by Philip S.
Some wounds never really heal, even on someone with the healing
powers of a Vampire Slayer.
Setting: Beginning of Season 6 of BtVS
Disclaimer: Buffy and all associated characters are copyright Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement is intended.
It's the itching that bothers her the most.
It's gotten to the point where the harshness of the world doesn't bother her that much anymore. The lights are still too bright, the sounds still too loud, but she has learned to tolerate all that. Being touched, even by those she loves, is still uncomfortable, but she can bear it. She has to, after all. But the itching gets to her time and again and then she cries bitter tears.
Spike and Angel are the only ones who know. Buffy doesn't really know why she told Spike. Maybe the burden of keeping this from her friends is simply too heavy for one person to bear and she needed to share the load with someone. Spike... Spike is convenient. He is here, he wants nothing but her attention, and he will not share it with the others. It's as simple as that.
Still, there are some things she hasn't told Spike. She saw his face when she told him about being ripped from Heaven. There was sympathy, yes, but also rage. And she knows that, had she told him, he would have killed Willow and the others, chip or no chip. He would have done it and Buffy doesn't know whether she'd have had the will to stop him.
Angel noticed something was wrong from the moment they met. She hadn't planned to, but she told him about Heaven and there was the same rage on his face she saw in Spike's, the same sympathy, and so she didn't tell him the other thing, either. For he, too, would have hurt her friends. Maybe not physically, but she doubts all the forces of Hell would have stopped him from channelling his inner Angelus and lashing out at them with words. Words they must never hear. Never.
The itching becomes unbearable and she stands up to go to the bathroom. Inside she quickly shrugs off the shirt she wears over her painfully thin frame and takes the shower brush from its hook on the wall. She can't reach the spots with her hands, at least not good enough to really work on that itch.
Turning halfway, she looks at her back on the mirror, makes out the spots, and starts scratching them with the shower brush. The spots aren't that hard to find. Right on her shoulder blades, marked by two long scars.
Others don't see those scars. Dawn didn't see them when she helped Buffy shower. Giles didn't see them when she wore her exercise clothes. Not even Angel saw them when they... others don't see them. Only she sees them. And she remembers.
Tears trail down her cheeks as she keeps scratching, harder and harder. Soon the scar tissue breaks and beads of blood start running down her back, but she keeps scratching. Only the physical pain can blunt the memories of what was taken from her.
Buffy cries and bleeds as she keeps scratching the scars. The memories of brilliant white feathers catching the wind become more distant. At least for a brief moment.