TITLE: See Through

AUTHOR: Whitewolf

RATING: R (just in case, don't be too scared. Nothing graphic)


SUMMARY: Cordelia does some pretending, and Spike does some cruel things. Sequal to With the Lights off, It's Less Dangerous. Which can be found at her site: http://home.dencity.com/tucknroll37/

SPOILERS: Ummm, well the whole Darla/Dru arc, and the whole Spike loving Buffy thing. That's about the entire season. Nothing explicit.

DISTRIBUTION: Anywhere, just ask.

DISCLAIMER: I don't own 'em. I own pennies and my cat (who will disagree with the latter) Don't sue.

FEEDBACK: Feedback is better than chocolate. :) Even flames are better than chocolate.

Improv: wax - shelter - alert - vice

Author's notes: In responce to challange #127 at YGTS?: "Whitewolf, you haven't taken a single new challenge, so here's on for you. You gloveslapped me into writing a just Spike and Cordy fic, which I answered in With The Lights Out, It's Less Dangerous. I left the pair off just as they were being rescued. So, take the storyline from there, with the assumption that the entrapment happened just after "Crush." Deal with Cordy's emotional issues from the rape, and Spike's realization that he didn't think about Buffy once while he was trapped."

Dedication: Kat, babe, you rock muchly. I hope this lives up to your expectations.

Another Author's note: This was written while I was listening to 3 Libras by A Perfect Circle, on constant repeat. For the lyrics check out their site: www.aperfectcircle.com ***************

She remembers in the shower. Even when the lights are on and the water is scalding. She feels their cold hands holding her down, holding her helpless. And there is nothing she can do.

It scares her more than anything that she still remembers even when she is sheltered against the cold. Even when her skin is burning. She will sit, scrubbing away at layer and layer, until she is red and almost doesn't remember.

And then the hot water will run out and it will get colder until she feels their hands all over and not just in her mind, and the blood isn't just in her mind anymore either, it is spilling from her wrists and arms and legs and stomach and that place between her legs that she pretends isn't part of her anymore.

She will scramble out of the freezing water to the toilet, shoving her face so close to the bowl that her forehead touches the white porcelain. The clear water will have the pinkish tinge of whatever she had for breakfast or lunch or dinner when she finally flushes the toilet.

Then she will get up, her back straight, dry off and go change into something fashionable to cover up her nakedness. But never fully. She always feels the eyes and the hands. And she hears the grunting, groaning noises when there are no other sounds.

When she was younger her mother used to make her play pretend. Pretend that you're a princess, baby, and act like it to all the guests. Pretend you're that pretty girl on TV, stand straight like her. Pretend that everyone else is less than you, or you'll give them power over you. Endless pretends.

When she got older she was all the pretends. She was beautiful. She stood straight. She was the queen, no longer settling for princess. And everyone else was inferior. Always inferior.

Until now. The hands would sneak up and she felt them pinning her. She wanted to curl in on herself, guard herself against the hands and the other things that crept up on her. But her mother's voice would be right next to her ear, "Pretend. Pretend. Pretend."

So she would stand straight and pretend that it never happened. Smile and laugh and say silly things, nothing that would alert anyone to the fact that she was… violated. torn. bruised. broken.

She wraps the towel tightly around her, then grabs another towel to dry her hair, today she needs to get the ragged locks cut straight. No more torn, snapped, split ends to show her time as a prisoner.

For now she pulls the damp mane into a bun, clipping them firmly away from her face.

Her pale, waxy face is drawn, now. Haunted eyes that soon will be lined with dark eyeliner and shadowed blue, making them look mysterious rather than hurt. Alluring rather than dead.

Then her feet pad to the bedroom, hands picking out a pair of Tommy jeans and a long black turtleneck. To cover up the bites and scratches that fill the space between her jaw and breasts. She takes off the towel, throwing it limply in the pile of others. Three a day, sometimes as many as six. But never less than three.

Her cold hands trace the wound on her stomach. It's long and ugly and it stretches the length of her perfectly toned abs. She gently, almost reverently trails the cross like burns still visible beneath the stitches.

She finds herself wondering what would have happened. What could have happened…

Angrily she yanks her fingers away and pulls on a black lacy bra, and the black shirt to cover her wounds. The pants quickly follow and she grins into the mirror. Assured that no one can see her. Or see what happened. No one can see and if no one can see then she can pretend. Pretend. Pretend. Pretend. The voice whispers, though it's become almost mocking in its mantra.

Her smile hovers on her face, uncomfortably locked between need and want. It's a vice, this smile, and she knows it as she sits down at her mirror, carefully reapplying layers to replace the ones she already scrubbed off. Until her skin is once again pale chocolate in tone and her lips are perfectly red as she smirks at the mirror.

She avoids looking at her eyes.

The clock says that she's late for an appointment she never made. She pulls on the worn black trenchcoat, the smell of recently cleaned leather permeating her nostrils and she flashes her twisted smile once more at the mirror before leaving.

She looks perfectly feminine as she walks and she knows it. She knows the power of her subtle cat movements. In this acknowledgement she acquiesces to herself. She becomes her pretend.

The mocking voice sounds strangely British, as it whispers in her ear, "There's a good pet. Pretend."

He's waiting. For the appointment they never made.

She sees him and he sees her, standing tall, pretending.

She still believes that she can pretend this away.

She starts first, as is her place. "I can't believe they didn't catch them. I mean, please? Am I the only one getting tired of these All in the Twisted Family of Death reruns?"

He grins bitterly, then says, "They knew they were coming. The Slayer made enough noise."

"You love her, don't you?" She asks dispassionately, as her fingers search his coat for a worn cigarette pack finally finding it and placing one of the cancerous sticks between her lips. He leans over to light the slender object. She nods, silently thanking him.

This is a more obvious vice, something she recently acquired, yielding her pride to save her sanity. Nothing she owns is hers anymore, why should her vices be?

"No," he finally answers.

She stares at him dully, the cigarette smoke curling around her protectively.

"You know, I never could leave Dru for half a night without going crazy with worry. I was with you twenty-four hours and didn't think about her once." He stares at her, her right arm wrapped protectively across her stomach, her left elbow resting in her palm. The cigarette end burns brightly as she inhales.

"Am I supposed to feel proud that I'm part of this realization?" Her words are sharp, and she inhales her cigarette again.

The smoke she blows out is pale against the night.

"Feel however you want. I don't care." His careful phrasing is for nothing and she laughs.

Her grin is cold and calculated, "You're lying. You think I'm going to be like your Dru. That just because this," she motions toward her covered stomach, then she feels naked and places her arm against it again. "Just because of what happened I'm going to break. And leave you to pick up the pieces. Isn't that why you're here?"

His smile is almost as arctic as hers, "No. Is it why you're here? You want someone to pick up the pieces, pet?"

She inhales, and then slowly releases the smoke, "I don't have any pieces."

"You're lying," He moves over to her, sniffing slowly upward. "I can smell it."

"Really? What a terrific talent. And by the way, welcome to my personal space." She places a hand against his chest and pushes gently.

The hand lays on his chest longer then it should, and she retracts it quickly, placing it once again across herself.

He laughs almost bitterly. Pretend, a voice softly whispers and she realizes that it's his voice.

"What, I'm beneath you, too?"

Her brow quirks slightly, "Beneath me? No. You aren't beneath me." She inhales and murmurs to herself, "You are me."

"What's that supposed to mean, pet?" Now his eyes are narrow, he angrily enters the circle that she had declared her personal space.

She ignores him, and the cigarette smoke dances around her slipping between them, making them seem farther apart.

"You are me. Callous. Betrayed. Did you think that you were the only one? The only one who knows what it's like to hurt here?" She pushes against his chest again. "To hurt all the time? Jeez, ego much?"

He snorts, and moves even closer until he can lean down and sniff at her throat. She tenses when his hands move and then pulls away sharply when his hand moves under her shirt to trace the scar.

"Personal. Bubble." She growls out.

He snorts. "You still feel them, don't you pet? Those bastards? Them, all the time."

She growls again, low in her throat, violently.

"You told me you fought 'em off. You told your friends that you weren't conscious. That you don't remember."

Once again he is next to her, this time before she can blink. He's whispering in her ear, and she trembles at his words. "But you feel 'em. Them down there. Do you feel their pleasure?"

She reacts automatically, shrilly shrieking, "NO!" Her knee comes up as an almost after thought. He doubles, but manages to stay upright, straightening slowly. "No. Nononononononono. I don't remember. I wasn't there. It never happened. Pretend. Just like pretend."

Slowly she sinks to her knees, shaking her head. The cigarette falls and she buries her face in her hands.

"Not just like Dru, huh, pet?" His cold words are out before he can stop them.

She begins weeping quietly, and immediately he bends down, gathering her in his arms. Automatically he begins murmuring soothingly into her ear. She sobs against his shirt, and he keeps his hands on her back, doesn't let them move.

It's always the hands, and she feels his against her back, but doesn't recognize them. These aren't the ones that hurt her. She stiffens anyway.

His soothing words slowly release her tension. He won't hurt her, he promises. And she believes him. The promise of a demon outweighs her own sense for this moment.

He stands, carefully cradling her against his chest.

They are walking and it doesn't matter where, because she trusts him for this moment. And for this moment she doesn't feel the hands.