Written for the prompt, Crime and Punishment


There were times, very rare times, that Buffy would sleep in his bed. There was nothing beautiful or romantic about it. He didn't hold her, she didn't bare her heart, and he could never stay awake long enough to watch her as she slept.

It only occurred when their last brutal round of violence and sex propelled them between sheets. Even then, there was no guarantee that she would stay. Usually she would drag herself from the mattress and make a hasty escape, despite the shadows under her eyes and the trembling of her limbs. But there were some nights-when the smell of ash and blood outweighed the scent of grease, or the times they went three, four, five hours without stopping, or the nights when no one was home to miss her- that she would relax. Let her guard slip just enough to be pulled under. The best sleep he ever got were the stolen moments next to her.

She never stayed. When he woke she was always gone. Back to the world of light where he could not follow. But the sheets were still warm, his bed full of her borrowed heat, a sensation he hadn't felt in over one hundred years. And that was what hurt more than anything else.

The final time she warmed his sheets, they woke up at the same time, and he thought he felt something shift. She'd asked for words of love, and she fell asleep after just one time, and she was still here next to him, and maybe things were changing after all.

Later, he stood amongst the charred remains of his home, angry with Finn for turning up at exactly the wrong moment, and at himself for being stupid, and her for shutting down on him yet again. The tangled sheets were a mocking reminder that all she was ever going to be was borrowed heat, and he threw them to the floor, slept on cold stone.

Now, as he stares at the ceiling and waits in vain for her to slam open his door, he wishes he hadn't been quite so hasty.