For Lorna

SUMMARY: Not entirely sure yet. Based on the song "Electric Light" from P.J.Harvey's album, "Is This Desire?"

RATING: PG, just to be safe, as usual. Spike-centric and slightly angsty. And B/S, kinda.

DISCLAIMER: The characters aren't mine, obviously. The song belongs to P.J. Harvey.

SETTING: Sorta in "The Body". It was the only place I could think to make it fit. And Spike didn't get to be in there, so…

DEDICATION: I owe this one entirely to my dear friend Lorna, who was using a line from the song as her MSN username, and so provoked the fic in the first place. She was then kind enough to send me the lyrics and details so I could write it. So this is for her, in lieu of a Christmas present ;)

AUTHOR'S NOTES: All right, all right, "Cradle"-followers. I thank you all for waiting so patiently in my current non-updating state. Chapter 22 is in progress, it's just refusing to cooperate. And since the Muses saw fit to hurl this at me, I thought it would do to keep you satiated for a while, despite it's only being short. Enjoy.

Electric Light

The fic © T'eyla Minh

He stood in the shadows, hiding. Couldn't let her see him right now. That wasn't going to stop him from seeing her, keeping an eye on her, just like always. And he'd spent so long watching her without her knowing recently, that it'd become second nature. Once more wouldn't hurt, would it? Especially right now. He had to make sure she was all right.

She was putting on her usual brave façade in front of the others, trying to be strong for all of them. Not realising that they were being strong for her, too. Nobody at all realising that they were failing horribly on both counts. And he couldn't be strong for any of them, no matter how much he wanted to be there for her, because if he came within three feet of the scene, he'd be verbally beaten for it. Physically, too, as far as the Whelp was concerned. It wasn't worth the effort of trying to plead his case, either. It wasn't like they'd listen to him, anyway. It wasn't as if they'd believe him if he told them how much she'd meant to him, too.

She'd left them behind a while ago, wanting to be alone, needing to see the body again to be sure. The corridor was dark where he stood, watching her through the small, square window in the door, where he knew she couldn't see him. With any luck, she wouldn't notice him at all; him, the undead among the dead, the unliving among the alive. Maybe her Slayer senses wouldn't alert her to his presence, confused by cold and grief and utter exhaustion.

He watched her in the room, watched as she approached the body, wished he could comfort her and tell her it was fine to cry. Her precious soldier had been no use whatsoever, with his clinical and trained detachment from death. He hadn't known her mother. He hadn't shared cocoa with her one strange night years ago.

He swallowed the lump he could feel forming in his throat. Strong. You have to be the strong one. Even if she doesn't want you to be.

She was still and silent in the room. The blueness of the artificial light made it all that much colder, and her red sweater looked garish and out of place, and almost blood-red in the dimness; her skin was almost white, in stark contrast. She might as well have been dead herself, he thought, absently. Her expression was gaunt, thoughtful, and melancholy, but she still hadn't allowed herself to cry. He wanted her to smile again, or laugh, or just show an emotion; he wanted to be the one to break through her stubborn barriers. It was selfish, he knew, but he'd always loved her smile, and he loved being the cause of it even more, rare though it was.

And it was then that he realised something. In the pale blueness, under the harsh, manufactured light, she'd never looked more beautiful to him. His unbeating heart suddenly ached at the sight of her, his arms yearning to hold her close and never let go. He wanted to join her in the room and mourn her mother's death beside her.

It hurt him all the more to know he couldn't. In all likelihood, he'd be shoved unceremoniously out of the door the second he set foot in there. Or, perhaps, if she let her guard down long enough to accept his friendship – maybe even his love, if he was going to be optimistic – the others would ruin it within seconds. Besides which, the Slayer wasn't one to dwell on things. She'd get through it, because she had to. She had someone else to think of, and so did he.

The Nibblet. His Lil' Bit. She was with the others, being sheltered and protected and coddled by them so much he wanted to rip their throats out. Couldn't they see she just wanted to be left alone? Couldn't they accept that she was old enough to find her own coping strategies without being suffocated in kind words and concern? And somehow he knew she'd come to him, just the same, because he wouldn't talk her ears off unless she wanted him to. Just as his heart was in agony over the grieving Slayer, so it was hurting for her sister, who still wore the scars from trying to prove herself real.

Unable to help either of them, he exited the scene, skulking down unused corridors and emerging in the building's shadow. It was still two hours until sundown. As he made a dash to the nearest manhole cover, leaping inside just before the smoke escaped from under his duster, the sound of distant sirens indicated another emergency at the hospital. Just like the sirens he'd heard approaching Revello Drive earlier that morning. The only reason he knew what had happened was because of his insatiable curiosity. He'd managed to get there just as the ambulance was leaving, and stayed there until the Watcher arrived a few minutes later. He'd sat there, in that tree, same as always, keeping watch.

He'd wondered, at the time, if anyone would bother to tell him the news he already knew. If she'd remember the fact that someone he considered a friend was dead. If she'd even think of him at all. And the heart that didn't beat, that he knew he shouldn't feel at all, was torn to shreds when he told himself the truth…


A/N: Well, there you go. I really didn't know how this was going to turn out, but Spike angst is always fun to write, and I'd never attempted Season 5 Spike angst before… Again, thanks go to Lorna for her screen name as the inspiration. The words to the song are included below for your reading pleasure…

Electric Light

The beauty of her, under electric light
The beauty of her, under electric light
Tears my heart out every time

Dawn there waiting, right outside
Dawn there waiting, right outside
She tears my heart out every time

Sirens rising across the sky
Sirens rising across the sky
Tears my heart out every time

(P.J.Harvey, from "Is This Desire?")