Healing Muscle

by Isabelle

Summary: Ficlet, after Buffy rescues Spike from the First Evil, she helps him get better.

Rating: PG-13 for torture imagery

Archiving: Please DO NOT POST unless you have permission

A/N: Thanks to Heller for the beta =)

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Scars, there are so many scars.

Bruises of all colors and all sizes. The large ones on his chest that show broken ribs the small one right under his left arm where a blood vessel broke.

Even fingernails are missing, his ears are raw, elbows scraped, eyes swollen shut.

Yet he's still as beautiful as the first time she saw him. His skin, though purpled and bruised is still as white as ivory. The tender place between his shoulder blades is a valley of heat. His entire body is cool but at that place he's warm and she's not even going to mention it to Giles because he might want to poke and probe him more and she cannot bear to see him in any more pain.

She wants to lay there on that silent bed of recovery and just hold him until he's strong enough, she just wants to do something other than tell him he's safe and okay because somehow that doesn't seem like enough, it doesn't seem enough for all he went through for her. Always for her. And she can count back and remember all the times she's seen him hurt because of her, all those scars and broken bones because of her. And she wonders if she'll only bring him pain, if her love is his mortality, if she's poison to his soul.

His soul.

She can see his soul in the room with them, it's a gentle whistle that binds her to him, like life blood, like flesh and muscle, like night and day, roses and puppies.

She can feel him, feel him when she's at work, when she's away from him. It's a pull, pulling her to him, to make sure the little cut above his eyes is healing properly, to make sure the tooth he lost and is growing back doesn't cause him more pain, so she places baby Ora-gel on it, making his gums numb. He might not be able to speak yet and tell her thank you but he does squeeze her hand and blinks at her in thanks.

In those moments all she can do is run her hands softly through his hair and forearms where he grows the most delicate blond hairs. Soft blond hairs that tickle against her palm, she tells herself that is the only reason she continues to feel them...the tickling.

Xander caught her once running her fingers soothingly down his arms and simply shook his head, tired of her men, tired of watching her hurt...and he can see it will lead to hurt and pain towards both sides but says nothing, because if they're all going to die they might as well die with what they want, and he knows this what makes her concern for Spike even more desperate. What if it ends tomorrow and he never gets well, what if it ends in a month and she'll only have a few days...a few days to what?

A few days to what? She asks herself

The question to herself makes her pull her hand back, as if burned by reality, burned by truth, burned by love.

She's been burned by love before, in the night when the stars shine bright, in those slick-passionate moments when she can no longer breath, no longer live, when she wakes up from her bed and goes down to the basement just to touch those cool arms, that curled hair...just touch, touch him, touch anything that means one day she'll no longer have to search it out.

It kills her that they have to put pretences because he's a vampire and she's a slayer and she's tired of explaining it to everyone and she's tired stating what is right and what is wrong, and she's tired of the Judge Dredd routine with her gun and her black and white views because she KNOWS it's not like that, she knows nothing is pure, nothing is bad, every one has a smile, any one can kill.

And she loves her killing machine because he's a poet and a lover and he can make her feel alive.

So when she touches those faint, blond hairs on his forearms, she knows that she'll drown in those arms once again, that she is lost without their love, that she loves him and she's drowning in the bruises on his face, in the strength of his love, in the blue of his half-opened eyes. And if he were to ask her for the world she would get it for him and it's scares the shit out of her, she'd rather die, she'd rather kill than to love like that again or for once, because there is no coming back from that abyss, there is no tunnel at the end, there is no excuse, because she's run out of them and there she is before his door, only a few stairs, only a few steps, only a few breaths and she's there, she's with him, with herself, she's in love.

But she can't, not yet, not now...not ever. The wood against her forehead feels cool and hard, like his chest on a summer night, like his lips are after they've made love.

And she still can't forgive him because to forgive him would mean to forgive herself and that would be the hardest thing she has ever done, because to forgive and to forget is to believe. And she realizes that she already believes, and to believe it is to live, to live is to love and she's not ready, not when the world is falling into pieces around them, not when there is nothing to hope for them, when the whole world is on fire and they have to put it out there is no carriage that will take them and save them, no place far away because it will consume her whole and herself is all she's got.

Maybe if she just walks away she might not be tempted, if she walks away she can lie and pretend...but not next to him, not when his missing skin is for her, not when it's all for her, not when someone's whole universe is her smile. She can't do that to him because...because...because...because it is wrong.

So she'll walk away only to end up in her room, under restless covers and she'll only touch him when she comforts him...and also the Ora-gel on his gums.

But she's not worried, not at all. He's going to be fine. Just fine, he's been through worse.

Definitely...maybe she should get more bandages, some more aspirin? He'd love that...not that it matters, after all he's only muscle. Only muscle.

Xander watches her once again going down to the basement, comforting it...yeah, muscle his ass.

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The End?