Wow. Hadn't expected that. Though it is a pretty heavy dose of angst :)

Thanks for reading and commenting. I saw that you friended me, so welcome to my journal! All my fics are organized on my sidebar by pairing, so feel free to browse. How did you come across my work, hun?
(no subject) - xeelia on August 16th, 2008 08:12 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - clawofcat on August 16th, 2008 11:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
skinnieminnie27 on August 17th, 2008 04:34 am (UTC)
Ah so angsty and romantic (in a fucked up kind of way?) I love it
ClawofCat: yayclawofcat on August 17th, 2008 04:46 am (UTC)
Lmao! Oh man. I love the romantic in a fucked up kind of way comment. It's just so true. It is fucked up. I revel in fucked up romance! It just seems more interesting somehow, you know?

Thanks for the read and great comment. I am highly amused!

Edited at 2008-08-17 04:46 am (UTC)
(no subject) - skinnieminnie27 on August 18th, 2008 01:09 am (UTC) (Expand)
The Anti-OTPsnowpuppies on August 17th, 2008 05:55 am (UTC)
Beautifully done. This just hurts all over - Spike's desperation shows through in each line.
ClawofCat: buffy hurtsclawofcat on August 18th, 2008 02:11 am (UTC)
Thanks, hun. I've been pretty unsatisfied with everything I've worked on lately, but this one felt good enough to post. Start small, right?

Since you mention Spike's desperation, I can just see him not. knowing. what. to. do. Just feeling so hopeless about the situation, but so hopeful that he has this bond with her. Misery does love company, after all :)
treadingthedarktreadingthedark on August 18th, 2008 05:39 am (UTC)
ClawofCat: spikesmilesclawofcat on August 19th, 2008 04:13 am (UTC)
Wow, thanks! It's been tough writing anything lately, so perfect is a pretty wonderful compliment.
penny_lane_42 on August 19th, 2008 12:34 am (UTC)
That was poignantly beautiful. Gorgeous stuff.
ClawofCat: Spawn shagclawofcat on August 19th, 2008 04:17 am (UTC)
Thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed it. It's always fun to twist bloody, emotionally disasterous and destructive incidents into things of beauty! ... Sometimes I do wonder about myself.
Barbrahirah on August 19th, 2008 12:54 am (UTC)
Oh, that's gorgeous!
ClawofCat: dawn sultryclawofcat on August 19th, 2008 04:19 am (UTC)
Thanks so much, Barb. It's been hard finding the words recently, but I'm pretty pleased with what I was able to wring out of the muse on this one. Start small, right?
louise39: y Dawnlouise39 on August 19th, 2008 01:04 am (UTC)
Blood - size shape and smell. A bond. A memory. Georgeous.

[I want to wish a true friendship for these two - to build on what they once had. Another kind of love.]
ClawofCat: Spawn BFFclawofcat on August 19th, 2008 04:27 am (UTC)
I do like romantic love, but lately I've been thinking about platonic/familial love and how powerful it can be. The bonds of friends and family can be so strong and maybe that's why whenever I write Spike/Dawn it almost always has an aspect of bloodplay in it. Her blood is so integral to who she is and her loses, it seems like the strongest bond for her to lose and forge (with Spike or Buffy). It's about sharing her life force and trusting it to be treasured and protected. *loves the Spike/Dawn dynamic*

Also, lets not forget that there is just something inherently beautiful and powerful about blood. It's so red and belongs inside us, kept hidden away. But when it flows, things fall apart as we lose a piece of ourselves, something so integral to our survival.
(no subject) - louise39 on August 19th, 2008 03:26 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - clawofcat on August 20th, 2008 04:05 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louise39 on August 20th, 2008 12:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
buttercupzurgrlbuttercupzurgrl on August 19th, 2008 01:49 am (UTC)
i cried very emotional i loved good job
ClawofCat: buffy hurtsclawofcat on August 19th, 2008 04:28 am (UTC)
*hands you a Kleenex* Aw, no tears. But it does cut and there is so much hurt to heal between them. Grief is such a powerful thing.

Thanks for commenting and reading!
pixiedreamer21pixiedreamer21 on August 19th, 2008 03:17 am (UTC)
aw that was sad
ClawofCat: spawn trustclawofcat on August 19th, 2008 04:30 am (UTC)
It was. But they have each other to rely on and we know they survive. They'll brave the storm together :)

Thanks for reading and commenting!
hello_spikeyhello_spikey on August 19th, 2008 02:08 pm (UTC)

This is so, so beautiful. Heart-rending. And the details - the wash cloth, the color of the blood... I see it so clearly.

You rock.

I go cry now.

*hugs the Dawn and the Spikester*
ClawofCat: Spawn BFFclawofcat on August 20th, 2008 04:12 am (UTC)
*pets you* It's okay. Sometimes the angst just doesn't have any restraint and attacks innocent readers. I should work on that, lol.

So glad to hear that you enjoyed it though. Details, I feel like, are the bread and butter of my fics. Without them they'd have a little less oomph.

brunettepetbrunettepet on August 19th, 2008 06:22 pm (UTC)
This is heart breaking and gorgeous. Dawn is such a wreck and Spike's right there with her, but somehow they shore one another up.

I loved this descriptive passage: Kneeling in front of her on the bathroom floor like a man proposing, he holds her hand while his other staunches the cuts with a forest green washcloth. Underneath the saturated copper scent, he can tell that Tara used it to scrub her face that morning. There's deep intimacy in Spike bearing witness to Dawn's cutting. They're walking a tightrope of desperation.
ClawofCat: thesparkclawofcat on August 20th, 2008 04:21 am (UTC)
Thanks so much for the comments. I really like writing stories about moments when characters have to "shore one another up," as you say. There are so many difficult things to live through for the BtVS players that without each other they would crumble. When they are drawn to the brink all it takes to bring them back are the bonds of love and friendship. That spirit of care and solidarity is what defines the Spawn relationship, in my mind, even if much of it is inferred from the show rather than explicitly depicted.

I do love that paragraph you quoted, as well. All those little details add up to paint a bigger picture that this event is almost a small one in a household that rolls on despite all its losses. If you like the Tara reference, you may also enjoy my ficlet "Tea for Two," which is also set around this time and is a conversation that Tara and Spike have with each other about Dawn and Buffy one evening. It can be found here: http://clawofcat.livejournal.com/19162.html
Not My First Timelizette77 on August 25th, 2008 10:37 pm (UTC)
*sigh* I love deep d/s moments. Their relationship was so overlooked. Thxs
ClawofCat: Spawn BFFclawofcat on August 25th, 2008 11:33 pm (UTC)
I love them, too. They've got this wonderful connection that makes you feel so warm inside. It's a shame there wasn't more of them in Season 6 or 7 together. But just because we never saw it on the show, doesn't mean there weren't many more wonderful moments between them. That's were us writers get to step in :)
mere ubu: spike: pookiemere_ubu on August 26th, 2008 09:08 pm (UTC)
Her blood took them away, she says. It stands to reason that blood drawn from old wounds can bring them back.

Oh Dawn! That's just heartbreaking.

Beautiful stuff, sweetie.
ClawofCat: dawn suffersclawofcat on August 27th, 2008 01:16 am (UTC)
Seems like i came out swinging with these last two ficlets. I've been trying to find my groove again, so I'm trying to stick with what feels comfortable. Apparently that's really heartbreaking angst. I have to admit that these last two (soon to be third) are rather dark, even for me.*wibbles*